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Spectre of Communism

Is communism against human nature?

A textbook argument against communism is that, although it may sound nice, it is fundamentally “against human nature”. Many communists will be sick and tired of hearing this accusation, but what actually is ‘human nature’? How should communists respond to this claim?

This week’s episode of Spectre of Communism welcomes Ben Curry, writer and editor for marxist.com, to answer one of the most prolific myths about communism. In reality, the idea that human beings are inherently ‘greedy’ and that this makes capitalism an inevitable fact of life could not be further from the truth.

Ben considers the wide variety of ideas and systems that have been considered inevitable and natural throughout human history, only to fall by the wayside; and speculates about how humanity will change and develop in a future communist society.

For further reading, we would recommend Alan Woods’ editorial for issue 41 of In Defence of Marxism magazine, which looks at human nature and alienation.

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Spectre of Communism

In defence of Lenin

With capitalism in its deepest-ever crisis, it is more important than ever for communists to defend the immortal achievements of one of the greatest revolutionaries the world has ever seen. For this reason, 2024’s first episode of Spectre of Communism looks at the real life and ideas of Lenin. 

The episode welcomes Rob Sewell, editor of The Communist and co-author of a new biography, In Defence of Lenin: an extensive political biography and vindication of Lenin’s revolutionary legacy. Get your copy now!

We would also like to draw listeners’ attention to the recent launch of lenin.red. The website includes a number of resources for communists to study and understand Lenin’s life and work. 

100 years after his death, the ruling class still wastes no opportunity to slander and malign Lenin. The website also includes a submission form, for sending any such slanderous myths that you might have heard, and want answered on a future episode of the podcast! 

You can also send us your myths via any of our social media channels, with the hashtag #LeninLives!

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Spectre of Communism

Spectre of Communism Podcast intro theme

By popular demand, here is our intro (and outro) theme. Credit to composer Comrade David (Insta: @hiimdavej).

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Spectre of Communism

Palestine: a communist perspective

Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza is undoubtedly the defining political event of 2023. The entire political establishment has lined up behind Israel, justifying a brutal military campaign of collective punishment against the Palestinians (which has killed around 20,000 civilians so far) as “self defence.” While liberals, reformists and even some self-proclaimed “communists” parrot the rhetoric of the bourgeoisie, or descend into utopian moralising, genuine communists must boldly proclaim a revolutionary solution for the liberation of Palestine.

The IDF onslaught against Gaza has awakened an immense wave of anger among the masses around the world, with millions hitting the streets in protest. Comrades of the IMT have faced McCarthyite attacks from the establishment for our solidarity action for Palestine, yet we will not back down. It is the duty of communists to stand on the side of the oppressed: supporting the struggle for a Palestinian homeland, against Western imperialism-supported Israeli aggression. 

But what does a genuine communist approach to Palestinian liberation look like? Where next for the solidarity movement?

For the final episode of 2023, the Spectre of Communism Podcast welcomes two speakers on this important topic: Khaled Malachi, a leading member of Socialist Appeal, the British section of the International Marxist Tendency (who has personal experience of state repression towards the Palestine solidarity movement); and Hamid Alizadeh, editor for marxist.com.

The podcast will be taking a short break over the New Year, but will return in January 2024 with a wealth of new and exciting content.

More articles on the current and historical situation in Israel and Palestine, as well as our comrades’ activities in the solidarity movement, are available here.

Pre-order In Defence of Lenin, a new biography by Rob Sewell and Alan Woods, today! 

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Spectre of Communism

The Origins of Christianity

It’s the festive season, and the Spectre of Communism podcast is welcoming Alan Woods (marxist.com editor-in-chief) onto a special live episode to discuss the origins of Christianity from a Marxist perspective. This is a fascinating story of revolution and counter-revolution in the ancient world.

