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Understanding Putin's war on Ukraine

 

 

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Even since Russian president Vladimir Putin order the invasion of Ukraine in February, LINKS International Journal of Socialist Renewal has sought to carry a range of views from the socialist left to help understand the significance of this event. Particular attention has been paid to the voices of Ukrainian and Russian leftists who are at the forefront of resist this invasion.

Below is a compilation of links to articles we have published, ordered into categories and listed from most recent to oldest. We have also included links to some older articles that provide important historical or theoretical context (for example on the debate over Russian imperialism and assessments of events surround the Maidan revolt in 2014 and subsequent anti-Maidan revolt in the country’s east).

Is Russia an imperialist power? Part I: Non-hegemonic gestation

 

 

By Claudio Katz, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Abstract: The status of imperial power cannot be clarified by liberal prejudices. The consolidation of capitalism is an existing precondition of that status. But imbalances in the economic model and the country’s semi-peripheral insertion undermine this position. Russia is not part of the dominant circuit of contemporary imperialism and is harassed by the United States. It is also developing a policy of active geopolitical intervention, with actions in line with its weight within the military-industrial complex. The concept of a non-hegemonic empire in gestation offers the best definition of its current stage. The outcome of the war in Ukraine will either lead to the consolidation or dissipation of this profile.

[Note by LINKS: This is the first in a four-part series of articles by Argentine Marxist Claudio Katz looking at the issue of Russia’s imperial status. Read Part II, Part III and Part IV. Translation by Federico Fuentes. Original in Spanish here.]

How should socialists respond to Russia’s war on Ukraine

 

 

By Chris Slee

June 28, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The Russian invasion of Ukraine has intensified a longstanding debate about whether Russia is an imperialist power.

Michael Probsting says that Russia is imperialist, citing its military strength; the fact that the Russian economy is dominated by Russian (not foreign) monopoly capital; significant foreign investment by Russian corporations; and super-exploitation of immigrant workers within Russia. [1]

By contrast, Renfrey Clarke and Roger Annis cite various features of the Russian economy as evidence that Russia is not imperialist: low per capita GDP, limited amount of overseas investment by Russian companies, limited development of finance capital, dependence on raw material exports, etc. They say it is “part of the capitalist semi-periphery”. [2]

It is true that Russia is economically weak compared to imperialist countries such as the United States, Western Europe countries and Japan. But Russia is militarily strong.

Inside the Ukrainian resistance: Interview with Alona Liasheva and Denys Pilash

 

 

By Tempest

June 24, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Tempest — Tempest interviews Alona Liasheva and Denys Pilash about the Ukrainian Resistance, the state of war, the dynamics of class struggle and popular consciousness, and the tasks of the international Left in building solidarity with Ukraine. Alona Liasheva is a sociologist, researcher of urban political economy, and works at The Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen. She is a co-editor of Commons: Journal for Social Criticism and member of Ukrainian socialist group Sotsialnyi Rukh (The Social Movement)Denys Pilash is an activist and political scientist at Kyiv National University. He is part of the Ukrainian socialist group Sotsialnyi Rukh (The Social Movement) and member of the editorial board of Commons: Journal for Social Criticism.

Everlasting War: From Putin to Peter and back again

 

 

By Boris Kagarlitsky

June 15, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Russian Dissent — President Putin, speaking to a group of young people, recently compared himself with Peter the Great and once again made reference to the 18th century “Northern War,” fought between the Russian and Swedish empires. It must be said that the president has no luck with historical facts. In a previous reference to the first Russian emperor, he confused the Northern War with the Seven Years’ War, which would be waged by Peter’s daughter, Empress Elizabeth, half a century hence. This time again there was further embarrassment, as the head of state initially attempted to prove that the lands that the tsar had taken from the Swedes were originally Russian. “It would seem that he was at war with Sweden, he rejected something ... He did not reject anything, he returned!” the president said, correcting himself.

Inside the Russian resistance against Putin’s war

 

 

By Ashley Smith

June 23, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Spectre — Russian feminists have been at the forefront of the opposition to Russian imperialism’s invasion of Ukraine. They issued a manifesto and launched Feminist Antiwar Resistance. At the start of the war, they helped organize protests. Faced with harsh repression, arrest, fines, and prison sentences, they continue to build the antiwar opposition to Putin’s regime and forge solidarity with Ukraine and its fight for self-determination. Spectre’s Ashley Smith interviews Sasha, an activist in Feminist Anti-War Resistance about the war, its impact on Russian society in general and women in particular, and the debates among feminists about how to oppose imperialism.

Jihad in South Asia: A review of ‘Interpretations of Jihad in South Asia: An intellectual History’

 

 

By Farooq Sulehria

June 28, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Unidimensional orientalist explanations of jihad have been convincingly countered by a number of scholars. Only a holistic approach that takes into account multiple factors, such as colonial legacies and contemporary socio-economic and political realities in the Muslim world, can offer a nuanced understanding of the phenomenon. 

