[Note: Information on becoming a participant, NCTS’s history, its initiating participants, and access to this site follow the mission statement.]
Capitalism’s most severe financial crisis since the 1930s and the Great Recession have left us with an especially uncertain future. “The new normal” may prove to be very difficult, economically and politically. In order for the Left to be prepared for what may happen and prepared to respond effectively, more and more activity and organization will not be enough. We also need the organization of thought. Wide-ranging dialogue is key, not only so that all views can be heard, but, above all, so that we can test different ideas in debate and work out answers to the questions we face.
We are encouraged by the relatively large number of reading groups (study groups) on Marx and Capital that have sprouted up in the U.S., the UK, Germany, and elsewhere, largely in response to the crisis and slump. Nothing like this has been seen since the economic crisis of the 1970s. We are also encouraged by the seriousness with which the causes and consequences of the recent crisis have begun to be discussed.
We have formed NCTS to help facilitate and bring together these and similar initiatives. Everyone throughout the world who is interested in this project is invited to participate in it. We hope to bring together individuals in reading groups and related projects, and all other interested people, so that we can engage in dialogue, provide mutual assistance, and share information. NCTS will supplement, not replace, the activity that is already taking place.
The term “theoretical struggles” combines two seeming opposites, theory and practice, that NCTS will try to help unify. It is for people who recognize that activity and organization, without theory, will not be sufficient, and who are deepening their grasp of theory not simply for the sake of knowledge, but so it can serve as a guide to action.
What is needed, in our view, is not a theory, but the doing of theory. The point is to work out answers to the questions we face on a rational basis, and this requires critical examination of all ideas, taking nothing for granted. So NCTS is not a project that will select some particular theory from among the existing alternatives, and certainly not an opportunity for adherents of different positions to fight to have their position adopted as the “correct” one. We want it to be an ongoing, collaborative process in which we engage with one another, explore and test ideas, and develop our thinking in order to respond in a rational and effective manner to the new challenges of our times.
The doing of theory does not mean adopting political positions, but rather digging deeply into the ideas that underlie differing views of the crisis. In order to contribute to the fight against capitalism, we need to examine the theories that are contending and what their ramifications may be. NCTS therefore does not have a political or theoretical “line.” It is open to all who share its goals, participate in it, and abide by the procedures and rules it sets for itself. All participants have equal voice and vote.
This website is NCTS’ first project. It provides a forum for dialogue as well as an archive of articles, readings, and links.Because we want NCTS to facilitate dialogue and mutual assistance, not just be a source of information, use of the website is limited to active participants in NCTS. Our working definition of “active participant” is someone who engages with what others say and write. (Those who just express their own views or publicize what they’ve written are not actively participating in the project we’ve outlined above.)
Please consider becoming a participant in NCTS.
BECOMING A PARTICIPANT
To apply to become a participant in NCTS, send an e-mail message to this site’s administrator at Andrew_Kliman@msn.com. The message needs to (a) indicate that you will engage with what others say and write, (b) indicate that you will abide by our rules and procedures, including those pertaining to use of its website, and (c) express agreement with the aims of NCTS. We strongly encourage you to include, as well, information that lets us know about you and your background, concerns, and interests. Applications will be approved or rejected by majority vote of NCTS participants.
NCTS was proposed by the members of Marxist-Humanist Initiative on Nov. 1, 2010 (see the proposal here). The initiating participants (see below) established it on Dec. 4, 2011, at which time this website was also launched.
This homepage, the Procedures page, and some sample content are viewable by the public, but only active participants in NCTS can view the remainder of this site’s contents, publish posts and comments on it, and upload links and archival material to it.