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Russia

Russia in the world

 

By Renfrey Clarke

 

April 3, 2017
Links International Journal of Socialist RenewalFor several weeks in mid-December, media outlets were aflame with the news: Russian President Vladimir Putin, no less, had led a cyber-assault on US democracy, hacking the files of the Democratic Party in an effort to secure the election of his ally Donald Trump.

 

Or perhaps, the real source of the tale had nothing to do with Russia: perhaps it was an attempt to reinforce the self-hypnosis of US liberals that Hillary Clinton’s defeat did not stem from the disgust of millions of rust-belt workers at years of disdain and neglect by Democratic Party politicians.

 

Retired US intelligence experts soon shot the “hack” allegations full of holes.[1] But the refutations were ignored by the mainstream media. And the prejudice the allegations created would survive, to strengthen the rationale for Western economic, diplomatic and military pressures on Russia unparalleled in the post-Cold War period.

 

The BRICS New Development Bank meets in Delhi to dash green-developmental hopes?

 


By Patrick Bond

March 30, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – Will the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) bloc ever really challenge the world financial order?

Who actually subverts democracy?

 
 

By Charles Pierce

 

March 22, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Since December 9 last year, when the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) made its allegations to U.S. Congressional leaders, ranking politicians of both major parties have gone on a concerted rant against Russia for allegedly subverting American “democracy”. The specific allegations are: (1) that Russian state operatives hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC); (2) that Russia then used WikiLeaks as an intermediary to make public internal DNC emails which would embarrass the DNC and hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign; (3) that Russia’s objective was to help Donald Trump win the Presidency; and (4) that Russia’s intervention changed the outcome of the Presidential election. For reasons given below: (1) and (2) are possible but unproven, (3) is unlikely, and (4) is fantasy. 

 

Meanwhile, the major U.S. news media outlets have reported the story with a persistent evasion of highly relevant facts including the U.S. government’s many subversions of elections in other countries. 

 

Syria: A confederal or theocratic revolution?

 
 

By Davide Grasso

 

March 15, 2017
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from InfoAUTWhen Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire on December 17, 2010 – few of us knew the dimensions of what was about to happen. North Africa and Southwest Asia were ticking time-bombs waiting to explode, waiting to manifest, sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly, deep contradictions and new paths towards the future. Few among us were aware of how unprepared we were for these events and, initially, for developing a solid analysis of what was happening beyond the Mediterranean.

 

At the time, a friend told me: "These 'springs' have swept away the Salafis from the history of those countries denying that tendency to be the dominant one among the youth." The following events, up to the present ones, demonstrate how incomplete and one-sided this impression was. We were projecting our expectations on the events. We did not analyze the facts in all their complexity, for what they were, albeit in their ambivalence; we looked at them for what we wanted them to be.

 

Before Lenin: Bolshevik theory and practice in February 1917 revisited

 
Petrograd protesters on 23 February
 

By Eric Blanc

 

March 1, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Historical Materialism Assessing Bolshevik policy before Lenin’s return to Russia in April 1917 has long been one of the most heated historiographic controversies in the socialist movement.

US policy in Syria: Confused or just confusing?

 
 

By Tony Iltis

 

February 27, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, the US has been involved, at first, through arming and supporting groups opposing the dictatorship of Bashar Assad, and supporting allies in the region doing likewise; and since 2014, through its direct involvement in leading an international coalition in an air war against ISIS.

 

Small numbers of US Special Forces and CIA operatives are also in Syria, supporting different, mutually antagonistic groups in the multi-sided conflict.

 

The US role in Syria often appears confused and contradictory. This seems set to increase under the new US administration.

 

Syria: Our starting point must be solidarity

 

 

 

Mark Boothoryd (left) alongside Syrian activists 
protesting against British military intervention in Syria, December 2015

 

By Mark Boothroyd

 

January 17, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – While I welcome David Bush’s attempt to debate Syria productively, his article reproduces many common mistakes made by socialist activists who have not consistently engaged with the Syrian revolution, and offers little to those on the ground struggling against both the Assad regime, and the various imperialist powers intervening in the country.

 

Will Washington’s new pro-Moscow, anti-Beijing gang drive a wedge through the BRICS in 2017?

 

 

By Patrick Bond

 

January 9, 2017 –– Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal –– The weeks following an underwhelming Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) mid-September summit in Goa and the United States presidential election in November have unveiled ever-widening contradictions. Thanks to blatant corruption, presidential delegitimation has reached unprecedented levels in both Brazil and South Africa, while ruling-party religious degeneracy in India also included an extraordinary bout of local currency mismanagement. And sudden new foreign-policy divergences may wreak havoc in China and Russia. The BRICS bloc’s relations could well destabilise to the breaking point.

