Marx and Engels: Political and Historical Works, Part 1

On January 8 and 9 of this year, 150 million workers went on a general strike in India, the biggest work stoppage in history. This strike marked another first when agricultural workers and small farmers calling for a solidarity shutdown of rural India joined the striking workers from many sectors including manufacturing, mining, energy, transportation, banking, public services, construction, and many more. These 150 million striking Indian workers corresponds roughly to the total working population of the United States. Here in the U.S. during 2018 a record number of workers went on strike or stopped working because of labor disputes—485,000 workers from major sectors were involved over that year. This was the largest number of workers on strike or work stoppages since 1986, when flight attendants, garbage collectors, and steelworkers walked off the job. Although the international rumblings of a wakening proletariat are of greater or smaller magnitude they indicate the possibility of the workers of all lands to unite on a scale like never before, and in numbers Marx and Engels could only dream of when they wrote these closing words to The Communist Manifesto in 1848. “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to gain. Working Men of All Countries, Unite!”

During their lives working together, Marx and Engels kept abreast of all working class movements and developments within all societies that they could get news from. Their work in doing so predates their partnership as anti-capitalist revolutionaries, but flourished especially upon meeting and thereafter. As Engels stated at the grave of Marx in 1883:

“…Marx was before all else a revolutionist. His real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being, to contribute to the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was the first to make conscious of its own position and its needs, conscious of the conditions of its emancipation. Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity and a success such as few could rival. His work on the first Rheinische Zeitung (1842), the Paris Vorwarts (1844), the Deutsche Brusseler Zeitung (1847), the Neue Rheinische Zeitung (1848-49), the New York Tribune (1852-61), and, in addition to these, a host of militant pamphlets, work in organizations in Paris, Brussels and London, and finally, crowning all, the formation of the great International Working Men’s Association — this was indeed an achievement of which its founder might well have been proud even if he had done nothing else.

Marx and Engels are perhaps best known for their economic, historical and general theoretical writings: Capital, The Communist Manifesto, the Grundrisse. But the founders of modern socialism were also revolutionary combatants, deeply engaged–practically and journalistically–in the major events of their day. This three-semester course aims to take a closer look at their specifically political writings–about the American Civil War, the Paris Commune, the Russian and Irish questions, and more besides. We will be guided in this three-semester-long study by Marx’s Theory of Revolution, a five-volume exploration of Marx’s political thought–the magnum opus of the authoritative  Marxist scholar, Hal Draper. Beginners are welcome, and even long-time Marxists may learn a thing or two and be surprised by some of what they discover in these all-too-seldom read works.

All fees are sliding scale. No one is denied participation for inability to pay.

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Introduction to Marxism for Women Only

with Juliet Ucelli

co-sponsored with Left Focus

We’ll explore some key concepts about human beings, society and history, and our relationship to the rest of nature. Readings will be short and accessible excerpts from writings by Marx and Engels or later Marxists. I believe that this theory can help us analyze the social and economic realities and structures we live in–who holds power and how–and fight more effectively for liberation.

Some of the central questions that we’ll address are:
• How did the oppression of women, and the division of societies into people who work and others who exploit them, originate and develop historically?
• What are the driving dynamics of capitalism that make it make it so productive, innovative, brutal and ecologically destructive?
• What intellectual tools can help us understand industry’s complex impacts on our bodies, our psyches and the nature around us—impacts that capitalists, and people who think like them, don’t want to see or cannot see?
• What did Marx understand—and not understand—about white supremacy and Eurocentrism, and how has that analysis been deepened and modified by later Marxists?

In a continuing attempt to increase access for those who have been historically excluded, turned off or silenced by the way this theory is often taught and discussed, we are offering an intro class this October through December for women only. Everyone who identifies as a woman is welcome.

Juliet Ucelli has taught labor economics and class/race/gender for unions and activists, and writes on Eurocentrism in Marxist theory, and Marxist understandings of human development. She also teaches Marx’s Capital, Volume One with The Marxist Education Project.

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Introduction to Marxism

An eight week course with Sudeb Mitra
February 6 through March 27

The purpose of this course is to give an introduction to some of the main ideas of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, focusing on the materialist understanding of history, and the theory of surplus value.