However, any investigation into the concept of jihad, popularised by al-Qaida and its South Asian cousins such as the Taliban, also requires an enquiry into “interpretations” (notions) of jihad that appeal to the jihadi outfits that have dominated global headlines since the 1980s. Emphasis on interpretations is vital. After all, jihad is a highly contested term. 

In his award-winning tome, Interpretations of Jihad in South Asia: An intellectual History (2019), Tariq Rehman not only documents the interpretations that have motivated contemporary jihadis; he also demonstrates how aggressive interpretations by the fundamentalist Ulema in South Asia have outwitted defensive interpretations by reformist/modernist Muslim scholars. 

NATO: From bad to worse

 

 

By Gilbert Achcar

June 23, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from The Nation — At the end of June, for the second time since the Spanish state joined NATO in 1982, the Atlantic Alliance will hold a summit meeting in Madrid. It so happens that each of these two Madrid summits constitutes a major defining moment in the history of the organization.

The previous summit held in 1997 was the culmination of a long debate among NATO member governments about the alliance’s eastward enlargement. The debate became public and heated in the United States, involving almost all the country’s foreign policy establishment. It pitted those who warned against ostracizing Russia—which in their view was how any expansion of NATO to countries that were previously subordinate to Moscow would inevitably be perceived by the Russians—against those who were eager to seize the opportunity offered by what Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer had called in 1990 “the unipolar moment,” in order to extend US hegemony to areas that were formerly part of the Soviet sphere.

Is Russia an imperialist power? Part III: Continuities, reconstructions and ruptures

 

 

By Claudio Katz, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Abstract: Many differences separate modern-day Russia from the tsarist era. Russia’s convergence with Western powers has been replaced by serious clashes. This confrontation has established expansive tendencies of a different kind. Comparisons with the USSR omit the absence of capitalism under that system. There were mechanisms of external oppression, but no Soviet imperialism. Russia’s secondary place in the imperialist hierarchy is not synonymous with sub-imperialism. Nor does an ambiguous relationship with the world’s dominators prevail. Internal colonialism has resurfaced, but it does not define imperial status, nor does it determine the nature of national movements in the post-Soviet sphere.

[Note by LINKS: This is the third in a four-part series of articles by Argentine Marxist Claudio Katz looking at the issue of Russia’s imperial status. Read Part I, Part II and Part IV. Translation by Federico Fuentes. Original in Spanish here.]

Is Russia an imperialist power? Part II: Lenin’s legacy

 

 

By Claudio Katz, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Abstract: The criteria outlined by Lenin in his text on imperialism do not help clarify Russia’s imperial status today. Its economy does not meet the criteria demanded in terms of the domination of finance, the global importance of its monopolies or its levels of capital exports. An intermediate profile prevails, one that is distant from the dominant countries. China, on the other hand, has reached this podium without becoming an imperial power. Russia’s imperial status cannot be determined by economic indicators. The concepts of the last century must be moulded to the new realities of capitalism. Lenin’s main legacy is concentrated in his characterisations of war.

[Note by LINKS: This is the second in a four-part series of articles by Argentine Marxist Claudio Katz looking at the issue of Russia’s imperial status. Read Part I, Part III and Part IV. Translation by Federico Fuentes. Original in Spanish here.]

Abortion rights in the United States: The right-wing’s Supreme Court coup

 

 

By Against The Current editorial board

June 24, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Against The Current — The official overturn of Roe v. Wade was announced as this issue of ATC goes to press. It didn’t require a white-nationalist riot, invading the Capitol at the instigation of Donald Trump, to tear huge holes in long-established constitutional rights in the United States. Where that frontal assault failed, a flanking maneuver by the right wing has met with success — including a blatant pseudo-constitutional coup by Court.

The overturn of Roe v. Wade not only declares war on women’s bodies and rights. As legal scholars immediately recognized, the leaked Alito Supreme Court majority opinion throws open a challenge to every basic right assumed to flow from the Fourteenth Amendment and the elementary principle of personal privacy — same-sex or interracial marriage, LGBT rights, incredibly even legal contraception.

Biden bungles Bolivia

 

 

By Bret Gustafson and Kathryn Ledebur

June 17, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from NACLA — On June 10, a Bolivian court sentenced former de facto president of Bolivia, Jeanine Áñez, to 10 years in prison. Áñez took power during a coup in November 2019 that ousted the country’s popular Indigenous president, Evo Morales, sending him into exile. During a tumultuous year in office, her government killed dozens of civilians, persecuted members of Morales’s MAS party, and confronted the Covid-19 pandemic with incompetence and corruption.

Áñez has yet to be tried for the killings. The recent sentence focuses on the constitutional rupture and the failure to abide by congressional procedure. Given the pattern of impunity that has followed new forms of coups used by the Right to oust progressive leaders or thwart electoral results in the region in recent years, the ruling is a major victory.

