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Many of those who took part in the Miners Strike of 1984-5 were young men new to the industry. They were fighting for their futures. This is the personal story of just one of those who joined the strike and took part in the year-long struggle. This article starts with the words he wrote in his diary the day after the ‘Battle of Orgreave’ where striking miners were brutally attacked by the forces of the state.

‘Miners were sitting or playing football in front of the state police line, suddenly police horses to our rear, great sheets of re-in forced plastic riot shields hiding the line of ‘Maggies’ men, also dogs to our left. ‘What’s the crack?’ the pickets asked, as the brave men with horses, dogs, weapons and the right to arrest innocent people with the charge of rioting, started provoking. After a few arrests, our question was answered after one picket was being smashed over the head by a couple of brave men, after he had been knocked over by a brave man on horseback. Our question was answered alright. Miners immediately replied to the provocation, as they ripped walls apart with their bare hands, pulled down lamp posts and dragged scrap cars from yards into the road.

The police banged their shields with their batons, wanting more, so it seemed; this need for aggro was short lived as their Maggie SS Officer reading the riot act for the last time. As the riot act was read for the last time twice more, reinforcements were sent for and we were eventually forced to the bridge. This is where the lamp posts and scrap cars were used.
About half hour of running each other followed, with us in boots or pumps and tee-shirts, them in uniform, with batons and shields and the power of arrest. Eventually they had to use their horses with riot snatch squads; squads behind like tanks and infantry men, as if in war time.

After a short while we returned to our cars with over a hundred men missing through arrest or injury, then raced back to our strike centre to watch the news. Even the news showed provocation, although nothing was done about it! This was the ‘Battle of Orgreave’, I was proud to be there, proud to be a miner. No person there will forget or forgive the brave men in uniform that stood for Maggie that day. ‘
Ian Pyatt: 18th June 1984. Aged 18.

This short piece was written just after the day in question, in the front of my diary. Feelings were, of course running high and looking back I do not feel any less angry, neither any less proud of the fact we fought so hard; not for pay rises or to improve working conditions in this instance but for the future of our industry and for a future of many employed that supplied it.

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of The Miner’s Strike and, rightly so, much has been written and said about the vastly important work that was undertaken by the women. They came very much into their own during the strike and if not for their endeavours, our fight would have been over much earlier. I believe, as some of our leaders seemed to fade after the year long strike, the women grew in confidence, in strength and many went on to become leaders in their own right.

The last generation of miners

We were almost the last of generation of miners to come through. We had barely finished school and were swept into this scary political arena, which was almost as daunting as the conditions which we were becoming accustomed to. I left school in 1982, a year when unemployment was running high but I was lucky to be offered a place in The Royal Engineers as a junior leader in the British Army and a job in mining at Ireland Colliery. I chose the latter for job security. How ironic that, after barely two years, we were on strike for that very reason; almost laughable.

Collieries were being closed at an ever increasing rate. The government weren’t just closing unprofitable collieries; they were running the whole industry down. The arguments about a ballot will rage on forever and the miners that remember the votes in the early 80’s will always feel vindicated and argue against those that screamed for one.

I believe, however, that if the vote had gone to strike, certain areas would have done their own thing, as was the case in the 1970’s when the bonus schemes were adopted by some areas against national policy. The true facts of the matter were, we were a nationalised industry and the profitable collieries subsidised the unprofitable ones; exhausted collieries were closed without argument. Our whole economic fuel policy was in change and it was simply, in the words of an old miner, ‘put up or shut up!’

I was at the Derbyshire Miners’ offices when our area officials and delegates met. When they finally appeared, they declared the Derbyshire Area was supporting the strike against pit closures, so were ‘putting up’ I guess.

This was the start for me of a year where I did a lot of growing up very quickly and came to realise that politicians, police, lawyers and certainly the media actually did lie. I along with many other young miners gave up our nights out, our fashions, our normal life to fight tooth and nail for our futures. I don’t say for one minute we had it worse than those men and women with families and mortgages and bills to pay for, some of which took years to pay off and, of course, those whose relationships ended under the financial pressures of such a traumatic year.