We will make a careful study of the following texts:
“The part played by labor in the transition from ape to man”—Frederick Engels
“Posture Maketh The Man”— Stephen Jay Gould
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific—Frederick Engels
Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy—Karl Marx
​​​​​​​Communist Manifesto—Marx and Engels
​​​​​​​“Karl Marx on Capital”—Frederick Engels
​​​​​​​Value, Price and Profit—Karl Marx

The course will consist of readings and discussions. If time permits, we will also include some documents of the First International, especially the “Inaugural Address Of The International Working Men’s Association”—drafted by Marx.

Sudeb Mitra is a professor of mathematics at the Queens College of the City University of New York, and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is especially interested in Marx/Engels and the Sciences.

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Marxist Summer Intensive: July 15-17

21st Century Class Struggles and the Generalized Proletariat:
Further Lessons towards Working Class Consciousness within our Social Movements

Thursday, July 14 through Sunday, July 17

Featuring: Mitch Abidor, Kazembe Balagun, Mark Bergfeld, Rebecca Boger, Dennis Broe, Charmaine Chua, Claude Copeland, Marika Diaz, Russell Dale, Walter Daum, Pete Dolack, Kate Doyle-Griffiths, Mark Dudzic, Anthony Galluzzo, Janet Gerson. Harmony Goldberg, Marcus Graetsch, Ursula Huws, Dan Karan, Lisa Maya Knauer, Kristin Lawler, Laurel Mei-Singh, Ras Moshe, Fred Murphy, Manny Ness, Stuart Newman, Marie-Claire Picher, David Schwartzman and Yuko Tonohira.

Writings to read if you have the time:

Susan Watkins from New Left Review, survey 2014

https://newleftreview.org/II/90/susan-watkins-the-political-state-of-the-union

Susan Watkins, 2016
https://newleftreview.org/II/98/susan-watkins-oppositions
Marc Dudzic and Adolf Reed Jr from Socialist Register on Crisis of Left and Labor in the US

http://www.commondreams.org/sites/default/files/dudzic_and_reed_the_crisis_of_labour_and_the_left_in_the_united_states_sr_2015.pdf

A Selection from the blog of Ursula Huws (if you have time read more of her postings, listed off to the side on her blog)

https://ursulahuws.wordpress.com/2016/06/25/the-unmaking-of-the-english-working-class/

https://ursulahuws.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/uber-and-under/

https://ursulahuws.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/a-workhouse-without-walls/

Mitch Abidor
On Paris, May ’68

http://insurgentnotes.com/2016/06/may-68-revisited/

Ian Birchall’s response to Mitch:

http://insurgentnotes.com/2016/06/response-to-may-68-revisited/

Kazembe Balagun
In The Guardian, 2011

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/mar/17/race-protest
on the Fanon Phenomenon in The Indypendent: https://indypendent.org/2014/12/16/fanon-phenomenon-documentary-unearths-africas-anti-colonial-struggles

Mark Bergfeld

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/05/the-next-portuguese-revolution/

About Mark in 2011 as activist:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8440413/Student-protests-The-Marxist-revolutionary-aiming-to-lead-the-NUS.html

Dennis Broe
On the World Film Beat with recent Cannes reports:

http://politicalfilmcritics.blogspot.fr/p/world-film-beat.html?

The most most recent article of Dennis in Situations on Mediterranean Noir:

http://ojs.gc.cuny.edu/index.php/situations/article/view/1706/1614?

Russell Dale from Situtations:

http://ojs.gc.cuny.edu/index.php/situations/article/view/1631/1581

Charmaine Chua:

https://thedisorderofthings.com/2014/09/09/logistics-capitalist-circulation-chokepoints/

https://thedisorderofthings.com/author/charmchua/

https://thedisorderofthings.com/2015/02/07/the-chinese-logistical-sublime-and-its-wasted-remains/

https://thedisorderofthings.com/2015/01/27/landlessness-and-the-life-of-seamen/

Harmony Goldberg
On McDonald’s

http://www.salon.com/2014/04/06/how_mcdonalds_gets_away_with_rampant_wage_theft_partner/

Ras Moshe
An interview from Jazz Right Now:

https://jazzrightnow.com/2014/03/10/interview-ras-moshe/

Walter Daum
Exchange in NY Review of Books:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2014/04/03/imperialism-and-world-war-i-exchange/

Stuart Newman
all –

https://legacy.nymc.edu/sanewman/social.htm

especially

https://legacy.nymc.edu/sanewman/PDFs/CNS_GM_foods_09.pdf

https://legacy.nymc.edu/sanewman/PDFs/CNS%20Synbio_12.pdf

David Schwartzman

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/12/cop-21-paris-climate-change-global-warming-fossil-fuels/

http://tratarde.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Schwartzman-Saul-CNS-2015.pdf

http://www.redandgreen.org/Documents/Solar_Communism.htm

As capitalist relations penetrate every nook and cranny of our planet and the most intimate realms of our lives, a growing proportion of the world’s population is incorporated into the global proletariat—paid and unpaid workers and our families, the unemployed and underemployed, and the growing numbers who will never work. The laboring part of today’s global proletariat is greater than the world’s entire population 40 years ago. Now there are workers from all parts of the globe working for the same set of bosses.

