Talk for Article "Karl Marx is still pervasive and polarizing, 200 years after his birth"

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  1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

    ‘Marx’s writings inspired ideological and geopolitical revolutions that shaped the 20th century and inform the new millennium. Many of these uprisings were violent, and some set the stage for hugely repressive political regimes – particularly in Stalinist Russia, Mao’s China, and Pol Pot’s Cambodia. Others came to power democratically – Salvador Allende in Chile and Jacobo Árbenz in Guatemala – and were ousted by U.S.-led interventions.’

    Evil communism, innocent U.S.-led interventions. Please if you are going to report on this spit at American imperialism just as hard as you would at the communist you clearly don’t like.

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    I was hoping that you might expand a bit on this paragraph of yours.

    “Marxist theories were tested extensively in the 20th century through Communism: what were the outcomes? Why did they fail humanity?”

    Specifically, what theories were tested and where.
    ´My first thought was that you might be referring to “communist states”, thinking that they were marxist states.

    However, what we mean when we write “communist states” have been self-declared socialist states that were governed by communist parties, which had the self-declared goal to eventually lead their state from socialism to marxism.

    The first paragraph in this article
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_state
    and other wikipedia articles are very clear about this.

    The hypothetical social stage proposed by Marxist theory were not, as far as I am aware ever tested in the USSR nor in China nor in any other country.

    So which marxist theories were tested extensively, as you wrote, and by whom?

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      Hi Daniel. Those questions were submitted by one of our community members, Robert Goodlad, so I suggest you contact him on his TALK page for clarification.

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    The list of interview targets would appear to be leading their piece into a fairly heavy bias. Perhaps people who have escaped Communist states, or those that have studied the transition from Lenin to Stalin in the U.S.S.R. may be a good counter point.

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      Thanks Jason, the list on the story isn’t the total list of interviewees but will definitely take your suggestions into account.

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    Karl Marx in the 21st century? I hope this is a rabbit hole most readers aren’t interested in. If you’re prepared to spend your time interviewing fringe extremists about a dead ideology, best of luck to you. I guess it’s better than a story about fascism featuring interviews with the alt-right.

    Have you considered covering liberal Democracy and capitalism? I hear those ideologies been well received by the billions they’ve lifted out of poverty. Not so much in post-structuralist circles, I suppose…

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      Hey Mark. Sorry you didn’t find the Generation Identity story interesting.

      Here’s a couple of links to suggest Marx and Marxism’s allure to people around the world might not be so passé:
      https://www.wsj.com/articles/socialism-capitalism-seen-in-new-light-by-younger-americans-1512561601
      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/mark-carney-marxism-automation-bank-of-england-governor-job-losses-capitalism-a8304706.html

      With regard to your third point: we’d love to hear your story suggestions or story submissions.

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    Yanis Varoufakis recently wrote an article for the Guardian on the legacy and use of Marxism. Perhaps he might be willing to answer some further questions.

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/apr/20/yanis-varoufakis-marx-crisis-communist-manifesto

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      Thanks for the article. I’ve tried him, hopefully he’ll be available.

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    I don’t think listing “Gulag” in the tags is accurate; And to the same extend “USSR”? I mean Marx definitely has an influence on the USSR, no doubt about it, but if we were to list every country or former country he had an influence on, then where’s China or even Mao for that matter?
    I’d suggest removing: Gulag, USSR and Russia. Totalitarism?

    Current Affairs also doesn’t seem accurate. Law should also be removed

    Philosophy could be added, as it’s relevant.

    1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

      Hey Darian. Thanks for your edits. I’ve just approved them.

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    The title of Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the 21st century” seems to be a reference to the book “Capital”. He also mentions Marx in his book. Perhaps he might be interested in an interview?

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    To everyone who’s suggested someone to contact, thanks so much. Now, in case you feel like it, how do his ideas still feel relevant to you today? What aspects of them? How has this changed over the years?

