Study guides

What it is to be human

Perhaps the most fascinating and certainly the most important question facing modern science is what it is to be human … and therefore how and when we became human. Answers from mainstream anthropology, palaeontology, sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, etc, contain the occasional nugget. But in general there is ideological bias, narrow-mindedness and sheer nonsense on stilts.

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Europe

Too many on the left in Britain view the European Union with a combination of fear and loathing. The EU is rightly characterised as a ‘bosses' club’. However, this goes hand-in-hand with demands for a British withdrawal. Nationalism runs deep. Concern for national sovereignty, setting interest rates and the value of the pound have in some quarters replaced the language of working class solidarity and international socialism. As if national sovereignty was ever real. As if the British state was not a bosses' club. As if there is a British road to socialism.

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Marxism and religion

Religion, as defined by Marxism, is fantastic reality. Religion is fantastic, not in the trite sense that the claims religion makes are untrue, unreal or unverifiable, but in the sense that nature and society are reflected in exaggerated form, as leaping shadows, as symbols or inversions. Obviously, religion should therefore not be dismissed as “mostly bunk”.

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Marxism and ecology

Clearly there is a growing recognition on the left that capitalism’s degradation of nature is in imminent danger of causing civilizational collapse. However, given the tragic loss of ecological thinking suffered by Marxism for much of the 20th century, and not only in the cancerous form of Stalinism, but with Trotskyism and Cliffism too, this ‘greening’ of the left is bound to be highly contradictory.

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Political economy

The bourgeoisie long ago gave up on any attempt to really understand its own society. Faced with the publication of Marx’s Capital and the stupendous growth of the organised working class, they and their economists abandoned the labour theory of value and the genuinely scientific advances made by William Petty, Adam Smith and David Ricardo.

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Party and Programme

Marxism is distinguished from competing perspectives on the radical left primarily by its emphasis on strategy - Marxists must take the long view, and take hard-headed decisions about how we are to get from capitalism to communism.

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