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Marx and Economix

Marx saw the aim of the working-class party as the preparation for and organisation of revolution – the overthrow of the ruling class of capitalist – and the organisation of a new system of production, socialism. A working-class party explains why, so long as capitalist production, continues, the struggle between classes must also go on, while economic crises and wars inflict terrible sufferings on the workers; but that the conflict and sufferings can be ended by changing the system of production, which involves the overthrow of the capitalist class.

Capitalism evolved out of feudal times. The typical feudal form of production was production for local consumption: food, clothing and other articles were produced by the serfs for themselves and for their feudal lords. Any surplus was sold in exchange for articles brought in from other countries or from other parts of the country. But the main part of production was still for consumption by the producers and the lord who had feudal righ…

Marxist Economic Theory

What is Capitalism

Much of the left today have abandoned Marx. Many people who are against certain aspects of capitalism snatch pieces of Marx to give themselves a progressive legitimacy but being anti-capitalist does not really say much. It only begs the questions: how do we describe capitalism and from what angle are we criticizing it?  Much of the Left chooses to divide capitalism between good and bad ones. They replaced Marx's criticism of capitalism with a host of reformist and even reactionary demands peddled under this name. Academics have tried to convert it into a scientific sociology or an alternative economic science for the left wing of the bourgeoisie. Pseudo-socialist presented workers with repulsive examples of despotic societies in the name of socialism, like the Soviet Union, China and Albania. The result is to alienate workers from communism and cut the connection between worker and communism.

 Terminology is important to discussion and bandying words around with…

Imperialism: Plague on both houses

The Left-wing have just not been interested in any criticism of what has become a dogma in their circles: that socialists are duty-bound to support struggles for "national liberation". The "revolutionary" Left simply "trot" out the old anti-imperialism position of supporting the weaker country against imperialist aggression which refuses any real class analysis of war.

Lenin wrote a pamphlet which he entitled Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. In it he argued that, through a process which had been completed by the turn of the century, capitalism had changed its character. Industrial capital and bank capital had merged into finance capital, and competitive capitalism had given way to monopoly capitalism in which trusts, cartels and other monopolistic arrangements had come to dominate production. Faced with falling profits from investments at home, these monopolies were under economic pressure to export capital and invest it in the economically …

The choice is ours to make

Marx’s motto was to “Doubt everything”.

In an age where the internet provides us with unlimited access to the direct sources there appears to be no limits to the misunderstanding and distortion of Marx. In books and articles there is continuous reference to Marx, attacking him from all sides for claims that he never made. Many critiques basically accuses Marx of a economic determinism which makes men puppets in the hands of economic forces and the Materialist Conception of History interpreted as economic determinism is found in a collection of Marx’s critics.

Marx’s approach to history is explained in his Preface to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy and in the Communist Manifesto. Marx’s scientific method was to proceed by simplifying concrete and complex manifestations into an abstraction, which becomes less and less complex until reaching the simplest conception. Then, by systematically adding complicating factors there is a return journey towards empirical realit…

The Real World

The materialist conception of history (or historical materialism or the economic interpretation of history) has never consisted of the crude view that hunger alone, the eagerness to satisfy the material needs of the stomach, is the driving force of history. But the materialist conception of history certainly arises out of the basic observation that people (as Engels said at Marx’s funeral) “must have food and drink, clothing and shelter, first of all, before they can interest themselves in politics, science, art, religion, and the like.”

The supporters of the materialist conception of history have never been so dogmatic as to declare that economic forces are the only forces that make history. What they have argued is that, among the factors of history, economic forces have the final say.

Those who advocate the materialist conception  of history do not deny the influence of the mind, never ignore the power of ideas, never under-estimate the importance of the mental or spiritual factor…

Socialism = Communism

The Socialist Party repudiates any differentiation between socialism and communism. Socialism is communism, and vice versa. The words socialism and communism have the same meaning. Both entail the total abolition of money, buying and selling, and the wages system, a complete breach, both in practice and in ideas, with capitalism. They indicate a condition of society in which the wealth of the community: the land and the means of production and distribution are held in common, production being for use and not for profit. The community will ascertain what are the requirements of the people in food, clothing, housing, transport, educational and cultural facilities. Food, clothing, housing, transport, sanitation — these come first. Then will follow the luxuries.


