A Marxist History of the World: From Neanderthals to Neoliberals (Counterfire)

A Marxist History of the World: From Neanderthals to Neoliberals (Counterfire)

Neil Faulkner

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0745332145

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This magisterial analysis of human history - from 'Lucy', the first hominid, to the current Great Recession - combines the insights of earlier generations of Marxist historians with radical new ideas about the historical process. Reading history against the grain, Neil Faulkner reveals that what happened in the past was not predetermined. Choices were frequent and numerous. Different outcomes - liberation or barbarism - were often possible. Rejecting the top-down approach of conventional history, Faulkner contends that it is the mass action of ordinary people that drives great events. At the beginning of the 21st century - with economic disaster, war, climate catastrophe and deep class divisions - humans face perhaps the greatest crisis in the long history of our species. The lesson of A Marxist History of the World is that, since we created our past, we can also create a better future.

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embodies the normal, everyday reformist consciousness of workers: the lowest common denominator of left politics. This reformist consciousness includes nationalism. If the aim is to win reforms within the system, the bourgeois nation-state becomes the framework for political action rather than a target for revolutionary overthrow. The ‘national interest’ then imposes a limit on the reforms that are possible. Until 1914 none of this was clear. Rosa Luxemburg was in the forefront of the

industrial base to underpin these imperial ambitions. As Bismarck once remarked, Italy had a large appetite but rotten teeth. The war imposed massive strains on Italian society and brought its deep-rooted social tensions to crisis point. The majority of Italians were against the war from the outset and continued to oppose it for as long as it lasted. Unfortunately, the Socialist Party, which included both reformists and revolutionaries, failed to give a clear anti-war lead. Its slogan was

signed, investment in arms production, including research and development, was virtually risk-free. The multiplier effect meant that the boom in arms production stimulated the economy as a whole, as arms manufacturers bought raw materials, components, power, and various services from other capitalists, and as arms-industry workers spent their wages on a wide range of consumer goods. What is more, because arms production was waste expenditure, it leaked surplus wealth out of the system, reducing

Caetano had been overthrown in a military coup. His replacement, the conservative general Spinola, was unable to contain the wave of struggle unleashed. Radical army officers, who wanted an immediate end to colonial wars in Africa, formed alliances with striking workers in the shipyards of Lisbon and Setnave and in other industries. Right-wing coup attempts were defeated and Spinola was overthrown. Like France in 1968 and Chile in 1972, Portugal in 1974 hovered on the brink of working-class

break with the main ideological prop of feudalism – the Catholic Church – and a (controlled) explosion of free enquiry and debate. Protestantism was, above all, the religion of the middling sort, the people who, across the most developed parts of Europe, were pioneers in capitalist farming and the growth of commerce and industry. The German towns were immediately thrown into turmoil by Luther’s message. The town guilds – resentful of feudal dues, church tithes, and the social dominance of

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