Organisers LIZ PAYNE and BEN STEVENSON look forward to next weekend’s 21st Century Marxism event in London’s historic Clerkenwell Green, in an article from the Morning Star.
In Britain and other developed capitalist societies there is a renewed interest in Marxism.
The depth of the capitalist crisis signalled by the financial collapse in 2008 has shocked almost everyone.
After all, the collapse and counter-revolution of the socialist systems of eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union two decades earlier was supposed to have ushered in a “new world order.”
Democracy and capitalism would henceforth be free to create a world of plenty, with food, shelter, health care and education for all.
There would be no further need for Nato and nuclear weapons, or so we were told.
Capitalism and its “democracy” had won – forever.
As a half-repentant Francis Fukuyama put it, “History itself might be at an end.”
Since then, we have witnessed a growth in social inequality around the world, within and between countries at every level of economic development.
Nato has expanded aggressively eastwards and a series of wars have killed millions of people and driven a billion people and more from their homes.
The financial and economic crisis that spread across much of the world from the US and western Europe has since destroyed millions of jobs and plunged scores of millions of people into poverty.
Yet the same bankers and politicians remain at the helm, telling us that the ship remains fundamentally sound. All that’s needed is for the galley slaves to be whipped until morale improves.
So it’s no wonder that those same galley slaves are beginning to question the soundness of the ship, the sanity of their masters and the direction of travel.
Marxism remains the starting point for their understanding. It retains its power to analyse and combat capitalism because it is based on a comprehensive, dynamic and objective study of reality, out of which comes the determination to change the world as it currently is.
The topics and speakers at this year’s 21st Century Marxism event in London, on the weekend of November 2-3, reflect this approach to analysis and struggle.
For the first time, sessions take place in a constellation of venues around the historic Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell Green.
The library and workers’ school was founded in 1933, on the 50th anniversary of the death of Karl Marx.
Previously owned by Twentieth Century Press, the building had been where Lenin edited Russian revolutionary journal Iskra (“The Spark”) in exile.
Next Saturday and Sunday, today’s progressives, socialists and communists can take part in sessions which look at how capitalism organises exploitation and oppression.
“Back to basics” classes consider the concepts and relevance of Marxism in the new century.
Disabled People Against the Cuts founder member Tina Hogg, author and frequent Morning Star contributor Louise Raw, leading labour historian and Communist Party executive committee member Mary Davis and prominent gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell will lead discussions on different dimensions of oppression and liberation.
The role of culture in the battle of ideas is often overlooked on the left. There’s not much chance of that happening in Clerkenwell Green when people’s poet Attila the Stockbroker is creating political mayhem.
With Scotland heading for a referendum on independence, leading Marxist theoretician John Foster will conduct a conversation on the national question in Britain.
Among those debating the way forward against the Tory-Lib Dem austerity and privatisation drive are left Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn and Lindsey German from the People’s Assembly.
In particular, with the TUC still pondering general strike action, there will be strong views on the issue next weekend from Institute of Employment Rights director Carolyn Jones, last year’s president of rail union RMT Alex Gordon and labour historian and former top Unite official Graham Stevenson.
London School of Economics researcher Linda Kaucher will look at the role of the European Union in slashing and selling off social and public services, while RMT general secretary Bob Crow puts the case for No2EU – Yes to Workers’ Rights as an election alliance contesting the 2014 EU elections.
CP general secretary Robert Griffiths will be putting Ukip under the microscope, while Hope Not Hate campaigner Paul Mezaros will assess the fight against fascism in Britain today.
The struggle for freedom and social justice against capitalism’s “old world order” is intensifying in many parts of the globe.
A host of overseas representatives will focus on the battles taking place from Palestine and the Middle East to Africa and Latin America.
Among them is South African Communist Party international secretary Chris Matlhako, en route to this year’s international meeting of communist and workers’ parties in Lisbon.
Ben Chacko will consider the latest developments in China, where he lived and worked for five years until returning home to write for the Morning Star.
Our planet desperately needs peace, ecological security and socialism. Among those discussing these vital aspects of humanity’s future are prominent Green Party campaigner Romayne Phoenix, editor Erwin Marquit of US journal Nature, Science and Thought journal and World Peace Council executive member Navid Shomali.
Other home-grown socialists, communists and trade unionists will be taking part in the sessions too, where the emphasis will be on participation and discussion.
The whole weekend promises to be a vibrant occasion, awash with ideas, books, pamphlets and T-shirts in an historic area of London where even the pubs have stories to tell.
A warm welcome awaits all progressives, socialists and communists to this festival of Marxist theory and practice.