It means the community must set itself the task of providing rather more than the people can use of all the things that the people need and desire, and of supplying these when and as the people require them. Socialism shall satis…

Marx and Engels on the power of the vote

It's often pointed out that our political system is completely corrupted by money yet history teaches that people's influence on their governments is much more powerful than we usually imagine. It's weakened primarily by people's failure to do anything and the mistaken belief that we don't have the power to shape the world as we wish it to be.


Marx and Engels strongly supported political action in the sense of participating in elections. They stressed the importance of the vote. Engels explains that universal suffrage "in an England two-thirds of whose inhabitants are industrial proletarians means the exclusive political rule of the working class with all the revolutionary changes in social conditions which are inseparable from it." Marx argued along the same lines, for example, in 1855, he stated that "universal suffrage . . . implies the assumption of political power as means of satisfying [the workers'] social means" and, in Britain, &q…

Marx and Engels on Ireland

Marx (and Engels) supported Irish nationalism and the Socialist Party’s position on Scottish independence is often criticised by those on the Left who claim to be Marxists because we ignore that fact. But to be a Marxist means, to apply the Marxian analysis to continually changing social conditions Too many so-called socialists are reluctant to apply the Marxist materialist conception of history in their thinking.
Indeed, Marx did support Irish independence, we do not dispute it, but he did so primarily because he thought it would hasten the completion of the democratisation of the British state. At the time the bourgeois democratic victory over feudalism was far from complete even in Britain, and on the continent of Europe what progress had been made was continually threatened by three great feudal powers, Russia, Austria and Prussia. In these circumstances Marx considered it necessary to support not only direct moves to extend political democracy but also moves which he felt would…

The End of the State

Continuing to correct some misunderstandings about the ideas of Karl Marx.

Most of the misconceptions regarding socialism have been propagated by those who wish to emulate the Russian Revolution. It is unfortunate that when their so-called “marxism” became the official ideology of the ruling class in Russia the anti-state sentiments of Marx and Engels have been downplayed or downright distorted.


Workers State

The society which organizes production anew on the basis of free and equal association of the producers will put the whole state machinery where it will then belong - into the museum of antiquities, next to the spinning wheel and the bronze ax.” Engels

Neither Marx or Engels ever advocated a "worker's state". Both wanted to use the state's apparatus used to overthrow the bourgeoisie, at which point it would have served its purpose and would be dismantled.

Many on the Left are convinced that Russia was some sort of "workers state’ albeit some qualifying …

Understanding Marx

David McLellan, formerly professor of political theory at the University of Kent wrote: “Marx’s writings have too often been reduced to ill-digested slogans… it is not surprising that Marx still remains so misunderstood.”

The Dictatorship of the Proletariat

“No revolution can be made by a party, But by a nation [i.e. by everybody]” Karl Marx

The “dictatorship of the proletariat" is not a very useful term for socialists to use. It is unnecessary baggage for today’s socialists to carry. For a start when Marx was writing the term “dictatorship” didn't have the tyrannical connotations it does today. Marx didn't mean a dictatorship in the modern sense of the word. He meant a community in which the whole working class would set the political agenda and use the political machinery to act in it's interests. Writers like Hal Draper have addressed the authoritarian distortion of the term.

To-day it is loaded with prejudice and/or misunderstanding. Many now steer clear of employ…

An Anti-Bolshevik Approach to Revolution

The final talk in the Socialist Thinkers series by Stephen Coleman and a belated contribution to the 90th anniversary of the Russian Revolution . It is a discussion of Leninism and the Julius Martov critique of the Bolsheviks .

The download can be found via the link at Darren's blog

Karl Kautsky

Once more the Inveresk Street Ingrate blogger has uploaded a Stephen Coleman talk on socialist thinkers , which can be downloaded via the link here .
The subject is Karl Kautsky and the Socialist Critique of Religion

Some Socialist Theory

Another audio file of the Socialist Thinkers series can be found at Darren's blog .

This time it is the Russian Marxist George Plekhanov and the Materialist Conception of History .

And once again the speaker is Stephen Coleman .