Archive for the ‘Marxism’ Category

This year is Marx’s bicentennial.  He was born in 1818 (May 5).  And March 14 was the 135th anniversary of his death.

This year is also the 170th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto.

Below are some of the pieces we have run on Redline about Marx’s ideas, including pieces which showing their continuing relevance to understanding the world as it is and as it could be.

What is Marxism?

What is exploitation?

How capitalism works – and why it doesn’t

Two articles on Wages, prices & lies and capitalist crisis

4,000 words on Capital

Karl Korsch on “tremendous and enduring” impact of Marx’s Capital (1932)

Engels on Marx on the Working Day

Marx’s critique of classical political economy

Capital, the working class and Marx’s critique of political economy

Capital and the state

How capitalist ideology works

Pilling’s Marx’s Capital: philosophy, dialectics and political economy

How capitalism under-develops the world

The political economy of low-wage labour 

Whatever happened to the leisure society?

Pensions and the retirement age – the problem is capitalism, not an aging population

A nightmare in whiteware: the ‘teamwork’ system, exploitation and alienation

Value, price and the ‘transformation problem’ in Marx’s Capital

The transformation problem and Marx’s crisis theory

Productive and unproductive labour in capitalist society

The use-value of Marx’s value theory

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May 5 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx.  Below we’re running a review of Francis Wheen’s biography of Marx.  The review was written when the bio first came out and is by a prominent British Marxist.  Its author probably did more than anyone else to re-establish Marx’s crisis theory in the English-speaking world, back in the early 1970s, and also both to re-establish the Marxist tradition in Britain on ‘the Irish Question’ and the imnpact of imperialism on the political outlook of the British working class and the Marxist approach to Labourism and the British Labour Party.  We’ve added a few more subheads and paragraph divides to break up the text.

by David Yaffe

The first short biography of Karl Marx could be said to have been produced by his great friend and collaborator Frederick Engels on 17 March 1883 in a speech heard by the ten other people gathered together in Highgate Cemetery for Marx’s funeral. It offers very clear guidelines to those who would take it upon themselves to write future biographies. Marx, said Engels, was before all else a revolutionary:

‘His real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being, to contribute to the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was the first to make conscious of its own position and its needs, conscious of the conditions of its emancipation. Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity and a success such as few could rival.’

So the appearance of yet another biography of Karl Marx, this time by the former Guardian columnist Francis Wheen,1 claiming that ‘it is time to strip away the mythology and rediscover Karl Marx the man’ (p1), should put us on our guard. For Marx the man cannot be separated from his real mission in life and the dedication and commitment that invariably accompanied it.

Faint praise

A biography like any other ‘commodity’ has to have a market niche. Another tabloid-style denunciation of the man and his works would have little mileage. Neither would a revolutionary vindication of Marx. Wheen knows his punters – he wrote weekly for them in The Guardian. They rejected Thatcherism and a Labour Party gone Thatcherite. They are disturbed by untrammelled market forces, corporate domination, financial speculation and increasing stress and insecurity at work. They are alarmed by environmental destruction and Third World poverty but want well-stocked supermarkets supplied by global markets. They want to see change but not (more…)

Gareth from the Otago Socialist Society is presenting and hosting a discussion on Wage Labour and Capital, Monday (April 30).

Written in 1847 by Karl Marx and published towards the end of the wave of European revolutions that began in 1848, Wage Labour and Capital is a short, accessible pamphlet that introduces the substance of Marx’s critique of political economy and capitalism.

While it was written a cebtury and a half ago, the principles of Marx’s thought presented in the text are very much applicable today.

5.30pm, Monday, April 30
Seminar room
Third floor
Dunedin Public Library
All welcome

The Imperialism Study/Discussion Group initiated by Redline is now moving on to Tony Norfield’s work on the global financial system.

At the same time, people involved in the study/discussion continue to chat about imperialism in the 21st century and, in particular, about the critique John Smith has made of David Harvey in relation to imperialism today.

Below is a note from John about the continuing debate with Harvey and his supporters on the subject and a follow-up note from Walter Daum, another participant in the study/discussion group.

From John:

‘Exploitation and super-exploitation’ — https://mronline.org/2018/04/14/exploitation-and-super-exploitation/ — is a small (literally, just 1400 words) further step towards what Ilyenkov would call a ‘universal concrete concept’ of contemporary imperialist capitalism, a mammoth task involving many volumes and people and debate; the quest for which has all along guided work on my thesis and then the book.

The article arose from a request on short notice for a short piece on the topic of ‘exploitation in the global economy’ from the Crisis and World Economy working group of CLACSO, a pan-Latin American academic social science network. The Spanish version is available from https://www.clacso.org.ar/grupos_trabajo/archivos/57_bole.pdf.

Help with their dissemination is much appreciated.

It has set in motion a little project: to (more…)

Canterbury Socialist Society presents “Workers Against War” – a public lecture on this history of the Workers’ Movement opposition to the First World War.

Every year ANZAC Day commemorations seem more like war propaganda than the last – and we aim to provide a touch of counter history: that of sedition, desertion, rebellion, refusal, and fraternisation of workers on the front.

We are very pleased to welcome for a second time guest speaker Dan Bartlett. Dan is a historian whose research with Voices Against War focused on New Zealand opposition to the First World War. Dan will be focusing on the activities of Socialists in Christchurch during the war years.

Socialist Society chair Tom Roud will speak on the tension and eventual split in the international workers’ movement over the question of supporting one’s own ruling class in the war. He will be focusing primarily on the (more…)

“As capitalist, he is only capital personified. His soul is the soul of capital. But capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to create value and surplus-value, to make its constant factor, the means of production, absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus-labour. Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has purchased of him. If the labourer consumes his disposable time for himself, he robs the capitalist.”
-Marx, Capital Vol. 1, Ch. 10, Section 1, ‘ The Limits of the Working Day’.

For Canterbury Socialist Society’s March event we are returning to some of Marx’s foundational texts regarding political economy and its critique.

A comrade and Wellington-based supporter of the CSS will be presenting on Marx’s exposition of ‘The Working Day’. The lecture will examine the  (more…)