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Italy

The critical communism of Antonio Labriola

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

December 30, 2016 –– Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Socialist Review with the author’s permission –– Antonio Labriola, if he is known today at all, is remembered as a minor Marxist theorist in the Second International, overshadowed by such well known figures as Karl Kautsky, Rosa Luxemburg, or Eduard Bernstein. Sometimes Labriola will be mentioned as a formative influence on the Marxism of Antonio Gramsci and Leon Trotsky. Yet Labriola deserves to be known and studied based on his own merits. He provided a critique of Second International orthodox Marxism, arguing that it divorced theory and practice, engaged in sterile, dogmatic systematization, and held to an economically deterministic form of Marxism. Labriola revived Marxism as an open philosophy of praxis, that is, as a critical and revolutionary method. He did not take for granted the inevitability of historical progress, but argued that it was necessary for socialists to intervene actively in shaping it.

 

“No” to Renzi’s referendum in Italy: Democracy Against neoliberalism

 

 

By Cinzia Arruzza

 

December 10, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Viewpoint — Listening to the media, you would think that yesterday’s Italian referendum results were yet another victory of right-wing populism against democracy. The situation, however, is much more complex than this, and the No victory is a victory for democracy and for the defense of social rights worth celebrating.

 

Italian constitutional referendum: next win for ‘populism’?

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

November 30, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — “The mother of all wars”: that’s how, in the September issue of the left magazine Critica Marxista, constitutional law professor Claudio De Fiores described the campaign around Italy’s referendum on amending the country’s 1948 constitution.

 

It was no exaggeration.

European financial system: next crash just around the corner?

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

November 1, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The trials of major European banks, starting with “venerable institutions” like the Monte dei Paschi di Siena (the world’s oldest bank) and Deutsche Bank (Germany’s largest), have raised the spectre of another 2008 — a “Lehman Brothers times five” in the words of one finance market analyst.

 

Contemporary crisis and workers control

 

 

This chapter is taken from An Alternative Labour History: Worker Control and Workplace Democracy, edited by Dario Azzellini and published by Zed Books. For more of Azzellini’s writings visit his website

 

By Dario Azzellini

 

July 31, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- During the first decade of the current century factory occupations and production under workers’ control seemed to be limited mainly to South America, with a few exceptions in Asia. It was beyond the imagination of most workers and scholars in industrialized countries that workers would or could occupy their companies and run them on their own. Nevertheless, the crisis that started in 2008 put workers’ control back on the agenda in the northern hemisphere. Occupations of workplaces and production under control of workers sprang up in the United States, Western Europe and Egypt. This chapter describes some of these struggles and their common characteristics and differences.

A missed revolutionary opportunity: The Comintern Third Congress discussion on the 1920 Italian factory occupations

 

 

Factories under control of the Red Guards in Italy, 1920

 

Introductory note by Mike Taber and John Riddell

 

July 12, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Socialist Review -- As the Communist International’s Third Congress convened in Moscow in June–July 1921, the powerful working-class upsurge that had shaken Italy months earlier was fresh in delegates’ minds and posed a backdrop to their debates.

 

The September 1920 occupation of the factories in Italy is a lesser-known revolutionary experience of the post–World War I years, yet its impact was no less significant. By starkly posing the question of which class should run the economy, the occupations legitimized a new form of proletarian struggle—expressed in part through the tactic of the sit-down strike that was widely utilized during the 1930s. Possessing the potential for working-class victory, the defeat of this movement instead opened the door to the rise to power of Benito Mussolini and Italian fascism.

Gramsci for communists

Graphic from Barbwire.

For more by Doug Enaa Greene, click HERE.

For more discussion on the ideas of Antonio Gramsci, click HERE.

By Doug Enaa Greene

To my mother.

June 22, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The purpose of the Red History Lecture Series since its inception has been to discuss lesser known or neglected socialist and communist figures, movements, and events. So it may be rightfully asked – why discuss Antonio Gramsci?

Gramsci is fairly well known with his work easily available and ideas discussed in universities, countless commentaries and elsewhere. However, there is something potentially worse than obscurity and neglect, and that is to be misunderstood. Unfortunately, that is the fate which has befallen Gramsci.

Spartacus: rebel or 'proto-communist'?

The slave revolt led by Spartacus shook the Roman world to its foundations and, although a failure, has inspired the oppressed for centuries. Communist historian Doug Enaa Greene delivered a talk at the Center for Marxist Education on Spartacus on March 7, 2015.

