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Socialist Voice (Canada)

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.

How Clara Zetkin helps us understand Evo Morales

 

Clara Zetkin.

By John Riddell

September 18, 2011 -- First posted at johnriddell.wordpress.com, it appears at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Is Bolivia “a case of a workers’ government in the sense the early Comintern/Clara Zetkin meant it?” The question comes from Pham Binh in a comment at johnriddell.wordpress.com. In my view, the “workers’ government” concept is certainly relevant but must be used with caution.

My article “Clara Zetkin’s Struggle for the United Front” states:

Black liberation and the Communist International

Claude McKay.

By John Riddell

September 11, 2011 -- This article also appears at http://johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with John Riddell's permission -- The influence of the Communist International was decisive in the early 1920s in winning a generation of black revolutionaries to Marxism. On this the historians agree. But what did this influence consist of, and how was it exerted?

Foundations of an ecosocialist strategy

September 1, 2011 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the permission of the translator and of Nouveaux Cahiers du Socialisme -- The following article by a leading European ecosocialist, Daniel Tanuro, was written especially for the latest issue of the Montréal-based journal Nouveaux Cahiers du Socialisme (NCS), which features a number of articles on the ecological crisis (not yet on-line). Tanuro is the author of an important book-length Marxist critique of “Green capitalism", L’impossible capitalisme vert, soon to be published in English. Other articles by Daniel Tanuro, in both French and English, may be found at Europe solidaire sans frontières. I have translated the French text of this article as published by NCS. – Richard Fidler

* * *

By Daniel Tanuro, translated by Richard Fidler

Québec Solidaire: A Québécois approach to building a broad left party

Amir Khadir, currently Québec solidaire's sole member of the Quebec legislature, the National Assembly.

August 31, 2011 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission and that of Alternate Routes -- The following article is scheduled for publication in a forthcoming issue of the journal Alternate Routes. It is an expanded and updated version of a presentation to the third annual conference of the Critical Social Research Collaborative, held March 5, 2011, at Carleton University, Ottawa, on the theme “Varieties of Socialism, Varieties of Approaches”. Part II (below) will discuss the evolution of Québec Solidaire since its founding.

* * *

By Richard Fidler

A number of attempts have been made in recent years to launch new parties and processes, addressing a broad left or popular constituency, that are programmatically anti-neoliberal if not anti-capitalist, some of them self-identifying as part of an international effort to create a “socialism of the 21st century”. They vary widely in origins, size, social composition and influence.

The Comintern’s unknown decision on workers’ governments

"Workers of the World, Unite!", by Gustavs Klucis. Produced for the 1922 Fourth Congress of the Communist International.

By John Riddell

August 14, 2011 -- Also available at johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with John Riddell's permission -- English-language discussion of the Communist International’s 1922 call for workers’ governments has been based on a preliminary draft that was significantly altered before its adoption. Below, probably for the first time in English, is the amended text that the 1922 congress actually adopted.

The call for a workers’ government emerged from German workers’ struggles in 1920 as a way of posing the need for workers’ power in a context where no alternative structure of revolutionary councils, or soviets, yet existed.

When a right-wing coup in March 1920 was countered by an insurrectionary general strike of German workers, the head of the Social Democratic unions, Carl Legien, proposed to resolve the crisis through creation of a government of workers’ parties and trade unions.

On the meaning of ‘popular front’

The Bolivarian movement led by Hugo Chávez contains bourgeois forces and has been the scene of repeated struggles between popular and bureaucratic wings. But far from subordinating workers to bourgeois leadership, it has served as the instrument to mobilise the masses in struggles that have won significant gains.

By John Riddell

August 8, 2011 -- also availabe at johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal with John Riddell's permission -- In a comment posted July 16 to my article “Honduras Accord: A Gain for Ottawa?” Todd Gordon warns against the danger of “popular-front style organization” and a “popular front electoralist strategy” (see his comment below this article). Socialists often use the term “popular front” or “people’s front” as a form of condemnation. But what exactly does the term mean, and how does apply it to poor, oppressed countries like Honduras?

Lenin and revolutionary organisation today: An exchange

Introduction

Anyone familiar with the socialist movement in the industrialized countries today must be struck by the huge gap between what’s needed — mass socialist parties with deep roots in the working class — and the reality — small groups of socialists with little influence. The following exchange contains a searching discussion of these issues between the noted Marxist scholar Paul Le Blanc and John Riddell.

