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Critical Education

Critical Education


New in Paperback from Haymarket

Seeing Through the Eyes of the Polish Revolution: Solidarity and the Struggle Against Communism in Poland

HM series Marxism & Socialism World History


In 1980 Polish workers astonished the world by demanding and winning an independent union with the right to strike, called Solidarity–the beginning of the end of the Soviet empire. Jack M. Bloom’s Seeing Through the Eyes of the Polish Revolution explains how it happened based on 150 interviews of Solidarity leaders, activists, supporters and opponents. Bloom’s invaluable and insightful study shows how an opposition was built, documents the battle between Solidarity and the ruling party, outlines the conflicts that emerged within each side during this tense period, explains how Solidarity survived the imposition of martial law, and how the opposition forced the Stalinist government to negotiate itself out of power.

About the author

Jack Bloom is Associate Professor of Sociology and Adjunct Associate Professor of Minority Studies and of History at Indiana University Northwest. He has published the award-winning Class, Race and the Civil Rights Movement (Indiana University Press, 1987).


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A ‘Lost Text’ from 1975 rediscovered: David Brown on the ‘Illusions’ of Maurice Brinton and Cornelius Castoriadis

Editorial notes by the Hobgoblin Collective:

Hobgoblin has published (online) for the first time a text, written in 1975 as a letter to the membership of the Solidarity group – also known as ‘Solidarity For Workers Power’. This group was founded in 1960 by Chris Pallis, an eminent neurologist who wrote under the name “Maurice Brinton,” and Ken Weller, a young shop steward working in the motor industry. The group, initially known as Socialism Reaffirmed, published a journal, Agitator, which after six issues was renamed Solidarity. Both Brinton and Weller had previously been members of Gerry Healy’s Socialist Labour League, founded amidst the mass defections from the Communist Party after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. As Richard Abernethy put in an obituary for Chris Pallis in Hobgoblin in 2005:

“Solidarity punctured and deflated some favourite left-wing illusions. It recognised that there was no actually existing socialism, no worker’s states, in the world. Notwithstanding all differences between the Western capitalist bloc, the Eastern bloc ruled by Communist parties, and the Third World, the basic divide between rulers and ruled existed everywhere.”

The Solidarity group, despite never having much more than a hundred members, was influential, not least because Solidarity became the main conduit of the political theories of Cornelius Castoriadis aka Paul Cardan (1922-97), founder of Socialisme ou Barbarie in France.

The resignation statement by Solidarity member, David Brown, was written at a time (1975) when the group was in decline, facing splits and having to deal with the fact that Castoriadis/Cardan had, following the demise of Socialisme ou Barbarie in 1965, moved to the Right. Brown, was influenced by French ex-Bordigist, Jacques Camatte, some of whose writings he translated, by the Russian value-theorist, II Rubin, and by Karl Korsch, author of Marxism and Philosophy. According to Brown, Castoriadis and Solidarity shared with the traditional left a restricted understanding of Marx’s ideas, not recognising the liberatory core of Marx’s Capital, and taking the shortcoming of the traditional left as grounds for breaking with Marx. Brown argues that Castoriadis, Brinton and the Solidarity group misunderstood the cardinal term of the Marx’s critique of political economy – value. Brown writes:

“The attack on the labour theory of value is only a prelude to a more general attack on the materialist conception of history. By reducing the general conception of the mode of production to mean technology and the word ‘determine’ to mean the same as ‘cause’, a simple transformation of marxism into banality follows.” 

Castoriadis had argued that:

“The revolutionary movement… must become the place (the only place in contemporary society, outside the factory) where… individuals learn about collective life, run their own affairs and fulfill and develop themselves, working for a common objective in reciprocal recognition.”

Brown finds this position to be “entirely false,” and argues (following Jacques Camatte) that “all organisations are despotic” because, basing themselves on “critique of other organisations and individuals” they are “already” the conception of competitive capital.

