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Posted on 21 May 2020 at 9:19 GMT

Socialism - the weekly Marxist analysis podcast from the Socialist Party

Socialism - the weekly Marxist analysis podcast from the Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

Socialism the Podcast: 2020 episodes

2019 episodes >

The weekly podcast of the Socialist Party. A Marxist approach to the big issues we face in a world of capitalist crisis. Fighting for jobs, homes and public services for all.

From strikes and mass movements through to community campaigns, history and theory. We shine a light on the struggles of workers and young people, and discuss the strategy for a socialist fightback.

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94. Engels on The Housing Question

27 November 2020

What did Engels have to say about the housing crisis?

Cramped homes. Extortionate costs. Rip-off landlords. Rising homelessness.

Projects to upgrade areas just used to force workers and poor people out. Meanwhile, posh new houses lie empty.

It could be any major town or city in the 21st century. But it was all described by Friedrich Engels back in the 19th century.

Why does capitalism endlessly recreate this social crisis? Why didn't increasing home ownership solve the problem? What can we learn from Engels' arguments against anarchists and liberals about housing? And how can socialists start to fix it today?

This episode of Socialism, part of a short series on Engels, looks at the fight for the right to a home: The Housing Question.

Further reading and listening

93. Engels' Condition of the Working Class in England

19 November 2020

What can the horrors of industrialisation teach socialists today?

175 years ago, Britain was the most advanced capitalist country on the planet. Leaps forward in industry created huge productive power and riches for the capitalists.

Radicals looked to Britain as a way forward for society following revolutionary movements against the old feudal rulers in Europe. But despite massive economic progress, which lays the basis for socialism, capitalism came with terrible new social miseries.

What was life like for the working class in 1845? Is there any real comparison with life in the 21st century? And what did it tell Engels about who should run society?

This episode of Socialism, part of a short series on Engels, looks at his first major work: The Condition of the Working Class in England.

Further reading

92. The revolutionary life of Friedrich Engels

13 November 2020

Who was Friedrich Engels and what were his ideas?

Marxism, originally called 'scientific socialism', takes its name from Karl Marx. But Marx didn't work alone in developing his ideas. His co-philosopher - and close friend - shares the credit for that historic work.

How did these two giants of socialism come together? What led Engels to develop revolutionary ideas? What were his most important contributions to socialist thought? And what can we learn from his hands-on approach - not just to ideas, but in fighting to put them into practice?

This episode of Socialism, part of a short series on Engels, introduces the co-founder of Marxism: the revolutionary life of Friedrich Engels

Further reading

91. Universities in crisis

6 November 2020

How can students fight back against rip-off Covid imprisonment?

Universities have enticed students onto courses with promises of a learning experience that never materialised - then trapped them there under lockdown to suck out fees and rent.

Overcrowding on campus and in housing is causing major material and mental health crises. Jobs and teaching quality have nosedived - after already suffering from years of marketisation.

Meanwhile, the official student organisations have deserted the field. And Starmer's Labour has ignored the pressing problems of students and young people as it cravenly backs the Tory government's approach.

This episode of Socialism looks at the crisis in the universities: how can students fight back?

Further reading

90. Uprising in Nigeria

30 October 2020

What next for the uprising in Nigeria?

Millions of youth have been out on the streets in response to the brutal repression and banditry of the Nigerian state's so-called 'Special Anti-Robbery Squad' (Sars). They have the sympathy of millions of workers in this huge, resource-rich west African country.

The scale of the protests shows this is about much more than just police violence. Appalling wages and living conditions, soaring fuel and food prices, and breath-taking levels of corruption, have discredited the whole Nigerian capitalist establishment.

There are widespread calls to bring the government down. The union leaders called - and then called off - a general strike. And Democratic Socialist Movement - Nigerian sister party of the Socialist Party in England Wales - has attracted impressive numbers with its revolutionary programme, and its new youth platform, the Youth Rights Campaign.

The Committee for a Workers' International spoke to DSM on Wednesday 21 October, following another brutal killing of protesters by state forces, about how the movement can win.

This episode of Socialism looks at the uprising in Nigeria: End Sars, Buhari out, fight for a socialist Nigeria!

Further reading

89. Trotsky, art and culture

23 October 2020

How did Trotsky view revolution and the arts?

Because art holds a mirror up to life, many revolutionaries have taken an interest its role. Leon Trotsky in particular wrote on art, literature, and its role in society and politics.

Art can be insightful because of its politics, or despite them. So how does Marxism, a political theory, have any relation to art?

