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Lenin150 (Samizdat): A Lenin birthday book

 

 

Review by Paul Le Blanc

Lenin150 (Samizdat)
Ed. by Hjalmar Jorge Joffre-Eichhorn and Patrick Anderson (translator), photography by Johann Salazar. 
Hamburg, Germany: KickAss Books, 2020, in English. 
15 Euros for individuals and 50 for institutions. 
Books can be ordered directly from the editor at lenin150@posteo.de.

September 30, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — 2020 is the birthday year of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, whom most of us know as Lenin. If still alive, he would be 150 years old. This explains part of the book’s title. There is also the word “samizdat,” commonly associated with the clandestine copying and distribution of literature banned by authoritarian regimes, especially in the formerly Communist countries of Eastern Europe. But here its meaning is simply: self-published. The book was deemed too weird for regular publishers to risk investing in.

COVID-19, mass consciousness and left organizing

 

 

By Robert Latham

September 24, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — A great many established voices on the left have pointed to how the crisis associated with the coronavirus reveals, illuminates, or even intensifies the underlying conditions of exploitation and oppression of workers and the marginalized under capitalism. Pockets of resistance and worker insight into the crisis have emerged. Perhaps the most emblematic is fired Amazon worker Chris Smalls, a rising worker activist and organic intellectual.

An anti-colonialist turn in Marx?: Questions for Thierry Drapeau

 

 

By Seiya Morita 

September 24, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal  "The Roots of Karl Marx's Anti-Colonialism"[1] by Thierry Drapeau in Jacobin examines the influence of the Chartist Leftist Ernest Jones on the development of Marx's anti-colonialist thinking in the 1850s. Drapeau’s analysis is enlightening, but raises some questions.

Socialist Alliance launches PDFs for study & education

 

 

September 20, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — In collaboration with Resistance Books, Socialist Alliance has set up a new page on its website called PDFs for study & educationhttps://socialist-alliance.org/education-downloads

This page lists all the Resistance Books titles (including some now out of print) plus a number of items which previously only existed as photocopied pamphlets.

Cuba’s ongoing health care revolution

 

 

By Stan Cox

September 20, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Don Fitz’s new book Cuban Health Care: The Ongoing Revolution was going to press at Monthly Review in early Spring, as the pandemic was ramping up, so he had just barely enough time to slip in a postscript teasingly titled, “How Che Guevara Taught Cuba to Confront COVID-19.” The postscript puts an exclamation mark on the medical history of Cuba that Fitz takes us through in the 240 compelling pages that come before. Based on that history, one would have expected Cuba to take early, decisive actions to stem the pandemic, and Fitz says that’s exactly what happened. 

The significance of questioning: What questions must students ask their educators, and why?

 

 

By Raju J Das

September 19, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Given the enormous problems that humanity is facing, it is reasonable to expect to see a future society that is radically different from, and superior to, the current one, that is a society that is genuinely democratic in the economic and non-economic spheres of life.[1] And to produce a better society, we need better ideas, even if ideas are surely not enough. Furthermore, to learn good ideas, it is important to ask good questions.[2] In this context, one might consider students in colleges and universities more specifically. Their active participation in the learning process is crucial to their intellectual success. Such participation can come in many forms, one of which is asking the educators probing questions. So for both intellectual and practical reasons, it is important that students ask good questions. 

The Comintern’s Great Turn of 1920-21

 

 

By John Riddell

September 18 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — Following its consolidation as a global organization in 1920, the Communist International (Comintern) experienced triumphant growth, then a severe setback, a leadership crisis, and finally – at the Third World Congress – a sharp reorientation toward United Front strategy.

The story of this fast-paced and complex evolution is traced in the introduction to To the Masses, a study of the Comintern’s Third World Congress (June-July 1921), which carried out the necessary change of direction.

United States: Socialist strategy and the Biden debate

 

 

By Max Elbaum

September 17, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Organizing Upgrade — The COVID-19 pandemic and the uprising to defend Black lives have cast a spotlight on a level of deep-rooted inequality, ruling class degeneration, and public-health-be-damned behavior that makes the U.S. unique even among capitalist countries. My next column will examine the sources of these pathologies in a nation founded on racial slavery and genocide that has now entered the stage of its imperial decline.

But first I want to join a debate that was riveting parts of the left before COVID-19 hit and George Floyd was murdered. Partly because important lessons from the early forms it took are in danger of being lost; and partly because the discussion is still raging, and the stakes are high:

Should anti-capitalists urge a vote for Joe Biden to defeat Donald Trump in November 2020 or not?

