Marxism

Unravelling Capitalism

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Joseph Choonara, Bookmarks Publications; £7.99

Last October the right wing Daily Mail reported that Karl Marx's Capital was a bestseller in Germany. Around the same time a Capital reading movement was initiated in over 30 different German universities by the student organisation associated with the left wing party Die Linke. More recently several groups of students at British universities including Birkbeck, King's College London and Oxford have begun similar projects (for example, see kclreadingcapital.blogspot.com).

Slump, boom and climate change

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From the European Union to Barack Obama, promises have been made to give priority to a "green agenda". In reality, they are using the recession to go into reverse.

A recent, bad TV programme made one interesting point - that devastating transformations in the climate, as a result of the apparently slow build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, will hit people at some point with the same suddenness as the economic crisis that is now sweeping the world.

Interview: A structural crisis of the system

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István Mészáros won the 1971 Deutscher Prize for his book Marx's Theory of Alienation and has written on Marxism ever since. He talks to Judith Orr and Patrick Ward about the current economic crisis.

The ruling class are always surprised by new economic crises and talk about them as aberrations. Why do you believe they are inherent in capitalism?

I recently heard Edmund Phelps, who got the 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics. Phelps is a kind of neo-Keynesian. He was, of course, glorifying capitalism and presenting the current problems as just a little hiccup, saying, "All we have to do now is bring back Keynesian ideas and regulation."

Q is for quantity and quality

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How is it that history makes an unexpected leap forward?

Take the sudden onset of the economic crisis. We were told this could never happen again, but banks are failing, the financial system is in turmoil and a recession is opening up beneath our feet.

The recession is hardly the only example in recent years of a sharp disruption to the flow of events. The 9/11 attacks and their consequences were utterly unforeseen, and marked a turning point after which many important things in the world were never the same again.

The value of money

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How do the billions wiped off the stock market relate to the rest of the capitalist system? Joseph Choonara goes back to Karl Marx to explain.

Pity money. Over recent months it has been "injected" into markets, "destroyed" in financial meltdowns and stock market collapses; it has been "devalued" and "revalued" and passed along the increasingly unfathomable webs spun by capital.

With the workers always

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Profound economic crisis and renewed militancy from the working class means the relevance of Marxist ideas for 21st century trade unionism, and the role socialists can play within the movement, is worth revisiting, argues Sean Vernell

Walking past a bookshop recently I saw a window display with a copy of Robert Tressell's classic The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - a story of exploitation and resistance in the early part of the 20th century. The recommendation from one of their young workers read "Worryingly relevant".

The not so "weightless world"

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As many look to radical alternatives to the barbaric system of capital, the ideas of philosophers such as Slavoj Žižek have struck a chord. But beneath the surface of his post-Marxist arguments, do his ideas have the potential to change the world?

The Marxism 2007 festival held in London this summer showed that a new layer of activists are eager to debate ideas of how to change the world. Many are drawn to the ideas of people such as Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, who spoke at the festival.

Žižek is an entertaining speaker, using his personal idiosyncrasies to sometimes hilarious effect as he rejoices in provocations directed against mainstream liberal ideology.

A is for Alienation

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Alienation is one of the most frequently encountered concepts not only in philosophical, political, psychological and sociological writings, as well as in creative literature, but - on an almost daily basis - even in the popular media. This is not surprising. For the practical reality of some form of alienation is an inescapable experience in the life of every individual in our society.

Understandably, this experience has negative connotations, indicating the need to do something about it, in order to overcome its frequently deplored impact. But protest against alienation seems to be in vain. Why is this so? What is the apparently all-powerful agency of "alienation", capable of negatively affecting the whole of humankind over a long historical period, and how could it be consigned to the past?

Praxis Makes Perfect

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Anindya Bhattacharyya takes a look at some recently published books that examine the philosophical implications of the struggle for radical political change.

In 1845 the young Karl Marx wrote down a series of short notes to himself summarising the conclusions of his intense engagement with the radical philosophies of his day. They were never intended for publication, but were nevertheless been preserved for posterity after Marx's death by his lifelong friend and comrade Frederick Engels.

From Common Sense to Good Sense

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What is the role of complex ideas in the day to day struggle? Chris Harman, editor of International Socialism, explains.

'Practice without theory is blind, theory without practice is sterile.' What is the relevance of this old adage today? That is something I have had to think about since I switched jobs five months ago. After working on our popular weekly paper, Socialist Worker, for 30 of the last 34 years, I took over the editorship of International Socialism, our 'quarterly journal of socialist theory'.

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