The Russian revolution led to an explosion in artistic vision. Then Stalinism stamped it all out. Why?

Why did Trotsky struggle to try to bring together revolutionary artists in the 1930s? And what relevance does Trotsky's approach to art and culture hold today?

This episode of Socialism looks at revolution and culture: Trotsky and the arts.

Further reading

88. Crumbling capitalism, revolution and counter-revolution

16 October 2020

As the capitalist world tears at itself, who stands to gain?

Global capitalism is in its deepest crisis since the 1930s, exacerbated by 'the great accelerator': Covid-19 pandemic and depression.

There is turmoil on every continent; class battles and uprisings; rising authoritarianism; polarisation within and between nations. Meanwhile, the trade union and 'new left' leaders have more and more accommodated themselves to capitalism's demands.

The United States is a harbinger for the 2020s. Constitutional crisis is on the cards. Internal and international tensions, conspiracy theory mysticism, and dangerous right-wing forces are on the rise.

Is fascism the same threat it was a century ago? What is the difference between fascism then and right-wing authoritarianism today? Why does this matter? And how can socialists navigate these choppy waters to build the urgent alternative?

This episode of Socialism looks at crumbling capitalism: revolution and counter-revolution today.

Further reading

87. What is a 'transitional programme'?

2 October 2020

How can socialists link day-to-day struggles to the need for revolution?

Global capitalism is in a historic crisis, and offers no future to the majority of humanity. Socialism is the only alternative to bloated billionaires, mass unemployment and ruinous trade wars.

On the one hand, the profit system is in such a mess that even defending existing pro-worker reforms can lead to colossal pitched battles. On the other hand, why would workers bother fighting for new reforms if it seems the economy cannot possibly grant them?

Socialists need demands and slogans which link the struggle over day-to-day problems with the need to overthrow capitalism. So how can we work out such 'transitional demands'?

What is the difference between a 'transitional programme' and a 'minimum-maximum programme'? Is there a fixed formula we can use to create it? Has one ever worked? And what are some of the problems it would have to address today?

This episode of Socialism looks at the bridge from immediate needs to socialist revolution: what is a 'transitional programme'?

Further reading

86. World crisis and the second wave

25 September 2020

What is the state of world capitalism as it heads into a second wave of Covid-19?

Over a decade ago, the global capitalist system was shaken by a historic financial crisis. It still had not recovered when the coronavirus pandemic caused the worst economic contraction in history.

Pandemic, depression, environmental catastrophe, political turmoil - capitalism is not well. And now a second wave of Covid is gathering pace.

What does this mean for capitalism around the world? Will we see mass protests and revolutions? Isn't it the right making gains from the crisis? And what will the US elections bring?

This episode of Socialism looks at a world on the brink: capitalist crisis and the second wave.

Further reading

85. Britain's general strike of 1926

18 September 2020

What are the lessons for today from the 1926 general strike?

One of the myths about the British working class is that it's too ponderous and conservative to have a serious fight with capitalism. Actually, centuries of bitter class struggle have shown the real potential again and again.

But arguably the high point came in 1926, during a period of national and international crisis for capitalism not so different from today. Despite the hesitancy and treachery of the official union leaders, Britain's workers came out on strike in every sector, and without an end date. They even started running parts of society for themselves.

How did Britain's only general strike so far come into being? What did it show us about revolutionary power of a general strike? Why did it end in defeat? And what can workers and socialists today learn for the huge class battles coming up today?

This episode of Socialism looks at Britain's 'almost' revolution: the 1926 general strike.

Further reading and listening

84. Trotsky on the trade unions

11 September 2020

What was Trotsky's advice for revolutionaries on unions?

The trade unions are the basic organisations of the working class. Trotsky, like all who follow the ideas of genuine Marxism, believed the working class was the only social force which can lead socialist revolution.

But the union leaders can be timid, or even hold back struggle by their members. And anyway, the working class today looks very different to working class in 1917.

So how did Trotsky see the unions in relation to the struggle for socialism? And are those ideas - and the unions themselves - still relevant to that struggle today?

This episode of Socialism looks at the organised working class: Trotsky on the trade unions.

Further reading

83. Trotsky and the Fourth International

3 September 2020

How did Trotsky help organise international socialist struggle?

Capitalism is a worldwide problem. Since the days of Karl Marx, socialists have worked towards a worldwide solution.

But there have been multiple attempts to organise international associations of revolutionaries. Each rose and then fell for different reasons.

