To mark the 134th anniversary of the death of Karl Marx – who died in London on 14th March 1883 - we are republishing here a revised version of an article by the late Phil Mitchinson. Here Phil outlines the life and contribution made by Marx to the building of the socialist movement and the development of the ideas of scientific socialism. Together with this we have included the text of Engels' marvellous speech which he gave at the grave of Karl Marx. “Philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways. The point is, however, to change it.” (Marx)

Every year on March 8th, International Women’s Day is celebrated all over the world. Today, it has become what is essentially a day to raise awareness about the oppression of women. This year, it has particular significance because it is also the anniversary of the beginning of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Most people are not aware of the fact that on March 8th 1917 it was actually women who started the events that created the revolution. This began a revolutionary process that brought the working class to power, allowing for spectacular advancements for women.

To commemorate the centenary of the Russian Revolution, Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism, provides a timeline analysis of 1917.

The First World War was becoming a catastrophe for Russia. From the front line there was news of defeat after defeat. The breakdown of the economy produced a shortage of bread. Crowds of half-starved and desperate women queued outside shops for bread that never arrived. But at the top of Russian society things were very different.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution. The apologists of capitalism, and their faithful echoes in the labour movement, try to comfort themselves with the thought that the collapse of the USSR signified the demise of socialism. But what failed in Russia was not socialism but a caricature of socialism. Contrary to the oft-repeated slanders, the Stalinist regime was the antithesis of the democratic regime established by the Bolsheviks in 1917.

One hundred years ago the Russian Revolution shook the capitalist world order to its foundations. Here for the first time ever, the Russian workers, led by Lenin and the Bolshevik party, took power into their own hands. The ruling classes have never forgiven this.

“It is, therefore, from the history of nature and human society that the laws of dialectics are abstracted. For they are nothing but the most general laws of these two aspects of historical development, as well as of thought itself.” (Engels)

The winds of revolution are once again blowing over the African continent. From Burkina Faso to South Africa, from Burundi to Nigeria, we have seen a radicalisation of the workers and the youth and the rise of mass movements that have challenged corrupt capitalist regimes in one country after another.

On August 20th 1940 Trotsky’s life was brutally ended when a Stalinist agent brought an ice pick crashing down on his defenceless head. Among the works left unfinished was the second part of Stalin. Trotsky’sStalin.This work is probably unique in Marxist literature in that it attempts to explain some of the most decisive events of the 20th century, not just in terms of epoch-making economic and social transformations, but in the individual psychology of those who appear as protagonists in a great historical drama.

The crisis of capitalism today is leading more and more people to question the society that we live in. There is a widespread sense that something is fundamentally wrong in the world and that it must be changed fundamentally. According to the ruling class and reformists the events taking place today are merely the result of a series of unfortunate accidents and all that is needed is for everyone to act “rationally”. But this does not explain anything and it solves even less.

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