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John Riddell

John Riddell: Five precedents for understanding Egypt’s July coup

General L.G. Kornilov, Moscow, August 1917.

By John Riddell

September 15, 2013 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Two months after Egypt’s generals ousted its elected Muslim Brotherhood government, there is still a wide spectrum of views among socialists regarding the meaning of this event (see “Socialists need to rethink the military takeover”).

This discussion can be deepened by considering a few precedents from socialist history – some well known, others obscure.

1. 1917: The Kornilov coup

John Riddell on Egypt: Socialists need to rethink the military takeover

By John Riddell

August 20, 2013 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com -- The military massacres in Egypt are “part of a plan to liquidate the Egyptian Revolution and restore the military-police state of the Mubarak regime”, say the Revolutionary Socialists (RS) of Egypt in an August 15 statement. Their present analysis contrasts sharply with their previous positive appraisal the July 3 military coup that ousted Egypt’s elected government.

The RS, who enjoy a wide reputation as a revolutionary voice in the Egyptian struggle, are reconsidering the meaning of this experience. Socialists abroad should be rethinking it as well.

In the rich and varied world discussion of these events, contributions in the Green Left Weekly newsgroup (Australia) provide useful starting points for reflection, as do the reactions of several ALBA governments.

The army/police massacre is “a bloody dress rehearsal for the liquidation of the Egyptian Revolution”, the RS now states. “It aims to break the revolutionary will of all Egyptians who are claiming their rights, whether workers, poor, or revolutionary youth, by creating a state of terror.”

History: Why did Paul Levi lose out in the German Communist leadership? (Now with audio)

Paul Levi, 1920

Paul Levi, 1920.

[Click HERE for more by John Riddell.]

By John Riddell

This talk was part of a panel on “Paul Levi and the German socialist movement” at the Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago, June 28, 2013. The other speakers at this session were Jen Roesch and Paul Kellogg. You can listen to the full panel below, thanks to Wearemany.com.

Hugo Chávez: Tribune of world’s dispossessed/Tribuna de los desposeídos del mundo

By John Riddell

April 15, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/America XXI -- Hugo Chávez was not only a great Bolivarian patriot; he was a tribune of the world’s dispossessed.

At an anti-imperialist conference in Cairo in 2007, I heard Chávez hailed for his solidarity with Palestinians as “a better Arab than the Arabs”; “closer to us than the Arabs that impose injustice”.

Chávez, the first Latin American president to declare himself of African descent, proclaimed in 2005, “Every day we are much more aware of the roots we have in Africa.”

Paul Le Blanc: Leninism and organisation today

[For more on revolutionary organisation, click HERE. For more discussion on Leninism, click HERE and HERE. More articles by Paul Le Blanc can be found HERE.]

By Paul Le Blanc

March 14, 2013 -- Socialist Worker (USA), posted at Links Internarional Journal of Socialist Renewal at the author's suggestion and with his permission -- I appreciate the comradely spirit of Joaquín Bustelo's contribution to the discussion ("There's no universal model of Leninism"). The issues he raises are important--from the standpoint of revolutionary politics and also from the standpoint of revolutionary history. It is possible to be wrong on one and right on the other, although I will argue that my old comrade is partly wrong on one (politics) and entirely wrong on the other (history).

John Riddell: Party democracy in Lenin’s Comintern – and small Marxist groups today

[For more articles by John Riddell, click HERE. For more on the Communist International, click HERE. For more on the British SWP, click HERE. For more on revolutionary organisation, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

February 20, 2013 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- How did Communist parties handle issues of internal discipline and democracy in Lenin’s time? An intense discussion now under way within the British Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) raises issues related to the nature of internal democracy in the Communist International (Comintern) during 1919–23, the period of its first four congresses.[1]

‘Toward the United Front’: Recovering revolutionary memory for 21st century socialism (+ video)

 Part 1.

February 16, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – On February 3, 120 socialists took part in a Toronto meeting to celebrate publication of Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922, available in paperback from Haymarket Books. This 1300-page volume is the seventh book of documents on the world revolutionary movement in Lenin’s time edited by John Riddell. Riddell’s address to the Toronto meeting, below, explains the purpose of the book and the publishing project. The video of the event, filmed by Left Streamed, begins above and continues below. It was moderated by Abbie Bakan, with additional commentary by David McNally, Greg Albo, Suzanne Weiss and Paul Kellogg.

Salvador Allende, Cuba and internationalism, 1970–73

Fidel Castro with Chile's President Salvador Allende upon his arrival at Pudahuel Airport in Santiago on November 10, 1971.

[For more articles by John Riddell, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

January 6, 2013 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the US-inspired rightist coup in Chile that overthrew the leftist government of Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973. The coup was a historic disaster for working people in Latin America and globally. Socialists worldwide saw it coming. How did they attempt to counter this danger?

Self-guided tours of revolutionary history: Fourth Congress of the Communist International (1922)

Toward the United Front, Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922
Edited and translated by John Riddell
Brill, 2011 (hard back), 1310 pages, 200 euros
Haymarket Books, 2012 (paper back) US$55

In Australia, Toward the United Front is also be available from Resistance Books

To recommend the Brill hardcover edition to your favourite library, go to Brill Academic Publishers and click on “recommend”.

For more on the Communist International, click HERE; for more study guides of socialist history and theory, click HERE.

By John Riddell

How workers rallied to aid the early Soviet republic: International Workers’ Aid for Soviet Russia (+ study guide)

Munzenberg

Willi Münzenberg.

