In 2022, the world was rocked by war and revolution, while inflation has upended global capitalism. Nothing will ever be the same again. At each dramatic turn, marxist.com has provided sharp, timely analysis, whilst continuing to bring you the in-depth theory revolutionaries need to be armed with in this tumultuous new period. To end the year, we’ve compiled some of the most popular reads of the past year, in case you missed any gems!
The list covers analysis of key events: from the Ukraine war, to the inflation crisis, to the major revolutionary struggles of the year. We have also included original contributions to Marxist theory, many of which first appeared in our quarterly magazine In Defence of Marxism (get a subscription here). These theoretical pieces (as well as others from the archives) were among the most-read articles of 2022, and cover a variety of subjects, from history, to science, to economics.
As the sun sets on the year that was, you can continue to count on marxist.com to provide prompt, high-quality analysis to navigate the twists and turns of world politics; as well as lots more quality theory, and new projects that we can’t wait to share with you in the new year.
But for now, here are some of our favourite articles from marxist.com’s 2022 output!
What is Money?
By Adam Booth
Our most-viewed article this year was actually published some years ago. But given the chaos in the world economy, it is little wonder so many of you have returned to it. Basing himself on Marx and Engels’ economic writings, in this article Adam Booth explains that money was not simply an idea conjured out of nowhere, but a necessary product of historical development.
The expansion of trade, along with the emergence of commodity production and private ownership, demanded a special commodity that could express the value of all other commodities: the money commodity.
Utilising Marx’s labour theory of value, Adam goes on to talk about how the role of money has evolved, its place in making profit, the rise of banking and speculation, the question of debt crises, and the relationship between money and capital. The section on inflation is especially relevant in 2022. As Adam explains (in contrast to the voodoo economics of the modern Keynesians on the reformist left), money cannot simply be printed without consequence.
Ultimately, Adam says, it will not be through fiddling with the money supply, but through economic planning that the working class will consign poverty and crisis to history. Taking the means of production under democratic ownership, and building a socialist society based on production for need, offers the only road to eventually overcoming the need for money itself.
The Ukraine War: an Internationalist Class Position
By International Marxist Tendency
The biggest European conflict since WW2 has delivered another hammer blow to the stability of world capitalism. Subsequent western sanctions have poured petrol on a global capitalist crisis.
The invasion has been accompanied by an avalanche of propaganda and misinformation. Many so-called ‘Lefts’ around the world have fallen in behind their respective ruling classes, while workers and the poor suffer the brutal consequences of this war – in the daily nightmare in Ukraine, in Russia, and far beyond in the form of skyrocketing food and fuel prices.
The International Marxist Tendency has upheld a consistent internationalist stance on this conflict from the start, summarised in our initial statement, published shortly after the invasion. We explain that, in this clash between the world imperialist power of the US and its allies, and regional Russian imperialism, “[t]he position of revolutionary Marxists should be clear: a principled class-based stand on the lines of ‘the main enemy of the working class is at home’...
“The task of fighting against the reactionary gang in the Kremlin is the task of the Russian workers alone. The task of revolutionaries in the West is to fight against their own bourgeoisie, against NATO, and against American imperialism.”
Marxism vs. Postmodernism
By Daniel Morley and Hamid Alizadeh
First published in issue 34 of IDoM magazine, this article provides a Marxist rebuttal to the ideas of postmodernism: a dominant trend on university campuses, which has also exerted a toxic influence over sections of the labour movement. This amorphous school of thought, led by the likes of Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida, presents a blanket rejection of ‘metanarratives’, dispensing with the idea of progress in history, dismissing humanity’s greatest minds, and even calling reality itself into question!
Daniel Morley and Hamid Alizadeh succinctly summarise the mission of postmodernism: “Reason is denounced, while irrationality and unintelligibility are raised to the level of principle. Theoretical honesty and the pursuit for truth are drowned in endless caveats, ambiguities and incomprehensible language.”
The article deals with the historical origins of postmodernism in the ivory towers of universities among petty bourgeois intellectuals, who are soaked with a spirit of pessimism. It explains how its rejection of progress, solidarity and class struggle have proved so useful to the ruling class, as an ideological weapon to demobilise and disorientate the youth in particular. This is a philosophical weapon that is regularly deployed against the Left, lying at the root of the divisive ideas of so-called ‘identity politics’.
Doctor Doom predicts “dark days” for capitalism
By Alan Woods
This article by our editor-in-chief Alan Woods, which looks ahead at what is in store for the capitalist system in the years to come, proved to be one of the year’s favourites with readers. The ‘Dr. Doom’ to whom Alan refer is otherwise known as Nouriel Roubini, a ‘maverick’ economist best known for having predicted the 2008 financial crisis.
