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- Tom Twiss on Soviet Bureaucracy
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By Thomas M. Twiss
August 19, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — In his presentation, Paul Le Blanc has provided a brief account of the darkening situation in the Soviet Union in the years following the revolution, of the heroic resistance by members of the Left Opposition, and of the “deep black night” of Stalinism in the mid-late 1930s. He also summarized for us Leon Trotsky’s final theory of Soviet bureaucracy and — I think appropriately —emphasized its value for understanding that history. What I want to do is to briefly sketch the development of Trotsky’s analysis of the problem of Soviet bureaucracy in order to get a deeper understanding and appreciation of his final theory, with all of its strengths and limitations. For as Trotsky observed in a 1933 preface to a collection of his oppositional writings, “It is impossible to understand correctly either scientific or political ideas without knowing the history of their development.”
By Paul Le Blanc
July 18, 2016 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – The title of this session – “the darker the night, the brighter the star” – is the title of the fourth and final volume of Tony Cliff’s biography of Leon Trotsky, who was a central leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution of workers and peasants, which turned the Russian Tsarist empire into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. One of the founders of modern Communism and the Soviet state, Trotsky is also the best known of those who fought against the degeneration of that revolution and movement brought on by a vicious bureaucratic dictatorship led by Joseph Stalin.
Click for more on the political situation in Ukraine.
August 26, 2015 -- New Cold War.org, posted by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Stephen F. Cohen, contributing editor to The Nation, was interviewed on the the John Batchelor Show, WABC radio in New York City. They discuss the news of a ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine for a cessation of hostilities beginning September 1, 2015, and the recent meeting in Berlin on August 24 of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, France's President François Hollande and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko.
Review by John Green
August 26, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Anna Funder’s book Stasiland seems to have become the touchstone for anyone who wishes to find out about life in the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany). It was given enormous publicity, has been translated into several languages and is one of the most quoted books of reference on the GDR. Its aim is to show how horrendous life in the GDR really was.
Funder visited the GDR once as a tourist in 1987 and then returned again in 1996 (six years after unification with the Federal Republic of Germany, or West Germany) and wrote her book. It is made up almost entirely of interviews with only three women who suffered under the GDR authorities, plus a former GDR rock star, a television presenter who was loyal to the state, as well as several shorter ones with former officers of the state security services.
For more by Doug Enaa Greene, click HERE.
August 2, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Greek Civil War was one of the major events shaping modern Greek history. The Greek Civil War from 1946-49 was fought between the Communist Party and the monarchy aided by the United States. The Civil War was one of the first major clashes of the Cold War. Communist historian Doug Enaa Greene lectured and led a discussion on the roots and course of the war for the Center for Marxist Education.
To read a transcript of the talk, see http://links.org.au/node/4514. To learn more about the Center for Marxist Education, see https://www.facebook.com/CenterForMarxistEducation
The Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now
By Michael A. Lebowitz
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2015.
July 28, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Those who open Michael Lebowitz's new book, The Socialist Imperative, will find something far different and refreshing than the old apologetic Soviet manuals on the smooth workings of a planned economy. What they will discover is a collection of writings inspired by Lebowitz's lifetime of activism and profound solidarity with the oppressed and exploited under capitalism and his revolutionary vision of how to build a socialist alternative.
Fighters of the Greek Army of National Liberation.
By Doug Enaa Greene
July 17, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On March 24, 1945, the famed partisan leader Aris Velouhiotis wrote the following in a letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE):
Hugo Chavez and supporters at Chavez’s final campaign rally in Caracas on October 4, 2013, three days before his re-election as president.
By Mike Treen, director of the Unite union in Aotearoa/New Zealand
February 19, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The election of the radical left-wing SYRIZA party in Greece and a possible victory of the similarly radical party Podemos in Spain has raised the hopes of millions of people across Europe and the globe that we can put an end to austerity-type policies, put in place policies that will protect working people from the capitalist crisis and advance society to a new era of social justice governments.
