debate

The Myth of “Russian Imperialism”: in defence of Lenin’s analyses

 

By Renfrey Clarke and Roger Annis

 

February 29, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A sharp controversy within the international left in recent times has concerned the place occupied by Russia in today’s capitalist world-system. Is Russia an imperialist power, part of the “centre” of global capitalism? Or, do its economic, social and politico-military characteristics mark it as part of the global “periphery” or semi-periphery – that is, as one of the majority of countries that, to one degree or another, are the targets of imperialist bullying and plunder?[1]

 

Traditionally, the Marxist left has used the term “imperialism” with a high degree of discrimination. Imperialism for Marxists is not something called mysteriously into being when “greed” overcomes political leaders. Nor is it simply external military action, however aggressive. For Marxists, the imperialism of our time arises from specific features of the economies and social orders of the most advanced capitalist countries.

 

The classic Marxist definition of imperialism in the modern epoch was provided by V.I. Lenin in his 1916 pamphlet Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. As viewed by the Bolshevik leader, the advanced capitalism that had emerged during the preceding decades had these salient characteristics:

 

A return to the question of whether Russia is imperialist

 

A demonstrator in Istanbul holds a picture depicting Vladimir Putin during a protest against Russian military operations in Syria.

 

By Lou Proyect

February 9, 2016 —Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from The Unrepentant Marxist with permission — One of the main talking points of the pro-Kremlin left is that Russia is not imperialist. This goes hand in hand with an analysis claiming that Putin’s intervention in Ukraine was purely defensive, a move against the genuine imperialists in Washington, London and elsewhere.

 

The last time I dealt with this question was in June 2014 when I replied to Roger Annis, a tireless defender of Kremlin foreign policy. Annis has once again made the same arguments on Links magazine in Australia in an article co-written by Renfrey Clarke who shares his orientation to Russia. Titled “Perpetrator or victim? Russia and contemporary imperialism”, it rehashes many of the same arguments that are supposedly based on Lenin’s “Imperialism, the final stage of Capitalism”.

 

Perpetrator or victim? Russia and contemporary imperialism

 

Russian military troops take part in a military drill on Sernovodsky polygon close to the Chechnya border

 

By Renfrey Clarke and Roger Annis

 

February 7, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The decision by the Crimean people in March 2014 to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia sparked fury in right-wing circles worldwide. Urged on by the new ultra-nationalist government in Kyiv, Western leaders made haste to subject Russia to political and economic sanctions.

 

In commentaries in the Western conservative media, the meme of “Russian imperialism” took firm root. Less predictable, and calling for serious reflection, was the response in another quarter: denunciations of Russian imperialism' were echoed cheerfully by significant sections of the international left.

 

For many of the leftists concerned, “Russian imperialism” was such an obvious truth that it required no serious explaining. The British weekly Socialist Worker, for example, intoned on 11 March 2014: “It remains imperative to struggle against all sides in the imperialist conflict being fought out in Ukraine.…Russian imperialism has made its move to retain political and economic domination over the country with its takeover of Crimea ‒ this should be unconditionally condemned by all revolutionaries claiming to be anti-imperialist.”

 

But just what is imperialism, now the stuff of such effortless catch-phrases? Can the term be applied meaningfully to today’s Russian state? This article is an introduction to several longer pieces forthcoming by the authors on the same subject. We will argue that today’s state and economy in Russia fit neither empirical nor Marxian theoretical definitions of imperialism.

 

Should socialists get behind Bernie Sanders? - Two views from the US left

Bernie Sanders' campaign to win pre-selection in the Democratic primaries and become the party's presidential candidate has generated much debate on the US left.

Bernie Sanders' Socialist America

 

By Ethan Earle

 

January 2016 -- Reposted from Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, New York Office -- I was born in North Carolina, but my parents are from Vermont and I grew up taking long summer road trips up the east coast to visit our family in Burlington, the state’s largest city with just over 40,000 people. It was on one of these trips, sometime in the early 1990s, that I first learned about Bernie Sanders and his uniquely American brand of democratic socialism.

 

Should Ecuador's left work with the right against Rafael Correa?

Banker and opposition leader Guillermo Lasso (second from right) meets with leaders from the Pachakutik political party in their offices in April 2015.

For more on Ecuador, click HERE.

By Pablo Vivanco

August 20, 2015 -- Originally published by TeleSUR English, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For a relatively small nation, in terms of size, population and economics, Ecuador has been a major player in contemporary Latin American politics, particularly on the left.

The experience of toppled governments by popular uprisings, led by Indigenous organisations with radical left-oriented politics, has contributed to a regional shift that ushered in the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and later the election of Evo Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism in Bolivia.

Lessons from Greece: Leo Panitch and Richard Fidler debate SYRIZA

August 13, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, also posted at LeftStreamed -- In this video of a debate, Leo Panitch and Richard Fidler discuss alternate views on recent developments in the fight against austerity waged by SYRIZA and the Greek people.