Is Russia an imperialist power? Part IV: Benevolent glances

 

 

By Claudio Katz, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Abstract: Washington's bullying and the gulf with tsarism do not place Moscow outside the imperial universe. Its embryonic place in this space negates the characterisation of the country as a semi-colony. Military arsenal is a defining feature of a foreign policy that includes oppressive tendencies. The intervention in Kazakhstan illustrates this dynamic of a power with a long tradition of international protagonism. Putin is not a progressive leader. He validates the privileges of millionaires, arbitrates between chauvinists and liberals, manipulates elections and harasses the left. Anti-imperialist projects are forged with popular subjects.

[Note by LINKS: This is the fourth in a four-part series of articles by Argentine Marxist Claudio Katz looking at the issue of Russia’s imperial status. Read Part I, Part II and Part III. Translation by Federico Fuentes. Original in Spanish here.]

Mészáros and Chávez: “The Point from Which to Move the World Today”

 

 

By John Bellamy Foster

June 1, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Monthly Review — István Mészáros was a global thinker strongly committed to anti-imperialist struggles. In this respect, he allied himself with those fighting for socialist transformation in the Philippines, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Brazil, and elsewhere. He argued that in the descending phase of capitalism there was a “downward equalization of the rate of exploitation,” by which he meant a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions, enforced by a global system of monopolistic competition.1 In 1978, he edited and introduced a book consisting of thirteen essays by the great Filipino historian and political theorist Renato Constantino, titled Neo-Colonial Identity and Counter-Consciousness: Essays in Cultural Decolonisation, in which Constantino developed the concept of counter-consciousness into a powerful philosophy of cultural liberation.2 Mészáros took great interest as well in Brazilian developments and struggles over the state, supporting various socialist movements there. But his most singular contribution to struggles in the Global South was the role he was to play in his strong strategic support of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution.

The necessity of ecosocialist degrowth

 

 

By Paul Murphy and Jess Spear

June 4, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Global Ecosocialist Network — Capitalist growth is destroying our life support systems. Its parasitic relationship with nature (both human and nonhuman) is as Marx wrote, “vampire-like”1 and “will not lose its hold…so long as there is a muscle, a nerve, a drop of blood to be exploited.”2 Every single year the material taken from the Earth to feed the insatiable capitalist appetite for profits grows larger and larger, and the waste spewing into the atmosphere, land, rivers, and sea grows bigger and bigger. Out of the nine planetary boundaries identified – which together delineate the “safe operating space for humanity” – four have been crossed.3

The limits to growth: ecosocialism or barbarism

 

 

By Alberto Garzón EspinosaLinks International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from La-U

Abstract: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Limits to Growth, a report warning of the serious ecological consequences of maintaining the trajectory followed by the economic activity at global level. Nonetheless, half a century later, the situation has simply got worse in terms of environmental pressure and impact, while the ideologies and practices built up around the fetish of economic growth have continued to expand. The scientific community warns that time is running out and the only way of avoiding environmental collapse, with its catastrophic consequences especially for the most vulnerable social sectors, is to scale economic activity down to the level compatible with the planetary boundaries. Some international institutions and various national governments have approved programmes and policies to achieve these goals, with meagre results so far, while alarm is growing as to the possibility of a reactionary, eco-fascist solution to the eco-social crisis. In this article, we assess the current position and review how the production and consumption model lies behind ecological breakdowns and why the only democratic political solution to the eco-social crisis is the eco-socialist project.

The Philippines: Class struggle at the ballot box

 

 

By Eduardo C. Tadem

June 14, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung — Prior to the 2022 elections, the Left in the Philippines had fielded candidates only at the middle and lower levels of government, including the party list system in Congress. At the presidential level, left-wing groups would either support candidates who were of a liberal bent and less repressive towards them, or else simply adopt a boycott position. Additionally, Left candidates merely spoke to progressive liberal issues and concerns and avoided espousing radical or socialist platforms.

The 2022 elections, on the other hand, proved to be a game changer, with an openly socialist tandem running for president and vice-president on a platform calling for systemic change. How this audacious move evolves in future electoral exercises will be a test of whether the Philippine Left can become a major player in the country’s electoral sphere.

Ukraine: Humanitarian aid is not enough

 

 

Interview with Taras Bilous by Ivo Georgiev

June 19, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung — In the last few months, Taras Bilous has arguably become the most well-known Ukrainian leftist on the planet. In the days following the Russian invasion, his “Letter to the Western Left” in New Politics went viral, not only among left-wing circles but well into the liberal media sphere. Excoriating what he calls “campists” who ignore the crimes of non-Western states in deference to a perceived “anti-imperialist” obligation, Taras called on leftists in Western Europe to acknowledge Russia’s culpability, support the shipment of weapons by their respective governments, and abandon an “anti-imperialism of idiots” that, in his view, had come to dominate how the Left thinks about geopolitics.

Russia: Students against the war (Part Two)

 

 

By Posle

June 17, 2022 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Posle — On plans for the future

Sophia (SAD): The first thing on our agenda is the communication among students within cities and universities and between them. This is necessary in order to establish connections and share experiences between initiatives, as well as to ensure that people who feel lonely could become part of the teams which already exist. At first we were afraid that this might not be safe for students, so we didn’t pay much attention to this work. Now we are thinking about an application form for new-comers and some kind of verification technique.

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