What can we learn from their successes and failures? What was Trotsky's part in building 'internationals'? And what are the prospects for building a mass, revolutionary, working-class international going forward?

This episode of Socialism looks at the struggle for a world party of revolution: Trotsky and the Fourth International.

The CWI is producing a new book on Trotsky's life and ideas for the 80th anniversary of his assassination, which this podcast series is following. It's called 'Leon Trotsky - A Revolutionary Whose Ideas Couldn't Be Killed'. You can pre-order it now at www.leftbooks.co.uk.

Further reading

82. Trotsky, fascism and the 'united front'

28 August 2020

What is fascism and how can we fight it?

In the 1930s, mass fascist movements smashed the workers' organisations. Today, far-right and right-populist forces are again growing in prominence. So what can we learn from history?

What exactly is fascism? Is a fascist dictatorship possible today? What distinguishes it from other authoritarian regimes?

Do these political differences mean tactical differences in how workers should fight them? What's the difference between a 'popular front' and a 'united front'? And why do you have to be anti-capitalist to succeed as an anti-fascist?

This episode of Socialism looks at fighting anti-worker reaction: Trotsky, fascism and the 'united front'.

Further listening and reading

81. Trotsky, Stalinism and the 'degenerated workers' state'

26 August 2020

How did Trotsky explain the rise of Stalinism?

The Russian Revolution began as a mass movement with democratic control of society by the workers and poor. But it ended as a brutal police state which collapsed under its own inefficiency.

What caused this complete reversal? Do revolutions inevitably end in treacherous dictatorship? Was the Soviet bureaucracy the same as a capitalist class? What are a 'degenerated workers' state' and a 'deformed workers' state'? And what can it all tell us about fighting for socialism today?

This episode of Socialism looks at the revolution betrayed: Trotsky on Stalinism and the 'degenerated workers' state'.

Further reading

80. Trotsky and the 'national question'

21 August 2020

How did Trotsky fight for national liberation?

Socialists aim for a world which doesn't need borders and ends national divisions. But today, many national groupings are forced into larger states which repress their right to decide their own destiny.

How do Marxists address the complexities of the so-called 'national question' - maximising international workers' cooperation, while supporting the right to national self-determination?

This led to multiple controversies during the lifetime of Leon Trotsky. In our latest instalment on his ideas, we ask how they apply today.

This episode of Socialism looks at socialism and national liberation: Trotsky and the 'national question'.

Further listening and reading

79. Trotsky and the revolutionary party

19 August 2020

How did Trotsky view the relationship between the revolution and its party?

Where countless other revolutions have failed, the workers of Russia succeeded in taking power in October 1917. The decisive factor was the Bolshevik Party. Leon Trotsky likened it to a "piston-box" which could channel the "steam" of mass revolutionary energy.

Trotsky did not start out as a member of the Bolsheviks. But he came to see the role Lenin had played - preparing an organisation capable of leading the working class during revolutionary upheavals - as vital.

But are the Bolsheviks a model for building a party today? What is the difference between a broad workers' party and a revolutionary party? And is a revolutionary party all we need to make a successful revolution?

This episode of Socialism looks at political consciousness and organisation: Trotsky and the revolutionary party.

Further reading

78. Trotsky's theory of 'permanent revolution'

14 August 2020

What is Leon Trotsky's theory of 'permanent revolution'?

In the early 20th century, Russia was still a mostly feudal country. Could it achieve socialism without passing through greater development of capitalism first?

Even today, the economic and social advances promised by the capitalist democratic revolutions have not been fully achieved in any country. This is especially true in the 'neocolonial' countries, whose development is held by back by wealthier capitalist powers.

What is 'combined and uneven development'? Why is it only the working class which can lead a successful mass movement for permanent social change? And why does the revolution have to be international?

This episode of Socialism looks at how history moves forward: Trotsky's theory of 'permanent revolution'.

Further reading

77. Trotsky during the revolution

12 August 2020

What was Leon Trotsky's part in the Russian revolution?

The events of 1917, and the years which immediately followed, were a political furnace. Failed parties and leaders melted away as hardened political forces and inspirational leaders were forged in white heat of revolution.

There were huge leaps forward, and crushing setbacks. Through it all, Leon Trotsky was one of the political figures most responsible for helping the workers' movement to navigate a way forward.

This episode of Socialism looks at 1917 and the young workers' state: Trotsky during the revolution.

Further reading

76. Trotsky's revolutionary ideas

7 August 2020

80 years on from Trotsky's assassination: can they kill his ideas?

