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Eastern Europe

Michael Lebowitz's 'The Socialist Imperative': 'A must-read for revolutionaries'

The Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now
By Michael A. Lebowitz
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2015.
264 pages

Order HERE.

For more by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE. For more by Doug Enaa Greene.

Review by Doug Enaa Greene

July 28, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Those who open Michael Lebowitz's new book, The Socialist Imperative, will find something far different and refreshing than the old apologetic Soviet manuals on the smooth workings of a planned economy. What they will discover is a collection of writings inspired by Lebowitz's lifetime of activism and profound solidarity with the oppressed and exploited under capitalism and his revolutionary vision of how to build a socialist alternative.

Volodymyr Ishchenko: Ukraine's Maidan mythologies

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has published various left viewpoints on the political situation in Ukraine. For more by Volodymyr Ishchenko.

By Volodymyr Ishchenko

July 9, 2015 -- First published in the June 2015 New Left Review, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Andrew Wilson’s earlier publications on Ukraine won him a reputation as a serious historian. [1] His first books—notably Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s (1997), The Ukrainians (2002) and Ukraine’s Orange Revolution (2005)—were distinguished by three signal features.

First, Wilson argued strongly that while Ukrainian nationalism was a force in the west of the country—where, bred under Austrian and Polish rule, it had mostly possessed a strong right-wing bent—it had only limited appeal in the country as a whole, due to the existence of deep regional, linguistic and ethnic historical divisions. Ukrainian “national identity”, Wilson insisted in The Ukrainians, was essentially a product of the Soviet era.

Armenia: What has sparked #ElectricYerevan?

By Sergei Markedonov

June 24, 2015 -- New Cold War, first published in Russian on politcom.ru, and translated and published in English on Open Democracy; posted at Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal --  Fresh protests in Yerevan have their roots in a number of deep-rooted domestic issues in Armenian politics. But we make comparisons to other protest movements at our peril.

On June 23, some 6000 people marched towards President Serzh Sargsyan’s residence in Yerevan. Water cannons against protesters have been used against participants in what has already been dubbed #ElectricYerevan, in reference to the cause of the protests: rising energy prices.

The initial mass protest against hikes in electricity tariffs, and the authorities’ reaction against them, have had a noticeable effect on the country’s political situation. According to the Armenian police, 237 people were arrested on June 23 and, in total, 29 people suffered injuries, including 11 police officers. But while this situation has already begun to provoke comparisons with recent events in Ukraine, these protests have a domestic trajectory which should not be ignored.

Neoliberal Ukraine’s labour 'reforms' threaten workers' rights

The oligarchs have joined forces to railroad a new labour code that strips Ukrainian workers of their already modest rights.

By Vitaly Dudin

June 4, 2015 -- Open Democracy via The New Cold War, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Neoliberal modernisation in Ukraine is nothing new. The processes and forces pushing it forward long predate the ousting of Viktor Yanukovych last February. But since the events of 2014, this process has been expedited and has arrived at a key issue: the laws governing the way people work. 

Boris Kagarlitsky: 'The killing of Novorossiya'

US Secretary of State John Kerry with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, May 15, 2015.

For more on the political situation in Ukraine. For more by Boris Kagarlitsky, click HERE.

By Boris Kagarlitsky, translated by Renfrey Clarke

June 4, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On May 23, 2015, Aleksey Mozgovoy, the most popular, authoritative and independent of the Novorossiya militia commanders, was assassinated. Together with the “Spectre” Brigade which he led, Mozgovoy a few days earlier had taken part in an Antifascist Forum with left organisations from a number of European countries.

Mozgovoy was killed by an unknown group of assassins, but it is obvious that his removal from the scene differs little from the revenge meted out recently to another Novorossiya field commander, who went under the nom-de-guerre of Batman. In this earlier case, responsibility for the killing was openly assumed by the official Lugansk authorities.

Eyewitness Donetsk: War and displaced persons in Ukraine and Haiti

"Pioneer" camp director Svetlana and Dr. Yuriy in discussion on April 14, 2015. Photo by Roger Annis.

More on the political situation in Ukraine

By Roger Annis

John Riddell on Michael Lebowitz: Dissecting the failure of Soviet ‘socialism’

Real Socialism

For more articles and videos by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.

For more by or about John Riddell.

Review by John Riddell

The Contradictions of “Real Socialism”: The Conductor and the Conducted
by Michael A. Lebowitz
New York: Monthly Review 2012.

May 19, 2015 -- JohnRiddell.Wordpress.com, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- In current discussions of twenty-first century socialism, the work of Michael Lebowitz has a unique merit: it is rooted in the experience of Cuba and Venezuela, where efforts in recent decades to move toward socialism have been the most vigorous. Quotations from Che Guevara and Hugo Chávez set the tone.

