In defence of genuine Marxism

1337B7A5 0CF0 4336 97A1 B6CFEABB3A18One often hears of this caricature of Marxism as a dry, narrow doctrine, which reduces all human thought to economics and the development of the productive forces. Yet even today there are people who like to call themselves Marxists who defend, not the genuine ideas of Marx and Engels in all their richness, breadth and profundity, but the very same “economist” caricature of the bourgeois critics of Marxism. This is not Marxism at all but, to use Hegel’s expression, “die leblosen Knochen eines Skeletts” (the lifeless bones of a skeleton), on which Lenin commented: “What is necessary is not leblose Knochen, but living life.”...

The advanced workers and youth have a thirst for ideas and theory. They want to understand what is happening in society. They are not attracted by tendencies that merely tell them what they already know: that capitalism is in crisis, that there is unemployment, that they live in bad houses, earn low wages and so on. Serious people want to know why things are as they are, what happened in Russia, what Marxism is, and other questions of a theoretical character. That is why theory is not an optional extra, as the “practicos” imagine, but an essential tool of the revolutionary struggle.

– From In defence of theory — or Ignorance never yet helped anybody

Marxism, or Scientific Socialism, is the name given to the body of ideas first worked out by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In their totality, these ideas claim to provide a theoretical basis for the struggle of the working class to attain a higher form of human society - socialism. What relevance do these ideas, over 150 years old have to today's society? Alan Woods spoke at a recent meeting of the ULU Marxist Society in London on the relevance of Marxism today.

What is Socialism?

John Peterson, National Secretary of the Workers International and editor of Socialist Appeal, interviewed by Our World Today on the subject of "What is Socialism?". The interview covers many of the traditional arguments made against socialism and defends the banner of revolutionary Marxism.

As a result of the economic and social convulsions, many people are beginning to question the nature of the capitalist system. But does Marxism offer an alternative in todays world? Is there still a class struggle? Or are we all middle class now? Many people are disgusted by the huge salaries of big business, but does this mean they are in favour of socialism? Yesterday Alan Woods answered these questions at a ULU Marxist Society meeting in London with an audience of 25.

Leon Sedov

Tomorrow marks the 70th anniversary of the murder of Trotsky's eldest son - Leon Sedov - by agents of the Stalinist secret police, the GPU. He was thirty-two years of age. This crime constituted part of the systematic hounding and murder of Trotsky's key supporters and family, whose only ‘crime' was to defend genuine Marxism against Stalin and the crimes of the Russian bureaucracy.

Stalin’s article, Some Questions Concerning the History of Bolshevism, reached me after much delay. After receiving it, for a long time I could not force myself to read it, for such literature sticks in one’s throat like sawdust or mashed bristles. But still, having finally read it, I came to the conclusion that one cannot ignore this performance, if only because there is included in it a vile and barefaced calumny about Rosa Luxemburg.

Fred Weston of the International Marxist Tendency, and editor of In Defence of Marxism, talks on Leon Trotsky's theory of the Permanent Revolution. This marxist concept constitued the main ideological opposition to Stalin's theory of 'socialism in one country', which came to be the dominant outlook of the Soviet bureaucracy, that grew out of the isolation and degeneration of the young workers state.

The ideas of the International Marxist Tendency are very clear. We stand for the genuine ideas of Marxism and base ourselves on the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. You may agree or disagree with these ideas. Occasionally however, we encounter opponents who are prepared to go to incredible lengths to distort and falsify what we stand for. Just such a case came up earlier this year when the French language journal, La Vérité, published by the Lambertist group launched a vicious and dishonest attack on our positions. Here we explain what we really stand for.

An article by Israel Shamir, La saga de Woods, appeared on October 15, on the Spanish language web site Rebelión. Shamir brings out all his Stalinist venom against genuine Marxism – i.e. Trotskyism – but he also adds some of his own novel ideas. Alan Woods, basing himself on the classical writings of Marx, Engels and in particular Lenin, shows how Stalinism and Marxism are opposites.

In the three articles that Luis Oviedo has written in answer to my article published on January 7 (Marxism versus Sectarianism - Reply to Luis Oviedo) a number of very important issues are raised. These questions deserve the most careful consideration by Marxists in Britain, Argentina and internationally. However, in order to clarify the issues raised and to educate the cadres (which ought to be the aim of every polemic) it is necessary to avoid heated language, distortions and personal attacks that only serve to divert attention away from the political questions. Such an approach will only confuse matters

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My attention was recently drawn to an article signed by Luis Oviedo, entitled The Counterrevolutionary Position of Socialist Appeal(in Prensa Obrera nº 826).Having read the article, I could not decide whether it was the product of bad faith or simple ignorance. Certainly, the method used is contrary to every basic principle of Marxism and above all Trotskyism, which comrade Oviedo and the Partido Obrero (PO) claim to defend.

One hundred and twenty years ago - on March 14 1883 to be precise - Karl Marx, one of the greatest figures in human history, died. Despite over a century of attacks, distortions and attempts to belittle Marx's contribution, no-one can doubt that he dramatically altered the course of human history.

Marxists study history not for the smugness of 20/20 hindsight, but in order to learn its lessons. Trotsky's insistent call for a united front of workers' organisations to defeat fascism in Germany went tragically unheeded.

This Socialist Appeal pamphlet was written by Ted Grant and Alan Woods in March 1994 as an introduction to to Marxism in Our Time by Leon Trotsky. It is a powerful defence of the relevance of Marxist ideas at a time when the forces of socialism appeared to be on the back foot. The subsequent decades proved the validity of these lines: "The next period will see big battles between the classes that will put the struggles of the past in the shade."

In June 1948, Tony Cliff, an RCP member, published a lengthy document entitled The Nature of Stalinist Russia. This work has been extended over the years, and the arguments partly modified, but its essence has always been the idea that Russia, under Stalin, became 'state capitalist'. It followed from this that the other states of the Eastern bloc were also 'state capitalist'. Taken as a whole, the reply to this by Ted Grant is itself a modern 'classic', a major contribution to the theoretical arsenal of Marxism. It is to this day the most definitive defence, and a deepening, of the original arguments of Leon Trotsky, that Russia was a degenerated workers' state, and in

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