Click on Links masthead to clear previous query from search box


John Riddell

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /var/www/links/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.module on line 1364.

In memory of Ernie Tate (1934-2021): A life of revolutionary activism

 

 

By John Riddell

February 13, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Project — The socialist movement lost an outstanding educator and organizer with the passing of Ernest (Ernie) Tate in Toronto on 5 February. An outstanding partisan of global anti-imperialist solidarity, Ernie also contributed, with his partner Jess MacKenzie, to building revolutionary Marxist groups and to promoting socialist unity in Canada and Britain.

Raised in an impoverished working-class community in Belfast, Ernie left school at age 14, taking a job at Belfast Mills as apprentice machine attendant. An avid reader and a rebel at heart, Ernie sympathized – unusually, given his Protestant background – with the Irish republican movement.

During a youthful jaunt through France in 1954, Ernie was deeply impressed by the mass solidarity actions celebrating the victory of Vietnamese freedom fighters in Dien Bien Phu. The following year, Ernie took the path of so many of his countrymen and emigrated, settling in Toronto.

How pioneer Communists assessed the Russian Soviet Republic

 

 

By John Riddell

February 6, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — The Communist International (or Comintern) was founded in Moscow in 1919, with the goal of helping to extend the socialist revolution that had taken place in Russia across Europe and around the world.  

The Russian Communist (Bolshevik) party that had led in establishing Soviet power was respected in the International as a prime source of strategic and tactical guidance. Yet the Comintern’s statutes did not accord any primacy to the Russian Communist Party (RCP). Like other Comintern sections, the Russian party was answerable to the International’s world congresses.

How socialists resist rightist coups: Lessons from the early Communist International

 

 

By John Riddell

January 14, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — Parliaments and elections are no guarantee of democratic rights and fair treatment for working people. Capitalist forces displeased with an electoral outcome are all too likely to take direct action to impose their will, whether by financial manipulations, economic blockades, or military coups.

Even apparently stable parliamentary regimes in dominant countries can be challenged in this way. So it was that a military revolt brought down the French Fourth Republic in 1958 and, in 2020-21, Donald Trump mounted a campaign including an apparent coup attempt aiming to overturn the outcome of the US presidential election.

Socialists are challenged to actively oppose rightist coup attempts without lending support to any wing of the ruling capitalist class.

Party organization in Lenin’s Comintern

 

 

By John Riddell

January 7, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — Many socialist groups today seek to shape their organizational principles in the spirit of “democratic centralism” identified with V.I. Lenin. Yet as historian Lars Lih has demonstrated (“Fortunes of a Formula” and “Further Fortunes of a Formula”), Lenin himself used the term only occasionally, and then with widely varying emphasis. The formula’s meaning for socialists today is in fact derived mainly from its application by the Communist International (Comintern) in Lenin’s lifetime and under his guidance (1919–23).

50 years ago: When Canada suspended civil liberties

 

 

By John Riddell 

October 31, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist essays and commentary — It was October 16, 1970, fifty years ago today. Turning on CBC radio over breakfast that day, I was startled to learn that the War Measures Act had been decreed across the entire country. The Canadian equivalent of martial law, War Measures were invoked on the excuse that the country faced an “apprehended insurrection.”

During that night, hundreds in Quebec had been arrested. Secretly. No charges. No phone call. No right to a lawyer or court hearing. All civil liberties were suspended. Quebec was under military occupation. A few hours later, television news started showing photos of soldiers in battledress armed with assault rifles and of tanks in the streets of downtown Montreal.

The Comintern’s Great Turn of 1920-21

 

 

By John Riddell

September 18 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — Following its consolidation as a global organization in 1920, the Communist International (Comintern) experienced triumphant growth, then a severe setback, a leadership crisis, and finally – at the Third World Congress – a sharp reorientation toward United Front strategy.

The story of this fast-paced and complex evolution is traced in the introduction to To the Masses, a study of the Comintern’s Third World Congress (June-July 1921), which carried out the necessary change of direction.