 

The defeat of Aleppo – Some harsh lessons for the international left

 

 

Introduction and translation by Richard Fidler

 

January 7, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left with permission – Aided by the bombs of the Russian air force and the bullets of foreign militias organized by Iran, Syria’s president Bashar Al-Assad has finally managed to destroy the eastern sector of the country’s largest city Aleppo, the major remaining pocket of popular resistance to his regime.

 

In the following article Santiago Alba Rico, a Spanish-born philosopher and writer based in Tunisia, analyzes what the defeat in Syria means for democratic and progressive opinion everywhere, and in particular the far-reaching implications of the failure of much of the international left to identify with and mobilize in support of the people of Syria in their powerful rebellion against oppression and repression. This failure, he argues, was a critical factor that facilitated the efforts of Assad and his reactionary international allies to drown the revolt in a river of blood.

 

Against imperialist regime-change intervention in Syria and the Middle East

 

 

By Roger Annis and Felipe Stuart Courneyeur

 

January 7, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – David Bush has published an appeal for reasoned and informed discussion in Canada of the war and humanitarian disaster in Syria. He calls for building (or rebuilding) movements in imperialist countries such as Canada to oppose war and foreign intervention in the Middle East. We welcome his appeal and write this essay as a contribution to the discussion David suggests be opened.

 

We do not agree entirely with David's presentation of the war in Syria. This contribution aims to fill in the gaps we believe he leaves. Hopefully, we can arrive at a better understanding in Canada of events in Syria and from there arrive at a clear path for action by an antiwar left wing.

 

BRICS fantasies and unintended revelations: the wages of sub-imperial assimilation

 

 

By Patrick Bond

 

October 14, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — A Brazilian leader’s faux pas spoke volumes about the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) heads of state summit underway in Goa this weekend. The country’s foreign minister (and occasional presidential candidate) José Serra told an interviewer last month that the BRICS included Argentina. And as he stumbled while spelling out the acronym, Serra also had to be prompted to recall that South Africa is a member (because in English it is the “S” in BRICS, but in Portuguese the country is “Africa do Sul”).

 

Anti-imperial Marxism: Borderland socialists and the evolution of Bolshevism on national liberation

 

 

Latvian Marxist polemic against class harmony

 

By Eric Blanc

 

May 2, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Socialist Review with the author’s permission — Given the importance Marxists place on the fight against racial and national oppression, it is surprising that relatively little attention has been paid to the socialists of imperial Russia’s borderlands. Most of the inhabitants of the tsarist empire were non-Russian (Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Finns, Latvians, Georgians, Muslims, etc.), as were most revolutionaries. Yet academic and activist historiography has distorted our understanding of the socialist movement’s overall development by narrowly focusing on Central Russia.

 

The Myth of “Russian Imperialism”: in defence of Lenin’s analyses

 

By Renfrey Clarke and Roger Annis

 

February 29, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A sharp controversy within the international left in recent times has concerned the place occupied by Russia in today’s capitalist world-system. Is Russia an imperialist power, part of the “centre” of global capitalism? Or, do its economic, social and politico-military characteristics mark it as part of the global “periphery” or semi-periphery – that is, as one of the majority of countries that, to one degree or another, are the targets of imperialist bullying and plunder?[1]

 

Traditionally, the Marxist left has used the term “imperialism” with a high degree of discrimination. Imperialism for Marxists is not something called mysteriously into being when “greed” overcomes political leaders. Nor is it simply external military action, however aggressive. For Marxists, the imperialism of our time arises from specific features of the economies and social orders of the most advanced capitalist countries.

 

The classic Marxist definition of imperialism in the modern epoch was provided by V.I. Lenin in his 1916 pamphlet Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. As viewed by the Bolshevik leader, the advanced capitalism that had emerged during the preceding decades had these salient characteristics:

 

A return to the question of whether Russia is imperialist

 

A demonstrator in Istanbul holds a picture depicting Vladimir Putin during a protest against Russian military operations in Syria.

 

By Lou Proyect

February 9, 2016 —Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from The Unrepentant Marxist with permission — One of the main talking points of the pro-Kremlin left is that Russia is not imperialist. This goes hand in hand with an analysis claiming that Putin’s intervention in Ukraine was purely defensive, a move against the genuine imperialists in Washington, London and elsewhere.

 

The last time I dealt with this question was in June 2014 when I replied to Roger Annis, a tireless defender of Kremlin foreign policy. Annis has once again made the same arguments on Links magazine in Australia in an article co-written by Renfrey Clarke who shares his orientation to Russia. Titled “Perpetrator or victim? Russia and contemporary imperialism”, it rehashes many of the same arguments that are supposedly based on Lenin’s “Imperialism, the final stage of Capitalism”.

