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There were 1450 registered participants at the Socialism 2014 conference. Photo by Peter Boyle.
By Peter Boyle, Chicago
July 15, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, an earlier, shorter version of this article appeared in Green Left Weekly -- New red-green electoral alliances, a turn to ecosocialism and a deepening of the US International Socialist Organization's rethink on feminism were key features of its well-attended Socialism 2014 conference held June 26-29 in Chicago.
The gap between rich and poor in the US is large and growing. It has sparked a popular campaign for a minimum wage of US$15 an hour for low-paid workers, and in defence of jobs of teachers and other social service providers.
A growing number of trade union leaders are running as part of left and independent election tickets, just as many endorsed the successful Seattle's council campaign of socialist Kshama Sawant.
International assessments and rethinks
By Jen Roesch
June 24, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (US) -- Nearly six years into Barack Obama's neoliberal presidency, there are growing signs of discontent within the Democrats' traditional voting base. While both of Obama's electoral wins can be attributed to the turnout of young, female, Black, Latino/a and working-class voters, these are precisely the groups that have most suffered from the economic crisis and his administration's commitment to austerity. This is part of the reason why, for the first time since 2000, there is a space opening up in mainstream politics to the left of the Democratic Party.
In Seattle, socialist Kshama Sawant's campaign for the city council was able to gain support from constituencies, including some unions, that would normally support the Democratic Party. In Lorain County, Ohio, union activists angered by their local DemocraticParty mayor and city council broke ranks and ran their own independent slate of two dozen labour candidates--nearly all of whom won. This represents a flexing of labour muscle in the face of Democratic Party betrayal, rather than a firm break, but it points to the potential working-class audience for an independent political alternative.
Crimeans vote in the referendum on the region's political future.
By Roger Annis
March 18, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Two distinct views on the left have emerged to describe the political upheaval that has shaken Ukraine and Crimea in recent months. On February 21, the government of President Victor Yanukovych was overthrown and replaced by a pro-western government in which extreme rightists have a prominent place.
One view describes the political intervention of the US and other NATO countries in favour of regime change as playing a decisive role. So much so that the mass protests against the Yanukovych government are denied any popular and social legitimacy. Russia’s role in events is viewed uncritically.
A dense crowd of protesters fill the streets beyond a barricade in Kiev. Photo by Christiaan Triebert.
By Sean Larson and Alan Maass
February 24, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovich, has been driven from power after the mass protest movement that has occupied Kiev's Maidan (Independence Square) since November survived a deadly crackdown the previous week. In a matter of days, the country's corrupt and autocratic regime was overwhelmed.
The parliamentary opposition to Yanukovich--dominated by centre-right and even far-right parties, backed by the European Union (EU) and US government--is moving quickly to establish its authority, ahead of new elections planned for May. Its goal is to head off any further action from below that might undermine their claim to speak for the uprising--and that might target the country's elite beyond Yanukovich and his ruling party.
Nearly 100 people met at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum on January 22 for the founding meeting of the Chicago Socialist Campaign. Photo by Isaac Silver.
By Andrew Mortazavi
January 24, 2014 -- In These Times -- If a socialist can win an election in Seattle, why not Chicago? That was the spirit at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Jane Addams Hull House Museum on January 22, where close to 100 Chicagoans gathered for the founding meeting of the Chicago Socialist Campaign.
Drawing on the example of Seattle’s Kshama Sawant—who in November became the first socialist in recent memory elected to a city council—the campaign seeks to run a socialist candidate for alderman in Chicago’s 2015 city council race. Activists also plan to use the electoral effort to amplify the demands of popular movements in Chicago, such as the call for a $15 minimum wage.
[See also Chris Slee's free pamphlet Cuba -- How the workers and peasants made the revolution and "System or siege? Samuel Farber misses the main cause of Cuba's problems", Slee's review of Farber's book Cuba since the revolution of 1959: a critical assessment.]
By Chris Slee
January 21, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Samuel Farber has recently written an article on “The Future of the Cuban Revolution”. This article contains some useful information on “the emergence of new tendencies and debates” in Cuba. But Farber’s article is fundamentally flawed. It contains not a single word about the 55-year-long campaign by the United States government to overturn the Cuban revolution!
