Russia

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.

`Lenin and workers' control', by Didier Limon (1967)

May Day in St Petersburg, 1917.

By Didier Limon, translated, edited and introduced by Keith Rosenthal

December 22, 2010 -- This phenomenal, historical and analytical study by Didier Limon -- which first appeared in Autogestion: études, débats, documents, cahier no. 4, pp. 65-111 (Paris, December 1967) -- has, until now, not been translated into English. This is a shame on many levels for it stands nearly peerless in its meticulous treatment of the specific subject it takes up. That is, the debates and discussions surrounding the implementation of workers’ control of production within the first months after the October revolution of 1917 in Russia.

Australia & New Zealand: The imperialist reality behind ANZAC myth (updated 2015)

Film by John Rainford and Peter Ewer

April 24, 2015 -- Green Left TV/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC's ill-fated Gallipoli campaign approaches, this timely short film (above) cuts through the myth making, and shows with damning facts how lives were used as fodder as strategic and tactical blunders led to the slaughter of so many.

It reveals the context behind the Gallipoli campaign - a war fought because the world had been cut up into colonies by the major powers who were now battling for the spoils.

The film shows exactly why the terrible ANZAC Cove campaign should never be forgotten — and the crimes of the warmongers responsible never forgiven.

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George Monbiot vs Helen Caldicott: Who is right about the Chernobyl death toll?

By Jim Green

April 17, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- With the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster falling on April 26, a debate is brewing over the estimated death toll. The debate has erupted with a heated exchange between prominent British columnist George Monbiot and anti-nuclear campaigner Dr Helen Caldicott. Monbiot claims the “official death toll” from Chernobyl is 43. Caldicott puts the death toll at 985,000. Someone's wrong. Perhaps they both are.

The debate over the Chernobyl death toll turns on the broader debate over the health effects of low-level ionising radiation and in particular the risk of cancer. The weight of scientific opinion holds that there is no threshold below which ionising radiation poses no risk and that the risk is proportional to the dose — the “linear no-threshold” (LNT) model.

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.

Lars T. Lih: ‘We must dream!’ Echoes of `What Is to Be Done?’ in Lenin’s later career

[Talk given at the US International Socialist Organization’s Socialism 2010 conference, Chicago, June 2010. Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Lars Lih's permission. Lars T. Lih's Lenin, a short volume in the Critical Lives series of Reaktion Books, will be published later this year. Click here for a special offer. Read more by and about Lars T. Lih HERE. You can also read more about Lenin HERE.]

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By Lars T. Lih

Lars T. Lih: Scotching the myths about Lenin's `What is to be done'

By Lars T. Lih

October 21 2010 -- Weekly Worker -- What is to be done? was written for the first time in Russian between the autumn of 1901 and spring of 1902. It was a success among the rather limited number of people he was addressing: namely the people in the social-democratic [as revolutionary socialism was still know as] movement in Russia and interested parties. Of course, this audience was not sufficient to make it a real bestseller, but it did have an impact. When we look at the pamphlet today we want to have a sense of when, why and for whom he wrote it.

So, first, I am going to look at the basic task that Lenin and his comrades had set themselves. The reason for this is that he shared this task with other leaders in the movement, and even with some of the people he is arguing against. But, because he shares it, it is not actually set out in the book itself. It becomes background; because he assumes agreement on the basic task, he does not talk about it. We have to be aware of this.

Was Karl Marx `Eurocentric'?

Marx at the Margins: On Nationalism, Ethnicity and Non-Western Societies
By Kevin B. Anderson
University of Chicago Press, 2010, 336  pages

Eurocentrism
By Samir Amin
Monthly Review Press, 1988 (second edition 2009), 288 pages

Reviews by Barry Healy

October 22, 2010 -- In the foundational text of the Marxist movement, the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels paint a vivid word picture of the awesome, world-shaking advance of capitalism.

The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.

Alex Callinicos on imperialism, two reviews

Review by Barry Healy

Imperialism and Global Political Economy
By Alex Callinicos
Polity, 2009
227 pages

October 2, 2010 -- The topic of “imperialism” greatly occupied the minds of late-19th and early-20th century socialists. Some of the tradition’s greatest minds toiled mightily to discern the fundamental changes in capitalism that were occurring before their eyes.

Capitalism, as analysed by Karl Marx, had grown fat in its European heartland through the ruthless exploitation of colonies and the brutal factory system in its coal dark cities. But suddenly new phenomena started to appear in the late 1800s.

Banking capital moved from being a support for industrial capital, first merging into and then dominating manufacturing. This agglomeration of money power created massive industrial complexes, like Germany’s famous Krupps steelworks.

The colossal scale of these industrial works dwarfed human beings.

Why Marxists oppose terrorism

[This is the slightly edited text of a talk presented to the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Resistance educational conference in Sydney in January 2002. 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

I'd like to begin with a juxtaposition of two events — one which took place relatively recently and the other a long time before.

