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.

"The year 1848 is turning out well", wrote Engels. "By this glorious revolution the French proletariat has again placed itself at the head of the European movement. All honour to the workers of Paris!" That revolution spread across the whole of Europe, marking an important development in the class struggle.

The capitalist crisis of 2008 was rescued by an enormous transfusion of public money into the banks. The system has been on life-support ever since.

Today, we find ourselves in the midst of one of the deepest crises capitalism has ever faced. While the 99% are being asked to pay for the crisis, the 1% are amassing wealth at an ever accelerating pace. The saturating level of scandal and corruption in the establishment is alienating millions from traditional politics. All of this is causing a deep questioning of capitalist society. Many are looking for an alternative to the system that we have, and a growing number are looking towards revolutionary socialism for the answer.

The whole of human history consists precisely in the struggle of humankind to raise itself above the animal level. This long struggle began seven million years ago, when our remote humanoid ancestors first stood upright and were able to free their hands for manual labour. Ever since then, successive phases of social development have arisen on the basis of changes in the development of the productive force of labour – that is to say, of our power over nature.

Today we begin the serialisation of a new work by Alan Woods, which provides a comprehensive explanation of the Marxist method of analysing history. This first article establishes the scientific basis of historical materialism. The ultimate cause of all social change is to be found, not in the human brain, but in changes in the mode of production.

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