Treated like criminals

All I would say though, is that it wasn’t exactly all beer and skittles for us either. Many were arrested for the first time in their young lives, some did time in prison; which simply would never have happened without the strike.

I saw lads arrested for simply being in the wrong place, doing absolutely nothing wrong. We were spoke to and treated like criminals by police, mainly the coppers from outside Derbyshire, some of whom had never even seen a colliery before in their lives and had no understanding of community spirit.

All, of course, to break us down and get us to go back to work and go back some invariably did. Some through desperation, some because they simply had had enough and didn’t believe we could possibly win with, so it seemed, everything and almost everyone against us.

It was the saddest day of my life at the time, the day before my 19th birthday on the 25th January, when my father regrettably returned to work. He did so for the reason, which took me years to appreciate; that he had less than a year until his early retirement and felt betrayed by the younger men that he was fighting for, who had given up months ago. I lived at home with my parents and a sister on an YTS scheme. You could say money was in short supply.

When we returned to work, men who had been friends for years fell out; some didn’t speak for ages; some - not many - never again. I personally felt betrayed by the leaders of the Deputies Union NACODS, who really could have made a difference. But, as the years have rolled by, I don’t feel any real anger. The ones that worked all the way through the dispute, in areas such as Nottingham and South Derbyshire (although some were on strike even there by the way) were ‘rewarded’ by the Tories, in exactly the same way as ourselves. We lost our jobs and our communities suffered for it.

For the lads that returned early, I don’t have issues anymore. A miner to me, no matter which area or country he is from, is a brother and always will be. But I am as proud today for myself and the ones that walked back into work under our banners on the 5th March 1985 with heads held high, totally vindicated in the efforts against pit closures.

Make no mistake, we lost, but more importantly our country lost. It was the start of a generation that accepted ‘a life on benefits’ and our communities suffered, as they do now, Arthur Scargill always argued that it wasn’t just an argument whether a pit was economic or not but the social cost That is why we find many old mining communities with food banks, modern day pawn shops and loan sharks thriving.

Next time your gas or electric bill falls through your door or you receive your email with the details, the amount you pay is the very reason for our failure back in 1984/85 for which I’m so sorry for but you know at least we ‘put up’ and gave it a go.

Educate Yourself

  • Educate Yourself
  • The Fundamentals of Marxism
  • Dialectical Materialism and Science
  • Historical Materialism
  • Marxist Economics
  • The State
  • Russia, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalinism
  • Anarchism
  • Feminism
  • Fascism
  • The National Question
  • Imperialism and War
  • Revolutionary Strategy
  • Revolutionary History

Socialist Appeal are proud to publish this basic guide to help focus your studies of Marxist theory and practice. Visit the various tabs to find links to introductory articles, classic texts, and audio talks for different topics. We also invite our readers to become acquainted with the more basic ideas of Marxism by starting with the recommended short reading list, going through the FAQ section, reading this article that combats the myths about Marxism, and listening to the following audios:

Why Marx Was Right - Alan Woods

What is Marxism? - Alan Woods

What Will Socialism Look Like? - Fred Weston

What is Capitalism? What is Socialism? - Fred Weston

We will be expanding and developing this section over time. Please contact us if you have any questions, or if you'd like any suggestions on what to read next.

Reading the classics of Marxism is the best way to understand these ideas. At first it may seem difficult, but every worker and young person knows that things worth having are worth working hard for!  Patient and persistent study, discussion, and ultimately, the day to day application of these ideas over a lifetime are the key.

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Marxist theory is the basis upon which our analysis, perspectives, program, and participation in the movement are based. It is our "guide to action." This why Socialist Appeal and IMT place so much emphasis on political education. To this end, we have created an extensive Education Plan to assist comrades in their political development. This is an important resource.

