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Soviet Union

How workers rallied to aid the early Soviet republic: International Workers’ Aid for Soviet Russia (+ study guide)

Munzenberg

Willi Münzenberg.

December 29, 2012 -- The following talk on work by the Communist International to gather material aid for the Soviet Republic was given by Suzanne Weiss at the fourth Toronto study session on Toward the United Front, a 1300-page edition the fourth Communist International Congress (1922).

The study session, entitled “The Comintern’s Struggle for Social Hegemony”, surveyed the Comintern's work in unions, cooperatives, education, youth organisations and on material assistance to Soviet Russia. The presentation, taking up a speech by Willi Münzenberg, is followed by a brief biography and a description of the study session. More information on Toward the United Front is available HERE. – John Riddell

This article first appeared at Johnriddell.wordpress.com and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

Aleksandr Buzgalin: In memory of Nina Ivanovna Buzgalina, a true communist

Nina Ivanovna Buzgalina, 1932-2012

Translation and introductory note by Renfrey Clarke

November 18, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Many members of the international left who have lived in Moscow or visited it during the past few decades will be saddened to learn that Nina Ivanovna Buzgalina, mother of Aleksandr Buzgalin, died on November 9, 2012. Aleksandr has now written this tribute to her.

Nina Ivanovna was a proletarian fighter from her teenage years, and a committed, insightful communist. Her remarkable history stands as a testament to the struggles, sacrifices and triumphs of her generation.

* * *

By Aleksandr Buzgalin, Moscow

People don’t write about their mothers in scholarly journals, or post about them on public e-lists. But I’m doing so. I’m doing this because someone has died whose life reflected the best elements in the world of true communists, just as the ocean is reflected in a drop of water.

Cuba: The legacy of the October 1962 Missile Crisis

By Ike Nahem

[This is the third in a series of articles by Ike Nahem. The first can be found HERE and the second HERE. For more articles on Cuba, click HERE.]

October 22, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- October 1962 marks the 50th anniversary of the so-called “Cuban Missile Crisis”. The last two weeks of that October was the closest the world has come so far to a widespread nuclear exchange.

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.

The collapse of 'communism' in the USSR: Its causes and significance

By Doug Lorimer

Doug Lorimer is a member of the National Executive of the DSP. This article is based on a report adopted by the 14th National Conference of the DSP, held in Sydney, January 2-6, 1992.

©Resistance Books 1997; first published 1992, second (revised) edition 1997

Contents

Stalinism in the Soviet Union

Australian socialists debate ecosocialism

By Ian Angus

December 13, 2011 -- Climate and Capitalism (Canada) -- Should ecologically concerned socialists call themselves ecosocialists? Members of the Socialist Alliance are conducting a public policy debate.

Is there a need for the word “ecosocialism”? Does it mean something substantially different from socialism without the prefix? Will using it help to build the left? Or is it an unnecessary and dangerous concession to greens who lean to liberalism and anarchism?

Here at Climate and Capitalism, we gave our answers to those questions long ago, by putting the words “Ecosocialism or barbarism: there is no third way” at the top of every page.

But on that question we are in a minority. While the word “ecosocialism” is used by growing numbers of green lefts and left greens, it is still very far from being universally accepted.

Of course, it is just a word. What’s important is the idea that in the 21st century the fight against environmental destruction and the fight against capitalism are inextricably linked – neither can succeed without the other. The label anyone chooses to apply to that concept is far less important.

Baltic far right attempts to rewrite history

Estonian Nazis parade on July 30, 2011.

By Rupen Savoulian

August 12, 2011 -- Antipodean Athiest, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Early in August, a major World War II anniversary was marked in Europe; August 1 was the 67th anniversary of the heroic Warsaw uprising by the Polish underground resistance movement against Nazi German occupation forces. I raise this anniversary to highlight the importance of commemorating the courageous struggles by the peoples oppressed by the Nazi regime, and to underscore the importance of historical debate for comprehending the tremendous social forces that have shaped the world today.

My point is not to just go over old historical ground, but to highlight a growing problem; Baltic ultranationalism which has mutated to outright neo-fascism.

Nationality’s role in social liberation: the Soviet legacy

Painting slogans for the Congress of the Peoples of the East, September 1920, Baku. Photo from IISG.

By John Riddell

July 21, 2011 -- http://johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Just under a century ago, the newly founded Soviet republic embarked on the world’s first concerted attempt to unite diverse nations in a federation that acknowledged the right to self-determination and encouraged the development of national culture, consciousness and governmental structures. Previous major national-democratic revolutions – in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the United States – had been made in the name of a hegemonic nation and had assimilated, marginalised or crushed rival nationalities. The early Soviet regime, by contrast, sought to encourage, rather than deny, internal national distinctiveness.

The Communist Women’s International (1921-26)

"Emancipated woman -- build up socialism." Poster by Strakhov-Braslavskij A. I., 1926.

By John Riddell

June 12, 2011 -- The following working paper was presented to the Toronto conference of Historical Materialism on May 16, 2010. It first appeared on John Riddell's blog and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission.

* * *

When we celebrate International Women’s Day, we often refer to its origins in US labour struggles early last century. Less often mentioned, however, how it was relaunched and popularised in the 1920s by the Communist Women’s International. Moreover, this movement itself has been almost forgotten, as have most of its central leaders.

