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social democracy

Right gains in Austria's paradoxical election result

By Walter Baier

October 2, 2013 -- Transform! -- The outcome of the September 29, 2013, Austrian parliamentary elections must seem paradoxical all across Europe.

Despite the – by comparison – favourable economic data, the ruling “Great Coalition” of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and conservative Peoples Party (ÖVP) was punished. Its share of the votes fell back from 55 per cent to less than 51. The SPÖ at 27 per cent remained the largest party, however is now sitting in a parliament with four right-wing parties, which hold 108 out of 183 seats altogether.

The German-nationalist, racist Freedom Party (FPÖ) scored better than expected at 20.6 (+3.0%) per cent. It managed to retrieve the majority of the votes it had lost after 2005 lost to the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ), which had been founded by Jörg Haider. In Styria, however, the FPÖ topped the poll to become the party with the most votes, spectacularly gaining from the electorate of both the ÖVP and SPÖ. Notably among workers and employees, the FPÖ replaced the SPÖ as the strongest party.

Britain: Mike Marqusee on Left Unity -- 'A party to dream of'

Mike Marqusee.

For more on the left unity process in Britain, click HERE. For more by Mike Marqusee, click HERE.

By Mike Marqusee

September 27, 2013 -- Red Pepper, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- I’m one of the thousands who signed up to the Left Unity appeal issued by Ken Loach in March to discuss the formation of a new party of the left. I did so because I believe the continued absence of an effective left alternative to the Labour Party hampers our resistance to austerity, racism, war and environmental degradation.

Left Unity has no shortage of doubters. There are many who reject electoral politics altogether and others who remain committed to working in the Labour Party. And not a few who simply doubt the left’s capacity to measure up to the challenge.

Jonathan Sperber's new bio seeks to bury Karl Marx, not praise him

Karl Marx, A Nineteenth Century Life
By Jonathan Sperber,
Liveright Publishing, 2013

Click for more on Karl Marx and Marxist theory.

By Barry Healy

September 26, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In life Karl Marx lived a tumultuous, revolutionary life and in death he has likewise been less than tranquil. Alive, he was the best hated man in Europe. For the ruling classes and police spies he personified the “spectre” that was haunting the continent, the demonic rise of communist revolution.

After his death he was bleached of his humanity, canonised by his admirers and slandered by his bourgeois enemies. Both misrepresented him.

His enormous collection of notes and half-formulated writings were bequeathed first to his long-time political collaborator Frederick Engels and later to the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). Engels laboured long and hard and managed to produce the second and third volumes of Capital.

Why Norway's 'red-green' government was defeated by the right-wing coalition

Seats won: SV – Socialist Left Party; A – Labour Party; MDG – Green Party; FRP – Progress Party; H – Conservative Party; V – Liberal Party; KRF – Christian Democrats; SP – Centre Party. Source: http://www.valgresultat.no/bs7g.html.

By Asbjørn Wahl and Roy Pedersen

September 20, 2013 -- Transform! -- The red-green coalition government in Norway, whose political platform when it took power in 2005 was called the most progressive in Europe, experienced a bitter defeat in the country’s parliamentary election on September 9. A coalition of four centre-right and right-wing parties, including a right-wing populist party, gained a solid majority and are now negotiating the political platform for a new government.

The role of the united-front tactic

Australian protest against the US war on Vietnam. Socialists argued for the movement to have as its central demand the call for the immediate withdrawal of US and Australian troops from Vietnam.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This talk was presented by Peter Boyle representing the then Democratic Socialist Party (since merged with the Socialist Alliance) to a workshop with comrades from the Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) of Indonesia in 2000. It was based on a talk by Doug Lorimer to a Resistance leadership training school in Sydney on April 24-25, 1995. It was published in The Activist, volume 5, number 6, 1995. Doug Lorimer passed away on July 21, 2013. Read more of Doug Lorimer's writings HERE.]

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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.

Richard Seymour on the rise of a new left in Europe

By Richard Seymour

May 19, 2013 -- Lenin's Tomb, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Speech presented at the Subversive Festival in Zagreb.

* * *

I think the title of this talk, "The rise of a new left", is clearly to some extent projection of a desired outcome; of course, there are elements of a new left visible. Not just the indignados and occupiers, but also the radical left challengers: Syriza, the Portugese Left Bloc, Die Linke, the Scandinavian red-green alliances, Front de gauche in France, maybe some elements of the Pirate Parties ...

