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Lenin

Nicos Poulantzas: State, class and the transition to socialism

Click for more on Nicos Poulantzas and more by Doug Enaa Greene.

By Doug Enaa Greene

August 5, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- We live in an era where too much of the left, both in the USA and abroad, remains stuck to old orthodoxies and failed strategies. Marxism is reduced to holy writ and rote, devoid of any ability to either interpret or change the world.

In order to win, the left desperately needs to break away from past habits and recover the ability to raise questions anew by using Marxist methodology to formulate strategy. In this endeavour, there are a number of thinkers we can profitably learn from; one of whom is Nicos Poulantzas. Despite the limitations and contradictions within Poulantzas' methods, he was not afraid to ask the right questions and to develop new strategies.

To that end, it is worth looking at Poulantzas' work in three areas: the state, class and the transition to socialism.

I. Biography

Lars Lih: The ironic triumph of ‘old Bolshevism’ -- the ‘April debates’ and their impact on Bolshevik strategy

June 1, 2015 --Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Lars T. Lih challenges a commonly held view of the Russian Bolshevik party's conduct during the Russian Revolution of 1917, stressing the continuity between the Bolsheviks’ positions before World War I and those advanced during the revolutionary upheaval.

The text is based on a talk Lih gave in 2010 and recently revised. Following the text is a note on other places where Lih’s views on this topic are available – John Riddell.

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By Lars T. Lih

Lenin's Comintern compromise of 1921

For more on the Communist International, click HERE. For more by or about John Riddell

By John Riddell

May 5, 2015 -- JohnRiddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In 1921, a time of declining mass struggles, the Communist International (Comintern) was thrown off course by insistent demands at every level of the organisation for the young movement to launch confrontational actions, even if Communists must fight almost alone. In mid-1921, the Comintern’s Third Congress turned decisively away from this policy. Under the slogan, “To the masses”, it adopted, on Lenin’s insistence, the strategy of unifying working people in struggle that was codified six months later as the “united front”.

Ian Birchall on John Riddell's 'To the masses': Essential resource on communism's early years

To The Masses: Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921
edited and translated by John Riddell
Brill, Leiden & Boston, 2015
1299 pages, €399.00

April 12, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following review by British socialist historian Ian Birchall introduces a major addition to our knowledge of the revolutionary movement of Lenin's time: John Riddell's To the Masses: Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921. Birchall's review is scheduled for publication in Revolutionary History, a journal with 43 published volumes.

The review is published here with kind permission of Revolutionary History and Ian Birchall. Riddell's latest volume, available only in Brill's library format at the moment, will be published in a popular, more inexpensive edition by Haymarket Books in February 2016.

For more on the Communist International, click HERE. Click for more by or about John Riddell.

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Review by Ian Birchall

Lars Lih: Russia 1917 — Bolshevism was fully armed

Pravda editor Lev Kamenev

Pravda editor Lev Kamenev.

Article by Lars Lih, introduction by John Riddell

April 22, 2015 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Did the Bolsheviks, as has often been argued, set aside their pre-1914 strategy in April 1917 on Lenin’s insistence? Recent studies by Lars Lih criticise this thesis, maintaining that the actual course followed by the Bolsheviks in 1917 was close to that of pre-war “Old Bolshevism”.

In the following article, Lih tests his conclusion by examining the editorial course of the Bolsheviks’ main newspaper, Pravda, soon after the February revolution and before Lenin’s return to Russia.

Lih’s text is followed by both a translation and the original Russian text of a March 1917 Pravda editorial by Lev Kamenev, and by a note on further reading.

SYRIZA win sparks interest in Comintern’s workers’ government debate: some resources

For more on the Communist International, click HERE. Click for more by John Riddell.

By John Riddell

March 17, 2015 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Efforts by working people to gain governmental power in our new century, most recently in Greece, have drawn attention to the Communist International’s historic discussion on this issue at its Fourth World Congress in Moscow in 1922.

Here are links to all significant comments on this issue from the congress record, plus the segment of its Theses on Tactics taking up this question, and my commentary setting the historical context. Delegates’ comments on this point were spread over many congress sessions and are made available in one place for the first time in any language.

