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Tariq Ali on Mao Zedong and communism in China

"Mao images are for sale, popular in China and not just with tourists, his ideas on protracted war used frequently for `guerrilla marketing'. His fate, like that of Che, seems now to be that of a treasured commodity—all that is missing is a Chinese equivalent of the Motorcycle Diaries."

Review by Tariq Ali

Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World
By Rebecca E. Karl
Duke University Press: Durham, NC 2010
paperback, 216 pages, 978 0 8223 4795 8.

November-December 2010 -- New Left Review -- The emergence of China as the world’s economic powerhouse has shifted the centre of the global market eastwards. The People's Republic of China’s (PRC) growth rates are the envy of elites everywhere, its commodities circulating even in the tiniest Andean street markets, its leaders courted by governments strong and weak. These developments have ignited endless discussion on the country and its future.

Los seres humanos como centro de nuestro socialismo

[English at http://links.org.au/node/2042.]

Por Federico Fuentes, traducido por Janet Duckworth

Resena sobre libro, La alternativa socialista: el verdadero desarrollo humano, de Michael Lebowitz

Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- La llegada de la crisis económica mundial a mediados de 2008, simbolizada por el colapso de algunas de las empresas más icónicas de Wall Street, condujo a un incremento vertiginoso de las ventas de El Capital, la obra maestra de Carlos Marx, porque mucha gente buscó una explicación de los acontecimientos apocalípticos que se estaban desarrollando.

Putting humans back into socialism

Review by Federico Fuentes

The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development
By Michael Lebowitz
Monthly Review Press, 2010

December 5, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- The onset of the global economic crisis in mid 2008, symbolised by the collapse of some of Wall Street’s most iconic companies, led to soaring sales of Karl Marx’s seminal work Das Kapital, as many sought explanations to the tumultuous events unfolding. Although written more than 100 years ago, this devastating and insightful dissection of how capital functions is still a powerful tool for people looking to understand and change the world.

Marx’s aim was to provide a handbook for working-class activists that unravelled the logic of capital and its inherently exploitative nature. Marx said this was necessary because as long as workers did not understand that capital was the result of their exploitation, they would not be able to defeat their enemy.

Essential guide for green left activists


Derek Wall discusses the crisis in the financial system, wall is an activist in Green Left, an ecosocialist current in the Green Party of England and Wales. Filmed at the Coalition of Resistance (http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk) conference November 27, 2010.

The Rise of the Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement
By Derek Wall
Pluto Press, 190 pages, paperback

Review by Mat Ward

The state, social movements and revolution in Latin America

By Federico Fuentes

November 28, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- It should come as no surprise that Latin America, a region converted into a laboratory for ongoing experiments in social change, has increasingly become the topic of discussion and debate among the broader left.

Latin America has not only dealt blows to imperialism but also raised the banner of socialism on a global scale. It is of strategic importance for those fighting for a better world, especially at a time when capitalism is in systemic crisis.

Latin America’s landscape of powerful social movements, left governments of various shades, revolutionary insurrections, and growing expressions of indigenous resistance and worker control, provides a perfect scenario for leftists to learn about, and debate, revolutionary strategy and tactics.

This should not simply be an academic debate. It should look at how to best build solidarity with these movements for change and gain insight for struggles at home.

Of late, burning dispute has opened up, mostly among those writing from an anti-capitalist orientation: a debate over the complex relationship, or “dance” as Ben Dangl calls it, between social movements and states in Latin America.

Stephen Hawking Ο «Grand Design»: «εκδίωξη από την επιστήμη του Θεού»

The Grand Design
Stephen Hawking (& Leonard Mlodinow)
Random House, 2010

του Χρήστου Κεφαλή

[Αγγλική εκδοχή σε http://links.org.au/node/1978]

Stephen Hawking's `The Grand Design': `Ousting God from science'

Stephen Hawking.

The Grand Design
By Stephen Hawking (& Leonard Mlodinow)
Random House, 2010

Review by Christos Kefalis

Stephen Hawking has frequently been called the most eminent natural scientist of our age. Justifiably so, since the renovation of all natural science by someone stuck in a wheelchair, his brain being the only remaining functional part of his body, is something we do not see every day. Besides showing the limitless horizons of the human mind, Hawking offers precious proof of the strength of the will and of the creative potential of humanity, which will fully blossom only in a different society, free from exploitation, vulgarity and the mean motives borne of the pursuit of profit.

Was Karl Marx `Eurocentric'?

