2021 has kicked off with a bang. If anyone had any remaining doubts, yesterday's events exposed the depth of the crisis of US capitalism—and it is only the beginning. Even in the turbulent years before and after the US Civil War, we have never seen the US Capitol building breached by protesters—and encouraged by the sitting president! Anti-terrorist attack emergency protocols were activated as tear gas wafted through the corridors, and at least one person was shot and killed. As former president GW Bush put it, these are the scenes one would expect in a “banana republic"—not in the bastion of world imperialism.

On the 26th of November, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande announced that students who are funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will receive a ‘living’ allowance for the extended months of the academic year. However this is only applicable to students who are yet to complete the academic year. The academic year was extended due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which at one point threatened to collapse the current academic year.

We have just received the great news that comrade Amar Fayaz has been released today, the security agencies dropped him at his village. Amar’s release was made possible through the immense and successful international campaign organised by students, youth and workers from all around the world. We will update our supporters as we get more details on Amar’s release.

The following is an introduction by marxist.com editor Fred Weston to the new edition of The First Five Years of the Communist International from Wellred Books (buy it now!) Fred outlines some of the key debates and decisions taken in the first four congresses of the Communist International. This, we hope will serve to place the contribution of Trotsky into the context of the period.

This article explains the disagreements and political errors that marred the early years of the Communist Party of Italy (PCd’I). The Lyon Congress of 1926 was a culmination of the contradictory nature of the PCd’I which – compounded by the bureaucratic degeneration of the Third International – tragically contributed to the defeat of the Italian communists, alongside the rest of the workers' movement, at the hands of fascism.

Apologists for capitalism argue that it is the best, most-efficient system that could ever possibly exist. But the current period of crisis and chaos prove otherwise. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an economic collapse that threatens to throw society back to the 1930s, sending the world into a full-blown depression. Clearly, something is rotten at the heart of the system. The advocates of Keynesian ideas - or modern varieties like Modern Monetary Theory - cannot provide a real solution to this crisis. In his talk from this year's International Marxist University, Adam Booth, a leading activist of Socialist Appeal, explains why capitalism has failed, and what the way forward is for humanity.

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