By Doug Enaa Greene
February 13, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- “Bukharin has thirty years of revolutionary work to his credit.” This was the final judgment of Leon Trotsky, Nikolai Bukharin's erstwhile adversary in 1938, after his death. These words were not without truth. He lived a life of deep revolutionary and intellectual commitment. Bukharin was one of the leading theorists and leaders of the Bolshevik Party, reaching the heights of power in the USSR in the 1920s.
He was the fierce proponent for the New Economic Policy (NEP) and presented an alternative path of market socialism, to those of Trotsky and Joseph Stalin. He was an ally of Stalin during the party debates of the 1920s, when Stalin declared, "We are, and shall be, for Bukharin."
On January 3, 2015, historian Doug Enaa Greene led a discussion on the history of the POUM and the lessons to be drawn for today. It was presented to the Center of Marxist Education. His talk was based on the text below.
For more by Doug Enaa Greene, click HERE.
By Doug Enaa Greene
January 7, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For generations of leftists, the most recognizable images of the Spanish Civil War is from May 1937 comes from George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia of anarchist and POUMist workers defending the Telephone Exchange in Barcelona from the Communist Party. This image is said to represent the betrayal of Spain's libertarian communist revolution by agents of Moscow. In the decades since May 1937, a great number of polemics have been exchanged on what went wrong and on many “what ifs” on how the revolution could have won in the streets of Barcelona.
Stasi Hell or Workers’ Paradise? Socialism in the German Democratic Republic ― What Can We Learn From It?
By John Green & Bruni de la Motte
Artery Publications, 2009
Red Love: The Story of an East German Family
By Maxim Leo
Pushkin Press, 2013
Reviews by Barry Healy
November 16, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- The German Democratic Republic (GDR, or "East Germany") disappeared a quarter of a century ago after 41 years’ existence. The East German state is mostly remembered as “Stasiland”, as Anna Funder’s history of its secret police is called.
Yet, for all of its Stalinist failings, East Germany’s values still stubbornly retain many Germans’ endorsement, especially those of the eastern regions. In 2008, Der Spiegel surveyed young Germans nationwide and discovered that most defended what the GDR stood for.
This is usually dismissed as merely a form of nostalgia, but these two texts grapple with the fuller picture. What they recall are memories of when the fear of fascism could motivate whole nations ― and the promise of socialism inspired.
Husband and wife team Bruni de la Motte and John Green have personal links to the GDR. Born in Britain, Green studied in the GDR between 1964 and '68 and then worked on GDR television for 20 years.
A supporter of the the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) at a party rally.
By Jirí Málek
[This analysis was presented at the international workshop of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation “On the situation of the left in Europe after the EU elections: New challenges”. Held July 21-23, 2014, in Berlin.]
Transform! Network -- Before me is the task of speaking in a limited time on things that can hardly be responsibly described in brief. For that reason please allow me to make use of a method that could be compared to tossing a flat stone along a flat surface – ever grazing the water, making a couple of little waves and flying off a little more to brush the surface again. With regards to several issues I too will merely brush the surface and rush on to others. And it is likely more questions will arise than answers.
What will I be speaking about? The Karlovy Vary Film Festival has a section called: East of the West. Likewise we will devote this time to the area east of the West, though in the slightly narrower sense of the part of Central Europe otherwise known as the Visegrad Four: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland (total 106 European parliament seats – 14.1 %).
December 12, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Conservatives often claim that totalitarianism is the inevitable result of attempts to radically transform society. For example, Waleed Aly (a Monash University academic and prolific media commentator) equates communism, Nazism and radical Islam, claiming that they are all “utopian” movements that, if successful in gaining power, lead to totalitarianism:
Models of Nature
By Douglas R. Weiner
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000, 1988.
Review by Ben Courtice
November 28, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The USSR was not known, in the West, as a pioneer of ecology. Unfortunately, it was known more for the Chernobyl nuclear power station accident, for acid rain and air pollution, and oil spills and the pollution of unique environments such as the Aral sea.
What if the USSR had been different? What if it had tried to preserve its natural ecosystems, after the tsar was overthrown?
It is little known today, but there was a small yet promising movement of scientific ecology and nature preservation in Russia, with roots in the tsarist order of the 19th century, which flourished in the revolutionary USSR of the 1920s.