Despite the reactionary nature of Christianity today, the first Christians were revolutionary fighters against the brutality of the Roman Empire. Crushed by the oppressive fist of the Roman military, the early Christians sought messianic leadership to bring them liberation on earth, not just in Heaven. This had a profound impact on the class struggle in the Roman Empire at the time, which contains many lessons for communists today. Also instructive is the way Christianity was eventually co-opted by precisely the ruling class the early Christians railed against.

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Spectre of Communism

LIVE tomorrow (7pm UK Time): ‘The Origins of Christianity’ – Spectre of Communism podcast

It’s the festive season, and the Spectre of Communism podcast is welcoming Alan Woods (marxist.com editor-in-chief) onto a special live episode to discuss the origins of Christianity from a Marxist perspective. This is a fascinating story of revolution and counter-revolution in the ancient world. We will broadcast the episode tomorrow (12 December) at 7pm British time via our YouTube channel.

Despite the reactionary nature of Christianity today, the first Christians were revolutionary fighters against the brutality of the Roman Empire. Crushed by the oppressive fist of the Roman military, the early Christians sought messianic leadership to bring them liberation on earth, not just in Heaven. This had a profound impact on the class struggle in the Roman Empire at the time, which contains many lessons for communists today. Also instructive is the way Christianity was eventually co-opted by precisely the ruling class the early Christians railed against.

A recording will be made available afterwards on YouTube, and all our usual podcast platforms.

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Spectre of Communism

Napoleon: Marxism vs movie myths

Ridley Scott’s recent biopic Napoleon has evoked much criticism for its shallow narrative and plethora of historical inaccuracies. But who was the real Napoleon Bonaparte? How did a young Corsican from a relatively modest background become the strongman behind an empire that would dominate Europe?

This week’s episode of the Spectre of Communism Podcast welcomes Keelan Kellegher, a leading member of Socialist Appeal, to fill in the many gaps in Scott’s portrayal of Napoleon. We discuss the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary movements that swept France in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Napoleon’s role in them.

For further reading on the historical figure of Napoleon Bonaparte from a Marxist perspective, we recommend this article by Alan Woods.

We also recommend this report on the recent Revolution Festival, which featured a talk by Keelan on the French Revolution.

Here is Keelan’s review of the film.

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Spectre of Communism

What is the state, and how do we smash it?

Many people think of the state as a huge collection of bureaucratic offices and institutions that have little to do with our daily lives. Some have illusions in the state as a neutral arbiter over society, operating on the basis of universal principles of ‘democracy’ and ‘rule of law’. But for countless workers and youths on the receiving end of police violence, legal victimisation or military oppression, the real nature of the capitalist state is clear.

For communists, the task is not to reform or adjust the capitalist state, but to understand its role as a violent, repressive tool for the ruling class, and then to smash it. Despite what the reformists and the liberals may think, it is only through class struggle and revolution that the brutality of the capitalist state can be overcome.

This week’s episode of the Spectre of Communism podcast welcomes Ben Gliniecki, National Secretary of Socialist Appeal, the British section of the International Marxist Tendency. Ben explains the fundamental nature of the state in general, as well as its specific role under capitalism, and discusses how communists propose to smash the capitalist state once and for all, as well as what we would replace it with. 

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Spectre of Communism

Is China Communist?

The Chinese Communist Party and its defenders claim that China is building a successful socialist society, and is at the forefront of an anti-imperialist struggle against the West. But is China communist? Does the legacy of the Chinese Revolution live on today in the CCP?

In reality, despite the enormous achievements of the Chinese Revolution, China today is one of the largest capitalist powers on the planet. The growth of Chinese capitalism has created an immense working class in China, and when it moves towards revolutionary struggle, it will unleash a force that will shake the world.

This week’s episode of the Spectre of Communism podcast features Daniel Morley, a leading comrade of Socialist Appeal, the IMT in Britain. Daniel discusses the incredible conquests of the Chinese Revolution (the second-greatest event in history, after the Russian Revolution) as well as China’s subsequent return to capitalism and how communists should view China today.

For more on the history and events of China’s 1949 revolution, we recommend this article by Daniel.