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Adam Buick

Politics is Not in Control

The last time there was a prolonged period of slump and stagnation, in the 1930s, a few correctly identified the cause of the problems facing the majority class of wage and salary workers as the world-wide capitalist system of minority class ownership and production for profit. Unfortunately, however, most of those who wanted change misidentified it as there being something wrong with capitalism’s political superstructure.

Extremists on both the left and the right blamed political democracy, or ‘bourgeois democracy’ as they both called it, and both saw the way out as a dictatorship within the boundaries of the nation-state. Mainstream political opinion, too, envisaged a national, not to say nationalist, solution, in protectionism, or the erection of tariff barriers to keep out foreign imports as a way of trying to revive home industries. This didn’t work and in the end the rivalries to protect national capitalist interests led to war.

Book Review: 'African Trade Unions'

African Unions

'African Trade Unions', by loan Davies. Penguin African Library, 5s.

As capitalism develops it brings into being the working class—that social group made up of those who depend on their wage or salary to live. In Africa capitalism dominates society, even if many are not yet wage-workers or cash crop farmers. Primitive production for use is being replaced by production for sale on the world market. Wage-workers in fact only make up a small part of the working population.

The proportion of wage-earners ranges from 25 per cent in the Congo to four per cent in Nigeria and the former French West African territories.

Book Review: 'Imperialism - Pioneer of Capitalism'

'Imperialism: Pioneer of Capitalism', by Bill Warren, Verso, £3.95

It is not difficult to see why this book has been the subject of a virtual conspiracy of silence in left wing circles since it challenges one of their deep-rooted pre-judices: anti-imperialism. Warren argues that, far from keeping the underdeveloped countries underdeveloped imperialism, in paving the way for the development of capitalism, has precisely provided the framework for their modernisation and development.

Frederick Engels: A Lifetime's Service

1995 is the Centenary of the death of Karl Marx's friend and collaborator Frederick Engels, and Engels spent his entire adult life working for socialism. A prolific and popular writer as well as indefatigable activist and theorist, his name is justly coupled with that of his life-long friend as the originator of scientific socialism.

Engels became a Socialist (or Communist in the language of the time) earlier than Marx, in October 1842—at the age of 22—after a meeting with Moses Hess. Hess, Engels wrote a year later, was the first of the "Young Hegelians" to embrace socialist ideas, so founding a school of German "philosophical communism".

The Young Hegelians were a group of intellectuals who gave Hegel's philosophical views a radical twist and used them to criticise the then existing political and social order. Engels associated with them when he was in Berlin doing his military service in 1841-2.

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