United States: Conspiracy and loathing in Trumpland

 

 

 

"Conspiracies, since they cannot be engaged in without the fellowship of others, are for that reason most perilous; for as most men are either fools or knaves, we run excessive risk in making such folk our companions."
Francesco Guicciardini

 

By Simon Pearson

September 8, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Mutiny — Conspiracies exist, but conspiracy theories are something different. Since time immemorial we have had conspiracies. Julius Caesar died at the hands of a conspiracy led by Brutus, Cassius and other rebellious senators in 44 BCE, while more contemporaneously in California, 1996, one twin conspired to have the other murdered—so much for the sibling bond! In criminal law, ‘a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime at some point in the future’.

But today increasing numbers of people are getting sucked into the world of obsessing over bizarre ideas concerning those in power, a dark place, one in which imaginations run wild, where the ideas on ‘subreddits’ on the Reddit social media website are accepted as uncontested truths. In the world of the conspiracy theorist, you will find a place where shock jocks and YouTube vloggers pontificate over chemtrails, the birther movement and 5G to perennial favourites such as the Kennedy assassination and 9/11. Even the notion that the Earth is flat is now growing in popularity with several celebrities speaking out about their views.

What can we learn from Cuba? Medicare-for-All is a beginning, not the end point

 

 

By Don Fitz

September 7, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — As a coup de grâce to the Bernie Sanders campaign Joe Biden declared that he would veto Medicare-for-All.  This could drive a dedicated health care advocate to relentlessly pursue Med-4-All as a final goal.  However, it is not the final goal.  It should be the first step in a complete transformation of medicine which includes combining community medicine with natural medicine and health-care-for-the-world.

Contrasting Cuban changes in medicine during the last 60 years with the US non-system of medical care gives a clear picture of why changes must be all-encompassing.  The concept of Medicare-for-All is deeply intertwined with attacks on Cuba’s global medical “missions” and the opposite responses to Covid-19 in the two countries.

Political openings: Class struggle during and after the pandemic

 

 

By Sam Gindin

September 7, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Project — For some on the left, the economic breakthrough brought on by the pandemic was the general consensus, not least among economists, for an astonishing increase in fiscal spending. Relative to the economy’s size, the stimulus introduced so far in the US is already double (in Canada triple) what it was during the 2008-09 crisis, with more to come. And the stimulus in that earlier crisis was the largest since WWII, leading the OECD to declare that the earlier intervention “now seems like a small-scale rehearsal for the [present] disruptions to our socioeconomic system.”

[UPDATED] United States: Towards multi-racial municipal socialism (plus response)

 

 

By David Duhalde

September 6, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Organizing Upgrade — A 21st century socialist in the United States must leave two mindsets in the last century. It is time to say good-bye to what I call the “1968 paradigm” and the limited dichotomy “socialism from above” versus “socialism from below.”

Instead, we should develop strategies to build multi-racial municipal socialism. This new tendency is usurping the historic relevance prior socialist electoral orientations such as white ethnic-based sewer socialism. Rather than trying to form some united front that does not exist, the left needs to turn out voters for down-ballot socialists in swing states. Such local success can have national impacts.

Recent victories (and losses, too) provide socialists with a unique opportunity to reassess our electoral strategy and how to implement it in this country.

Contradictions of the Belarus protest: What we can learn

 

 

By Aleksandr Vladimirovich Buzgalin

September 5, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The crisis in Belarus is intensifying, and even if Alexander Lukashenko manages to retain his hold on power, his authority will remain precarious. In this country’s society, an understanding of the need for change and a preparedness to struggle for it will ripen still further. However exactly the situation develops, it is clear that Belarus (and not only Belarus) will no longer be the same as during the past quarter-century. One question is whether citizens, members of the left, and governments in the post-Soviet countries will succeed in understanding the events now unfolding in Belarus and in drawing the appropriate lessons.

A further question, no less perplexing, is what the content of these lessons will be. To the first of these questions, I am inclined to answer in the negative. Most likely, the people involved will once again fail to learn anything, but this should not spare left-wing theoreticians from trying to spell out the meaning of events. The time has not yet come for definitive conclusions, but some initial thoughts can and should be ventured.

Protest in Belarus: Who? Why? With what aims? — a politico-economic analysis

 

 

By Aleksandr Vladimirovich Buzgalin

August 27, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The wave of debate that has followed the events in Belarus has left out of the account the key questions: why are people taking to the streets of Minsk and other cities, and just who are these people? What exactly do they want, that they are prepared to risk their freedom, their health and even their lives? Why are there many tens of thousands of them, probably more? And why is this happening in Belarus, to all appearances an unusually peaceful and stable country, with strong historical traditions of antifascism and of friendship with Russia?

