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Stalinism

Rainbow Cuba: the sexual revolution within the revolution

March to celebrate LGBTI rights in Havana, May 2009.

By Rachel Evans

December 23, 2011 (updated January 28, 2012) – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When I was 16, I went to a Cuba solidarity event in my home town. At the end of inspiring speeches about Cuba’s health record, education standards, and the revolution’s policy of sending doctors and teachers to impoverished countries, a rousing “Cuba si! Yankee no!” chant erupted. It was electric. Much better than the fake feeling, singing and dancing we’d experienced in the church hall on Sunday. I was impressed and resolved to visit the country and see the revolution for myself. Years later and having come out of the closet, I decided my trip to Cuba could help prove or dispel the oft-uttered line of Cuba being homophobic.

This work will help put to bed the lies and distortions propagated by the powerful United States (US) propaganda machine: that the Cuban Revolution is undemocratic, homophobic and tyrannical. My visit to and study of Cuba finds that there is no basis to these claims.

Québec Solidaire: A Québécois approach to building a broad left party

Amir Khadir, currently Québec solidaire's sole member of the Quebec legislature, the National Assembly.

August 31, 2011 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission and that of Alternate Routes -- The following article is scheduled for publication in a forthcoming issue of the journal Alternate Routes. It is an expanded and updated version of a presentation to the third annual conference of the Critical Social Research Collaborative, held March 5, 2011, at Carleton University, Ottawa, on the theme “Varieties of Socialism, Varieties of Approaches”. Part II (below) will discuss the evolution of Québec Solidaire since its founding.

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By Richard Fidler

A number of attempts have been made in recent years to launch new parties and processes, addressing a broad left or popular constituency, that are programmatically anti-neoliberal if not anti-capitalist, some of them self-identifying as part of an international effort to create a “socialism of the 21st century”. They vary widely in origins, size, social composition and influence.

On the meaning of ‘popular front’

The Bolivarian movement led by Hugo Chávez contains bourgeois forces and has been the scene of repeated struggles between popular and bureaucratic wings. But far from subordinating workers to bourgeois leadership, it has served as the instrument to mobilise the masses in struggles that have won significant gains.

By John Riddell

August 8, 2011 -- also availabe at johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal with John Riddell's permission -- In a comment posted July 16 to my article “Honduras Accord: A Gain for Ottawa?” Todd Gordon warns against the danger of “popular-front style organization” and a “popular front electoralist strategy” (see his comment below this article). Socialists often use the term “popular front” or “people’s front” as a form of condemnation. But what exactly does the term mean, and how does apply it to poor, oppressed countries like Honduras?

Nationality’s role in social liberation: the Soviet legacy

Painting slogans for the Congress of the Peoples of the East, September 1920, Baku. Photo from IISG.

By John Riddell

July 21, 2011 -- http://johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Just under a century ago, the newly founded Soviet republic embarked on the world’s first concerted attempt to unite diverse nations in a federation that acknowledged the right to self-determination and encouraged the development of national culture, consciousness and governmental structures. Previous major national-democratic revolutions – in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the United States – had been made in the name of a hegemonic nation and had assimilated, marginalised or crushed rival nationalities. The early Soviet regime, by contrast, sought to encourage, rather than deny, internal national distinctiveness.

Paul Le Blanc: Marxism and organisation

By Paul Le Blanc

This presentation was given at the Chicago educational conference of the US International Socialist Organization, Socialism 2011, on the July 2-3, 2011, weekend. The text first appeared at Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières.

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It is always worth examining the question of Marxism and organisation because, if we would like to be organised Marxists who effectively struggle for socialism, we have a responsibility to know what we are about -- and such knowledge is deepened by ongoing examination. There are scholarly reasons for going over such ground, but for activists the primary purpose is to improve our ability to help change the world. There are three basic ideas to be elaborated on here: 1) there must be a coming together of socialism and the working class if either is to have a positive future; 2) those of us who think like that need to work together hard and effectively -- which means we need to be part of a serious organisation; and 3) socialist organisations must be a democratic/disciplined force in actual workers’ struggles -- that is the path to socialism. In what follows I will elaborate on this.

The Communist Women’s International (1921-26)

"Emancipated woman -- build up socialism." Poster by Strakhov-Braslavskij A. I., 1926.

By John Riddell

June 12, 2011 -- The following working paper was presented to the Toronto conference of Historical Materialism on May 16, 2010. It first appeared on John Riddell's blog and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission.

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When we celebrate International Women’s Day, we often refer to its origins in US labour struggles early last century. Less often mentioned, however, how it was relaunched and popularised in the 1920s by the Communist Women’s International. Moreover, this movement itself has been almost forgotten, as have most of its central leaders.