Murray Smith: The real European left stands up

By Murray Smith

May 10, 2013 -- Left Unity, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Murray Smith's permission -- Having followed with sympathy the emergence of Left Unity and the possibility of a new party of the left being launched, I read with interest the two-part article by an anonymous figure, who may or may not be called Michael Ford, which may or may not be a pseudonym. I’m sure we’ll find out. For the purposes of this article, I will refer to him as Ford. In any case, whoever wrote it, the aim of the article is clearly to try and discredit the perspective of building a new party to the left of Labour and validate that of working with/within the Labour Party to drive it to the left.

There will undoubtedly be many replies to Ford from people who are directly involved in politics in Britain, which I am not at present. However, an important part of Ford’s argument is to try and demonstrate that the political forces to the left of social democracy in Europe don’t amount to much, either politically or in terms of their support. In doing so, frankly, he paints a picture which has little relation to reality. This is what I want to take up [1].

Britain's days of hope -- Ken Loach's 'The Spirit of ’45' reviewed

Ken Loach discusses The Spirit of '45.

Left-wing film director Ken Loach is at the centre of a movement for a new left party in Britain that is committed to defending and extending the welfare state and uncompromisingly fighting austerity. More than 8000 people have signed his appeal for such a party. A vital component of this campaign has been the success of his new documentary, The Spirit of '45.

* * *

April 2013 -- Red Pepper -- Ken Loach’s The Spirit of ’45 is not just an exercise in nostalgia but a compelling intervention into the politics of the present, writes Alex Nunns.

It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when Britain responded to crippling debts and chronic daily hardship with a decisive move to the left: nationalising industry, building council houses and creating brand new public services from scratch.

Canada: New Democratic Party poised for power, but to what effect?

For more on the New Democratic Party, click HERE. For more on politics in Canada, click HERE.

By Richard Fidler

February 19, 2013 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- In the summer of 2012 I drafted an article on the New Democratic Party (NDP) for the purpose of introducing a discussion among some comrades seeking information about the party that now forms the official opposition in Canada’s House of Commons. While by no means a definitive study, the article draws on a number of books, academic papers and other documents addressed to the history and nature of Canadian social democracy, all of which are referenced or linked in the text. A French version of this article, addressed to a Québécois readership, is published in the current issue of the left journal Nouveaux Cahiers du Socialisme devoted to “La question canadienne”, a critical analysis of the “Harper revolution”.

Richard Seymour: A comment on Greece and Syriza

Photo from Kasama Project.

[For more discussion of SYRIZA, click HERE.]

By Richard Seymour

October 9, 2012 -- International Socialism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal in the interests of promoting left discussion -- The “strategic perplexity” of the left confronted with the gravest crisis of capitalism in generations has been hard to miss.1 Social democracy continues down the road of social liberalism. The far left has struggled to take advantage of ruling-class disarray. Radical left formations have tended to stagnate at best. Two exceptions to this pattern are the Front de Gauche in France and Syriza in Greece. While the Front de Gauche did not do as well as many hoped, it did channel a large vote for the radical left in the presidential elections won by Hollande. Meanwhile, Syriza is potentially a governing party in waiting.

Communist International's Fourth Congress: revolutionary fulcrum of the modern world

Toward the United Front, Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922
Edited and translated by John Riddell
Brill, 2011 (hard back), 1310 pages, 200 euros
Haymarket Books, 2012 (paper back), US$55

Haymarket Books is now taking pre-publication orders of Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, at US$50, a 10% reduction. It is due to be released in November 2012.

To take advantage of Haymarket’s offer, go to Toward the United Front, order the book, go to “check-out” and enter RIDDELL2012 in the “coupon code” field.

To recommend the Brill hardcover edition to your favourite library, go to Brill Academic Publishers and click on “recommend”.

Toward the United Front will also be available from Resistance Books in November.

Review by Barry Healy

Canada: Thomas Mulcair, the New Democratic Party and the social movements

"Thomas Mulcair is a man of the establishment, not of the social movements."

[Read more on Canada's New Democratic Party HERE.]

By Paul Kellogg

March 27, 2012 -- PolEcon.net, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Canada's social-democratic New Democratic Party (NDP) has a new federal leader. Thomas Mulcair, has no roots in the social movements, a long history of being a senior Liberal Party member and is someone  openly committed to pushing the NDP considerably to the right. The implications for all interested in progressive social change are sobering.

Britain: (Updated April 4) Tariq Ali, British left on George Galloway's surprise re-election


George Galloway explains why we won the by-election.

[For more discussion around George Galloway's re-election and the left's response, click HERE.]

On March 29, 2012, the left-wing Respect party's George Galloway was swept into the British parliament in a by-election few expected him to win. He was elected with an absolute majority of the votes cast, in a multiracial working-class seat. Below, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal publishes a number of reactions to this important victory from British left.

