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Spanish state: the Catalan February 14 election backgrounded



By Dick Nichols

February 12, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The issue must have been serious to persuade Salvador Illa, Spain’s minister for health, to leave that critical job just as the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic was approaching its peak. 

It was. For Illa’s party, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), which runs the Spanish government with Unidas Podemos (UP) as junior partner, the Catalan independence movement’s still undefeated threat to Spain’s territorial unity is a graver concern than any virus—even one that has so far claimed 60,000 lives.

Remembering Leo Panitch



By Richard Fidler

February 12, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left — I first met Leo personally in 1984. Articling with a progressive law firm in Toronto, I found that Leo was my contact for arranging the visit of Ralph Miliband as guest speaker at the annual Law Union conference. Miliband’s presentation was well received, and following the meeting Leo suggested the three of us should repair to the pub to which other conference participants had adjourned.

I remember telling Miliband that I had read several of his books but that my favourite was still his first, Parliamentary Socialism, A Study in the Politics of Labour. He laughed and said “It’s mine too.” Published in 1961, it began famously with the statement: “Of political parties claiming socialism to be their aim, the [British] Labour Party has always been one of the most dogmatic — not about socialism, but about the parliamentary system.” I was in 1962 a member of the provincial council of the recently-founded Ontario New Democratic Party, and had found Miliband’s analysis of the BLP of immense help in understanding the disturbing features of the NDP that I was encountering.

How pioneer Communists assessed the Russian Soviet Republic



By John Riddell

February 6, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — The Communist International (or Comintern) was founded in Moscow in 1919, with the goal of helping to extend the socialist revolution that had taken place in Russia across Europe and around the world.  

The Russian Communist (Bolshevik) party that had led in establishing Soviet power was respected in the International as a prime source of strategic and tactical guidance. Yet the Comintern’s statutes did not accord any primacy to the Russian Communist Party (RCP). Like other Comintern sections, the Russian party was answerable to the International’s world congresses.

Behind the anti-China hysteria



By Dave Holmes

February 5, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — China’s influence in Australia, real or alleged, is a major issue in politics today.

Numerous Chinese investments in Australia have been blocked. The Chinese company Huawei has been banned from participating in the 5G rollout.

In June NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane had his ALP membership suspended after an Australian Federal Police raid on his office over allegations that he was being cultivated by Chinese government agents. He was never charged and his ALP membership was reinstated in November. Former staffer John Zhang remains under investigation.

Academic Clive Hamilton has been a leading anti-China voice. He says Australia is “the global leader pushing back against the Chinese Communist Party’s interference”.

Is Russia waking up? The reasons behind the protest actions, the social forces involved and the possible consequences



By Aleksandr Buzgalin

February 5, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — This text is being written in the heat of events, immediately following the mass protests that occurred in most regions of Russia on 23 and 31 January 2021. The total number of protesters throughout the country on 23 January was put by the authorities at fewer than 10,000, but by the opposition at more than 100,000. The largest of the demonstrations was, as usual, the one in Moscow, where according to the official count 4000 people came onto the streets, while unofficial figures put the number at 40,000. Similar numbers took part in the protests on 31 January, but this time the clashes were much more fierce, and according to various accounts, between 3000 and 4000 people were detained…

Is this revolution truly rinky-dink?



By Don Fitz

February 5, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — During the late ’60s, when the United States war on Viet Nam was going strong and people were questioning capitalism, I drove from Eugene to Berkeley where my sister was living. I ran into folks who invited me to a discussion about starting a commune. There, everyone talked about dropping out of consumer society and buying land to get away from it all. Asking about how you could confront the horrors around us by separating yourself from society, I got a string of denunciations accusing me of buying into what I claimed to oppose. 

After telling my sister about the experience, she invited a friend over for dinner the next night from a group called the Progressive Labor Party. “Great,” I replied. “I’ve heard of them but really don’t know anything except they are supposed to be serious.”

Blue Neocolonialism



By Kendall Dix

January 30, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Uneven Earth — Countries of the Global South are facing a modern form of economic domination from foreign interests. The story of Europeans plundering Black and brown nations to profit from their natural resources is probably a familiar one. But now that nature itself has become commodified through the tourist economy, environmentalism functions as  a justification for replicating the same old colonial power dynamics. 