Chicago Teachers Union members during their strike against Democratic Party mayor Rahm Emanuel's assault on public schools.
By Marilena Marchetti
January 14, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- The Chicago Teachers Union wants to shake up the city and state political establishment. In a sweeping majority vote, representatives of the union's 23,000 members passed a resolution to launch an independent political organisation (IPO). The goal of the initiative is to unite progressive groups, non-profit organisations and trade unions around political campaigns that have the potential to sustain social movements and activism, rather than empowering Democratic Party candidates who have turned their back on teachers and public education.
The resolution concludes:
RESOLVED that the Chicago Teachers Union, along with key allies in the progressive labour movement and among progressive community organisations will launch an independent political organisation (IPO) that is capable of leading strong electoral and legislative campaigns to benefit working families, our active and retired members, and our communities, and be it further
By Jason Netek, Chicago
December 16, 2013 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- There is a lot of debate among socialists in the United States about just how to engage in this country's rigged electoral game, if at all.
In a time when the revolutionary left is numerically small, some socialist groupings have made a fetish out of participating in elections, local and national, in attempts to realise their ambitions of becoming the party of the US working class all by themselves. Others have made a fetish out of not engaging in any kind of electoral work for lack of a viable mass workers' party or else as a permanent boycott of the objectively pro-capitalist electoral system in the United States.
Open Marxism and the dilemmas of coherence: Paul Le Blanc's reflections on the contributions of Michael Löwy
More by Paul Le Blanc can be found HERE.
By Paul Le Blanc
September 8, 2013 -- ESSF, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Paul Le Blanc's permission and urging -- The discovery of a wondrous continent is what it felt like when some of my closest comrades and I connected with Michael Löwy, this remarkable revolutionary Marxist intellectual and activist -- himself a blend of Austrian Jew, Brazilian, Parisian, seeming to reach out to the world in all directions, an outstanding modern-day representative of Trotsky’s Fourth International. 
By Karen Fletcher
August 6, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Tony Cliff was characteristically blunt when he set out what was to become the International Socialist Tendency’s (IST) position on “the feminist movement” in his 1984 book, Class Struggle and Women's Liberation:
How should socialists organise? Paul Le Blanc, Gilbert Achcar discuss Leninism, left unity, revolutionary parties
July 31, 2013 -- SwpTvUK -- The following panel discussion -- involving Paul Le Blanc, a speaker from the SWP and Gilbert Achcar -- took place at Marxism 2013, organised by the British Socialist Workers Party. Questions addressed included Lenism today, "left reformism", the left unity process underway in Britain today and the crisis in the SWP. It is followed by a vigorous discussion from the floor.
For more by Paul Le Blanc click HERE. For Le Blanc's thoughts on Marxism 2013, click HERE. For more on the left unity process in Britain, click HERE. For more on Leninism, click HERE. For more on the crisis in the UK SWP, click HERE.
[English at http://links.org.au/node/3451.]
Militant trotskyste aux Etats-Unis, historien marxiste renommé, l’auteur avait été invité à intervenir dans le cadre du cycle de conférences publiques, intitulé Marxism, que le SWP de Grande-Bretagne organise chaque année au début de l’été. C’est de cet événement et des échanges qu’il a eus à cette occasion, dans le contexte particulier de la crise que ce parti traverse en 2013, que Paul Le Blanc rend compte ici.
Comme il le rappelle dans son texte, l’auteur est désormais membre de l’ISO (International Socialist Organization, la principale formation de la gauche révolutionnaire aux Etats-Unis, exclue en 2001 de l’IST, le courant international du SWP britannique), alors qu’il provient et continue de se réclamer d’une tradition politique différente, celle de la section états-unienne de la IV° Internationale (l’ancien et défunt SWP de James P. Cannon et Joseph Hansen – à ne pas confondre avec son homonyme insulaire). -- Jean-Philippe Divès
By Lindsey German
July 25, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I would like to respond to the articles by Abbie Bakan and Sharon Smith concerning Marxism and feminism today. Abbie’s article refers to me as a proponent of “Marxist Anti-Feminism”. I was a member of the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) for 37 years until I left in 2010 because I was unhappy with the direction away from the wider movements in which the party was going. I am now a member of Counterfire, a socialist organisation in Britain. I wrote a number of books and articles on the subject of women’s oppression during that time.