Capitalists continually seek new avenues to expand their capital and commodify all that exists. The digital revolution has sped all this up, quickening accumulation which lays the basis for more frequent crises. Capital continues in ever new forms the process of enclosures that began with the forcible removal of the peasantry from the land in medieval Europe. Throughout the global south, displaced peasants are forced to migrate to cities or internationally, working in factories or informal economies. Many others are conscripted into comprador armies to protect the extractive industries ravaging their regions. There is also outright robbery: the Panama Papers reveal the extent to which capital has fleeced the global proletariat. After more than three decades of assault on organized labor, privatization, austerity and structural adjustment have gutted hard-won social programs. Automation, digitization and strategic relocation of work, combined with just-in-time assembly, make millions “redundant”. At the same time Walmartization, Uberization, Amazonification exemplify our marginalization and precarity.

As we plan this intensive, workers and students are in motion throughout France, from Nuit Debout gatherings to general strikes against austerity. Greek workers, hit harder still by austerity, are reaching out to support the tide of refugees. The contract just won by the Verizon workers in the U.S. after a nation-wide strike represents a major victory. The Sanders campaign has helped normalize the concept of socialism, but the Left and social movements have not figured out how to articulate a viable socialist alternative and build a corresponding movement.

Over the four days of this Intensive, we will study the causes behind these developments, learn about some obstacles to organizing and the challenges facing workers at work and in their communities, and consider various left analyses about social realities and the prospects for organizing. We will assess the lessons of workers’ movements globally and historically, with emphasis on prospects in the US and the global south. Through collaborative study and discussion, we aim to provide a challenging learning environment so each participant can develop his/her own theoretical and analytic tools to advance our organizing and movement building work in order to broaden opposition to capital locally, nationally and internationally.

FRIDAY, JULY 15 / 10:00 am • Imperialism Today: Super-Exploitation & Marxist Theory • WALTER DAUM • 1:00- 4:00 pm • Class Consciousness, Class Struggle & Self-Organizing Using Image Theater • presented by The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) • facilitated by JANET GERSON • MARIE-CLAIRE PICHER • 5:30 pm • Public Banking: A Marxist Response to Finance Capital • DAN KARAN • 7:30 pm • Southern Insurgency: Mass Movements Throughout the Global South • LISA MAYA KNAUER

SATURDAY, JULY 16 / 10:00 am • Slackers, Sabotage, & Syndicalism: American Labor History & The Refusal of Work • KRISTIN LAWLER • 1:00 pm • Beyond Bernie: The Crisis of Labor & The Left in the United States • MARK DUDZIC • 3:30 pm • Prometheus in Ruins?: Uses & Abuses of the Hero Who Stole Fire • ANTHONY GALLUZZO • 5:30 pm • Logistics, Capitalist Circulation, Chokepoints • CHARMAINE CHUA • 7:30 pm • Devils & Dust: Resisting War in New York, the Pacific, & the Middle East • CLAUDE COPELAND • LAUREL MEI-SINGH • YUKO TONOHIRA

SUNDAY, JULY 17 / 11:00 am • It’s Not Over: Lessons for Socialists from the October Revolution, Prague Spring and the Sandinistas • PETE DOLACK • 1:00 pm • Labor in the Global Digital Economy • URSULA HUWS • 3:30 pm • Sexuality, Gender & Neoliberal Capitalism • KATE DOYLE-GRIFFITHS • LISA MAYA KNAUER • 5:30 pm • Approaching Science from the Left: Uses & Abuses of Knowledge in the Planetary Crisis • REBECCA BOGER • STUART NEWMAN • DAVE SCHWARTZMAN • moderated by FRED MURPHY

As capitalist relations penetrate every nook and cranny of our planet and the most intimate realms of our lives, a growing proportion of the world’s population is incorporated into the global proletariat—paid and unpaid workers and our families, the unemployed and underemployed, and the growing numbers who will never work. The laboring part of today’s global proletariat is greater than the world’s entire population 40 years ago. Now there are workers from all parts of the globe working for the same set of bosses.

