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New book on the history of the Tamil people's struggle for self-determination

Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka
By Ron Ridenour
New Century Book House
Chennai, India
(available from Resistance Books)

Review by Chris Slee

August 9, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Ron Ridenour‘s latest book is a very informative history of the struggle for self-determination by the Tamil people on the island of Sri Lanka. Ridenour explains the reasons why many Tamils took up arms to fight for an independent Tamil state. He shows the history of racism in Sri Lanka and the violent repression carried out by successive governments against peaceful Tamil protests. He denounces the history of mass murder of Tamils, both through government-instigated pogroms and through the bombardment of civilians by the Sri Lankan armed forces. He acknowledges that the Tamil independence fighters have also committed atrocities.

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]

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 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.

John Riddell on the US SWP: Part 1, SWP attempts an outward turn (1976–83)

In 1976, the campaign of SWP presidential candidate Peter Camejo won unprecedentedly wide support from left currents.
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 1 of a two-part article. Part 2 is available here.

Cuba: `Our task is to oppose imperialist threats, to create the best conditions for socialist democracy', reply to Samuel Farber

In an invasion approved by US President John F. Kennedy, on April 17, 1961, 1300 Cuban counter-revolutionaries, armed with US weapons, landed at the Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs). They hoped to cross the island to Havana with the help of the local population. However it became apparent within the first hour that it would fail.

[For more discussion on Cuba, click HERE.]

By Chris Slee

July 4, 2012 -- Links International Jornal of Socialist Renewal -- In his reply to my critical review of his book, Cuba since the revolution of 1959: a critical assessment, Samuel Farber says: "The driving idea behind Chris Slee's critical review of my recent book ... is that the undemocratic pratices of the Cuban revolutionary regime have been largely a response to the over 50 year old imperialist siege ... and not a defining characteristic of the island's political system... But the Cuban leadership did not adopt the USSR repressive model because Washington 'forced' them to go in that direction. That presumes that the Cuban revolutionary leaders did not have a political ideology of their own".

Debate: Cuba has a state bureaucratic *system* – a response to Chris Slee

This article is a reply to "System or siege? Samuel Farber misses the main cause of Cuba's problems", Chris Slee's review of Samuel Farber's Cuba Since The Revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment (Haymarket Books 2011).

[For more discussion on Cuba, click HERE.]

By Samuel Farber

June 26, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The driving idea behind Chris Slee’s critical review of my recent book, Cuba Since The Revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment (Haymarket Books 2011) is that the undemocratic practices of the Cuban revolutionary regime have been largely a response to the more than 50-year-old imperialist siege by the United States government and not a defining characteristic of the island’s political system.

John Riddell: Lars Lih and Ben Lewis reveal Zinoviev at his best

Zinoviev and Martov: Head to Head in Halle
Edited by Ben Lewis and Lars T. Lih,
London: November Publications, 2011, pp. 229 [1]

Review by John Riddell

June 22, 2012 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com/Weekly Worker, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- The Thrilla in Halle! A ringside seat, just for you, as Gregory Zinoviev (in the red trunks) and Julius Martov (his are pale pink) duke it out before delegates of the 700,000-member Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany (USPD). The stakes: should the USPD join the Communist International (Comintern)? Here at last, after 92 years, the full text of their historic speeches to the October 1920 USPD congress in Halle, Germany, translated and edited by Ben Lewis and Lars Lih.

System or siege? Samuel Farber misses the main cause of Cuba's problems

Cuba since the revolution of 1959: a critical assessment
By Samuel Farber
Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2011

Review by Chris Slee

June 13, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Samuel Farber was born in Cuba, but moved to the United States in 1958. He is an emeritus professor of political science at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, and has been involved in the socialist movement for over 50 years. He has written extensively on Cuba, from a point of view highly critical of the Cuban government. His views are promoted by sections of the US left, in particular the International Socialist Organization. While many of his criticisms have some validity, in my view he downplays the achievements of the Cuban revolution, and underestimates the impact of the US blockade in causing the problems and difficulties that Cuba faces.

Review: Invaluable history, important lessons from Barry Sheppard

Malik Miah.
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 Malik Miah

Who or what killed the US SWP?

Barry Sheppard (right, holding banner pole with Sylvia Weinstein) at an anti-war march in New York in 1966.
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.]

