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Russia

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.

Nationalism, revolution and war in the Caucasus

By Tony Iltis

August 27, 2008 -- Since the European Union-brokered ceasefire brought the shooting war between Georgia and Russia to an end on August 12, there has been a war of words between Russia and the West. One point of contention is the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia-proper (that is, Georgia excluding the de facto independent territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia), in particular the towns of Gori, Zugdidi and Senaki and the port of Poti.

The war began with Georgia’s August 7 attack on the territory of South Ossetia. Russia responded with a military assault that first drove Georgian troops out of South Ossetia, then continued to advance within Georgia-proper.

Russia agreed to withdraw when it signed the ceasefire and has since indicated that it is doing so — but slowly, and not before systematically destroying Georgia’s military capacity.

A bigger difference, based on competing interpretations of what is and isn’t Georgian territory, is Russia’s stated intention to maintain a beefed-up peacekeeping presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The decline of US power: Can Russia, China, India or Europe fill the gap? Can people's power?

 

 

August 16, 2008, Radio New Internationalist

The new superpowers

Commentators claim that as a superpower, the US is in decline. Is this the case?

Russia-Georgia: Behind the war on South Ossetia

By Tony Iltis

August 16, 2008 -- On August 7, after a week of border clashes, Georgia's pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili launched a military attack against South Ossetia.

South Ossetia, while internationally recognised as part of Georgia, has been predominantly under the control of a pro-independence administration since Georgia separated from the former Soviet Union in 1991. Since a 1992 ceasefire, the South Ossetian statelet has been protected by Russian peacekeepers.

Within 24 hours, Georgian troops had taken the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, after destroying much of it with artillary. More than 30,000 refugees (out of a population of 70,000) fled across the border to the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, which is part of the Russian Federation.

Using this, and the killing of 20 Russian peacekeepers, as pretexts, Russia intervened in full force: bombing targets throughout Georgia, driving the Georgians out of South Ossetia (including territory not previously held by the South Ossetian administration) and crossing into Georgia-proper to take the town of Gori.

Boris Kagarlitsky on the Russia-Georgia conflict

 

Bad habits are contagious

By Boris Kagarlitsky

August 14, 2008 -- Georgia has resolutely condemned Russia's actions in Chechnya. Russia has severely criticised NATO actions towards Serbia. Later on the Georgian authorities tried to do the same thing in South Ossetia as the Russian authorities had done in Chechnya. Moscow decided to treat Georgia in the same way as NATO had treated Serbia. Bad habits are contagious.

The crisis of the global economy

A report of the Institute of Globalisation and Social Movements, Moscow

By Vasily Koltashov

Translated by Renfrey Clarke, Links – International Journal of Socialist Renewal (http://links.org.au)

Moscow, June 9, 2008 -- In the early weeks of 2008 virtually all Russian and foreign experts viewed the situation in the world economy favourably. Warnings from a few analysts that a major economic crisis lay ahead were not taken especially seriously by optimistic-minded populations.

On January 22 the stock exchanges were shaken by the first slump, followed by a series of new collapses. The world’s share markets were destabilised. Inflation accelerated, with food prices beginning to rise sharply. A number of American and European banks announced colossal losses in their results for 2007. The scale of the economic problems in the US became evident. A new world crisis had begun. The emergence of its first symptoms provoked numerous questions concerning the nature of the crisis, the reasons behind it, and the logic shaping its probable development.

Video: Boris Kagarlitsky on the left and labour in Russia under Putin

With Boris Kagarlitsky, Institute For Globalization and Social Movements, Moscow.

Since the collapse of the old Soviet Union in the 1990s and the end of the politically bankrupt regime of Boris Yeltsin in 2000, Vladimir Putin has consolidated power in Russia. He has ruled over an economy growing at about 7% per year, and, in Kagarlitsky's view, establishing Russia as an 'empire of the periphery'. The left and workers have faced enormous challenges in the new (and not so new) Russia in the face of massive economic restructuring and major political obstacles. This discussion will address how the left, workers and unions are attempting to re-group and respond to these challenges.