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).

Beyond the World Social Forum ... the Fifth International

Eric Toussaint interviewed by Igor Ojeda for the Brazilian weekly paper Brasil de Fato. Translated from French by Judith Harris and Christine Pagnoulle.

February 2010 -- According to Eric Toussaint, a doctor in political science and one of the ideologists of the World Social Forum, now in its tenth edition, effective political action calls for the creation of a permanent national front of parties, social movements and international networks.

Eric Toussaint, a doctor in political science and a member of the International Council of the World Social Forum (WSF), is in favour of the WSF becoming a platform of greater political influence in social struggles throughout the world. He is not particularly worried about the resistance of certain sectors within the forum who would prefer this event to retain its original form. For him, the solution is simple. “If the World Social Forum cannot accommodate it, we must build another instrument, without leaving or scrapping the forum”.

Beyond `feminine’ and `masculine’

By Anna Ochkina, translated by Renfrey Clarke for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

[Rabkor.ru published this reply by Anna Ochkina to a polemical article, “Masculine and Feminine”, by Dmitry Zhvaniya. Anna Ochkina is deputy director of Institute for Globalisation Studies and Social Movements (IGSO) and deputy editor of Levaya politika (Left Politics) journal. She is a sociologist based in Penza, where she teaches at the university. Dmitry Zhvaniya is a journalist, based in St. Petersburg and a founding member of Dvizheniye soprotivleniya imeni Petra Alekseyeva (the Piotr Alekseyev Resistance Movement). Zhvaniya's article "Muzhskoe i zhenskoe" ("Masculine and Feminine") is available (in Russian) at http://www.rabkor.ru/debate/3933.html.]

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`Second assassination' of Trotsky -- Paul Le Blanc reviews Robert Service’s biography of Trotsky

Review by Paul Le Blanc

Trotsky: A Biography
By Robert Service
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009
600 pages

December 25, 2009 -- ESSF -- Robert Service has written, to great acclaim, a new biography of Leon Trotsky. “Trotsky moved like a bright comet across the political sky,” Service tells us. Along with Lenin and other leaders of the Russian Revolution associated with the Bolshevik – soon renamed Communist – party, “he first came to global attention in 1917. … He lived a life full of drama played out with the world as his stage. The October Revolution changed the course of history, and Trotsky had a prominent role in the transformation. … There is no denying Trotsky’s exceptional qualities. He was an outstanding speaker, organizer and leader.” (1, 3)

The economic crisis: Whose fault is it, and how can it be overcome?

By Aleksandr Buzgalin and Andrey Kolganov, translated by Renfrey Clarke for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

March 23, 2009 -- The period at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was notable for a whole range of developments. Two of them, however, seem to the authors to be not only closely interconnected, but also of symbolic importance: a genuinely profound economic crisis broke out, and along with it, sharply increased interest came to be shown in the works of Karl Marx.

Over many years, various Marxists spoke of the crisis of capitalism at such length that the great majority of analysts ceased to take them seriously. The situation thus recalled the old story of the shepherd boy who continually cried “Wolf! Wolf!” even though there was no wolf there.

But one day, the wolf actually appeared ...

Meanwhile serious Marxists, unlike the party-political propagandists of the Soviet era, began talking of the threat of a world financial crisis and of the possibility of its turning into a world economic crisis only relatively recently, around the turn of the 21st century. This was the point at which it became obvious that the gap between fictitious financial capital on the one hand, and human capacities and the requirements of material goods production on the other, had reached dangerous dimensions.

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.

Present-day Russia needs a renewal of the feminist movement

By Anna Ochkina, translated from Russian for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Renfrey Clarke

January 1, 2009 -- In the Soviet Union feminism was elevated to the status of official state policy and ultimately was destroyed as an ideology and a social movement. The dominant concept was one of a general, global equality; as a result, a separate movement for the rights of women simply could not exist. The feminist reference points of Soviet social policy took the form of a set of rights for women: employment in the workforce on an equal basis with men; political rights; equality before the law, and so forth. The gaining of formal rights, however, resulted in the restricting of particular, specific rights of women, which in practice proved very difficult to realise.

Lessons of the Caucasus war: Imperial ambitions need to be opposed

By Andrey Kolganov and Aleksandr Buzgalin, translated by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal’s Renfrey Clarke

Moscow, September 2, 2008 -- To most Russians, it was obvious from the beginning that the latest war in the Caucasus began with an attack by Georgian forces on South Ossetia, and that ultimately it was unleashed on the initiative of the United States. To the West, meanwhile, it was just as clear from the outset that the August war in the Caucasus represented an assault on small, defenceless and democratic Georgia by huge, aggressive and authoritarian Russia. This is what almost all the world media have asserted, and continue to assert. To a significant degree, this is even believed by a significant section of world civil society, including by anti-globalisation activists who for the most part have little sympathy for the US establishment.

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