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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.
1917: The View from the Streets: Leaflets of the Russian revolution #3 – ‘Only a provisional gov't can bring freedom and peace'
February 6, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal / John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — 100 years ago today, on February 6 (January 24), 1917, a Menshevik-influenced workers’ group within the Central War Industry Committee issued the following appeal for a demonstration calling for a provisional government.
‘1917: The View from the Streets’: Leaflets of the Russian revolution #2 – ‘The Day of the People’s Wrath is Near’
a revolutionary current of Russian Social Democracy.
January 22, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal / John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website – 100 years ago today, on January 22 (9) 1917, an estimated 150,000 workers in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) carried out a protest strike against the war and the tsarist autocracy, a foreshock of the Russian revolution that broke out six weeks later (see “Historian’s summary” below).
The following call for this action was circulated during the previous days by the Social Democratic Interdistrict Committee (Mezhraionka). January 22 (9) was the anniversary of Bloody Sunday in 1905, when the tsarist government used military force to violently suppress a peaceful demonstration. (See “Note on Russian dates,” below).
The Interdistrict Committee members wanted to rally all Marxist Social Democrats to unite the factions of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party, in order to present a united socialist front against the war, the autocracy, and liberal attempts to draw workers into a patriotic effort to support the war. During 1917 the Mezhrayonka fused with the Bolshevik current.
Translation and annotation by Barbara Allen.
‘1917: The View from the Streets’: Leaflets of the Russian revolution #1 - ‘Down with the war. Long live the revolution!’
December 2, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal / John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — One hundred years ago this month, an organizing committee of Bolshevik-influenced students issued this underground proclamation calling on students in Russia who were opposed to the war to come together with workers and peasants to put a provisional revolutionary government in power. The organizing committee linked revolutionary student circles at higher educational institutions in Petrograd, Russia. Its proclamation reflects the impact of the Zimmerwald movement upon leading student revolutionary activists in Russia. It was originally published by Alexander Shlyapnikov in 1923.
By Eric Blanc
October 14, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell’s blog with permission — This article reexamines the perspectives on the state and revolution advocated by the early Karl Kautsky and revolutionary social democrats across the Tsarist Empire. Contrary to a common misconception, these “orthodox” Marxists rejected the possibility of a peaceful and gradualist utilization of the capitalist state for socialist transformation. I show that Second International “orthodoxy” proved to be a sufficiently radical political foundation for the Bolsheviks and Finnish socialists to lead the Twentieth century’s first anti-capitalist seizures of power.
October 9, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's blog -- The triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959 gave rise to widespread solidarity work in the U.S. and Canada, organized through Fair Play for Cuba committees. Two participants in this experience report here on its scope and lessons.
By Käte Duncker, introduction by John Riddell
September 21, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/John Riddell: Marxist Essays and Commentaries — 100 years ago today, a leading antiwar socialist in Germany explained the need for revolution to end the First World War. Her audience was delegates to the last unified national conference of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), held in Berlin on September 21-23, 1916.
Introductory note by John Riddell
July 20, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell’s blog with permission — One hundred years ago, on June 28, 1916, 55,000 metalworkers in Berlin went on strike to protest the sentencing of Karl Liebknecht to two and a half years in prison. It was Germany’s first mass protest strike of World War 1. Liebknecht received mass support in Germany and beyond as the first German socialist to have voted against parliamentary allocations to pay for the government war spending. He had been arrested at an illegal May Day demonstration organized by the Spartacist League, just after calling out, “Down with the war! Down with the government!” Two days after his arrest, Liebknecht explained the goals of the May Day demonstration and the Spartacist League in the following statement at his trial.
A missed revolutionary opportunity: The Comintern Third Congress discussion on the 1920 Italian factory occupations
Introductory note by Mike Taber and John Riddell
July 12, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Socialist Review -- As the Communist International’s Third Congress convened in Moscow in June–July 1921, the powerful working-class upsurge that had shaken Italy months earlier was fresh in delegates’ minds and posed a backdrop to their debates.
The September 1920 occupation of the factories in Italy is a lesser-known revolutionary experience of the post–World War I years, yet its impact was no less significant. By starkly posing the question of which class should run the economy, the occupations legitimized a new form of proletarian struggle—expressed in part through the tactic of the sit-down strike that was widely utilized during the 1930s. Possessing the potential for working-class victory, the defeat of this movement instead opened the door to the rise to power of Benito Mussolini and Italian fascism.
