Issue 42 of In Defence of Marxism magazine is available to pre-order now! Alan Woods’ editorial, which we publish here, looks at the Marxist view of the state and the role of the individual in history – unifying themes in this issue. This issue includes a Marxist critique of Graeber and Wengrow’s The Dawn of Everything; an analysis of the class struggle in the Roman Republic by Alan Woods; a look at the rise of ‘authoritarian’ governments and the Marxist view of Bonapartism; a review of Honoré de Balzac’s Human Comedy; and Trotsky’s invaluable article, Bonapartism and Fascism.
Beginning after midnight on 3 July, a storm swept over the Jenin refugee camp in Palestine, lasting 48 hours. It left behind scenes that resembled hell on Earth. The storm was provoked by a raid of the Israeli army.
Last week, a French policeman shot an unarmed French-Algerian teenager (Nahel M.) in the chest after a traffic stop. Before pulling the trigger, Nahel was told “I will lodge a bullet in your head”. A video of the brutal slaying was uploaded to social media, resulting in a massive outpouring of rage that swept the country.
On Sunday 9 July, the Leon Trotsky House Museum in Mexico is holding a meeting to commemorate the life of Esteban Volkov, Trotsky’s grandson, who fought to preserve the historical memory of the Old Man. Volkov passed away on 16 June.
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in the summer of 2020 shook the edifice of US capitalism. At its height, the movement involved over 20 million people in 2,500 cities and towns, making it the largest mobilisation in the nation’s history. There were many factors that contributed to the movement ending up at an impasse, not least the lack of revolutionary leadership. But for years, it was alleged state infiltrators had a hand in undermining BLM. However, there was little irrefutable evidence – until now.
Recent data has caused alarm amongst the ruling class, suggesting that inflation has become entrenched. In response, central bankers are looking to provoke a slump in the hope of quelling price rises. The only solution is socialist revolution.
The English Revolution of the 17th Century stands as one of the first great bourgeois revolutions in history. In only a few decades, it shattered the rotting feudal system and paved the way for the development of capitalism worldwide. For Marxists, these decades are full of lessons.
The recent Greek elections on 25 June saw SYRIZA take a hammering, with leader Alexis Tsipras announcing his resignation today. SYRIZA’s collapse has granted victory to the right-wing New Democracy. Coupled with the reentry of a fascist party into parliament, this has caused many on the left to claim that Greek society is shifting to the right, and is even threatened with the rise of fascism. This is a superficial conclusion that ignores the main trend: a surge in abstention, and disillusionment with the institutions of bourgeois democracy.
The murder of Nahel M (a 17-year-old French-Algerian) by a police officer in Nanterre on Tuesday morning has sparked a powerful wave of indignation and anger across the country. Riots and enraged protests have rocked Paris for two nights running, where a reported 2,000 security personnel have been deployed. Protests are now spreading beyond the capital.
Last weekend, Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the infamous Russian mercenary company Wagner, led an apparent mutiny. After withdrawing his troops from the front line of the Ukraine War, Prigozhin took control of the military bases at Rostov-on-Don and began what he called a “march for justice” (albeit a heavily armed one), heading towards Moscow. Within a day, it was all over, but what are we to make of these dramatic events?
Between 22 May and 12 June, teachers all across Romania took on the government in a three-week general strike, principally over the issue of low salaries. This strike represented a tremendous display of militancy on the part of the Romanian working class. It has profoundly shaken the government, forcing them to make major concessions, and has acted like a jolt to the consciousness of millions of workers, demonstrating the latent power of the working class when it moves in a militant and united fashion.
Around 100 members of Révolution, the French section of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), gathered in Paris on 16 and 17 June, for our 2023 National Congress. Attendees came from Paris, Toulouse, Marseilles, Lyon, Montpellier, Grenoble, Brest, Morlaix, Lille and Rambouillet. We also welcomed comrades from the IMT’s sections in Switzerland and Belgium, and were joined by Fred Weston from the International Secretariat of the IMT.
The events of the last weekend in Russia have given rise to all sorts of speculation. On Friday evening, the head of the Wagner mercenary army, the oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, launched a “march for justice” with the stated aim of removing the head of the Armed Forces and the Minister of Defence. By Saturday, he had taken control of Rostov-on-Don and was marching with a heavily-armed column towards Moscow. Putin denounced him as a traitor and promised those involved would be dealt with accordingly. However, by the end of the day, suddenly, Prigozhin’s column turned back and a deal was announced, brokered by Belarusian President Lukashenko. The motivation behind the actions of the different actors is shrouded in mystery, but these events reveal something about the character of Russia’s war in Ukraine and of Putin’s regime itself.
Countries, businesses, and households across the world are drowning in debt. As interest rates rise, the danger of default looms. To avoid a catastrophe, calls for debt cancellation are not enough. Instead, we must fight for revolution.
We have received the following resolution by our Russian comrades, written earlier today, after Wagner PMC Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin declared a rebellion, and moved columns of troops in the direction of Moscow. The situation has now somewhat receded: Wagner troops halted their advance and it has been announced that Prigozhin will enter exile, following hasty negotiations. As the comrades write, this episode was a struggle between two sections of the Russian oligarchy. Yet again, the oligarchs have proven that they have no interests in developing Russian society or in improving the conditions of the Russian masses. Their sole concern is to maintain themselves by leeching on the labour of the workers and poor, by robbing and plundering and by repressing any real opposition from the masses. The only way out of this impasse, the only way to raise the workers from their dire conditions, the only way to fight war, corruption and general decay, is for the working class to take power into their own hands, to expropriate all of the oligarchs, and to use the country’s vast wealth for the benefit of all. That is, by way of a socialist revolution.
For the past week, the world has been treated to a macabre piece of theatre: an international, multi-million-dollar operation to save the lives of five crewmen of the Titan submersible, who – it now turns out – were almost certainly known to have died from the start. Life is sacred: who could object to any expense to save just a single soul? But if all life is indeed sacred, then some lives are clearly more sacred than others.
1848 was a year of revolution in Europe, with French workers rising up and exploding onto the streets in a struggle against the old order. Today, as Marx wrote then, a spectre is once again haunting the ruling classes – the spectre of communism.
The last few weeks in Argentina have seen an increase in the struggle of workers, particularly teachers and healthcare workers. This movement has reached the most acute proportions in the provinces of Salta and Jujuy, in the extreme northwest of the country. In both cases, the struggle for wages has been combined with the fight against anti-protest and anti-strike legislation that the regional governments want to impose.
Thursday 1 June saw the first public meeting of the Hungarian group of the IMT, Fáklya (Torch) at the Gólya Co-operative Centre in Budapest with 30 in attendance. This is an important breakthrough for the forces of Marxism in Hungary, the first of many to come.
175 years ago, a wave of revolutions swept across the European continent, in which the working class played a key role in challenging the might of the feudal order. From France to Germany to Italy, the masses led a struggle for democratic and economic demands, winning significant concessions from the decrepit ruling classes of Europe. Marx and Engels were not just passive witnesses to these events, but active participants.