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Russian Revolution

1917: The View from the Streets #1 - ‘Down with the war. Long live the revolution!’

 

 

Alexander Shlyapnikov

 

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.

 

Bullets and barricades: On the art of insurrection

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

To my friend and comrade Francesca.

 

November 6, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — “What side of the barricades are you on?” This phrase expresses the poignant meaning that the term barricades has in the revolutionary lexicon. Barricades represent a line of demarcation in the class war between the exploiters and the exploited. To stand with the exploited on the barricades is to pick a side, it is an action of solidarity with one's comrades, and shows that one is read to sacrifice their life for the cause. Although barricades dominated the insurrectionary movements during the nineteenth century, as time passed the barricade was found wanting as a effective tactic to topple the state, especially as the forces of order redesigned cities to prevent uprisings and revolutionaries pursued legal channels for political advance. When revolutionary opportunities came following the Russian Revolution, the barricade was relegated to the background in favor of more sophisticated approaches to insurrection.

 

The roots of 1917: Kautsky, the state and revolution in Imperial Russia

 

 

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.

 

Georgi Plekhanov: Tragedy of a forerunner

 

 

Georgi Plekhanov

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

July 28, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — When the names of Russian Marxism are remembered, those of Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky and Nikolai Bukharin figure as leading lights. However, these figures built upon the pioneering work of Georgi Plekhanov. Plekhanov almost single-handedly introduced Marxism into the Russian Empire and popularized it for a generation of socialist militants. However, Plekhanov's Marxism was seriously flawed in a number of ways and he was not up to the challenge of revolutionary politics. It fell to the generation who came after him to carry the struggle forward to victory. Yet Plekhanov's limitations do not take away from his contributions as a pioneer, something always recognized by his Marxist pupils.

 

The darker the night, the brighter the star: Leon Trotsky’s struggle against Stalinism

 

 

By Paul Le Blanc

 

July 18, 2016 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – The title of this session – “the darker the night, the brighter the star” – is the title of the fourth and final volume of Tony Cliff’s biography of Leon Trotsky, who was a central leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution of workers and peasants, which turned the Russian Tsarist empire into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. One of the founders of modern Communism and the Soviet state, Trotsky is also the best known of those who fought against the degeneration of that revolution and movement brought on by a vicious bureaucratic dictatorship led by Joseph Stalin.[1]

 

Anti-imperial Marxism: Borderland socialists and the evolution of Bolshevism on national liberation

 

 

Latvian Marxist polemic against class harmony

 

By Eric Blanc

 

May 2, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Socialist Review with the author’s permission — Given the importance Marxists place on the fight against racial and national oppression, it is surprising that relatively little attention has been paid to the socialists of imperial Russia’s borderlands. Most of the inhabitants of the tsarist empire were non-Russian (Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Finns, Latvians, Georgians, Muslims, etc.), as were most revolutionaries. Yet academic and activist historiography has distorted our understanding of the socialist movement’s overall development by narrowly focusing on Central Russia.

 

Victor Serge: On the borders of victory and defeat

 

 Victor Serge (left), Benjamin Péret, Remedios Varo, and André Breton

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

January 18, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, reposted from Red Wedge with the author's permission — In 1941, reflecting on his own life, which spanned several revolutions, exile, and prison, Victor Serge commented:

 

The only meaning of life lies in conscious participation in the making of history. The more I think of that, the more deeply true it seems to be. It follows that one must range oneself actively against everything that diminishes man, and involve oneself in all struggles which tend to liberate and enlarge him. This categorical imperative is in no way lessened by the fact that such an involvement is inevitably soiled by error: it is a worse error to live for oneself, caught within traditions which are soiled by inhumanity. [1]

 

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.

* * * 

By Lars T. Lih

Lars Lih: Russia 1917 — Bolshevism was fully armed

Pravda editor Lev Kamenev

Pravda editor Lev Kamenev.

Article by Lars Lih, introduction by John Riddell

April 22, 2015 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Did the Bolsheviks, as has often been argued, set aside their pre-1914 strategy in April 1917 on Lenin’s insistence? Recent studies by Lars Lih criticise this thesis, maintaining that the actual course followed by the Bolsheviks in 1917 was close to that of pre-war “Old Bolshevism”.

In the following article, Lih tests his conclusion by examining the editorial course of the Bolsheviks’ main newspaper, Pravda, soon after the February revolution and before Lenin’s return to Russia.

Lih’s text is followed by both a translation and the original Russian text of a March 1917 Pravda editorial by Lev Kamenev, and by a note on further reading.

Nikolai Bukharin: ‘The favourite of the whole party’

By Doug Enaa Greene

February 13, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- “Bukharin has thirty years of revolutionary work to his credit.”[1] This was the final judgment of Leon Trotsky, Nikolai Bukharin's erstwhile adversary in 1938, after his death. These words were not without truth. He lived a life of deep revolutionary and intellectual commitment. Bukharin was one of the leading theorists and leaders of the Bolshevik Party, reaching the heights of power in the USSR in the 1920s.

He was the fierce proponent for the New Economic Policy (NEP) and presented an alternative path of market socialism, to those of Trotsky and Joseph Stalin. He was an ally of Stalin during the party debates of the 1920s, when Stalin declared, "We are, and shall be, for Bukharin."[2]

Lars T. Lih: ‘All Power to the Soviets’: a biography of a slogan

"All power to the soviets!"

For more by or about Lars Lih, please click HERE.