Two of the editors of The Hobgoblin (Richard Abernethy and George Shaw) are former members of the Solidarity group. As Marxist-Humanists, we do not agree with a lot of the positions David Brown expressed in 1975. If the statement that “all organisations are despotic” means that all attempts to overcome atomization and individual isolation are doomed, then we certainly disagree, believing, as we do, in a philosophically-grounded alternative to capitalism – something Castoriadis, as a “positivist,” never even considered. Nor do we agree that “support for oppressed peoples” was part of the degeneration of Marxism (this in spite of Marx’s own statements on Ireland, Poland etc), or saying that people who voted Labour in 1974 “voted for capitalism.”

We are publishing this text not only because of its historical interest as a critique of a (dead) organization of the Left, once significant (and still influential “beyond the grave,” through the works of its theoreticians and the legacy of its activists) , but also because of the general theoretic questions it raises have, in the 21st century Left, not been surpassed.


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Global Economic Crisis


International Socialism
A seminar hosted by the quarterly journal of socialist theory

Marxism and the Alternatives to Crisis

It has been three years since the economic crisis first manifested. The credit crunch has given way to financial crash and the Great Recession. The ruling classes of Europe, faced with a growing crisis in the Eurozone, have embraced austerity and cuts in order to shift the cost of the crisis to workers, students and the unemployed.

In response, we have seen movements of resistance right across Europe. In countries like Greece, France and Ireland, strikes and protests have been complemented by alternative programmes and debates about the way forward for the movement. In Britain, the student revolt has marked a turning point in the struggle. This seminar will bring together academics and activists to discuss the current situation and what lies ahead.


Alex Callinicos: (Editor of International Socialism and Professor of European Studies at Kings College London)

Jane Hardy: (Author of Poland’s New Capitalism and Professor of Political Economy at the University of Hertfordshire)

Stathis Kouvelakis: (Author of Philosophy and Revolution and lecturer at Kings College, London)

Costas Lapavitsas: (Member of Research on Money and Finance and Professor of Economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies)

Tuesday 7 December, 6.30pm
Brunei Lecture Theatre,
School of Oriental and African Studies,
Russell Square campus,
London, WC1H 0XG

Free entry – All welcome * * (020) 7819 1177

International Socialism
+44 (0)20 7819 1177

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Tempus fugit


Kurt Richards, Kurt Rikowski (14th June 1927 – 15th February 2009)  

It has taken me some time to get the psychological strength for putting the Eulogy I wrote for my father’s funeral in the public domain. It can now be read on The Flow of Ideas web site.

A Tribute to My Father can be found at:

Glenn Rikowski

London, 14th November 2010

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Karl Marx


Meet Kevin Anderson, author ‘Marx at the Margins’ (University of Chicago, 2010).

When: Wednesday 10 November, 6pm-8pm.
Where: SOAS, Room G3 (ground floor)

Kevin Anderson’s new book, Marx at the Margins, has received critical acclaim for its important excavation of Marx’s writing on colonialism, ethnicity and nationalism, and non-Western and precapitalist societies. Geographically, the focus is on India and China, the Civil War in the U.S., Ireland and Poland, as well as Latin America, Russia, Algeria, Indonesia, and other non-Western societies.

Concerning colonialism and non-Western societies, this book traces the Eurocentrism as well as the implicitly unilinear concept of social development in works like the Communist Manifesto (1848) and the 1853 Tribune articles on India.  Later, especially with the Grundrisse (1857-58) and the 1856-58 writings on anti-colonial resistance in China and India, Marx’s thought evolves toward a more multilinear and decidedly anti-colonialist position.  This evolution culminates in his last decade, where three strands of his thought stand out: (1) the 1872-75 French edition of Capital, (2) the largely unpublished 1879-82 notebooks on non-Western and precapitalist societies and gender, and the late writings on Russia, which point to the possibility of alternative pathways of development. The 1879-82 notebooks, to which Kevin has access through the Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe project, also show an interest in gender relations across a wide variety of societies. Concerning ethnicity and nationalism, this book concentrates on Marx’s writings on Poland, the Civil War in the U.S., and Ireland. His writings on Poland show a commitment to that country’s national emancipation from foreign occupation as a crucial test for the international democratic and labor movements.  Those on the Civil War discuss the relationship of race and class in the U.S. and the efforts of the international working class to take a stand against slavery and for democracy. Those on Ireland bring together both of these themes, whether on the relationship of Irish national emancipation to the prospects for the labor movement in Britain, or on the ethnic cleavages between Irish and British labor inside Britain. 

