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Debate: Cuba has a state bureaucratic *system* – a response to Chris Slee

This article is a reply to "System or siege? Samuel Farber misses the main cause of Cuba's problems", Chris Slee's review of Samuel Farber's Cuba Since The Revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment (Haymarket Books 2011).

[For more discussion on Cuba, click HERE.]

By Samuel Farber

June 26, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The driving idea behind Chris Slee’s critical review of my recent book, Cuba Since The Revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment (Haymarket Books 2011) is that the undemocratic practices of the Cuban revolutionary regime have been largely a response to the more than 50-year-old imperialist siege by the United States government and not a defining characteristic of the island’s political system.

Ecuador: ¿Nueva izquierda o nuevo colonialismo?

[In English at http://links.org.au/node/2918.]

Por Federico Fuentes, traducido para Rebelión por Christine Lewis Carroll

25-06-2012 -- Rebelión -- La crítica a los gobiernos radicales de América Latina se ha convertido en moneda corriente entre gran parte de la izquierda internacional. Ninguno se ha escapado de la crítica, pero el gobierno del Presidente Rafael Correa de Ecuador ha sido un blanco significativo.

Pero el problema de la crítica dirigida contra Correa es que carece de cualquier base sólida y desvía la atención del verdadero enemigo.

Correa fue elegido presidente en 2006 después de más de una década de rebeliones, principalmente indígenas, en contra del neoliberalismo.

Durante la campaña electoral, el economista radical prometió reescribir la constitución del país, rechazar cualquier acuerdo de libre comercio con Washington, negarse a pagar las deudas externas ilegítimas y cerrar una base militar estadounidense en suelo ecuatoriano.

Los movimientos sociales habían hecho la campaña en torno a estas demandas, que es a su vez la razón del apoyo mayoritario a Correa en la segunda vuelta electoral contra Álvaro Noboa, el hombre más rico de Ecuador.

Ecuador: New left or new colonialism?

Pro-Correa march in Quito on International Women's Day, March 8.

By Federico Fuentes

June 17, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- Criticism of Latin America’s radical governments has become common currency among much of the international left. While none have been exempt, Ecuador’s government of President Rafael Correa has been a key target.

But a problem with much of the criticism directed against Correa is that it lacks any solid foundation and misdirects fire away from the real enemy.

Correa was elected president in 2006 after more than a decade of mostly indigenous-led rebellions against neoliberalism.

During his election campaign, the radical economist promised to rewrite the country’s constitution, reject any free trade agreement with Washington, refuse to repay of illegitimate foreign debts and close a US military base on Ecuadorian soil.

The social movements had campaigned around many of these demands, which is why most supported Correa in the second-round presidential run-off against Alvaro Noboa, Ecuador’s richest man.

Since then, Correa has largely carried out these election promises. This explains why he has an approval rating of more than 80%, a June 13 opinion poll found.

Left criticisms

LGBTI activists respond to John Pilger: 'Equal marriage rights and Bradley Manning are both big issues'

Bradley Manning supporters at Occupy London, last year. Photo: Queerfriendsofbradley.wordpress.com.

By Rachel Evans & Karl Hand

May 23, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- More than 1000 Sydney-siders hit the streets on May 12 demanding equal marriage rights, but prominent left-wing journalist John Pilger has criticised the march in his recent article “Bradley Manning, not gay marriage, is the issue”.

He said: “A protest parade in support of gay marriage filled the city centre. The police looked on benignly. It was a showcase of liberalism. Three days later, there was to be a march to commemorate the Nakba (The Catastrophe), the day of mourning when Israel expelled Palestinians from their land. A police ban had to be overturned by the Supreme Court.”

He said the equal marriage issue "diverts attention" from pressing issues of war and poverty, and in particular the detention and trial of alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning. We cannot agree with this.

Royal Society’s tunnel vision on population and poverty

People and the Planet
Royal Society Science Policy Centre Report
April 2012

Review by Ian Angus

May 23, 2012 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the Ian Angus' permission -- The radical ecologist Murray Bookchin once compared populationism to a phoenix, the mythical bird that periodically burns up and is reborn from its own ashes. No matter how often the “too many people” argument is refuted, it always returns, making the same claim that people are breeding too much and consuming too much, devouring the Earth like a plague of locusts.[1]

Lars Lih: How Lenin's party became (Bolshevik)

By Lars T. Lih

May 17, 2012 -- Weekly Worker -- Did Lenin seek to exclude Mensheviks from Russia's revolutionary organisation in order to forge a "party of a new type"?

From 1898 on, there existed a political party called the Rossiiskaia sotsial-demokraticheskaia rabochaia partiia (RSDRP), or Russian Social Democratic Worker Party. Rossiiskaia means “Russian” in the sense of citizens of the Russian state, as opposed to russkaia, which refers to ethnic Russians. Of course, the party title made no reference to either of its two later factions, Mensheviks and Bolsheviks.