However, it's length and scope may seem daunting to new comrades. With this in mind, Socialist Appeal has compiled a shorter list of classic works and other important writings we think will serve to lay a strong foundation in the ideas and methods of Marxism. We would like to encourage all our supporters and those interested in learning more about Marxism to read (or re-read!) through the works on this list.

This selection of writings is an excellent introduction to many of the fundamentals of Marxist theory. There are many other writings that could be added, but this selection provides a strong basis for those wishing to equip themselves with the necessary ideas for the daily work of fighting for socialism.

Many of these are smaller books or pamphlets; some are more lengthy books; and others are just short articles. This list should therefore be more digestible than the full Education Plan, particularly those with busy work or school schedules. All of them are available to

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Dialectical Materialism is the philosophy or methodology of Marxism. Every political movement, party, or even statement of any kind bases itself, consciously or unconsciously, on some sort of philosophy or world outlook. Marxism is concerned with effecting a radical change in society, and therefore requires an exceptionally clear, thoroughgoing, and systemic set of philosophical principles.

The ideas of Dialectical Materialism, based on the best traditions of philosophical thought, are not a fixed dogma but a system of tools and general principles for analysing the world materialistically and scientifically.

If we are to understand society in order to change it, this cannot be done arbitrarily, since the human will is not master of nature; rather, our ideas and thoughts are reflections of necessary material laws. Instead, we must seek to understand the laws of how human society changes. By following our education plan for Dialectical Materialism, the reader will familiarise themselves with this way of looking at the world so that they too can begin to apply Marxist ideas.

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Historical Materialism is the result of Dialectical Materialism applied to human society and history. It encompasses the general theory of how and why society develops in the way it does. A deeper, more concrete understanding of these principles in combination with a study of real, living history of class struggles enables us to come to a general understanding of where capitalist society is headed and what political strategy is required to successfully influence the course of events.

The basic principles of Historical Materialism are that human society has inherent laws guiding it - its developments are by no means arbitrary or accidental, nor the mere subject of the will of great men and ideas. Human individuals can and do influence society according to their ideas, but only ever within definite material constraints and conditions. Above all, the law determining historical development is that of the development of the means of production - meaning economically productive technology, science, technique etc. The extent of the development of the productive forces determines the social relations of production - i.e. the structure of society, class relations etc. Each social system has its inherent laws of motion. If we want to overthrow capitalist society, we must understand how capitalism works.

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Marxist economics is the study of the laws of motion of capitalist society. Why does capitalism perpetually go into crisis? Why does mass unemployment exist? Are commodity production, the domination of the market, and rich and poor natural, immutable states of being for humanity? Or are they merely the products of this specific mode of production - capitalism? If so, is there any way capitalism can exist without these problems, or by minimising them?

Marxist economics is a “holistic” way of analysing capitalist economy. It starts out by placing it in its real historical context (rather than dreaming up abstract idealisations of capitalism to justify it, as bourgeois economics does), studying all its interconnections and contradictions, rather than artificially isolating one aspect of it. In doing so, Marxist economics lays bare the functioning of capitalism; the exploitation and injustice inherent within it. Those who want to get to the essence of why, in the 21st Century, despite having a more advanced understanding of the world than ever before, humanity seems plunged into perpetual crisis it cannot get to grips with, should look no further than Marxist economics, beginning with the writings of Marx himself.

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Like money, the state is something we are all very familiar with and take for granted, but its real essence tends to elude us. The ideologists of capitalism have tried, in various ways, to justify the capitalist state as supremely rational; a neutral arbiter for society, and the embodiment of justice. For Marxists, the state is not at all neutral, nor just. It is certainly anything but rational. We must strip the vale of mysticism away and reveal the state’s real basis. To do that, we have to treat the state historically - taking in its origins, rise, and eventual fall.

