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Marxist theory

Indianismo and Marxism: The mismatch of two revolutionary rationales

Introduction by Richard Fidler -- This important article by Álvaro García Linera, now vice-president of Bolivia, was first published in 2005. It traces the contradictory evolution of the two most influential revolutionary currents in the country's 20th century history and argues that Marxism, as originally interpreted by its Bolivian adherents, failed to address the outstanding concerns of the Indigenous majority. García Linera suggests, however, that the evolution of indianismo in recent decades opens perspectives for a renewal of Marxist thought and potentially the reconciliation of the two currents in a higher synthesis. Although framed within the Bolivian context, his argument clearly has implications for the national and anti-imperialist struggle in other parts of Abya Yale (the indigenous name for the western hemisphere).

Although Bolivia won formal independence from Spain in 1825, its national character remained fragile and incomplete. Not only did it lose significant territories over the years — to Brazil, Chile and, in the 1930s, Paraguay (the Chaco War) — the continuing existence of semifeudal property relations in agriculture deprived its overwhelmingly campesino Indigenous majority of property in land and was the material basis for their oppression as peoples. Indianismo developed among Bolivia's three dozen Indigenous peoples as an ideological reaction to this oppression, but only in recent years has it emerged as a dominant force in the political life of the country, in a process outlined by García Linera in the following article.

New pamphlet: Comintern: Revolutionary Internationalism in Lenin's Time

[The following is the introduction to a new pamphlet, Comintern: Revolutionary Internationalism in Lenin's Time, produced by the Canadian Socialist Voice collective. The full text is available at http://www.socialistvoice.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/comintern-riddell.pdf]

'Without worker-management, there is no socialism'

[A talk given at the two-day seminar “Workers Management: Theory and Practise”, held on October 26 and 27, 2007, organised by the Human Development and Transformative Praxis Program at the Caracas-based Miranda International Centre. Lebowitz is the director of the program. A detailed report by Green Left Weekly’s Kiraz Janicke on the seminar is posted at http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/2784 ]

Armando Hart on the 90th anniversary of the October Revolution

November 7, 2007, was the 90th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Here Armando Hart Dávalos, one of the historic leaders of the Cuban Revolution, assesses the 1917 Russian Revolution in the light of historic experience. In a commentary of obvious timelessness for Cuba’s own revolutionary people and leadership, he argues that the pressures of the imperialist blockade were not the decisive causes of the fall of the Russian Revolution, but rather errors made within the country by its own leadership and institutions. Essential reading for Cubans, and for everyone who

The labour aristocracy and opportunism in the history of Australian working-class politics

By Jonathan Strauss

The theory of the labour aristocracy argues that opportunism in the working class has a material basis. Such class-collaborationist politics express the interests of a relatively privileged stratum of workers who receive benefits supported by monopoly superprofits. Karl Marx and, especially, Frederick Engels, first developed this theory. It is most closely associated with V.I. Lenin, however, for whom it became “the pivot of the tactics in the labour movement that are dictated by the objective conditions of the imperialist era”.[1]

The Bolshevik Party and democratic centralism: A response to Murray Smith

By Doug Lorimer
In Links No. 26, Murray Smith, a former leading member of the Scottish Socialist Party and now a leading member of the Ligue Communiste
Révolutionnaire (the French section of the Trotskyist Fourth International),
made extensive comments on my article ``The Bolshevik Party and `Zinovievism’: Comments on a Caricature of Leninism’’ printed in Links No. 24., focussing in particular on the issue of the public expression and debate of political differences within the Bolshevik Party.(1)

At the end of his article, Smith argues that ``the idea that
discussions take place within the party and that only the decisions are made public can work only in the early stages in the development of a party, when it has weak links with the working class. In fact, as we have seen, there never really was such a stage in Russia: even in the early stages the key debates were public. But in the far-left groups that developed from the opposition to
Stalinism, this tradition definitely developed. Why? Probably as a result of a
long period of being on the defensive and of relative isolation.’’

