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The revolutionary legacy of Bhagat Singh: the 'Che Guevara' of South Asia

September 28, 2012, marked the 105th anniversary of the birth of South Asian revolutionary Bhagat Singh. Revolutionaries across India and Pakistan marked this occasion with meetings and ceremonies. Below, Chaman Lal introduces readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal to the life and work of Bhagat Singh. This article first appeared in the India-based Economic and Political Weekly to mark Singh's 100th birthday. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Chaman Lal's permission.

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By Chaman Lal

Bhagat Singh’s life (September 28, 1907–March 23, 1931), work and thought were marked by an uncompromising struggle against colonialism and imperialism, together with radical opposition to capitalism, communalism and the caste system. This article is a spirited account of his life, his revolutionary activity, his ideals, his opinions and his legacy.

Video: Ilan Pappe on 'The forgotten Palestinians'

September 16, 2012 -- Green Left TV/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Celebrated Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, whose landmark publication The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine documented the removal of 700,000 Palestinians from their lands in 1948, has written a new book, The Forgotten Palestinians.

In the book and at his September 16, 2012, community meeting at Sydney University above, Pappe reveals the situation for Palestinians who still live within Israel's borders.

The meeting was the first event of Pappe's 2012 Australian lecture tour. It was hosted by the Sydney Peace Foundation with the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Leichhardt Friends of Hebron. Pappe was in Australia to deliver the annual Edward Said Memorial Lecture at the University of Adelaide.

Film by Green Left TV.

John Riddell: What would Lenin's Comintern have made of SYRIZA? The Comintern as a school of socialist strategy

[For more articles by John Riddell, click HERE; for more on SYRIZA, click HERE; for more on the Communist International, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

September 3, 2012 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In his review of my edition of the Communist International’s Fourth Congress (1922),[1] Ian Birchall warns against a “scriptural approach” to the Comintern record, but also affirms that studying it “can be of great value”. Where can this value be found? A controversy among Marxists over this year’s elections in Greece points our way to an answer.

Paul Le Blanc: The great Lenin debate -- history and politics

Lenin "favoured an organisation that functioned like a democratic, cohesive, activist collectivity".

[Read more by (and about) Paul Le Blanc HERE;more by (and about) Lars Lih HERE; and more on Lenin HERE. The Pham Binh-Paul Le Blanc- Lars Lih debate can be found HERE.]

By Paul Le Blanc

[A talk resented at the Communist Party of Great Britain’s Communist University, London, August 20-26, 2012.]

September 1, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The deepening of global crises, the intensification of popular protest and insurgency, and the spread of revolutionary possibilities have been generating renewed interest in Marxism and, along with that, a renewal of Marxism. A key figure in the Marxist tradition – and in the renewal – is the person who was central in the first revolution to be led by revolutionary Marxists: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.

The disappeared in Sri Lanka

Vigil to remember the disappeared in Sri Lanka, Melbourne, August 30, 2012. Photos by Tony Iltis.

By Lionel Bopage

A speech made on August 30, 2012, at a vigil to remember the disappeared in Sri Lanka on International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, at the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

August 30, 2012 -- Groundviews -- I am honoured to have been asked to speak at this vigil, to remember the disappeared in Sri Lanka on this important occasion of International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

Sri Lanka is party to diverse declarations and conventions of the United Nations on human rights. Therefore, the main responsibility of protecting peoples’ rights lies with the government of the day.

South Africa: Hamba Kahle Comrade Neville Alexander (1936-2012)

August 30, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal publishes a number of tributes to Neville Alexander, a great South African revolutionary, who died on August 27, 2012. Following the tributes is an extensive biographical essay by the South African History Online project.

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Tribute to Neville Alexander from comrades and friends of the Workers' Organisation for Socialist Action (WOSA)

August 29, 2012 -- Comrades and friends who have known Neville Alexander through the Workers Organisation for Socialist Action mourn the passing of this great socialist and revolutionary. Neville Alexander dedicated his life to the struggle against oppression and injustice and for the upliftment of his fellow human beings.

From the early days of student struggles to his arrest and imprisonment on Robben Island to his latter years working on language and education, Neville Alexander’s deep humanitarian spirit, his respect for the ordinary people and his humility were always present.

