Marxism Against Nationalism ?

15 06 2013

Barry Biddulph reflects on Marxism and Nationalism.

Communists are against Nationalism. However, many on the left, following Marx, have  given tactical support to various kinds of nationalism to clear the way to capitalist development or assist workers  struggles. Paradoxically,  some have even seen some forms of nationalism as proletarian. But  are these tactical concessions and approaches to nationalism correct ?  After all,   nationalism  has not only prevented an alternative to capitalism from emerging from class struggles,  but has directly contributed to the bloody suppression of attempts to overthrow capitalism.  The aim of communism is  freeing humanity from exploitation and oppression :  ” Nationalism is the doctrine that upholds loyalty to a particular nation above universal respect and support for humanity in general”.  (1)

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Trotsky and Authoritarian State Socialism from Above.

25 05 2013

Review,  by Barry Biddulph of  Trotsky, Trotskyism and Trotskyists, a Communist Workers Organisation Pamphlet.


The CWO acknowledges Trotsky’s insight from his participation in the Russian Revolution of 1905, that “the appearance of Soviets allowed him to foresee the possibility of a proletarian revolution in Russia”. (1)  But, Trotsky always had something of Lassalle’s notion of the people’s state about his politics.  It was always the revolution using the state and nationalisation, rather than a revolution against the state. So even though “Trotsky led the Soviet, his theory of Permanent Revolution never led him to analyse the Soviet and draw from it what Marx drew from the Commune”. (2)  Instead, in 1905, Trotsky reached the conclusion that in  the future revolution, unemployed and locked out factory workers  would not limit themselves to the capitalist Republic, but would demand  state intervention from a workers government.

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an introduction to keralan leftist politics

18 04 2013

By Nathaniel Matthews-Trigg

Historical Radicalism in India

There is a place in India where one cannot walk more than a block without seeing a white hammer and sickle upon a red flag. Giant stone statues of Lenin hide peculiarly behind coconut trees in lush overgrown plots of land and little old men read communist newspapers next to frescos of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. This place is Kerala, India – A region in rapid transition from socialist pragmatism to capitalist wealth accumulation. Large portions of the older generations still dream about full communism, but the younger generations now predominantly dream of commodities.


Radical politics has a long and complex history in India. Anarco-syndicalism was reportedly disseminated throughout the country by Russian travelers and returning Indians who lived abroad1. However, by the early twentieth century, Marxist literature came to dominate all other forms of radical theory (Graeber, 214). This was due in part to the appeal of the Marxist- Leninist program, but more so because of the rise of the Soviet Union, a force seen by many to have the potentiality to rival global colonial powers.

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in/out: cameron’s false choice

23 01 2013

By duvinrouge.

The British people will vote whether to remain part of the European Union or not by 2018. Cameron’s promise of a referendum suits the Tories electorally. It should defuse the threat from UKIP & damage Labour’s chances of winning the next general election by appearing too pro-European. But behind this short-term electoral positioning lies a split in the capitalist class.

EU In Out

Politics is largely a reflection of the underlying economic power. After WWII Britain was no longer the power it was. The break-up of the empire posed two options for Britain’s political class to savage some of their influence. One was by trying to turn the ex-colonies into an economic sphere of influence under the banner of a Commonwealth. The other option was to join with continental Europe in a project leading to economic & political union. As an island nation the second option was always going to be problematic, hence the promises that this was just a ‘common market’. It then became the EEC (European Economic Community). Then in 1993 the European Union, launching it’s own currency at the turn of the century. Now with the latest economic crisis threatening it’s break-up, political union & eventual fiscal union is forcing deeper integration & taking further powers away from nation states. Most in Britain don’t want this, but until recently the masses have been fed the line that it’s in ‘our’ economic interest. What they have really meant is it has been in the interest of the rich to stay in the EU. Much of Britain’s trade is with the EU. To lose access to the internal EU market will hurt. But industrial capitalists do not have the upper hand. As the financial crisis of 2008 showed, it is the financial capitalists of the City of London who have the most power. When the banks got into trouble the government came running with their cheque-book. We are all now expected to pay for this bailout with austerity. But it is probably the European financial transaction tax that has upset the City & so given Cameron the green light for Britain’s eventual withdrawal.

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is capitalism’s crisis putting revolution back on the agenda?

9 12 2011

A guest post by Mark Kosman. Every attempt to go beyond capitalism has ended in failure. But are capitalism’s present problems putting anti-capitalist revolution back on the agenda? To answer this question, this article looks at past revolutions, with particular emphasis on class struggle, while rethinking aspects of the Marxist, anarchist and feminist traditions.

In the 20th century, every attempt to go beyond capitalism ended in failure. Either people looked to socialist politicians, whose reforms made capitalism even more secure, or they supported revolutions that degenerated into repression and mass killing. Consequently, today, few people have much hope that humanity could ever successfully transcend capitalism.