Like most people on the left, I have been horrified by the accusations of rape against a leading SWP comrade, and with the way in which the party has handled the issue. I therefore welcome the discussions on issues of women’s oppression that have been, in part at least, triggered by these revelations. Whatever disagreements we might have, those of us on the left have a responsibility to further develop our theories in order to deal with current questions. I feel, however, that some of the arguments relied on here are partial and in some cases distorted.
Let me run through a few points.
By Paul Le Blanc
July 20, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is an important “far left” organisation in Britain which, among other things, organises an annual educational conference -- Marxism -- in London. The SWP is undergoing a crisis which is only one aspect of a much larger phenomenon, taking place on a global scale within the revolutionary left. This involves a recomposition of the revolutionary socialist movement as a political force, in tandem with the struggles of the multi-faceted working class struggling against the effects of the present world crisis of capitalism.
In what follows, I want to offer a report on what I was able to observe while attending Marxism 2013 (July 11-15, 2013). I will also take up various issues having to do with discussions and debates having to do with the Leninist tradition and how it relates to realities and struggles of our time.
July 19, 2013 -- The above talk,"Legacy of Interrnational Socialism", was presented by the US International Socialist Organization's Ahmed Shawki at the organisation's annual Socialism conference in Chicago, June 27-30, 2013. It outlines the some of the history of the International Socialist Tendency and how the Socialist Workers Party of Britain came to dominate and command it. It deals with the relationship between the ISO and SWP, and the current crisis afflicting the UK SWP. It opens a discussion on the basis of international collaboration between left parties. This and other talks are also available at Wearemany.org.
July 12, 2013 -- Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Abbie Bakan and Sharon Smith's talks on why it is impossible to be a Marxist without also embracing feminism. It was presented to the International Socialist Organization's Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago, June 27-30.
Abbie Bakan is head of the department of gender studies at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and a professor of political studies. Her research focuses on employment equity, Marxist theory and anti-oppression politics. Sharon Smith is author of Women and Socialism, Subterranean Fire: A History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States and the forthcoming Marxism, Feminism and Women’s Liberation.
For more video and audio from the Socialism 2013 conference, go to Wearemany.org.
July 7, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The above talk,"Perspectives for the left", was presented by the US International Socialist Organization's Ahmed Shawki at the organisation's annual Socialism conference in Chicago, June 27-30, 2013. It outlines the ISO's current perspectives, in particular it's task of rebuilding the left in collaboration with other parties and tendencies. This and other talks are also available at Wearemany.org.
This is the text of Ian Angus' talk at the Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago, June 29, 2013, organised by the international Socialist Organization (USA). The video and audio of Angus' talk is also available, thanks to Wearemany.org.
US and South Korean soldiers take part in joint military exercises in Pohang, South Korea.
By David Whitehouse
April 22, 2013 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- In the 60 years since the end of the Korean War, US policy toward North Korea has fluctuated between the options of "containment" and "rollback".
Sometimes, the policy has shifted in the course of one presidency. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both started out as advocates of rollback -- regime change, either by military force or by provoking an internal collapse -- but ended as caretakers of containment.
Barack Obama -- who campaigned for the White House in 2008 on a promise to conduct direct talks with North Korea, in contrast to the belligerent rhetoric of the Bush years -- seems to have followed an opposite trajectory since his first months in office. Though you wouldn't know it to judge from the US media, this aggressive posture in Washington is a driving factor in the escalating tensions that have landed the Korean conflict on the front pages in recent weeks.
Introduction by Ian Angus
April 23, 2013 -- Climate & Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- I was unable to attend the Ecosocialist Conference in New York City on April 20, 2013, and it is clear from all reports that I missed an important and inspiring event. The meeting was organised by the Ecosocialist Contingent, the alliance that participated as a united anti-capitalist voice in the demonstration against the Keystone XL Pipeline in Washington on February 17.
Initiated by members of Solidarity and the International Socialist Organization, the Ecosocialist Contingent quickly expanded to include the broadest range of left organisations and individuals yet seen in the US environmental movement.
See the list of conference endorsers, which includes Climate & Capitalism, here.