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By Tony Iltis
August 27, 2008 -- Since the European Union-brokered ceasefire brought the shooting war between Georgia and Russia to an end on August 12, there has been a war of words between Russia and the West. One point of contention is the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia-proper (that is, Georgia excluding the de facto independent territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia), in particular the towns of Gori, Zugdidi and Senaki and the port of Poti.
The war began with Georgia’s August 7 attack on the territory of South Ossetia. Russia responded with a military assault that first drove Georgian troops out of South Ossetia, then continued to advance within Georgia-proper.
Russia agreed to withdraw when it signed the ceasefire and has since indicated that it is doing so — but slowly, and not before systematically destroying Georgia’s military capacity.
A bigger difference, based on competing interpretations of what is and isn’t Georgian territory, is Russia’s stated intention to maintain a beefed-up peacekeeping presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Reseña crítica de Alex Miller
El siglo soviético
por Moshe Lewin
Los medios comerciales y las élites intelectuales capitalistas han promulgado un estereotipo sobre la Unión Soviética: una línea ideológica directa y sin interrupciones lleva del bolchevismo de la revolución de 1917 al totalitarismo del período stalinista (1920-1953), pasa por el período post-stalinista desde 1953 y termina en el colapso del régimen soviético en 1991. Normalmente, se esgrime el estereotipo contra el bolchevismo, y en realidad contra cualquier forma de marxismo revolucionario: se usa el estancamiento y la declinación post-stalinistas, así como las masacres y purgas del período stalinista, para elaborar una reducción al absurdo de las aspiraciones originales de la revolución de 1917.
Review by Alex Miller
By Moshe Lewin
Ten Days That Shook The World
By John Reed
Penguin Books 351 pages
Review by Alex Miller
Review by Alex Miller
This essay is the result of a re-reading of George Orwell’s two most famous novels. Both Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four have acquired the status of textbooks, and are routinely used in schools to demonstrate to children the inherent dangers of social revolution. It is time for a reappraisal.
The ``Centenary Edition’’ of George Orwell’s Animal Farm contains a preface written by Orwell for the first edition (Secker and Warburg, 1945) but never published, together with a preface that he wrote specially for a translation for displaced Ukrainians living under British and US administration after World War II.
* * *
[The following is the introduction to a new pamphlet, Comintern: Revolutionary Internationalism in Lenin's Time, produced by the Canadian Socialist Voice collective. The full text is available at http://www.socialistvoice.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/comintern-riddell.pdf]
By John Riddell
When Bolivian President Evo Morales formally opened his country's constituent assembly on August 6, 2006, he highlighted the aspirations of Bolivia's indigenous majority as the central challenge before the gathering. The convening of the assembly, he said, represented a ``historic moment to refound our dearly beloved homeland Bolivia''. When Bolivia was created, in 1825-26, ``the originary indigenous movements'' who had fought for independence ``were excluded'' and subsequently discriminated against and looked down upon. But the ``great day has arrived today ... for the originary indigenous peoples''.
During the preceding weeks, indigenous organisations had proposed sweeping measures to assure their rights, including guarantees for their languages, autonomy for indigenous regions and respect for indigenous culture and political traditions.
This movement extends far beyond Bolivia. Massive struggles based on indigenous peoples have shaken Ecuador and Peru, and the reverberations are felt across the western hemisphere. Measures to empower indigenous minorities are among the most prestigious achievements of the Bolivarian movement in Venezuela.
With the advent of the long economic downturn in the mid-1970s, capitalism launched the most concerted worldwide offensive against women's rights in 40 years. In the neo-colonial countries, women are bearing the brunt of IMF and World Bank-imposed economic structural adjustment programs, the rise of religious fundamentalism in many countries is pushing women back into the dark ages, and women are the largely invisible victims in the increasing number of localised wars over the ever shrinking resources not in the hands of the imperialists.
In the former Soviet bloc countries, as the restoration of capitalism removes most of the protections for workers that accompanied the planned economy, it is women who are thrown first onto the scrap heap as privatisation creates skyrocketing unemployment and public welfare spending is slashed.
And in the imperialist countries, the gap between average male and female earnings is widening again, abortion access is under attack, and the right wing's propaganda campaigns against the so-called special privileges of disadvantaged groups and for the strengthening of the traditional family are rapidly gaining ground.
- Transformation of the democratic revolution into a socialist revolution
- Bolshevik policy and Two Tactics
- What is the socialist revolution?
- 'Logical contradiction' and Lenin's conception
- The democratic dictatorship: bourgeois republic or special form of proletarian dictatorship?