Marx at the Margins: On Nationalism, Ethnicity and Non-Western Societies
By Kevin B. Anderson
University of Chicago Press, 2010, 336  pages

Eurocentrism
By Samir Amin
Monthly Review Press, 1988 (second edition 2009), 288 pages

Reviews by Barry Healy

October 22, 2010 -- In the foundational text of the Marxist movement, the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels paint a vivid word picture of the awesome, world-shaking advance of capitalism.

The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.

Alex Callinicos on imperialism, two reviews

Review by Barry Healy

Imperialism and Global Political Economy
By Alex Callinicos
Polity, 2009
227 pages

October 2, 2010 -- The topic of “imperialism” greatly occupied the minds of late-19th and early-20th century socialists. Some of the tradition’s greatest minds toiled mightily to discern the fundamental changes in capitalism that were occurring before their eyes.

Capitalism, as analysed by Karl Marx, had grown fat in its European heartland through the ruthless exploitation of colonies and the brutal factory system in its coal dark cities. But suddenly new phenomena started to appear in the late 1800s.

Banking capital moved from being a support for industrial capital, first merging into and then dominating manufacturing. This agglomeration of money power created massive industrial complexes, like Germany’s famous Krupps steelworks.

The colossal scale of these industrial works dwarfed human beings.

Making sense of Trotskyism in the United States: Two memoirs

[This review-essay was written for and is scheduled to appear in the British journal Revolutionary History, which has granted permission to circulate it on-line. Please include this acknowledgement when sharing it. The text is from Labor Standard.]

North Star, A Memoir (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2010)
By Peter Camejo
364 pages with index

Outsider’s Reverie, A Memoir (Los Angeles: Boryana Books, 2010)
By Leslie Evans
438 pages with index.

By Paul Le Blanc

October 1, 2010 -- The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) of the United States was for a number of years the largest and strongest section of the Fourth International — both of which were formally established in 1938, both representing the revolutionary socialist perspectives associated with Leon Trotsky. Rooted in opposition to Stalinism in the early Communist movement, the U.S. Trotskyists worked closely with Trotsky in building the Fourth International, the global network of small revolutionary groups adhering to the original “Bolshevik-Leninist” perspectives. They also played a heroic role in U.S. class struggles of the 1930s, and their reputation among many was as unyielding partisans of workers’ democracy and Trotsky’s revolutionary Marxist orientation. Yet in the non-revolutionary aridity of 1950s America, their ranks dwindled down to handfuls of stalwarts, perhaps 400 aging members, in a handful of cities.

Sport and capitalism -- Would Gramsci go to the footy?

Labor PM Bob Hawke laud's tycoon Alan Bond's victory in the 1983 America's Cup.

No Pain, No Gain? Sport and Australian Culture
By Dr Jim McKay
Prentice Hall, 1991. 189 pages.

Review by Phil Shannon

Sport tells lies. According to Jim McKay, sport is a social prop to the domination of capitalist ideas and values. Fundamental to the maintenance of this dominance are the mass media, which ``selectively articulate capitalist rationality, masculine hegemony, Eurocentric racism, militaristic nationalism and liberal values'' -- a toxic mix of ideological viruses.

Karl Polanyi provides `a vital intellectual resource' for ecosocialists

To allow the market mechanism to be sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment, indeed, even of the amount and use of purchasing power, would result in the demolition of society. For the alleged commodity "labor power" cannot be shoved about, used indiscriminately, or even left unused, without affecting also the human individual who happens to be the bearer of this peculiar commodity. In disposing of a man's labor power the system would, incidentally, dispose of the physical, psychological, and moral entity "man" attached to that tag. Robbed of the protective covering of cultural institutions, human beings would perish from the effects of social exposure; they would die as the victims of acute social dislocation through vice, perversion, crime, and starvation. Nature would be reduced to its elements, neighborhoods and landscapes defiled, rivers polluted, military safety jeopardized, the power to produce food and raw materials destroyed -- from Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation (1944)

Barry Sheppard reviews Peter Camejo's `North Star -- A Memoir'

North Star – A Memoir
By Peter Camejo
Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2010

Order a copy

Review by Barry Sheppard

[Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

July 8, 2010 -- North Star – A Memoir by Peter Camejo, who was an important figure in the radicalisation of “the Sixties” and beyond, up to his untimely death in 2008, should be read by veterans of the socialist movement and wider social causes. It also should be read by new activists thirsty for understanding of previous struggles in order to better equip themselves for present and future battles.