Theses on the class nature of the People's Republic of China

This resolution was adopted by the 18th Congress of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia, held in Sydney, January 5-10, 1999.

I. Theoretical framework

1. For orthodox Marxists, as Lenin explained in his 1917 book The State and Revolution, the state is a centralised organisation of force separated from the community as a whole which enforces, through special bodies of armed people and other institutions of coercion, the will of one class, or an alliance of classes, upon the rest of society.

The prospects for socialism (or barbarism)

By Boris Kagarlitsky

Not long before the European elections, in which the social democratic vote collapsed, two of the most authoritative social democratic leaders, Tony Blair and Gerhard Schröder, published a letter in which they formulated the principles of the so-called "new centre" (neue Mitte). These principles could be summed up as arguing that the traditional ideas of social democracy (redistribution, a mixed economy and state regulation in the spirit of Keynes) needed to be replaced by new approaches in the spirit of neo-liberalism.

True, the authors of the letter took their distance from neo-liberalism itself, stating that they did not share its illusions that all problems could be solved through market methods. At the same time, they proposed to solve the problems of world trade by liberalising it further. Instead of solidarity, they called for increased competition, and instead of job creation, for preparing young people better for life under the conditions of a constantly changing market conjuncture.

'Political capitalism' and corruption in Russia

By Boris Kagarlitsky

Boris Kagarlitsky is a contributing editor of Links. His books include Square Wheels: How Russian Democracy Got Derailed and The Mirage of Modernisation.

The Western press discovered corruption in Russia in the late 1990s. At this time, the Western reader was deluged with reports describing not just the crimes of the "Russian mafia"—whose origins were invariably traced back to the old political police, the KGB—but also bribe-taking, embezzlement and illegal transfers of funds abroad by top-ranking bureaucrats. The high point of the criticism was a scandal, which the press termed "Russia-gate", concerning Russian accounts in the Bank of New York. The family and close associates of President Boris Yeltsin were linked to the illegal transfer of funds to the West. Later, former Kremlin chief of staff Pavel Borodin was even arrested in the US on charges brought against him in Switzerland during the heat of Russia-gate. The Russian prosecutor's office, however, was clearly reluctant to collaborate with its Swiss and US counterparts, and the affair began to dissipate.

What remains of Soviet culture?

By Boris Kagarlitsky

A decade after the official dissolution of the Soviet Union, the question of the Soviet heritage remains the topic of heated discussions in Russia and other post-Communist countries. Some people explain all the problems and disagreements as survivals from the Soviet past, and dream of a time when the collective memory will be wiped clean of the last traces of the Soviet experience. Others carefully cherish Soviet traditions, saving whatever can still be saved and preserving it. Among sections of radical youth there is a half myth, half fairy tale about life in the USSR, a version that mixes the truth with the idealised recollections of grandfathers and grandmothers who take their grandchildren to Communist demonstrations. As the grandchildren grow up, they do not become admirers of Stalin, but feel a robust loathing for the people who destroyed the country and impoverished its people. Even without the grandparents, they would have thought exactly the same, since their own experience of life proves to the younger generation, on a daily basis, that present-day Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan are societies that are not so much creating the conditions for future development, as squandering and destroying the inheritance from Soviet times. The most important questions remain at a certain distance from all these disputes: What was it that made Soviet culture unique and attractive? What is its place in history, and what did it leave behind?

The Golitsino consensus

By Boris Kagarlitsky

Links contributing editor Boris Kagarlitsky is well known for his many books and articles on Soviet and post-Soviet society. Translated by Renfrey Clarke.

For many years, Russian leftists have talked of the need for a process of unification. The results, however, have been poor. The reasons for this have not lain in the disagreements and ambitions of leaders, or in the ideological positions of the various groups. The main problem has been the weakness and immaturity of the movement itself. Experience has shown that the weaker the left is, and the smaller its influence on society, the greater its inclination to sectarianism.

The events that unfolded from June 20 to 22, 2003, in the town of Golitsino near Moscow can be considered crucial not only because a conference on the future of the left finally initiated a unification process, but also because this meeting itself provided evidence of a level of maturity and seriousness in the movement that is quite new and unfamiliar for Russia.

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