The Communist Women’s International was founded by a world gathering of communist women in 1921, which elected a leadership, the International Women’s Secretariat, reporting to the executive of the Communist International, or Comintern. It also initiated the formation of women’s commissions in national parties, which coordinated work by women’s bodies on a branch level, and called periodic international conferences of Communist women.

Pamphlet: Capitalism and workers’ struggle in China (revised edition)

[For more on China, click HERE.]

By Chris Slee

Preface to the revised edition (2011)

June 6, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- There are a number of changes in this edition compared to the first edition (Resistance Books 2010). Most of these changes merely expand on points made in the original, supplying more detail in the text and/or the footnotes. Others take account of new developments in the year since the first edition was published.

The biggest change is in the discussion of the Great Leap Forward, which has been significantly expanded and rewritten. I felt this was necessary for two reasons. First, I wanted to acknowledge that natural disasters as well as mistaken policies played a role in the reappearance of famine in 1959-61. Second, I wanted to explain in more detail what the policy errors were, and why I consider that Mao was largely responsible for them.

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R. Palme Dutt's 'Fascism and social revolution'

By Graham Milner

In the present situation in the world, with the intermittent resurgence of fascist and neo-fascist movements in some countries, an avowedly Marxist treatment of the subject of fascism, such as Palme Dutt's Fascism and Social Revolution, deserves the attention of new generations of readers.

Rajani Palme Dutt (1896-1974) was born in England of an Indian father and a Swedish mother.[1] He grew up in a political household, where socialism and Indian independence were familiar subjects of discussion. A brilliant scholar at Oxford University (he took a double first), Dutt was a conscientious objector during the World War I, and was expelled from university in 1917 for disseminating Marxist propaganda.

China, Vietnam and the islands dispute: What is behind the rise of Chinese nationalism?

By Michael Karadjis

February 2, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Over the last year or so, tensions have been heightened in the dispute over two island groups in the South China Sea (also known as the East Sea in Vietnam), involving rival claims to some or all of the islands by Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and even Brunei. The first three of these countries claim all of both island groups.

The islands in question are known in English as the Paracels and the Spratlys, in Vietnamese as the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, and in Chinese as the Xisha and the Nansha. Both island groups are uninhabited rocky islands and reefs; there is neither a Vietnamese population oppressed by the current Chinese occupation of the Hoang Sa nor a Chinese population oppressed by Vietnamese rule over most of the Truong Sa. Thus there are no questions of self-determination of actual peoples. Therefore, international law would seem to be the best way to judge the status question, unless further negotiations settle things differently.

How the Communist Party of Australia exposes the Democratic Socialist Party's 'Trotskyism'

By Doug Lorimer

[This article first appeared in the Democratic Socialist Party's internal discussion bulletin, The Activist, volume 10, number 7, August 2000.]

The Communist Party of Australia has recently published a pamphlet by David Matters entitled Putting Lenin's Clothes on Trotskyism which claims that the DSP's rejection of Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution is really a cover for its support for Trotskyism. However, the real purpose of the pamphlet is to criticise the DSP's position on the 1998 waterfront dispute.

This is made clear in the introduction to Matters' pamphlet by CPA general secretary Peter Symon:

In writing Putting Lenin's clothes on Trotskyism, David Matters has contributed to the task of clarifying ideas and maintaining the validity and truth of Marxism...

The attack on Marxism in the name of Marx, or on Lenin in the name of Lenin, is a particularly pernicious form which can easily mislead those who are not familiar with what Marx, Engels and Lenin actually said and wrote.

The pretension that Trotsky was a great Leninist is one of these misrepresentations and was refuted time and again by Lenin.

Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA2): Has another Marx been revealed?

France, 2010: 'Karl Marx is not dead.'

January 2, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Logos – The Russian journal Logos, one of the most important journals of philosophy in Russia, is publishing a special issue on Karl Marx in January 2011. It includes a translation of Marcello Musto’s “The Rediscovery of Karl Marx” and an extensive interview with Musto. Below is the English translation of the interview.

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Vesa Oittinen is professor at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland, and author of many books. Among these are: Spinozistische Dialektik (Peter Lang, 1994); Der Akt als Fundament des Bewusstseins? (Peter Lang 1996); Marx ja Venäjä (ed., Aleksanteri Papers, 2006); and Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA) ja Marxin uudelleen löytäminen (ed. with Juha Koivisto, Vastapaino 2010).

Tariq Ali on Mao Zedong and communism in China

"Mao images are for sale, popular in China and not just with tourists, his ideas on protracted war used frequently for `guerrilla marketing'. His fate, like that of Che, seems now to be that of a treasured commodity—all that is missing is a Chinese equivalent of the Motorcycle Diaries."

Review by Tariq Ali

Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World
By Rebecca E. Karl
Duke University Press: Durham, NC 2010
paperback, 216 pages, 978 0 8223 4795 8.