As a whole, this book seeks to show Marx’s critique of capital to have been far broader than is usually supposed.

Kevin will be in London for the 2010 Historical Materialism Conference ( and has kindly agreed to meet to discuss his book with SOAS faculty, students and others who may be interested.

The meeting is sponsored by the ‘Neoliberalism, Globalisation and States’ Research Cluster of the SOAS Development Studies Department

All are welcome

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Philosophical Journal Nowa Krytyka, Socially Involved Journal Recykling Idei and Althusser Studies Journal Décalages and Szczecin University are inviting for the conference:

European Philosophy After the Epistemological Break

Date: 16 – 20. IX . 2010

Place: Pobierowo, ul. Grunwaldzka 66


The leading theme of the conference will be the conditions and possibilities of Louis Althusser’s philosophy, with the emphasis made on the effects which it is able to produce in the current politico-philosophical conjuncture. To examine the consequences of “philosophical intervention in politics” and “political intervention in the world of philosophy” we will try to map the key concepts of Althusser’s theoretical apparatus. Thus, during the conference, next to the tangle of misunderstandings concerning the notion of anti-humanist critique of subject and ideology, one will find possibility to discuss also the reception of Althusser’s late works concerning the “materialism of encounter”, or the epistemological concepts of theoretical practice and epistemological break. The other goal of the conference is to establish constant, international collaboration between critically oriented philosophical circles. 


Jerzy Kochan „NOWA KRYTYKA” / /

Mateusz Janik „RECYKLING IDEI” / /

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Karl Marx


Kevin B. Anderson
Marx at the Margins: On Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Non-Western Societies

336 pages,
6 x 9
© 2010
Cloth $66.00
ISBN: 9780226019826
Published May 2010
Paper $22.50
ISBN: 9780226019833
Published May 2010

In Marx at the Margins, Kevin Anderson uncovers a variety of extensive but neglected texts by the well-known political economist which cast what we thought we knew about his work in a startlingly different light. Analyzing a variety of Marx’s writings, including journalistic work written for the New York Tribune, Anderson presents us with a Marx quite at odds with our conventional interpretations. Rather than providing us with an account of Marx as an exclusively class-based thinker, Anderson here offers a portrait of Marx for the twenty-first century: a global theorist whose social critique was sensitive to the varieties of human social and historical development, including not just class, but nationalism, race, and ethnicity, as well.

Marx at the Margins ultimately argues that alongside his overarching critique of capital, Marx created a theory of history that was multi-layered and not easily reduced to a single model of development or revolution. Through highly-informed readings on work ranging from Marx’s unpublished 1879–82 notebooks to his passionate writings about the antislavery cause in the United States, this volume delivers a groundbreaking and canon-changing vision of Karl Marx that is sure to provoke lively debate in Marxist scholarship and beyond.



List of Abbreviations


1. Colonial Encounters in the 1850s: The European Impact on India, Indonesia, and China

2. Russia and Poland: The Relationship of National Emancipation to Revolution

3. Race, Class, and Slavery: The Civil War as a Second American Revolution

4. Ireland: Nationalism, Class, and the Labor Movement

5. From the Grundrisse to Capital: Multilinear Themes

6. Late Writings on Non-Western and Precapitalist Societies


Appendix: The Vicissitudes of the Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe from the 1920s to Today



Kevin B. Anderson is professor of sociology and political science at the University of California–Santa Barbara and most recently, with Janet Afary, the co-author of ‘Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism’, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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