Naturally, this prediction did not endear Roubini to most other mainstream economists, who by by contrast have failed to predict a single thing. Now, ‘Dr. Doom’ has a new book out, Megathreats: The Ten Trends That Imperil Our Future, and How to Survive Them. Its glum assessment of capitalism’s trajectory is unlikely to restore Roubini’s reputation among his fellow bourgeois economists, but it is of much interest to revolutionary Marxists.
“Briefly stated,” Alan says, “Roubini warns that the entire world is tobogganing towards a disastrous debt crisis with its eyes closed.” He cites inflation, recession, climate change, political instability and war as among the confluence of threats to world capitalism in the coming period. Roubini concludes with a suitably stern warning to the bourgeoisie: “Expect many dark days, my friends.”
As Alan explains, none of the capitalist politicians or economists are equipped to deal with these impending ‘megathreats’, which are a consequence of the senile decay of the capitalist system itself. The only solution can come from the revolutionary struggle of the working class to overthrow this rotten system, and build an alternative.
Sri Lanka: the picture of things to come
By Ben Curry
Inflation, spiralling food prices, impossibly high fuel prices, shortages of essentials: in one country after another, these are the kind of hardships radicalising the masses. In a number of countries, people have been driven to desperation and have hit the streets in protest.
Sri Lanka has seen among the most explosive developments. There, the revolutionary masses have brought down numerous cabinet ministers, the chief of the Central Bank, and the hated President Gotabaya Rajapaksa himself.
The Sri Lankan masses rapidly organised themselves, faced down repression by the security forces, chased Gota out of his palatial residence, and even took a dip in his private indoor swimming pool in iconic images witnessed by millions around the world! These dramatic developments are captured by this article, published at the apex of the Sri Lankan insurrection, after the masses forced Gota to announce his resignation.
Despite the immense power of the masses, Sri Lanka offers a warning for revolutionaries worldwide. The lack of a clear, working-class, revolutionary leadership meant that, despite having power at their fingertips, the masses never fully grasped it. The Rajapaksa regime, albeit with a reshuffle at the top, has essentially remained intact.
These events nevertheless were an inspirational chapter of the year, and full of lessons. We have not witnessed the end of the Sri Lankan revolution, which we are confident will learn from this setback and rise anew.
The James Webb telescope: an eye onto a universe, infinite in time and space
By David García Colín and Vincent Angerer
Appearing in the most recent issue of IDoM magazine, this fascinating article deals with the deep field images obtained by the James Webb telescope in 2022, the implications of which are being felt like a shockwave in cosmology.
Questioning the orthodoxy of the Big Bang model for the origins of the universe is almost regarded as heresy in cosmology. And yet this theory, which ought more properly to be regarded as a creation myth, casually throws out fundamental tenets of our understanding of the material world in favour of a ‘beginning of time’ some 13.8 billion years ago.
However, having peered further than ever into deep space, the James Webb Space Telescope has identified galaxies, mature and fully formed, that simply should not exist according to the prevailing cosmological paradigm. This provides concrete evidence for what Marxists have long argued: that there was no ‘Big Bang’ that brought the universe into existence. Rather, the universe always existed, and will always exist, being infinite in space and time.
Rosa Luxemburg and the Bolsheviks: dispelling the myths
By Fred Weston and Parson Young
This year, Wellred Books was proud to publish a new book on the great revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, available to order here. The purpose of this text was to dispel the myths around the figure of Luxemburg, cultivated by reactionary right-wingers, liberals, reformists, ultralefts and Stalinist slanderers alike, that she was an opponent of orthodox Marxism and Bolshevism.
As this article, which appeared in the IDoM magazine, explains, this is a total distortion of the truth. Luxemburg was a convinced and committed Marxist, who went to war with the reformist opportunists leading the German SPD, and who celebrated the great victory of the Russian working class in 1917, with the Bolsheviks at their head. As she herself wrote:
“Lenin and Trotsky and their friends were the first, those who went ahead as an example to the proletariat of the world; they are still the only ones up to now who can cry with Hutten: ‘I have dared! This is essential and enduring in Bolshevik policy. In this sense theirs is the immortal historical service of having marched at the head of the international proletariat with the conquest of political power and the practical placing of the problem of the realisation of socialism, and of having advanced mightily the settlement of the score between capital and labour in the entire world. In Russia, the problem could only be posed. It could not be solved in Russia. And in this sense, the future everywhere belongs to ‘Bolshevism’.”
While it is true that Luxemburg clashed with Lenin in particular on a number of strategic matters, they remained fundamentally on the same side. Today, we claim Luxemburg as our own, and defend her against all those who would abuse her legacy.