 

Perpetrator or victim? Russia and contemporary imperialism

 

Russian military troops take part in a military drill on Sernovodsky polygon close to the Chechnya border

 

By Renfrey Clarke and Roger Annis

 

February 7, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The decision by the Crimean people in March 2014 to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia sparked fury in right-wing circles worldwide. Urged on by the new ultra-nationalist government in Kyiv, Western leaders made haste to subject Russia to political and economic sanctions.

 

In commentaries in the Western conservative media, the meme of “Russian imperialism” took firm root. Less predictable, and calling for serious reflection, was the response in another quarter: denunciations of Russian imperialism' were echoed cheerfully by significant sections of the international left.

 

For many of the leftists concerned, “Russian imperialism” was such an obvious truth that it required no serious explaining. The British weekly Socialist Worker, for example, intoned on 11 March 2014: “It remains imperative to struggle against all sides in the imperialist conflict being fought out in Ukraine.…Russian imperialism has made its move to retain political and economic domination over the country with its takeover of Crimea ‒ this should be unconditionally condemned by all revolutionaries claiming to be anti-imperialist.”

 

But just what is imperialism, now the stuff of such effortless catch-phrases? Can the term be applied meaningfully to today’s Russian state? This article is an introduction to several longer pieces forthcoming by the authors on the same subject. We will argue that today’s state and economy in Russia fit neither empirical nor Marxian theoretical definitions of imperialism.

 

Victor Serge: On the borders of victory and defeat

 

 Victor Serge (left), Benjamin Péret, Remedios Varo, and André Breton

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

January 18, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, reposted from Red Wedge with the author's permission — In 1941, reflecting on his own life, which spanned several revolutions, exile, and prison, Victor Serge commented:

 

The only meaning of life lies in conscious participation in the making of history. The more I think of that, the more deeply true it seems to be. It follows that one must range oneself actively against everything that diminishes man, and involve oneself in all struggles which tend to liberate and enlarge him. This categorical imperative is in no way lessened by the fact that such an involvement is inevitably soiled by error: it is a worse error to live for oneself, caught within traditions which are soiled by inhumanity. [1]

 

Stephen F. Cohen on Ukraine: Meeting shows 'Kiev, not Moscow, blocking peace deal'

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.

BRICS bankers will undergird – not undermine – Western financial decadence

By Patrick Bond

July 10, 2015 -- originally published by teleSUR English, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- The main point of the summit of leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa this week was host Vladimir Putin’s demonstration of economic autonomy, given how much Western sanctions and low oil prices keep biting Russia. In part this sense of autonomy comes from nominal progress made on finally launching the bloc’s two new financial institutions.

But can these new banks address the extraordinary challenges in world finance? For example, more than 60% of Greeks voting in last Sunday’s referendum opposed the neoliberal dictates of Brussels-Berlin-Washington, thus raising hopes across Southern Europe and among victims of “odious debt” everywhere.

Meanwhile, bubbly Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets were crashing by $3 trillion from peak levels in just 17 days, a world-historic meltdown, at a time Chinese housing prices were also down 20% over the prior year. Beijing’s emergency bail-out measures represent vast subsidies to financiers, just like those used in Washington, London, Brussels and Tokyo since 2007.

Volodymyr Ishchenko: Ukraine's Maidan mythologies

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has published various left viewpoints on the political situation in Ukraine. For more by Volodymyr Ishchenko.

By Volodymyr Ishchenko

July 9, 2015 -- First published in the June 2015 New Left Review, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Andrew Wilson’s earlier publications on Ukraine won him a reputation as a serious historian. [1] His first books—notably Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s (1997), The Ukrainians (2002) and Ukraine’s Orange Revolution (2005)—were distinguished by three signal features.

First, Wilson argued strongly that while Ukrainian nationalism was a force in the west of the country—where, bred under Austrian and Polish rule, it had mostly possessed a strong right-wing bent—it had only limited appeal in the country as a whole, due to the existence of deep regional, linguistic and ethnic historical divisions. Ukrainian “national identity”, Wilson insisted in The Ukrainians, was essentially a product of the Soviet era.

Armenia: What has sparked #ElectricYerevan?

By Sergei Markedonov

June 24, 2015 -- New Cold War, first published in Russian on politcom.ru, and translated and published in English on Open Democracy; posted at Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal --  Fresh protests in Yerevan have their roots in a number of deep-rooted domestic issues in Armenian politics. But we make comparisons to other protest movements at our peril.

On June 23, some 6000 people marched towards President Serzh Sargsyan’s residence in Yerevan. Water cannons against protesters have been used against participants in what has already been dubbed #ElectricYerevan, in reference to the cause of the protests: rising energy prices.

The initial mass protest against hikes in electricity tariffs, and the authorities’ reaction against them, have had a noticeable effect on the country’s political situation. According to the Armenian police, 237 people were arrested on June 23 and, in total, 29 people suffered injuries, including 11 police officers. But while this situation has already begun to provoke comparisons with recent events in Ukraine, these protests have a domestic trajectory which should not be ignored.

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