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      Good questions, George. Marx explored and proposed his ideas across so many publications over quite a period of time, but I think it’s still relevant to think about them in terms of three broad and inter-related elements: philosophy, economics and politics. He didn’t produce blueprints for a future socialist or communist society. In fact, he spent much of his efforts in analysing capitalism, suggesting how change comes about in society and emphasising with Engels the importance of analysis of existing society as the basis for working out how to bring about change. In spite of Stalin and Stalinism, and the appalling oppression that it brought about, there is nothing inherent in what Marx wrote and said that advocated such a regime. Two things I would say about Stalin’s bloody regime are: (1) the first target of his show trials and executions was the Bolshevik leadership itself, as reported in the objective Dewey Commission of the late 1930s; (2) Stalin was certainly not the first to use and utterly distort a radical ideology to ‘legitimise’ bloody oppression, as we know from for example the Spanish Inquisition and its use of Christian ideology. However, the ideas of Marx do pose an immense threat to the rich, privileged and powerful, and that’s the case today. Why else would they be so frightened of them and so determined to discredit them? To say that the super rich, privileged and powerful – from Blair to May and Trump – hate Marx because they love freedom and democracy, whilst Marx believed in the opposite, simply doesn’t wash! Of course Marx wasn’t correct in everything he predicted but I would gladly take two basic examples to demonstrate the relevance of his core ideas today. First, he predicted that capitalist society would increasingly polarise into two great camps as the crisis in the economy remained unresolved. Sounds very familiar in the context of the post-2008 banking crisis, austerity and the great polarisation of politics globally since then. Second, at the heart of profit maximisation and cost reduction is the exploitation of labour. Marx suggested that employers don’t purchase labour per se when they hire workers but instead they purchase ‘labour power’, a term that Marx used to refer to the potential of workers to perform certain tasks at certain speeds to certain degrees. If employers are to maximise productivity, as they must attempt to do, then inevitably there will be conflict between management and labour, and capitalism is incapable of resolving this. These are just two ways of seeing central aspects of our current capitalist world, and the conflicts and crises it generates. When put together with other elements of Marx’s ideas, they lay an essential basis for thinking through and developing ways in which we can ultimately achieve another world; better than one based on exploitation of labour, vulnerable to economic crises and catastrophe, and in which a minute proportion of society is massively rich and the vast majority at best struggling to get by, or at worst made destitute by imperialist war, floods and famine. I could say much more but that at least is a taste of why I think Marx’s ideas are very relevant to today’s world.

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        Thanks David, I really appreciate the thoughtful comment.

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    As a member of the Socialist Party in England and Wales, I’m sure one of our party’s representatives at a national level would be willing to do an interview for you. I would suggest Peter Taaffe (Gen Sec) or Hannah Sell (Dep gen Sec). You can contact them via the Socialist Party’s website.

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      Thanks David, I will. Have you got their details by any chance?

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        Hi George. As you requested, here are the contact details for the Socialist Party (England and Wales):
        National office, tel. 020 8988 8777
        Email, [email protected]
        Written correspondence – Socialist Party, PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD.
        If you email or write, please address it for the attention of Peter Taaffe, General Secretary and/or Hannah Sell, Deputy General Secretary. You may find phoning is best in the first instance.
        Regards, David.

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          George. Just to add, obviously you’re going to have various critics contributing to this article from a pro-capitalist stance, as well as those who do varying degrees are in the Stalinist tradition, if you don’t include Trotsky’s interpretation of Marxism and the ideas that he added, I think the article will be much the weaker as a result. Regards, David.

  10. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

    Richard Wolff and David Harvey would be good candidates for authoritative commentary.

    1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

      Will try to get ahold of both. Thanks Kenneth.

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    And here’s one more suggestion to boot: Wolfgang Eckhardt, who wrote the well-researched book “The First Socialist Schism: Bakunin vs. Marx in the International Working Men’s Association.”

    http://www.pmpress.org/content/article.php/WolfgangEckhardt

    I could try to track down his contact info if you like.

  12. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

    I have another suggestion for an interviewee. Alexey Burov has written an extensive article entitled “Marxian System and its Mythos,” which was published in a Russian journal called “A Different View, ” edited by the historian Prof. Andrei Zubov. (Article link: https://tinyurl.com/ycmuenwu)

    I have discussed it with Alexey, and he is willing to be interviewed for this WikiTribune article. I’ve been attending a series of lunchtime talks he’s been giving based on his article. He is clearly very knowledgeable and passionate about the subject, and I think his perspective would serve as an interesting and valuable counterpoint to those being assembled.

    If there is interest, please let me know how I can forward his contact info to George Engels or whomever is appropriate. I can also answer try to any questions.

    1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

      Thanks for the suggestion, Michael. Is Alexey also a historian like Zubov? Please ask him to get in touch with me at [email protected]

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    Richard Wolff is a Marxist economist in the US.

    A perspective from someone in the Industrial Workers of the World might be interesting. There are a number of very active IWW groups in the UK and US.

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    Thomas Sowell wrote a book on Marxism.
    Jordan Peterson has incorporated discussions of Marxism in his lecture on contemporary culture.

  15. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

    Should definitely consider interviewing David Harvey and/or Yanis Varoufakis.

    1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

      Thanks, will try.

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