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Reviewed by Chris Slee
Chasing the scream
By Johann Hari
Bloomsbury Circus London 2015
April 9, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Over the past hundred years, millions of people around the world have been jailed for drug use. The United States has been particularly harsh. Its huge prison population, disproportionately Black and Latino, includes many people jailed for drug use.
But until 100 years ago, drug use was not a crime in the US (or in most parts of the world). Opiates were sold in pharmacies as remedies for a range of ailments.
Johann Hari explains that: “You could go to any American pharmacy and buy products made from the same ingredients as heroin and cocaine. The most popular cough mixtures in the United States contained opiates, a new soft drink called Coca-Cola was made from the same plant as snortable cocaine, and over in Britain the classiest department stores sold heroin tins for society women”. [page 9]
Most people used these products without any problem: “Just as a large majority of drinkers did not become alcoholics, a large majority of users of these products did not become drug addicts.
By Ernie Tate
April 5, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Left Unity — Now and then, and despite its capitalist and racial biases,our culture throws up something that can speak quite eloquently and uniquely about the times we’re living through. In this case, I’m referring to an amazing documentary film that has been released recently, “I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO”, by Raoul Peck, an acclaimed Haitian director with major films to his credit.This latest work is well worth seeing and has been well received here.
Reviewed by Doug Enaa Greene
October 1917 – Workers in Power.
Paul Le Blanc, Ernest Mandel, David Mandel, François Vercammen, and contemporary texts by Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin, Leon Trotsky.
Edited by Fred Leplat and Alex de Jong
London: Merlin Press, the IIRE and Resistance Books, 2016. 256 pages
Reviewed by Tony Norfield
Finance Capital Today: Corporations and Banks in the Lasting Global Slump
By François Chesnais
Brill, Leiden, 2016
January 10, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Economics of Imperialism – This book is well worth reading. It is written in a clear and accessible style and discusses key points about the limitations of capitalism and the role of contemporary finance. Perhaps its most important point is how the financial system has accumulated vast claims on the current and future output of the world economy – in the form of interest payments on loans and bonds, dividend payments on equities, etc. These claims have outgrown the ability of the capitalist system to meet them, but government policy has so far managed to prevent a collapse of financial markets with zero interest rate policies, quantitative easing, huge deficits in government spending over taxation, and so forth. The result is an unresolved crisis, a ‘lasting global slump’, in which economic growth remains very weak and vast debts remain in place.
Gramsci and Trotsky: Strategy for the Revolution in the West
Emilio Albamonte and Matías Maiello
Argentina: Left Voice, 2016
Review by Doug Enaa Greene
Reviewed by Chris Slee
Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War
by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila al-Shami
Pluto Press 2016 London
May 4, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Despite some flaws, this book is a good introduction to the Syrian revolution. It explains why people protested against the Assad regime, and why many of them took up arms. It also shows how the initially non-sectarian popular uprising was increasingly converted into a sectarian conflict.
The main flaws of the book relate to the role of Turkey, and of the PYD (Democratic Union Party) in the struggle in Rojava (the predominantly Kurdish area in northern Syria).
[English translation is available here] March 9, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Lo que sigue es la presentacion hecha por Olga Fernández Ríos en el lanzamiento de la edicion cubana del libro "La alternativa socialista: El verdadero desarrollo humano" en la Feria Internacional del Libro de La Habana el 15 de febrero de 2015
Este oportuno libro anteriormente fue publicado por Colección Debates Sobre Socialismo, Corporación Plataforma Nexos, Escaparate Ediciones, Chile, octubre 2012.
Su autor es Profesor Emérito de Economía de la Universidad Simon Fraser de Canadá. Para nosotros los cubanos su obra nos s muy familiar y hoy podemos recordar varios de sus trabajos: Más allá de El Capital: la economía política de la clase obrera que recibiera el Premio Deutscher en 2004 a la mejor y más innovadora obra reciente de tradición marxista en el mundo angloparlante. Este texto fue publicado en Cuba en 2008 por la Editorial Ciencias Sociales. De igual forma en 2009 la Editorial Ciencias Sociales publicó El socialismo no cae del cielo y en 2015 Ruth Casa Editorial y el Instituto Juan Marinello publicaron Contradicciones del socialismo real: el dirigente y el dirigido. Más recientemente Lebowitz publicó The socialist imperative.