The British monarchy: the carnival is over
By Alan Woods
The longest-reigning monarch in British history, Queen Elizabeth II, finally met her end this September.
The British ruling class might have been glad of the distraction from a brutal cost-of-living crisis and chaos within Westminster, which saw three prime ministers come and go in the space of three months. But despite all the pomp and ceremony, an enforced 10-day mourning period, and massive news coverage of a vast queue snaking around London to see the royal corpse, the real mood of the British public was less sorrow and more of a shrug.
The truth, as Alan Woods explains in this article, is that the British monarchy – which serves as a circus to distract the masses from the drudgery of their lives, while the capitalists make their profits – is starting to lose its attraction. The pressure of the capitalist crisis is causing consciousness to change.
People are fed up with the entire establishment, of which the monarchy is a part. Following a series of scandals, its reputation is much tarnished. This will not be helped by the ascent of Charles III to the throne, who in contrast to his relatively popular mother, is seen as pompous and meddlesome.
“Nostalgia for the past is a powerful force,” Alan says. “But that past has vanished and will never return. The dream will not survive the pageant. Like all dreams, it will dissolve in the face of cold reality. And the awakening will be a most violent one.”
Revolutionary tremors in Iran after the murder of young Kurdish girl
By Esaias Yavari and Hamid Alizadeh
The revolutionary youth movement in Iran has provided another demonstration of the immense potential power and the courage of the masses. Following the death of a young Kurdish-Iranian girl in Tehran at the hands of the hated ‘Morality Police’ (for the crime of allegedly wearing her headscarf ‘improperly’), an explosive protest movement has spread to every major city of the country, in addition to a number of small towns and villages.
The youth, and especially young girls, have been fearlessly raising slogans such as “Death to the Supreme Leader”, and, “Woman, life, freedom”. Despite a brutal crackdown that has left many dead and thousands more in jail, the youth continue to struggle, showing incredible resolve, even managing to drive the security forces out of many campuses and neighbourhoods. The youth have also begun spontaneously organising themselves into revolutionary committees, and have raised political demands and appeals for a general strike.
But without a revolutionary party with roots in the working class that can put forward a programme to draw in broader masses, the movement has struggled to make a decisive breakthrough. Thus far, it has been largely restricted to the youth, with a few sympathetic workers’ strikes being viciously suppressed, and the wider working class yet to enter the fray.
They are wary of the lack of an alternative to the status quo, and suspicious of the influence of foreign imperialism, a concern demagogically exploited by the regime. Nevertheless, this remarkable struggle (the origins of which are explained in this article) is a sign of things to come. Once the working class decisively enters the stage, there will be nowhere for the mullahs to run.
The world in 2022: the gathering storm
By Alan Woods
Based on a speech delivered at International Marxist University 2022, in this article, Alan Woods steps back to give us a panorama of the world in 2022. What we see are the unmistakable gathering of storm clouds above. Insurrectionary movements witnessed in quick succession in Kazakhstan, Ecuador, Sri Lanka and elsewhere “resemble the heat lightning that announces the coming of a storm.”
The war in Ukraine, dialectically both an effect and in turn a cause of the capitalist crisis, is intensifying all the contradictions at play in the world. It is destabilising an already fragile global economy. Despite a facade of ‘western unity’ in defence of ‘democracy’, the intensifying crisis resulting from this war is already causing cracks and disunity, as the different capitalist classes fear the effect of hunger, poverty and instability at home.
The world economic crisis is causing a revival of the labour movement, not least in the USA. The youth in particular have never been more pro-union, while Joe Biden’s presidency is more and more showing its inability to get a handle on the situation. At the same time, the US and China remain on a collision course, with potentially even more devastating consequences than the Ukraine war.
Globalisation continues to unravel as capitalist governments turn to protectionist measures to guard their narrow interests, while high inflation and raising interest rates are preparing an almighty crisis in the poorer countries. Europe continues to splinter into mutual recrimination, while Britain lurches from one chaotic disaster to the next, and Latin America remains a cauldron of class struggle.
In short, as Alan explains, the world is pregnant with revolutionary potential. Only the bankruptcy of the left leaders prevents it from finding full expression. The task of building the worldwide revolutionary party of the working class, the task that we in the International Marxist Tendency dedicate ourselves to, has never been more pressing.
“We have the best ideas, but this alone is not enough. We have to work so that these ideas become militant numbers, so that quality becomes quantity, and quantity will turn into quality… We must not allow ourselves to be distracted by this or that detail, but concentrate all our energies on the main objective, which is the building of the revolutionary International. That is the challenge before us. It is a race against time. Nothing must be allowed to stand in our way.”