But are capitalism’s present problems putting anti-capitalist revolution back on the agenda? And could a future revolution liberate humanity in ways that past revolutions failed to achieve? To try to answer these questions, I am going to look at past revolutions with particular emphasis on aspects that are rarely considered in conventional left discourse. These include humanity’s origins, gender and military history and the revolutionary transcendence of work and democracy. Read the rest of this entry »

bristol reading group on parecon, sunday 19th

13 12 2010

The last of our Bristol reading group sessions on alternatives to capitalism is on Participatory economics (Parecon), a theory of organising the economy developed by Michael Albert and others at the turn of this century.

The session will be on Sunday 19th December from 6pm in Cafe Kino. All welcome, see below for recommended reading. Read the rest of this entry »

report of ‘communist organisation’ session at global commune

1 06 2010

On 22nd May The Commune and the Republican Communist Network (Scotland) co-hosted a Global Commune day school in Edinburgh. The day had sessions on politics after the election, internationalism and communist organisation. Full reports on each to follow.

The session on communist organisation was led off by Chris Ford, who produced this paper on the subject. We then broke up into two groups for further discussion. Ellenor from Liberty and Solidarity was unable to give her presentation due to illness. Follow link for Chris’s paper, and see below for feedback at the end of the workshop. Read the rest of this entry »

bristol reading group on state socialism, sunday 28th march

10 03 2010

The third Bristol reading group session will be on Sunday 28th March at 6pm in Café Kino on Ninetree Hill, Stokes Croft, Bristol.

The session will discuss state socialism and its critics. Suggested background reading below. All welcome: email for more info. Read the rest of this entry »

the global commune: communism for the 21st century

16 02 2010

On January 16th Edinburgh played host to the ‘Global Commune’ day school, hosted by Scotland’s Republican Communist Network and supported by The Commune.

Although we are faced with the greatest crisis of capitalism for decades, the majority of socialists today are not prepared to make the case for a viable alternative social order to get us beyond the ever-deepening capitalist crisis.

The objective of the day school was to develop communist thinking on what kind of society we want to create and how that relates to our activism and our slogans in the context of today. Read the rest of this entry »

beyond the party-state, beyond the big bang

13 02 2010

A paper by Nathan Coombs for Sunday’s Communist Theory Forum

Wherever we look in the history of communist politics we see states which in one form or another have become dictatorships; the economic and political structures reduced to stifling bureaucracies. Can this be explained merely by recourse to contingent factors: the fact that revolution did not break out in Europe in the 1920s, imperialism against the socialist states during the Cold War, and so on?

The tempting answer for communists is to focus on these facts, lump the blame at the feet of Stalinism, or the leaderships of the Communist parties. This way guilt is apportioned and we can rest secure that the fundamental idea is fine; it is just the flawed implementation at the source of the problems, or the external pressures at work. Such an approach can be surmised by the optimistic refrain: ‘never mind, things will work out fine next time!’ Read the rest of this entry »

communism, anarchism and the paris commune: bristol, 28th february

8 02 2010

The second of The Commune’s Bristol reading group sessions will be on Sunday 28th February at 6pm in Cafe Kino on Ninetree Hill, Stokes Croft, Bristol. The session will discuss late nineteenth century ideas on communism and anarchism and the significance of the Paris Commune of 1871

All welcome – email for more info. Some background reading which may be of interest is posted below. Read the rest of this entry »

communist theory forum, february 14th

31 01 2010

The Communist Theory Forum, hosted by The Commune, takes place from 2pm on Sunday 14th February at the Lucas Arms, Grays Inn Road, near London’s King’s Cross.

The Communist Theory Forum represents an attempt to establish an engaged research programme to think through the impasses of the left. The forum was established out of a dissatisfaction with most of the academic debates on the left, which rarely transcend scholastic studies. If you think of a journal such as the New Left Review, for all the good academic work contained within there is very little engagement with either the big questions of communist strategy in the 21st century, nor the nuts and bolts of real world praxis today. The debates are very rarely conducted from the point of view of what is needed to reinvigorate communist ideas to assist overturning the economic and political structures of capitalism. Read the rest of this entry »

what will communist society look like?

18 01 2010

The first of a series of communist discussion meetings in Sheffield. From 7pm on Tuesday 19th January at The Rutland Arms, 86 Brown Street, Sheffield S1 2BS.

Recommended reading for the meeting includes: William Morris - News From Nowhere chapters xii, xv and xvii; Cornelius Castoriadis – On the content of socialism; Karl Marx – Critique of the Gotha Programme parts iii and iv, as well as The Paris Commune from Civil War in France.

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alternatives to capitalism: what happens after the revolution?

8 01 2010

by Andrew Kliman
Marxist-Humanist Initiative

I.  Concretizing the Vision of a New Human Society

We live at a moment in which it is harder than ever to articulate a liberatory alternative to capitalism.  As we all know, the collapse of state-capitalist regimes that called themselves “Communist,” as well as the widespread failures of social democracy to remake society, have given rise to a widespread acceptance of Margaret Thatcher’s TINA – the belief that “there is no alternative.” Read the rest of this entry »


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