The need for communist organisation today

1. The need for communist organisation today

Today, capitalism means war, crisis, deepening poverty for billions of oppressed people and environmental destruction on an ever-increasing scale. There is no future for humanity in a capitalist world. The choice is once more between socialism and barbarism. Whilst the resistance of the working class is spontaneously revolutionary, only through the fusion of such a struggle with Marxist thought can there be created a new communist movement capable of challenging capitalism. Hence the struggle to defend the ideas and principles of Marxism is critical to creating the movement of the future. An organisation must be built which is capable of uniting the fighting elements of the working class into a force strong enough to lead the mass of the oppressed into confrontation with the ruling class and its state.

At the same time, material conditions give rise to opportunist layers in the working class movement in imperialist countries which seek to reconcile the interests of the oppressed and the oppressors. Without ruthlessly exposing these currents, no revolutionary movement can emerge. Without political organisation, no crisis of the capitalist system will ever, of itself, give way to socialism. “Organisation is our only weapon.”


FRFI 182: Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! is 25 years old

FRFI 173: Supporting Labour's imperialist war: How the campaign to stop the war was sabotaged / FRFI 173 Jun / Jul 2003 

FRFI 170: Time to build a revolutionary anti-capitalist movement against war and imperialism / FRFI 170 Dec 2002 / Jan 2003

FRFI 146: Yesterday’s opportunism / FRFI 146 Dec/Jan 1998/1999

Basic Principles of Marxism – Part Six: The international working class movement

Basic Principles of Marxism – Part Seven: Communism and the First International

Supplementary reading

Manifesto of the Revolutionary Communist Group, Parts 5 & 6

RCG: ‘What we stand for’ statement

Beware false friends / FRFI 3 Mar / Apr 1980

FRFI 1 Editorial 

John MacLean – Part III: From imperialist war to socialist revolution by Michael McGregor, from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 148

Revolutionary Communist No 6: Editorial and article ‘Lenin and the Bolshevik Party’

Lenin: A study on the Unity of his Thought, chapter 3. By G. Lukacs

Combat Liberalism by Mao Tse Tung

Marx & Engels, ‘Address to the Communist League, 1850’

Lenin: What is to be done?

Zinoviev: History of the Bolshevik Party (only chapter 1 available on-line)

Comrades may also find useful two great socialist novels, Maxim Gorky's Mother and Robert Tressel’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, which brilliantly illustrate many of the problems of socialist organisation in revolutionary and non-revolutionary situations.


What is Marxism?

marx rcg frfi

2. What is Marxism?

This session introduces the main outlines of the Marxist worldview. It establishes the philosophical basis of Marx’s thought and its continuing relevance for revolutionaries in the world today before introducing the materialist conception of history. We examine how this theory allows us not only to analyse the class struggles at the heart of our society, but most importantly, shows how capitalism, like feudalism before it, is just one phase in the history of the development of social production, destined to be overthrown by the revolutionary working class.

Marxism is a science, not a dogma, enriched continually by the practical experience of radical struggle. It is the means by which the current crisis of capitalism can be both understood and overcome in the interests of the socialist transformation of society.


FRFI 87 Dialectical Materialism

FRFI 152 Karl Marx: Before all else a revolutionary

FRFI 142 The Communist Manifesto: Its relevance today

Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. By Karl Marx

Basic principles of Marxism — Part One: The lives and times of Marx and Engels

Basic Principles of Marxism – Part Two: 1848 Revolutions and the Paris Commune

Basic principles of Marxism – Part Four: The Chartists

Supplementary reading 

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. By Frederick Engels.

Karl Marx: A brief biographical sketch with an exposition of Marxism. By Lenin

The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism. By Lenin

The Economic Basis of Politics. By James Connolly

Theses on Feuerbach. By Karl Marx

Letters on Historical Materialism, 1890-93. By Engels

On the Question of Dialectics. By Lenin

The workers’ government Clara Zetkin

Marx Emasculated by Steve Palmer, Published 12 March 2015


What is capitalism?

3. What is capitalism?

In the previous session, we laid out the materialist conception of history. Engels stated that alongside this new understanding of history, the other great discovery modern, scientific socialism was based on was Marx’s ‘demonstration how, within present society and under the existing capitalist mode of production, the exploitation of the worker by the capitalist takes place.’ Beginning with an analysis of the simple commodity, Marx was able to lay bare the contradictions at the heart of an economic system which restricted production to the narrow limits of profit making rather than the needs of society. The theory of surplus value for the first time showed how ‘accumulation of wealth at one pole is…at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality [and] mental degradation at the opposite pole’.

