Spectre of Communism

Identity politics: capitalism’s weapon of division

This week’s episode of International Marxist Radio welcomes Daniel Morley, a leading comrade of Socialist Appeal, the British section of the International Marxist Tendency, to discuss so-called identity politics, and why Marxists oppose its influence on the class struggle.

In many countries today, identity politics (i.e. the idea that one’s racial, sexual, gender identity etc., rather than social class, determines one’s fundamental interests and worldview) is exploited by right-wing figures in politics and the media. By whipping up controversy around oppressed groups, the so-called culture war has been used to distract people from the ongoing crisis of capitalism and prevent a unified class struggle against the bosses. 

More specifically, identity politics has been a favoured weapon of the right against the left: smearing socialists and left-wingers on cooked-up charges of racism, sexism and so on, rather than engaging with their ideas. Shamefully, as the case of Jeremy Corbyn in the British Labour Party demonstrates, the reformist left has permitted these false charges to pass unanswered, and allowed themselves to be crushed under a barrage of bile.

With identity politics commanding a degree of influence among young people and even a layer of the labour movement, it is important that Marxists have a clear understanding of its reactionary character. Ultimately, only through a united class struggle against capitalism, which benefits from the division of working people, can all forms of oppression be abolished once and for all.

Read an article by Daniel on this subject:

The following is a document by the International Marxist Tendency setting out our position on identity politics:

Spectre of Communism

How Marx became a Marxist

In this week’s episode of International Marxist Radio, Josh Holroyd, a leading comrade of the International Marxist Tendency and editor of In Defence of Marxism magazine (issue 41 available now), discusses the early life, works and revolutionary career of Karl Marx, whose 205th birthday we mark on Friday!

Born on 5 May 1818 in Trier, Marx’s formative years were shaped by the explosive events of the society in which he lived, one that existed in the shadow of the Great French Revolution of 1789. He was also influenced by many thinkers in the socialist tradition, borrowing the best of their contributions and sharpening his own ideas against their shortcomings.

Living at a time when the working class was beginning to make its mark upon history, Marx derived the key lessons of the period, and actively participated in and corresponded with the radical labour struggles of his day – including Chartism in Britain. 

From this foundation, in collaboration with his friend and comrade Friedrich Engels, Marx developed the school of thought that came to be known as Marxism, and began the mammoth task of building a revolutionary organisation to bring these ideas into the wider movement under the immortal banner, penned at the dawn of the 1848 revolution: workers of the world, unite!

Spectre of Communism

Labor struggle in the USA: the sleeping giant stirs

This week on International Marxist Radio, Tom Trottier, a leading comrade of Socialist Revolution, the US section of the International Marxist Tendency, speaks about exciting developments in the labour movement in the United States of America!

After a long period of relative inactivity, the US working class is beginning to move. As the ongoing crisis of capitalism continues to worsen living conditions for the vast majority, workers in the US, as elsewhere, are looking to the mass organisations. This has taken the form of a significant growth of the trade unions, as the working class seeks to defend their standard of living against stagnant wages and rising prices.

It has also seen an explosive development of radical new unions, set up by fresh layers: Amazon workers, Starbucks workers, and so on. New leaders like Chris Smalls of the Amazon Labour Union, and a left-wing layer at the top of the Teamsters, are also being pushed forward and tested by events. Shawn Fain (mentioned in the episode, which was recorded a few weeks ago) has also been elected to the leadership of the UAW on a class struggle programme.

Given the dominance of the US as both an economic and an imperialist giant, the strengthening of the labour movement in the belly of the beast is of decisive importance for workers’ struggles internationally.

Spectre of Communism

The fall of woman: Engels, Morgan and the family

On this week’s episode of International Marxist Radio, Fred Weston, a leading comrade of the International Marxist Tendency, discusses the historical roots of women’s oppression.

While we are often told that the oppression of women is innate to human relations, this could not be further from the truth. In reality, in pre-class societies, hunter-gatherer men and women generally existed in an egalitarian relationship. These were arguments raised by Lewis Henry Morgan, a materialist anthropologist whose work informed Engels’ writings, particularly his classic text The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. 

The emergence of the patriarchal family did not occur randomly, or as merely the product of a shift in people’s ideas, but was the result of the development of private property, inheritance and class society. And if we can point to a time before these things existed, we can imagine (and fight for) a world where they are consigned to the dustbin of history!

We would like to draw readers’ attention to the issue 41 of In Defence of Marxism magazine, which includes an excellent article by Fred that formed the basis for this discussion. Get your copy of the latest IDoM here: 

Spectre of Communism

Pakistan on the brink!

This week’s episode welcomes Adam Pal, leading comrade of Lal Salaam, the Pakistani section of the International Marxist Tendency, to discuss the ongoing turmoil in Pakistan. 

In the midst of a deep political crisis, the Pakistani ruling class is split, with different factions leaning on sections of the military high command to maintain their position. This has led to the immense social instability that has characterised the country in the recent period.

On top of this, the Pakistani economy is on the ropes. Economists are already comparing the situation in Pakistan to that of Sri Lanka, which earlier this year saw a social explosion that brought the government to its knees. Without doubt, such a movement of the masses in Pakistan is on the cards.

