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The attitude to the presidential campaign of long-time independent US senator and self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders has become a major debate on the US left. Some see his decision to run as a Democrat as the major dividing line, accusing him of sidetracking the left into support for the capitalist Democratic Party. Others, while recognising Sanders' shortcomings, point to the wider role his campaign can offer in providing a more radical pole of attraction in US politics at a time when the left is weak. Below Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal makes available two views from significant sections of the US socialist left. Readers' comments are encouraged in the comments box after the articles.
Por Dan La Botz
[English at http://links.org.au/node/4412.]
12 de mayo de 2015 -- Vientosur.info -- Unos 200 activistas políticos, individuales o miembros de diversas organizaciones independientes, han protagonizado un debate enriquecedor y amistoso sobre la manera de colaborar en la construcción de una amplia alternativa política a la izquierda del Partido Demócrata.
Los participantes en la Conferencia sobre el "Futuro de la Izquierda y la Política Independiente" – candidatos y activistas nacionales, estatales y locales, así como cargos electos del Partido Verde, del Partido de la Paz y la Libertad, la Alianza Progresista de Richmond, la Alternativa Socialista y el Partido Progresista de Vermont– debatieron en un espíritu de cooperación sin precedentes sobre los retos electorales y las dificultades que entraña ejercer un cargo público mientras se intenta construir movimientos y llevar a cabo políticas progresistas. A la conferencia también asistieron miembros de los Demócratas Progresistas de América y del Partido de la Justicia.
May 5, 2015 -- Solidarity (USA), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Some 200 political activists from a variety of independent political organisations, as well as individual activists, carried out rich discussion and amicable debate about how to collaborate in the work of building a large political alternative to the left of the Democratic Party.
Participating in the Future of the Left/Independent Politics Conference in an unprecedented spirit of cooperation, national, state, and local candidates and activists, as well as elected officials from the Green Party, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Richmond Progressive Alliance, Socialist Alternative, International Socialist Organization (ISO) and the Vermont Progressive Party discussed the challenges of campaigning and the difficulties of actually holding office while trying to both build movements and push progressive policies. Also at the conference were members of Progressive Democrats of America and the Justice Party.
Left to right: Brian Jones (ISO), Kshama Sawant (Socialist Alternative) and Howie Hawkins (Greens). Hawkins, the ISO and Socialist Alternative have endorsed the conference.
By Robert C.
February 17, 2015 -- Against the Current, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Activists and candidates from around the United states will come together on May 2-3, 2015, in Chicago to share their experiences and to launch a network for future cooperation at the Future of Left/Independent Electoral Action Conference.
The past few years have seen a significant uptick in independent political initiatives on the left, from election campaigns to new local electoral and social movement formations, to referenda campaigns.
Kshama Sawant’s November 2014 election to the Seattle City Council captured the attention of leftists across the country, but a number of other exciting campaigns have also been path breaking, including the Jackson Plan of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Richmond Progressive Alliance’s David and Goliath fight against Chevron in the East Bay. Many recent political developments have brought organisers building alternatives to the two-party system together with those using direct action and referenda to help win gains against fracking, for a $15 minimum wage, and other important initiatives.
SYRIZA supporters rally.
January 20, 2015 -- Socialist Worker (USA), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Coalition of the Radical Left, or SYRIZA, is favoured to win parliamentary elections on January 25, giving it a strong chance to form a new government that could confront the catastrophic austerity agenda that has plunged Greece into severe economic and social crisis. Here, answers your questions about the rise of SYRIZA and what a victory for it on January 25 would mean.
* * *
Why is so much attention focused on the Greek elections?
Brian Jones (left) and Howie Hawkins.
November 13, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- In a mostly dismal election year, Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones gave the US left something to cheer about with their Green Party campaign for the governor and lieutenant governor of New York. (Jones is also a member of the International Socialist Organization). By getting almost 5 per cent and 200,000 votes, Hawkins-Jones had the most successful independent left-wing campaign in New York state in more than 50 years.
The Hawkins-Jones campaign was able to bring attention to struggles to defend public education and ban hydrofracking -- and to show that it's possible for the left to begin building organisation outside the Democratic Party. Howie and Brian spoke toabout their assessment of the campaign and their thoughts about next steps.
* * *
What were your hopes for the campaign and were they realised?
Howie: We wrote four goals into our original campaign plan last January. I'll run through them:
1. At least 50,000 votes to retain our line on all New York ballots for the next four years. We easily achieved this goal.
August 6, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- Paul Le Blanc is a veteran socialist and author, most recently, of Unfinished Leninism: The Rise and Return of a Revolutionary Doctrine. In response to an article by British socialist Ian Birchall published at the Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century website [published by the socialist group of the same name, abbreviated as RS21], Le Blanc wrote this commentary to contribute to the discussion of "Leninism".
* * *
Ian Birchall has made an important contribution to the ongoing discussion on the international left about the meaning and value of Leninism, which is one of the focal points of my recent collection Unfinished Leninism: The Rise and Return of a Revolutionary Doctrine. Here I would like to make a few comments about what this esteemed comrade has to say.
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.