South Africa: The massacre of our illusions … and the seeds of something new

By Leonard Gentle, director of the International Labour Research and Information Group (South Africa)

August 23, 2012 -- ILRIG -- The story of Marikana has so far been painted shallowly as an inter-union spat. In the first few days after the August16 police killing of  34 striking mineworkers, employed by the Lonmin mining corporation, and the shock and horror of watching people being massacred on TV, there have correctly been howls of anger and grief. Of course no one wants to take responsibility because to do so would be to acknowledge blame.

Some pundits have even gone the way of warning at anyone “pointing figures” or “stoking anger”. That buffoon, African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema, stepped forward as if scripted, and promptly lent credibility to those warnings. So South African President Jacob Zuma’s setting up of an inquiry and his call for a week of mourning for the deceased and their families could come across as “statesmanlike”.

A state of affairs worth fighting for: historiography of the Spanish Civil War

By Doug Enaa Greene

September 24, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

“There was much in it that I did not understand, in some ways I did not even like it, but I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for.”[1]

This was George Orwell’s first impression of revolutionary Barcelona at the end of 1936. In many ways, the phrase, ‘a state of affairs worth fighting for,’ sums up how an entire generation felt about the Spanish Civil War. Whether on the left or right, millions were passionately aroused by the war. Idealistic volunteers from more than fifty countries went to fight on behalf of the Republic. Hitler and Mussolini helped the Nationalist side in their fervent crusade to establish a ‘Catholic Spain.’

Communist International's Fourth Congress: revolutionary fulcrum of the modern world

Toward the United Front, Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922
Edited and translated by John Riddell
Brill, 2011 (hard back), 1310 pages, 200 euros
Haymarket Books, 2012 (paper back), US$55

Haymarket Books is now taking pre-publication orders of Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, at US$50, a 10% reduction. It is due to be released in November 2012.

To take advantage of Haymarket’s offer, go to Toward the United Front, order the book, go to “check-out” and enter RIDDELL2012 in the “coupon code” field.

To recommend the Brill hardcover edition to your favourite library, go to Brill Academic Publishers and click on “recommend”.

Toward the United Front will also be available from Resistance Books in November.

Review by Barry Healy

Another Olympics is possible: the socialist sports movements of the past

For more discussion of issues surrounding sport and politics, click HERE. For more on the Olympics, click HERE.

August 7, 2012 -- As Mike Marqusee points out in an article posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, the modern Olympic Games are "a symbolic package: individual excellence at the service of the nation-state under the overlordship of multinational capital". Today, the domination of most sport by the capitalist corporations, crude nationalism and dog-eat-dog ideology is almost complete, occasionally challenged by the actions a few principled groups and individuals. But that was not always the case.

In fact, in the early decades of the 20th century, there were mass socialist-inspired workers' sports movements that sought, to varying degrees, to challenge capitalist control and ideology in sport. The goal was to organise working-class people through sport and leisure, and in some cases to attempt to fashion a new conception of sport.

Thomas Sankara: Revolution and the emancipation of women

"The revolution and women’s liberation go together. We do not talk of women’s emancipation as an act of charity or out of a surge of human compassion. It is a basic necessity for the revolution to triumph." -- Thomas Sankara

By Amber Murrey

August 2, 2012 -- Pambazuka News -- The life and work of Thomas Sankara can be taken as a reminder of both the power and potential for human agency to enact transformation. I would like to situate my ideas within the geopolitical context of the popular uprisings that continue to take place around the world as people organise against neoliberal policies of advanced capitalism and their resultant gross inequalities in wealth, health and education.

Accompanying the intensifying neoliberal crises -- manifested through the financial crisis, food security crisis, and struggles over land reform and landed property -- is an ever expanding militarisation. The US military now has more bases and more personnel stations in more countries than ever in its history. The US Africa Command is one component of the US military’s current phase of expansion, including millions of dollars of military equipment, arms and training in African nations.

The debate about the nature of the former Soviet Union: Who was right?

Moscow 2008.

[For more discussion on the nature of the Soviet Union click HERE. See also the related discussion on Stalinism HERE.]

By Chris Slee

July 30, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The nature of the former Soviet Union was an issue which divided the left for many decades. Now that the Soviet Union no longer exists, differing analyses of its class nature should no longer be a reason for maintaining separate socialist organisations.

Nevertheless, this historical debate has relevance to current politics, since the theories developed to explain the nature of the Soviet Union were subsequently applied to other countries, including Cuba. In particular, the theory of state capitalism, of which British Socialist Workers Party leader Tony Cliff was a leading exponent, is applied to Cuba by many groups today, including Solidarity and Socialist Alternative in Australia.

