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From the archive: An Introduction to Marxist Philosophy

 

We take pleasure in reproducing the first instalment of “An Introduction to Marxist Philosophy” by the late Peter Jefferies (Geoff Pilling). Geoff was a University lecturer and expert on the history of political economy but also a Trotskyist revolutionary and active fighter for the Fourth International. Geoff would have been greatly heartened by the developments taking place in Southern Africa and elsewhere and would have wanted to contribute to the building of the workers movement there.

The text is taken from the pamphlet of the same name published by Keep Left, London, January 1975 and comprises a series of articles that first appeared in Keep Left the weekly paper the Young Socialists (A British Trotskyist organisation – Ed.), Sept. 29, Oct. 6, Oct. 13, Oct. 20, Oct. 27, Nov. 10, Nov.17, Nov.24, Dec. 1, Dec. 8, Dec. 15, 1973. (Corrections to the original appear in [ ] Editor)

Chapter 1. Materialism and Idealism

‘PHILOSOPHY.’  When many members of the Young Socialists see the word they will no doubt think of something which they imagine strange and difficult, something done by ‘wise men’, often with long white beards!

So the first thing to get clear about at the start of this series of short articles is that the study of Marxist philosophy is not at all peculiar or over-difficult.

In fact, it is true to say that everybody has a philosophy,whether they are aware of it or not, whether they have worked it out or not.

For, by philosophy we mean a general conception of the world and the relationship of man and his thinking to this world.

And all of us have such a conception of the world. If this is the case, you might ask, why do we need to study philosophy? Simply because we have to develop a scientific and coherent conception of the world and the changes taking place within it.

For the revolutionary party, this is a vital question. Only if all its activities are guided by such a conception can it carry out its tasks of leading the working class to power and the establishment of socialism — the greatest change ever undertaken by man.

In Marxism lies the highest struggle by man to grasp the nature of the world in the course of his continual struggle to change it.

Hence the urgent need on the part of every Young Socialist to begin a systematic study of Marxism, individually and as part of his or her branch. Continue reading

Workers’ Front Croatia: An interview with DIMITRIJE BIRAC

‘Yes, we want to abolish capitalism’

One of the founders of Workers’ Front says: “Our final goal and the character of the party are anti-capitalist, and our current aim is to show that all the problems we talk about, such as unemployment and the collapse in production, are consequences of the socio-economic system, and not of the success of failure of this or that economic policy”.

Q: Worker’s Front has been organising for six months or so, but last week you decided to show yourselves in public. Who belongs to your organisation beside the linguist Mate Kapovic and the trade unionist Denis Geto?

DB: Mainly young people, activists, workers, students, unemployed people. We will introduce some of them to show that it’s not limited to a tiny group.

Our organisation is working along two lines: The first is to work on the infrastructures in  different towns, the second is to form links with working people, to support workers’ protest demonstrations and to get in touch with various trade unionists, particularly those who want to put up a struggle.

We are open to all those who are interested in changing society in line with our principles and transitional demands. Continue reading

Capitalism between hammer and anvil

by Balazs Nagy
First printed in Lutte des Classes No. 12, October 2013.

In our last issue, we briefly noted “cracks” emerging in world capitalism, including, among other things, weaknesses in relation to the international monetary system organised on the basis of and governed by the US dollar. We do know that, to ward off the last great crisis, the big chiefs of US finance decided to supply the economy, which was gasping for breath and quite unable to meet astronomic levels of losses and needs, with even greater massively and artificially swollen credit arrangements. To put it another way, the crisis had revealed the imperative urgent need to deal quickly and urgently with the yawning gap between real production on the one hand, hampered and dragged back by the growing limitations on effective profits, and on the other the phenomenal pile-up of dollars not backed by anything whose job was to make good the market’s organic deficiencies. Let me repeat: the whole edifice of runaway and inflamed world finance operates under the auspices of the US dollar. Continue reading

New Valls government: A government of anti-working class struggle

By Balazs Nagy, April 2014

The recent local government elections and the formation of a new government are a good opportunity, indeed a direct incentive, to say more about the mean, twisted and nasty way the Hollande team running the country think. Their politico-social reasoning is very simple, not to say simplistic. It is what you might call classical social-democratic thinking of a kind well-known over the last hundred years or more.

