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Britain: Socialist Workers Party members debate 'Leninism', party democracy (updated Feb. 3)

The first document below was produced by opposition members of British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) (authors listed at its conclusion, the best known include Richard Seymour, Neil Davidson and China Miéville). The SWP is the dominant party within the International Socialist Tendency, with affiliates around the world. The SWP is presently in the midst of a major dispute over inner-party democracy. The article is a reply to SWP leader Alex Callinicos' recent article, "Is Leninism finished?"

Following that are two articles by Tom Walker, a former Socialist Worker journalist who resigned from the SWP during the current dispute.

* * *

In defence of the transitional method

Sue Bolton speaking at a rally for refugee rights in September. Photo by Aneleh Bulle. 

[See also "How socialists work to win mass support" and "'Transitional Program': 'a program of action from today until the beginning of the socialist revolution'".]

By Dave Holmes

[This talk was presented on January 18, 2013 at the Socialist Alliance (Australia) national conference, held in Geelong.]

January 18, 2013 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Socialist Alliance is currently engaged in a process of discussion and clarification with Socialist Alternative, with a view to exploring the possibilities of greater cooperation and unity. How this will ultimately develop is an open question. But I think it is fair to say that on both sides today there is a much greater interest in the political positions and approach of the other.

Salvador Allende, Cuba and internationalism, 1970–73

Fidel Castro with Chile's President Salvador Allende upon his arrival at Pudahuel Airport in Santiago on November 10, 1971.

[For more articles by John Riddell, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

January 6, 2013 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the US-inspired rightist coup in Chile that overthrew the leftist government of Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973. The coup was a historic disaster for working people in Latin America and globally. Socialists worldwide saw it coming. How did they attempt to counter this danger?

What politics to unite Australia's left?

"If we are going to get anywhere with left unity today we are going to have to find a way to get beyond a false argument within the left about who is really 'revolutionary' and who is not, and start discussing, in a constructive way, how best a united left can engage in the struggles against the ills of capitalism." 

By Peter Boyle, national co-convenor, Socialist Alliance

December 8, 2012 -- Socialist Alliance -- Once again the question of left unity is on the agenda in Australia. There have been exploratory talks between the Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative and also between the Socialist Alliance and the Communist Party of Australia (CPA). The Socialist Alliance and the CPA worked together in a Housing Action election ticket in the Sydney City Council elections earlier this year.

Portugal: el Bloco pide un gobierno de izquierda

www.bloco.org.

[In English at http://links.org.au/node/3112.]

Por Dick Nichols, Lisboa, traducción para www.sinpermiso.info por Gustavo Buster

09/12/12 -- Un fantasma recorre Portugal: el fantasma de Grecia y de Syriza, el partido de su izquierda radical. Todos los poderes de la Europa neoliberal, encabezados por la canciller alemana, Ángela Merkel, han entrado en una alianza impía para exorcizar ese fantasma.

Acompañada por los representantes de las grandes empresas alemana, Merkel no tuvo otro remedio que durante seis horas soportar el asedio de los manifestantes en Lisboa el 12 de noviembre. Felicitó al Primer Ministro de Portugal, Pedro Passos Coelho, por su "valentía" al aplicar los programas de austeridad (una "historia de éxito"), e instó al líder político más impopular del país a no ceder un ápice.

Why socialists need feminism

Audio of the talk, "Marxism and Women's Liberation", presented by US International Socialist Organization leader Sharon Smith at Socialism 2012, on June 28, 2012.

See "Left debate: Organising women against sexist violence". For more discussion of feminism, click HERE.

By Rosa Louverture

Left debate: Organising women against sexist violence

Socialist Alliance member Margarita Windisch addresses the 2012 Melbourne Reclaim the Night rally. Transcript HERE.

See also "Why socialists need feminism". For more discussion of feminism, click HERE.

December 9, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- An article that appeared on the website of the magazine of the Socialist Alternative organisation on November 22, 2012, has sparked an interesting debate across the Australian left on merits of socialists organising against violence against women.

Portugal: Left Bloc debates call for a left government

Delegate votes during the Left Bloc's eighth national convention. Photo from www.bloco.org.

By Dick Nichols, Lisbon

November 18, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A spectre is haunting Portugal ― the spectre of Greece and of Syriza, its radical left party. All the powers of neoliberal Europe, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcise this spectre.

Accompanied by representatives of German big business, Merkel ran the gauntlet of protesters in Lisbon for six hours on November 12. She congratulated Portugal’s Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho for his “courage” in applying austerity (a “success story”) and urged the country’s most unpopular political leader to stick to his guns.

