Battle of Ideas

A deviation from the road

“The force of things and the behaviour of men have contradicted all Lenin’s optimistic forecasts, his hopes in a superior democracy as much as his semi-libertarian ideas expressed in the State and Revolution and other writings of the same period, at the dawn of the revolution. Nothing in the individual theses of Trotsky has stood the test any better, in particular his wordy and abstract theory of the ‘permanent revolution’.” — Boris Souvarine, Stalin. A Critical Survey of Bolshevism, 1939.

Socialism and singlejacking

A review of Stan Weir's writings, 'Singlejack Solidarity'.

"The term singlejack... On-the-job organisers for the Western Federation of Miners and the Industrial Workers of the World... used it to describe that method of organising where dedicated advocates are developed one at a time on a highly personalised basis..."

The leading Minneapolis Trotskyist Ray Dunne was a prime example. An IWW shop steward met Dunne, aged 15, in a lumberjack camp. He identified Dunne as willing to stand up against the boss, and also thoughtful.

Marxism in the drunk tank

Michael Heinrich's "Introduction to the three volumes of Karl Marx's Capital" is also an introduction to the "Neue Marx-Lektüre" (new reading of Marx) school of thought of which Heinrich is part.

It does many things, in both its jobs, well. It is crisply-written. In discussing ideas from Marx, it refers to today's capitalism, without being swamped by today's empirical details.

Review: "Beyond Apartheid" by Robert Fine with Dennis Davis

One of the numerous commendable causes to which the late Robert Fine committed many years of his life was anti-apartheid activism. Accordingly, our series of book reviews to commemorate Fine continues with Beyond Apartheid: Labour and Liberation in South Africa (Pluto Press 1990). Fine embarked on this project in collaboration with Dennis Davis during the final years of apartheid. Although both are credited as authors, Fine wrote the text itself, whilst Davis helped shape the main contours and ideas of the project, and commented on the drafts.

"We belong to history": the end of coal and the miners

In the summer of 2012 a small group of ex-miners and labour movement activists met in a pub in Sheffield. We had just heard of the Spanish miners’ strike against the attempts by the right-wing government of Manuel Rajoy to withdraw subsidies to the mining industry and thereby, in effect, close it down.

A ‘fact-finding’ trip to Spain then followed and on returning to the UK a Spanish Miners Solidarity Committee was formed, raising 28,000 Euro in something like six weeks – money that went to support the families of the strikers. After which time the miners called off the strike.

Antinomies of the concept of hegemony

Hegemony is a primary concept for understanding global politics today. Principally it expresses the hierarchy of states under US leadership, but hegemony has deeper meanings associated with the ways ruling classes maintain their rule. For socialists, hegemony also encapsulates working class leadership in the struggles of other oppressed layers, along with Marxist leadership of the labour movement. Antonio Gramsci used hegemony in a rich variety of contexts in his important contributions to Marxist thinking.

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