Moderated by Susan Spronk, associate professor in the School of International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa.

Panitch is Canada research chair in comparative political economy at York University, Toronto. Fidler is life-long socialist, activist and writer who blogs at http://lifeonleft.blogspot.ca/

Climate illusions sowed by Avaaz: Upward gazing can be politically blinding

G7 leaders frolick. Not so green.

Click for more by Patrick Bond and on climate issues

By Patrick Bond, Durban

June 17, 2015 -- Climate and Capitalism, first published at Triplecrisis and reposted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission from the author -- Who’s not heard the great African revolutionary Amilcar Cabral’s injunction, 50 years ago, “Tell no lies and claim no easy victories”? If, like me, you’re a petit bourgeois who is hopeful for social progress, then let’s be frank: this advice hits at our greatest weakness, the temptation of back-slapping vanity.

John Riddell: Socialist planning and the bureaucratic economy

Che Guevara.

Click for more by or about John Riddell.

By John Riddell

May 17, 2015 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The following previously unpublished position paper, pulled from my archives, was written in 1992. I am posting it in conjunction with my review of Michael Lebowitz’s Contradictions of "Real Socialism". My comments raised many of the themes found in Lebowitz’s writings of that time, of which I was then quite unaware. My approach, however, gives more emphasis to the problem of economic allocation and the role of non-capitalist markets.

'Extractivism' debate continues: Beyond lithium (and other poisons)

The Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia are home to over half the world's lithium deposits.

By Don Fitz

April 17, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Policies that expand “extractivism” in progressive Latin American countries bring up a host of contradictions: How do the short-term benefits of financial gain from extraction compare to its long-term destructiveness? What options are available for reducing poverty without increasing mining, logging and GMO monocultures? Could the climate change effects of extraction actually hurt the world’s poor more than helping them? How can struggles against extractivism chart a path to economies based on human need rather corporate profits?

The lithium fantasy

John Pilger wrong on former Yugoslavia

Kosovans displaced by Milosevic's serb-chauvinist regime.

Click HERE for more on Kosova/Kosovo

By Chris Slee

March 27, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In his article, "New threats of war and fascism",[1], John Pilger rightly denounces the history of US military intervention around the world. But he gives a distorted account of the events leading up to NATO's war against Serbia in 1999. He fails to recognise that the previous actions of the Serbian government created the conditions which made NATO's attack on Serbia possible.

The Serbian-chauvinist regime of Slobodan Milosevic had provoked a rebellion by the Albanian population of Kosova [also referred to as Kosovo]. It had also alienated most of the other nationalities of the former Yugoslavia. This left Serbia isolated when NATO attacked.

Pilger condemns the "criminal record" of the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA), but seems to absolve the Serbian government of any wrongdoing.

This changes some things: Jodi Dean on Naomi Klein's 'This Changes Everything'

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

By Naomi Klein
Alfred A. Knopf, 2014

By Jodi Dean

March 17, 2015 -- I Cite, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- How do we imagine the climate changing? Some scenarios involve techno-fixes like cloud-seeding or new kinds of carbon sinks. Cool tech, usually backed by even cooler entrepreneurs, saves the day -- Iron Man plus Al Gore plus Steve Jobs. In green.

Other scenarios are apocalyptic: blizzards, floods, tsunamis and droughts; crashing planes; millions of migrants moving from south to north only to be shot at armed borders. The poor fight and starve; the rich enclave themselves in shining domed cities as they document the extinction of charismatic species and convince themselves they aren't next.

SYRIZA's debt deal: breathing space or capitulation? Three assessments

20 varoufakis2 r w Greece gets its deal.. But if the details wrong were finished
Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

February 23, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal --  The interim deal between European authorities and the SYRIZA government of Greece has caused controversy on the left, with accusations of "capitulation", sell out" and worse from some sections. Below are three assessments from the left that offer a more sober analysis.

Greece gets its deal... but if the detail’s wrong ‘we’re finished’

By Paul Mason

February 20, 2015 -- Channel 4 --- The eurozone and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have done a deal with Greece, extending its bailout for four months in return for a commitment to run all policy measures with significant economic impact past the lenders. The second part of the deal has to be done on February 23, by Greece submitting a list of proposed measures.

Paul Le Blanc: Explorations in plain Marxism: revolutionary theory, practical action

"For many developing intellectually in the English-speaking world during the early 1960s, the radical sociologist C. Wright Mills (on his way to work above) was an incredibly important influence."

For more by Paul Le Blanc, click HERE. For more discussion of Marxist theory, click HERE.

By Paul Le Blanc

January 15, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The ideas of Karl Marx are often put forward as an invaluable resource for those wishing to understand the world in order to change it for the better. Yet various people who speak as Marxists often insist upon divergent ways of understanding even the most basic concepts associated with Marxism – such as capitalism and the working class.

