[Chicago] Democracy and Communism in the Writings of the Young Marx
Series of Fall/Winter 2021 Discussions by Chicago IMHO
Re-Thinking Socialism in Light of Today’s Attack on Democracy
Today democracy is under attack, from the white supremacist Right and others in the U.S. to authoritarian regimes in Russia, China and beyond. To what extent is the struggle for socialism central to winning the battle for democracy, and what conception of socialism is most adequate for meeting this challenge today?
Meetings via ZOOM
Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82445257785?pwd=b0gwVzFqM1luY0Y4Sm5PekdQb2UzUT09
Most suggested readings are available from the International Marxist-Humanist Organization
Session 1: September 27, 2021, 6:30 pm
Democracy and Communism in the Writings of the Young Marx
How did the young Marx’s advocacy of what he called “true democracy” lead him to embrace communism, and how does his specific concept of communism differ from leftwing tendencies that downplay the need for genuine democracy?
Readings: 1) Karl Marx, “Debate on Freedom of the Press” (1842); 2) Karl Marx, excerpts from Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1843); 3) Peter Hudis, “What is Democratic Socialism? What is Socialist Democracy?” (2018).
Session 2: October 18, 2021, 6:30 pm
Marxism and the State
Is the state an instrument that can be used to overcome capitalism or does a transition to socialism require an alternative form of governance which supersedes it? We will explore this by examining, in light of recent debates, what Marx drew from the Paris Commune of 1871.
Readings: Raya Dunayevskaya, 1) Marxism and Freedom, Chapter 4, “Worker, Intellectual, and the State”; 2) Karl Marx, excerpts from The Civil War in France; 3) Nicos Poulantzas, “Socialism and Democracy” (1977).
Session 3: November 8, 2021, 6:30 pm
State-Capitalism in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century
Instead of successfully surmounting capitalism, numerous revolutionary regimes over the past 100 years have succumbed to one or another variant of state-capitalism. Why has this occurred, and what kind of reorganization of society is needed to prevent history from repeating itself?
Readings: 1) Raya Dunayevsakaya, “Russian State-Capitalism Vs. Workers’ Revolt” in Marxism and Freedom (1958) and “The Thought of Mao Tse-Tung,” in Philosophy and Revolution (1973); 2) Dunayevskaya, “Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Grenada” (1983)
Session 4: November 29, 2021, 6:30 pm
The Role of Police and Policing in Suppressing Democracy and Fostering Class, Racial and Gendered Oppression
How do prisons, policing, and police “unions” undermine the very basis of democracy in the U.S. and elsewhere, and how do movements to defund/abolish police and the criminal injustice system point to an alternative form of society that transcends capitalism?
Readings: 1) Mariame Kaba, excerpt from We Do This ‘Till We Free Us; 2) Kevin B. Anderson, “Responding to the New World of COVID-19, Economic Crisis, and Anti-Racist Uprisings” (2020)
Session 5: December 20, 2021, 6:30 pm
A Planet at Risk: Capital’s Drive for Infinite Expansion in a World of Finite Limits
Capital’s drive to increase wealth in monetary form is placing the future of life on this planet in jeopardy. We will explore this crisis in light of the recent discovery of Marx’s Notes on Ecology, which focuses on capital’s destruction of the metabolic relation between humanity and nature.
Readings: 1) Kohei Saito, Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism, chapter 6, “Marx’s Ecology after 1868;” 2) Heather Brown, “Capital’s Treadmill of Growth and Destruction” (2020).
Session 6: January 10, 2022, 6:30 pm
Beyond Capitalism: Is Freedom Compatible with the Law of Value?
Capitalism is a global system, based on extracting maximum economic value from the producers in the shortest amount of time. To what extent does an exit from capitalism hinge on breaking from this principle of value production, and how can it be achieved?
Readings: 1) Marx, excerpts from Critique of the Gotha Program (1875); 2) Dunayevskaya, “A New Revision in Marxian Economics” (1944) and Women’s Liberation and the Dialectics of Revolution, chapter 22, “The Grundrisse and Women’s Liberation: (1985).