Russell Brand versus Jeremy Paxman.
By Stuart Munckton
November 2, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Comedian, Hollywood star and former host of MTV and Big Brother's Big Mouth Russell Brand took on veteran BBC broadcaster Jeremy Paxman in a Newsnight interview subsequently viewed millions of times on YouTube (see above).
The journalist, veteran of many bruising encounters with politicians of all stripes, decisively lost.
Brand was interviewed because he had just guest-edited a special edition of left-leaning magazine The New Statesman on the theme of revolution.
As well as a 4500-word essay by Brand arguing that the status quo totally fails ordinary people and only revolutionary change could save humanity from destruction, the edition includes contributions from radical writers Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky, as well as a range of actors and singers.
A Communist Odyssey: The Life of József Pogány/John Pepper
By Thomas Sakmyster
Budapest-New York: Central European University Press, 2012
Photos, bibliography, index; 249 pp.
Reviewed by Dan La Botz
October 2013 -- New Politics, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- During normal times in a capitalist society, skill and drive are harnessed by the corporations, the labour union bureaucracy and the political parties, but when the crisis comes a revolutionary party must harness the most talented and most ambitious for its purposes. The idealistic and the opportunistic, the selfless and the self-aggrandising, the ruthless and the kind, the brave and the cowardly among those most determined and striving souls must somehow be made use of for the higher purposes of the revolution and ultimately for of all of humanity. The revolutionary movement must bring out the best in them, for we are the only material we have.
Open Marxism and the dilemmas of coherence: Paul Le Blanc's reflections on the contributions of Michael Löwy
More by Paul Le Blanc can be found HERE.
By Paul Le Blanc
September 8, 2013 -- ESSF, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Paul Le Blanc's permission and urging -- The discovery of a wondrous continent is what it felt like when some of my closest comrades and I connected with Michael Löwy, this remarkable revolutionary Marxist intellectual and activist -- himself a blend of Austrian Jew, Brazilian, Parisian, seeming to reach out to the world in all directions, an outstanding modern-day representative of Trotsky’s Fourth International. 
By Michael Lebowitz
September 13, 2013 -- The Bullet, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission. This essay is from a talk given to the Centre for Political Emancipation in Belgrade, Serbia, on May 6, 2013. It can also be seen above and on YouTube. -- Why did "real socialism" and, in particular the Soviet Union, fall? Let me note a few explanations that have been offered. With respect to the Soviet Union, one very interesting explanation that has been suggested is that it's all the fault of Mikhail Gorbachev. And not simply the errors of Gorbachev but the treachery. Those who offer this explanation rely in particular upon a document which is sometimes described as his confession. This document begins as follows:
[English at http://links.org.au/node/3355.]Michael A Lebowitz intervjua av Darko Vesić og Aleksandar Stojanović.
– Kapitalismen har vore i krise i mange år no, og dei kapitalistiske statane svarer på krisa med såkalla innstrammingstiltak. Ser me på dynamikken til kapitalismen dei seinaste femti åra, så var svaret på krisa på 1970-tallet det som no er kalla «nyliberalismen». Om ny vekst er svaret på krisa, kan me seie at nyliberalismen på 70-tallet hadde suksess. Men gjeld det same dagens «innstrammingstiltak»?
- Eg trur me må sjå på somme av premissa i spørsmålet. For det første meiner ikkje alle marxistar at kapitalismen som eit heile er i krise, i motsetning til kapitalismen i spesielle område. For det andre, om kapitalismen er i total eller partiell krise, kva er årsaka?
Australia: Revolutionary unity to meet the capitalist crisis -- Socialist Alliance responds to Socialist Alternative
Socialist Alliance national convenor Peter Boyle speaks at Socialist Alternative's Marxism 2013.
[A response from Socialist Alliance to "What kind of organisation do socialists need?", published in the Summer 2013 issue of Socialist Alternative's Marxist Left Review. This article first appeared in Marxist Left Review, Winter 2013 and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]
By Nick Fredman, Pip Hinman and Susan Price