Spectre of Communism

Banking crisis: will there be a new recession?

This week’s episode welcomes back Niklas Albin Svensson, a leading member of the International Marxist Tendency, to discuss the ongoing turmoil in the global banking system.

A few weeks ago, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) collapsed, but the failure of SVB was not the end of the story. Rather, what we have seen is a sudden flurry of bank collapses, which has so far culminated in the forced merger of Credit Suisse into UBS and the dramatic fall in Deutsche Bank’s share price.

While a total collapse of the banking system has so far been avoided, this does not mean that the situation is stable. In reality, crises like this are inevitable under the capitalist system, and the ruling class have only managed to temporarily alleviate the worst of this crisis by laying the grounds for a deeper one.

Read Niklas’ latest on the banking crisis:

Spectre of Communism

Germany: mega-strikes and major crisis

This week’s episode discusses the perspectives for class struggle in Germany, with Alex Kalabekow, a leading comrade of Der Funke, the German section of the International Marxist Tendency. 

Note: this podcast was recorded before the 27 March ‘Mega-Strike’ which brought hundreds of thousands of transport workers onto the streets in the largest strike in Germany since 1992. While this turning point in the class struggle is not discussed directly, Alex points towards the growth of the unions, and the beginning of an uptick in strike action this year, which foreshadowed the explosive movement we are now seeing. 

In a period of so-called ‘polycrisis’ impacting all of Europe, Germany stands out as a nation that has rapidly gone from a pillar of stability to a centre of social turmoil. Traditionally the main political and economic power in the EU, years of pandemic, war and economic crisis, have turned Germany’s strengths into their opposite.

Crushed economically and politically between the USA and China, Germany has recently sought to assert itself as an independent imperialist power by massively expanding military expenditure. As Alex explains, however, the contradictions of capitalism both in Germany and on a world scale mean that there is no way out for the German ruling class.

Read the following by our German comrades, published shortly before the ‘mega-strike’:

Spectre of Communism

France: Macron vs the masses!

This week’s episode welcomes Jules Legendre, a leading comrade of Révolution, the French section of the International Marxist Tendency, to discuss the developing situation in France concerning Macron’s hated pension reforms.

Having bypassed the National Assembly and forced through a rise in the retirement age from 62 to 64, this week Macron narrowly survived a no-confidence vote in the French parliament. While Macron still barely clings on to power in the National Assembly, the masses have taken to the streets to express their anger.

After two months of strike action and countless demonstrations involving all the major cities across the country, the anger of the masses is going nowhere. With the mass movement beginning to challenge Macron’s position, it is vital that the mobilisations do not simply act to end the pension reform, but bring down the whole government with it. 

Jules explains the current situation in France, as well as the events leading up to this critical moment, and provides a Marxist perspective on how the labour movement can carry the struggle forward – to bring down the pension reform, bring down Macron and bring down the capitalist system.

Spectre of Communism

Stalin: 70 years after a tyrant’s death

This week’s episode welcomes Niklas Albin Svensson, a leading comrade of the International Marxist Tendency, to discuss the legacy of Stalinism, 70 years after the death of Joseph Stalin in March 1953.

While many associate Stalin and his crimes with socialism or communism, this could not be further from the truth. As Niklas explains, Stalinism is nothing else but a bloody caricature of the genuine traditions of Marxism, which are done an infinite disservice by their association with Stalin. Rather than a continuation of the ideas of Marxism, Stalinism was an expression of the bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet Union – which undermined and ultimately destroyed the accomplishments of the planned economy.

We would also like to draw readers’ attention to Leon Trotsky’s biography of Stalin, the definitive edition of which was published by Wellred Books in 2016. This edition was painstakingly put together over a period of ten years, using the source material from the Harvard Archives. Containing 86,000 more words than the original 1946 edition, the comrades who contributed to this edition have restored Trotsky’s masterful analysis to its rightful condition.

Get your copy of Trotsky’s Stalin from Wellred Books here: 

Spectre of Communism

Women and the Russian Revolution

This week’s episode of International Marxist Radio welcomes Ylva Vinberg, leading comrade of Revolution, the Swedish section of the International Marxist Tendency, and Fred Weston, co-author of Wellred Books’ latest publication, Women, Family and the Russian Revolution – available to pre-order now:

To mark International Working Women’s Day, this episode focuses on the Marxist position on the struggle for women’s liberation, and the positive example embodied by the tremendous advances accomplished by the Russian Revolution.

Rather than ignoring the question of women’s liberation, or delaying it until some distant time after the revolution, Marxists take an active interest in fighting for emancipation. Combatting women’s oppression, therefore, is not a secondary issue, but rather forms a vital part of the class struggle.

We would also like to draw readers’ and listeners’ attention to Women, Family and the Russian Revolution by John Roberts and Fred Weston, which is now available from Wellred Books. This book provides fascinating insights into the radical measures taken by the Bolsheviks to emancipate women after the Russian Revolution. These measures transformed women’s access to abortions, healthcare, education and many other basic rights that are yet to be generalised even 100 years later under capitalism.

Pre-order your copy of Women, Family and the Russian Revolution now: