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John Riddell

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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.

 

‘All Power to the Soviets’ – A slogan that launched a revolution

 

 

The following talk was presented by video to meetings organized by Socialist Alliance in Australia on 7 November 2017.

 

By John Riddell.

 

November 29, 2017 — 
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — Tonight we’re going to revisit the Russian revolution by telling the story of a slogan that shaped its outcome, “All power to the soviets.” Before beginning, I want to acknowledge my debt to recent historical writing on this period by Lars Lih, Eric Blanc, China Miéville, and Paul Le Blanc. Thanks also to Doug Williams, my videographer, and Lars for originating the idea of tracing the “biography” of this slogan.

 

And so let us go back to Russia a little more than 100 years ago, to a gray and hungry Petrograd still locked in winter, where people’s hearts were suddenly full of hope.

 

1917: The View from the Streets #16 & 17 - ‘Workers and soldiers: Everything is working in our favor’

 

 

July 22, 2017
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal / John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — One hundred years ago this week, the Bolsheviks responded to the ‘July Days’ setback by calling on working people to ignore provocations and expose rightist slanders.

 

The July demonstrations subsided quickly due to the Provisional Government’s success in painting the Bolsheviks as German-sponsored saboteurs of the Russian war effort; an upsurge in violence associated with the demonstrations; and news that loyal troops were on their way to Petrograd. The government quickly shut down Pravda, evicted the Bolsheviks from their party headquarters, and arrested many of their leaders. Lenin escaped arrest by going underground and fleeing in disguise to Finland. The two documents below represent the Bolsheviks’ responses to the rapidly developing situation.

 

Selection, translation, and annotation by Barbara Allen

 

1917: The View from the Streets #14 & 15 - The 1917 July Days uprising: Soviet leadership clashes with ranks

 

 

July 16, 2017
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal / John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — One hundred years ago this week, between 16-20 [3-7] July 1917, a protest movement of workers and soldiers in Petrograd was repelled by military and police attacks, with hundreds of casualties.

 

The July Uprising or July Days came about due to the failure of the Russian military offensive in June, a worsening of the crisis in Petrograd’s food and fuel supply, and a crisis of confidence in the government after two Liberal (Kadet) ministers resigned over their opposition to Ukrainian autonomy. In the wake of the offensive’s collapse, massive unrest arose in the Russian army, which could no longer fight effectively. The uprising began among soldiers in the Petrograd garrison who feared transfer to the front, but it also involved workers who were already on strike over low wages. Workers and soldiers demanded “all power to the soviets” and raised other radical slogans.

 

1917: The View from the Streets #12 & 13 - A Bolshevik appeal finds an echo in the streets

 

 

The banners read: "World peace. All power to the people. All land to the people."

and "Down with the minister-capitalists"

 

June 22, 2017 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal / John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — One hundred years ago today, on June 22 (9) 1917, the Bolshevik Party circulated among Petrograd workers the first proclamation below (drafted by Joseph Stalin). Nine days later, the Bolsheviks’ slogans won mass support at a giant Soviet-called demonstration.

 

1917: The View from the Streets #10 & 11 - Soviet executive calls for peace - and renewed military offensives

 

 

 

Fraternization between Russian and German soldiers on the Eastern Front, World War I

 

May 15, 2017 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal / John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — One hundred years ago, on May 15 (2), 1917, the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies issued two appeals – one to all socialists of the world and the other to all soldiers at the front.

 

Pravda: ‘Mandate for Soviet Elections’

 

 

Introduction by John Riddell

April 2, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — The following declaration appeared 7 May 1917 on the front page of the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda under the title, Draft of a mandate for use in electing delegates to the Soviet of Worker and Soldier Deputies. This Mandate marked the first appearance of the slogan “All power to the soviets” in an official party statement. Its purpose was to help the soviet constituency distinguish genuine revolutionary candidates from revolutionaries in name only.

1917: The View from the Streets #9 - Petrograd Soviet: 'World’s workers must join to achieve peace'

 

 Petrograd Soviet meets at the Taurida Palace, Petrograd, March 1917

 

March 27, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal / John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — One hundred years ago today, on March 27 (14), 1917, the Petrograd Soviet issued the following appeal “To the Peoples of the World,” calling for a restoration of workers’ unity in the cause of peace.

 

The moderate socialists who dominated the Petrograd Soviet until September 1917 pursued a policy of “revolutionary defensism,” which advocated defending Russia and its revolution against German aggression while calling upon European socialists to pressure their governments to bring about peace.

 

This policy toward the war would not be consistently defined until the return from Siberian exile of Tsereteli and other Menshevik leaders on April 2 (March 20), 1917. Therefore, the document below reflects the views in the Soviet at a time when moderate socialists were still open to making concessions to their radical counterparts regarding the Soviet’s position on the war and other issues. Discussions in the Soviet were crucial to the realignment of leftist forces that occurred in the wake of the February Revolution.

 

1917: The View from the Streets #4: ‘For a provisional revolutionary government of workers and poor peasants'

 

 

February 15, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal / John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — 100 years ago this week, in February 1917, the Bolshevik Petersburg Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party issued the following proclamation as a response to Menshevik appeals to workers to come out in support of the Duma (parliament) on the day of its convocation (see Document #3).

 

The Bolshevik committee warned workers not to trust attempts to ally them with Duma liberals, calling instead for a one-day strike on February 23 (10) to commemorate the second anniversary of the trial of the Bolshevik deputies to the State Duma. The Petersburg Committee had forgotten, however, that many factories would be closed on that date, because it fell during a Russian religious holiday.

 

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