Also, the book is a good read. The first chapter is set in 1979, out of chronological order from the rest of the book. It explains how the CIA attempted to get Peter arrested in Colombia, on a leg of a speaking tour in South America. If he had been imprisoned there it is possible that he would have been “disappeared”. Without giving away the story, Peter escaped this fate through an unlikely intervention, quite a tale in itself.

The politics of denialism: The strange case of Rwanda -- review of Herman and Peterson's ‘The Politics of Genocide’

Skulls of victims of one of the massacres during the 1994 Rwandan genocide are displayed at the Genocide Memorial Site church of Ntarama in Nyamata, Rwanda. Photo: AFP.

Review by Gerald Caplan

The Politics of Genocide,
By Edward S. Herman and David Peterson,
Monthly Review Press, New York, 2010,
112 pages plus endnotes and index, ISBN: 978-1-58367-212-9.

June 17, 2010 -- Pambazuka News -- This is a review of Edward S. Herman and David Peterson’s The Politics of Genocide, Monthly Review Press, New York, 2010.

From the civil rights movement to Barack Obama

Manning Marable.

Beyond Black & White
By Manning Marable,
Verso Press, 2009, 319 pages

Review by Malik Miah

Manning Marable’s latest book, Beyond Black & White, is an update of a valuable critique of Black and US politics first issued in 1995. He revised it last year, adding new chapters covering the period from 1995 to 2008, including an analysis of the meaning of the election of the first African-American president of the United States, Barack Obama, in November 2008.

The closing chapter, “Barack Obama, the 2008 Presidential Election and the Prospects for a ‘Post Racial Politics”, is a good place to begin reading the collection of articles and essays. Marable’s two prefaces —for the first and new edition — outline his views on “Black and white” and the evolution of how race impacts US political conversations and the failure of leadership in the Black community.

Michael Lebowitz reviews `The Real Venezuela': Exploring the dialectic of the Bolivarian Revolution

The Real Venezuela: Making Socialism in the 21st Century
By Iain Bruce
London: Pluto Press, 2008, 240 pages

Review by Michael Lebowitz

Monthly Review -- “When Chávez speaks, we listen. But we don’t listen to those around him.” This comment by a community activist interviewed by Iain Bruce, and integrated into his wonderful exploration of the Bolivarian Revolution from below, points to an essential characteristic—the unique link at present (por ahora) between Hugo Chávez and the exploited and excluded of Venezuela.

Slavoj Zizek’s failed encounter with Leninism

Click HERE for more on žižek.

By Paul Kellogg

The Slovenian cultural theorist Slavoj žižek – most centrally in his Revolution At The Gates – has made it his business to reintroduce the Russian Marxist Vladimir Lenin to a new generation of activists. This in itself is a worthwhile project. Most believe that in building a new left we have to “leave the Leninist legacy behind” and greet any attempt to resurrect Lenin with “sarcastic laughter ... Doesn’t Lenin stand precisely for the failure to put Marxism into practice, for the big catastrophe which left its mark on the whole twentieth-century world politics, for the Real Socialist experiment which culminated in an economically inefficient dictatorship?”.[i]

`Second assassination' of Trotsky -- Paul Le Blanc reviews Robert Service’s biography of Trotsky

Review by Paul Le Blanc

Trotsky: A Biography
By Robert Service
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009
600 pages

December 25, 2009 -- ESSF -- Robert Service has written, to great acclaim, a new biography of Leon Trotsky. “Trotsky moved like a bright comet across the political sky,” Service tells us. Along with Lenin and other leaders of the Russian Revolution associated with the Bolshevik – soon renamed Communist – party, “he first came to global attention in 1917. … He lived a life full of drama played out with the world as his stage. The October Revolution changed the course of history, and Trotsky had a prominent role in the transformation. … There is no denying Trotsky’s exceptional qualities. He was an outstanding speaker, organizer and leader.” (1, 3)

The soldiers' Christmas truce -- A bas la guerre! Nie wieder Kreig! Das walte Gott! Peace on Earth!

Review by Phil Shannon

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce
By Stanley Weintraub
The Free Press, 2001
206 pages

It was the war that was supposed “to be over by Christmas”. It very nearly was. A spontaneous soldiers' truce broke out along the Western Front on Christmas Eve 1914, four months after the start of hostilities.

“Peace on Earth”, “goodwill to all men” — British, French and German soldiers took these usually hypocritical Christmas sentiments for real and refused to fire on the “enemy”, exchanging instead song, food, drink and gifts with each other in the battle-churned wastes of “no-man's land” between the trenches.

Lasting until Boxing Day in some cases, the truce alarmed the military authorities who worked overtime to end the fraternisation and restart the killing.

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