Lev Davidovich Bronstein, better known as Leon Trotsky, was killed on 21 August 1940. What was Stalin so afraid of? And why do capitalist commentators still try to bury Trotsky's ideas today?

This month, Socialism the Podcast will be answering those questions in a series on Trotsky and Trotskyism. What was his role in Russia's revolutions? What is the theory of 'permanent revolution'? How did Stalinism betray it? What is a 'transitional programme'? And what can workers and socialists today learn from it all?

We begin our series with a general introduction. In the months before his death, Trotsky wrote: "If I had to begin all over again, I would of course try to avoid this or that mistake, but the main course of my life would remain unchanged...

"My faith in the communist future of mankind is not less ardent, indeed it is firmer today, than it was in the days of my youth...

"Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

This episode of Socialism looks at Leon Trotsky: an introduction to his revolutionary life and ideas.

Further reading

Re-run: 18. Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

24 July 2020

What is scientific socialism, and what can it teach us about the fight for socialist change today?

Labour's left leadership failed to fight for the urgent political and democratic reforms needed in the party - a missed opportunity for working-class political representation.

In politics, mistakes in tactics begin with mistakes in ideas. That's why Marxists take ideas so seriously. As Karl Marx himself said: "Practice without theory is blind, theory without practice is sterile."

In fact, the original name for Marxism was 'scientific socialism'. In 1880, Marx's collaborator Friedrich Engels produced 'Socialism: Utopian and Scientific', explaining the difference between those two trends in socialist thought.

It was an introduction to some key scientific socialist ideas, from dialectical materialism to Marxist economics. Socialist struggle today could learn much from the mistakes of utopian socialism, old and new, and the rigour of scientific socialism.

The Socialist Party's publishing house, Socialist Books, republished this classic last year, available from socialistbooks.co.uk.

This episode of Socialism, one of our most popular from 2019, is a re-run of episode 18 - Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.

Further reading

75. Britain's revolts after WW1

17 July 2020

How will Covid-19's political consequences compare to the aftermath of World War One?

The pandemic crisis is frequently compared to a war. Marxists agree there are parallels for many reasons - not least the political revolts that follow.

After the Great War, British capitalism entered a period of fast-changing economic and political crisis. Slump and mass unemployment; heroic strikes and mutinies; rapid advances for the new workers' parties - Labour and the Communists.

What can we learn from Britain's economic strife and political ructions after the First World War? How can these help prepare the workers' movement for struggles in the era of coronavirus and a new depression?

This episode of Socialism looks at lessons from history: Britain's revolts after World War One.

Further reading and listening

74. How the unions need to fight now

10 July 2020

We need to fight for every job. But is such a fight possible?

Thousands of new members are flooding into Britain's trade unions. But thousands more are losing their jobs every day.

Black Lives Matter and coronavirus inequalities have thrown racism into the spotlight too. Precarious work in the gig economy, and even sweatshop conditions in some areas, are pressing issues for more and more of the working class. How can the unions lead a fightback here?

Meanwhile, as major sections of the union leadership tried to partner up with the government, rank-and-file union members with no choice but to fight have led heroic struggles themselves. What does this mean for how workers need to organise?

This episode of Socialism looks at working-class organisation in the new stage of the pandemic crisis: how the unions need to fight now.

Further listening and reading

73. Globalisation and deglobalisation

26 June 2020

Why are the world's capitalist economies pulling apart?

World capitalism in recent decades underwent a process often called 'globalisation'. Competing national economies became more and more integrated and dependent on each other.

Now, the wheels have come off. Trade wars, political disputes, even rumblings of armed conflict - already happening, but exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic - have marked a process of 'deglobalisation'.

What is behind these two epoch-defining waves of change? Why are both responsible for worsening conditions for workers, young people and the poor? And is there a way to achieve global economic and political harmony?

This episode of Socialism looks at high and low tides for world capitalism: globalisation and deglobalisation.

Further listening and reading

72. You can't have capitalism without racism

19 June 2020

Malcolm X said: "You can't have capitalism without racism." Why - and what can we learn from that?

Heroic Black Lives Matter protests have swept the US, Britain and the world. Rivers of working-class young people, black and white, have taken up the struggle against racism and police violence.

Sadly, police murder of black people is nothing new. Why has this movement exploded in this way right now? And why do socialists argue that racism is integral to the capitalist system - so that ending racism means overturning capitalism and fighting for socialism?