What will it take to go beyond 'extractivism'? Federico Fuentes replies to Don Fitz

A miner in Bolivia.

For more on the "extractivism" discussion, click HERE.

By Federico Fuentes

October 31, 2014 -- Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal, a version of this article appeared first at TeleSUR English -- In recent years, a number of important discussions have emerged among and between environmentalists and solidarity activists. None has generated quite as much heat as the debate over extractive industries, particularly in South America.

This is perhaps unsurprising given what’s at stake: South America is home to some of the world’s largest and most important natural resource deposits. It is also a region dominated by progressive governments that have taken strong stances internationally in support of action on climate change, while facing criticism at home for their positions on extractive industries.

'Dialogue' or Tamil self-determination: a response to Michael Cooke

Tamil refugees.

By Chris Slee

October 27, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Michael Cooke's article "Election Monitoring in Lanka"[1] contains a lot of useful information on the history and politics of Sri Lanka, including topics ranging from the burning of the Jaffna library by Sri Lankan police in 1981 to the murder of journalists, the repression of trade unionists and the instigation of anti-Muslim riots under the current government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

However the article has some serious flaws. In particular, Cooke does not deal adequately with the national question in Sri Lanka.

The article is largely based on three visits that Cooke made to Sri Lanka, including two periods as an election monitor (in 2001 and 2005). It is also informed by his extensive knowledge of Sri Lankan history, much of it gained through the research he did for his excellent biography of Lionel Bopage.[2]

Cooke's work as an election monitor gave him a unique vantage point from which to observe Sri Lankan politics. But it was not always easy to find out the truth. Cooke admits that he is not sure who committed some of the acts of violence that he observed.

NATO’s new cold war redraws left, liberal views on imperialism and war

The right-wing Canadian government endorsed a "Ukrainian Independence Day" celebration in Toronto that openly raised funds for the fascist Right Sector organisation and at which the group's red and black flags were displayed prominently.

By Roger Annis

September 18, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Just under 25 years ago, the Cold War ended with a capitalist triumph. The nationalised economies and political structures of the Soviet Union and eastern Europe collapsed and a transition to a harsh, anti-social capitalism began.

In the years that followed, an eastward expansion was undertaken by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the military alliance of the imperialist countries of Europe and North America. Many of the countries of eastern Europe joined the alliance, in explicit defiance of agreements by NATO with post-Soviet Russia not to expand in this way.

Is there an 'anti-imperialist camp'? A debate (part 2)

August 2, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This is the next installment of the debate between Felipe Stuart and Michael Karadjis on the question of the concept of an anti-imperialist "camp" and related positions, strategies and tactics. The first part can be read at "Is there an 'anti-imperialist camp'? A debate (part 1)". Below, Stuart responds to Karadjis' previous contribution, followed by a final reply by Karadjis. Further discussion will continue in the comments section at the end of this post.

By Felipe Stuart

Michael Karadjis, thanks for your response to my last article.

I suspect that your distinction between class-based politics and anti-imperialist-based politics is rooted in a failure on your part to understand that imperialism itself is all about class and class struggle. I hope I am wrong, but let’s discuss that.

The environmental problem is catastrophe, not ‘catastrophism’: Ian Angus responds to Sam Gindin

How much more can the polar bear?

[For the rest of the debate, see On ‘environmental catastrophism’: Ian Angus replies to Sam Gindin” and "‘Environmental catastrophism’: a response to Ian Angus [by Sam Gindin]"

By Ian Angus

July 31, 2014 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission

Dear Sam Gindin,

I was pleased to receive and publishyour response to my article; the left can only gain from frank and open discussion of our differences. But I’m concerned that we’re spinning our wheels. As labour and green activist Terry Moore says in An activist comments on the "eco-catastrophism" debate, there has been “more heat than light and a lot of ‘talking past each other’ without real engaging on the key points being raised.”

Is there an 'anti-imperialist camp'? A debate (part 1)

Leaders of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in Cuba at its 2014 meeting.

[Michael Karadjis responds below. Read part 2 of this debate at http://links.org.au/node/3982.]

By Felipe Stuart

July 31, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Michael Karadjis, I read the exchange between Einde O and you where you state that:

‘Environmental catastrophism’: a response to Ian Angus

By Sam Gindin

[This is a response to “On ‘environmental catastrophism’: Ian Angus replies to Sam Gindin”.]

July 28, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The most critical question confronting anyone concerned with the environmental crisis is the political one: how to build a social force able to do something about it. The most important division among social activists is not between those who think an environmental collapse is imminent and those who think we will continue to stumble on in an ever uglier, degraded world. It is between those who believe that personal recycling, technical fixes, market incentives and green jobs can solve the environmental crisis, and those who argue the solutions are necessarily much more radical, extending to a challenge to capitalism itself.

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