November-December 2010 -- New Left Review -- The emergence of China as the world’s economic powerhouse has shifted the centre of the global market eastwards. The People's Republic of China’s (PRC) growth rates are the envy of elites everywhere, its commodities circulating even in the tiniest Andean street markets, its leaders courted by governments strong and weak. These developments have ignited endless discussion on the country and its future.

Workers in the Russian and Cuban revolutions

Fidel Castro addresses a huge crowd in front of the presidential palace in Havana, Cuba, in 1959. 

By Chris Slee

October 4, 2010 -- This is a response to "Cuba: Stalinism isn't socialism", by John Passant, a prominent member of Socialist Alternative in Australia.

John Passant writes:

One of Marx’s unique and profound contributions to socialism is his idea that the emancipation of the working class is the act of the working class. This is the very reason Cuba isn’t socialist... Castro took power, but the working class as the working class played no role whatsoever in the overthrow of Batista. In fact they ignored Fidel’s call for a general strike in 1958.

In reality the working class played a key role in the Cuban Revolution, through general strikes, mass demonstrations and by taking over their workplaces. For details, see my pamphlet Cuba: How the workers and peasants made the revolution.

Passant mentions the failed general strike of April 1958, but ignores the successful general strike of January 1959. According to historian Hugh Thomas:

James P. Cannon: An introduction

[This the introduction to Building the Revolutionary Party: An Introduction to James P. Cannon (Resistance Books: Chippendale, 1997). Dave Holmes is now a leader of the Socialist Alliance in Melbourne. This and other writings are also available at Dave Holmes' blog, Arguing for Socialism.]

By Dave Holmes

James P. Cannon was a pioneer of the Communist Party of the United States and one of its central leaders in the 1920s. Breaking with the Stalinised CP in 1928 he founded the US Trotskyist movement and played the decisive role in building it for over three decades.

China: In who's interest does the state serve?

Striking workers at the Tianjin Mitsumi Electric Co Ltd factory in the city of Tianjin, June 29, 2010.

By Mark Vorpahl

July 2, 2010 -- Workers' Compass -- The recent wave of strikes in China, most visibly at Honda factories, are testament to a growing movement of labour unrest in the country. This development is of great importance for international working-class struggle.

For the capitalists, China holds a key position in the global system of generating profits. The demands of China's workers for better conditions and a higher standard of living are in direct conflict with the international capitalists' desire to use China as a source of cheap labour. For the world's big business elite, already shaken by an international economic crisis of their own making, the growing militancy of China's workers is a great threat.

Nadezhda Krupskaya, a revolutionary fighter, feminist and pioneer of socialist education

Krupskaya spent a good deal of her later years attempting to disseminate through the means available to her the legacy of Lenin. Thus she wrote and published her famous Reminiscences of Lenin.

By Graham Milner

March 7, 2010 -- Born into a family of radical Russian gentry in 1869, Nedezhda (which from Russian translates as "Hope") Konstantinovna Krupskaya became, with her partner V.I. Lenin, a founder and central leader of the organisation of revolutionaries that led the Russian working class to power in October 1917 -- the Bolshevik Party (majority faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party).

Lars T. Lih's contribution to a Leninism for the 21st century

Lenin Rediscovered: What Is To Be Done? In Context
By Lars T. Lih, Haymarket Books, Chicago 2008, 840 pages

Review by Barry Healy

If a spectre haunted 19th century Europe, as Marx said of the embryonic communist movement, then the name of Lenin was no ghost for the 20th century bourgeoisie, it was a terrifying reality.

For the capitalists, with Leninism the communist phantom came howling out of the underworld, beginning with the 1917 Russian Revolution, sweeping whole continents clean of capitalist rule. Millions of human beings found their life’s purpose in learning from and extending into their own national contexts the ideas of Lenin.

Epic intellectual – and sometimes bitter, physical – conflicts have been waged over the meaning of Lenin’s ideas. Among leftists, the Trotskyists in particular, to their ever-lasting credit, argued for a revolutionary, liberationist reading of Lenin, in defiance of Stalin’s bureaucratic evisceration, often at the cost of their lives.

Slavoj Zizek’s failed encounter with Leninism

Click HERE for more on žižek.

By Paul Kellogg

The Slovenian cultural theorist Slavoj žižek – most centrally in his Revolution At The Gates – has made it his business to reintroduce the Russian Marxist Vladimir Lenin to a new generation of activists. This in itself is a worthwhile project. Most believe that in building a new left we have to “leave the Leninist legacy behind” and greet any attempt to resurrect Lenin with “sarcastic laughter ... Doesn’t Lenin stand precisely for the failure to put Marxism into practice, for the big catastrophe which left its mark on the whole twentieth-century world politics, for the Real Socialist experiment which culminated in an economically inefficient dictatorship?”.[i]

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