This episode of Socialism looks at Black Lives Matter: you can't have capitalism without racism.

Further viewing and reading

Re-run: 4. Fighting the racist far right

12 June 2020

How can the working class defeat the far right?

A magnificent mass movement, overwhelmingly young, working-class and black, but also very multiracial, has erupted in the US, Britain and internationally against racism. Its trigger was the racist police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May 2020.

But young people and workers are angry about years of systemic racism, as well as all the class inequality, privations and oppression of the capitalist system.

The Socialist Party and our sister parties around the world have been to the fore on these protests. We've been discussing with young, working-class people about how to fight racism and capitalism, and signing up big numbers interested in finding out about joining the Socialists.

While we carry on this vital work, we are re-running an episode from 22 October 2018: is the far right on the rise?

As far-right groups attempt to organise again, supposedly in defence of public monuments, how can the workers' movement overcome their violent threat? Where does the far right come from? And what is the record of the Socialist Party on fighting and defeating the far right?

You can hear more about the Socialist Party's response to the magnificent new mass movement in our recent Facebook on YouTube broadcast on 5 June, and the recent Committee for a Workers' International Facebook and YouTube broacdast on 9 June.

This re-run of Socialism looks at the racist far right: how to fight it.

Further listening and reading

71. A socialist youth charter

5 June 2020

What do young people need today - and how can they fight for it?

Massive, young, working-class protests have exploded around the world after the murder of George Floyd, racism and police violence. But it's not just these issues that have angered young people.

In the US, Britain and around the world, the youth are suffering appalling conditions, and a future of crisis and uncertainty. But young people have also fought: in electoral movements through support for figures like Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders - and on the streets, in the global climate strikes, and now in the huge, young, working-class uprisings against racism and police violence.

Even before the pandemic, wages were low, jobs insecure housing and education unaffordable - and the tomorrow promised nothing but economic and social turmoil, and even climate catastrophe. Now the pandemic has multiplied all these problems, as the capitalists and their politicians dump the burden disproportionately on the working class and the youth. Young people on the streets right now are angry about racism, but they're also angry about all of it.

How can young people fight to change things? And what would a socialist programme offer young people in that struggle?

This episode of Socialism looks at young people fighting back: a socialist youth charter.

Further reading

70. China's new role

29 May 2020

While the influence of the US declines, China's place in world seems to be rising. The Chinese economy is still nowhere near as powerful as the US, but it's competing voraciously for international markets, investment, and political influence.

With world capitalism slowing down, international tensions over profit and power are escalating. The trade wars between these two largest powers could well break out again. Is a new Cold War, or even direct military conflict, also a possibility?

And what exactly is the Chinese regime? Its dictatorial government claims the country is socialist - so why are there billionaires, and why do so many workers suffer poverty pay and appalling conditions?

External conflicts with competing nation-states. Internal conflicts with Hong Kong and oppressed national groups. And trillions of dollars of loans and capitalist investments in smaller countries around the globe.

This episode of Socialism looks at national and international turmoil and contradictions: China's new role.

Further reading

69. Crisis turning point: national unity ends

22 May 2020

Public confidence in the British government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has nosedived.

They're split over how and when to bully workers back into unsafe workplaces to restart the capitalists' profit engines. And they're split over how and when to pay off the massive debts incurred by lockdown relief measures.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party - under its new, pro-capitalist leader Keir Starmer - could hardly be more tame. But the trade unions have a renewed national profile. Tens of thousands are joining and organising to resist the bosses' unsafe working conditions.

And the turning point seemed to be Boris Johnson's farcical "stay alert" speech on 10 May, which tried to lift the lockdown and impose new restrictions at the same time.

What's behind the chaos at the top? And with the bosses squabbling over how best to make us pay for the pandemic, what would help workers coordinate the most effective political response?

This episode of Socialism looks at a political turning point in the coronavirus crisis: the end of 'national unity'.

Further reading

68. Lifting the lockdown: schools, safety and super-spreaders

15 May 2020

School workers and the government are set for a stand-off over reopening during coronavirus.

The Tory government is combining absurdly unclear messages about "staying alert" with a rush to reopen more of the capitalist economy. While they are concerned only about restarting the profit machine, workers are concerned this premature, shambolic dash is a Covid-19 death sentence.

The capitalists have one set of guidelines for reopening. The workers have another. So what should the unions do about it?

Are the government's guidelines for "safe" reopening of schools really safe? How can trade unionists force the Tories to take safety seriously? And are there lessons from the lockdown for how education might work differently?