By Doug Enaa Greene

May 15, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The ancient rebellion of Spartacus and tens of thousands of subjugated slaves is arguably the most famous slave revolt in history. During his lifetime, Spartacus dared to challenge the dominance of the Roman slave masters and their Republic. In subsequent generations, the name of Spartacus has stood forth as a symbol for resistance and liberation from oppression – inspiring the Haitian slave Toussaint L'Ouverture, who led a successful revolt in the 1790s; Karl Marx; and Germany's Spartacist League of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.

SYRIZA: 'For us, "structural reforms" are the fight against corruption and corporate tax evasion'

For more on SYRIZA, click HERE

[February 25, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Paul Mason, writing on the February 24 SYRIZA government letter to the Eurogroup, outlining the reforms it intends to carry out, comments: "As flagged before it looks like [the Greek government] will be allowed to carry out the humanitarian aspect of Syriza’s so-called Thessaloniki Programme – i.e. anti-poverty measures. This, plus one of the most aggressive anti-tax avoidance offensives ever planned in the western world, is the centrepiece of Yanis Varoufakis’ plan.

["If the Greek government is allowed to use €10bn in an earmarked fund to recapitalise the banks, then the issues that remain are ones that demarcate the radical left from the centre: privatisations, trade union rights, universal healthcare, pensions and the minimum wage...

Socialists and World War I: Turn the imperialist war into a civil war

Industrial Workers of the World poster against WWI.

By Doug Enaa Greene

February 2, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It has been a hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War. The centennial of the “war to end all wars” has seen countless commemorations of the millions of heroic soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice for king and country.

Yet missing from all of the observances of the war are the deeper questions of its causes – to divide colonies among predatory ruling classes – and the heroism of those who opposed the mass slaughter. And for the left, that is how we should remember this 100th anniversary – but honoring those socialists and communists who fought against all the odds to end the slaughter.

Greater unity, optimism as Italian left backs Alexis Tsipras

By Roberto Musacchio, translated from Italian by Veronika Peterseil

April 10, 2014 -- Transform! Network -- The project is called “The Different Europe with Alexis Tsipras”. It name is written on a red background. Predictions indicate it could surpass, maybe even easily, the 4% electoral threshold in the coming European elections

In 2009 this threshold prevented both leftist lists, the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista/Communist Refoundation Party (PRC) and the Sinistra Ecologia Libertà/Left Ecology Freedom (SEL), both of which received only a little more than 3%, from entering the European Parliament. This new project, however, is not a mere electoral coalition set up to clear this hurdle. In its foundation and structure it is, in fact, something very different.

Europe: 'United we can win' -- interview with Alexis Tsipras

February 23, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- In December 2013, Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), was elected as lead candidate of the Party of the European Left for the May 25, 2014, European elections.

The Party of the European Left unites many left parties from across the continent. The program of Tsipras’s campaign can be found on the website of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Tsipras’s candidacy is seen as symbolic of the fight for a different Europe — one that is ecological, peaceful, democratic and based on social justice. This is due to the Greek people’s resistance to the austerity policies that the “troika” (European Union, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund) have imposed on them and Syriza’s near-victory in the 2012 Greek elections on an anti-austerity platform.

Tsipras's candidacy has become especially symbolic of this fight in Italy, where a very divided left is looking for ways to come together. Tsipras was interviewed by Italian left daily Il Manifesto. It has been translated by Dick Nichols.

* * *

Europe's 'lefts' and the capitalist crisis

Front de Gauche (France) leader Jean-Luc Melenchon with SYRIZA (Greece) leader Alexis Tspiras.

For more on the developments on Europe's far left, click HERE (see also the pink tabs and the end of the article)

By Francois Sabado

May 20, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- The situation of the "lefts" in Europe cannot be understood without starting from the crisis, its multiple dimensions and its effects on the social and political field. Hitting head-on all the organisations and parties linked to the history of the workers’ movement, precipitating ruptures, it obliges political forces to recompose around new axes.

John Riddell: Party democracy in Lenin’s Comintern – and small Marxist groups today

[For more articles by John Riddell, click HERE. For more on the Communist International, click HERE. For more on the British SWP, click HERE. For more on revolutionary organisation, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

February 20, 2013 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- How did Communist parties handle issues of internal discipline and democracy in Lenin’s time? An intense discussion now under way within the British Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) raises issues related to the nature of internal democracy in the Communist International (Comintern) during 1919–23, the period of its first four congresses.[1]

How anarchists, syndicalists, socialists and IWW militants were drawn to Bolshevism: four case studies

William Dudley (Big Bill) Haywood, US labour movement leader, marching with strikers in Lowell, Massachusetts, circa 1912.