The state has not always existed. It is inseparable from class society. Ultimately, it is the instrument for the ruling class to oppress and hold down the masses, guaranteeing the status quo and the sanctity of property. Although the modern state performs many other functions, these are secondary to its real basis - the protection of a set of property relations. To do this, it needs “armed bodies of men” and a monopoly on the use of violence. To establish socialism, it will not be possible for the working class to use the state as it currently exists - that is, with the same network of judges, heads of police and army etc. All the key texts explaining how exactly we relate to the state, and the

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The Russian Revolution is the greatest event in world history for Marxists. For the first time, the working class successfully took and held power. The slaves fought back and won. For these reasons, the name of Lenin and Trotsky, and the entire 1917 episode, has been deliberately dragged through the mud by the bourgeoisie ever since.

Naturally they are aided in this task by the degeneration of the revolution and by the existence of Stalin’s monstrous dictatorship. However, Stalinism represents the opposite of Bolshevism’s real traditions, which readers can read about in this section, as well as the Marxist explanation for why Stalinism took place and what this means for our movement.

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Radicalised youth, seeking to understand how to change modern society, naturally tend to look to both Marxism and Anarchism in equal measure. The question as to which philosophy, or which combination of the two, has the best answers, has long been at the forefront of the minds of revolutionaries.

Anarchism is naturally attractive to all those correctly alienated by bureaucracy in the revolutionary movement. Anarchists are certainly correct to reject Stalinism and careerism. However, it is not sufficient simply to reject these phenomena. We need to understand why bureaucracy and oppression exist and what role they play, in order to understand how to avoid them. We believe that, for all its opposition, Anarchism has little to say about the alternative to bureaucracy. Instead, it is Marxism’s historical materialist method that allows us to understand these problems. In this section the reader will find a series of articles dealing with anarchism and the issues that anarchism raises.

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The discrimination and oppression of women is integral to class society, such that Engels even referred to it as the “first class oppression”. Along with the class system itself, the oppression of women often takes on the appearance of being natural, immutable and eternal, since it has been with us for so long.

But Marxism is a historical science, concerned with understanding the fundamental changes that society goes through. It cannot be satisfied with comfortable prejudices. A study of the origins of human society, as Engels famously conducted in his book The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State, reveals that the oppression of women is by no means natural and was not even known for much of our history. As Engels explains, the oppression of women arose with the emergence of class society and private property; it will fall with it.

Marxists are fully in solidarity with feminists: we are irreconcilably opposed to the oppression of women and fully support the struggle for their emancipation. We believe this will be achieved through the class struggle, since that is the basic locomotive of history in a class society such as ours. However, Marxism represents a distinct set of ideas from feminism, which is a more eclectic and varied set of ideas. We believe that in this section, readers will find the tools Marxism

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Fascism is something of a bogeyman in modern British society, and has an almost mythical character in bourgeois public opinion. But despite constant talk of it, very little is said about why it happened and how it may or may not happen again.

Fascism is really the death agony of capitalism and the “distilled essence of imperialism”. The fascists in Germany, Italy, Spain and other countries were only able to come to power on the back of defeats of the working class. Ultimately, the madness of fascism expresses the historic crisis and dead-end of capitalism that had arrived by the early 20th Century, alongside the inability of the working class to take power and replace capitalism with a workers’ state, due to the corruption of their leadership, in the form of both reformism and Stalinism. Fascism could and should have easily been avoided had the working class possessed a militant and united leadership prepared to take power.

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The question of nationalities - that is, the oppression of nations and national minorities, which has characterised capitalism from its birth till the present time - has always occupied a central position in Marxist theory. Once again, the historical materialist approach of Marxism dissolves the apparent “natural” role of the nation as a necessary expression of human society. Nations have by no means always existed, nor will they always exist in the future.

The nation as we know it today is a product of the development of capitalism and its need to unify peoples into units of a certain size (depending on the level of the system’s development – e.g. more recently formed nations tend to be much bigger) to consolidate the market. The contradictions and tensions between nations are a result of capitalism’s “combined and uneven” development. The contradictions of the capitalist mode of production itself force each ruling class to expand outwards, developing a global market and imperialism in the process.

