Marxists

Lukács: another view

According to John Rees and the Counterfire group (a splinter from the SWP), Georg Lukács was "the most important Marxist political philosopher since Marx". He was "the great theorist of revolution in the 20th century", and his writings were "the most sophisticated development of the classical Marxist tradition that anyone has developed". John Cunningham's presentation (Solidarity 511) is more sober. But generally Lukács has enjoyed high repute in a wide range of the left since the early 1970s, and with many Third Camp Marxists since Michael Harrington made the first English translation from...

Marxism and Irish politics

In November 2018, the longtime Irish-based Trotskyist Rayner Lysaght debated with Sean Matgamna, a founding member of Workers’ Liberty, on Marxist perspectives on Irish history and the Irish revolution. Such debates, between divergent theoretical traditions, are rare. They are even more rare in Britain on the particular topic of the Irish Question, despite the prospect of a post-Brexit hard border in Ireland. Much debate centred around the applicability of Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution to Ireland. Lysaght argued that Ireland is still an “unfinished capitalist entity”, its bourgeois...

Not the worst kind of renegade

Karol Modzelewski died on 28 April 2019. He was a well known personality on the western anticapitalist left in the 1960s, as co-author of the “Open letter to the Party”. After the collapse of “actually existing socialism”, he was treated as a moral authority by the liberal media in the Third Polish Republic, as one of the fighters for Polish democracy. Karol Modzelewski was born in Moscow in 1937 in a family of Communist activists. His stepfather, Zygmunt Modzelewski, became the foreign affairs minister in “People’s Poland” in 1947. In 1964, Modzelewski, who was then a lecturer at the...

Lukács: strange contradictions

The first translation from German of any of Lukács's History and Class Consciousness appeared in the heterodox Trotskyist journal The New International, in the summer 1957 issue. Michael Harrington translated What is Orthodox Marxism?, the first essay in the book, with the introduction reprinted here. George Lukács, the author of What is Orthodox Marxism, is one of the strangest figures of twentieth century socialism. For he is simultaneously one of the few really creative Marxist minds of his time and a man who has betrayed the ideals of the revolution to the Stalinist regime. The many...

The life and work of Georg Lukács

Georg Lukács (pictured above in 1919) was one of the best-known Marxist writers of the 20th century. He joined the Hungarian Communist Party in December 1918 and was a People's Commissar in the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic of March-July 1919. After fleeing to Vienna, he published History and Class Consciousness (in 1923, but collecting texts written since 1919). He lived in the USSR between 1929 and 1945. He was a minister in the reforming Nagy government in Hungary in 1956, survived the Russian invasion and the repression, and died in 1971. John Cunningham talked with Martin Thomas...

Losing the thread: ISO’s collapse

The veteran Marxist writer Paul Le Blanc has written the most substantial and critical account yet of the collapse of the USA’s International Socialist Organization, of which Le Blanc was himself a member, though not a central one. The ISO was the most active revolutionary socialist organisation in the USA, with 800 or 900 members. At its convention in late February 2019, opposition groups displaced its longstanding leaders with a platform promising wider activism. Le Blanc (who was outside the USA at the time) reports “at the convention’s conclusion there seemed among people I trust...

Richard Wright and Stalinism

Richard Wright, the American author of the novels Native Son and Black Boy, was born on a plantation in Roxie, near Natchez, Mississippi in 1908. He died of a heart attack in Paris, in 1960, aged 52. For a while, especially in the early 1940s, he was an enormously prominent and important leftwing author. Native Son was a ground-breaking book with a young Black hoodlum, Bigger Thomas, as its anti-hero. It was criticised by some activists at the time for not presenting a positive view of Black people. Indeed, Native Son is a gruelling read. Wright wanted to present Thomas, who murders two women...

The “Green New Deal”

Marxist ecologist John Bellamy Foster has commented on the “Green New Deal” proposed notably by the new Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez. I am impressed by some aspects of it. She calls for mass mobilisation, which is indeed necessary. She also calls for innovative forms of financing, such as setting up a network of public banks to finance it directly, modelled after the New Deal, and through much higher marginal tax brackets on the rich and corporations, going back to what we once had in the United States. The revenues could be used to finance a massive shift toward solar and wind...

Dry January not so good

I’m sympathetic to some of the points made by Martin Thomas in “Health-anuary” (Solidarity 494) but I think the article attempts to draw conclusions with little evidence. I took part in Dry January. I’m pleased I did. But for improving health, a general reduction in drinking is more likely required rather than a month of abstinence. I am not a problem drinker, but like many British people an occasional binge drinker. The facts for problem drinking are stark; 30% of all alcohol is consumed by just 4.4% of the population. Dry January is neither desirable for nor targeted at those people, who are...

Crisis and Sequels out in paperback

Martin Thomas outlines the guide he followed in compiling Crisis and Sequels, a book on the 2007-8 crash and its aftermath now out in paperback edition. “Analysis must proceed not from a blurred outline of a ‘typical’ capitalist economy, but from the complex reality of a world economy with its own structure and within it national economies substantially different in pattern both from the global structure and from each other”. Crisis and Sequels is built round 32 interviews with or contributions by 15 economists, organised into five chronological sections as the 2007­8 crash and its sequels...

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.