At its 7th Congress in March 1918, this party officially changed its name to Rossiiskaia kommunisticheskaia partiia (bol’shevikov) or RKP(B). The party now referred to itself as "Bolshevik", even if only in parentheses. The question arises: did the party ever have an intermediate title such as RSDRP(B) -- for example, during the period from April 1917 to March 1918?

No. The label "RSDRP(B)" was occasionally used informally in 1917 (for reasons to be discussed later), along with other improvised labels. Nevertheless, a party with the name "RSDRP(B)" never existed.

Paul Le Blanc responds to Lars Lih: Bolshevism and party building – convergence and questions


[Click HERE to follow the entire debate on Lenin.]

By Paul Le Blanc

May 5, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Revolutionary upheavals are made possible by the coming together of a number of diverse factors, one of which is the organisation, accumulation of experience and proliferating influence of conscious revolutionaries.

“Did the Bolshevik Party become the leading party of the Russian proletariat, and hence the Russian nation, by chance?”, asked Italian revolutionary Antonio Gramsci in 1924. A brilliant and knowledgeable analyst, he answered his own question: “The selection process lasted thirty years; it was extremely arduous; it often assumed what appeared to be the strangest and most absurd forms.” He added that the process involved “struggles of factions and small groups; ... it meant splits and fusions ...” (Gramsci, Selections from Political Writings 1921-1926: 210).

Paul Le Blanc: The birth of the Bolshevik party in 1912

Portrait of Lenin by Isaac Israelovich Brodskii, 1924.

[Click HERE to follow the entire debate on Lenin.] 

By Paul Le Blanc

April 17, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- How odd it would be, one century after the fact, to hear the following over the air waves: NEWS FLASH! THE BOLSHEVIKS BECAME A POLITICAL PARTY IN 1912! In fact, it was the opposite “news” that flashed across a little corner of the internet’s far-left end. A young activist in the US socialist movement, Pham Binh, making positive reference to the outstanding contributions of historian Lars Lih in challenging myths regarding Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s revolutionary organisational perspectives, advanced his own challenging re-interpretation of Lenin’s thought and practice, claiming to have exploded “the myth that the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks separated into two parties in 1912.”[1]

Debate: Neoliberalism in disguise in Bolivia?

Location of the indigenous territory and national park known as TIPNIS.

[For more on Bolivia, click HERE.]

The following article is a reply to Jeffery Webber's article, “Revolution against ‘Progress’: the TIPNIS Struggle and Class Contradictions in Bolivia”, in International Socialism 133 (winter), www.isj.org.uk/?id=780. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission. It first appeared in International Socialism (134). International Socialism is associated with the British Socialist Workers' Party.

* * *

By Federico Fuentes

March 27, 2012 -- International Socialism -- For more than a decade Bolivia has been rocked by mass upsurges and mobilisations that have posed the necessity and possibility of fundamental political and social transformation.1 In 2005 the social movements that led the country’s water and gas wars managed to elect a government that since then has presided over a process of change that has brought major advances.

The Lenin wars: Over a Cliff with Lars Lih

Nadezhda Krupskaya and Lenin with journalist Lincoln Eure in the Kremlin, February 1920.

[Click HERE to follow the entire debate on Tony Cliff's Lenin.]

By Paul Le Blanc

February 19, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- There has been a competing set of political agendas underlying the recently initiated historical debate over how to understand Lenin and the Bolsheviks. From the standpoint of revolutionary socialism, this aspect of the debate is hardly cause for dismay. As activists we are appropriately attempting to get a handle on “what is to be done”. This does not absolve us of the responsibility to get the history right. But for Marxists the point is not simply to understand history, but also make use of such understanding to help change the world.

Lars Lih: Falling out over a Cliff

Click HERE to follow the entire debate on Tony Cliff's Lenin. For more discussion on revolutionary organisation, click HERE.More articles by Lars Lih are available at http://links.org.au/taxonomy/term/500.

* * *

Remarks on the 1905 Congress and the 1912 conference of the Russian Social Democratic Worker Party (RSDWP)

By Lars T. Lih

Paul Le Blanc: Revolutionary organisation and the ‘Occupy moment’

Occupy Pittsburgh, October 15, 2011.

[For more discussion on revolutionary organisation, click HERE. Articles on left unity can be found HERE. The Occupy movement is discussed HERE.]

By Paul Le Blanc

February 16, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Occupy movement has been having a profound impact on the socialist left in the United States. I want to share some information on this, focusing on my own experience, and relate it to broader issues of Marxism and organisation that I have been engaged with for some time.

United States: Another socialist left is possible -- a reply to Paul D’Amato

[Click HERE to follow the entire debate on Tony Cliff's Lenin. For more discussion on revolutionary organisation, click HERE. Articles on left unity can be found HERE.]

By Pham Binh

February 10, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The first response to my “Occupy and the tasks of socialists” piece to be written by a leading member of an US socialist organisation is emblematic of what is wrong with the US socialist left.

