Marxists

Fiendishly/not so difficult political quiz

In these troubled and isolating times here’s a chance to have a bit of fun and demonstrate to all and sundry that you are a real smart-arse. Most of these questions are not that difficult, there are a few stinkers however. Try and resist the temptation to look everything up on Google. Use the quiz as you see fit. I hope some of the answers at least will prove interesting. The full answers will be posted in ten days from when they are made available online. Deaths, assassinations etc. 1. Gavril Princip assassinated Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914. To which secret organisation did Princip...

To bring revolution "down to earth"

The socialist activist and scholar Robert Fine, who passed away on 9 June 2018 at the age of 72, was a long-time sympathiser and sometime activist with Workers’ Liberty. Our series of book reviews to commemorate Fine continues with Political Investigations: Hegel, Marx, Arendt (Routledge 2001). Karl Marx (1818-83) was the first writer to integrate socialist politics with comprehensive and well-documented theories of economics and history. Most working-class socialists since his time have regarded themselves as Marxists to one degree or another, and by now most of us vehemently reject the idea...

Michel Lequenne, 1921-2020

“The last Trotskyist” — so Michel Lequenne, who died on 13 February 2020 aged 98, sometimes described himself, according to a tribute by Antoine Artous and Francis Sitel. Arguably he was indeed the last surviving Orthodox Trotskyist with an unbroken political thread from the early 1940s. There are other Orthodox Trotskyists — the more-or-less theory-free network around Peter Taaffe’s Socialist Party, the “Morenist” diaspora, those post-Mandelites who still call themselves “Trotskyist” — but they scarcely attempt to offer a systematically-developed ideological tradition. In the introduction to...

Revolutionary organising in the German army in World War II

War-torn France 1943, occupied by the German army and administered by the Vichy regime: the tide had begun to turn against the Nazis, but they still ruled most of Europe. The extermination of Jewish people proceeded relentlessly. Within France, the resistance was dominated by Gaullists and the Communist Party (PCF). Both expressed virulent nationalism, summed up by the slogan: “à chacun son boche” (let everyone kill a Hun). In April 1943 Robert Cruau, a 23-year-old postal worker moved to Brest, along with Georges and Henri Berthomé. They were members of the Parti Ouvrier Internationaliste (POI...

A response on the Lukács archive

At Ideas for Freedom 2019 a number of comrades signed a petition I had drawn up calling for access to the Lukács Archive. You may remember that over a year ago his old flat which functioned as a library, archive and museum was closed down and the archives removed by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Since then the whereabouts of the Archive have remained unknown. László Lovász, the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has replied to the petition, and I thought comrades might like to see the reply. Cautiously, I would say that the hard line previously adopted by Lovász has softened...

Lukács and “tailism”

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

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

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?

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

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...

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