Marxist Theory Featured

This article by Alan Woods was originally written in 1989 to commemorate 200 years of the Great French Revolution, with a new introduction by the author. Alan Woods explains the internal dynamics of the revolution and above all the role played by the masses.

In this in depth article Alan Woods looks at the specific historical role of Napoleon Bonaparte. He looks into the characteristics of this man that fitted the needs of the reactionary bourgeoisie as it attempted to consolidate its grip on French society and sweep to one side the most revolutionary elements who had played a key role in guaranteeing the victory of the revolution.

This article by Alan Woods looks at how the French Revolution affected British poets. It struck Britain like a thunderbolt affecting all layers of society and this was reflected in its artists and writers.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is considered by many as the greatest musician of all time. He was revolutionary in more senses than one. One of his main achievements was in the field of opera. Before Mozart, opera was seen as an art form exclusively for the upper classes. This was true not only of those who went to see it, but also of its dramatis personae - the characters who were shown on the stage, and especially the protagonists. With The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro in its original Italian title), all this changes. This is the story of a servant who stands up to his boss and outwits his master.

Despite his confused politics, Lenin had a great respect for the Russian anarchist Kropotkin, particularly as the author of the book about the Great French Revolution. He pointed out that Kropotkin had been the first to look at the French Revolution through the eyes of a researcher, to focus the attention on the plebeian masses, and to continually underline the role and meaning of the craftsmen, the workers and other representatives of the working people during the French Revolution.

The latest title from Wellred Books, The History of Philosophy: A Marxist Perspective by Alan Woods will be out in only a few days. We publish below an excerpt from the Introduction to the book, explaining why revolutionary Marxists should study the history of philosophy, and the enormous debt that Marxism owes to earlier thinkers, and in particular to the giants of philosophy that lived in the revolutionary, youthful phase of the bourgeois epoch.

The 2008 crash and coronavirus crisis have revived interest in the theories of J.M. Keynes, the liberal English economist. But a look at Keynes’ life and ideas show that he was no friend of the working class. We need socialism, not Keynesianism.

One of the many slanders hurled at the Bolsheviks is that they were bloodthirsty intriguers who got their way through violent means. This is a criticism shared both by the hypocritical bourgeois, and elements on the left. These pacifists say that we need peace, love and understanding to counter the brutal repression of capitalism, not violent revolution. But will the ruling class ever really relinquish power without a fight? What is the real Marxist attitude to violence and pacifism? This lecture from our 2020 Marxist University explains. 

Heavy rain has caused severe flooding in several regions of Central Europe. Scores of people have died, many have been injured, and even more have lost their belongings. It will take years to repair the damage. Climate change has made extreme weather events like this more likely, which in turn expose the mismanagement of society. The bosses and bourgeois politicians – who failed to prepare for this disaster, despite the warnings; and who undermined emergency services through austerity – are squarely to blame.

In the current period, identity politics are in vogue. Along with the related trend of intersectionality, these ideas stress the importance of self-identification, personal experience, and the various layers of oppression people experience on racial, sexual, gender and other lines. What is the basis for identity politics? Why are they so popular with the youth in particular? And how do they square with the Marxist method of solidarity and class struggle? The following talk from last year's Marxist University deals with all these questions. 

Postmodernism is very popular on university campuses, and has also gained an echo in the workers’ movement. This school of thought denies the very idea of historical progress. It echoes Henry Ford, saying “history is just one damn thing after another”. Scientific truth is also sidelined in favour of a ‘subjective’ emphasis on language, experience and identity. Where do these ideas come from, and what does Marxism have to say about them? For more on this subject, check out our revamped In Defence of Marxism magazine, the latest issue of which is framed around

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Bourgeois, liberal and postmodern historians alike tend to reject the Marxist view that history is driven by material laws and processes. Some also reject the idea of progress, saying this is merely a point of view. They say that history is basically random, punctuated by exceptional individuals on whom the fate of human society turns. But why is it that similar conditions result in similar events, outcomes and characters reoccurring across history? And has there really been no progress between stone tools and spacecraft? This talk from our 2020 International Marxist University demonstrates and defends the method of Marxist historical materialism.

A century ago (1 July 1921) was the official founding day of the Chinese Communist Party. It began as a genuine revolutionary party led by dedicated and heroic cadres, but went down to tragic defeat in the 1925-7 revolution. Today, the CCP is an instrument of capitalist domination, but its early history is filled with inspiring and cautionary lessons for revolutionaries today. For more information, we recommend these two articles on the ...

A bill to reduce CO2 emissions was rejected by a public referendum in Switzerland. While the demagogic far-right SVP and big oil companies were pushing a 'no' vote for reactionary reasons, in reality, this was a rejection of green austerity. The climate crisis will not be solved by making workers pay, but by expropriating the fatcat polluters and fighting for socialist measures.

Today is the 80th anniversary of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union in World War Two. This bloody catastrophe, which claimed the lives of almost 5m Soviet troops and saw the Nazis plunge deep into Soviet territory, was facilitated by the wrecking behaviour of Stalin and the bureaucracy. Their decapitation of the Red Army in the infamous Purge Trials, and total mismanagement of the war effort, were paid for in blood by the Soviet people, who were ultimately able to turn things around through their heroic efforts and sacrifice – despite their leaders.

The United States was founded in the cauldron of a revolutionary war against British rule between 1775 and 1783. Almost a century later, in 1861, the country was plunged into a bloody civil war, which Marxists see as the second American Revolution. This podcast, created by our US comrades at Socialist Revolution, explores this dramatic chapter in world history from a Marxist perspective.

In the following polemic, Jorge Martin (editor for marxist.com) responds to a pair of articles in a Cuban magazine, which mischaracterise the 27N movement as being left wing. In fact, this movement of artists and intellectuals for ‘democratic freedoms’ is liberal at best, and openly counterrevolutionary at worst. We also include a letter by Martin, addressed to the Comunistas blog, laying out our differences and calling for communists to stand unequivocally on the side of defending the Cuban Revolution and its conquests.

June 4th marks the 32nd anniversary of the brutal crushing of the Tiananmen Square movement in China in 1989. This year, like every year, we will no doubt see many bourgeois commentators producing articles that use the tragic events of 1989, not to explain what the movement was actually about, but to denounce “communism/socialism” as a failure. They will paint it as a system that cannot work, and present capitalism as the only viable system available to humanity. The media in the west present it as a movement for bourgeois parliamentary democracy and for capitalist restoration in China.

Capitalism has ceased to take humanity forward. It should long ago have been overthrown by the working class. Why hasn't it then? The key to answering that question lies in the role of leadership and of the revolutionary party. This article, based on a talk at the 2021 Montreal Marxist Winter School, looks at the different sides of this question and the rich lessons of the world working-class movement.

The following article by our Italian comrades explores the political debates between the leadership of the Comintern and the leaders of its Italian section. The political errors of these leaders, and the subsequent degeneration of the Comintern, contributed to the historic defeats and tragedies that befell the Italian working class in the 1920s onwards.