This episode of Socialism looks at lifting the lockdown: schools, safety and super-spreaders

Further reading

67. Lenin at 150

1 May 2020

What are the lessons for today from Lenin's revolutionary life?

22 April 2020 was the 150th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanvov, better known as Lenin, the revolutionary workers' leader and Marxist political theorist. In 1917, Lenin's Bolshevik Party led the working class of Russia to overthrow the landlords and capitalists and establish the world's first democratic workers' state.

Lenin was rooted firmly in Marxism. He understood that only the working class could lead a successful revolution. He fought for a well-organised party and a workers' press as the essential tools for achieving that. And, in contrast to the butcher Stalin, he stood for international revolution, and maintained that "democracy is indispensable to socialism."

No wonder his name is feared and slandered by capitalist politicians and their official histories. In particular, they have much to fear at a time when their entire rotten system is wracked by pandemic, economic crisis and social turmoil. To quote Lenin again: "Sometimes history needs a push."

So what were Lenin's real ideas? What were his main contributions to the struggle for socialism? And what can workers and young people fighting capitalist misery learn from them today?

This episode of Socialism looks at Lenin at 150: his revolutionary life and legacy.

Further reading

66. US imperialism in decline: coronavirus, Trump, Sanders and socialism

24 April 2020

Chaos in the US presents two options: socialism or barbarism.

In the United States, the capitalist class is faced with a shopping list of crises that are shaking their system almost to pieces. Like many capitalist economies, they've had to partly suspend production - and profit - in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

They've been forced to inject trillions of dollars into the economy to keep the capitalist system going. And now, the absurd situation of competitive oil production outstripping demand so far that prices have become negative!

The capitalists face these crises with an unreliable representative at the helm: Donald Trump. But they may be breathing a bit easier now that Bernie Sanders, who came to prominence with his promise of a political revolution against the billionaire class, has endorsed a more reliable representative of big business interests in the form of the Democrat Joe Biden. Sanders has even admonished his supporters for saying they won't campaign for a corporate shill!

Huge anger is growing. Class polarisation sharpens as the divisions between bosses and workers are exposed. Armed demonstrations ratchet up the tensions. Capitalism is threatening to plunge millions into poverty, on a scale not seen since the Great Depression.

This episode of Socialism looks at US imperialism in decline: coronavirus, Trump, Sanders and socialism.

Further reading

65. Will this help the left or the right? Coronavirus, radicalisation and national unity

18 April 2020

Workers are furious, so why aren't capitalist parties suffering?

Capitalist governments across the planet are presiding over incompetent, inefficient, and inhuman responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, most are riding high in opinion polls.

This is true in Britain too, despite being on course for the worst death toll in Europe. While workers suffer and die on the front line or on furlough, public criticism of the Tories is muted. Even the trade union and Labour Party leaders seem to be backing so-called 'national unity'.

So is this catastrophe helping the right? Or are there more profound processes playing out beneath the surface?

This episode of Socialism asks: will this help the left or the right? Coronavirus, radicalisation and national unity.

Further reading


64. World economic crisis: a Marxist analysis of the coronavirus crunch

10 April 2020

The capitalist economic system is dysfunctional and obsolete.

In the US, 10 million workers filed unemployment claims in the last two weeks of March. In the UK, a million workers filed Universal Credit benefit claims in the last two weeks of March.

Just over a decade after the 'credit crunch' and Great Recession, the Covid-19 pandemic is causing a 'corona crunch' and could pitch the world into a second Great Depression.

But the world economy was heading for a serious downturn even before the virus. In fact, capitalism itself has been growing increasingly weak, unstable and dysfunctional over a long period. Why?

Marxism points out the capitalist system is riddled with contradictions, and today has long outlived its historic usefulness. So what are the main economic features of the current nosedive, and what sort of problems - and solutions - could the Marxist toolbox point us to?

This episode of Socialism takes a short look at the world economic crisis: a Marxist analysis of the coronavirus crunch. Plus: we respond to the Labour Party leadership election results.

Further reading


63. Is this socialism? Coronavirus and state intervention

3 April 2020

Unprecedented state intervention - but still workers suffer?

The British government has pledged hundreds of billions in funding during the Covid-19 pandemic. The US Congress has approved trillions.

Capitalist governments in multiple countries seem to be abandoning privatisation and market competition for nationalisation and central coordination. It looks quite a lot like some of the policies socialists call for.

But corporate profits are being subsidised. The big banks and finance sector are untouched. And workers are receiving too little too late when it comes to income and safety protections.