Ukraine: 'Before Maidan, Ukraine was more democratic', says Volodymyr Ishchenko

A toppled statue of Vladimir Lenin in Ukraine.

Volodymyr Ishchenko interviewed by Javier Morales

April 27, 2015 -- LeftEast, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Javier Morales: How do you think that Ukrainian society is assessing the consequences of the Euromaidan revolution? Has there been any change in their attitudes in the past year?

Ukraine: Eyewitness to the war zone of eastern Ukraine

Residents of "October" district of Donetsk city hard hit by Ukraine army shelling speak to visiting media group on April 16, 2015. Photo Roger Annis.

More on the political situation in Ukraine.

By Roger Annis, Donetsk

April 20, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, a version of this article was first published at CounterPunch -- -- I have just returned from participating in a four-day reporting tour to the city of Donetsk and the countryside that lies between Donetsk and the Russian city of Rostov to the south and east.

John Pilger wrong on former Yugoslavia

Kosovans displaced by Milosevic's serb-chauvinist regime.

Click HERE for more on Kosova/Kosovo

By Chris Slee

March 27, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In his article, "New threats of war and fascism",[1], John Pilger rightly denounces the history of US military intervention around the world. But he gives a distorted account of the events leading up to NATO's war against Serbia in 1999. He fails to recognise that the previous actions of the Serbian government created the conditions which made NATO's attack on Serbia possible.

The Serbian-chauvinist regime of Slobodan Milosevic had provoked a rebellion by the Albanian population of Kosova [also referred to as Kosovo]. It had also alienated most of the other nationalities of the former Yugoslavia. This left Serbia isolated when NATO attacked.

Pilger condemns the "criminal record" of the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA), but seems to absolve the Serbian government of any wrongdoing.

Ukraine: IMF package foreshadows a permanent 'winter'

Ukraine hyrvnia
By Michael Roberts

March 17, 2015 -- Michael Roberts Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced a new bailout package for Ukraine. It will disburse up to $17.5 billion over the next three years, subject to all the usual conditions for fiscal austerity and neoliberal reforms conducted by the Ukraine government (see https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/ukraine-a-grim- winter-ahead/).

The bailout package is a joke. As a former IMF economist Robert Kahn, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, put it, The odds of this program surviving intact for four years, or even through the end of 2015, are not much higher than for the original 2014 program."

Ukraine: Kyiv, Russia sign shakey ceasefire

 Most civilian casualties have been caused by the land and air bombardment of populated areas in the east by Kyiv government forces.

More on the political situation in Ukraine.

By Tony Iltis

February 14, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France emerged from negotiations in Minsk, Belarus on the morning of February 12, after 16 hours of talks, and announced that agreement had been reached for a ceasefire in Ukraine's civil war.

The conflict has divided Ukraine since the overthrow of the unpopular, but democratically elected, president Viktor Yanukovich in February last year.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin told journalists that “despite all the difficulties of the negotiation process, we have managed to agree on the main issues”, the February 12 Moscow Times reported.

Ukraine: US/NATO pushes to arm Kyiv's bloody war in the east

February 3 interview on Democracy Now! with Professor Stephen Cohen of New York University and Princeton University.

More on the political situation in Ukraine.

By Roger Annis

February 6, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Kyiv and NATO-driven civil war in Ukraine is taking new and dangerous turns. The United States is threatening to significantly increase its military support to Kyiv's army and the extreme-right militias allied with it, notably in the form of advanced heavy weapons, including artillery systems and anti-tank weaponry. The NATO countries as a whole are increasing their military presence in eastern Europe, including creating rapid-deployment infantry bases.

Increased sanctions against Russia are also on the agenda, although Russia's capacity to withstand sanctions as well as the harmful consequences of sanctions on European countries are cooling the enthusiasm for more sanctions and propelling parallel, military options.

The propaganda war over Crimea’s break from Ukraine

Celebrations in Lenin Square, in the Crimean capital of Simferopol, after the Crimean people voted to make the peninsula a part of Russia. More pictures at http://mashable.com/2014/03/16/crimea-votes-the-day-in-pictures/.

By Roger Annis

December 17, 2014 -- submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author, first published on Truthout, December 10, 2014 -- In the propaganda campaign being waged by the NATO countries and the government of Ukraine against Russia and in support of Kiev’s war in the east of the country, the events in Crimea of the past nine months occupy a pivotal place.

The secession from Ukraine that followed the March 16 referendum vote in Crimea is the number one pretext to justify the war as well as NATO’s rising aggression in Eastern Europe.

