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Marx on hegemony

1st September 1993 Socialist Action 0

First published: September 1993

Socialist Action gives tremendous emphasis to the international class struggle, the struggle of women, the black community, and all sections of the oppressed as part of working class politics. But it does not treat these simply as individual questions, vital as each is separately. Socialist Action seeks to integrate them in a hegemonic strategy – that is, one in which the labour movement champions the demands of all the exploited and oppressed. Such an emphasis is not a peripheral question but at the core of Marxism. We consider the origins of the idea of hegemony in the views of Marx and its place in socialist strategy.

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How the United States, Japan and Germany are crushing the EEC

1st May 1993 Socialist Action 0

First published: Spring 1993

The electoral collapse of the French and Italian Socialist Parties signals the demise of Euro-socialism, the dominant current in the West European labour movement for the last decade. This is simply the latest symptom of the crisis of the European Community. The EEC is being ground between the external competitive pressure of the United States and Japan, and the internal dominance of the unified Germany. Rather than offering reforms, Maastricht proposes to dismantle the welfare state in Western Europe. The rise of the extreme right and the collapse of Euro-socialism are logical results.

In Europe imperialism is suffering its first substantial reverses since Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union. At the beginning of 1992 imperialism recorded an historic triumph with the installation of a capitalist government under Yeltsin in Russia. But a year later Yeltsin had lost his majority in the Congress of People’s Deputies. George Bush failed to secure re-election in the United States, Japan faced financial crisis and the European Monetary System came apart at the seams. Thus the re-charged imperialist system, which delivered Washington’s triumphs at the end of the 1980s, has started to exhaust itself.

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Marxism and inter-imperialist competition

1st May 1993 Socialist Action 0

First published: May 1993

The consideration of inter-imperialist competition is frequently not integrated into the body of Marxist economic analysis, which is too often seen as relating to the study of the workplace or to national capitalism, with inter-imperialist competition running ‘parallel’ to this. This is radically wrong.

The starting point of Marx’s analysis is the development of ‘capital in general’ or ‘the capital of the whole society’ [1]. This is sometimes taken to be the capital in a nation state, but this is wrong. [2] Capitalism is an international system in which the world economy is dominant. The decline in the rate of profit throughout the 1960s and 1970s, from which capital has still not recovered and which is the driving force of the present crisis, was an international decline working itself out in all countries.

But capital as it actually exists is not ‘capital in general’. As Marx put it: ‘In their actual movement capitals confront each other in certain concrete forms’. [3] Capital exists as different firms, and different nations with different companies and trusts, in competition with each other. It exists, as Marx put it, as ‘many capitals’. Competition between these capitals is the ‘essential locomotive force of the bourgeois economy’.  [4] Competition is the mechanism by which the fundamental laws of the capitalist economy work themselves out.

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If the Russian Revolution should fall…

1st October 1991 Socialist Action 0

First published: October 1991

The Soviet putsch of 19 August was an attempt to put the clock back towards the Brezhnevist past. Its failure made transparent the greatest class struggle in the world since 1917 – that for the survival of the Russian Revolution. It left the pro-capitalist forces in the USSR greatly strengthened.

These forces will betray the interests and hopes of the Russian and Soviet peoples. The Soviet peoples wanted to create a democracy and an economy which would serve their interests. But, as Boris Kagarlitsky put it: ‘Millions of people in Russia have been fighting for democracy. But what they have got is Yeltsin.’

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Remaking British politics

1st October 1991 Socialist Action 0

First published: Summer 1991

A potential change of government from one party to another is a fairly routine matter in British politics. But what underlies the decline of the present Tory government, and the evident inability of the Labour Party to present any convincing alternative, is something more fundamental. Britain is approaching one of those great turning points in political history which have so far occurred roughly only once a century, which imply a shift in the entire party political system, that is in the form of bourgeois political hegemony.

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The new age of imperialism

1st April 1991 Socialist Action 0

First published: April 1991

The Gulf War, the largest military offensive waged by imperialism since Vietnam, is one of those events which is so great in its impact that it clarifies not only immediate events but the entire historical course of which it is a part. The Gulf War both confirmed the analysis of world politics presented by Socialist Action in the last years – the new phase of imperialism, the new era of North-South wars, and the emboldening of imperialism due to the events in Eastern Europe – and at the same time, as with every major event, has deepened and extended that analysis. Socialist Action was able to play a role in the fight against the war out of all proportion to its circulation because it was prepared for it, and the course of world politics of which it is a part.