In fact, lack of personal protective equipment is killing frontline health workers in the UK, and 10 million workers have joined the unemployment lines in just two weeks in the US.

What does this U-turn in policy direction by the capitalists, amid a complete failure of their system, say about capitalism - and the socialist alternative?

This episode of Socialism looks at coronavirus and state intervention: is this socialism?

Further reading


62. Workers' rights during coronavirus

20 March 2020

How can workers look after their interests in the pandemic?

Schools in Britain are part-closing, workers in almost every sector are being sent home with or without pay, and there are shortages of equipment for safe and hygienic working everywhere.

The day after we recorded this podcast on 19 March 2020, the government was due to announce plans to support workers.

But whatever is promised, the track record so far is that workers everywhere are pulling out all the stops to fight the pandemic - while big businesses and their politicians only seem interested in their bottom lines.

What should workers demand to solve these problems? Was the Trade Union Congress right to declare for 'national unity' with the employers and the government? And how can workers make sure their interests are looked after in this period, whether or not they're in a union?

This episode of Socialism looks at the Covid-19 pandemic: workers' rights during coronavirus.

The coronavirus pandemic is a rapidly escalating global crisis affecting every part of the capitalist system.

As well as following this weekly podcast, you should check the Socialist Party's website and our Facebook page, for regular statements on working-class demands, socialist analysis, and reports from the frontline.

Further reading


61. Coronavirus: a socialist response

13 March 2020

How can workers' action help overcome the Covid-19 crisis?

The new coronavirus, Covid-19, is sweeping through the world's population - exposing capitalism for disastrous weaknesses in healthcare systems,social infrastructure, and the global economy.

Capitalist politicians and the capitalist state are torn between protecting public health and defending private profit.

The official number of cases in the UK as of 12 March 2020 is 590. But the British government's chief scientific advisor has said the real number could be up to 10,000. The local elections planned for May have been postponed.

Hospitals are facing overload. Workers are facing lost pay. The economy was already heading toward recession.

But workers have also fought back with demands and with strike action to force a response in the interests of the majority.

Why did capitalism get us here? What action can workers take to improve things? And how could socialist change resolve the underlying problems?

This episode of Socialism looks at the coronavirus: the socialist response.

Further reading


60. Socialists into City Hall

6 March 2020

What could a socialist campaign for London achieve?

The London mayor and assembly are up for election in May. The Labour Party's Sadiq Khan is the incumbent and Labour's candidate for 2020 - but is a supporter of the pro-big business wing of Labour and an opponent of Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity politics.

Low pay, a housing crisis, disappearing council services, knife crime and air pollution are all major issues in Britain's capital. Khan has presided over their continuation.

So how should trade unionists and socialists approach the London elections? How would a socialist Greater London Authority behave? And what could a campaign raising those ideas achieve - whether or not it was elected?

This episode of Socialism looks at the London elections: socialists into City Hall.

Further reading


Re-run: 14. GRA reform

28 February 2020

Trans rights: a socialist programme for united workers' struggle.

Transgender rights have recently become a point of contention in the ongoing Labour Party leadership contest. The Socialist Party fights exploitation, discrimination and oppression in every form.

The workers' movement must fight for the resources necessary to guarantee all sections of the working class a decent life.

If it does not, there is a danger that debates can be falsely framed as battles between supposedly irreconcilable competing rights.

By fighting instead to expand the provision of jobs, homes and services for all, the workers' movement can resolve differences on the basis of common struggle and democratic discussion.

The following episode is a re-run of episode 14, first aired on 15 January 2019, on the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) - much of which has now been kicked into the long grass by the Tories.

But we think the general approach we lay out here on the question of trans rights is entirely relevant to the debates of today.

This episode of Socialism looks at GRA reform: the fight for trans rights.

Further reading


59. Northern Ireland's strike wave

21 February 2020

Major strikes in the civil service and National Health Service have shaken the capitalist establishment in Northern Ireland.

These enormous workers' action followed watershed struggles in the private sector at the Harland and Wolff shipyard and Wrightbus factory.

The rival sectarian parties are required by the Good Friday Agreement to agree to govern together. They had refused to reach such an agreement after a supposed renewable heating scheme collapsed due to incompetence and alleged corruption three years ago. The strikes forced them back into the Assembly to make concessions to the workers.

But having tasted some of the power of collective working-class struggle, will workers allow a return to business as usual? More strikes seem likely. But how about a political alternative to austerity, sectarianism and capitalism?

