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Russia

Russia’s elections: views from the left

 

 

By Volodya Vagner

 

March 29, 2018
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Virtually all the candidates running in Russia’s recent presidential election openly admitted that what they were participating in was a circus. And as expected, the circus director won. After gracefully skipping the televised debates that saw profanity-laden shouting matches and physical confrontations between his opponents, Russian president Vladimir Putin was re-elected by a landslide on March 18. The real question in the run-up to the vote was never who would win, but how legitimate Putin’s victory would be.

 

Trump’s new militarism

 

 

During the 2016 US election campaign Donald Trump promised an end to pointless foreign wars and attacked “useless” and massively expensive new military equipment, like the $1.5 trillion Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter. But the Trump presidency has ushered in a new era of militarism, as the United States prepares for high tech, massively violent wars against Russia and China, argues Phil Hearse.

 

Elections in Russia, 2018: Managed Democracy?

 

 

By David Mandel

 

March 25, 2018 Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Project  — This article examines the bases of popular support for recently re-elected Russian president Vladimir Putin. Although this support is strenuously “cultivated” by the regime by various illicit means, it nevertheless has a genuine basis that needs to be understood by people on the left who are trying to develop an enlightened position in the escalating confrontation between the “West” and Russia.

 

Syria: The Assad regime - a response to Marcel Cartier

 

 

By Chris Slee

 

February 10, 2018 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – In a recent article republished on Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, Marcel Cartier denounces the Turkish invasion of Afrin and calls for solidarity with Rojava:

 

It is Afrin that has been a beacon of stability in Syria over the course of the war, not only taking in tens of thousands of refugees from elsewhere in the country, but establishing the principles of direct democracy, women’s liberation and ecology in the midst of an otherwise catastrophic and tumultuous period. It is precisely this model of a socialistic, multi-ethnic, feminist canton advocated by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) that Erdogan’s AKP government sees as ‘terrorism’

 

I fully agree with Cartier's call for solidarity with the Rojava Revolution, but I disagree with some other points in his article.

 

Afrin between the claws of the major powers

 

 

By Cihad Hammy

 

February 2, 2018
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from The Region In an article I wrote a day before the Turkish state's invasion of Afrin, I intended to scrutinize the underlying ideological structures of the Turkish ruling party (AKP) and the driving force behind the invasion of Afrin. This article will focus more on the role of major powers, mainly US and Russia, in the recent invasion of Afrin and the stances held by the Assad regime and Iran.

 

The threat of wider wars in the Middle East and the responsibilities of socialists

 

 

By Frieda Afary

 

June 24, 2017
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Alliance of Middle East Socialists — On June fifth, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt suddenly cut off diplomatic and trade ties  with Qatar and closed their borders to it. The reason stated for this decision was Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood  movement as well as Qatar’s friendly relations with the Iranian government. Donald Trump subsequently sent out a tweet in which he took credit for this move: “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the king and 50 countries already paying off.”

 

Turkey immediately announced its support for Qatar and accelerated legislation to send more troops  to its military base in that country. It also called on Saudi Arabia to end this crisis. The Iranian government announced that its air space and land borders were open to Qatar in order to prevent a blockade against it.  Subsequently, on June 11, the Iranian navy sent two battleships to the coast of Oman.

 

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:

 

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