At a time when the ideas of Marxism are finding a growing echo among young people and in the student movement, what attitude do Marxists take towards different feminist ideas? How far are these schools of thought compatible? What are the points of contention between them? And what does it mean to call yourself a “Marxist-Feminist”?
Across the world, an epidemic of violence against women, femicide, and domestic abuse plagues society. This is yet another symptom of a sick system. Capitalism is the disease. To end sexism and oppression, we must fight for revolution.
Capitalism has ceased to take humanity forward. It should long ago have been overthrown by the working class. Why hasn’t it then? The key to answering that question lies in the role of leadership and of the revolutionary party. This article, based on a talk at the 2021 Montreal Marxist Winter School, looks at the different sides of this question and the rich lessons of the world working-class movement.
As the capitalist system lurches from one crisis to the next, old contradictions are re-emerging. Instability, polarisation and huge political shifts are taking place all over the world. As part of this process, unsolved national questions are erupting once more with renewed force around the globe — from Catalonia to Kurdistan to Ireland.
In 1926 Britain was shaken by a General Strike. The strike was sabotaged by the trade union leaders, however, who were given left cover by the CPGB and Comintern for this betrayal. The episode provides important lessons about the disastrous policies of Stalinism and reformism in the labour movement.
To celebrate the 150th birthday of Rosa Luxemburg, we publish an extract from the introduction to ‘The Revolutionary Heritage of Rosa Luxemburg’, a new look analysing the life and ideas of this great revolutionary Marxist.
Joe Biden beating Donald Trump in the race for the White House shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, his opponent was an incompetent reality TV star presiding over a devastated economy and an uncontrolled pandemic. Just a few months earlier, the Commander in Chief had been forced to hide in a bunker in the face of the most massive protest movement in the country’s history. What is surprising is that the result was ever anything but a foregone conclusion.
Millions of people around the world are jubilant that a COVID-19 vaccine might soon be available.
Bourgeois governments, prioritising capitalist profits over human lives, have utterly failed to contain this pandemic. The masses have no faith in politicians, and are pinning their hopes on a cure. But there is no cure for the sickness of the capitalist system, which will seek to profit from this breakthrough, to humanity’s detriment.
Two of these – one manufactured by Boston-based firm Moderna, and the other by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in collaboration with its German partner BioNTech – have produced interim results suggesting they are between 90 and 95 percent effective.
While these are encouraging figures, clinical trials are still not complete. On top of this, there is a process of submitting approvals before the vaccine can start being manufactured and distributed.
The rapid turnaround has also caused understandable concerns about safety, which might also hamper mass vaccination. The fault for this lies squarely with bourgeois governments, whose contradictory messaging and bungling of the crisis have undermined public trust.
Nevertheless, with COVID-19 cases skyrocketing around the world, these developments are a pinprick of light at the end of a dark tunnel for billions of workers struggling under the pandemic, and the economic turmoil it has provoked. But we should be under no illusions about the motives of the Big Pharma racket.
Pfizer and BioNTech stand to make $13bn (£9.8bn) from sales of their vaccine. The USA has ordered 100 million doses; the EU 200 million; and the UK 40 million.
Moderna has stated that it could manufacture anywhere between 500 million and one billion doses in 2021. This would generate between $14bn (£10.5bn) and $29bn (£22 bn) in profits for the company and its owners.
Despite the private sector making a killing, all the vaccines undergoing stage three testing are reliant on public sector research and/or funding. Moderna, for example, was bankrolled by the Trump administration’s ‘Operation Warp Speed Initiative’.
“Who is finding the solution? The private sector,” Bourla said. Another corporate spokesperson added: “From the beginning we have been investing at risk,” because Pfizer will only be paid for delivering a working vaccine.
But it is the workers who are risking their lives and livelihoods in the face of this deadly pandemic. Meanwhile, these fat-cats seek to enrich themselves using research and resources the public funded in the first place!
Property and profits
In effect, Big Pharma expects ordinary people to pay for these vaccines twice. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be available in the US for $39 for a two-shot course, while Moderna’s will be $50.
Prices for countries other than the US are likely to vary as supply contracts are still being negotiated. But Moderna is already projecting a range of between $32 and $37 per dose. This fee will have to be covered by individuals, or otherwise swallowed by already overburdened public health services.
We have heard time and again that “we are all in this together”. But for the working class and poor, this is a sick joke.
Attempts by the governments of India and South Africa to prevent pharmaceutical companies from enforcing intellectual property rights until global immunity is reached were stonewalled by the Big Pharma lobby.
As Oxfam points out, regardless of promising clinical trial results, the vaccine will be “zero percent effective” for millions of people who will be priced out of its use.
Another, neglected aspect of these vaccine announcements is the expensive question of their administration and storage once manufactured. It has been estimated that rolling out Pfizer’s vaccine in the UK, for example, would cost $2bn and take months. And this is assuming retired health workers are brought back in to help.
The early months of the pandemic revealed just how under-equipped healthcare systems are for a crisis like this, having been ravaged by austerity for decades.
This requirement has also caused a headache in Britain, where disastrous Brexit negotiations raise the prospect of long queues of goods trucks at the border, in which these doses will somehow have to be maintained at super-low temperatures.
Anarchy of capitalism
All this only serves as a reminder that production under capitalism is anarchic. Even for essential, life-saving goods – like vaccines against a deadly pandemic – the capitalist system produces only on the basis of profit, not out of concern for human life or need.
We say: nationalise the pharmaceutical companies – without compensation and under workers’ control, to guarantee a vaccine is made freely available! For a fully publicly-owned health service, under the control and management of healthcare workers themselves!
Ultimately, only a socialist planned economy on an international scale can guarantee that everyone can benefit from the advances of medical science, which must be freed from the stranglehold of profit.
You can adjust all of your cookie settings by navigating the tabs on the left hand side.