Marxists

In defence of Ernest Erber

Russia was ruled by 130,000 landowners. They ruled by means of constant force over 150 million people … And yet we are told that Russia will not be able to be governed by 240,000 members of the Bolshevik Party – governing in the interests of the poor and against the rich. – V.I. Lenin, Will the Bolsheviks Retain State Power?, 1917 In 1948, after he spent a year thinking it over, Ernest Erber submitted an 18,000 word resignation letter to the US Workers Party, a small group of mostly young, mostly Jewish (one early internal bulletin carried the subhead “Out To The Gentiles!”), and mostly...

Georgi Plekhanov

Before the year 2018 reaches its end, the 100th anniversary of the death of Georgi Plekhanov should be noted and remembered. He is sometimes referred to as the “father” of Russian Marxism, and for good reason. Plekhanov was the most important figure in the early Russian Marxist movement, a major theorist and voice in the Second International; and, as a member of the editorial board of Iskra, a collaborator with Lenin in the first years of the twentieth century. Plekhanov and Lenin were to go their separate ways. By the time of the October Revolution in 1917 Plekhanov had moved considerably to...

An ABC of socialist politics: introductory articles

This ABC of socialist politics brings together a list of short texts which can you can print off and read or give to a friend or workmate to read; or read online. Often longer, more in-depth, articles on the topics covered can be found by using the search function or scanning our sitemap.

How to be pro-Palestinian without being “anti-Zionist”

A French translation of this article can be found here. The term “anti-Zionist” was rare in political discourse when real debates with Zionists were a lively part of the broadly-defined left, in the early 20th century. Its use quadrupled in the 1930s, when the Stalinist movement took an overt “anti-Zionist” and antisemitic turn. It multiplied by three again, to twelve times the level of the early 1930s, in the 1970s, when the term “Zionist” had lost meaning in general circulation other than as a catch-all curse-word. So Google Ngram’s statistics show. Studies such as Dave Rich’s The Left’s...

Rayner Lysaght and Sean Matgamna debate "Socialism, Ireland, and permanent revolution"

On 9 November 2018, 7:30 at the London Welsh Centre, 157-163 Grays Inn Rd WC1X 8UE, Rayner Lysaght, author of "The Republic of Ireland" and many other books, debated Sean Matgamna of Workers' Liberty on the perspectives of Irish politics. Solidarity 485 carries interviews with Lysaght and Matgamna outlining the ideas they will debate. Interviews by Martin Thomas: click here for Lysaght, and click here for Matgamna --- Rayner Lysaght: Threading together struggles T: How would you sum up the idea of permanent revolution in a few words? L: The development of the proletarian revolution out of what...

Fighting capital or just a greedy few?

Published at the close of September, Matt Bolton and Frederick Harry Pitts’ Corbynism — A Critical Approach is not always an easy read. Bolton and Pitts go well beyond the argument that Corbyn does not understand antisemitism, does not really like the European Union, is a bit of a populist, and has a history (and present) of hanging out with some dubious characters. Rather, their book attempts to “elucidate the essential characteristics of Corbynism as a political orientation (and) outline and critique the general worldview which motivates such a platform”. It seeks to do so on the basis of...

Samir Amin, 1931-2018

Samir Amin, who died this year at the age of 87, was one of the foremost writers of the “dependency theory” which, in the 1960s and 70s came, many left-wing activists came to think was “the Marxist theory of imperialism”. Many even thought it was “Lenin’s theory”, although the whole structure of the theory was different. Amin, of Egyptian-French background, lived most of his life in France, and was in the French Communist Party then associated with Maoists. The basic idea of “dependency theory” was that ex-colonial countries were underdeveloped because of a drain of surplus to the richer...

The No-Party people

During the 1980s, a lot of people who thought of themselves as Marxists [grew] indifferent or hostile to any project of building a Marxist organisation. This tribe, and it was quite an important component of the Labour left, marched or ambled, in so far as it expressed itself explicitly, under the idea: we will develop the influence of Marxism by promoting left-wing ideas in the existing broad labour movement, trade unions and Labour Party. No socialist organisation beyond the Labour Party and its coteries and careerist cliques was needed. The existing structures were sufficient. This view was...

Democracy, socialism, and public ownership

From Socialism Makes Sense B. Didn’t Stalinism do what socialists advocated? Didn’t it “nationalise” the economy? Statify it? You say that “socialism” is what you say it is, and not what everyone else says it is! A. Would you accept your politics being equated with all those who call themselves “right-wing” or “conservative”? You wouldn’t. The truth is that the self-definition of the left, in capitalist society, is always and inevitably a struggle against rabid misrepresentation and unreasoning prejudice. And even more so now, after Stalin. B. The leftists who see future socialism as a perhaps...

What is socialism?

From Socialism Makes Sense B. Socialists are good at criticising and rubbishing the society we live in. You are less forthcoming about your own positive alternative to it. A. The elaboration of a detailed picture of a future socialist society would be arbitrary and pointless, because we can’t know in detail how things will evolve. B. That puts people like me at a disadvantage. We defend what is, what we know, what critics also can see and know and denounce. You “defend” a vague and shadowy future, and say that in detail it is unknowable. What, positively, would a socialist society as you...

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