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The recomposition of the International Workers’ Movement, part 2

1st October 1995 Socialist Action 0

The refusal to work out its line on the basis of the class character of the conflict has finally led the Fourth International to disaster in its line on the war in Yugoslavia.

The real situation in Yugoslavia is that German imperialism sponsored the break-up of the federation to create new capitalist states in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia. The Serb minorities fought to remain part of the Yugoslav Federation – a non-capitalist state. The United States and German imperialism built up Croatian and Bosnian armies. NATO was moved into the area. Imperialism conducted a propaganda campaign, swallowed by most of the west European ‘left intelligentsia’, likening the Serbs to Hitler and then launched the massive aerial, missile and artillery bombardment of the Bosnian Serbs.

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The nature of World War II

1st October 1995 Socialist Action 0

First published: October 1995

World War II, the fiftieth anniversary of which has been celebrated recently, set the entire framework for current world politics. It was incomparably the greatest armed conflict in human history. But it was also something more. It was the greatest class struggle in the twentieth century.

The first problem in approaching World War II is its sheer size. With fifty million dead – thirty million of them in eastern Europe – with war on three continents, with the greatest number of people under arms in human history, it bears the same sort of relation to a strike that the Himalayas do an anthill.

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Women, the family and the welfare state

1st July 1995 Socialist Action 0

First published: July 1995    

Since the Second World War the position of women in society has progressively advanced. The driving force of this was the mass entry of women into the workforce. But its consequences spread into all spheres of society – the education system, rights to divorce, abortion and contraception, equality legislation, legal, economic and property rights and the massive expansion of social provision via the welfare state. Today women face the first sustained attempt to roll back these gains, not by driving women out of the workforce, but by dismantling the welfare state.

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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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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.’