Against Capitalism and Bureaucracy

Ernest Mandel’s Theoretical Contributions


Ernest Mandel (1923–1995) was one of the best-known Marxist scholars active in the second half of the twentieth century. A leading member of the Fourth International, his books on capitalist economics, bureaucracies in the workers’ movement and on power and socialist strategy were translated into many languages. Democratic self-organisation of workers was a red thread that ran through all of his thinking. In Against Capitalism and Bureaucracy, Manuel Kellner presents the first and until now only comprehensive overview of Mandel’s theoretical and political contributions, arguing that his work remains important for the debates on a socialist alternative in the twenty-first century.

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Manuel Kellner, PhD (2006), Philipps University Marburg (Germany), Magister in Political Science and History (1980) in the RWTH Aachen, is a member of the Fourth International and its German section (ISO). He is the author of books in German, mainly on Trotskyism, and an introduction to critiques of religion.
9789004533493 Foreword to the English Edition

Against Capitalism and Bureaucracy: Socialist Strategy in the Work of Ernest Mandel



1 Theory and Practice
 1 Occupational Ban and Refusal of Entry 1972
 2 Captured by the Nazis
 3 Role Model Abraham Leon
 4 Political Work in the Belgian Workers’ Movement
 5 Role in the Fourth International and Contribution to Theory

2 Critique of Contemporary Capitalism
 1 Mandel’s Historical-Genetic Critique of Capitalism
 2 Mandel’s Contribution to Marxist Crisis Theory
 3 Late Capitalism
 4 Long Waves of Capitalist Development
 5 Worldwide Inequality

3 Socialism: The Utopian Dimension in Mandel’s Work
 1 The Free Association of Producers: A Stateless, Classless Society
 2 Socialist Council Democracy and Transition to Socialism
 3 The Material Prerequisites for Universal Emancipation

4 Critique of Bureaucracy
 1 Mandel’s Explanation and Critique of Bureaucracy in the Workers’ Movement
 2 Critique of Stalinism
 3 Breaking up Stalinist Monolithism and the ‘Socialist Camp’
 4 The Temptation of Substitutionism: The Roots of Surrogate Politics

5 Socialist Strategy
 1 Prefigurative Forms of the New Society: Mass Strike and Self-Organisation from below
 2 Strategy of Transitional Demands
 3 The Dual Character of the Trade Unions
 4 Class Consciousness and Building Revolutionary Parties
 5 Critique of Reformism and United Front Policy
 6 Permanent Revolution and the International Dimension of Socialist Strategy

6 Emancipation and Social Catastrophe
 1 Mandel on Trotsky’s Theory of Fascism
 2 Mandel and the Holocaust

7 Evaluation and Prospects
 1 Openness and Coherence: A Field of Tension
 2 The Revolutionary Potential of Western Europe
 3 Reaction to Gorbachev
 4 World Historical Rupture 1989–1991
 5 Weaknesses of the Concept of ‘Bureaucratised Workers’ States’
 6 Historical Determinism
 7 Karl Marx’s ‘Categorical Imperative’
 8 Aporias of Marginality: Mandel’s ‘Last Word’ on Sectarianism
 9 The Self-Organisation of the Working Class

Eyewitness Testimony (Tape Recordings from the Author’s Own Archive)
This book should be interesting both for academic research and for left activists all over the world. Mandel‘s contributions are important for a balancesheet of the 20th century and for the actual discussion on socialist programmatics.
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