This episode of Socialism looks at Northern Ireland: the strike wave.

Further reading


58. Britain: the new situation

14 February 2020

Divisions and surprises abound as the main parties eye an angry working class in Britain.

The Tories' decade-long grip on power continues for now - but what about their programme? The government has announced more cuts, but has also promised infrastructure investment.

They have restored their majority, but their catastrophic divisions are already re-emerging. In fact, Sajid Javid, the chancellor of the exchequer, resigned in between recording this podcast and it airing.

Meanwhile, the anger in the working class, documented each week in the Socialist newspaper, continues to simmer. The ongoing Labour Party leadership contest is asking: how can Labour win back the confidence of the working class?

So - what is the way forward? This episode of Socialism looks at Britain: the new situation.

Further reading


57. Trade unions: new decade, new challenge

7 February 2020

Do the setbacks in the 2010s mean the unions can't fight today?

The 2010s were a period of major attacks on workers in Britain. But the bosses and their politicians didn't get things all their own way.

The trade unions - the basic self-defence organisations of the working class - fought many important battles, shutting down production to try to force the bosses back.

There were many setbacks in those fights, but there were also victories. Marxists try to learn from both.

With a new decade opening up alongside a change of era in politics and world relations for Britain, what are the lessons of the 2010s for trade union struggle in the 2020s?

This episode of Socialism looks at the trade unions: new decade, new challenge.

Further reading


Re-run: 16. Are no-cuts council budgets possible?

31 January 2020

It's budget-setting season again for local authorities in Britain. The Tories in central government have succeeded in making local councils do their dirty work and implement savage austerity for a decade.

In fact, so successful was this strategy, that the lack of any practical distinction between Labour and Conservative at a local level was a significant factor in Jeremy Corbyn's general election defeat in December.

From the perspective of many in working-class communities, nothing ever seems to change. So why bother voting for Labour?

But the general election is behind us for now. Council jobs and services are utterly threadbare. And there is major economic uncertainty ahead. Councils have a choice.

Either carry on acting as managers of austerity - as tame local representatives of Tory central government.

Or set no-cuts budgets, and demand the stolen millions back from Westminster - as fighting representatives of local workers and residents. This could even paralyse and eventually overturn Johnson's unstable government.

The Socialist Party calls on Labour councils to fight, and for Labour leadership candidates to commit to pushing for such a fight.

It's the same road taken successfully by the famous socialist Liverpool Council in the 1980s. Now is the time to take the Liverpool Road once more.

This is a re-run of episode 16 from January 2019. The situation has changed, but the need for council to fight has not. This episode of Socialism asks: are no-cuts council budgets possible?

Further reading


56. How can France's strike win?

24 January 2020

After more than 45 days of strikes, workers in France are still furious about President Emmanuel Macron's attack on pensions. His so-called reform would mean: work longer, get less.

But there's no clear strategy from the union leaders. And there's no clear political alternative to Macron and his politics, including from left-wing political leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Understandably, after almost two months of upsurge, the movement is starting to slow down - for the moment. So what happens next?

Socialism the Podcast was in Paris for events including one of the national days of action, 16 January.

We spoke to a striking teacher and member of Gauche Révolutionnaire, the Socialist Party's sister party in France, about the struggle.

This episode of Socialism looks at France: how can the strike win?

Further reading


55. Middle East in turmoil: Iran and Iraq

10 January 2020

After Suleimani's assassination, what prospects for Iran, Iraq and the US?

The year started with Donald Trump ordering the public assassination of a leading Iranian general, Qassem Suleimani, by a drone strike in Baghdad, the capital of neighbouring Iraq.

What are the prospects for the struggle between the US and Iran? Does this mean war? What about the people of Iraq? And what will this mean next for the region's popular uprisings?

This episode of Socialism looks the Middle East in turmoil: Iran and Iraq.

Further reading


54. 2020: a promise of rebellion

3 January 2020

The year is now 2020. Popular uprisings are cascading like chain reactions across the globe. Strongman right-wing leaders lie and cheat their way to power in some countries, and are brought to their knees by mass movements in others.

As a new year opens up, class struggles and capitalist instability will only intensify and spread. This episode of Socialism looks at the year ahead: a promise of rebellion.

Plus: hear clips from the new podcast launched by our South African sister party in the Committee for a Workers' International, the Marxist Workers Party! You can listen to their full episode and subscribe at SoundCloud and YouTube.

Further reading


2019 episodes >

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
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