The exchange opens with an article by Le Blanc and continues with an exchange between Riddell and Le Blanc. The discussion was first published in Socialist Voice in June 2008 and later appeared on John Riddell's website (with more comments).

About the authors

Paul Le Blanc, a former member of the U.S. Socialist Workers Party, has been a long-time anti-war, anti-racist, activist in Pittsburgh. He teaches History at La Roche College. He is author of Marx, Lenin, and the Revolutionary Experience (Routledge 2006).

Honduras resistance launches political party; Political statement of the FARP; Cartagena Accord debated

By Felipe Stuart Cournoyer and John Riddell

July 11, 2011 -- johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- A national assembly of the resistance, uniting more than 1500 delegates from across Honduras, voted on June 26 to launch a new political party, the Frente Amplio de Resistencia Popular (Broad Front of Popular Resistance, FARP).

The assembly was convened by the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (National People’s Resistance Front, FNRP), the main coordinating body of popular struggle since a right-wing coup overthrew the democratically elected government of President Manuel Zelaya two years ago, on June 28, 2009.

The new party is to function as an arm of the Resistance Front in the political-electoral arena and will contest the 2013 presidential elections.

The delegates met under large suspended banners displaying the images of ALBA presidents—Hugo Chávez (Venezuela), Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua), Raúl Castro (Cuba) and Evo Morales (Bolivia), alongside those of Francisco Morazán, Simón Bolívar, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Honduras was illegitimately removed from the ALBA alliance by the coup regime established in 2009.

Deep ecology versus ecosocialism: A letter on population, wilderness and ecosocialism

"If ecosocialists support wilderness clearances and population reduction they will be on the wrong side of some of the most important struggles in the world today." -- Ian Angus
[Ian Angus will be a feature speaker at the World at a Crossroads II: Climate change: social change conference, in Melbourne, Australia, September 30-October 3, 2011.]

July 4, 2011 -- The following is Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus’s response to "Saral Sarkar on Malthusianism and Ecosocialism" and Sarkar’s "Reply to some points made by my critics and sympathizers". It is part of a continuing discussion taking place on Climate and Capitalism (see the links at the end of the article).

* * *

Dear Saral Sarkar,

Deep ecology versus ecosocialism

[Ian Angus will be a feature speaker at the World at a Crossroads II: Climate change: social change conference, in Melbourne, Australia, September 30-October 3, 2011.]

By Ian Angus

June 19, 2011 --This article first appeared at Climate and Capitalism. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Some people believe that deep ecology is not just compatible with ecosocialism, but a way to improve it. That’s a profound misconception that ignores deep ecology’s anti-human core. The following was first posted on the online discussion group that was set up after the founding of the Ecosocialist international Network. I have added some suggestions for further reading.

* * *

The Communist Women’s International (1921-26)

"Emancipated woman -- build up socialism." Poster by Strakhov-Braslavskij A. I., 1926.

By John Riddell

June 12, 2011 -- The following working paper was presented to the Toronto conference of Historical Materialism on May 16, 2010. It first appeared on John Riddell's blog and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission.

* * *

When we celebrate International Women’s Day, we often refer to its origins in US labour struggles early last century. Less often mentioned, however, how it was relaunched and popularised in the 1920s by the Communist Women’s International. Moreover, this movement itself has been almost forgotten, as have most of its central leaders.

The Communist Women’s International was founded by a world gathering of communist women in 1921, which elected a leadership, the International Women’s Secretariat, reporting to the executive of the Communist International, or Comintern. It also initiated the formation of women’s commissions in national parties, which coordinated work by women’s bodies on a branch level, and called periodic international conferences of Communist women.

Honduras: Agreement signed for democratic rights

By Felipe Stuart Cournoyer and John Riddell

May 24, 2011 -- http://johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- On May 22, Hondura's president Porfirio Lobo Sosa and former president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales signed an agreement 'For National Reconciliation and the Consolidation of the Democratic System in the Republic of Honduras".