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Canada: The NDP -- new wine in an old jar?

NDP leadership candidates.

[For more on the Quebec national question, click HERE.]

By Richard Fidler

March 13, 2012 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Apologies to subscribers to this blog for my recent silence.A lot has happened recently, most notably the revival in the fortunes and prospects for the Quebec independence movement, which I will comment on before long.

But the immediate item of note is the federal New Democratic Party [NDP, a social-democratic party similiar to the British, Australian and New Zealand Labour parties] leadership race, which will come to a close on March 24, 2012, at a convention in Toronto. There, the postal votes of the pan-Canadian membership will be tallied and the new leader will be selected by delegates, probably after more than one elimination ballot since it appears that none of the seven remaining candidates enjoys clear majority support.

Mike Marqusee on Occupy in 2012: 'Mass action has returned'

Occupy the London Stock Exchange.

By Mike Marqusee

January 23, 2012 -- Red Pepper (February-March 2012) via Mikemarqusee.com -- 2011 has been hailed in the media as a year of “protest” in the abstract, but it’s been more challenging and concrete than that. In defiance of received political wisdom, mass action in the streets returned with undeniable impact. Contests over space and the public domain became vehicles for the assertion of radical alternatives, which thereby forced their way into a discussion long restricted to a narrow consensus.

In Europe and North America, this democratic insurgency sought to free democracy itself from the straitjacket imposed by neoliberalism, which has deepened the historic tendency of capitalism to confine “politics” to the non-economic realm. Raising the banner of the 99%, the Occupy movement (with associated developments) broke through 30 years of neoliberal ideological hegemony to make the system itself – and the interests that drive it – the subject of debate. As a result, perceptions of the possible have been redefined. Horizons broadened. We do not have to be slaves of the financial sector, sacrificial victims to appease angry fiscal gods. Whatever else, this systemic challenge means the struggles of the coming years will be fought out on different terrain.

Demands

The ALP left in Leichhardt municipality in the 1980s

'Primal Socialist Innocence and the Fall'?: the ALP Left in Leichhardt Municipality in the 1980s

By Tony Harris*


From the History Cooperative.

During the 1970's and the early 1980's, hundreds of people flooded into the ALP branches of the Municipality of Leichhardt. They constituted a new element of the ALP Left, influenced to one degree or another by the social movements of the late '60s and early '70s, or by the experience of the Whitlam Government. They became locked into a fierce struggle for power with local political machines, and behind them a state ALP branch, dominated by the Labor Right. But when, in the early 1980's, the moment of power arrived, this Left fell into bitter disarray, fragmenting along a spectrum that spilled out of the Party. This tale of political 'innocence' and 'fall' traces through the loss of the municipal council and state parliamentary seat and is dramatically symbolised in the fraught struggle over the future one of the most significant labour (and Labor) history sites: Mort's Dock. As such it reveals the historically contingent nature of the 'middle-classing' of the ALP during this period.

Paul Le Blanc: Marxism and organisation

By Paul Le Blanc

This presentation was given at the Chicago educational conference of the US International Socialist Organization, Socialism 2011, on the July 2-3, 2011, weekend. The text first appeared at Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières.

* * *

It is always worth examining the question of Marxism and organisation because, if we would like to be organised Marxists who effectively struggle for socialism, we have a responsibility to know what we are about -- and such knowledge is deepened by ongoing examination. There are scholarly reasons for going over such ground, but for activists the primary purpose is to improve our ability to help change the world. There are three basic ideas to be elaborated on here: 1) there must be a coming together of socialism and the working class if either is to have a positive future; 2) those of us who think like that need to work together hard and effectively -- which means we need to be part of a serious organisation; and 3) socialist organisations must be a democratic/disciplined force in actual workers’ struggles -- that is the path to socialism. In what follows I will elaborate on this.

Comparing 1911 and 2011: What's relevant for socialists today?

The German gunboat, Panther, tried to halt French claims to Morocco in 1911.

By Dimitris Fasfalis

June 4, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- History, of course, never repeats itself. Yet there are lessons to be learned from past experiences, especially when similar patterns affect similar historical actors in different epochs and settings. This seems to be the case for revolutionary socialists when we compare 2011 and 1911. Despite their differences, these are times when imperialist war threatens while a revolutionary-democratic upsurge sweeps vast areas that were thought of as stable, if not stagnant. Hence the question: what’s relevant for us on the left today in our socialist predecessors’ experience in 1911?

Threat of imperialist war

First, the early 20th century socialists developed an understanding of the contradictory dynamics of capitalist globalisation and imperialist rivalries.

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.

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