Greece in the eye of the storm (the Greek left, SYRIZA and the limits of the concept of ‘left reformism’)

SYRIZA rally. Photo by SYN Flickr.

By Paul Kellogg

November 18, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, originally published as six notes at PolEcon.net. Republished here with Paul Kellogg’s permission.-- An economic crisis of enormous proportions has erupted in a first world country in the global North. The scale of the economic crisis in Greece has few modern equivalents, and is at the root of a massive social and political upheaval. Navigating that crisis poses difficult challenges for the social movements in Greece, and has important lessons for activists around the world. The article that follows is an attempt to provide information that can assist those, unfamiliar with the situation in Greece, in navigating this situation.

Rafael Correa discusses Ecuador's 'Citizens' Revolution' and answers his left critics

Rafael Correa speaks at a rally in support of his re-election in next year's poll, Quito, November 10.

By Federico Fuentes

November 11, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- While European governments continue to impose policies aimed at making working people pay for a crisis they did not cause, the Ecuadorian government of Rafael Correa has taken a different course.

“Those who are earning too much will be giving more to the poorest of this country”, a November 1 Reuters dispatch quoted Correa as saying. He was announcing a new measure to raise taxes on banks to help fund social security payments.

Ecuador’s banking sector has registered US$349 million in after-tax profits, a November 8 El Telegrafo article said. “The time has arrived to redistribute those profits,” said Correa.

Reuters reported that by lifting the tax rate on bank holdings abroad and applying a new tax on financial services, the government hopes to raise between $200 million and $300 million a year.

The proceeds will fund a rise in the “human development bonus payment” from $35 to $50 a month. About 1.2 million Ecuadorians receive the payment, mainly single mothers and the elderly.

Is Venezuela a 'one off'? A response to Richard Seymour's must-read analysis

Supporters of the Bolivarian revolution mobilise in their millions. Caracas, October 3, 2012.

Click HERE for more coverage and analysis of the Venezuelan revolutionary process.

By Stuart Munckton

October 13, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Richard Seymour has written a very interesting analysis on Venezuela that is a must read for a number of reasons. It is open ended in its assessments and deliberately poses as many questions as it seeks to answer. Fair enough, as the revolution is open ended and poses questions that only the struggle will answer.

It is far superior to the article written by the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) Latin American "expert" Mike Gonzalez, that acknowledged reforms, victory against the right, but then presented the ongoing struggles in a basically distorted "from below counterposed to Chavez" line.

Britain: ‘To fight austerity we need a united left’ -- Anticapitalist Initiative

By Simon Hardy, Anticapitalist Initiative (Britain)

October 9, 2012 –  Submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The urgent need for unity on the radical left is something that has been eloquently put forward by Dan Hind on the Al-Jazeera website. Asking a very pertinent question as to whether there can be a SYRIZA-type organisation in Britain, Hind draws out some of the most important lessons of the Greek struggle and poses a challenge to the British left -- can we break out of the ghetto as well?[1]

Richard Seymour: Venezuela in the 21st century

With the announcement of Hugo Chavez’s reelection as president by 55% of the Venezuelan electorate, spontaneous crowds across the country gathered to celebrate the victory. More photos at http://venezuelanalysis.com/image.

By Richard Seymour

October 8, 2012 -- Lenin's Tomb, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Richard Seymour's permission -- Chavez lives. He has survived cancer, thus far, and will most likely survive the presidential election with a comfortable majority (update: yep). And what if he did not? Would not Venezuela still have a popular mass socialist party, a thriving democracy, an expanding union movement, a politically emasculated ruling class, a greatly enhanced welfare state which incorporates elements of grassroots participation, and probably one of the few societies in the world today where it's almost impossible to impose a vicious austerity project? Jealous much?

Richard Seymour: The problem of left unity

By Richard Seymour

August 28, 2012 -- Lenin's Tomb, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Richard Seymour's permission -- Dan Hind, enlivened by the Hellenic tumult, calls for a Coalition of the Radical Left in Britain. I love it. Of course I do. But isn’t it, to any rational observer, a perfectly silly idea?

Anyone who has spent much time listening to the British radical left these days would no more expect them to coalesce than they would expect grace, humility and talent from Gary Barlow. The latest rumble has been over Julian Assange, Wikileaks, US imperialism and the rape allegations, which has produced more mutual distrust and resentment on the left than I have seen for at least weeks. The disagreement seems to be between those who think the rape accusations against Assange have been politicised in order to facilitate his forward extradition to the US, and those who think Assange’s supporters have greatly exaggerated this risk in order to justify his refusal to go and face these allegations in Sweden.

