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.

 28 November marks the 200th birthday of Friedrich Engels. Rob Sewell commemorates this bicentenary by looking at the vital contribution that Engels made to developing the ideas of Marxism, for which we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.

At 3am on Wednesday, November 4, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appeared on state television to declare a six-month state of emergency in the country’s northern Tigray region. According to Abiy, the Tigray regional security forces had committed ‘treason’ by attacking federal military bases in the regional capital Mekelle as well as Dansha, killing and injuring an unspecified number of soldiers in the process. This announcement set in motion a chain of events which could eventually lead to the breakup of Ethiopia itself with far-reaching consequences for the Horn of Africa.

The capitalists are eagre for the COVID-19 crisis to come to an end, and many anticipate a rapid economic bounceback. But the new normal will be one of crisis, chaos and class struggle.

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