Before suggesting answers to these questions, let me stress: I am not writing these lines as a mere onlooker. My homeland was and remains the USSR, of which Belarus is an inseparable part. These are the lines of someone who has many comrades in Minsk, and to whom the fate of Belarus is not a matter of personal indifference.

Now to the essence.

United States: The Democratic Party, the threat of fascism and the socialist future

 

 

By Paul Le Blanc

August 26, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Here are notes about the here-and-now, and about the future, enhanced by discussion with friends. 

Several stark realities stare us in the face. As I reflect on them in the summer of 2020, I do so from the standpoint of those in the United States who want to see a democratic, humane, socialist future. What I see includes: the immediate awfulness of Donald Trump’s Presidency; the coronavirus pandemic made so much worse by that Presidency; the dramatic economic downturn which was already brewing but has now surged forward with the pandemic; the heightened racist/anti-racist conflict; and the looming environmental catastrophe that threatens to engulf our planet within the next two decades or so. Also, we are facing the threat of fascism.

Lenin’s Boys: A short history of Soviet Hungary

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

August 26, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Cosmonaut — It is 1919 and Russia is in the midst of a ruthless civil war with fronts stretching for thousands of kilometers across a ruined country. On one side are aristocrats and capitalists who had been overthrown less than two years before and are now desperately fighting to return to power. On the other side are the workers and peasants of the former Russian Empire, who had seized power from their former masters and were now determined to defend it. It is a savage struggle between two irreconcilable worlds with only two ways it can end: total victory or death. 

Remembering Trotsky’s contributions

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

August 26, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Left Voice — On August 21, 1940, an assassin killed Leon Trotsky while he was living in exile. This cowardly murder was the culmination of more than a decade of persecution and slander by Joseph Stalin that saw Trotsky driven from the Soviet Union and forced to travel the planet without a visa. Whereas many other opponents of the bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet Union capitulated and rallied to Stalin, Trotsky never laid down his arms and remained unconquered. Trotsky had to die since he fought for and symbolized revolutionary internationalism and the renewal of the hopes of 1917. For revolutionary militants today, Leon Trotsky not only serves as an example, but his Marxism is a necessary tool in the struggle for communism.

EU-Mercosur agreement will devastate industries and environment in Latin America

 

 

By Veronica Ocvirk.

August 26, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Irish Broad Left — “President, we have an agreement!” This WhatsApp audio message went viral in Argentina with the excited voice of former Argentine Foreign Minister, Jorge Faurie. Just one year ago Ambassador Faurie sent this message to Mauricio Macri who was then president in Argentina. Trade negotiations had just ended, the conclusion of 20 years of free trade negotiations between the European Union (EU) and Mercosur. 

Thus ended two decades of a stalled tug-of-war between government officials and businesspeople on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2016 these stalled talks gained a renewed momentum and on 28 June 2019, marathon deliberations on this trade treaty ended, though they are still not signed. The Argentine government announced it was a “key pillar of the national productive transformation”. 

United States: Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins: 'The two governing parties are presiding over a failed state'

 

 

Interview with Howie Hawkins

August 11, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Socialism — The Green Party, at a virtual convention completed on July 11, nominated the ticket of Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker to run in the U.S. presidential election in November. To find out more about the candidates and their platform, visit their campaign website at howiehawkins.us.

Bolivia’s perfect storm: Pandemic, economic crisis, repressive coup regime

 

 

Introduction by Richard Fidler

August 11, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left —The rising toll of diseased and deceased from the Covid-19 pandemic has hit Bolivia particularly hard, in a continent that is now in the lead in global contagion rates. As of August 8, more than 100,000 cases were officially confirmed or suspected, with 3,600 deaths among a total population of just over 10 million.

The coup government, installed in November, has mismanaged the crisis from the outset. Hospitals are understaffed and ill-equipped, testing is minimal, and the main response by the de facto authorities is to threaten lengthy jail terms for those who circulate “inaccurate” information about the pandemic — in a country where only a minority of workers are employed, the vast majority eking out a living in the “informal” economy of street markets and self-employment.

Typical of its approach, the interim regime headed by President Jeanine Añez was quick to expel more than 700 Cuban healthcare workers who, under the previous government, had provided needed services in remote areas and helped to train new medical staff.

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