The crisis that began in 2008 exposed capitalism. It started a process in which millions of young people and workers began to challenge, not just so-called ‘neoliberalism’, but capitalism itself. Yet this crisis of capitalism, rather than propelling the left to power, has pushed the left into crisis. Superficially, this is a contradiction, but if we look beyond the surface, we see it flows from the limitations of reformist politics in a period such as the one we are living through.
Though there's some controversy over the exact date, it's believed that Ludwig van Beethoven was born today in 1770. If any composer deserves to be called a revolutionary, it is Beethoven. He carried through what was probably the greatest single revolution in modern music and changed the way music was composed and listened to. This is music that does not calm, but shocks and disturbs. Writing in 2006, Alan Woods describes how the world into which Beethoven was born was a world in turmoil, a world in transition, a world of wars, revolution and counter-revolution: a world like our own world.
The Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), a revolutionary organisation struggling for the rights of students and youth in Pakistan, is organising a nationwide protest, entitled “Day of Action”: for free education and the restoration of student unions; and against sexual harassment of women, state abductions and unemployment on 19 December.
Boris Johnson’s government has now been in power for one year. But it is already being engulfed by turmoil and splits, as the crisis of capitalism takes its toll. We need a militant opposition that will fight to kick the Tories out.
This article explains the disagreements and political errors that marred the early years of the Communist Party of Italy (PCd’I). The Lyon Congress of 1926 was a culmination of the contradictory nature of the PCd’I which – compounded by the bureaucratic degeneration of the Third International – tragically contributed to the defeat of the Italian communists, alongside the rest of the workers' movement, at the hands of fascism.
The 21st congress of Sinistra classe rivoluzione, the Italian section of the International Marxist Tendency, took place on 5-7 December. Restrictions due to the pandemic forced us to keep it online. Far from preventing a large number of participants, these conditions facilitated an exceptional turnout of 94 delegates, and around 200 guests from over 40 cities.
The move by the Tories to cut Britain's foreign aid budget has caused uproar amongst the establishment. But beneath their ‘concern for the poor’ lies their concern for their own profits.
Farmers in India observed a national lockdown on 8 December – also called a Bharat Bandh – a day ahead of the scheduled sixth round of talks with the government, with five million taking part across 20,000 locations. Farmers blocked major roads from 11am to 3pm, predominantly in the agricultural states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. All commercial centres were closed. Protestors blocked railway tracks in West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha. Many shops and commercial areas were also closed in Delhi in solidarity with the striking farmers. Despite a massive blockade of Delhi’s main highways, farmers are still receiving solidarity from the people living there.
Comrade Amar Fayaz was abducted on 8 November 2020 by state authorities in Jamshoro, Pakistan, a month ago, and his whereabouts are still unknown. Comrades all around the world are showing solidarity and putting pressure on the Pakistani state, demanding Amar’s release. An online petition has gathered more than 6,000 signatures from comrades and supporters globally.
The following is an introduction by marxist.com editor Fred Weston to the new edition of The First Five Years of the Communist International from Wellred Books (buy it now!) Fred outlines some of the key debates and decisions taken in the first four congresses of the Communist International. This, we hope will serve to place the contribution of Trotsky into the context of the period.
A string of bond defaults by hitherto top–rated Chinese state owned companies in November has cast a shadow over China’s relatively firm economic recovery from the downturn set off by the COVID–19 pandemic. This shows that the Chinese state is fundamentally unable to avoid the organic crisis of the capitalist system.
Even the strategists of the ruling class are warning of an apocalyptic scenario for British capitalism, as the pandemic, Brexit, and economic chaos combine to create a perfect storm. We are entering a period of revolutionary convulsions.
The 6 December National Assembly elections in Venezuela were marked by a low turnout in the midst of imperialist aggression and a deep economic crisis. The US and the EU had already announced in advance they would not recognise the results, but the Guaidó card is exhausted. The PSUV victory announces a deepening of its rightward political shift.
On November 26, nearly 250 million workers participated in a strike in urban and rural areas all over India. The strike, called by the ten central trade unions, was the fifth in the six years since Modi ascended to power.
A large part of the population in India is linked with the agriculture sector. This sector contributes 17 percent of the Indian GDP. But working conditions in the agriculture sector have not developed under capitalism and are worsening every passing day. The farmers are being pushed into further debt-traps because of the policies of liberalisation and privatisation under successive capitalist governments. There has been a general decline of living standards for farmers under the rotten capitalist system, with farmers being forced to live at the mercy of traders and multi–national corporations for their survival. The Farm Bills passed recently by the parliament are a big blow for the farmers, who were already living in miserable conditions and thousands of whom each year are opting for suicide across the country.
Joe Biden beating Donald Trump in the race for the White House shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, his opponent was an incompetent reality TV star presiding over a devastated economy and an uncontrolled pandemic. Just a few months earlier, the Commander in Chief had been forced to hide in a bunker in the face of the most massive protest movement in the country’s history. What is surprising is that the result was ever anything but a foregone conclusion.
On 15 October, retired General Salvador Cienfuegos was arrested when he arrived with his family at the Los Angeles airport. The US authorities took him into custody under serious accusations of money laundering and drug trafficking. This was no ordinary arrest. Cienfuegos had served as head of the armed forces and Mexico’s Minister of Defence under Peña Nieto’s presidency in 2012-18. This incident unleashed a major diplomatic crisis between Mexico and the United States. The prestige of the Mexican army (and much else besides) was put at stake. On 20 November, the General Attorney of the United States withdrew the charges and repatriated Cienfuegos to Mexico. He has since remained scot-free.
With the rise of the feminist movement and the struggle against women’s oppression, sections of both the left and the very same feminist movement have revived the idea of “wages for housewives”. They classify housework carried out by women as “unpaid” work, claiming that capitalists save themselves costs by relying on this unpaid labour. Where does Marxism stand on this issue?
The images of the beating of Michel Zecler (a black music producer) on 21 November and the huge success of the “freedom marches” the following Saturday have exposed once again the thoroughly reactionary, racist nature of the police, and accentuated the French government crisis.
Marxism defends the unity of peoples across all gender and sexual lines in the fight against the oppressive capitalist system. But Queer Theory holds that our gender and sexual identities are a fiction produced by discourses and oppressive power in society: a learned performance. What does this idea mean for the liberation struggle? Is Queer Theory compatible with Marxism? In this talk, recorded at this year's International Marxist University, Yola Kipcak from Der Funke (Austrian section of the IMT) tackles these issues and explains the position of Marxists towards Queer Theory and the struggle against oppression.