The violent tensions that this process breeds in turn give rise to nationalism, racism and wars. There is no way a successful world revolution, abolishing the global capitalist system, can take place without a careful and nuanced understanding of the national question, with all the sensitivities and complexity it brings. Therefore this section is of the utmost importance for revolutionaries.

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War is a constant feature of life under capitalism, especially in the epoch of imperialism. There has not been a single day of peace since the end of WWII, despite the appearance of WWII (and all previous wars) of being the “war to end all wars”. Capitalism is inherently unstable, competitive and violent. Moreover, there can be no final peace between the classes, since this system is based on the exploitation of the working class by the rich. 

However, there are wars of different kinds under capitalism. The question of war is the hardest equation of all to judge, so careful study is essential so that revolutionaries are not blown off course by the complexities involved. For example, some “socialists” called for support for the war in Iraq, as it had the appearance of establishing “democracy” over dictatorship. Equally, the failure to understand the true meaning of WWI and its implications was the direct cause of the death of the Second International.

Wars, like revolutions, represent the sharp extreme of capitalism’s crisis. Under capitalism, there will be many wars in the future. The more revolutionaries study and understand capitalism’s previous wars, the better equipped we will be to fight against future wars and the capitalist system itself.

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Socialist Appeal is the British section of the International Marxist Tendency, which is active in around 40 countries. Our aim is to spread the ideas of Marxism, in an organised fashion, in the labour and youth movement. Only the British working class has the ability to change British society, because of the central role they play in production and their shared interest in establishing socialism.

However, we must carefully study the history and traditions of the British working class in order for Marxist ideas to connect with them. There are all too many groups who simply declare themselves the vanguard of the British working class, and have a dismissive attitude to the class’ real traditions.

In this section readers will find a series of articles explaining our position on the class struggle in Britain, the key points in the history of the British working class and the lessons to be learnt from them, and the strategy of the Marxists in relation to the movements of the masses.

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The ideas of Marxism and the need for a revolutionary party are not the result simply of a single individual, but arise from the study of history - the history of class struggle. In this respect, the revolutionary party is often referred to as being the memory of the working class, and our task is to learn the lessons from history in order to prepare for the revolutionary events taking place today and in the future.

In this section we present a series of articles and audios covering the key revolutionary struggles in history - from the early class struggles in Rome to the tremendous movements of the working class in the 20th Century. By reading and listening to these, our readers should gain a good overview of the history of the revolutionary movement and the main lessons to be learnt from these.

For analysis of 21st Century revolutionary movements, check out the News and Analysis sections of the website!

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Marxist theory

Hitler and the Rise of Fascism in Germany Hitler and the Rise of Fascism in Germany
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Date: 9 Mar 2017
Workers’ control, democracy, and power Workers' control, democracy, and power
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In Defence of the Russian Revolution - part two In Defence of the Russian Revolution - part two
Duration: 00:21:16
Date: 17 Feb 2017
In Defence of the Russian Revolution -  part one In Defence of the Russian Revolution - part one
Duration: 00:22:04
Date: 1 Feb 2017
Materialism and Dialectics in Ancient Greece Materialism and Dialectics in Ancient Greece
Duration: 00:48:58
Date: 27 Jan 2017
Imperialism in the 21st century Imperialism in the 21st century
Duration: 00:57:35
Date: 13 Dec 2016
Fascism: What it is and how to fight it Fascism: What it is and how to fight it
Duration: 00:36:44
Date: 12 Dec 2016
Dialectics, science, and nature Dialectics, science, and nature
Duration: 00:48:55
Date: 9 Dec 2016
Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution
Duration: 00:42:54
Date: 30 Nov 2016
Marxism, Imperialism, and War Marxism, Imperialism, and War
Duration: 00:50:16
Date: 25 Nov 2016
The Hungarian Revolution: 60 years on The Hungarian Revolution: 60 years on
Duration: 00:47:10
Date: 1 Nov 2016