Broken world, broken people – we need a path to a better future



By Shawn Hattingh

January 29,2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — We are living in a world that for most people is broken and that has broken most people. It is not a god given world, but one that has been constructed by those in power and that has left most people mired in deprivation. 

Under COVID-19, this world has sunk to new lows. While hundreds of millions of people have become unemployed – and in South Africa the unemployment rate has now surpassed 42% – corporations have once again received trillions in bailouts from states to keep capitalism barely afloat. Indeed, we face the greatest capitalist crisis since the Great Depression, political turmoil is rife, reactionary ideas continue to abound, and little hope of a better future seems to exist.

United States: After Trump, what prospects for Biden in the global imperial disorder?



Introduction and translation by Richard Fidler

January 29, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left — Claudio Katz presciently analyzes shifts in the imperialist order, the mainstay of global capitalism, and weighs what the increasing social and political polarization within the United States portends for the Biden administration in the effort to restore its sagging world dominance.

Katz is professor of economics at the University of Buenos Aires, as well as a researcher with CONICET (National Council for Science and Technology, Argentina) and a member of Economists of the Left. My translation from the text on his web page.

Canada: New Year calls for a new COVID-19 strategy



By David Camfield and Claudyne Chevrier

January 29, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Project — As 2021 begins, many people in Manitoba are hopeful that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us. The number of infections reported is falling. Effective vaccines have been approved and will eventually become widely available. Unfortunately, the pandemic is far from over and the worst could still lie ahead.

Manitoba, like most jurisdictions in Canada except the Atlantic provinces and Northern territories, is using a public-health strategy for responding to COVID-19 that hasn’t given us the protection and positive outcomes that we could have expected. This strategy – one of mitigation, to use the epidemiological term – has aimed to keep the virus from spreading so much that sick people overwhelm the hospital system.

Do you remember Cuba’s dedication to Angola?



By Don Fitz

January 26, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Cuban blood left its stamp on the conscience of the world after the Angolan Wars of 1975-1988. Corporate politicians are united in their desire for us to ignore this reality.

Fed up with foreign wars, Portuguese officers overthrew Prime Minister Marcello Caetano on April 25, 1974. Many former colonies had the opportunity to define their own future.

Angola had been the richest of Portuguese colonies, with major production in coffee, diamonds, iron ore and oil. Of the former colonies, it had the largest white population, which numbered 320,000 of about 6.4 million. When 90% of its white population fled in 1974, Angola lost most of its skilled labor.

Three groups juggled for power. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), headed by Agostinho Neto was the only progressive alternative. The National Front for the Liberation of Angola (NFLA), led by Holden Roberto, gained support from Zaire’s right-wing Joseph Mobutu, a conspirator in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. Jonas Savimbi, who ran the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), worked hand-in-hand with South Africa’s apartheid regime.

United States: Two principles of racial equity that outrage liberals



From left: Toussaint L'Ouverture, Gabriel Prosser and Denmark Vesey

By Don Fitz

January 26, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked a civil rights explosion. It ignited pushes to demilitarize the police, reallocate police over-funding to necessary social services, end economic and power divides, and replace symbols of oppression with recognition of those who have suffered and resisted.

How socialists resist rightist coups: Lessons from the early Communist International



By John Riddell

January 14, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — Parliaments and elections are no guarantee of democratic rights and fair treatment for working people. Capitalist forces displeased with an electoral outcome are all too likely to take direct action to impose their will, whether by financial manipulations, economic blockades, or military coups.

Even apparently stable parliamentary regimes in dominant countries can be challenged in this way. So it was that a military revolt brought down the French Fourth Republic in 1958 and, in 2020-21, Donald Trump mounted a campaign including an apparent coup attempt aiming to overturn the outcome of the US presidential election.

Socialists are challenged to actively oppose rightist coup attempts without lending support to any wing of the ruling capitalist class.

Evald Vasilyevich Ilyenkov: A Marxist philosopher who confronted the Stalinist bureaucratic system



Finding Ilyenkov: How a Soviet Philosopher Who Stood Up for Dialectics Continues to Inspire
By Corinna Lotz
Lupus Books: London, 2019.
64 pp. £5. ISBN: 978-1-916031-81-4.

