This year, Wellred Books has been working on the completion of a historic project. Stalin: An Appraisal of the Man and His Influence is the final unfinished masterpiece of the great Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Painstakingly restored over a ten-year period, this version will be the first to include all of Trotsky’s own words in full, 100,000 of them previously unpublished, with the distortions of previous editor Charles Malamuth removed. In consultation with the Harvard archives and the English, French and Russian editions, we have produced the most complete version ever published in any language.
The whole of human history consists precisely in the struggle of humankind to raise itself above the animal level. This long struggle began seven million years ago, when our remote humanoid ancestors first stood upright and were able to free their hands for manual labour. Ever since then, successive phases of social development have arisen on the basis of changes in the development of the productive force of labour – that is to say, of our power over nature.
Today we begin the serialisation of a new work by Alan Woods, which provides a comprehensive explanation of the Marxist method of analysing history. This first article establishes the scientific basis of historical materialism. The ultimate cause of all social change is to be found, not in the human brain, but in changes in the mode of production.
Marxists do not see history as a mere series of isolated facts but rather, they seek to discover the general processes and laws that govern nature and society. The first condition for science in general is that we are able to look beyond the particular and arrive at the general. The idea that human history is not governed by any laws is contrary to all science.
“It is, therefore, from the history of nature and human society that the laws of dialectics are abstracted. For they are nothing but the most general laws of these two aspects of historical development, as well as of thought itself.” (Engels)
Many people do not realise that Marxism began as a philosophy, and Marx and Engels adhered to a definite philosophical standpoint all their lives – the standpoint of dialectical materialism. And although it may seem unlikely to some, it is impossible to understand Marxism without a thorough understanding of this subject.
Many people regard philosophy with a certain distain. It appears as something abstract, academic, dry and utterly remote from real life. This attitude is quite understandable. The “official” bourgeois philosophy that is taught in the universities is of interest only to a handful of academics who have nothing better to do than waste their time in endless and arid discussions on the meaning of words. But Marxist philosophy is not like that. It is a very powerful tool for understanding reality. And in order to change the world, it is first of all necessary to understand it.
The childhood shows the man,as morning shows the day. (John Milton)
As the New Year dawns, memories are reawakening of another New Year, exactly a century ago, the dawn of 1914 when millions of people were drifting towards the abyss as if in a dream.
On that New Year’s Day few people imagined what lay in store. One hundred years had passed since the Battle of Waterloo and the memory of war had faded – at least in Britain. The war in South Africa had been a mere skirmish and had ended in victory. The British Empire upon which the sun never set seemed assured in its worldwide supremacy.
In France, it is true, things were not quite the same. Memories of the Franco-Prussian war and the German occupation of Alsace-Lorraine still remained. The General Staff longed for revenge, but on the streets of Montmartre the cafes were bustling and war did not seem an imminent prospect.
The world economy has been mired in a deep crisis since 2007. The bourgeois have tried everything to climb out of the crisis, from quantitative easing, to zero interest rates, to the socialisation of banking losses, but all to no avail. Why is it that a modern-day version of Keynesianism cannot work?
The Marxist analysis of history – that is, the dialectical and materialist analysis of history – explains that the main motor force in history is the need for society to develop the productive forces: to increase our knowledge of and mastery over nature; to reduce the socially necessary labour time needed to produce and reproduce the conditions of life; to improve lifestyles and raise the standards of living.
Today, 9th July, marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ted Grant, the founder of the International Marxist Tendency. Rob Sewell, editor of the British Marxist paper Socialist Appeal, outlines the important role played by Ted in building the forces of Marxism during his lifetime and discusses the legacy of Ted for Marxists today.
For those who knew him, Ted Grant was a political giant. He lived and breathed the ideas of Marxism and was, without doubt, the most important Marxist theoretician since the death of Trotsky. This can be gauged by the depth of his writings over some 70 years of political activity, most of which is available at tedgrant.org.
The ideas of Marx have never been more relevant than they are today and are reflected in the thirst for Marxist theory at the present time. In this article, Alan Woods deals with the main ideas of Karl Marx and their relevance to the crisis we're passing through today.
In 1949, Ted Grant, founder of the Militant Tendency and Socialist Appeal, wrote a polemical response to Tony Cliff on the class nature of the Soviet Union, arguing against Cliff's theory of "State Capitalism". Ted's response provides an in-depth Marxist analysis on a range of questions, from the transition from capitalism to socialism, to the key issues of the state and the nature of Stalinism.
In this third part of the article on Keynes, Hayek and Marx, the author deals with the shortcomings of Hayek's economic analysis and shows the utopian character of modern Keynesianism. Only socialism can provide a positive way out of the present crisis.