December 29, 2012 -- The following talk on work by the Communist International to gather material aid for the Soviet Republic was given by Suzanne Weiss at the fourth Toronto study session on Toward the United Front, a 1300-page edition the fourth Communist International Congress (1922).

The study session, entitled “The Comintern’s Struggle for Social Hegemony”, surveyed the Comintern's work in unions, cooperatives, education, youth organisations and on material assistance to Soviet Russia. The presentation, taking up a speech by Willi Münzenberg, is followed by a brief biography and a description of the study session. More information on Toward the United Front is available HERE. – John Riddell

This article first appeared at Johnriddell.wordpress.com and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

Canada: The creative potential of Indigenous social initiatives

Speech by Art Sterritt, introductory comment by John Riddell

December 15, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal via Johnriddell.wordpress.com -- Speaking in Toronto, on November 17, 2012, at a conference against tar sands pipelines, Art Sterritt (pictured above) of the Coastal First Nations in British Columbia gave a dramatic account of his peoples’ initiatives for ecological justice in the province. Sterritt is among the main spokespersons of the powerful campaign in B.C. against tar sands pipelines.

Sterritt’s talk (below) offers insight into three important issues in current Canadian social struggles:

John Riddell: What would Lenin's Comintern have made of SYRIZA? The Comintern as a school of socialist strategy

[For more articles by John Riddell, click HERE; for more on SYRIZA, click HERE; for more on the Communist International, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

September 3, 2012 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In his review of my edition of the Communist International’s Fourth Congress (1922),[1] Ian Birchall warns against a “scriptural approach” to the Comintern record, but also affirms that studying it “can be of great value”. Where can this value be found? A controversy among Marxists over this year’s elections in Greece points our way to an answer.

Communist International's Fourth Congress: revolutionary fulcrum of the modern world

Toward the United Front, Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922
Edited and translated by John Riddell
Brill, 2011 (hard back), 1310 pages, 200 euros
Haymarket Books, 2012 (paper back), US$55

Haymarket Books is now taking pre-publication orders of Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, at US$50, a 10% reduction. It is due to be released in November 2012.

To take advantage of Haymarket’s offer, go to Toward the United Front, order the book, go to “check-out” and enter RIDDELL2012 in the “coupon code” field.

To recommend the Brill hardcover edition to your favourite library, go to Brill Academic Publishers and click on “recommend”.

Toward the United Front will also be available from Resistance Books in November.

Review by Barry Healy

John Riddell: Toward the United Front -- the Fourth Congress of the Communist International (audio)

June 28, 2012 -- A talk presented by John Riddell to the US International Socialist Organization's Socialism 2012 gathering in Chicago, on June 28, 2012. The recording is also available at Wearemany.org, where it first appeared.

Click HERE for more articles on the history of the Communist International.

Read more articles by John Riddell HERE.

John Riddell on the US SWP: Part 2, causes of a socialist collapse (1976–83)

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume I: The Sixties, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (Sydney), 2005, 354 pages.

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (London), 2012, 345 pages.

[For more discussion of the US SWP, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

Part 2 of a two-part article. Part 1 is available here.

John Riddell on the US SWP: Part 1, SWP attempts an outward turn (1976–83)

In 1976, the campaign of SWP presidential candidate Peter Camejo won unprecedentedly wide support from left currents.
The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume I: The Sixties, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (Sydney), 2005, 354 pages.

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (London), 2012, 345 pages.

[For more discussion of the US SWP, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

Part 1 of a two-part article. Part 2 is available here.

John Riddell: Lars Lih and Ben Lewis reveal Zinoviev at his best

Zinoviev and Martov: Head to Head in Halle
Edited by Ben Lewis and Lars T. Lih,
London: November Publications, 2011, pp. 229 [1]

Review by John Riddell

June 22, 2012 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com/Weekly Worker, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- The Thrilla in Halle! A ringside seat, just for you, as Gregory Zinoviev (in the red trunks) and Julius Martov (his are pale pink) duke it out before delegates of the 700,000-member Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany (USPD). The stakes: should the USPD join the Communist International (Comintern)? Here at last, after 92 years, the full text of their historic speeches to the October 1920 USPD congress in Halle, Germany, translated and edited by Ben Lewis and Lars Lih.

Lessons of the Comintern experience, by Helen Scott, John Riddell and Lars Lih

May 12, 2012 -- LeftStreamed, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Three presentations from the Historical Materialism conference in Toronto on May 11–13.

Presentations by:

  • Helen Scott, University of Vermont – "Rebuilding the International: Rosa Luxemburg and the Comintern";
  • John Riddell, "The Workers' Government: Fiction, Pseudonym or Transition";
  • Lars T. Lih, "From 'Party of an Old Type' to 'Party of a New Type'".

New voices and new views on revolutionary history

By John Riddell

May 28, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/johnriddell.wordpress.com -- Some familiar issues were addressed with originality and new vigour at the Historical Materialism conference in Toronto on May 11–13. Attendance at the three sessions on revolutionary history, organised by Abigail Bakan (Queen’s University), ranged between 30 and 75 of the 400 conference participants.

Given that eight of 11 presentations had a European focus, the discussions were opened fittingly by Montreal scholar Daria Dyakonova with a paper on a little-studied aspect of revolutionary history here in Canada: the birth of communism in Quebec.

The pioneers of this movement faced objective obstacles, including severe repression and formidable opposition by the Catholic Church. In addition, Dyakonova explained, “after Lenin and especially after 1929”, the Canadian Communist Party’s “policies were determined from Moscow”. The line dictated by the leadership of the Communist International (Comintern) was “often at odds with national or local needs”.

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