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by Martin Levy

Britain, it is said, has the oldest ruling capitalist class in the world, and one which is therefore particularly adept at finding ways of maintaining its position.

Of course, the composition of that class has changed over time, since the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688, which “brought into power, along with William of Orange, the landlord and capitalist appropriators of surplus-value.”i Throughout the 18th century, the dominant element of this alliance was the Whig financial clique, operating through the government and the Bank of England, with policies aimed at avoiding wars, and at removing taxes from merchants and manufacturers, while taxing goods consumed by the masses. It was considered dangerous to antagonise the landed squirearchy, and in any case most of the leading Whigs were landowners themselves.ii

As manufacture developed in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and capital was accumulated, that landowner-capitalist alliance became increasingly strained, and finally the 1832 Reform Act brought industrial capitalism out on top. This was followed by the period of ‘free trade’ – when Britain was the ‘workshop of the world’ – and also by colonial expansion, which developed into imperialism as production and capital were increasingly concentrated, and bank capital merged with industrial capital to create a dominant financial oligarchy.

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1917: The Overthrow of Tsardom


 1917: The Overthrow of Tsardom

 by Andrew Rothstein

 Part I. The Gathering of the Storm

Article originally published in Marxism Today, June 1967, pp 168-176

1. Illusion and Reality

On the morning of 16 March 1917, a notice was put up in the Junior Common Room of my college (I had just come up with a scholarship) by an Irish Nationalist aristocrat, calling an urgent meeting “to consider the cataclysm”. This was not wholly undergraduate extravagance; it well reflected the utter astonishment of the British people at the shouting headlines in the newspapers that day – “Successful Russian Revolution”, “Abdication of Tsar” and (a reassuring touch in The Times) “A ‘Win-the-War’ Movement”. Such was the first intimation that the press stories, ever since August 1914, about the Russians being heart-and-soul behind their Little Father, with all political differences set aside in the cause of defeating the enemy, were poppycock, to put it mildly.

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  • Man's dearest possession is life. It is given to him but once, and he must live it so that, dying he might say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world—the fight for the Liberation of Mankind.
    Nikolai Alexeevich Ostrovsky Author (1904 –1936)
  • Capitalism increasingly produces ‘culture’ as it does other commodities regardless of social need or the social good. 'Popular culture’ is thereby turned into a commercial, conservative force that promotes ideas of selfishness, greed and individualism. Read More
    Britain's Road to Socialism Programme of the CP, 8th Edition
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