Marxism

For more than 160 years, socialists have looked to the Marxist tradition for a theoretical understanding of society, an analysis of capitalism and its crises, and the vision of society anew on the basis of democracy, equality and freedom. The articles listed below elaborate the principles of the Marxist tradition and how socialists can use them as a guide for changing society.

The ABC of socialism

The case for an alternative by Todd Chretien
In a world of war and crisis, the need for fundamental change has never seemed more urgent. But what choices do we have to make a new future? Todd Chretien explains.

The future socialist society

Leela Yellesetty looks at what the Marxist tradition has said about the vision of socialism–and what the experience of past struggles tells us about getting there.

A crying need for change
Workers power in action
Dreaming of our future

Questions about socialism

How history is made by Paul D’Amato
There’s a misconception that Marxists believe history follows a predetermined course as a result of economic laws, which human beings can’t affect.

Can individuals change history? by Paul D’Amato
Marxists reject the idea that history is made by charismatic “great men.” But that doesn’t mean they view individuals as cogs in the machine.

The point is to change it by Paul D’Amato
Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism seems prophetic today, but his economic analysis can’t be separated from his vision of a revolutionary new society.

How do ideas ever change? by Tithi Bhattacharya
If ruling class ideas dominate with most people, how can we even initiate a struggle that can change those ideas?

The myth of the selfish workers by Alan Maass
The right’s complaints about greed are confined to people with little who try to organize for more. But greed in the boardrooms–that’s a different story.

Will there always be wars? by Paul D’Amato
If war is a product of human culture and history, rather than the result of some immutable nature, then it can be changed or done away with.

The too-many-people myth by Ian Angus and Simon Butler
As the global population reaches 7 billion, it’s time to throw out the idea that there are “too many people”–and focus on the real causes of environmental destruction.

Why do we need the rich? by Dan Russell
We’re told that we can’t tax the rich because they “create jobs.” But capitalists only make investments when it’s profitable, not when society needs it.

Where oppression comes from by Paul D’Amato
Capitalism depends for its survival on divisions created in the working class, so the struggle for a new society must challenge those divisions.

The Marxist view of the state by Paul D’Amato
Marxism is almost universally–and wrongly–identified with the idea of state ownership of the economy, and, by extension, with strengthening the state.

Can we elect socialism? by Elizabeth Schulte
The right’s uproar about Barack Obama and socialism raises the question: Are elections a more practical and peaceful way to get a socialist society.

Marxists and elections by Paul D’Amato
Marxists don’t believe that socialism can be achieved through the ballot box. But that doesn’t mean we should have nothing to do with elections.

Why do we need organization? by Alan Maass
Socialist organizations have played an important role in the great revolutionary struggles of the past. But they can’t be formed out of nothing overnight.

Toward a revolutionary party by Duncan Hallas
An organized layer of workers with a shared consciousness of the necessity for socialism and how to achieve it has to be created.

What kind of party do we need? by Ahmed Shawki
A leading member of ISO discusses what kind of organization socialists need to be effective in the fight against the system.

Does socialism exist today? by Eric Ruder
For decades, the world has been presented with two models of “existing socialism,” even though neither has lived up to socialism’s promise of human liberation.

What do we say about violence? by Tithi Bhattacharya
Socialists oppose the violence of the ruling class because they use it to impose class rule. But what about when violence comes from the oppressed?

Will revolutions always go bad? by Eric Ruder
One frequent objection to socialism is the belief that any effort by workers to democratically control society invariably ends in dictatorship.

Socialism in a new era by Alan Maass
After years on the margins, even among the left, the ideas of socialism are being revived as a consequence of the profound crisis of capitalism.

Marxism and Anarchism

Refusing to be ruled over by Paul D’Amato
My experience as a teenager, and I suspect that of many socialists, was that as I first became aware of the world’s injustices, I found my way to anarchism first.

The means and the ends by Paul D’Amato
In the struggle to get to a future society, some forms of organization must mirror what we are fighting against, rather than what we are fighting for.

Reading Marx and Engels

Todd Chretien’s columns are an accompaniment to the writings of Marx and Engels, explaining the ideas and historical references you’ll find. Here are the most recent:
Praxis makes perfect
From the belly of the beast
What do ideas do?

