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Lenin

Versailles vs Comintern: two visions of world peace

Lenin addresses the opening of the second congress of the Communist International.

By Barry Healy

June 28, 2009, was the anniversary of the two bookends of World War I, in which it is estimated more than 15 million people died. On that date in 1914 Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo and, five years later, in 1919, 90 years ago this year, the Versailles Treaty was signed in Paris.

The first war in which the capacity of modern industry to deploy, feed, arm and dismember people was so hideously demonstrated, WWI was experienced by its victims as the "war to end all wars". Unfortunately, it proved not to be.

Out of the ashes of the conflict two competing visions of world peace arose: Versailles and the revolutionary and democratic alternative represented by the Communist International (Comintern) emanating from the 1917 Russian Revolution.

US President Woodrow Wilson swept into the treaty negotiations declaring: “The world must be made safe for democracy.” Over six months of intense horsetrading at Versailles a new imperialist order was hammered out, resulting in many of the conflicts that followed.

Free pamphlet: Revolutionaries and parliament: The Bolshevik experience

By Maurice Sibelle

One of the greatest obstacles to winning working people to the perspective of a socialist revolution is the widespread and deeply ingrained illusion — inculcated in their minds day-in and day-out by the capitalist rulers — that through the institutions of bourgeois democracy, particularly parliament, working people can defend and advance their interests.

Historical experience has shown that socialists cannot destroy this widely held illusion simply by presenting arguments against it. On the contrary, the working masses can only be convinced that parliament is an instrument of capitalist rule when this argument is backed up by their own experience. That is, the masses of working people will have to go through the practical experience of struggles in which they can test the limits that the parliamentary system places on their activity before they can be convinced of the necessity of overthrowing this system and replacing it with genuinely democratic political institutions — a centralised system of elected committees or councils of working people’s delegates like the Russian soviets of workers’ deputies that emerged in the 1905 revolution and again in 1917.

Between 1912-14, the Russian Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin were able to use the tsarist parliament — the Duma — to help build a revolutionary workers’ movement. This experience provides possibly the richest period for lessons in revolutionary parliamentarism. It was a vital period in the history of the Bolshevik Party. The work done in this period laid the ground work for the rapid changes that occurred in 1917 and the eventual victory of the October Revolution.

Lenin on liquidationism

By Chris Slee

January 2007 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In recent years there have been a number of cases where revolutionary Marxist parties have initiated or participated in attempts at building broad socialist parties. Examples include the Scottish Socialist Party; the Socialist Alliance and later Respect in England; the Socialist Alliance in Australia; Papernas in Indonesia; participation in the Party of Communist Refoundation in Italy; and the New Anti-Capitalist Party initiated by the Revolutionary Communist League (Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire) in France.

Sometimes Marxist groups that participate in such broad formations are accused of "liquidationism". This was a term used by Lenin to refer to the policy of certain members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party who wished to dissolve ("liquidate") the RSDLP after the crushing of the 1905 revolution.

Proceedings of Fourth Congress of the Communist International to be published

In October, John Riddell, co-editor of Socialist Voice, completed a draft translation of the proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International. This ambitious effort (more than 500,000 words) will make all of the resolutions, speeches, and debates from that important 1922 meeting, together with full explanatory annotation, available in English for the first time. The work, which Riddell is preparing in collaboration with the London-based journal Historical Materialism, is planned for publication in 2010.

The British newspaper Socialist Worker interviewed John Riddell (below) about this project for its November 22, 2008, issue.

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By Ken Olende

In 1922 socialists from around the world travelled to Russia to discuss and debate the future of the workers’ movement.

Women and the Russian Revolution: `Our task is to make politics available to every working woman'

By Lisa Macdonald

The following is the Introduction to On the Emancipation of Women, a collection of the key articles and speeches on women’s liberation by Russian revolutionary V.I. Lenin, published by Resistance Books. On the Emancipation of Women is available online at http://www.resistancebooks.com.

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The persistence of gender inequality in the most advanced capitalist societies, with the most complete bourgeois democracy in which women have full formal equality, has put paid to the idea that women's liberation is possible within the framework of capitalism, even in its "healthiest" periods of expansion. Today, in a period of global capitalist stagnation and crisis, as the "gender gap" widens and women, especially in the Third World, bear the brunt of the capitalist class's neo-liberal offensive against the working class as a whole, the correctness of the Marxist analysis of women's oppression as a cornerstone of class society and its revolutionary approach to achieving women's liberation is clearer than ever before.

Slideshow: Stalinism -- How did the Russian Revolution degenerate and was it inevitable?

The DSP and the Fourth International

Introduction

On August 17, 1985 the National Committee of the Democratic Socialist Perpective (then named the Socialist Workers Party) voted to end the party’s affiliation to the Fourth International, the international organisation founded in 1938 by the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his supporters around the world.