Paul Le Blanc on Tamás Krausz's 'Reconstructing Lenin': Sorting through Lenin’s legacy


Reconstructing Lenin: An Intellectual Biography
By Tamás Krausz
New York: Monthly Review Books, 2015
564 pages; Order HERE

For more discussion on Lenin, click HERE. For more by Paul Le Blanc, click HERE

Review by Paul Le Blanc

March 10, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This edition of Tamás Krausz’s study of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin is compelling and imposing in more than one way. It is not, strictly speaking, an intellectual biography. So much is offered in this remarkable volume, however, that many readers will not complain that they are not actually treated to a chronological narrative tracing the evolution of Lenin’s thought.

Nikolai Bukharin: ‘The favourite of the whole party’

By Doug Enaa Greene

February 13, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- “Bukharin has thirty years of revolutionary work to his credit.”[1] 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."[2]

Socialists and World War I: Turn the imperialist war into a civil war

Industrial Workers of the World poster against WWI.

By Doug Enaa Greene

February 2, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It has been a hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War. The centennial of the “war to end all wars” has seen countless commemorations of the millions of heroic soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice for king and country.

Yet missing from all of the observances of the war are the deeper questions of its causes – to divide colonies among predatory ruling classes – and the heroism of those who opposed the mass slaughter. And for the left, that is how we should remember this 100th anniversary – but honoring those socialists and communists who fought against all the odds to end the slaughter.

Heroic class leadership: Lars T. Lih's ‘Lenin’

Lenin
By Lars T. Lih. London: Reaktion Books, 2011
235 pages

[Click HERE for more by or about Lars Lih. For more discussion on Lenin, click HERE.]

Review by Doug Enaa Greene

January 19, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Too often, when the name of Lenin is brought up in this day and age, it conjures up certain uncomfortable images in the popular and academic mind. Lenin is seen as the founder of the Bolshevik Party, who was hell-bent on establishing a totalitarian state. It is time that this image of Lenin be discarded. Lenin should be embraced by revolutionaries the world over desiring to build a society free of exploitation.

Lenin y Kautsky: El extraño caso de Lenin en el armario

[English at "Lars Lih on Lenin and Kautsky: 'The strange case of the closeted Lenin'", http://links.org.au/node/4186.]

Por Lars Lih, traducción para www.sinpermiso.info: Gustavo Buster

14/12/14 -- Sinpermiso.info -- En primer lugar, permítanme decir que es muy elogioso tener dos críticas - una sustancial, la otra no - a mis puntos de vista sobre Lenin publicados recientemente. La primera es de Kevin Corr y Gareth Jenkins, del SWP[1]) y la segunda está escrita por Peter Taaffe del Socialist Party in England and Wales[2].

En mi opinión, la crítica de Taaffe no tiene que ver con mis puntos de vista y no le interesa realmente lo que defiendo. Peter Taaffe simplemente afirma que escribo frases pretenciosas, románticas y después expone sus propios puntos de vista. No es una polémica seria digna de una respuesta. Por su parte, sin embargo, Corr y Jenkins en su artículo, "El caso de la desaparición de Lenin”, pretenden refutar mis puntos de vista reales y en su mayor parte su crítica hace un buen trabajo a la hora de resumir cuales son..

Solía existir en la izquierda una narrativa lineal, indiscutible, que era algo como:

How socialists of Lenin’s time responded to colonialism

Manabendra Nath Roy

Manabendra Nath Roy.

For more discussion on the Communist International, click HERE. Click for more by John Riddell.

By John Riddell

[This text was first presented at the Ideas Left Out conference on Elbow Lake, Ontario, August 2, 2014.]

December 14, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- As the 19th century neared its close, revolutionary socialists were hostile to the world’s imperial powers and to their colonial empires, which then encircled the globe. They foresaw the overthrow of colonialism as a by-product of socialist revolution in the industrialised capitalist countries.

They had little knowledge, however, of the anti-colonial freedom movements that began to emerge at that time. It was not until the Russian Revolution of 1917 that an alliance was forged between revolutionary socialism and the colonial freedom movement.

Lars Lih on Lenin and Kautsky: 'The strange case of the closeted Lenin'

December 4, 2014 -- Weekly Worker, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- According to some comrades in the Socialist Workers Party (UK), Lenin was a hypocrite who did not say what he thought. In this article, based on a speech to a London Communist Forum, Lars T. Lih puts the record straight.

