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On Marx and Epicurus

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Readers' Contributions

Under the heading ‘Readers’ Contributions’ we aim to encourage our readers and sympathisers to write texts and articles which can go into greater depth than is possible in our discussion forum, and so stimulate a longer term reflection. These articles, while being broadly based on proletarian politics, need not fully represent the positions of the ICC, or may deal with issues on which the ICC does not have a collective view. What follows is an appreciation of the influence ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus has had on the workers' movement in general and on the thinking of Karl Marx in particular.

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Suffragism or communism?

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Votes for Women

Faced with the torrent of “celebration” about how women (or some women) were given the vote in 1918, we are pleased to publish this short response by a comrade who has moved close to the views of left communism – and thus to the ideas of Sylvia Pankurst in 1918, who exposed the granting of the vote as a deception aimed at stemming the tide of revolution that had been provoked by the horrors of the First World War. ICC

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The weaknesses of the PCI on the question of populism (part I)

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Proletarian Milieu

In number 523 of its paper, Le Proletaire, dated February/March/ April 2017, the International Communist Party (PCI) published an article: Populism, populism you say?, in which it confronts this phenomenon and its current growth and, on the basis of this analysis, also undertakes a criticism of the analysis of the ICC on this question. The first part of our response to this polemic will be centred on the elements of analyses used by the PCI itself in order to evaluate its capacity to explain the phenomenon of populism.

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Austerity and poverty: Not just Brexit, Not just the Tories

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Britain is seven years into a prolonged period of fiscal consolidation, in which constraints on public spending have been the central feature and are set to continue for some years to come. According to figures supplied by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, “post 2010 ‘austerity’ is on course to be the longest pause in real-term spending growth on record.” This already demonstrates that the austerity faced by the working class in Britain today is not just a result of instability in the economy caused by Brexit.

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Reflections on the split in the Anarchist Federation

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Polemic

The Anarchist Federation, one of the main anarchist organisations in Britain, has just been through a major split. Members in Leicester and London, including a number of founder members, have left the organisation following the tumult over “transphobia” at October’s Anarchist Bookfair.

If we were right in our assessment of the AF as an internationalist anarchist group, this is a significant event which attests to growing difficulties across the entire spectrum of groups who are seeking to develop an authentic revolutionary  opposition to capitalism – not only among anarchists but also within the communist left. We think that it is essential to understand the roots of these difficulties if we are to face up to the challenge they pose, and it is in this spirit that we aim to critically analyse the statement issued by those who have decided to leave the AF.

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The dead end of racial identity politics

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USA

We are publishing an article written by the US communist group Workers’ Offensive (www.workersoffensive.org) which offers a welcome critique of the “identity politics” which is gaining strength around the globe, and which, as we examine in another article in this issue, was behind the recent split in the UK Anarchist Federation.  Basing itself on a solid class standpoint and the analyses of past revolutionaries like Rosa Luxemburg, it shows how today’s identity politics serves to channel the real discontent stirred up by exacerbated racial oppression towards bourgeois political goals and institutions, and argues that only the broadening and deepening of the class struggle can overcome the many divisions that class society and capitalist social relations have imposed on the exploited (WR).

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Churchill and the Brexiteers: the delusions of British imperialism

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UK: divisions in the ruling class

In his long political career Winston Churchill epitomised the implacable defence of British imperialism’s best interests, and for this reason he is still an icon for all factions of the British bourgeoisie, who have now recruited him in support of their arguments over Brexit...In fact what Churchill said on the question of Britain and Europe is revealing not only of the delusions of British imperialist policy after World War 2, but also of the extent to which Brexit is a mistake for the British bourgeoisie.

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Austerity and poverty: Not just Brexit, Not just the Tories

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Britain is seven years into a prolonged period of fiscal consolidation, in which constraints on public spending have been the central feature and are set to continue for some years to come. According to figures supplied by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, “post 2010 ‘austerity’ is on course to be the longest pause in real-term spending growth on record.” This already demonstrates that the austerity faced by the working class in Britain today is not just a result of instability in the economy caused by Brexit.

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1918: the revolution criticises its errors

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Russian Revolution

The working class is still living with the heavy consequences of the defeat of the Russian revolution. Primarily because its defeat was really the defeat of the world revolution, of the first attempt by the international proletariat to overthrow capitalism, and the result of this failure was that humanity has since been subjected to the most tragic century in its entire history. But also because of the manner of its defeat: the Stalinist counter-revolution that stifled it assumed its mantle, the mantle of Lenin and Bolshevism. This has permitted the world bourgeoisie to get away with the immeasurable lie that Stalinism is communism. This has been a factor of profound confusion and demoralisation within the working class for decades, but never more so than after the final collapse of the Stalinist regimes at the end of the 1980s.

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Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution (volumes 1, 2 & 3): an appraisal

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Readers' Contribution

ICC introduction

A number of comrades have been reflecting seriously on the importance of the October Revolution in Russia. The text that follows has been sent to us by a close sympathiser of the ICC in Belgium. The comrade had prepared this contribution for a previous meeting in September 2017 in Belgium on the topic of the October Revolution – we have already published a contribution by another sympathiser written at the same time (see Contribution to the discussion of the centenary of the Russian Revolution of 1917, November 2017).

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1918: the revolution criticises its errors

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The working class is still living with the heavy consequences of the defeat of the Russian revolution. Primarily because its defeat was really the defeat of the world revolution, of the first attempt by the international proletariat to overthrow capitalism, and the result of this failure was that humanity has since been subjected to the most tragic century in its entire history. But also because of the manner of its defeat: the Stalinist counter-revolution that stifled it assumed its mantle, the mantle of Lenin and Bolshevism. This has permitted the world bourgeoisie to get away with the immeasurable lie that Stalinism is communism. This has been a factor of profound confusion and demoralisation within the working class for decades, but never more so than after the final collapse of the Stalinist regimes at the end of the 1980s.

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Demonstrations in Iran: strengths and limits of the movement

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Middle East

On 28 December, the first sparks of a movement which brought to mind the “Arab Spring” of a few years ago began to shake the territory of Iran. The movement seems for the moment to have run out of steam as we write, although we are seeing other expressions of anger against the deterioration of living standards, such as in Morocco, Sudan and above all Tunisia.

 

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Iran: the struggle between bourgeois cliques is a danger for the working class

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Middle East

As we show in our article ‘Demonstrations in Iran, strengths and limits of the movement’, although there are promising signs of working class resilience, the danger is very real, not only of bloody repression, but also of the manipulation of the popular anger by the different fractions of the ruling class. The old conflict between “reformers” and “hard-liners” within the “Islamic Republic” has entered a new stage. The reformers around president Rouhani are convinced that a major policy change is necessary in order to consolidate the considerable gains made by Iran in recent times.

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Paradise Papers: an ideological campaign in the service of the capitalist state

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Tax Havens

Just over a year ago, the bourgeois class launched an ideological campaign around the Panama Papers. Loud publicity was given to a blacklist of fiscal havens. It was billed as the discovery of a series of murky networks and geographical areas, outside any legal controls, where enormous amounts of capital are being stashed. As it happens this is a song we have been hearing a lot since the phase of acute economic crisis opened up in 2008-9.

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