I am referring to “The mangling of Tony Cliff”, written by Paul D’Amato, International Socialist Organization (ISO) member and managing editor of the International Socialist Review. He responds to my Tasks piece in his reply to a book review I did, writing:

Paul D’Amato: The mangling of Tony Cliff

Boris Kustodiev's 1920 painting "Bolshevik".

[Click HERE to follow the debate on Tony Cliff's Lenin. For more discussion on Lenin, click HERE. For more discussion on revolutionary organisation, click HERE.]

By Paul D’Amato

February 4, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Pham Binh’s criticism of the late British Marxist Tony Cliff’s Lenin: Building the Party (“Mangling the Party”), published in the Australian journal Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, is substantially wrong on many points; but its chief defect is that it is a hatchet job.

Five points in response to Pham Binh

By Paul Le Blanc

"The creation of healthy, democratic and cohesive revolutionary organisations on the Leninist model is both possible and necessary, in my opinion."

February 1, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I am sorry that Pham Binh has chosen to respond in the way that he has to my criticism of his article ("Mangling the party: Tony Cliff's Lenin"). I will make only a few comments here to help clear up misunderstandings.

1. My critical comment about Pham’s article not providing us with anything useful for those engaged in today’s struggles was not a judgment about him as a person or about all things that he may have written about the Occupy movement or anything else. A substantial review article having to do with building the revolutionary party, however, should contain (in my opinion) something of value for those of us who are committed to such things.

Paul Le Blanc’s defence of Tony Cliff’s ‘Building the Party’ – Pham Binh replies

By Pham Binh

[Read Paul le Blanc's response HERE.]

January 31, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When I discovered that Paul Le Blanc had responded to my review of Tony Cliff’s Building the Party I was hoping for the scholarly and thorough approach he used in writing his book Lenin and the Revolutionary Party. What I found was quite the opposite.

Le Blanc begins his response by claiming that my book review’s “obvious purpose is to persuade the reader that Tony Cliff’s book is little more than a mass of ‘egregious misrepresentations’ and ‘has so many gross factual and political errors that it is useless as a historical study of Lenin’s actions and thoughts.’ This is a demolition job. It doesn’t offer much that we can use and build on as we face the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

I drew my conclusions about Cliff’s book only after I closely studied what Lenin said and did and compared it to what Cliff claimed Lenin said and did. The more I studied, the more striking the divergences became.

Anti-immigration groups organise against book that exposes population myths

By Ian Angus

January 31, 2012 -- Climate and Capitalism -- Simon Butler and I wrote Too Many People? Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis to promote discussion among environmental activists about two questions:

  • Is population growth a significant cause of the global environmental crisis?
  • Should the environmental movement support population reduction programs as solutions to environmental problems?

Since the book was published in September 2011, we’ve been very pleased by the eagerness of activists around the world to join in that discussion. Some readers are convinced by our arguments, some are not – in either case we look forward to continuing discussions while we work together to build a global movement against ecocide and for environmental justice. We expected such debates, and will continue to welcome them.

Revolutionary method in the study of Lenin – A response to Pham Binh

[For more discussion about Lenin, click HERE.]

By Paul Le Blanc

[Read Pham Binh's reply HERE.]

January 31, 2012 – Submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Amid a continuing crisis of capitalism, the renaissance of Lenin studies – what I once referred to as “Lenin’s return” – continues. Aspects of this find reflection in new books, new articles, symposiums and debates as we attempt to clarify the actuality of Lenin’s thought and example, and (for some of us) their relevance for the situations we face.

Lenin and the Bolshevik Party: A reply to Tony Cliff and the International Socialists (1996)

By Bruce Landau

Introduction

Published in 2002 by Resistance Books, first published 1996 -- There is no more pressing task for revolutionary Marxists today than the construction of a party capable of leading the proletariat's struggle against world capitalism. But as the record of the past decades has shown, building such a party requires more than good intentions. It requires a scientific understanding of the relationship between the proletariat and its class-conscious vanguard. No one understood that relationship better than Vladimir Ilyich Lenin; he proved that by building the strongest, most flexible, and most successful workers' party in history -- the Bolshevik Party.

Workers’ governments and socialist strategy — a discussion

"The FSLN government in Nicaragua immediately after the fall of the Somoza dictatorship may qualify as a workers' government" -- David Camfield.

January 17, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A discussion is taking place at John Riddell's website on the demand for a workers' government and issues raised in the article by Riddell, "A ‘workers’ government’ as a step toward socialism". Below are article-length responses from David Camfield and Nathan Rao, a comment by Tim K, and a response by John Riddell.

Workers’ governments and the crisis of politics

By David Camfield, an editor of New Socialist Webzine

January 10, 2012 -- John Riddell is right that, “The Comintern’s decisions on governmental policy were rooted in a political environment that no longer exists.”

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