The Communist Women’s International was founded by a world gathering of communist women in 1921, which elected a leadership, the International Women’s Secretariat, reporting to the executive of the Communist International, or Comintern. It also initiated the formation of women’s commissions in national parties, which coordinated work by women’s bodies on a branch level, and called periodic international conferences of Communist women.

`Lenin and workers' control', by Didier Limon (1967)

May Day in St Petersburg, 1917.

By Didier Limon, translated, edited and introduced by Keith Rosenthal

December 22, 2010 -- This phenomenal, historical and analytical study by Didier Limon -- which first appeared in Autogestion: études, débats, documents, cahier no. 4, pp. 65-111 (Paris, December 1967) -- has, until now, not been translated into English. This is a shame on many levels for it stands nearly peerless in its meticulous treatment of the specific subject it takes up. That is, the debates and discussions surrounding the implementation of workers’ control of production within the first months after the October revolution of 1917 in Russia.

Present-day Russia needs a renewal of the feminist movement

By Anna Ochkina, translated from Russian for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Renfrey Clarke

January 1, 2009 -- In the Soviet Union feminism was elevated to the status of official state policy and ultimately was destroyed as an ideology and a social movement. The dominant concept was one of a general, global equality; as a result, a separate movement for the rights of women simply could not exist. The feminist reference points of Soviet social policy took the form of a set of rights for women: employment in the workforce on an equal basis with men; political rights; equality before the law, and so forth. The gaining of formal rights, however, resulted in the restricting of particular, specific rights of women, which in practice proved very difficult to realise.

Slideshow: Stalinism -- How did the Russian Revolution degenerate and was it inevitable?

Baruch Hirson: The South African left and the Russian connection (1991)

Click HERE to view a CVET video production of a seminar at the
University of the Western Cape on the past, present, and future of
Marxism in South Africa, held in September 1991. It was addressed by veteran South African Trotskyist activist Baruch Hirson. Participating in the seminar were Ciraj
Rassool, Baruch Hirson, Andrew Nash, Colin Bundy, Adam Habib, Paul
Allen and Neville Alexander.  

Baruch Hirson: The South African left and the Russian connection (1991)

Marxism in South Africa - Past, Present, & Future

September 6-8, 1991

Che Guevara's final verdict on the Soviet economy

By John Riddell

June 8, 2008 -- One of the most important developments in Cuban Marxism in recent years has been increased attention to the writings of Ernesto Che Guevara on the economics and politics of the transition to socialism.

A milestone in this process was the publication in 2006 by Ocean Press and Cuba's Centro de Estudios Che Guevara of Apuntes criticos a la economía política [Critical Notes on Political Economy], a collection of Che's writings from the years 1962 to 1965, many of them previously unpublished. The book includes a lengthy excerpt from a letter to Fidel Castro, entitled ``Some Thoughts on the Transition to Socialism''. In it, in extremely condensed comments, Che presented his views on economic development in the Soviet Union.[1]

In 1965, the Soviet economy stood at the end of a period of rapid growth that had brought improvements to the still very low living standards of working people. Soviet prestige had been enhanced by engineering successes in defence production and space exploration. Most Western observers then considered that it showed more dynamism than its US counterpart.

At that time, almost the entire Soviet productive economy was owned by the state. It was managed by a privileged bureaucracy that consolidated its control in the 1920s under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. Managers were rewarded on the basis of fulfilling production norms laid down from above; workers were commonly paid by the piece.

¿La Unión Soviética, estado sin partido?

Reseña crítica de Alex Miller

El siglo soviético
por Moshe Lewin
Verso 2005
416 páginas

Los medios comerciales y las élites intelectuales capitalistas han promulgado un estereotipo sobre la Unión Soviética: una línea ideológica directa y sin interrupciones lleva del bolchevismo de la revolución de 1917 al totalitarismo del período stalinista (1920-1953), pasa por el período post-stalinista desde 1953 y termina en el colapso del régimen soviético en 1991. Normalmente, se esgrime el estereotipo contra el bolchevismo, y en realidad contra cualquier forma de marxismo revolucionario: se usa el estancamiento y la declinación post-stalinistas, así como las masacres y purgas del período stalinista, para elaborar una reducción al absurdo de las aspiraciones originales de la revolución de 1917.

The Soviet Union: a no-party state?

Review by Alex Miller

The Soviet Century
By Moshe Lewin
Verso 2005
416 pages

Theses on the class nature of the People's Republic of China

This resolution was adopted by the 18th Congress of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia, held in Sydney, January 5-10, 1999.

I. Theoretical framework

1. For orthodox Marxists, as Lenin explained in his 1917 book The State and Revolution, the state is a centralised organisation of force separated from the community as a whole which enforces, through special bodies of armed people and other institutions of coercion, the will of one class, or an alliance of classes, upon the rest of society.

Theories of the USSR in light of its collapse

By Barry Sheppard

The collapse of "really existing socialism" in the USSR and Eastern Europe a decade ago came as a shock to all tendencies in the workers' movement and the political representatives of the capitalist class worldwide. No-one predicted such an outcome beforehand—no-one alive, that is. Why was this so?

To answer this question, it would be useful to review the differing views on the character of the USSR.

Stalin and his heirs claimed that the USSR had achieved socialism in the 1930s and was a classless society. The regime claimed, "We have not yet, of course, complete communism, but we have already achieved socialism—that is, the lowest stage of communism"1

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