Theory History

The Reverend Thomas Malthus gained notoriety in the 19th century as an ardent defender of poverty and inequality. He asserted that the poor were not poor because of capitalist exploitation or injustice, but because there were simply too many of them, competing over limited resources. Today, Malthus’ ideas still circulate in various different forms, and have even gained some influence on the left. In this article, Adam Booth draws on Marx and Engels’ critique of Malthus to expose the false and reactionary implications of these ideas today.

The rapid emergence of the Socialist Movement (MS) in various parts of the Spanish state (Basque Country, Catalonia, Valencia, Aragon, Castile and Madrid) is a fact to be celebrated by other communists in Spain and internationally. In underlining this important fact, the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) wishes to establish a dialogue and a fraternal exchange of views with the comrades of the MS, in order to clarify the tasks and tactics that lie ahead for the communist movement.

This article, marking 60 years since the end of the Algerian war of national liberation, appeared in Révolution, the paper of the French section of the International Marxist Tendency, in March 2022.

The fall of the short-lived Second French Republic in December 1851 marks one of the most rapid and complete reversals in modern political history. Born out of the February Revolution of 1848, the Republic appeared to promise a new era of progress and democracy for the whole of Europe. But this proved to be a false dawn. In less than four years the most democratic republic on Earth was transformed into its opposite: the naked dictatorship of Napoleon III.

27 July of this year marks the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement, which halted the three-year-long, all-out conflict known as the Korean War. The Armistice is not a peace agreement, and the two states that exist on the Korean Peninsula to the north and south of the 38th parallel are technically still at war with each other.

Issue 42 of In Defence of Marxism magazine is available to pre-order now! Alan Woods’ editorial, which we publish here, looks at the Marxist view of the state and the role of the individual in history – unifying themes in this issue. This issue includes a Marxist critique of Graeber and Wengrow’s The Dawn of Everything; an analysis of the class struggle in the Roman Republic by Alan Woods; a look at the rise of ‘authoritarian’ governments and the Marxist view of Bonapartism; a review of Honoré de Balzac’s Human Comedy; and Trotsky’s invaluable article, Bonapartism and Fascism.

The English Revolution of the 17th Century stands as one of the first great bourgeois revolutions in history. In only a few decades, it shattered the rotting feudal system and paved the way for the development of capitalism worldwide. For Marxists, these decades are full of lessons.

1848 was a year of revolution in Europe, with French workers rising up and exploding onto the streets in a struggle against the old order. Today, as Marx wrote then, a spectre is once again haunting the ruling classes – the spectre of communism.

Born in 1632 in the Dutch Republic, the rationalist philosopher Baruch Spinoza was one of the great fathers of Enlightenment thinking. As Hamid Alizadeh explains, Spinoza’s philosophy – which contained a materialist and atheistic kernel – represented a revolutionary challenge to the authority of both Church and state.

In the 1960s, especially in radical student circles, there were many fanciful ideas floating about. The most pernicious and erroneous of these was the view represented by Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, that “neo-capitalism” had evolved ways of avoiding capitalist crisis, and that the working class had been integrated into the system as passive consumers in the “affluent” society. As Daniel Morley explains, these were the pseudo-Marxist ideas of the so-called Frankfurt School.

Promoted by some activists as a means of combating oppression, identity politics is increasingly being used by the establishment to attack the left and the labour movement. Workers and youth must fight back with revolutionary class struggle.

Today is the 175th anniversary of the publication of that founding document of the Marxist movement, the Communist Manifesto. Written in 1847 by Marx and Engels, and published the following year, the Manifesto retains an astonishing vitality today. Indeed, it is more relevant now than when it was written. We publish below an article by Trotsky written in 1937 on the occasion of the Manifesto's 90th anniversary.

The American Civil War is an event of world-historic significance. This revolutionary war, which consumed US society for four long and bloody years, overthrew slavery as a mode of exploitation and laid the ground for the rapid development of US capitalism. This episode in the class struggle graphically demonstrated the dynamics of revolution, and should be studied by all class-conscious workers and youth.

90 years ago, on 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany, paving the way for the dictatorship of the Nazis. In this extract, Ted Grant analyses and explains the events that enabled the fascists to come to power.

We are very happy to share the recollections of a member of our French organisation (Révolution), who was born in Moscow in the 1960s, and later moved to Paris, joining the PCF (Communist Party of France) and eventually the IMT. There, he discovered Trotsky’s writings, which accurately reflected the comrade’s experiences of the bureaucratic regime in the USSR. This is a fascinating insight into what life was really like in the USSR (both good and bad),