Theory History

Millions of workers and youth in the US are fed up with the two parties of the capitalist class: the Republicans and the Democrats. The lack of a mass working-class party leaves voters with little real choice: either vote for one of the ruling class’s parties; cast a protest vote for a tiny third party; or abstain altogether. But why is there no mass workers’ party in the US? Why have past attempts to build one failed? What lessons can we learn from history to change this in the future?

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the capture of Cuauhtémoc [the last Aztec ruler] on 13 August 1521 by the Spanish invaders, an event that marked the date of the fall of Mexico-Tenochtitlán. This fall represented a very important stage in the process of the ascent of capitalism and its worldwide rise to dominance. It was one of the starting points of capitalist globalisation. And it represented a clash between two modes of production: capitalism in its early stage of development, and the mode of production of the Mesoamerican world, with its own peculiarities.

Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal and author of Chartist Revolution, recently appeared on A People’s History podcast talking about the Chartist movement, alongside John McDonnell, Emma Griffin and Katrina Navickas. The Chartist movement represented the first time the organised working class fixed its eyes on the seizure of power. The Chartists unashamedly fought for radical, socialist changes. Today, the Marxist movement stands on the shoulders of the great Chartist fighters – a revolutionary tradition to which we owe a tremendous debt.

...

June 4th marks the 32nd anniversary of the brutal crushing of the Tiananmen Square movement in China in 1989. This year, like every year, we will no doubt see many bourgeois commentators producing articles that use the tragic events of 1989, not to explain what the movement was actually about, but to denounce “communism/socialism” as a failure. They will paint it as a system that cannot work, and present capitalism as the only viable system available to humanity. The media in the west present it as a movement for bourgeois parliamentary democracy and for capitalist restoration in China.

100 years ago, the ultra-left leaders of the German Communist Party prematurely launched a revolutionary offensive. This proved to be a fiasco, wrecking the authority of the party. The 1921 ‘March Action’ contains important lessons for today.

Among the countries whose masses participated in what became known as the Arab Spring, the Egyptian Revolution is perhaps the richest in lessons, as well as prospects for the immediate future. This article provides a balance sheet of the revolution and its aftermath, 10 years later, and explains the revolutionary perspectives for Egypt today.

The general strike of the winter of 1960-61 destroyed in practice all the myths of the ‘bourgeoisified’ working class in Belgium and in Europe. For five weeks, a total of 1 million workers made the bosses and their state tremble. In this article we look back at those dramatic events.

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.

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.

With the 50th anniversary of the October Crisis of 1970, debates about the Front de Libération du Quebec (FLQ) have resurfaced. Some denounce the “Felquistes” as vulgar “terrorists”. Others celebrate them as a model to be followed. Still others recognize the problems denounced by the FLQ, but feel that they should have used “democratic” means to achieve their ends. For Marxists, there is no doubt that the FLQ revolutionaries showed courage and tenacity rarely seen in the history of Quebec. But we must admit the failure of their methods.

We are excited to announce the publication of a new book by Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, on Chartism: a titanic struggle by British workers in the 1800s that involved arming, general strikes and insurrection, a fact buried by official 'histories'. Until the end of October, Chartist Revolution is available for pre-order at Wellred books for a special discounted price!

We are excited to announce the publication of a new book on Chartism – a titanic struggle by British workers in the 1800s that involved arming, general strikes and insurrection, a fact buried by official “histories” – by Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, British publication of the International Marxist Tendency. In this review, Socialist Appeal writer and activist Josh Holroyd explains the importance of this new book, which reclaims the revolutionary history of the British labour movement. Until the end of October, Chartist Revolution is available for pre-order

...

50 years ago, Swedish miners at the state-owned company LKAB went on a mighty wildcat strike. This cut right through the propaganda about Sweden as a country of polite class collaboration. The miners inspired workers up and down the country to take up the struggle for better working conditions, in a wave of spontaneous strikes that spread like wildfire. This is the story of the great miners’ strike.