Colin Barker

Marx at the Margins

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Kevin Anderson, University of Chicago Press, £14.50

Marxist scholar Kevin Anderson has undertaken an exhaustive reading of some of Marx's lesser-known writings. He explores how Marx developed and changed his ideas about societies that, in the 19th century, were still peripheral to capitalism.

Marx's writings on India have attracted accusations of "Eurocentrism". Certainly his earliest journalism, in 1853, is open to the charge of treating British rule as beneficial in its overall effects by undermining a stagnant and unchanging India that lacked a history of popular struggle.

1989-2009: civil rights, women's liberation - the power of mass movements

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Twenty years ago popular mass movements brought down the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe. Such movements are the crucial vehicles of social transformation and the sole means through which capitalism can be surpassed.

There is a key reason for their importance. Only through their actual experiences within mass movements can great numbers of working people develop the potential to challenge existing society.

Through the processes of mass movements, people can radically change and develop their personal and social capacities, their social relationships, their visions and understandings of the present and the future. This quality - of self-transformation through popular struggle - gives mass movements their central importance in socialist thinking.

The battle and the war

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Karen Reissmann is the Manchester nurse sacked for speaking out about worsening mental health services. On 10 December the trust's kangaroo court rejected her appeal.

Four days later, after more than five weeks of indefinite strike and 14 previous strike days, her colleagues voted to suspend their action.

The battle had been exceptionally hard fought. A high proportion of strikers picketed regularly, delegations toured the country raising some £200,000 of financial support, and the local branch pressured Unison into organising a national day of protest.

D is for Dictatorship

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The phrase the "dictatorship of the proletariat" is famous, and much misunderstood. It's certainly liable to frighten the bourgeoisie. The difficulty is, it's also liable to frighten our side.

Karl Marx used the term a few times, and Frederick Engels a little less. What did they mean by it, and why did they use this phrase?

As to what they meant by it, that is quite clear. They meant what today is meant by the phrase "workers' state", or "the rule of the working class", or "conquest of political power by the working class". No more, and no less. They also used these terms, and other similar ones.

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