Theory History

Honoré de Balzac is renowned as a prolific literary genius and was one of Marx and Engels’ favourite authors. He was a pioneer of the Realist style that would be taken up by such famous authors as Émile Zola and Charles Dickens. In this article, Ben Curry explores Balzac’s Realist method, the predominant themes of his vast body of work, known collectively as The Human Comedy, and the fascinating paradox that lies at its heart.

We are very proud to announce the publication of Lenin’s masterpiece ‘Left-Wing’ Communism: An Infantile Disorder, by Wellred Books – the publishing house of the International Marxist Tendency. This rich text addresses the central questions of the building of a revolutionary party with Lenin’s characteristic clarity and depth. This edition contains a new introduction, written by Francesco Merli, which we publish below. Get your copy of ‘Left Wing’ Communism now!

Today we are proud to republish a very important article by Alan Woods, which we ask our readers to carefully consider. Through marxist.com, In Defence of Marxism magazine, and our publishing house Wellred Books, the IMT has conducted an all-round struggle for Marxist theory. But in doing so, we have addressed not only questions that are obviously connected to the workers’ struggle, but also others (apparently) far removed from it, from cosmology to culture to the class struggle in Roman antiquity. Some so-called ‘Marxists’ have mocked this approach, but as Alan Woods explains, their mockery is sorely misplaced.

This week in our Lenin in a Year series, we republish a short but punchy article by Lenin, originally written in 1913 for the Bolshevik paper Prosveshcheniye (Enlightenment). In it, Lenin traces the unbroken thread that places Marxism as the successor and synthesis of the most progressive and revolutionary ideas that came before it.

The deepening crisis of capitalism is causing immense political instability across the world. In this context, a rise in the number of ‘authoritarian’ and ‘populist’ governments has provoked much discussion over the rise of ‘strongman’ politics. But what exactly does this mean? In this article, Ben Gliniecki considers the nature of the capitalist state and the concept of ‘Bonapartism’, as developed by Marx, in order to answer this question and provide a perspective for the impact of the class struggle on politics today.

On 2 March 1921, sailors in Kronstadt took up arms against the young Soviet government. The rebellion was short-lived and crushed by 18 March. But its tale has survived much longer and has been told and retold with very little concern for facts and serious analysis. The present work will not rehash chronological details of the rebellion in depth, which readers can find in great detail in many other works. Instead, it will outline the underlying processes that gave rise to the rebellion, looking beyond mere appearances to its real character, and explain the actions taken by the Bolsheviks against it.

The Dawn of Everything, by the anarchist anthropologist, David Graeber, and archaeologist, David Wengrow, has been widely promoted as a radical new vision of human history both in the mainstream press and on the left. In this article Joel Bergman subjects this work to a rigorous Marxist critique, and exposes the fatal flaws inherent in the authors’ idealist view of historical development.

In 1901, Lenin published his much awaited book, What is to be Done? This masterpiece of Marxist literature is an unparalleled handbook for anyone wanting to build a Bolshevik party, for anyone serious about the struggle to overthrow capitalism today. In this article, we explain what gives this book its enduring power, and why every communist should conquer this text today.

We are proud to announce that the world’s foremost magazine for original Marxist theoretical content, In Defence of Marxism - América Socialista, is now available in French! It joins regular English, Spanish, Indonesian, Portuguese, Swedish and Chinese translations, and will soon be joined by an Italian translation. The enlarged audience of communist workers and youth that will thus have access to these ideas will find in this magazine a powerful weapon.

The oppression of women and the origins of the family as we know it remain key issues facing anyone who wishes to fight for a better world today. Huge numbers of women still suffer sexual abuse and harassment. In some parts of the world they live in slave-like conditions. Millions of girls and women alive today have been forced to undergo female genital mutilation, one of the most barbaric methods used to control women’s sexuality, while millions of young women are trafficked for sexual exploitation. Violence against women is still an everyday occurrence, with femicide a continuing phenomenon.

2023 marked the 30 years since the shelling of the White House in Moscow, at the time of which the first bourgeois-democratic parliament of Russia, the Russian Supreme Council, was meeting. Hundreds of people died in a ‘mini civil war’ on the streets of Moscow. Indeed, this was a civil war between President Yeltsin and parliament.

The Reverend Thomas Malthus gained notoriety in the 19th century as an ardent defender of poverty and inequality. He asserted that the poor were not poor because of capitalist exploitation or injustice, but because there were simply too many of them, competing over limited resources. Today, Malthus’ ideas still circulate in various different forms, and have even gained some influence on the left. In this article, Adam Booth draws on Marx and Engels’ critique of Malthus to expose the false and reactionary implications of these ideas today.

The rapid emergence of the Socialist Movement (MS) in various parts of the Spanish state (Basque Country, Catalonia, Valencia, Aragon, Castile and Madrid) is a fact to be celebrated by other communists in Spain and internationally. In underlining this important fact, the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) wishes to establish a dialogue and a fraternal exchange of views with the comrades of the MS, in order to clarify the tasks and tactics that lie ahead for the communist movement.

This article, marking 60 years since the end of the Algerian war of national liberation, appeared in Révolution, the paper of the French section of the International Marxist Tendency, in March 2022.

The fall of the short-lived Second French Republic in December 1851 marks one of the most rapid and complete reversals in modern political history. Born out of the February Revolution of 1848, the Republic appeared to promise a new era of progress and democracy for the whole of Europe. But this proved to be a false dawn. In less than four years the most democratic republic on Earth was transformed into its opposite: the naked dictatorship of Napoleon III.

27 July of this year marks the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement, which halted the three-year-long, all-out conflict known as the Korean War. The Armistice is not a peace agreement, and the two states that exist on the Korean Peninsula to the north and south of the 38th parallel are technically still at war with each other.

Issue 42 of In Defence of Marxism magazine is available to pre-order now! Alan Woods’ editorial, which we publish here, looks at the Marxist view of the state and the role of the individual in history – unifying themes in this issue. This issue includes a Marxist critique of Graeber and Wengrow’s The Dawn of Everything; an analysis of the class struggle in the Roman Republic by Alan Woods; a look at the rise of ‘authoritarian’ governments and the Marxist view of Bonapartism; a review of Honoré de Balzac’s Human Comedy; and Trotsky’s invaluable article, Bonapartism and Fascism.

The English Revolution of the 17th Century stands as one of the first great bourgeois revolutions in history. In only a few decades, it shattered the rotting feudal system and paved the way for the development of capitalism worldwide. For Marxists, these decades are full of lessons.

1848 was a year of revolution in Europe, with French workers rising up and exploding onto the streets in a struggle against the old order. Today, as Marx wrote then, a spectre is once again haunting the ruling classes – the spectre of communism.

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