March 6, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following was a presentation given by Cuban scholar Olga Fernández Ríos at the launch of the Cuban edition of Michael Lebowitz' The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development at the Havana International Book Fair, February 15, 2015. It has been translated by Sean Seymour-Jones.
Lebowitz will be one of the keynote speakers at Socialism for the 21st century: Moving beyond capitalism, learning from global struggles being held in Sydney on May 13-15.
This timely book was previously published by Colección Debates Sobre Socialismo, Corporación Plataforma Nexos, Escaparate Ediciones, Chile, October 2012.
Its author is a professor emeritus of economy from the Simon Fraser University of Canada. For us Cubans his work is very familiar and today we can recall many of his works: Beyond Capital: The Political Economy of the Working Class that received the Deutscher Prize in 2004 for the best and most innovative recent work of the Marxist tradition in the English-speaking world. This text was published in Cuba in 2008 by Editorial Ciencias Sociales. Likewise, in 2009 Editorial Ciencias Sociales published Socialism Doesn’t Fall From the Sky and in 2015 Ruth Casa Editorial and the Instituto Juan Marinello published The Contradictions of “Real Socialism”: The Conductor and the Conducted. More recently Lebowitz published The Socialist Imperative.
On this occasion, we dealing a study that covers a very topical subject of interest to our country and for the Latin American context: the pertinence and existing possibilities for the development of socialism with a correct understanding of the process of socialist transition.
Harnecker will be one of the keynote speakers at Socialism for the 21st century: Moving beyond capitalism, learning from global struggles being held in Sydney on May 13-15.
Reviewed by Ian Richardson
A World to Build: New Paths toward Twenty-First Century Socialism
Monthly Review Press 2015, 224pp.
March 3, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Counterfire with the author's permission -- The reason for socialists to have an interest in the situation in Latin America today is simple; the most significant political advances in the world today are taking place in Latin America. The Chilean revolutionary Marta Harnecker’s book A World to Build is perhaps the most important English language attempt so far to analyse and to move forward the discussion on the left internationally around these changes.
Review by John Green
August 26, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Anna Funder’s book Stasiland seems to have become the touchstone for anyone who wishes to find out about life in the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany). It was given enormous publicity, has been translated into several languages and is one of the most quoted books of reference on the GDR. Its aim is to show how horrendous life in the GDR really was.
Funder visited the GDR once as a tourist in 1987 and then returned again in 1996 (six years after unification with the Federal Republic of Germany, or West Germany) and wrote her book. It is made up almost entirely of interviews with only three women who suffered under the GDR authorities, plus a former GDR rock star, a television presenter who was loyal to the state, as well as several shorter ones with former officers of the state security services.
Berlin November 1918: Workers and sailors join in revolutionary uprising.
The German Left and the Weimar Republic
By Ben Fowkes
Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2015
399 pages, US$28.
Review by John Riddell
By Gavin McCrea
Melbourne: Scribe, 2015,
352 pages, A$29.99
Read more on the Marx household
Review by Barry HealyAugust 13, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For those hankering to know what Friedrich Engels’ erect penis looked like, page 37 of this novel is for you. “In its vigours, it points up and a bit to the side”, says Lizzie Burns, the first-person narrator of the entire story.
She goes on: “Its cover goes all the way over the bell and bunches at the end like a pastry twist. Before he does anything he spits on his hand and peels this back.” Engels is quite enamoured of his member, it seems.
Gavin McCrea’s Lizzie Burns is a brilliant narrative voice and his writing sparkles. Lizzie’s rich brogue and her incisive humour are wonderful.
The Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now
By Michael A. Lebowitz
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2015.
July 28, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Those who open Michael Lebowitz's new book, The Socialist Imperative, will find something far different and refreshing than the old apologetic Soviet manuals on the smooth workings of a planned economy. What they will discover is a collection of writings inspired by Lebowitz's lifetime of activism and profound solidarity with the oppressed and exploited under capitalism and his revolutionary vision of how to build a socialist alternative.
July 9, 2015 -- First published in the June 2015 New Left Review, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Andrew Wilson’s earlier publications on Ukraine won him a reputation as a serious historian.  His first books—notably Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s (1997), The Ukrainians (2002) and Ukraine’s Orange Revolution (2005)—were distinguished by three signal features.
