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An Introduction to Marxism

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Marx Memorial Library

37a Clerkenwell Green

London

EC1R 0DU

United Kingdom

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This course of four classes will cover an introduction to Marxist theory applying it to a discussion of relevant issues today.

About this Event

With a focus on the fundamentals of Marxism and its relevance to understanding and action, this course of four classes will cover an introduction to Marxist theory, applying it to a discussion of relevant issues today, such as: the changing nature of work and exploitation, austerity and the gig economy, racism, women’s oppression, class society, revolution and climate change.

With tutors Mary Davis and Richard Clarke

Resources

Course reading: There is no single set text, but you should you should try to look at relevant features published as part of the Morning Star’s fortnightly ‘Full Marx’ series which can also be found on the Marx Memorial Library’s website. Some of these were collectively edited prior to publication by participants on last year’s course.

For further reading: you should start with Marx 200 - The Significance of Marxism in the 21st Century - a report of a major international conference organised by the Marx Memorial Library to mark the bicentenary of Marx’s birth. And the on-line Marxist Internet Archive provides a gateway to a rich variety of original and contemporary texts.

14th January: Marxism and history

Historical materialism is probably the most fundamental ‘discovery’ of Marx, providing a tool for analysing the whole of human development and especially the ‘laws of motion’ governing all forms of class society and capitalism today. Why is it so important and how does it help us challenge conventional accounts – of class, technology, racism, gender roles and religious belief today?

Reading: How do Marxists view class struggle? What is religion? Where does women’s oppression come from? What is fascism? What are race and racism? Does Marxism provide a guide to history?

22nd January: Marxism and philosophy

Dialectical materialism provides an analytical alternative to academic ‘idealist’ philosophy as well as to commonplace views of human nature and our relationship to the natural world. What’s its relevance today to understanding ourselves as human animals, and to the future of the planet on which we live?

Reading: Are Humans natural? Is the answer ‘in our genes’? What is materialism? What is dialectics? Is the environment a ‘second contradiction’ of capitalism? Why is Marxism a better kind of philosophy? What is ‘scientific socialism’?

29th January: Marxism and economics

A Marxist understanding of value, price and profit explains the dynamics of capital and class, the irreconcilability of class interests and the role of the State in legitimising capitalism. It also explains the nature of commodity production, the changing nature of exploitation of people as workers and consumers, the role of economic crises and why workers appear to ‘consent’ to their exploitation.

Reading: What is ‘surplus value’? Does capitalism depend on credit? Is there such a thing as ‘fair pay’? Why do people like shopping? What is ‘class struggle’? What’s the difference between Marxist and ‘orthodox’ economics?

4th February: Marxism, the state and revolution

A Marxist perspective is central to understanding the role of the state and how the ruling class retains power. But how can we secure a society ‘for the many’? Can capitalism be reformed or must it be overthrown, if so what should replace it? Can we learn from the experience of socialist countries past and present and what are the prospects for a classless, communist society?

Reading: Can trades unions build a better world? Is the environment a ‘second contradiction’ of capitalism? What is the ‘withering away’ of the state? What do Marxists say about parliamentary elections? What do we mean by ‘revolution’?

Links and further reading:

• ‘Full Marx’ series on the Marx Memorial Library website www.marx-memorial-library.org.uk/education

• Marx 200, The Significance of Marxism in the 21st Century obtainable from the Marx Memorial Library www.marx-memorial-library.org.uk/product/marx-200

• Marxist Internet Archive www.marxists.org/subject/students/index.htm

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Location

Marx Memorial Library

37a Clerkenwell Green

London

EC1R 0DU

United Kingdom

View Map

Refund Policy

Contact the organiser to request a refund.

Eventbrite's fee is nonrefundable.

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