Marxists

Victor Serge's notebooks, 1936-47

Above: On the boat to (eventually) Mexico (1941), Victor Serge on the very far left of the photo. The passengers also included the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and the artist André Bréton. Notebooks: 1936-1947 by Victor Serge, reviewed by John Cunningham. The Notebooks are translated by Mitchell Abidor and Richard Greeman, and published by New York Review of Books, 2019. Paperback, £17.99. Any publication of works previously untranslated into English by Victor Serge can only be welcomed. Serge was a Belgian-Russian whose life is both a chronicle of and an eye-witness to the struggle for...

A critique of identity politics

Mistaken Identity is a concise six-chapter exposition and critique of “Identity Politics” from a broadly Marxist perspective. It a reasonably accessible text with a bit of effort made by the author, Asad Haider, to write in a not-too-academic style, using autobiograpy or biography, analysis, commentary and historically relevant episodes to make the arguments. The first chapter, “Identity Politics”, draws on a host of socialist references – the Combahee River Collective, The Black Panthers, C L R James and others – in order to excavate the obscured history of class-based racial struggles. It...

Fiendishly/not so difficult political quiz

In these troubled and isolating times here’s a chance to have a bit of fun and demonstrate to all and sundry that you are a real smart-arse. Most of these questions are not that difficult, there are a few stinkers however. Try and resist the temptation to look everything up on Google. Use the quiz as you see fit. I hope some of the answers at least will prove interesting. The full answers will be posted in ten days from when they are made available online. Deaths, assassinations etc. 1. Gavril Princip assassinated Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914. To which secret organisation did Princip...

To bring revolution "down to earth"

The socialist activist and scholar Robert Fine, who passed away on 9 June 2018 at the age of 72, was a long-time sympathiser and sometime activist with Workers’ Liberty. Our series of book reviews to commemorate Fine continues with Political Investigations: Hegel, Marx, Arendt (Routledge 2001). Karl Marx (1818-83) was the first writer to integrate socialist politics with comprehensive and well-documented theories of economics and history. Most working-class socialists since his time have regarded themselves as Marxists to one degree or another, and by now most of us vehemently reject the idea...

Michel Lequenne, 1921-2020

“The last Trotskyist” — so Michel Lequenne, who died on 13 February 2020 aged 98, sometimes described himself, according to a tribute by Antoine Artous and Francis Sitel. Arguably he was indeed the last surviving Orthodox Trotskyist with an unbroken political thread from the early 1940s. There are other Orthodox Trotskyists — the more-or-less theory-free network around Peter Taaffe’s Socialist Party, the “Morenist” diaspora, those post-Mandelites who still call themselves “Trotskyist” — but they scarcely attempt to offer a systematically-developed ideological tradition. In the introduction to...

Revolutionary organising in the German army in World War II

War-torn France 1943, occupied by the German army and administered by the Vichy regime: the tide had begun to turn against the Nazis, but they still ruled most of Europe. The extermination of Jewish people proceeded relentlessly. Within France, the resistance was dominated by Gaullists and the Communist Party (PCF). Both expressed virulent nationalism, summed up by the slogan: “à chacun son boche” (let everyone kill a Hun). In April 1943 Robert Cruau, a 23-year-old postal worker moved to Brest, along with Georges and Henri Berthomé. They were members of the Parti Ouvrier Internationaliste (POI...

A response on the Lukács archive

At Ideas for Freedom 2019 a number of comrades signed a petition I had drawn up calling for access to the Lukács Archive. You may remember that over a year ago his old flat which functioned as a library, archive and museum was closed down and the archives removed by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Since then the whereabouts of the Archive have remained unknown. László Lovász, the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has replied to the petition, and I thought comrades might like to see the reply. Cautiously, I would say that the hard line previously adopted by Lovász has softened...

Lukács and “tailism”

John Cunningham, in Solidarity 519, gives a generous assessment of my comments on Gyorgy Lukács. I want to come back on three points. I would guess, if only from his alignment with the reforming Nagy administration in 1956, that Lukács always had inner reservations about Stalinism. So did many of the Bolsheviks who capitulated to Stalinism. Through most of the 1930s the exile Mensheviks and Trotskyists had sporadic contacts with people who were deeply embedded in the Stalinist machine and yet talked in confidence of their horror at Stalin’s course. The combination is what made them — and...

More comments on Lukács

First I want to thank Martin Thomas for his “more sceptical assessment” of the work of György Lukács (Solidarity 518). This is precisely what is needed. In the same vein my thanks also to all those who attended the session on Lukács at Ideas for Freedom 2019 recently and gave me the benefit of their thoughts and criticisms. These comments will no doubt find their way into the book I am currently writing on Lukács (excuse the plug!). I don’t feel able at the moment to render a fully detailed response to Martin’s comments, so what follows will no doubt appear rather haphazard in response. The...

Learning from the rich debates of the past

The Communist International (Comintern), founded in the aftermath of the October 1917 Russian revolution, was the greatest forum for Marxist strategic debate so far. The first five years of the Comintern, between 1919 and 1923 were a school for learning and discussing how revolutionary parties should be built, how to assess the situation and orientate, and how to win a majority of workers to socialism. The publication of The Communist Movement at a Crossroads: Plenums of the Communist International’s Executive Committee, 1922-1923, edited by Mike Taber, is extremely valuable. This volume is...

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.