First, Wilson argued strongly that while Ukrainian nationalism was a force in the west of the country—where, bred under Austrian and Polish rule, it had mostly possessed a strong right-wing bent—it had only limited appeal in the country as a whole, due to the existence of deep regional, linguistic and ethnic historical divisions. Ukrainian “national identity”, Wilson insisted in The Ukrainians, was essentially a product of the Soviet era.
For more articles and videos by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.
For more by or about John Riddell.
Review by John Riddell
The Contradictions of “Real Socialism”: The Conductor and the Conducted
by Michael A. Lebowitz
New York: Monthly Review 2012.
May 19, 2015 -- JohnRiddell.Wordpress.com, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- In current discussions of twenty-first century socialism, the work of Michael Lebowitz has a unique merit: it is rooted in the experience of Cuba and Venezuela, where efforts in recent decades to move toward socialism have been the most vigorous. Quotations from Che Guevara and Hugo Chávez set the tone.
A Short History of Social Democracy: From Socialist Origins to Neoliberal Theocracy
By John Rainford
Review by Jim McIlroy
April 27, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The rise and then fall of social democracy as a movement for fundamental social change is a modern tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. It is one of the epic stories of the 19th and 20th centuries.
This new book by Socialist Alliance member and unionist John Rainford charts the history of the doctrine from the birth of socialist thought in the 19th century. It focuses on the development of social democracy, which essentially became a project for “reforming” capitalism, expressed in parties such as the Australian Labor Party (ALP).
It examines the political forces opposed to social democracy on its left and right, its victories and its “golden years” after World War II. The book examines its surrender to “free market” neoliberalism before suggesting what might constitute “an anti-capitalist politics for the 21st century”.
For more on Scotland and independence, click HERE.
The People’s Referendum: Why Scotland Will Never Be the Same Again
by Paul Geoghegan
Luath Press 2015
Review by Alex Miller
April 16, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The UK-wide general election for the Westminster parliament scheduled for May 7, 2015, looks set to be a very close, perhaps even closer than the 2010 election that resulted in the Labour Party being replaced by a Conservative Party-Liberal Democrat coalition government.
The Crab Cannery Ship: and Other Novels of Struggle
By Kobayashi Takiji
Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2013, 328 pages
[Scroll to the end for a video presentation of this article, and to Note 1 for Takiji Memorial: February 20, 2009, a three-part documentary tribute to Kobayashi Takiji, produced by Heather Bowen-Struyk.]
By Doug Enaa Greene
April 15, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In 2008, one of the best-selling novels in Japan was an 80-year-old novel, Kanikosen (Crab Cannery Ship) by the communist author Kobayashi Takiji, detailing the wretched working conditions on a fishing ship and the crew's strike and determination to overthrow their oppressors. The novel, previously selling a moderate 5000 copies per year, shot up to sales of 500,000, along with the release of four manga versions reaching many more readers.
To The Masses: Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921
edited and translated by John Riddell
Brill, Leiden & Boston, 2015
1299 pages, €399.00
April 12, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following review by British socialist historian Ian Birchall introduces a major addition to our knowledge of the revolutionary movement of Lenin's time: John Riddell's To the Masses: Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921. Birchall's review is scheduled for publication in Revolutionary History, a journal with 43 published volumes.
The review is published here with kind permission of Revolutionary History and Ian Birchall. Riddell's latest volume, available only in Brill's library format at the moment, will be published in a popular, more inexpensive edition by Haymarket Books in February 2016.
* * *
Review by Ian Birchall
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
By Naomi Klein
Alfred A. Knopf, 2014
By Jodi Dean
March 17, 2015 -- I Cite, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- How do we imagine the climate changing? Some scenarios involve techno-fixes like cloud-seeding or new kinds of carbon sinks. Cool tech, usually backed by even cooler entrepreneurs, saves the day -- Iron Man plus Al Gore plus Steve Jobs. In green.
Other scenarios are apocalyptic: blizzards, floods, tsunamis and droughts; crashing planes; millions of migrants moving from south to north only to be shot at armed borders. The poor fight and starve; the rich enclave themselves in shining domed cities as they document the extinction of charismatic species and convince themselves they aren't next.