This booklet consists of a selection of articles written as a weekly column for the British left wing newspaper, Socialist Worker. The column , which lasted from 1983 – 97, was variously called ‘Teach Yourself Marxism’ and ‘What Socialists Say’; most of the material included here was written in the 1980s.
The column was written with a reader in mind who, according to the mainstream culture, does not exist, namely a thinking, critically minded working class activist. The standard view of working class militants is that they are more or less mindless thugs, motivated by greed and the politics of envy. Not a few middle class intellectuals, even those sympathetic to the working class in the abstract, still accept the the notion of militant workers as people only interested in immediate bred and butter issues and crude slogans.
My experience, which is now a long one, is the exact opposite. Worker militants are in general the most intellectually developed - and cultured – representatives of their class. This is partly because invovement in struggle raises consciousness and broadens horizons,but also because they need to be. The worker militant is engaged in a continuous battle of ideas with his or her workmates to combat the equally continuous efforts of the ruling class, via its politicians and media, to impose its view of the world - on everything from current events to human nature – on the working class.
The column was written, therefore, with the intention of assisting this notional reader ( though obviously there would be other readers too) in this day to day process of argument and persuasion. Its language had to be as staight forward and clear as possible – lack of formal education was absolutely not to be a barrier to reading it – but its content was deadly serious and sometimes had to be quite complex.
The typical method was to start from ‘common sense’, i.e. from the commonplce assumptions and attitudes (in reality shaped by bourgeois ideology) that the socialist worker would meet wth from their fellow workers and to set out the socialist view in relation to this. In the process the column also attempted to build up the the main elements of the Marxist world outlook as a whole.
That fifteen years later and on the other side of the world, the publishers of this booklet should deem it of relevanceto the workers and socialists of Korea testifies to a very important fact about the modern world, namely that the issues and debates faced by workers in aall countries, though not of course identical , are nonetheless remarkably similar.
One such issue which is truly global and is of immense, almost overriding significance, is climate change or global warming. This was not discussed in ‘Arguments for Revolutionary Socialism’ because at the time it had barely crossed my political radar. Today one must be blind not to see it. All the scientific evidence points to yhe fact that climate change threatens the world with environmental and humanitarian catastrophe. All the political evidence points to the fact that our rulers are either sleep walking to disaster or, more likely, consciously gambling with humanity,s future for the sake of profit (see the excellent article by Paul McGarr ‘On the Road to Catastrophe’, International Socialism 107). The combination of these two facts constitutes another powerful, indeed compelling, argument for revolutionary socialism: for working totake power out of the hands of their respective ruling classes and establish international planned production for human need.
This was written in July 2005 for the Korean translation of of the long article "Arguments for Revolutionary Socialism".