Review by Peter Boyle

Ireland: Former hunger striker: 'The IRA should have embraced socialism'

Updated April 17, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Tommy McKearney was a senior member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA)  from the early 1970s until his arrest in 1977. Sentenced to life in jail, he served 16 years, during which he took part in the 1980 hunger strike in the Maze prison. Now a freelance journalist and an organiser with the Independent Workers Union, he has published a book, The Provisional IRA, From Insurrection to Parliament (Pluto Press 2011), that argues the Provisional IRA should have embraced socialism. Mat Ward spoke to him.

Can you sum up for our readers why the Provisional IRA should have embraced socialism?

I am assuming that [your] readers accept the value of socialism as a system. What we’re talking about here is why the Provisional IRA should have -- and could have -- adopted an explicitly socialist agenda. During the early years of the Provisional IRA’s development, the movement was “pro-socialist” in an unscientific sense. The membership was working class, empathised with the less well-off and had a “democratic socialist republic” as its headline demand. What it didn’t have was a tangible socialist program as distinct from socialistic aspirations.

Complexities of constructing the socialist alternative

[For more articles by and about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

By Steve Ellner

April 2012 – Science & Society, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- Michael Lebowitz has drawn on the diverse experiences that led to the failure of socialism in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and elsewhere, and those in Venezuela where he has resided for nearly a decade, to bolster his thesis on the need to place the transformation of values at the centre of socialist construction.

Paul Le Blanc on Barry Sheppard’s memoirs: Revolutionary redemption, lessons for activists

Barry Sheppard in 1964.

By Paul Le Blanc

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, volume I: The Sixties, A Political Memoir, by Barry Sheppard, Chippendale, Australia: Resistance Books, 2005, 354 pages including index, with a rich collection of photographs.

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, A Political Memoir, by Barry Sheppard, London: Resistance Books, 2012, 345 pages including index.

Behind capitalism's destructive car mania

Stop Signs: Cars & Capitalism ― On the Road to Economic, Social & Ecological Decay
By Bianca Mugenyi & Yves Engler
RED Publishing & Fernwood Publishing
2011, 259 pages

By Phil Shannon

February 5, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- The car, say Canadian authors Bianca Mugyenyi and Yves Engler, who took a bus ride across the United States, is a doomed jalopy going nowhere. It fails, especially in the “home of the car”, on every green count. (Watch the authors discuss their book HERE.)

Cars are the single largest contributor to US noise pollution and 40,000 people in the US die from car accidents each year (one million across the globe).

A money-free world?

By Anitra Nelson,  co-editor of Life Without Money

February 2, 2012 -- RMIT Blog Central, submitted to Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- When Time magazine announced “The Protester” as 2011 Person of the Year, we had to ask: Is this a signal of radical worldwide change? Did something special start to stir in 2011?

Certainly 1911 was such a momentous year: cities fell like dominoes across China so that, on New Year’s Day 1912, Sun Yat-sen became the provisional president of a liberal republic; civil strife was breaking out in Mexico, by May ending Porfirio Diaz’s dictatorial reign from 1877; and, in Russia, a brief restoration of conservative order was crumbling under the onslaught of Bolshevik and anarchistic activities. Lenin observed “increasing signs that the era of so-called peaceful bourgeois parliamentarianism is drawing to an end”.

Hollywood: Glimpses of empire

Part 1: In the belly of empire

“There must be some way out of here’, said the
joker to the thief,
There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, ploughmen dig
my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is
worth.”
-- Bob Dylan[1]

Biography uncovers forgotten lessons of Sri Lanka’s JVP

Review by Ben Courtice

The Lionel Bopage story: Rebellion, repression and the struggle for justice in Sri Lanka
By Michael Colin Cooke
Agahas Publishers, Colombo, 2011
Order at michaelcolincooke@yahoo.com.au

“The truth is the whole” – Hegel, quoted in The Ecological Rift  by John Bellamy Foster, Richard York & Brett Clark, Monthly Review Press, 2011

October 31, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A lot of popular non-fiction literature seems very straightforward, to the point. The kind of writing you might expect from a journalist – easy to read, not too many tangents or complicating factors; usually nothing too far from the comfort zone of the average punter.

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