- The Commune state and the democratic dictatorship
- Phil Hearse's 'DSP theory'
Phil Hearse's polemic against my pamphlet proceeds from a fundamentally false assumption, i.e., that it "attempts [to give] a general strategic view" of revolution in "the semi-colonial and dependent semi-industrialised countries". He alleges that my pamphlet presents Lenin's policy of carrying out the proletarian revolution in semi-feudal Russia in two stages (a bourgeois democratic and then a socialist stage) "as a general schema for the 'Third World' today". Nowhere in the pamphlet do I make such a claim.
By Phil Hearse
- The DSP's position on revolutions in the dominated countries
- The socialist revolution, Russia and Spain
- Russia: how the revolution opened the way for capitalism and bourgeois rule (according to Lorimer)
- Conclusion: agreement and differences between the DSP and permanent revolution
"The International of Crime and Treason [i.e., the counter-revolutionary coordination of imperialism—PH] has in fact been organised. On the other hand, the indigenous bourgeoisies have lost all their capacity to oppose imperialism—if they ever had it—and they have become the last card in the pack. There are no other alternatives: either a socialist revolution or a make-believe revolution."—Ernesto Che Guevara, Message to the Tricontinental 1967 (emphasis added).
"You must struggle for the socialist revolution, struggle to the end, until the complete victory of the proletariat. Long live the socialist revolution!"—V.I. Lenin, "Speech at the Finland Station" on arrival back in Russia, April 1917
By Boris Kagarlitsky
A decade after the official dissolution of the Soviet Union, the question of the Soviet heritage remains the topic of heated discussions in Russia and other post-Communist countries. Some people explain all the problems and disagreements as survivals from the Soviet past, and dream of a time when the collective memory will be wiped clean of the last traces of the Soviet experience. Others carefully cherish Soviet traditions, saving whatever can still be saved and preserving it. Among sections of radical youth there is a half myth, half fairy tale about life in the USSR, a version that mixes the truth with the idealised recollections of grandfathers and grandmothers who take their grandchildren to Communist demonstrations. As the grandchildren grow up, they do not become admirers of Stalin, but feel a robust loathing for the people who destroyed the country and impoverished its people. Even without the grandparents, they would have thought exactly the same, since their own experience of life proves to the younger generation, on a daily basis, that present-day Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan are societies that are not so much creating the conditions for future development, as squandering and destroying the inheritance from Soviet times. The most important questions remain at a certain distance from all these disputes: What was it that made Soviet culture unique and attractive? What is its place in history, and what did it leave behind?
By Doug Lorimer
- 1921 Comintern resolution
- Public debate
- Party discipline
- Ideological heterogeneity
- Lenin's struggle for a Marxist party
The disintegration of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union opened an important debate within the Marxist movement about how to evaluate the history of the socialist movement, and especially of the Bolshevik Party, the party that led the world's first successful socialist revolution. One of the central aims of Links has been to provide a forum for such debate.
It is obviously important to carry out this evaluation in a way that does not make the mistake of confusing Stalinism with the theory and practice of the Bolsheviks when Lenin was the foremost leader of that party. Moreover—as was only to be expected—there are different views of what constituted the theory and practice of Bolshevism. Some of these differences have revolved around the role of Grigory Zinoviev.
By Armando Hart
Armando Hart is the former minister of culture of Cuba. Our translation largely relies on a CubaNews translation by Ana Portela.
These thoughts are intended as a tribute to all revolutionaries, without exception, who suffered the great historical drama of seeing the socialist ideas of October 1917 frustrated. We write this with admiration and respect for the Russian people, who were the protagonists of the first socialist revolution in history and who defeated fascism decades later under the leadership of Stalin. The same Russian people, 130 years before, defeated the military offensive of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Fundamentally, I have the experience of fifty years of working for socialist ideas in the beautiful trenches of the Fidel and Martí-inspired Cuban Revolution, that is to say, the first revolution of Marxist orientation that triumphed in what has become known as the West.
by Doug Lorimer
Doug Lorimer is a member of the National Executive of the Democratic Socialist Perspective in Australia. This is a talk presented to the DSP's January 2005 Marxism Summer School.
One hundred years ago this month, the first proletarian revolution in the new imperialist epoch of capitalism began. This revolution, the first Russian revolution, was born of mass discontent aggravated by a deeply unpopular war, the Russo-Japanese War of 1904. It began with a wave of strikes, riots and street demonstrations protesting the police shooting on a peaceful mass workers' demonstration in St Petersburg, the capital of the vast Russian Empire, on Sunday, January 22, 1905 (January 9 in the Julian calendar still in use in Russia at the time), killing 1000 and wounding 2000 of the 200,000 marchers.