Mark Bergfeld

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Interview with Dan Swain: Marx’s Theory of Alienation

Dan Swain is an activist and writer. He is currently working on a PhD in Marxism and Ethics at the University of Essex. His book Alienation: An Introduction to Marx’s Theory has been shortlisted for the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing. I interviewed him. The interview was first published on

Make sure to buy Dan Swain's book

Make sure to buy Dan Swain’s book

Mark Bergfeld (MB): Marx used the philosophic theme of alienation throughout the 1840s. His later works such as Capital (1867) tend to focus on political economy and social science. Books on Capital pop-up like wild flowers these days. Books on alienation are a rarity. What made you write about Marx’s theory of Alienation?

Dan Swain (DS): I wrote about alienation for my master’s thesis, in which I was particularly interested in the way in which the idea of alienation can form an ethical core to Marx’s wider critique of society. I found that a lot of the books about alienation that are out there are highly academic, and many of them are decades old, and so are stuck in older debates which are less relevant to today. It was great to get the opportunity to write something accessible, and in the process help me get clearer about my own ideas. (more…)


Event: Marx is Muss-Kongress, Berlin – 9-12 May, 2013

From 9-12 May, the Marx21 network of Die Linke is organising its yearly 350-strong congress. I have been invited to speak on the German Revolution of 1918-1923 (watch my talk in English here) . Yeah, it’s been that long since Germany has witnessed some struggle.

Well, there’s The Left Party – die Linke – which elected its new leader Bernd Riexinger last year. One of his very first actions was to fly down to Greece to show solidarity with striking workers on the same day that Angie was meeting her Greek puppets. The same year ten thousands mobilised against the biggest Nazi-demonstration in Dresden and 30 000 participated in the Blockupy-demonstration against the ECB in Frankfurt. There even have been some strikes in the restaurant chain MAREDO.

This congress will unite the anti-capitalist movement, radical workers and die Linke activists. It will be a unique opportunity for radicals from across the Eurozone and beyond to learn and debate Marxism, capitalism’s crisis and the global movements against it.

Last year, I participated in a one-day workshop series on Marx’s theory of revolution, listened to Panagiotis Sotiris from ANTARSYA, a SYRIZA MP, Miguel Sanz Alcantára from the SAT in Andalucia, Christine Bucholz MP for die Linke, Tariq Ali, some dude from the Pirate Party who had just woken up and many other activists and popular authors such as Dietmar Dath who has just written a new introduction to Lenin’s The State and Revolution. I missed the People’s History of Berlin walking tour but I will definitely participate this year.

For more information check out:

Portugal: Police Batons for Protesters and Rubber Bullets for the Kids of Bela Vista

This article was first published on Monthly Review.

Ruben Marques, 18, died at the hands of the police in the barrio of Bela Vista, Setúbal, Portugal, on Saturday, March 16.  His crime: he crossed a red traffic light with his moped.

Bela Vista on the night of Reuben Marques' death

The media blame the victim for not wearing a helmet, the Communist Party mayor blames the victim for stealing the motorbike, and the police turn the victim into the culprit

Ruben is one of many casualties of police brutality in marginalized working-class communities under siege.  Just recently, the police officer who shot the 14-year-old“Kuku” at point-blank range was acquitted by the courts.  Tony’s mural has remained colorful since 2002.

As news of Ruben’s death reaches more and more shacks and apartments of immigrants from Portugal’s former colonies, travelers, and the unemployed, the police station gets surrounded by people in protest.  Young men and women start torching bins, vandalizing cars, and hurling rocks and glass. (more…)

Rosa Luxemburg & the lost German Revolution of 1918-1923

Here is my talk on Rosa Luxemburg and the lost German Revolution of 1918-1923 that I gave at Revolt! Festival in Central London at the beginning of March.

Portugal: “I prefer the horses in my lasagne to the donkeys in the government”

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04 March 2013

I was invited to write this article for MRZine the Monday after 1.5 million people marched against austerity across Portugal on March 2

Last Saturday’s ‘Que Se Lixe a Troika’ (Fuck the Troika) demonstrations represent a quantitative as well as qualitative shift for the anti-austerity movement in Portugal. In more than 40 towns and cities across Portugal 1.5 million people (800 000 in Lisbon) took it to the streets against the government’s slavish submission to the dictates of the Troika of IMF, ECB and EU. In the wake of the first demonstration by ‘Que Se Lixe a Troika’ on September 15, an on-going militant dockers’ strike and a general strike on November 14 of last year, Saturday’s demonstration is starting to tackle the unfinished business of the 1974 Portuguese Revolution. (more…)

Book Review – Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism

March 2013

First published in Socialist Review 

Richard Wolff – Democracy  at Work; A Cure for Capitalism (Haymarket books)

As the barbarism of the Troika continues to hit Greece, the Vio.Me factory in Thessaloniki has begun production under workers’ control. Against all the odds 40 workers have restarted the machines. Production costs are high and access to credit doesn’t come easily. Yet workers are researching hot to produce ecological cleaning products which they plan to distribute through solidarity networks in a country of struggle.

In the wake of the Argentinian debt crisis of 2001 Naomi Klein documented similar attempts to reopen abandoned factories as worker cooperatives. Wolff’s latest book seeks to outline how these awkwardly-labelled WSDEs (workers’ self-directed enterprises) could act as “transitional demands” for trade unionists and Occupy activists alike. By doing so, he attempts to answer the question that millions of people are raising across the globe: what is the alternative to capitalism? (more…)

On Utoya – book review

Book Review, May 2012 (First published in Socialist Review

onutoyaThis collection of short essays is the antidote to the mainstream media’s “depoliticised” coverage of Anders Breivik’s trial. Written only three months after the political assassinations of more than 60 young members of the Norwegian Labour Party on Utøya island, this book is a testimony to those young people who suffered at the hands of a fascist terrorist.

The book guides us through the social and political conditions and the ideological shift in the mainstream which helped to fan the flames of Islamophobia. All the contributing authors agree that right wing media pundits, newspapers and mainstream politicians from left to right have successfully made Islamophobia the acceptable form of racism. (more…)

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