By Lars Lih

August 18, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- “All power to the Soviets!” is surely one of the most famous slogans in revolutionary history. It is right up there with “Egalité, liberté, fraternité” as a symbol of an entire revolutionary epoch. I would like to examine this slogan in its original context of Russia in 1917, in order to see why it arose, where it came from, and to what extent it was carried out in practice.[1]

Capitalism's world war and the battle against it

Trench warfare between French and German troops during the First World War
Trench warfare between French and German troops during the First World War.

July 28, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- John Riddell is the author and editor of numerous books, including, most recently, Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922. Here, he explains how the First World War broke out 100 years ago, how the socialist movement reacted, and how a revolutionary anti-war opposition emerged.

* * *

Barry Sheppard: Three theories of the USSR

"In the US and elsewhere, including Britain, a mass anti-war movement developed against the US war in Vietnam. By 1968, the International Socialists in the US and the IS in Britain changed their line [of neutrality between the 'two imperialisms'] and came out against the US and defended Vietnam. In the US they joined the mass demonstrations to 'Bring the troops home now!'"

Read more by Barry Sheppard HERE.

By Barry Sheppard

June 6, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In this two-part article I examine the ramifications for today of the three theories of the USSR that emerged from the Left Opposition: state capitalism, bureaucratic collectivism and Leon Trotsky’s theory of the degenerated workers’ state. (Read more on the theory of state capitalism HERE.)

Liberación nacional y bolchevismo: la aportación de los marxistas de la periferia del Imperio Zarista

Bund miembros y las víctimas pogrom en Odessa, 1905.

[In English at http://links.org.au/node/3873. Haga clic aquí para más artículos en español.]

Por Eric Blanc

Sinpermiso.info -- La perspectiva desde las regiones periféricas del Imperio Zarista nos obliga a repensar muchas presunciones largamente sostenidas sobre las revoluciones de 1905 y 1917, así como la evolución de muchos análisis marxistas sobre la liberación nacional, la lucha campesina, la revolución permanente, y la emancipación de las mujeres.

Este artículo analiza los debates socialistas sobre la cuestión nacional hasta 1914. Sostengo en él que la estrategia del marxismo anti-colonial que se acabó imponiendo fue elaborada por primera vez por los socialistas de las nacionalidades periféricas del Imperio Zarista, no por los bolcheviques. Lenin y sus camaradas fueron por detrás de los marxistas no rusos en este tema crucial incluso hasta después de haber comenzado la Guerra Civil. Esta debilidad política ayuda a explicar el fracaso bolchevique a la hora de establecer raíces en los pueblos dominados del Imperio Zarista.

National liberation and Bolshevism re-examined: A view from the borderlands

Bund members and pogrom victims in Odessa, 1905.

By Eric Blanc

May 28, 2014 – Submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author; also available at Johnriddell.wordpress.com -- A view from the Tsarist empire’s borderlands obliges us to rethink many long-held assumptions about the revolutions of 1905 and 1917, as well as the development of Marxist approaches to national liberation, peasant struggle, permanent revolution, and the emancipation of women.

Leon Trotsky and revolutionary insurrection

Trotsky aboard his famous armoured train during the Civil War in Soviet Russia.

[See also Doug Enaa Greene's "Day of the people: Gracchus Babeuf and the communist idea".]

By Doug Enaa Greene

December 15, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- "The entire labor of practical organization of the insurrection was placed under the immediate direction of the president of the Petrograd Soviet, comrade Trotsky. It can be stated with certainty, that the party owes the rapid coming over of the garrison into the camp of the soviets and the skillful work of the Revolutionary Military Committee above all and essentially to Comrade Trotsky."[1]

Ironically, this recognition of Trotsky's role as the main organizer of the successful October Revolution was made by Stalin (who would become Trotsky's bitter opponent in the 1920s).

In 1917, Trotsky's role in the Bolshevik revolution was widely recognized by friend and foe alike. Yet Trotsky as a theorist and practitioner of insurrection has taken a back seat to discussion of his theories of permanent revolution, analyzes of the USSR under Stalin and his historical texts.

On Marxism and melodrama: An interview with Lars Lih

Lars Lih has explored the political and theoretical relationships between Lenin and Karl Kautsky.

[Click HERE for more by or about Lars Lih. For more discussion on Lenin, click HERE.]

Lars Lih interviewed by Dario Cankovic

October 2, 2013 -- The North Star, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Dario Cankovic -- Lars T. Lih lives and works in Montreal, Quebec. He is an adjunct professor of musicology at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University and writes about Russian and socialist history on his own time. His books include Bread and Authority in Russia, 1914-1921 (1990), Lenin Rediscovered: What Is to Be Done in Context (2006) and Lenin (2011), a biography. Links to his articles online can be found here.

PDF version of Marta Harnecker's: 'Instruments for doing politics'

September 8, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This is the PDF version of Marta Harnecker's Instruments for doing politics. You can download the file HERE, or read on screen below. The HTML version is available at http://links.org.au/node/3510 (which is includes a 12-part video in Spanish of Marta Harnecker speaking of the topic).

New pamphlet by Marta Harnecker: 'Instruments for doing politics'

The above series of videos in Spanish by Marta Harnecker are what the pamphlet below is based on. Instrumentos de la Política esta dividida en 12 videos con una duración aproxdimada de 11min cada uno.

[Read more from Marta Harnecker HERE.]

(PDF version available HERE and Spanish-language version available HERE.)

September 5, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Elizabeth Briemberg and revised by Fred Fuentes and Bill Fletcher

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