Resolute defenders of decadent capitalism

The main thing that really marks these people out, among all those who claim to be on the side of working people, is that they present capitalism as an eternal system whose existence you just have to accept. So according to this disgrace to the name of socialist, everything we do is necessarily limited and determined by the framework of capitalism and its general rules. But as a consolation to working people, according to this conception, the capitalist system can be put right, amended and improved, and our job is to contribute to that. This cheapskate philosophy which has long been selling the mission of liberating the working class for a mess of pottage still had some limited validity when, in return for this sell-out, the bourgeoisie was still able to concede various actual reforms. But imperialism is the period of capitalisms decline – something which social democrats obstinately deny – in which, because it is exhausted, this system is organically unable to concede the slightest reform. Continue reading

Euro-election results reveal signs of Political turmoil in Europe

By Bob Archer
Politicians and the media talked a great deal about earthquakes as the results of last months elections to the European parliament were published. This was especially true in France and the UK, where the established parties were beaten at the polls by the Front National (FN) and the UK Independence Party respectively.
Failing to assuage voters anger could mean the erosion, if not the destruction of the union in a matter of years, said veteran Austrian journalist Erhard Stackl, writing in The New York Times International Weekly. In some countries, the vote against an integrated Europe was profound.
He consoled himself with the observation that nevertheless two-thirds of the votes were cast for pro-European parties. And in Germany, the economic powerhouse of the 28-nation bloc, Chancellor Merkel and her allies still command a comfortable majority.
Smarting under a series of lost seats in the European parliament, many established bourgeois parties needed all the consolation on offer. Continue reading

Numsa President Opening Speech during Central Committee at The Lakes Hotel and Conference Centre on 12 – 16 May 2014

20 Years After 27th April 1994: what is the state the South African Revolution?

“Nothing demonstrates better the increasing rigor of the colonial system: you begin by occupying the country, then you take the land and exploit the former owners at starvation rates. Then with mechanization, this cheap labour is still too expensive. You finish up taking from the native their very right to work. All that is left for the Natives to do in their own land at a time of great prosperity, is to die of starvation.” (Jean Paul Sarter, 2001)

Numsa National Office Bearers,
Delegates to this Numsa CC,
All Numsa Staff,
Invited guests,
Media present.

On behalf of the National Office Bearers of Numsa, I welcome all of you to this first Central Committee meeting of Numsa after our historic December 2013 Numsa National Congress.

As we seat here, we are meeting after the first South African National Elections in which Numsa as an organisation did not support any political party.

This Central Committee must help all of us to fully understand the moment we are in, from a clear Marxist-Leninist class perspective. There should be no confusion over what Numsa resolved to do, in the Numsa National Special Congress.
All of us must be very clear what these just ended elections mean to the working class of South Africa. All of us must be clear what our revolutionary and trade union responsibilities are, post the Numsa historic Special National Congress. Continue reading

Numsa Views on the state of Class Struggles in South Africa and the Crisis in Cosatu

“Numsa is calling ALL South African workers, Black and White and African, to join us in our United Front to demand the immediate and radical implementation of the Freedom Charter as the only basis for a truly democratic South Africa and in our fight against all neoliberal manifestations.”

Numsa Headquarters, Johannesburg

People always have been the foolish victims of deception and self-deception in politics, and they always will be until they have learnt to seek out the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises.”

Lenin in “Three Sources and Three Component parts of Marxism”, March 1913

“Nothing demonstrates better the increasing rigor of the colonial system: you begin by occupying the country, and then you take the land and exploit the former owners at starvation rates. Then with mechanization, this cheap labour is still too expensive. You finish up taking from the native their very right to work. All that is left for the Natives to do in their own land at a time of great prosperity is to die of starvation.” (Jean Paul Sartre, 1964)

A.  The world we live in today and our 20 years of “Democracy”

It is impossible to deny that the world has seen the most severe crisis of the global capitalist system.  And, there is no end in sight, to this crisis. Continue reading

Stop the destruction of social gains! March separately, strike together!

 In defence of the workers and people of Greece – first victims of capital’s offensive

European march on Brussels!Response to the “Common Appeal for the Rescue of the People of Europe” launched by Mikis Theodorakis and Manolis Glezos,

by Balazs Nagy, Workers’ International (20 February 2012) Continue reading