Marx’s revolutionary ideas

Marx’s theory of revolution by Alan Maass
Marx’s view of the world is built around the centrality of the struggle between exploiter and exploited–ultimately over whether society will go forward or not.

Can the working class unite? by Jen Roesch
For the working class to create a socialist society, it must achieve unity in its ranks–and that means championing all struggles against oppression.

Marxism and organization by Elizabeth Schulte
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels insisted that the working class would need its own organization to achieve a new society.

Marxism and the economy

Why Karl Marx was right by Lee Sustar
When mainstream economists start citing capitalism’s greatest critic, you know the crisis of the free market is severe.

What we mean by exploitation by Gary Lapon
The term “exploitation” conjures images of sweatshops, but Marxists have a broader understanding that applies to the whole working class.

Our alternative to the market by Eric Ruder
A socialist society would eliminate hunger and other forms of scarcity by getting rid of the profit motive and making human need society’s first priority.

Marxism after Marx

The lies they tell about Lenin by Paul D’Amato
Any honest look at the life of the Russian revolutionary Lenin quickly puts to rest the idea that he wanted an elite to seize power and impose socialism.

The legacy of Leon Trotsky by Shaun Harkin
From his role in the Russian 1917 Revolution to his battle against Stalinism, Leon Trotsky made an immense contribution to the revolutionary tradition.

The fight for a socialist world by Duncan Hallas
Duncan Hallas’ The Comintern offers a history of the Third International, founded with the aim of turning Russia’s revolution into a worldwide one.

Marxism and women’s liberation

Marxism and feminism by Sharon Smith
Marxists must not minimize the degree of oppression faced by women inside the working class, but rather make a serious effort on every front to combat it.

Winning women’s liberation by Elizabeth Schulte
A united working-class struggle that upends the current system of exploitation and oppression can bring about true liberation.

Marxism and black liberation

The roots of racism by Lance Selfa
Racism as we understand it today did not always exist. It came into being as a consequence of the African slave trade and the rise of capitalism.

Race and socialism in the U.S. by Paul D’Amato
The best fighters for socialism have always recognized that the struggle for Black liberation and socialism must go hand-in-hand.

Race, class and Marxism by Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor
For Marxists, there is an inseparable link between racism and capitalism–and therefore a commitment to fighting racism as part of the struggle for socialism.

Marxism and the environment

Karl Marx, radical environmentalist by Phil Gasper
Challenging the myth that Marxism has nothing useful to say about the environment–with help from the old man himself.

Can we reach an ecological civilization? by Chris Williams
Pressure is building for dramatic change to preserve our ecosystem, but it will take overturning capitalism’s war on nature.

Animal, vegetable, movement? by Amy Muldoon
The current uproar about nutrition is just the latest crisis brought on by the way capitalism has shaped the food supply chain.

Whose consumption is killing the planet? by Ragina Johnson and Michael Ware
Are consumer choices and lifestyle changes enough to stop environmental destruction?

Marxist Classics

This SocialistWorker.org series publishes lesser-known classic articles, essays and other documents from the Marxist tradition.
Lenin: On strikes
Marx: Political indifferentism
Kollantai: Int’l Women’s Day

Ten Marxist classics

SocialistWorker.org writers introduce 10 of the most important writings by leading figures in the revolutionary socialist tradition.
The Communist Manifesto
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific
Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State
The Civil War in France
The Mass Strike
Reform or Revolution
State and Revolution
What Is To Be Done?
Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism
Permanent Revolution

Alternative views of Marxism

Socialism versus Stalinism by Phil Gasper
The regimes of Eastern Europe that collapsed 20 years ago after a series of mass rebellions were the opposite of what we mean by socialism.

Twenty years after Tiananmen by Dennis Kosuth
China’s Tiananmen Square revolt challenged a government that claimed to stand for socialism, but in reality ruled over an exploitative and oppressive system.

The Tiananmen Square debate by Dennis Kosuth
What you think about the Tiananmen uprising 20 years ago goes to the heart of what you think about socialism today.

Where is Cuba headed? by Sam Farber
A veteran socialist talks about the meaning of the Cuban government’s announcement that it will lay off 500,000 workers from state jobs next year.

Marx against the state by Lee Sustar
Many people, including some on the left, associate Marxism with a powerful state, but this is the opposite of Marx’s views.