This decision, which was subsequently endorsed by the DSP’s 11th Congress, held in Canberra in January 1986, was the result of a process of rethinking within the DSP about many of the ideas it had shared in common with other parties adhering to the Trotskyist movement.

New pamphlet: Comintern: Revolutionary Internationalism in Lenin's Time

[The following is the introduction to a new pamphlet, Comintern: Revolutionary Internationalism in Lenin's Time, produced by the Canadian Socialist Voice collective. The full text is available at http://www.socialistvoice.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/comintern-riddell.pdf]

A critique of Norm Dixon's article, 'Marx, Engels and Lenin on the National Question'

By Malik Miah

Malik Miah is a member of the Editorial Board of Links and of the US socialist organisation Solidarity.

In Links Number 13, Norm Dixon writes: "The struggle of oppressed nations for national liberation remains one of the most burning issues in the world today". And therefore "socialists need to understand the national question if they are to make sense of the world, provide leadership and correctly determine their attitude and response to many international events".

I wholeheartedly agree. However, Dixon presents a formalistic and schematic understanding of the theory of the national question as first discussed by Marx and Engels in a period of rising capitalism and by Lenin in the age of imperialism. Dixon narrowly defines what a nation is and what Lenin means by self-determination, and rejects the nationalism of many oppressed peoples.

For a materialist analysis of national and racial oppression

By Norm Dixon

Norm Dixon is a member of the National Committee of the Australian Democratic Socialist Party and a journalist for Green Left Weekly.

In his critique of my article in Links Number 13, "Marx, Engels and Lenin on the National Question", Malik Miah (Links Number 14) charges that "Dixon presents a formalistic and schematic understanding of the theory of the national question" and "narrowly defines what a nation is and what Lenin means by self-determination, and rejects the nationalism of many oppressed peoples".

The purpose of my article was to reassert that the Marxist theory of the national question as it was developed by Marx, Engels and Lenin and definitively outlined in Stalin's 1913 pamphlet, Marxism and the National Question is firmly based on a materialist, scientific analysis of what does and does not constitute a nation.

Another purpose of the article was to alert to the consequences that losing sight of this scientific socialist understanding of a nation can lead to at the least, ideological confusion, and, at worst, support for politically inappropriate, incorrect or even reactionary slogans and demands.

In Defence of Lenin's Marxist Policy of a Two-Stage, Uninterrupted Revolution

By Doug Lorimer

Phil Hearse's polemic against my pamphlet proceeds from a fundamentally false assumption, i.e., that it "attempts [to give] a general strategic view" of revolution in "the semi-colonial and dependent semi-industrialised countries". He alleges that my pamphlet presents Lenin's policy of carrying out the proletarian revolution in semi-feudal Russia in two stages (a bourgeois democratic and then a socialist stage) "as a general schema for the 'Third World' today". Nowhere in the pamphlet do I make such a claim.

Permanent Revolution today

By Phil Hearse

In the fight for socialist renewal, international collaboration cannot be on the basis of total agreement on theory, strategy or tactics. All or some of the members of organisations the Democratic Socialist Party seeks collaboration with hold or tend towards the permanent revolution theory. These include the sections of the Fourth International, the Scottish Socialist Party, the Pakistani Labour Party, the NSSP in Sri Lanka, Solidarity

Either A 'Socialist Revolution Or A Make-Believe Revolution': A Rejoinder to Doug Lorimer

By Phil Hearse

"The International of Crime and Treason [i.e., the counter-revolutionary coordination of imperialism—PH] has in fact been organised. On the other hand, the indigenous bourgeoisies have lost all their capacity to oppose imperialism—if they ever had it—and they have become the last card in the pack. There are no other alternatives: either a socialist revolution or a make-believe revolution."—Ernesto Che Guevara, Message to the Tricontinental 1967 (emphasis added).

"You must struggle for the socialist revolution, struggle to the end, until the complete victory of the proletariat. Long live the socialist revolution!"—V.I. Lenin, "Speech at the Finland Station" on arrival back in Russia, April 1917

The Bolshevik Party and 'Zinovievism': Comments on a caricature of Leninism

By Doug Lorimer

The disintegration of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union opened an important debate within the Marxist movement about how to evaluate the history of the socialist movement, and especially of the Bolshevik Party, the party that led the world's first successful socialist revolution. One of the central aims of Links has been to provide a forum for such debate.

It is obviously important to carry out this evaluation in a way that does not make the mistake of confusing Stalinism with the theory and practice of the Bolsheviks when Lenin was the foremost leader of that party. Moreover—as was only to be expected—there are different views of what constituted the theory and practice of Bolshevism. Some of these differences have revolved around the role of Grigory Zinoviev.

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