Paul Le Blanc: Occupy, insurgencies and human nature: Paul Mason and/or Karl Marx

[Click HERE for more articles by Paul Le Blanc; For more discussion on the Occupy movement, click HERE.]

By Paul Le Blanc

July 25, 2012 – ESSF, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Paul Le Blanc’s permission -- Paul Mason is one of the best journalists covering the global economy today. His book, Live Working, Die Fighting: How the Working Class Went Global, is an essential resource for anyone concerned about the workers’ struggle against oppression and for liberation in the past, present and future. I met him while I was in thick of Pittsburgh’s G20 protests, which he was covering for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). I had already read his splendid book (which I was using in one of my courses) – and his front-line television reportage of the protests and the realities generating them was outstanding.[1]

Washington and the Cuban Revolution: Ballad of a never-ending policy -- triumph and reaction


[This is the second in a series of articles by Ike Nahem. The first can be found HERE. For more articles on Cuba, click HERE.]

By Ike Nahem

July 22, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On January 1, 1959, Cuban revolutionaries, led by Fidel Castro, swept into power and established a provisional revolutionary government across the length of the island, overthrowing the exceedingly venal military regime of Fulgencio Batista.

The revolutionaries (including such remarkable figures as Juan Almeida, Raul Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos, Ernesto Che Guevara, Armando Hart, Celia Sanchez and Haydee Santamaria) marched into Havana, culminating a three-year campaign that combined rural guerrilla war with a vast urban revolutionary underground.

Book excerpt: Barry Sheppard on the triumph and defeat of the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution

The Nicaraguan people celebrate victory over the Somoza dictatorship in central Managua, July 20, 1979.

By Barry Sheppard

July 19, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal --The following are two chapters from volume 2 of my political memoir about my time in the US Socialist Workers Party (SWP). They give an overview of the triumph and eventual collapse of the Nicaraguan revolution (1979 through the 1980s) under the blows of US imperialism’s war against the small and impoverished country.

It is important for socialists today to not forget the victories and defeats of the past, and their lessons for the future. One of the lessons of the Nicaraguan revolution, like the Paris Commune, the Russian, Chinese, Yugoslavian, Vietnamese and Cuban and other revolutions, as well as revolutionary upsurges that didn’t take power, like the German one (1917 to 1923), the May-June 1968 near revolution in France, the Portuguese revolutionary events of 1974-1975, the Prague Spring of 1968, the rise of the Polish workers in 1970, etc. is the power of the workers and peasants when they enter the stage of history in their own name and interests.

Video: 'The Story of Change' -- Can shopping save the world? (with script)

The latest episode in the Story of ... videos. More at the Story of Stuff project. Annie Leonard is the creator of the Story of Stuff project, a series of animated films that discuss our pressing social, environmental and economic concerns and the effort to build a more sustainable and just world. To see some of the earlier films in the series, as well as read some of the discussion they have generated, click HERE. The original Story of Stuff is available HERE.

Tony Cliff: biography of a devoted and enthusiastic socialist

Tony Cliff: A Marxist for His Time
by Ian Birchall
London: Bookmarks, 2011, 664 pp.

Review by Barry Healy

July 12, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Tony Cliff was one of the most significant English-speaking Marxist activists of the late 20th century. When he died in 2000, after half a century of unceasing activism, his monument was Britain’s Socialist Workers Party, which, having evolved from the earlier Socialist Review and International Socialism groups, is the largest far-left organisation in that country.

As depicted in Ian Birchall’s biography of Cliff, through the words of a large number of interviewees, not all of whom agreed with him, he refused to tolerate any hint of hero worship or personal cultism. Never a drinker, never a smoker and dying with no wealth to his name, his lived a life of energetic movement and party building combined with literary effort.

John Riddell: Toward the United Front -- the Fourth Congress of the Communist International (audio)

June 28, 2012 -- A talk presented by John Riddell to the US International Socialist Organization's Socialism 2012 gathering in Chicago, on June 28, 2012. The recording is also available at Wearemany.org, where it first appeared.

Click HERE for more articles on the history of the Communist International.

Read more articles by John Riddell HERE.

John Riddell on the US SWP: Part 2, causes of a socialist collapse (1976–83)

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume I: The Sixties, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (Sydney), 2005, 354 pages.

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (London), 2012, 345 pages.

[For more discussion of the US SWP, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

Part 2 of a two-part article. Part 1 is available here.

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