Marxists

Lukács and “tailism”

Published on: Wed, 09/10/2019 - 09:19
Author

Martin Thomas

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

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 09:13
Author

John Cunningham

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

Published on: Wed, 25/09/2019 - 09:18
Author

Paul Hampton

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

Was “permanent revolution” the flaw?

Published on: Wed, 25/09/2019 - 08:42
Author

Martin Thomas

A discussion of Jacques Texier's book Revolution et democratie chez Marx et Engels

Reformist socialism? Who is there, who could there be, who would hold to such a doctrine today?

As a positive scheme for a society of free and democratic cooperation, rather than as a negative reluctance to see working-class struggle rise too high?

Labour's 2017 manifesto was a refreshing break from New Labour. But it did not propose to replace a society of the rich Few and the hard-up Many by equality. It proposed only to take a little from those Few to alleviate the Many.

And, unlike some reformist-socialist

Peronism: not a model for socialists

Published on: Wed, 18/09/2019 - 10:36
Author

Eduardo Tovar

In an interview featured in Tim Alberta’s new book American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump, President Donald Trump compared Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Eva Perón.

Specifically, Trump remarked that Ocasio-Cortez has “talent”, but “doesn’t know anything”. This alludes to how Eva Perón went from popular radio and film actress to powerful symbol for the political movement spearheaded by her husband, Juan Perón. The latter was President of Argentina from June 1946 to September 1955, and again from October 1973 until his death in July

Rosa Luxemburg on 1905

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 10:19
Author

Martin Thomas

“The extent to which the party rises to the occasion [of a revolutionary upsurge] — that depends in the greatest degree on how widely [the Marxists have] known how to make their influence felt among the masses in the pre-revolutionary period...”

It depends on “the extent to which [they were] already successful in putting together a solid central core of politically well-trained worker activists with clear goals, how large the sum of all their political and organisational work has been”.

Volume 3 of the new Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, published this year, shows how false the idea is that

Werner Scholem: Trotskyism, Zinovievism, antisemitism

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 09:58
Author

Paul Hampton

The socialist life of Werner Scholem deserves to be better known. The publication of Ralf Hoffrogge’s exhaustive biography, A Jewish Communist in Weimar Germany (Haymarket 2018), means that English readers now have the opportunity to appreciate his contribution.

Werner Scholem was born in Germany in December 1895. He joined the Socialist Workers’ Youth group as a teenager in 1912 and then the Social Democratic Party (SPD) on turning 18.

Scholem opposed the First World War but was conscripted, wounded on the Eastern front and then imprisoned for anti-war activities. He was sent to the Western

Immanuel Wallerstein 1930-2019

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 09:10
Author

Martin Thomas

Immanuel Wallerstein died at the age of 88 on 31 August. He was one of the last great exponents of the 1950s-60s theory of imperialism known as “dependency theory”, and continued to write until only a few years ago.

He was born in New York, the son of Polish Jews fleeing antisemitism, and worked almost all his life in US universities. He named Marx first among those to whom he “acknowledged a continuing intellectual debt”.

He described himself as one of a “gang of four” with Samir Amin, Giovanni Arrighi, and Andre Gunder Frank, all also now dead. Gunder Frank was the most prolific and

The Bolsheviks and international trade union work

Published on: Tue, 03/09/2019 - 08:43
Author

Paul Vernadsky

Review: Reiner Tosstorff, The Red International of Labour Unions (RILU) 1920-1937. Haymarket (2018)


In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian revolution, the Bolsheviks sought to advance the international socialist revolution through the formation of the Communist International (the Comintern). The first five years of the Comintern are replete with lessons for socialists, including crucial conceptions such as transitional demands, the united front and the workers’ government. One crucial sphere of the Comintern’s work concerned the trade unions, crystallised in the foundation of the Red

Robert Fine on antisemitism and Stalinism: a comment

Published on: Tue, 13/08/2019 - 12:34
Author

Eduardo Tovar

I read Dan Davison’s article on Robert Fine and the critique of antisemitism in Solidarity 512 with great interest.

While Davison’s overall tribute to Fine is both lucid and commendable, there are two significant aspects of Fine’s critical perspective that Davison left under-examined. These are, first, Fine’s understanding of the connections between antisemitism and racism and, second, his standpoint on Stalinism and anti-Stalinism.

Having written reviews of two of Fine’s books so far as part of an ongoing series, I found Fine’s ideas about antisemitism thought-provoking. Indeed, I can see

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