Reviewed by Jason Devine 

January 12, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Evald Vasilyevich Ilyenkov tragically took his own life in 1979, but he has continued to live on through a handful of published writings and websites dedicated to presenting his ideas and work. Still, his name is not broadly known in the global Marxist movement outside a relatively small circle of academics and interested activists. Indeed, when the question of dialectics is broached, the common names referred to, beyond Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, are Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and even Leon Trotsky. Therefore, the publication of Corinna Lotz’s booklet is most heartening. It serves to both publicise Ilyenkov and broaden the discussion on dialectics.

Options for Nicaragua




By Joyce McCracken 

January 12, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — For more than two years, politics in the Central American republic of Nicaragua has resembled the volcanoes that dominate its landscape. At times in violent eruptions, sometimes rumbling. At times hidden from view, sometimes in plain sight. Always threatening, always less than stable.

The situation is often not clearly understood and is certainly open to different interpretations. What follows is a guide to the present, if shifting, reality. It is not a road map with a guaranteed seal of approval.


Whatever road the country was on under the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) government of Daniel Ortega, it took an unscheduled turn following the events of April 2018. Mainly young people had been protesting against government policies for some time. Then one day in April, they were met with what can modestly be described as a heavy-handed response. Therein after everything changed.

The movement with the main nuances and activities is centered around the ruling Sandinista party. This is now often referred to as the Red and Black, after the FSLN colours.

Party organization in Lenin’s Comintern



By John Riddell

January 7, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — Many socialist groups today seek to shape their organizational principles in the spirit of “democratic centralism” identified with V.I. Lenin. Yet as historian Lars Lih has demonstrated (“Fortunes of a Formula” and “Further Fortunes of a Formula”), Lenin himself used the term only occasionally, and then with widely varying emphasis. The formula’s meaning for socialists today is in fact derived mainly from its application by the Communist International (Comintern) in Lenin’s lifetime and under his guidance (1919–23).

Malaysia: COVID-19 vaccine - Hold your horses, let us play safe!



By Dr. Jeyakumar Devaraj

January 7, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Focus Malaysia — There is a lot of discussion about our access to the COVID-19 vaccine and the cost of the vaccination programme for the country. However, the issue of the safety of the different vaccines on offer hasn’t been addressed adequately.

Leo Panitch and the socialist project



By Stephen Maher

January 7, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Project — The death of Leo Panitch has made the world a darker place. His writings have carried us through some of the most difficult periods in the history of the socialist left, as wave after wave of the neoliberal onslaught broke workers’ organizations, serving up one defeat after the next. Leo’s work sustained so many of us during these years, pushing us on and pointing the way through the storm.

This was not because he sowed illusions about just how bad things have been. Rather it was because, even as other erstwhile New Leftists lamented the “God That Failed,” he devoted himself to demonstrating the necessity of a democratic socialist society that would neither fall prey to the shortcomings of social democracy nor those of Soviet-style Communism.

In appreciation of Leo Panitch



By Colin Leys and Sam Gindin

January 7, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Verso — The sudden death our friend and comrade Leo Panitch has led to an extraordinary outpouring of sadness and appreciation across the world. Very few intellectuals on the left have had the intellectual impact on progressive thinkers and activists that Leo has had, as the flood of testimonials shows; and fewer still have in addition personally trained a comparable network of scholars of the highest calibre who are now carrying forward his distinctive project of critical – and self-critical – research and teaching in dozens of countries. Leo also combined research and teaching with engagement with activists in parties, trade unions and social movements: he knew and was consulted by leaders on the left in several continents, but was also known and admired by the rank and file who flocked to meetings whenever he showed up in Johannesburg, Athens, Frankfurt, London, Rio, New Delhi and elsewhere.

'Long live farmer-laborer unity': Contextualising the massive resistance going on in India



Interview by Veena Dubal with Navyug Gill

January 3, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Law and Political Economy Project  — Although it has hardly broken through the parochialism of the US news cycle, India is currently experiencing what is perhaps the largest strike wave in world history. In this post, Veena Dubal interviews Navyug Gill about the strikes, the agricultural reforms that led to them, what those outside India can learn from them, and what the future might portend.

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