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.

The Black Death of the 14th century dealt a mortal blow to the feudal system, which was decaying even before the plague hit. Similarly today, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the bankruptcy of capitalism – and the need for socialism.

Karl Marx has had profound influence on the course of human history. His ideas are more relevant today than they were when he was alive. In the words of his collaborator and comrade, Friedrich Engels:

 

“His name will endure through the ages, and so also will his work''

We republish Leon Trotsky's 1938 pamphlet, Their Morals and Ours. Written while Trotsky was in exile in Mexico, the pamphlet answers critics of the Russian Revolution, who smeared the Bolsheviks as "amoral". Trotsky argues that morality is not fixed but reflects class interests in society. So-called common sense and "elementary moral precepts" against violence, for example, in reality serve the interests of the ruling class. Revolutionary morality – including the use of violence in class struggle – is determined by whatever advances the cause of the proletariat, and thus the liberation of humanity.

South Africa has now been a capitalist democracy for 26 years. The leaders of the former liberation movement call this “Freedom” or “Liberation”. But Lenin answered them long in advance when he said that:

 

“We are in favour of a democratic republic as the best form of state for the proletariat under capitalism. But we have no right to forget that wage slavery is the lot of people even under the most democratic bourgeois republic. Furthermore, every state is a ‘special force’ for the suppression of the oppressed class. Consequently, every state is not ‘free’ and not a ‘people’s state.’”

As the capitalist system lurches from one crisis to the next, old contradictions are re-emerging. Instability, polarisation and huge political shifts are taking place all over the world. As part of this process, unsolved national questions are erupting once more with renewed force around the globe - from Catalonia to Kurdistan to Ireland.

In 1988 Alan Woods interviewed Esteban Volkov (Leon Trotsky's grandson) in a room in the Trotsky Museum in Coyoacan, of which he is the curator. On the night of 24 May 1940, Esteban Volkov, then only 14 years old, was wounded in a brutal machine-gun attack by Stalinist supporters, from which the Trotsky family miraculously escaped alive. Sixty-six years after the murder of Leon Trotsky (20 August 2006), we republished this interview dealing with the various assassination attempts on Trotsky and his family.

We republish Leon Trotsky's 1938 pamphlet, Their Morals and Ours. Written while Trotsky was in exile in Mexico, the pamphlet answers critics of the Russian Revolution, who smeared the Bolsheviks as "amoral". Trotsky argues that morality is not fixed but reflects class interests in society. So-called common sense and "elementary moral precepts" against violence, for example, in reality serve the interests of the ruling class. Revolutionary morality – including the use of violence in class struggle – is determined by whatever advances the cause of the proletariat, and thus the liberation of humanity.

In the year 2000 we published this article by Leon Trotsky on capitalist development. The purpose then was to underline the fact that although capitalism was experiencing a boom, the period we had entered was actually one of overall capitalist decline. As we explained in the introduction “Rather than a new upswing, capitalism is heading for a new slump and a downward curve of development similar to the interwar period.” This was confirmed by the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent events. We are republishing it as an aid to understanding the period we have been through and where we are going.

A speech delivered in Copenhagen, Denmark in November 1932.

20 August will mark the 80th anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky. To commemorate his life and works, the International Marxist Tendency will organise an online rally, with talks, video and discussion about this revolutionary titan (full details here). In the run up to this event, we will be republishing materials by and about Trotsky on marxist.com, starting with this pamphlet by Alan Woods (originally published in 2000).

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