Read more on the IWW, Gramsci and Victor Serge.

By Doug Enaa Greene

“The unity of thought and action gave Bolshevism its original power; without entering into doctrinal questions we can define Bolshevism as a movement to the left of socialism -- which brought it closer to anarchism -- inspired by the will to achieve the revolution immediately.”[1]

These words of Victor Serge sum up a whole new wave of thinking that came over many anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists, and socialists with the onset of the Russian Revolution. Many anarchists, syndicalists, and socialists who had been hostile to the practices of organized socialist parties for decades found themselves drawn to the example of the Bolshevik Revolution and joined the emerging Communist Parties, providing them with valuable cadres. One of these men was Victor Serge, a Russian exile most noted for his later work as a novelist. Another was Bill Haywood, an American trade unionist active in both the Western Federation of Miners and the Industrial Workers of the World. A third was James P. Cannon, another trade union militant in the USA. A fourth was Antonio Gramsci, an Italian journalist and political activist.

The Comintern in 1922: the periphery pushes back

Communist Party of Germany (KPD) member Paul Levi played a leading role in several debates.

By John Riddell

December 4, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, for more articles by John Riddell, go to http://johnriddell.wordpress.com -- Until recently, I shared a widely held opinion that the Bolshevik Party of Russia towered above other members of the early Communist International as a source of fruitful political initiatives. However, my work in preparing the English edition of the Comintern’s Fourth Congress, held at the end of 1922, led me to modify this view.(1) On a number of weighty strategic issues before the congress, front-line parties, especially the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), played a decisive role in revising executive committee proposals and shaping the Congress’s outcome.]

When I translated the first page of this congress, I was not far distant from the view of Tony Cliff, who, referring to the 1921–22 period, referred to the “extreme comparative backwardness of communist leaders outside Russia”. They had an “uncritical attitude towards the Russian party”, which stood as “a giant among dwarfs”, Cliff stated.(2)

Political crisis in Italy and Greece: Karl Marx on ‘technical governments’

By Marcello Musto

November 16, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In recent years Karl Marx has again been featuring in the world’s press because of his prescient insights into the cyclical and structural character of capitalist crises. Now there is another reason why he should be re-read in the light of Greece and Italy: the reappearance of the "technical government".

As a contributor to the New-York Tribune, one of the widest circulation dailies of his time, Marx observed the political and institutional developments that led to one of the first technical governments in history: the British cabinet of the Earl of Aberdeen, December 1852 to January 1855.

The European workers' movement: dangers and challenges

In Portugal, November 2010 general strike called by the Communist Party-led CGTP and the Socialist Party-led UGT was massively supported, with 3 million strikers out of a workforce of 4.7 million.

By Murray Smith

March 6, 2011 -- New Socialist -- With the onset of the world economic crisis, the European workers' movement finds itself in a new phase, one that is replete with dangers and challenges. It is important to underline that we are in fact in a new situation and not just a continuation of the previous period.

Libya: How Gaddafi became a Western-backed dictator

Italy' President Silvio Berlusconi and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

By Peter Boyle

Updated February 25, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- On February 22, Muammar Gaddafi was boasting on state TV that the Libyan people were with him and that he was the Libyan revolution, even while his dwindling army of special guards and hired mercenaries attempted to drown a popular revolution in blood.

Civilians were strafed and bombed from helicopters and planes. Snipers with high-powered rifles fired into unarmed crowds. Two pilots flew their fighter jets to Malta rather than bomb their own people and another two are reported to have crashed their jets rather than attack civilians. Sections of the armed forces, several diplomats and a couple of ministers have abandoned the regime and, at the time of the writing, the east of Libya was in the hands of popular revolutionary committees.

Why Marxists oppose terrorism

[This is the slightly edited text of a talk presented to the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Resistance educational conference in Sydney in January 2002. Dave Holmes is now a leader of the Socialist Alliance in Melbourne. This and other writings are also available at Dave Holmes' blog, Arguing for Socialism.]

By Dave Holmes

I'd like to begin with a juxtaposition of two events — one which took place relatively recently and the other a long time before.

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