Who We Are
Marxist-Humanist Initiative (MHI) aims to contribute to the transformation of this capitalist world by projecting, developing, and concretizing the philosophy of Karl Marx (1818-1883) and its further development in the Marxist-Humanism articulated by Raya Dunayevskaya (1910-1987).
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and today’s many other social, political and economic crises, make this a moment to engage people in discussion of these ideas. In the US, we are faced with the threat of Trumpism triumphing in all-out authoritarianism, extinguishing our right to carry on these discussions. Yet at the same moment, the multiracial Movement for Black Lives has spread to every corner of the country and the world, launching a flood of activism and new ideas that deepen the concept of freedom.
MHI is dedicated to the task of proving theoretically that an alternative to capitalism is possible. We are distinguished by our economic analyses, in which we do not merely assert, but demonstrate, that the only opposite to the current world economic system is its abolition and replacement with one not based on the production of “value.” Because capitalism cannot be fundamentally reformed, attempts to reform it lead to an intensification of state-capitalism, not to socialism.
We are not a political party. Nor are we trying to lead the masses, who will form their own organizations, and whose emancipation must be their own act. But we have seen that spontaneous actions alone are insufficient to usher in a new society. We seek a new unity of philosophy and organization in which mass movements striving for freedom lay hold of Marx’s philosophy of revolution and recreate society on its basis.
Our ideas and actions, as well as our structure and rules, are guided by the interests of working people and freedom movements of people of color, LGBTQ people, other minorities, women, youth, and all those around the world who are struggling for self-determination in order to freely develop their own human natures. We have no interests separate and apart from theirs. To this end, we open our website to the widest possible dialogue with people around the world. We intend to practice, as well as espouse, a two-way road between our organization and people outside it as essential to developing a single dialectic in the relationship of theory to practice—and as the way to assure the survival of Marxist-Humanism.
MHI was founded in 2009, following the collapse of previous Marxist-Humanist organizations. Our collective is working to create an organization so firmly rooted in its philosophy that it will not succumb to diversions that may arise from personal agendas, and that will be capable of developing and concretizing that philosophy over the long haul, regardless of who its members may be. It is no simple matter to create a democratic organization that is at the same time effective and able to resist efforts to divert it from its goals. We are aware that Marx never achieved an organization based on his philosophy, and that Dunayevskaya’s organization disintegrated following her death. But we have made progress on this matter, with our Principles and By-Laws, and by recognizing that Marxist-Humanism cannot be carried on by chance, or by individuals alone. An organization is needed to test and prove ideas. We invite all to join us in this discussion and initiative.
Karl Marx stood for a new society in which the full and free development of every individual forms the ruling principle. In our new 88-page pamphlet, Resisting Trumpist Reaction (and Left Accommodation), Marxist-Humanist Initiative brings this revolutionary humanist philosophy to bear on the singularly critical task of this moment: opposing and defeating Trumpism and other resurgent far-right tendencies.
We encourage everyone to read this pamphlet, to share it widely, and to discuss it with colleagues, friends, family––and with us. Beating back and transcending the latest wave of reaction requires wide and deep discussion among everyone fighting to protect liberal-democratic rights and to continue the struggle until we achieve full freedom for all human beings.
It may not be possible to stop US president Donald Trump before he launches the country and the world into a monstrous war, even a nuclear war––and the threat Trump poses to Americans’ civil rights and liberties could be just as fatal. MHI’s Perspectives detail these dangers, but also the strength and determination of the Resistance to defeat Trumpism. We offer the Resistance our full support, but warn that it must remain independent––of the Democratic Party and of tendencies on the “left” that would divert it onto an “anti-neoliberal” path. Its goal of ending Trumpism must not be subsumed under others’ agendas and myths about how to defeat capitalism.
These Perspectives challenge the idea that the left can win over Trump’s base and turn white nationalists towards revolutionary socialism. We review a wealth of research which shows conclusively that Trump’s election was not a “white working class” revolt against neoliberalism. Yet that myth remains a key talking point of a newly-resurgent left-populist current. Left-populism seek to win adherents by appealing to popular superstitions and myths, and by offering easy-but-incorrect answers in response to popular discontent. Yet a politics rooted in emotional appeals and myth-making hinders genuine understanding of our current crisis and how to transcend it, and it reproduces existing divisions between mental and manual labor and between leaders and the led. Thus, “post-truth politics” is a real barrier to the self-development of the working class as an independent force for human liberation.
The Perspectives argue that, far from being a revolt against neoliberalism, Trump’s election was an expression of a white-nationalist strain of US politics that long predates neoliberalism. Analysing Marx’s writings on Irish independence and the US Civil War, we arrive at a unique conclusion regarding Trumpism and the so-called “white working class.” To fight white nationalism in the tradition of Marx, the way to solidarize with the “white working class” is by helping the Resistance to decisively defeat Trumpism and other far-right forces. Their defeat will help liberate the “white working class” from the grip of reaction and thereby spur the independent emancipatory self-development of working people as a whole.