By John Riddell
April 27, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell’s blog with permission -- One hundred years ago this week, socialist opponents of the First World War gathered in Kiental, Switzerland, issued an appeal calling on working people to “use every means possible to bring a rapid end to the human slaughter.” The appeal, known as the “Kiental Manifesto,” appears below.
Canada: Leap Manifesto unites broad forces, builds climate justice campaigns
“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has acknowledged shocking details about the violence of Canada’s near past. Deepening poverty and inequality are a scar on the country’s present. And Canada’s record on climate change is a crime against humanity’s future.” —The Leap Manifesto
by John Riddell
April 3, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Climate and Capitalism -- Five hundred Toronto-area supporters crowded into a west-end school auditorium March 29 to support the Leap Manifesto, launched early this year in support of a rapid, “justice-based” energy transition to a renewable economy.
The movement was launched in January 2016 to popularize the ideas of Naomi Klein’s influential book on climate change, This Changes Everything. Klein pointed to the need for a mass social movement addressing both the urgent need for climate action and an agenda for social justice.
A workers’ International at a turning point: Introducing excerpts from the Communist International’s Third Congress
By John Riddell
March 16, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Socialist Review with the author's permission -- When revolutionary socialists met in a global congress in 1921, both their strong and their weak points were on full display. Their world alliance, the Communist International (Comintern), had built mass parties in the decisive countries of Europe. Yet, as 600 delegates from fifty-five countries gathered in Moscow that year, Lenin wrote, “Something is wrong in the International. . . . We must say Stop! . . . Otherwise, the International is lost.”
The complete record of this tumultuous three-week event, finally available in English, enables today’s activists to make the acquaintance of their predecessors in the era of the Russian revolution and witness their efforts to map a new course. To the Masses, Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921 will be available in a Haymarket Books edition in early 2016.
International Socialist Review is publishing three sets of excerpts from this book, the first of which is reposted below.
Site of Zimmerwald conference
Click for more by or about John Riddell.
By John Riddell
August 21, 2015 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The Zimmerwald conference, a small gathering held in Switzerland 100 years ago, on September 5-8, 1915, marked a turning point in the world socialist movement. Socialists from many countries issued an appeal that united anti-war socialists during World War I and helped prepare the revolutions with which it concluded. To mark the Zimmerwald centenary I am presenting links to three major documents of the conference in new translations, together with my short introduction.
Documents of the Zimmerwald conference
Berlin November 1918: Workers and sailors join in revolutionary uprising.
The German Left and the Weimar Republic
By Ben Fowkes
Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2015
399 pages, US$28.
Review by John Riddell
Lars Lih: The ironic triumph of ‘old Bolshevism’ -- the ‘April debates’ and their impact on Bolshevik strategy
June 1, 2015 --Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Lars T. Lih challenges a commonly held view of the Russian Bolshevik party's conduct during the Russian Revolution of 1917, stressing the continuity between the Bolsheviks’ positions before World War I and those advanced during the revolutionary upheaval.
The text is based on a talk Lih gave in 2010 and recently revised. Following the text is a note on other places where Lih’s views on this topic are available – John Riddell.
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By Lars T. Lih
Click for more by or about John Riddell.
By John Riddell
May 17, 2015 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The following previously unpublished position paper, pulled from my archives, was written in 1992. I am posting it in conjunction with my review of Michael Lebowitz’s Contradictions of "Real Socialism". My comments raised many of the themes found in Lebowitz’s writings of that time, of which I was then quite unaware. My approach, however, gives more emphasis to the problem of economic allocation and the role of non-capitalist markets.
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.
By John Riddell
May 5, 2015 -- JohnRiddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In 1921, a time of declining mass struggles, the Communist International (Comintern) was thrown off course by insistent demands at every level of the organisation for the young movement to launch confrontational actions, even if Communists must fight almost alone. In mid-1921, the Comintern’s Third Congress turned decisively away from this policy. Under the slogan, “To the masses”, it adopted, on Lenin’s insistence, the strategy of unifying working people in struggle that was codified six months later as the “united front”.
To The Masses: Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921
edited and translated by John Riddell
Brill, Leiden & Boston, 2015
1299 pages, €399.00
April 12, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following review by British socialist historian Ian Birchall introduces a major addition to our knowledge of the revolutionary movement of Lenin's time: John Riddell's To the Masses: Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921. Birchall's review is scheduled for publication in Revolutionary History, a journal with 43 published volumes.
The review is published here with kind permission of Revolutionary History and Ian Birchall. Riddell's latest volume, available only in Brill's library format at the moment, will be published in a popular, more inexpensive edition by Haymarket Books in February 2016.
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Review by Ian Birchall