Towards a historical materialist history of Australian working-class politics

By Jonathan Strauss
The theory of the labour aristocracy argues that opportunism in the working class has a material basis. Class-collaborationist politics express the interests of a relatively privileged stratum of workers supported in their benefits by monopoly superprofits. Karl Marx and, especially, Frederick Engels, first developed this theory. It is most closely associated with V.I. Lenin, however, for whom it became “the pivot of the tactics in the labour movement that are dictated by the objective conditions of the imperialist era”.1

The Russian Revolution and national freedom

By John Riddell

When Bolivian President Evo Morales formally opened his country's constituent assembly on August 6, 2006, he highlighted the aspirations of Bolivia's indigenous majority as the central challenge before the gathering. The convening of the assembly, he said, represented a ``historic moment to refound our dearly beloved homeland Bolivia''. When Bolivia was created, in 1825-26, ``the originary indigenous movements'' who had fought for independence ``were excluded'' and subsequently discriminated against and looked down upon. But the ``great day has arrived today ... for the originary indigenous peoples''.[1]

During the preceding weeks, indigenous organisations had proposed sweeping measures to assure their rights, including guarantees for their languages, autonomy for indigenous regions and respect for indigenous culture and political traditions.

This movement extends far beyond Bolivia. Massive struggles based on indigenous peoples have shaken Ecuador and Peru, and the reverberations are felt across the western hemisphere. Measures to empower indigenous minorities are among the most prestigious achievements of the Bolivarian movement in Venezuela.

A Marxist critique of post-Marxists

By James Petras

Introduction

“Post-Marxism” has become a fashionable intellectual posture, with the triumph of neo-liberalism and the retreat of the working class. The space vacated by the reformist left [in Latin America] has in part been occupied by capitalist politicians and ideologues, technocrats and the traditional and fundamentalist churches (Pentecostals and the Vatican). In the past, this space was occupied by socialist, nationalist and populist politicians and church activists associated with the “theology of liberation”. The centre-left was very influential within the political regimes (at the top) or the less politicised popular classes (at the bottom). The vacant space of the radical left refers to the political intellectuals and politicised sectors of the trade unions and urban and rural social movements. It is among these groups that the conflict between Marxism and “post-Marxism” is most intense today.

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.

Socialists in the Australian women's liberation movement

By Margaret Allan

To understand the development of feminism in Australia, it is useful to briefly recap the political situation that gave rise not only to the women's liberation movement, but to the whole range of social movements that sprang up in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

During the Second World War, women were drawn into many non-traditional areas of work, such as making ammunition and ships. These were much higher paid jobs than women were used to, and many women who did not previously work for pay experienced life as working mothers for the first time. There was some public child-care provision, and the ideology that women were incapable of metal work and similar trades conveniently disappeared as everyone was urged to “do their bit for the war effort and the boys at the front”.

When men began returning from the war in large numbers in 1945, women were forced to give up these jobs. It was the start of the “baby boom”: women were encouraged to have babies to repopulate. This was also the start of the economic boom of the 1950s.

Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution: A long and still relevant debate

By John Nebauer

Review of Trotsky's Theory of Permanent Revolution: A Leninist critique, by Doug Lorimer, Resistance Books, Sydney, 1998, A$6.95.

John Nebauer is a member of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia.

After Lenin, Trotsky was the foremost leader of the Russian Revolution. His contributions to the international socialist movement and to Marxism were immense. Trotsky's leadership of the Military Revolutionary Committee in November 1917 helped ensure the victory of the Bolshevik uprising. His classic History of the Russian Revolution remains the best account of the events that led to and followed the demise of the Romanov dynasty. As the founder of the Red Army, Trotsky played a vital role in defending the revolution from the forces of reaction. Later, he led the opposition to Stalinist degeneration and provided a Marxist analysis of the bureaucratic regime.

Marxism or Bauerite nationalism?

By Doug Lorimer

Fatherland or Mother Earth? Essays on the National Question is a collection of essays written over the last 24 years by Michael Löwy, director of research in sociology at the National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris. The book was published under the auspices of the Amsterdam-based International Institute for Research and Education, founded by Ernest Mandel and other leaders of the Trotskyist Fourth International.