Lobo was elected in November 2009 in a rigged vote organised by the regime installed through the June 28, 2009, military coup that overthrew Zelaya. The majority of Latin American and Caribbean nations refused to recognise the legitimacy of the Lobo government, despite the strong support it received from the United States and Canada.

The present agreement, finalised in Cartagena, Colombia, also bears the signatures of Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuela's foreign minister Nicolás Maduro (on behalf of President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías) as witnesses.

This agreement opens the door to significant changes in the Central American political landscape and to the re-entry of Honduras into the Organization of American States (OAS) and SICA (Central American Integration System).

Canada’s election: NDP gains widen space for social struggles

By Roger Annis

May 23, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, an earlier version of this article also first appeared in Green Left Weekly -- The incumbent Conservative Party sailed to victory in Canada’s federal election on May 2 with the first majority government in the federal parliament since the 2000 election. There was celebration in the boardrooms of the country. The victory caps a decades-long drive by much of Canada’s business elite to fashion a strong national government on a hard-right agenda.

The result is a deep disappointment for progressive-minded people in Canada. The Conservatives led by Stephen Harper will form the most right-wing government in modern Canadian history, extending the regressive path of its two minority governments won in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

Progress in Bolivia: A reply to Jeff Webber

Bolivia's president Evo Morales addresses a press conference during theWorld People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, April 2010.

[See also "Debate on Bolivia: Government, social movements and revolution". For more article on Bolivia, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

May 5, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Six years after Bolivians elected their first Indigenous-led government, their ongoing struggle for national and social liberation remains a subject of debate and disagreement among socialists around the world.

Canada: NDP breakthrough in Quebec -- a challenge for the Canadian left

New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton.

By Richard Fidler

May 8, 2011 -- Life on the Left -- If New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton’s election-night speech to his Toronto supporters is an indication of what lies ahead, the NDP is going to have a hard time coming to terms with a parliamentary caucus now composed of a majority of MPs from Quebec.

To a crowded room in which nearly everyone was waving Canadian flags, the NDP leader delivered two-thirds of his remarks in English without ever mentioning the expression “Quebec nation”. The scene, televised across Canada, did not go unremarked in Quebec, where most of the NDP’s sudden support had come from nationalist-minded voters, including many sympathisers of Quebec independence.

Breaking the real taboo in the population debate

By Ian Angus

April 27, 2011 -- Climate and Capitalism -- Is there a taboo against attributing environmental problems to population growth? Are populationist views being suppressed?

Sir David Attenborough thinks so. On March 10, the noted naturalist and broadcaster told a meeting in London that there is a “strange silence … some bizarre taboo” about the population issue. This “absurd taboo” has “a powerful grip on the minds of so many worthy and intelligent people”. Attenborough urged his listeners to “break the taboo”, by raising the population issue whenever and wherever they could.

Who was he talking to? Who were the brave people who dared to listen to a talk on this forbidden topic? Was it some secretive group, hanging on despite all odds, somehow keeping alive the truths that are suppressed by the powers that be?

Well, no.

Montreal conference rallies support for rights of nature

By John Riddell

April 23, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Bolivia marked Earth Day (April 22) this year by formulating the Law of Mother Earth, which—when adopted—will establish 11 new rights for nature, including the right not to be polluted and the right to continue vital cycles free from human interference.

On April 20, the United Nations General Assembly debated a proposal introduced by Bolivia, with support of other South American countries, to adopt a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature. The proposed global treaty says that “Mother Earth has the right to exist, persist, and to continue the vital cycles … that sustain all human beings”.

Meanwhile, Canada’s political and media establishment have organised an election campaign in which the world’s ecological crisis is barely mentioned.

‘Beyond capitalism’? Québec solidaire launches debate on its program for social transformation

Françoise David, QS president, and Amir Khadir, its sole elected member of the National Assembly.

By Richard Fidler, Montréal

April 7, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – At a convention held here March 25-27, 2011, Québec solidaire (QS) concluded the second round in the process of adopting its program. More than 350 delegates from party associations across the province debated and adopted the party’s stance on issues in relation to the economy, ecology and labour. And they reaffirmed their determination to build the party as an independent political alternative, rejecting proposals by QS leaders to seek “tactical agreements” with the capitalist Parti québécois (PQ) and/or the Parti vert (Greens) that would have allowed reciprocal support of the other party’s candidate in selected ridings.

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