Current and forthcoming courses

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AUTUMN/WINTER COURSES 2021

 

Online Course - An Introduction to Marxist Economics

Course material accessible from 26 October 2021 

Whether you are new to Marxism, or are familiar with the theory or simply enjoy a lively debate with people from a variety of progressive backgrounds, this eight week online course aims to provide a challenging and enjoyable experience.

It is taught through written interactions between tutors and students. Students can access the uploaded course materials- a rich variety of readings and videos- at their convenience from the start date of 26 October. In addition, each fortnight students are invited to attend optional zoom tutorials on a Tuesday evening. The course begins by explaining how Marx came to develop his ‘labour theory of value’ and why it is still relevant to trade union struggles. The second topic looks at the social and political conditions required for capitalist exploitation and how these have changed. The third  examines why capitalist economic systems are inherently crisis-prone and the fourth and final topic looks at the tendency for the rate of profit to decline and its implications for today’s world of monopolies and piratical investment companies.

REGISTER HERE

 

Online Course - An Introduction to Marxism

Course material accessible from 27 October 2021

This course will cover an introduction to Marxist theory, applying it to a discussion of relevant issues today, such as: the changing nature of work and exploitation, austerity and the gig economy, racism, women’s oppression, class society, climate change, and revolutionary practice.

The course is structured around four interrelated and overlapping themes:

1. Marxism and history. History is fundamental to everything - it deals with what exists, how it came to be, how it functions, and how it changes. Historical materialism is probably the most fundamental ‘discovery’ of Marx, providing a tool for analysing the whole of human development and especially the ‘laws of motion’ governing all forms of class society and capitalism today. Why is it so important and how does it help us challenge conventional accounts – of class, technology, racism, sexism and religious belief today?

2. Marxist philosophy. Philosophy addresses fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, ethics, mind, and language, both in the abstract and concretely (as in ‘natural philosophy’), through the methods of science. Dialectical materialism provides an analytical alternative to academic ‘idealist’ philosophy as well as to commonplace views of human nature and our relationship to the natural world. What’s its relevance today to understanding ourselves as human animals, and to the future of the planet on which we live?

3. Marxism and economics. Marxist economics – perhaps, better, ‘political economy’ - addresses questions to do with how the goods and services on which we depend are produced, by whom, and who benefits – questions which are normally ignored by ‘orthodox’ economics which treats the market as an inviolable ‘given’. Its analysis of the nature of commodity production in terms of value, price and profit includes the changing nature of exploitation of people as workers and consumers, the role of economic crises and why workers appear to ‘consent’ to their exploitation.

4. Marxism and revolution. A Marxist perspective is central to understanding the role of the state and how the ruling class retains power. But how can we secure a society ‘for the many’? Can capitalism be reformed or must it be overthrown, if so what should replace it? What do we mean by ‘revolution’? Can we learn from the experience of socialist revolutions past and present and – given the results of Britain’s most recent parliamentary elections - what are the prospects for socialism and a future classless, communist society?

A fifth theme –Marxism, ecology and the environment runs as a thread through all four topics. This is particularly important given the growing recognition over the past half-century that the crisis of capitalism is not just a social, economic and cultural crisis; it is also an environmental crisis which threatens the continued existence of our own species – amongst others.

Over the eight weeks of the course, each of the four topics will last a fortnight, with supporting Zoom seminars as below:

The Zoom seminars provide an opportunity to discuss the course content and ideas, and are optional. Each seminar consists of a live discussion around some questions to be selected by the group at the end of the previous week’s topic presentation.

All seminars start at 7pm, and students will be sent a link nearer the time.

November 10th - Marxism and history

November 24th - Marxist philosophy

December 8th - Marxism and economics

December 22nd - Marxism and revolution

The workshop sessions will each consist of a live discussion around some questions to be selected by the group at the end of the previous week’s topic presentation.

REGISTER HERE

 

Online Course - Women, Work and Trade Unions

Starts 26 October 2021 (7pm)

This course will run for 4 weeks on Tuesday evenings, 7-9pm from 26 October - 16 November 2021.  Course tutors are Mary Davis & Kellie O’Dowd

The course is rooted in an understanding of women’s role in trade union history and the impact on women workers of the enduring conflict between capital and labour.

The course will look at:

• How do we explain inequality?

• What is capitalism and why do Marxists say it’s important for understanding of women’s oppression?

• What can we learn from history? Women in the labour market and labour movement in C19th & C20th.

• The issues for women at work & in our unions today & what we can do about them.

By the end of the course students will:

• Have gained an understanding of the role of the labour movement as a key site in the struggle for women’s liberation.

• Have understood the position of women in capitalist society and assessed the historical gains and enduring problems facing women today.

• Have examined and assessed contemporary ideas about the persistence of inequality.

• Have been introduced to how a Marxist analysis of class exploitation can assist in understanding the oppression of women.

• Have been introduced to the history of women at work and in the trade union movement.

• Have examined how unions’ capacity for collective struggle and collective bargaining can be used to address women’s discrimination and its manifestation in the trade union movement and in the workplace.

REGISTER HERE