Capitalists continually seek new avenues to expand their capital and commodify all that exists. The digital revolution has sped all this up, quickening accumulation which lays the basis for more frequent crises. Capital continues in ever new forms the process of enclosures that began with the forcible removal of the peasantry from the land in medieval Europe. Throughout the global south, displaced peasants are forced to migrate to cities or internationally, working in factories or informal economies. Many others are conscripted into comprador armies to protect the extractive industries ravaging their regions. There is also outright robbery: the Panama Papers reveal the extent to which capital has fleeced the global proletariat. After more than three decades of assault on organized labor, privatization, austerity and structural adjustment have gutted hard-won social programs. Automation, digitization and strategic relocation of work, combined with just-in-time assembly, make millions “redundant”. At the same time Walmartization, Uberization, Amazonification exemplify our marginalization and precarity.

As we plan this intensive, workers and students are in motion throughout France, from Nuit Debout gatherings to general strikes against austerity. Greek workers, hit harder still by austerity, are reaching out to support the tide of refugees. The contract just won by the Verizon workers in the U.S. after a nation-wide strike represents a major victory. The Sanders campaign has helped normalize the concept of socialism, but the Left and social movements have not figured out how to articulate a viable socialist alternative and build a corresponding movement.

Over the four days of this Intensive, we will study the causes behind these developments, learn about some obstacles to organizing and the challenges facing workers at work and in their communities, and consider various left analyses about social realities and the prospects for organizing. We will assess the lessons of workers’ movements globally and historically, with emphasis on prospects in the US and the global south. Through collaborative study and discussion, we aim to provide a challenging learning environment so each participant can develop his/her own theoretical and analytic tools to advance our organizing and movement building work in order to broaden opposition to capital locally, nationally and internationally.

THURSDAY, JULY 14 / 10:00 am • Marx and Engels & Classical German Philosophy • RUSSELL DALE • 1:00 pm • Anti-Austerity in France: Live Report from Paris on Bastille Day • DENNIS BROE • 3:30 pm • May ’68 in France: Revisited • MITCH ABIDOR • 5:30 pm • What Jazz Would Karl Marx Listen to in 2016 • RAS MOSHE • 7:30 pm • Solidarity Without Borders • KAZEMBE BALAGUN • MARK BERGFELD • HARMONY GOLDBERG • MARCUS GRAETSCH • moderated by MARIKA DIAS

FRIDAY, JULY 15 / 10:00 am • Imperialism Today: Super-Exploitation & Marxist Theory • WALTER DAUM • 1:00- 4:00 pm • Class Consciousness, Class Struggle & Self-Organizing Using Image Theater • presented by The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB) • facilitated by JANET GERSON • MARIE-CLAIRE PICHER • 5:30 pm • Public Banking: A Marxist Response to Finance Capital • DAN KARAN • 7:30 pm • Southern Insurgency: Mass Movements Throughout the Global South • MANNY NESS • LISA MAYA KNAUER

SATURDAY, JULY 16 / 10:00 am • Slackers, Sabotage, & Syndicalism: American Labor History & The Refusal of Work • KRISTIN LAWLER • 1:00 pm • Beyond Bernie: The Crisis of Labor & The Left in the United States • MARK DUDZIC • 3:30 pm • Prometheus in Ruins?: Uses & Abuses of the Hero Who Stole Fire • ANTHONY GALLUZZO • 5:30 pm • Logistics, Capitalist Circulation, Chokepoints • CHARMAINE CHUA • 7:30 pm • Devils & Dust: Resisting War in New York, the Pacific, & the Middle East • CLAUDE COPELAND • LAUREL MEI-SINGH • YUKO TONOHIRA

SUNDAY, JULY 17 / 11:00 am • It’s Not Over: Lessons for Socialists from the October Revolution, Prague Spring and the Sandinistas • PETE DOLACK • 1:00 pm • Labor in the Global Digital Economy • URSULA HUWS • 3:30 pm • Sexuality, Gender & Neoliberal Capitalism • KATE DOYLE-GRIFFITHS • LISA MAYA KNAUER • 5:30 pm • Approaching Science from the Left: Uses & Abuses of Knowledge in the Planetary Crisis • REBECCA BOGER • STUART NEWMAN • DAVE SCHWARTZMAN • moderated by FRED MURPHY

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