Ukraine: A year after Maidan, 'nothing has changed for the better'

US vice-president Joe Biden (right) sees eye to eye with Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko during his visit to Kyiv on the Maidan anniversary, November 21, 2014.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has published various left viewpoints from the region on the political situation in Ukraine.

By Andriy Manchuk, translated by Renfrey Clarke

New website for Ukraine news and analysis

By Roger Annis

November 26, 2014 -- Following several months of preparatory work, a new website providing information and analysis of the war and political crisis in Ukraine is now online. The website is titled The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond. You can read it and subscribe to it at this link. Please "like" our Facebook page.

The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond is a project of the international delegates who attended the antiiwar, anti-fascist conference that took place in Yalta, Crimea on July 6 and 7, 2014. That conference adopted an anti-war declaration that serves as a guide to the information assembled and presented on the new website.

The website already contains a vast storehouse of information and analysis. The content is expanding daily. One feature designed to assist readers is "Editors’ picks", a selection by our editors of the items posted to the website that are varied and that we consider particularly informative.

Building a united left in Slovenia: interview with Miha Kordiš MP

[Click HERE for more on Slovenia and more on Eastern Europe.]

Miha Kordiš interviewed by Denis Rogatyuk

November 27, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Miha Kordiš (pictured above) is a member of the Slovenian national parliament for the Initiative for Democratic Socialism (IDS), a radical left political party, which is part of the United Left electoral front.

* * *

Miha, could you tell us about recent developments of the United Left in Slovenia? You’ve had national parliamentary elections, the European election and, more recently, local elections. How do you feel it all went?

Heaven or hell? Books look back on the German Democratic Republic

Stasi Hell or Workers’ Paradise? Socialism in the German Democratic Republic ― What Can We Learn From It?
By John Green & Bruni de la Motte
Artery Publications, 2009
50 pp.

Red Love: The Story of an East German Family
By Maxim Leo
Pushkin Press, 2013
272 pp.

Reviews by Barry Healy

November 16, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- The German Democratic Republic (GDR, or "East Germany") disappeared a quarter of a century ago after 41 years’ existence. The East German state is mostly remembered as “Stasiland”, as Anna Funder’s history of its secret police is called.

Yet, for all of its Stalinist failings, East Germany’s values still stubbornly retain many Germans’ endorsement, especially those of the eastern regions. In 2008, Der Spiegel surveyed young Germans nationwide and discovered that most defended what the GDR stood for.

This is usually dismissed as merely a form of nostalgia, but these two texts grapple with the fuller picture. What they recall are memories of when the fear of fascism could motivate whole nations ― and the promise of socialism inspired.

Husband and wife team Bruni de la Motte and John Green have personal links to the GDR. Born in Britain, Green studied in the GDR between 1964 and '68 and then worked on GDR television for 20 years.

Ukraine: 'Without peace, humanitarian crisis will be uncontrollable', warns European Left

Statement of a delegation of the Party of the European Left just returned from Kiev

November 17, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A delegation of the Party of the European Left (EL), headed by two of its vice-presidents, Margarita Mileva and Maite Mola, returned on November 16, after a four-day visit to Kiev.

The aim of the trip was to learn about the situation of the conflict in Ukraine on the ground, in such difficult moments in which the tension increases dangerously and threatens to put an end to the ceasefire, the Minsk agreements and to restart large-scale combats in the province of Donbas.

During these days, the delegation met with activists of social movements, non-governmental organisations, organisations in defence of civil and human rights of Kiev and Donbas, with independent journalists and media activists as well as the Communist Party of Ukraine.

Croatia, Slovenia: 'The left is rising again'

Demian Vokši interviewed by Vladimir Unkovski-Korica

November 5, 2014 -- LeftEast, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

The Radnička fronta (Workers’ Front, Croatia) has been recently founded and often calls itself the "Croatian Syriza". Could you tell us something more about the emergence and program of the Workers' Front? Who are you, how many are you, what do you stand for?

The Workers' Front was founded in May 2014 by a group of workers, trade unionists, students, activists and unemployed. Our goal is to create a broad progressive platform, combining the activity of a political party with direct action at the workplaces and political activism in general.

At the centre of our mission is the provision of a coherent critique of the capitalist system, and together with other progressive groups, to employ direct strategies against it. We think that a fundamental change of Croatian politics and society is necessary because the capitalist system, which is currently on the offensive in dismantling the remnants of welfare state, is inherently producing inequality, destroying the environment and increasing the ability of rich and the powerful to live off the work of the oppressed and the neglected, while simultaneously diminishing the latter’s ability to influence the political process in any meaningful way.

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