* * *

First of all let me say that it is very complimentary to have two critiques -- one substantial, one not -- of my views on Lenin recently published. The first is by Kevin Corr and Gareth Jenkins of the Socialist Workers Party1 and the second is written by Peter Taaffe of the Socialist Party in England and Wales.2

Lars T. Lih: ‘All Power to the Soviets’: a biography of a slogan

"All power to the soviets!"

For more by or about Lars Lih, please click HERE.

By Lars Lih

August 18, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- “All power to the Soviets!” is surely one of the most famous slogans in revolutionary history. It is right up there with “Egalité, liberté, fraternité” as a symbol of an entire revolutionary epoch. I would like to examine this slogan in its original context of Russia in 1917, in order to see why it arose, where it came from, and to what extent it was carried out in practice.[1]

Capitalism's world war and the battle against it

Trench warfare between French and German troops during the First World War
Trench warfare between French and German troops during the First World War.

July 28, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- John Riddell is the author and editor of numerous books, including, most recently, Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922. Here, he explains how the First World War broke out 100 years ago, how the socialist movement reacted, and how a revolutionary anti-war opposition emerged.

* * *

Leninism, No? Paul Le Blanc replies to Ian Birchall

For more by Paul Le Blanc, click HERE. For more discussion of "Leninism", click HERE.

August 6, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- Paul Le Blanc is a veteran socialist and author, most recently, of Unfinished Leninism: The Rise and Return of a Revolutionary Doctrine. In response to an article by British socialist Ian Birchall published at the Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century website [published by the socialist group of the same name, abbreviated as RS21], Le Blanc wrote this commentary to contribute to the discussion of "Leninism".

* * *

Ian Birchall has made an important contribution to the ongoing discussion on the international left about the meaning and value of Leninism, which is one of the focal points of my recent collection Unfinished Leninism: The Rise and Return of a Revolutionary Doctrine. Here I would like to make a few comments about what this esteemed comrade has to say.

Responding to capitalist global disaster: World War I and today

The following talk was delivered to the US International Socialist Organization's Socialism 2014 conference in Chicago, June 28, 2014. It has been edited for publication in International Socialist Review. See also John Riddell's article, “Capitalism’s First World War and the Battle Against It“, in Socialist Worker. Read more on World War I.

* * *

By John Riddell

August 5, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- On August 5, 100 years ago, a Bosnian nationalist assassinated the crown prince of Austria-Hungary, setting in motion a chain of events that led a month later to the outbreak of the First World War.

The war shattered the world socialist movement and unleashed an overwhelming social catastrophe in Europe, killing 17 million soldiers and civilians. The resulting revolutionary struggles brought the war to an abrupt end in 1918, while toppling the continent’s three great empires and bringing workers and peasants to power in Russia. The war also contributed to a global rise of anti-colonial struggles.

What does this unique cataclysm mean for us today? It is useful to compare World War I with the dangers posed today by climate change and environmental collapse.

Liberación nacional y bolchevismo: la aportación de los marxistas de la periferia del Imperio Zarista

Bund miembros y las víctimas pogrom en Odessa, 1905.

[In English at http://links.org.au/node/3873. Haga clic aquí para más artículos en español.]

Por Eric Blanc

Sinpermiso.info -- La perspectiva desde las regiones periféricas del Imperio Zarista nos obliga a repensar muchas presunciones largamente sostenidas sobre las revoluciones de 1905 y 1917, así como la evolución de muchos análisis marxistas sobre la liberación nacional, la lucha campesina, la revolución permanente, y la emancipación de las mujeres.

Este artículo analiza los debates socialistas sobre la cuestión nacional hasta 1914. Sostengo en él que la estrategia del marxismo anti-colonial que se acabó imponiendo fue elaborada por primera vez por los socialistas de las nacionalidades periféricas del Imperio Zarista, no por los bolcheviques. Lenin y sus camaradas fueron por detrás de los marxistas no rusos en este tema crucial incluso hasta después de haber comenzado la Guerra Civil. Esta debilidad política ayuda a explicar el fracaso bolchevique a la hora de establecer raíces en los pueblos dominados del Imperio Zarista.

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