The geopolitics of the Syrian uprising/insurgency

[Click HERE for more analysis of the situation in Syria.]

By Michael Karadjis

August 13, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The continuing mass uprising against Syria’s Bashar Assad dictatorship on the one hand, and the growing intervention by the reactionary Gulf monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, along with Turkey, on the side of the growing armed insurgency on the other, has led to a situation where many on the left are sharply divided over who to “support”.

Some claim the Saudi-led covert intervention requires support for Assad’s bloody regime as a lesser evil “secular” alternative to what they believe is an inevitable “jihadi” regime, given the rise of a vicious Sunni sectarian aspect to the civil war and the Saudi-led backing of such forces. Also, given the largely verbal (until recently) support given to the Gulf states’ intervention by the US and other imperialist states, support for Assad against this allegedly “imperialist-backed” assault on Syria is necessary to prevent the destruction of the Syrian state, which they allege imperialism desires due to Assad’s alleged anti-imperialist credentials (which even most of these writers, however, admit is very tenuous at best).

The debate about the nature of the former Soviet Union: Who was right?

Moscow 2008.

[For more discussion on the nature of the Soviet Union click HERE. See also the related discussion on Stalinism HERE.]

By Chris Slee

July 30, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The nature of the former Soviet Union was an issue which divided the left for many decades. Now that the Soviet Union no longer exists, differing analyses of its class nature should no longer be a reason for maintaining separate socialist organisations.

Nevertheless, this historical debate has relevance to current politics, since the theories developed to explain the nature of the Soviet Union were subsequently applied to other countries, including Cuba. In particular, the theory of state capitalism, of which British Socialist Workers Party leader Tony Cliff was a leading exponent, is applied to Cuba by many groups today, including Solidarity and Socialist Alternative in Australia.

Paul Le Blanc: Occupy, insurgencies and human nature: Paul Mason and/or Karl Marx

[Click HERE for more articles by Paul Le Blanc; For more discussion on the Occupy movement, click HERE.]

By Paul Le Blanc

July 25, 2012 – ESSF, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Paul Le Blanc’s permission -- Paul Mason is one of the best journalists covering the global economy today. His book, Live Working, Die Fighting: How the Working Class Went Global, is an essential resource for anyone concerned about the workers’ struggle against oppression and for liberation in the past, present and future. I met him while I was in thick of Pittsburgh’s G20 protests, which he was covering for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). I had already read his splendid book (which I was using in one of my courses) – and his front-line television reportage of the protests and the realities generating them was outstanding.[1]

Richard Seymour: The Syrian revolt enters a new phase

Anti-Assad protest in Syria organised by the Local Coordinating Committees. Some 300 LCCs have refused to recognise the imperialist-backed Syrian National Council.

[Click HERE for more analysis of the situation in Syria.]

By Richard Seymour

Ian Angus: The return of the population bombers

Earth Day 1970 poster. People are the enemy.

[For more discussion on the population issue, click HERE.]

The following talk was presented at the Marxism 2012 conference in Toronto in May, and at the Socialism 2012 conference in Chicago in June. A recording of the Chicago presentation can be heard online at wearemany.org.

Overpopulation ideology undermined the environmental movement in the 1970s, diverting social protest into harmless channels. To prevent a similar setback today, we must understand populationism’s conservative role, and why it is attractive to a growing number of green activists.

By Ian Angus

July 22, 2012 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of socialist Renewal with permission -- As you know, Simon Butler and I have written many articles and an entire book refuting the claim that the environmental crisis is caused by overpopulation and the related idea that environmentalists should make reducing birth rates and immigration a top priority.

Cuba: `Our task is to oppose imperialist threats, to create the best conditions for socialist democracy', reply to Samuel Farber

In an invasion approved by US President John F. Kennedy, on April 17, 1961, 1300 Cuban counter-revolutionaries, armed with US weapons, landed at the Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs). They hoped to cross the island to Havana with the help of the local population. However it became apparent within the first hour that it would fail.

[For more discussion on Cuba, click HERE.]

By Chris Slee

July 4, 2012 -- Links International Jornal of Socialist Renewal -- In his reply to my critical review of his book, Cuba since the revolution of 1959: a critical assessment, Samuel Farber says: "The driving idea behind Chris Slee's critical review of my recent book ... is that the undemocratic pratices of the Cuban revolutionary regime have been largely a response to the over 50 year old imperialist siege ... and not a defining characteristic of the island's political system... But the Cuban leadership did not adopt the USSR repressive model because Washington 'forced' them to go in that direction. That presumes that the Cuban revolutionary leaders did not have a political ideology of their own".

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