200 years since the birth of Karl Marx: the importance of Marxist theoryFebruary 2, 2018
The text below will be submitted to the national conference of the Marxist Student Federation on 17 February in London as a resolution on the importance of studying Marxist theory.
Marxism is the history and theory of the class struggle. It is the memory of the working class. If we are to learn the lessons from class struggles of the past and apply them in our struggle for the final victory of the working class in the future, we must take the study of Marxist theory very seriously.
It is a distinguishing feature of the Marxist Student Federation that we use theory as a guide to action. We are not distracted by ephemeral trends or activism for its own sake. Nor are we distracted by those who seek to “revise”, “update”, or “interpret” Marxism in new and fashionable ways. We must place our emphasis on studying the original works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky.
This is not because we adhere to their writings as dogma. Marxism is a scientific method of analysis. Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky were masters of the Marxist method and by studying their works we can learn to apply it ourselves to the modern world. The same cannot be said of “academic”, “erratic”, “neo”, or any other kind of so-called Marxist.
This is why the foundation of the work of the Marxist Student Federation has always been regular and frequent meetings to discuss working class history, Marxist theory and current events. This must continue.
The regular meetings have been and should continue to be supplemented by reading groups on the classic Marxist texts.
New members of the Marxist societies should be encouraged to give presentations at the societies and reading groups. The best way to learn is to teach others.
We should use this year – the 200th anniversary of the birth of Marx – to focus our attention on Marx’s own writings. Every member of the Marxist Student Federation should make an effort to read at least some of the following short texts this year:
- The Communist Manifesto
- Wage Labour and Capital
- Value, Price and Profit
- The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon
- The German Ideology
- Critique of the Gotha Programme
- The Class Struggles in France
- Theses on Feuerbach
We should make an effort to publish written and video reviews of Marx’s texts to make them accessible to a new generation of young people interested in Marx’s ideas. As many members of the Federation should be involved in this work as possible. We should work with the Wellred Books publishing house on this project.
We must use the study of Marxist theory to help in all our campaigning efforts from free education to nationalisation. It will be on this basis that we will train up a new generation of revolutionary socialists capable of changing the world.