The Comintern’s Second Congress: A Centennial Introduction

 

 

By John Riddell

July 22, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — The Second Congress of the Communist International (Comintern), convened in Moscow precisely 100 years ago, on July 19, 1920. Its deliberations, spread over almost three weeks, represent the best single introduction to the thought and dynamics of global communism during Lenin’s lifetime.

The united front: adoption and application

 

 

The Communist Movement at a Crossroads: Plenums of the Communist International’s Executive Committee, 1922–1923,

By Mike Taber 

Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2018, 796 pp., US$50.

By John Riddell 

July 2, 2020  — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary — The newest volume of the Comintern Publishing Project, The Communist Movement at a Crossroads, presents a wealth of documentation and debate portraying the world movement’s dynamics at a time of fateful choices concerning its future path.

Kashmir, solidarity and the Canadian state

 

 

August 19, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Project — In his essay, “India’s Kashmir Crackdown Poses Risk of War,” John Riddell argues that India unilaterally revoked the autonomy of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, flooding the region with troops, imposing a curfew, and shutting down all communications, and imposing direct rule by New Delhi, India’s Hindu nationalist government, under the leadership of Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), radically increased the dangers of regional war. The Indian left immediately denounced the measures and called Jammu and Kashmir occupied territories (further drawing parallels to Occupied Palestine). In turn, this raised questions of international solidarity for the anti-war movement, and in Canada the demands to be placed on the Canadian state. Here Richard Fidler and John continue to discuss the Indian intervention into Kashmir and solidarity responses in Canada.

 

India’s Kashmir crackdown poses risk of war

 

 

Gray zone on upper left is Pakistan-administered ‘Azad Kashmir’;
gray zone at right is China-administered.

 

By John Riddell 

 

August 11, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary Blog — On August 5, India’s Hindu nationalist government unilaterally revoked the autonomy of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, while flooding the region with troops, imposing a curfew, and shutting down all communications.

 

The state is to be broken in two, with the eastern portion (Ladakh) under direct rule by New Delhi.

 

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi shut down Internet connections, mobile phone services, and land-line phones in the besieged region. The fragmentary news that has trickled out speaks of arrests of leading politicians and widespread fear among the region’s 12 million inhabitants.

 

On the democratic character of socialist revolution

 

 

By John Riddell

 

July 12, 2019 Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary BlogUnder the headline “Karl Kautsky was right,” Eric Blanc wrote on the blog on April 5:

 

Leninists for decades have hinged their strategy on the need for an insurrection to overthrow the entire parliamentary state and to place all power into the hands of workers’ councils.[1]

 

When I read these words, my mind went back to a day 40 years earlier when this formulation was hurled at me by members of Canada’s security police.  They used it as justification for their illegal disruption and harassment directed against me and fellow members of the Revolutionary Workers League (RWL).

The workers’ and peasants’ government

 

 

Introduction by Mike Taber

 

July 7, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary Blog — Reproduced below are a resolution and excerpts from a report adopted in June 1923 by the Communist International (Comintern). It took place at an enlarged meeting of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI).

 

The Comintern debates the United Front

 

 

Introduction by Mike Taber

 

July 7, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary Blog — Below are excerpts from the February 1922 debate on the united front that took place at an enlarged meeting of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI). The speakers include Grigorii Zinoviev, Karl Radek, and Leon Trotsky.

 

Clara Zetkin’s defense of the united front

 

Zetkin Wiki-2

Clara Zetkin in the 1920s

 

By John Riddell 

 

May 7, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary Blog — An internationally respected revolutionary leader since the 1880s and a close collaborator of Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin (1857-1933) became part of the newly formed Communist International (Comintern) in 1919. In 1921, she joined with Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and Leon Trotsky in helping to win the Comintern to an effort to unify working people and their organizations in joint struggle against the evils of capitalism. This policy was termed the “united front.” (See “Clara Zetkin’s Struggle for the United Front”.)