The uninterrupted revolution in the Philippines

By Reihana Mohideen

Reihana Mohideen was, at the time of writing, a member of the Executive Council of the SPP and of the Links Editorial Board.

Marx, Engels and Lenin on the national question

By Norm Dixon

Norm Dixon is a member of the National Committee of the Australian Democratic Socialist Party and a journalist for the newspaper Green Left Weekly.

A critique of Norm Dixon's article, 'Marx, Engels and Lenin on the National Question'

By Malik Miah

Malik Miah is a member of the Editorial Board of Links and of the US socialist organisation Solidarity.

In Links Number 13, Norm Dixon writes: "The struggle of oppressed nations for national liberation remains one of the most burning issues in the world today". And therefore "socialists need to understand the national question if they are to make sense of the world, provide leadership and correctly determine their attitude and response to many international events".

I wholeheartedly agree. However, Dixon presents a formalistic and schematic understanding of the theory of the national question as first discussed by Marx and Engels in a period of rising capitalism and by Lenin in the age of imperialism. Dixon narrowly defines what a nation is and what Lenin means by self-determination, and rejects the nationalism of many oppressed peoples.

Scottish independence and the struggle for socialism

By Alan McCombes

Alan McCombes is the editor of Scottish Socialist Voice, the newspaper of the Scottish Socialist Party.

For socialists, internationalism has always been a sacred principle. "The workingmen have no country", declared the founders of scientific socialism 150 years ago.

In 1863, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels founded the International Workingmen's Association, the First International. The movement was created in recognition of the fact that the world was not a patchwork quilt of hermetically sealed national states, but a chain of interlinked nations in which major events in a single country could have continent-wide, and even worldwide, repercussions.

This world view was dramatically borne out by the events of 1917-1919, when the successful Bolshevik revolution immediately ignited a forest fire of mass revolutionary movements across Europe.

More recently, in the 1960s, the US ruling class expounded the "domino theory", and attempted to bomb Vietnam into oblivion for fear that "godless communism" would sweep through the whole of east Asia.

For a materialist analysis of national and racial oppression

By Norm Dixon

Norm Dixon is a member of the National Committee of the Australian Democratic Socialist Party and a journalist for Green Left Weekly.

In his critique of my article in Links Number 13, "Marx, Engels and Lenin on the National Question", Malik Miah (Links Number 14) charges that "Dixon presents a formalistic and schematic understanding of the theory of the national question" and "narrowly defines what a nation is and what Lenin means by self-determination, and rejects the nationalism of many oppressed peoples".

The purpose of my article was to reassert that the Marxist theory of the national question as it was developed by Marx, Engels and Lenin and definitively outlined in Stalin's 1913 pamphlet, Marxism and the National Question is firmly based on a materialist, scientific analysis of what does and does not constitute a nation.

Another purpose of the article was to alert to the consequences that losing sight of this scientific socialist understanding of a nation can lead to at the least, ideological confusion, and, at worst, support for politically inappropriate, incorrect or even reactionary slogans and demands.

Women's liberation and the fight for socialism

By Lisa Macdonald

With the advent of the long economic downturn in the mid-1970s, capitalism launched the most concerted worldwide offensive against women's rights in 40 years. In the neo-colonial countries, women are bearing the brunt of IMF and World Bank-imposed economic structural adjustment programs, the rise of religious fundamentalism in many countries is pushing women back into the dark ages, and women are the largely invisible victims in the increasing number of localised wars over the ever shrinking resources not in the hands of the imperialists.

In the former Soviet bloc countries, as the restoration of capitalism removes most of the protections for workers that accompanied the planned economy, it is women who are thrown first onto the scrap heap as privatisation creates skyrocketing unemployment and public welfare spending is slashed.

And in the imperialist countries, the gap between average male and female earnings is widening again, abortion access is under attack, and the right wing's propaganda campaigns against the so-called special privileges of disadvantaged groups and for the strengthening of the traditional family are rapidly gaining ground.

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