Marxism arms us with a method of seeing beyond the surface phenomena of bourgeois society, those focused on today by the media, economic ‘experts’ and politicians, to the fundamental, yet hidden, social processes and relationships of exploitation. And in doing so, Marxism shows how capitalism sows the seeds of it own destruction, discussed in more detail in section four.


The Communist Manifesto (sections I & II). By Karl Marx and Frederick Engels

Value, Price and Profit. By Karl Marx

Review of Marx’s Capital. By Frederick Engels

FRFI 56-64 (1986) Marx’s critique of political economy: Value (1); Money (2); Mystical veil of commodities (3); Capital (4);  Production of surplus value (5); The accumulation of capital (6); The tendency for the rate of profit to fall (7)

Basic principles of Marxism – Part Five: The bloody origins of capitalism

Supplementary reading

‘Value & price in Marx’s Capital’,’ in Revolutionary Communist no1. By David Yaffe

Once again on productive and unproductive labour,’ in Revolutionary Communist no3/4. By Peter Howell


Capitalism and the Marxian theory of crisis

 4. Capitalism and the Marxian theory of crisis

In this session we show the historical inevitability of capitalist crisis. We show that capitalism is crisis-ridden by its very nature and we examine how capitalist accumulation directly leads to insufficient profitability and a crisis of over production. We examine how historically profitability has been restored and previous crises resolved in the past - fascism and war. This session will then focus on the current crisis of capitalism and show that only a Marxist understanding can offer any explanation to the global crisis. Comrades should also find the series of articles on globalisation important to understanding the background to the current crisis; here we argued, alone among the left in Britain that globalisation, far from being something new within capitalism was in fact a return to the unstable features which characterised capitalism prior to the First Imperialist War.


David Yaffe: The state and the capitalist crisis

David Yaffe: Marxian Theory of Crisis, Capital and the State

Supplementary reading

Inflation, the crisis and the post-war boom by Paul Bullock and David Yaffe Revolutionary Communist No. 3/4 (reprinted November 1979)

Value and price in Marx’s Capital by David Yaffe from Revolutionary Communist No 1 (Second Edition) May 1976

The poverty of 'Fantasy Island' by David Yaffe, from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 199

The 1929 crash First published in FRFI No.125, June/July 1995



british imperialism

5. Imperialism

150 years ago, capitalism was in its infancy. By the end of the 19th century, it had become a world- wide system, and had divided the world into oppressed and oppressor nations: imperialism. The political form of this division was colonialism, as a handful of oppressor, imperialist powers divided the world between themselves in countless wars of conquest. Colonies provided a source of super-profits for imperialism, whereby it could postpone the periodic crisis of capitalism.

However, it could not abolish such crises, and when they took place, they would necessarily have a world dimension. The first such crisis matured at the turn of the 19th century as the various imperialist powers, having divided the world between themselves once, sought to re-divide it. The inevitable consequence of this was world war - the First Imperialist War of 1914-18. Tens of millions of working class people were slaughtered to protect the interests of ‘their’ bankers and monopolies, ‘their’ ruling class. Not even this carnage and mass destruction resolved the crisis: it took the Great Depression of the 1930s, the rise of fascism and the Second World War before imperialism was able to obtain a significant measure of political and economic stability during the post-war boom.


FRFI 206 Harman: making imperialism disappear

FRFI 194 Britain: Parasitic and decaying capitalism

Lenin: Imperialism - the highest stage of capitalism

RCG: Manifesto of the Revolutionary Communist Group -Part 2 pp 24-34

Imperialism, National Oppression and the New Petit Bourgeoisie by David Yaffe, Editorial Revolutionary Communist 9 June 1979

FRFI 158: Globalisation: Parasitic and decaying capitalism

FRFI 150: Globalisation = poverty

FRFI 137: The politics and economics of globalisation

FRFI 131: Globalisation: a re-division of the world by imperialism

FRFI 114: A history of British imperialism

Supplementary reading

FRFI 143: The age of anxiety

The politics and economics of globalisation by David Yaffe, from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 137


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