 

‘October Song’ – A challenging portrayal of the Russian Revolution

 

 

Review of Paul Le Blanc, October Song:Bolshevik Triumph, Communist Tragedy, 1917-1924, Chicago: Haymarket, 2017, 479 pp., US$19.56.

By John Riddell

 

Ocotber 26, 2018
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentaries — Amid a flock of volumes marking the Russian revolution’s centenary last year, Paul Le Blanc’s October Song is set apart by its unique method. Working from English-language sources, Le Blanc offers us an anthology of assessments and viewpoints on the revolution with “a strong inclination to privilege older things” – that is, testimony and opinions from its early years.

 

The result is a kaleidoscope of observations, some by respected historians and many by unknown or forgotten voices, which, taken together, constitute a far-ranging debate over the meaning of these world-shaking events.

 

The League Against Imperialism (1927-37): An early attempt at global anti-colonial unity

 

 

By John Riddell

 

July 13, 2018
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist essays and commentary — The League Against Imperialism was launched in Brussels in 1927 with the goal of forging unity between colonized peoples and workers in the colonizing countries. Initiated by a wing of the Communist International, it was the first attempt to structure international anti-colonial unity. This brief presentation will focus on its origins and the causes of its decline.

 

The Communist International: Its present-day relevance

 

 

By John Riddell

 

May 7, 2018
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary  — Thirty-five years ago I undertook to translate and publish the record of the Communist International in Lenin’s lifetime, covering the preparatory years from 1907 to its foundation in 1919 and through 1923. Ten books totalling 7,000 pages are published or in preparation. This has been a team effort of more than 100 collaborators in several continents backed up with a broad community of readers, critics, and supporters.

 

Fruits and perils of the ‘bloc within’: The Comintern and Asia 1919-25 (Part 3)

 

 

Chen Duxiu

 

By John Riddell

 

January 28, 2018 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — The most advanced experience of Communist alliance with national revolutionists occurred in Indonesia (Dutch East Indies) prior to the Baku Congress. However, it was not mentioned at the congress, even though one of its architects – the Dutch Communist Maring (Henk Sneevliet) – was present in the hall. Maring had been a leader for many years of revolutionary socialist Dutch settlers in Indonesia, who had achieved the remarkable feat of transforming their group into one predominantly indigenous in leadership, membership, and programmatic orientation. The key to success had been a close alliance with a mass national-revolutionary organization of the type described by the Second Congress, called Sarekat Islam.

 

Their tactic, which they called a “bloc within,” involved building a Communist fraction within the Islamic organization both by sending comrades into the movement and recruiting from its ranks. The bloc with Sarekat Islam, which started up before the Comintern was formed, had resulted in consolidation of a small but viable Communist party in Indonesia.[1]

 

Should Communists ally with revolutionary nationalism? The Comintern and Asia 1919-25 (Part 2)

 

 

Turar Ryskulov (1894-1938)

 

By John Riddell

 

January 28, 2018 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — As described in part 1 of this series, the Comintern leadership concluded at the end of 1919 that “[T]he civil war of the working people against the imperialists and exploiters in all the advanced countries is beginning to be combined with national wars against international imperialism.”[1]

 

But how would the proposed alliance of workers’ and national uprisings be effected? This strategic issue was addressed in the Comintern’s Second Congress, held in Moscow 9 July-7 August 1920.

Toward a global strategic framework: The Comintern and Asia 1919-25 (Part 1)

 

 

Manabendra Nath Roy

 

By John Riddell

 

January 28, 2018 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — The revolutionary activists who founded the Communist International (Comintern) in 1919 had little contact with movements for national and colonial liberation outside Russia. Nonetheless, only a year later, in July 1920, the Comintern adopted a far-reaching strategy for national and social revolution in dependent countries, later termed the anti-imperialist united front.

 

Syndicate content

Powered by Drupal - Design by Artinet