Marxist theory is the bedrock upon which our political ideas, perspectives, and methods are built. It is our guide to action in an often confusing and chaotic world. Through the correct application of the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky to the current world situation, we can more effectively anticipate the most likely course of events and plan our work accordingly.
Marxism is the collective, generalized experience of the world working class. By studying the past, we are able to learn from the innovations, mistakes, victories, and defeats of the working class as a whole. By studying theory, history, and the processes unfolding around us, we can, through a series of successive approximations, come to an ever-better understanding of the world and most importantly, we can change it.
This FAQ is intended as an introduction to some of the basic ideas and positions of the Workers International League. In general, we have provided short, concise answers, with plenty of suggestions for further reading, although in some cases we have provided a longer explanation. However, reading the classics of Marxism is the best way to understand these ideas. At first it may seem difficult, but every worker and young person knows that things worth having are worth working hard for! Patient and persistent study, discussion, and ultimately, the day to day application of these ideas over a lifetime are the key.
Trotsky gave some very good advice in his short article Don't Spread Yourself Too Thin. We recommend everyone interested in studying the ideas of Marxism start by reading it. We also suggest reading If America Should Go Communist by Leon Trotsky, The Principles of Communism by Frederick Engels, and Workshop Talks by James Connolly. We also offer a Marxist Education Plan which will help focus your studies of Marxist theory. Check out in particular the ABC of Communism by Nikolai Bukharin and Evgenii Preobrazhensky for an excellent overview of many of the basic concepts of Marxism and a look at some of the progress made during the early years of the Soviet Union.
- What is Marxism?
- What are Marxism/Leninism and Trotskyism?
- What do people mean when they say they are "socialists"?
- What is the difference between "Communism" and "communism"?
- What is the difference between socialism and communism?
- What about "human nature"?
- What will socialist society look like?
- What about individualism under socialism?
- What do Marxists think about technological innovation?
- If socialism is the next stage of human society, why bother fighting for it?
- How can democracy and socialism exist at the same time?
- How will production be socialized and wealth distributed under socialism?
- What is the attitude of Marxists to small farmers and business people?
- Where is the incentive under socialism?
Brief History of Marxist Internationalism
- Why must socialism be international?
- What was the First International
- What was the Second International?
- What was the Third International?
- What was the Left Opposition?
- What was the Fourth International?
- What were Trotsky's perspectives for after World War Two?
- Why is it only the working class which can develop a collective, socialist consciousness?
- What is Trotsky's theory of the permanent revolution?
- What are the elements required for workers' democracy?
- What do Marxists think about terrorism?
- What do Marxists think about guerrillaism?
- What is the basic role of the state and police in society?
- Why is socialism in one country impossible?
- Why did Russia degenerate into a totalitarian, Stalinist dictatorship, and how does the planned economy work to develop the productive forces without the "check" of the market?
- What about Mao and the Chinese Revolution?
- Is China today communist or capitalist?
- Socialism and The Churches
A brilliant summary of the history and role of religion from a Marxist perspective. By Rosa Luxemburg.
- Socialism and Religion
A look at the Marxist view of religion and religious people in the socialist movement. By V.I. Lenin.
- What is philosophical materialism?
- What is dialectics?
- What is alienation?
- What about Marxism and existentialism, post-modernism, etc.?
- On the prevailing ideas of any age
Marxist Conception of History
- What is the materialist conception of history?
- What is the role of the individual in history?
- What is the class struggle?
- What was Marx's view on the tactics of the class struggle of the proletariat?
- What was Marx's view on the inevitability of socialism?
- On the material basis of society
- On the laws of social development
- On the historical tendency of capitalist accumulation
On the Revolutionary Party