Roy Ratcliffe and I first crossed paths when I joined the tiny Marxist Workers Group in around 1976. Later we worked together in the Wigan Youth Service seeking to politicise its practice. In the 1980s we were leading lights in the creation of the Community and Youth Workers Union, the authors of its radical ‘horizontal’ constitution. We were to go our separate ways and lost contact for many years. Significantly though we both became increasingly critical of the vanguard Marxist-Leninist tradition via different routes. Mine saw me influenced by anarchism and such as Castoriadis, who broke from Marxism. However Roy has devoted his life to rescuing Marx from the Marxists. Indeed in 2003 he published ‘Revolutionary Humanism and the Anti-Capitalist Struggle’, a rigorous reworking of Marx for the 21st century. He has continued to refine his argument across the decades, always striving to integrate theory and practice as praxis, always seeking to influence activism. I look forward to being challenged as ever by this latest effort to introduce revolutionary humanism to a wider audience.
By clicking on the long Web link below, (or by copying and pasting it into a search engine) a copy of a new document ‘An Introduction to Revolutionary-Humanism’ can be obtained at no cost. In 35 short chapters of explanation and criticism, it covers the many forms of exploitation, oppression and patriarchal prejudice which characterise the capitalist mode of production. The document builds on the original anti-capitalist perspective of Karl Marx – as it was before his firm revolutionary-humanist principles were ignored or suppressed by subsequent generations of sectarian dogmatists. Presented in what I hope will be easy to understand language, the chapters in the document are aimed in particular at anti-capitalists, humanists and eco-activists, but has also been written with an even wider and more general audience in mind. If the web link fails to deliver then a copy of the document can be requested by email to email@example.com
In the 21st century, a new generation of young people were born into global society and by 2019, many began questioning the effects of its method of production, distribution and consumption as the basis for the future of humanity. School students leaving their classrooms and demonstrating against climate change and many other negative aspects have become a phenomenon of ‘ecological enlightenment’. These new activists have replaced the previous generations of people who once protested against aspects of the capitalist system or even against its whole ethos. Previous ideological expressions of this generalised opposition to capitalism took the form of Socialism in the 19th century and Communism or Anti – capitalism, in the 20th century.
Those earlier political expressions of dissatisfaction with the capitalist mode of production often gave rise to groups and political parties with the aim, in one form or another, of positively improving or transforming it. Such groups competed with each other for leadership of what they hoped would be a movement of ordinary working people which would by political means elect them, or by ‘revolution’ project them, to political power with a mandate to change things for the better. Some of these groups succeeded in part of that elitist hope and took power in various countries during the 20th century period of crisis; the ‘right-wing’ ‘National’ Socialists in Germany and Italy, the ‘left-wing’ Socialist/Communist Parties in Russia and China, and the ‘social-democratic’ socialists in the UK, Europe and elsewhere.
However, none of these groups and parties, once in power, even tried to end the exploitation of people and the planet. Indeed, most of these so-called reformist and revolutionary (sic) governments even intensified the exploitation of working people and frequently made matters worse with regard to pollution, ecological destruction, climate change, general poverty and hardship for the majority. Clearly, the ideas and practices which these groups and parties adopted did not benefit the mass of humanity or the planetary biosphere and so in the 21st century humanity is faced with even more problems than it was in the 20th.
This introduction to Revolutionary-Humanism seeks to explain why previous attempts to counteract capitalist exploitation were such dismal failures. In brief chapters, the ideas and methods previously employed by these groups and parties which led to dead ends are outlined. There are of course, hundreds of volumes of long – winded arguments detailing a multitude of disagreements within and between these groups and political parties, which for those with lots of time and patience, can be delved into. However, this introduction is an attempt to familiarise new generations of concerned students, workers and climate activists with the past struggles in a more easily digestible form. Longer documents and larger volumes can always be visited and considered if and when time and/or inclination permits.
I suggest there is a pressing need for a younger generation to grasp the complexity of the struggle which faces humanity and to avoid both the sectarian dogma of those previous anti-capitalist political distortions and the economic and social ‘dead ends’ they led their ‘followers’ into. Hopefully the chapters in this book will facilitate the re-discovery of the early Revolutionary-Humanist aspirations held by ordinary working people and those who supported them. For it was these aspirations which became abandoned and sidelined by the egotistical and toxic dogma of elitist ‘vanguard’ leaders wishing to become the new leaders and top-down guardians of collective humanity.
The chapters are introductions to the topics indicated by the chapter headings and can be used for individual study and reflection or for group discussion purposes. The subjects they deal with have been condensed to make them manageable for group discussions and for those new to the Revolutionary-Humanist perspective on the capitalist mode of production. To the best of my knowledge the facts and conclusions stated are as accurate as I can make them given the resources currently at my disposal.
Roy Ratcliffe. (2021)
Chapter – 1 On Revolutionary-Humanism.
Chapter – 2 On Modes of Production.
Chapter – 3 On Capitalism.
Chapter – 4 On Finance – capital.
Chapter – 5 On the three forms of slavery.
Chapter – 6 On Slavery and Racism.
Chapter – 7 On Colonialism and Imperialism.
Chapter – 8 On Past and Present Labour.
Chapter – 9 On Productive and Unproductive Labour.
Chapter – 10 On the Origin of Class Struggles.
Chapter – 11 On recent and future Class Struggles.
Chapter – 12 On Alienation and Addiction.
Chapter – 13 On Beneficial Association and Symbiosis.
Chapter – 14 On the Nation – State.
Chapter – 15 On Reformism.
Chapter – 16 On Anti-Capitalism.
Chapter – 17 On Individualism and Entitlement.
Chapter – 18 On Neo-liberalism.
Chapter – 19 On Capitalist Crisis and Crises.
Chapter – 20 On Public versus Private Production.
Chapter – 21 On Extinction by Extraction.
Chapter – 22 On Co-operation.
Chapter – 23 On Revolution.
Chapter – 24 On Karl Marx.
Chapter – 25 On Capitalism’s War against Nature.
Chapter – 26 On Sectarianism.
Chapter – 27 On Ways of Thinking – 1.
Chapter – 28 On Ways of Thinking – 2.
Chapter – 29 On Historical Materialism.
Chapter – 30 2020 A Paradigm Shift?
Chapter – 31 On Politics and Power.
Chapter – 32 On Bourgeois Democracy versus Fascism (1)
Chapter – 33 On Bourgeois Democracy versus Fascism (2)
Chapter – 34 On Bourgeois Democracy versus Fascism (3)
Chapter – 35 On The Bourgeois World View.