Marxism

Fashion: capitalism's favourite child

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From Theresa May’s choice of trousers to the horror of sweatshop labour, fashion is intimately entwined with capitalist relations of production and always has been, writes Anthony Sullivan.

Controversy is never far away from fashion, as Tory prime minister Theresa May discovered just before Christmas when former education secretary Nicky Morgan attacked her choice of £995 Amanda Wakeley leather trousers. Predictably, despite Morgan’s claims to the contrary it transpired that she had spent a similar sum on a Mulberry designer bag.

Can robots usher in a socialist utopia or only a capitalist dystopia?

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Robots and artificial intelligence should improve and ease our working lives, but they always seem to mean job losses and deskilling instead. The age of artificial intelligence is often proclaimed, but is it really just around the corner?

Are robots and artificial intelligence (AI) set to take over the world of work and thus the economy in the next generation? And what does this mean for jobs and living standards for people? Will it mean socialist utopia in our time (the end of human toil and a superabundant harmonious society) or capitalist dystopia (more intense crises and class conflict)?

Marxism loses a passionate champion

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Alex Callinicos looks back with warm memories, not only at the life of Ellen Meiksins Wood, who died last month, but on her early identification of, and critique of, 'Post Marxism' and her critical contribution to the development of the controversial analysis of 'Political Marxism'.

Ellen Meiksins Wood, who died in January at the age of 73, was one of the outstanding Marxist intellectuals of the past generation. She combined a rigorous commitment to theoretical clarity with a profound political passion. These qualities were very evident in the intervention that first brought her to broader attention, The Retreat from Class, first published in 1986.

Marxism and psychology

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Continuing a strand of debate, Canadian socialist Susan Rosenthal argues that we must look to social rather than individual solutions to mental ill health.

Marx and Engels described capital as a relationship and capitalism as a system of relationships. Did they mean that every aspect of our relations with ourselves, others, and society is shaped by capitalism, so that a socialist revolution would transform all of these relationships? Or were they being too general? Are some aspects of human experience unaffected by society, so that we need something other than Marxism to understand them and something more than socialism to transform them? This is the core of the conflict between Marxism and psychology.

Can we build a sustainable society?

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There is an assumption that Marx and Engels's vision of communism sees the natural world as an inexhaustible collection of resources. Martin Empson argues that they sought a profound change in how humans relate to nature, flowing from the democratic and collective organisation of labour.

This month will see major worldwide protests demanding action on climate change. As world leaders meet in Paris they have a chance to plan the massive reduction of emissions to keep world temperatures below the 2 degrees threshold. Time is now tight, and the action would need to be quick and drastic.

Marx and Nature

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Can Marxism help us understand our relationship with the environment? Did Marx himself ignore the role of nature? And do his theories need to be updated to incorporate ideas from the green movement?

Paul Burkett’s Marx and Nature, along with Marx’s Ecology by John Bellamy Foster, was a major contribution to these debates.

Marx and Nature was originally published in 1999, a time when it was common sense, even among some on the left, to argue that Marx neglected the role of the
natural world.

Exploring Capital

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The current crisis of capitalism has coincided with a renewed interest in Marx's Capital. Socialist Review spoke to Alex Callinicos about his forthcoming book examining Marx's understanding of capitalism.


There's been a revival of interest and debate in Marx's Capital. Why do you think this is and why did you want to intervene in these debates with your new book?

The main reason is because of the radicalisation and resistance to neoliberalism that we've seen since the 1990s. Initially there were critiques of neoliberalism and capitalism on very diverse intellectual bases.

Sport: capitalism at play

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Can Marxism help us make sense of sport? Paul Blackledge mines Tony Collins's Sport in Capitalist Society and Michael Lavalette's collection Capitalism and Sport for some answers.

If the Winter Olympics in Sochi, London 2012, and the World Cup in Brazil prove nothing else, they confirm that sport and politics go together like a horse and carriage - and those who argue otherwise are at best illiterate or more likely ideological.

How socialists should respond to these events is also clear enough - no amount of grand spectacle could ever justify Russia's homophobia or Brazil's social cleansing. And for all its brilliance, the opening ceremony at London 2012 didn't justify the £11 billion spent on the games in a period of austerity.

Why read...Imperialism and World Economy

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Lenin described Nikolai Bukharin's Imperialism and World Economy as essential to understanding not only the economic basis of imperialism, but also its political and social impact.

The book, which was published at the height of the First World War, set out to prove that the war was not a "descent into madness", or to halt "German militarism", but the consequence of the emergence of imperialism, itself a "higher stage" of capitalism.

Bukharin's work was a reply to the tendency at the time to reduce imperialism "to the level of a cuss-word".

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