In defence of Marxism

1337B7A5 0CF0 4336 97A1 B6CFEABB3A18One often hears of this caricature of Marxism as a dry, narrow doctrine, which reduces all human thought to economics and the development of the productive forces. Yet even today there are people who like to call themselves Marxists who defend, not the genuine ideas of Marx and Engels in all their richness, breadth and profundity, but the very same “economist” caricature of the bourgeois critics of Marxism. This is not Marxism at all but, to use Hegel’s expression, “die leblosen Knochen eines Skeletts” (the lifeless bones of a skeleton), on which Lenin commented: “What is necessary is not leblose Knochen, but living life.”...

The advanced workers and youth have a thirst for ideas and theory. They want to understand what is happening in society. They are not attracted by tendencies that merely tell them what they already know: that capitalism is in crisis, that there is unemployment, that they live in bad houses, earn low wages and so on. Serious people want to know why things are as they are, what happened in Russia, what Marxism is, and other questions of a theoretical character. That is why theory is not an optional extra, as the “practicos” imagine, but an essential tool of the revolutionary struggle.

– From In defence of theory — or Ignorance never yet helped anybody

Liberal Professor Mr. Tugan-Baranovsky is on the warpath against socialism. This time he has approached the question, not from the political and economic angle, but from that of an abstract discussion on equality (perhaps the professor thought such an abstract discussion more suitable for the religious and philosophical gatherings, which he has addressed?).

The recent convulsive faction fight and split in the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI), driven by Peter Taaffe, the General Secretary of SPEW, the Socialist Party of England and Wales, is now plastered all over social media for the world to see. Despite the stream of allegations coming from the Taaffe faction, and the rebuttals from the other side, the dispute in reality centres around prestige politics, a highly pernicious tendency that is invariably fatal in a revolutionary organisation.

The following statement by comrade John McInally is a personal account of the nature and reasons for the degeneration of the Socialist Party (SP) and Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI). John was a member of the SP (and before that Militant) for more than 40 years, before he came into conflict with the leadership and was deemed to have "placed himself outside" of the organisation.

The crisis unfolding within the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) is reaching a critical phase, and a deep split is now imminent. The Spanish group of the CWI, Izquierda Revolucionaria, which only joined the CWI in 2017, has already split away and what remains of the Mexican and Venezuelan groups have followed suit. The Portuguese group has also left. To help readers understand what is happening, we take this opportunity to publish two opposition documents from 1991 and 1992, when a heated dispute took place within the Militant Tendency

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Last week, the representatives of the Spanish and Portuguese sections of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI) walked out of a meeting of Peter Taaffe’s faction within that organisation. They then announced they "would recommend to the Spanish EC and CC that they leave the Faction. [Spanish section general secretary, Juan Ignacio Ramos] also stated that this would mean it would make no sense to remain in the CWI."

The Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) has been plunged into a convulsive crisis, which is most likely going to end in a split. At the centre of the crisis are developments in their Irish section. From the material available to us from their internal discussions it appears that the Irish section is being accused of adapting to identity politics, concentrating on women’s and LGBTQ+ issues to the detriment of work in the trade unions, bending towards reformism and at the same time adopting a sectarian stance. This emerges both from the criticisms of the International Secretariat (IS) majority faction and of one of their MPs, Paul Murphy.

Trotsky, a recent Netflix series produced by Russian state television, is a scandalous misrepresentation of both Trotsky’s life and the October Revolution. Alan Woods and Josh Holroyd respond to this insulting portrayal of Trotsky and the Bolsheviks’ legacy.

Speaking at the 2018 Revolution Festival, Jack Halinski-Fitzpatrick of Socialist Appeal provides a Marxist analysis of what role morality plays within class society, and how revolutionaries should derive their ethical framework and decisions.

On 22 November 2018, Bhaskar Sunkara and John Peterson participated in a panel organized at Temple University in Philadelphia by the Temple Marxists, YDSA, and the Utopia Film Club. The editors of Jacobin and Socialist Revolution gave their definitions of socialism, analysed the current state of the socialist movement in the US, and provided their views on the perspectives for a socialist future. The discussion covered a wide range of basic topics of socialist theory and politics, such as the nature of the capitalist state, the role of the Democrats and the two-party system, the state of the US labor movement, and more.

Marxists recognise the enormous achievements of the 1949 Chinese Revolution. Unsurprisingly, many slogans by Mao Zedong found an echo across the world as an alternative to the bureaucratised USSR after the Sino-Soviet split. However, there are significant political differences between the ideas of genuine Marxism and those of Maoism, which should be clarified.

This document, after a thorough discussion at all levels of the International Marxist Tendency over the past year, was approved unanimously by the IMT World Congress held at the end of July 2018 with the original title Marxist Theory and The Struggle Against Alien Class Ideas. Its aim is to draw a line between Marxism and a set of idealistic and postmodernist alien class ideas, which have affected for some time a layer of activists in academic circles and are also being used in a reactionary manner within the international workers' movement.

On 3 August, Alberto Garzón, the leader of the Spanish United Left (Izqierda Unida, or I.U.) posted an article entitled "Is Marxism a scientific method?" Under the guise of presenting a 'scientific' critique, Garzón was preparing a break with Marxism. Like every revisionist in history, he disguises this break with the excuse of 'modifying' the ideas of Marx. In reality, he was jumping on the bandwagon of those 'left' leaders who are making a dash for the 'centre ground'.

To commemorate the anniversary of Rosa Luxemburg's murder in 1919, we republish the following introduction to a 2014 Mexican edition of her important work, Reform or Revolution. The legacy of this martyr for proletarian revolution endures through her ideas.

As millions in the US are looking for a way out of the impasse of the capitalist system, rooting ourselves in the sound foundations of Marxist theory has never been more important. Ten years ago, few Americans considered themselves socialists, and even fewer were open about it. But life teaches, and conditions determine consciousness. A decade of crisis, the Bernie Sanders campaign, and Trump’s election have led millions to look to socialism for a way out. The skyrocketing growth of Democratic Socialists of America after the 2016 elections is just one example of the dramatic changes in consciousness unfolding around us, a process that is still in its infancy.

In this video from the 2017 October Revolution festival, Daniel Morley (of the Socialist Appeal Editorial Board) discusses the theoretical differences between the philosophies of Marxism and postmodernism.

In this talk at a 2017 day school on the Russian Revolution, Daniel Morley of the Socialist Appeal editorial board discusses the question of revolutionary insurrection, examining how Marxists approach the question of the seizure of power.

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