Friday, April 13, 2012

4/19, Public Forum: "The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx"

Thursday, April 19, 2012, 3:30pm
UMass Boston Campus Center Ballroom

"I am referring to ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results…and being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be."
—Karl Marx

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MARX DEDICATED his life to the struggle for a world free from all forms of domination and exploitation. This world would have a single governing principle: “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”

But he wasn’t a dreamer. What separated him from previous philosophers and socialists was that his ideas had practical application in the struggles of workers. He spent his days studying the world in which he lived to better understand its internal contradictions and equip all those who would challenge it with tools for understanding and transforming it. Instead of looking for a wealthy benefactor to build socialism out of the goodness of his heart, Marx saw in the working class the ability to collectively overthrow capitalism and replace it with socialism. “The philosophers have merely interpreted the world,” he wrote. “The point, however, is to change it.”

Marx believed, on the one hand, that oppressive systems necessarily produce resistance from the oppressed, and on the other, that the outcome of that resistance is not predetermined. In his own lifetime, the central question was: what kind of society will replace dictatorships the world over? Consistently, Marx argued that “democracy,” for the working class, isn’t just about the ballot box, it’s about direct control over all aspects of how a society runs, not delegation of that responsibility to a wealthy elite.

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TODAY, AS right wingers declare war on women and the Supreme Court okays strip searches in any and all police detentions, we see the outrageous consequence of a deeply bigoted and backwards society in the murders of Trayvon Martin and Shaima Alawadi. Our so-called representatives would prefer that we consider these incidents unfortunate and isolated, but too many people find too much that is familiar and predictable in them.

As millions of people begin to identify and fight against injustice today, we need to go through a similar process to that which Marx went through. We need to identify how deep the problems go, because that can help us identify how deep the solutions must go and reject quick fixes offered up by politicians who want as little to change as possible.

Join us for a discussion with ASHLEY SMITH of Karl Marx’s revolutionary ideas as part of a national tour supporting the reissue of "The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx" by Alex Callinicos.

As often and emphatically as the ruling class declares him irrelevant, just as often are his ideas being rediscovered.

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Ashley Smith is a long-time activist and a member of the editorial board of the International Socialist Review.

Hosted by the UMass Boston International Socialist Organization •