Marx Matters

Marx Matters: Articles on the Marxist tradition from SocialistWorker.org

For more than 160 years, socialists have looked to the Marxist tradition for a theoretical understanding of society, an analysis of capitalism and its crises, and the vision of society anew on the basis of democracy, equality and freedom. Collected here are SocialistWorker.org articles that elaborate the principles of the Marxist tradition and how socialists can use those principles as a guide for changing society. Read these articles to teach yourself Marxism.

Where We Stand

A series of articles by SocialistWorker.org columnist Paul D'Amato that look in detail at the "Where We Stand" statement of the International Socialist Organization. Click here for a full list of articles.

The ABC of Socialism

The case for an alternative

In a world of war and crisis, the need for fundamental change has never seemed more urgent. But what choices do we have to make a new future?

The Future Socialist Society

Leela Yellesetty looks at what the Marxist tradition has said about the vision of socialism--and what the experience of past struggles tells us about getting there.

Questions About Socialism

How history is made

There's a misconception that Marxists believe history follows a predetermined course as a result of economic laws, which human beings can't affect.

Can individuals change history?

Marxists reject the idea that history is made by charismatic "great men." But that doesn't mean they view individuals as cogs in the machine.

The point is to change it

Karl Marx's critique of capitalism seems prophetic today, but his economic analysis can't be separated from his vision of a revolutionary new society.

How do ideas ever change?

If ruling class ideas dominate with most people, how can we even initiate a struggle that can change those ideas?

The myth of the selfish workers

The right's complaints about greed are confined to people with little who try to organize for more. But greed in the boardrooms--that's a different story.

Will there always be wars?

If war is a product of human culture and history, rather than the result of some immutable nature, then it can be changed or done away with.

The too-many-people myth

As the global population reaches 7 billion, it's time to throw out the idea that there are "too many people"--and focus on the real causes of environmental destruction.

Why do we need the rich?

We're told that we can't tax the rich because they "create jobs." But capitalists only make investments when it's profitable, not when society needs it.

Where oppression comes from

Capitalism depends for its survival on divisions created in the working class, so the struggle for a new society must challenge those divisions.

The Marxist view of the state

Marxism is almost universally--and wrongly--identified with the idea of state ownership of the economy, and, by extension, with strengthening the state.

Can we elect socialism?

The right's uproar about Barack Obama and socialism raises the question: Are elections a more practical and peaceful way to get a socialist society.

Marxists and elections

Marxists don’t believe that socialism can be achieved through the ballot box. But that doesn’t mean we should have nothing to do with elections.

Why do we need organization?

Socialist organizations have played an important role in the great revolutionary struggles of the past. But they can't be formed out of nothing overnight.

Toward a revolutionary party

An organized layer of workers with a shared consciousness of the necessity for socialism and how to achieve it has to be created.

What kind of party do we need?

A leading member of ISO discusses what kind of organization socialists need to be effective in the fight against the system.

Does socialism exist today?

For decades, the world has been presented with two models of "existing socialism," even though neither has lived up to socialism's promise of human liberation.

What do we say about violence?

Socialists oppose the violence of the ruling class because they use it to impose class rule. But what about when violence comes from the oppressed?

Will revolutions always go bad?

One frequent objection to socialism is the belief that any effort by workers to democratically control society invariably ends in dictatorship.

Socialism in a new era

After years on the margins, even among the left, the ideas of socialism are being revived as a consequence of the profound crisis of capitalism.

Marxism and Anarchism

Refusing to be ruled over

My experience as a teenager, and I suspect that of many socialists, was that as I first became aware of the world's injustices, I found my way to anarchism first.

The means and the ends

In the struggle to get to a future society, some forms of organization must mirror what we are fighting against, rather than what we are fighting for.

Todd Chretien's columns are an accompaniment to the writings of Marx and Engels, explaining the ideas and historical references you'll find. Click here for a full list of articles. Here are the latest few:

Marx's Revolutionary Ideas

Marx's theory of revolution

Marx's view of the world is built around the centrality of the struggle between exploiter and exploited--ultimately over whether society will go forward or not.

Can the working class unite?

For the working class to create a socialist society, it must achieve unity in its ranks--and that means championing all struggles against oppression.

Marxism and organization

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels insisted that the working class would need its own organization to achieve a new society.

Marxism and the Economy

Why Karl Marx was right

When mainstream economists start citing capitalism's greatest critic, you know the crisis of the free market is severe.

What we mean by exploitation

The term "exploitation" conjures images of sweatshops, but Marxists have a broader understanding that applies to the whole working class.

Our alternative to the market

A socialist society would eliminate hunger and other forms of scarcity by getting rid of the profit motive and making human need society's first priority.

Marxism After Marx

The lies they tell about Lenin

Any honest look at the life of the Russian revolutionary Lenin quickly puts to rest the idea that he wanted an elite to seize power and impose socialism.

The legacy of Leon Trotsky

From his role in the Russian 1917 Revolution to his battle against Stalinism, Leon Trotsky made an immense contribution to the revolutionary tradition.

The fight for a socialist world

Duncan Hallas' The Comintern offers a history of the Third International, founded with the aim of turning Russia's revolution into a worldwide one.

Marxism and women's liberation

Marxism and feminism

Marxists must not minimize the degree of oppression faced by women inside the working class, but rather make a serious effort on every front to combat it.

Winning women's liberation

A united working-class struggle that upends the current system of exploitation and oppression can bring about true liberation.

Marxism and Black Liberation

The roots of racism

Racism as we understand it today did not always exist. It came into being as a consequence of the African slave trade and the rise of capitalism.

Race and socialism in the U.S.

The best fighters for socialism have always recognized that the struggle for Black liberation and socialism must go hand-in-hand.

Race, class and Marxism

For Marxists, there is an inseparable link between racism and capitalism--and therefore a commitment to fighting racism as part of the struggle for socialism.

Marxist Classics

This SocialistWorker.org series publishes lesser-known classic articles, essays and other documents from the Marxist tradition.

Ten Marxist Classics

SocialistWorker.org writers introduce 10 of the most important writings by leading figures in the revolutionary socialist tradition.

Alternative Views of Marxism

Socialism versus Stalinism

The regimes of Eastern Europe that collapsed 20 years ago after a series of mass rebellions were the opposite of what we mean by socialism.

Twenty years after Tiananmen

China's Tiananmen Square revolt challenged a government that claimed to stand for socialism, but in reality ruled over an exploitative and oppressive system.

The Tiananmen Square debate

What you think about the Tiananmen uprising 20 years ago goes to the heart of what you think about socialism today.

Where is Cuba headed?

A veteran socialist talks about the meaning of the Cuban government's announcement that it will lay off 500,000 workers from state jobs next year.

Marx against the state

Many people, including some on the left, associate Marxism with a powerful state, but this is the opposite of Marx's views.