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The following talk was delivered to the US International Socialist Organization's Socialism 2014 conference in Chicago, June 28, 2014. It has been edited for publication in International Socialist Review. See also John Riddell's article, “Capitalism’s First World War and the Battle Against It“, in Socialist Worker.
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By John Riddell
August 5, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- On August 5, 100 years ago, a Bosnian nationalist assassinated the crown prince of Austria-Hungary, setting in motion a chain of events that led a month later to the outbreak of the First World War.
The war shattered the world socialist movement and unleashed an overwhelming social catastrophe in Europe, killing 17 million soldiers and civilians. The resulting revolutionary struggles brought the war to an abrupt end in 1918, while toppling the continent’s three great empires and bringing workers and peasants to power in Russia. The war also contributed to a global rise of anti-colonial struggles.
What does this unique cataclysm mean for us today? It is useful to compare World War I with the dangers posed today by climate change and environmental collapse.
By John Riddell
March 9, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- In a recent comment to this blog, Tad Tietze defines Clara Zetkin’s approach to women’s oppression as marked by “consistent method, flexible application”. To portray this approach, he offers us an important speech by Zetkin to a convention of German socialists in 1896. In my view, Zetkin’s address is a classic of Marxism, worth careful study, but does not offer us a satisfactory strategy for the women’s liberation struggle today.
Por John Riddell
2/2/2014 -- http://www.sinpermiso.info -- En 1921, cuando la Internacional Comunista (Comintern) celebró su III Congreso Mundial, Clara Zetkin era la comunista más respetada fuera de Rusia. Sin embargo, fue víctima en vísperas del congreso de grandes esfuerzos para vilipendiarla y apartarla de la dirección de la Comintern, e incluso del movimiento comunista. No obstante, fue, junto con Lenin y Trotsky, una de las figuras intelectuales más destacadas del congreso.
Examinaremos el papel de Zetkin en la gran lucha ideológica del III Congreso y su conexión con su participación en el movimiento por la emancipación de la mujer. Zetkin había ganado una gran reputación como la principal dirigente del movimiento internacional de mujeres socialistas antes de 1914. Se convirtió en uno de los defensores más eficaces del internacionalismo socialista durante la guerra. Ayudó a formar el Partido Comunista Alemán y fue uno de sus líderes más prominentes.
By John Riddell
January 14, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In 1921, when the Communist International (Comintern) held its Third World Congress, Clara Zetkin was the most widely respected Communist outside Russia. Yet she was the victim of vigorous efforts on the eve of the congress to vilify her and drive her out of the Comintern leadership, if not from the movement. Nonetheless, she ranks, together with Lenin and Leon Trotsky, among the dominant intellectual figures at the congress.
Let us survey Zetkin’s role in the great ideological struggle at the Third Congress and then link it to her involvement in the movement for women’s emancipation.
[English at http://links.org.au/node/3210]
Por Sharon Smith, traducción para Sinpermiso.info por Lola Rivera
10/3/2013 -- Sinpermiso -- Inessa Armand, la primera dirigente del Departamento de la Mujer en la Revolución Rusa de 1917, hizo la siguiente observación: “Si la liberación de la mujer es impensable sin el comunismo, el comunismo es también impensable sin la liberación de la mujer”. Esta afirmación es un perfecto resumen de la relación entre la lucha por el socialismo y la lucha por la liberación de la mujer: no es posible una sin la otra.
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.
Alexandra Kollontai, a leading member of the Bolshevik Party and one its leading theoreticians on women's oppression.
January 31, 2013 -- a talk given at the US ISO's Socialism 2012 conference in Chicago. It first appeared in the US Socialist Worker. It represents an important reassessment in the approach of an influential tendency within the international Marxist movement, those associated with or with their origins in the International Socialist Tendency., International Socialist Organization (USA) member and author of the soon-to-be-republished Women and Socialism: Essays on Women's Liberation, examines how some in the Marxist tradition have approached the struggle to end women's oppression, including its attitude toward other theories. This article is based on
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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
Communist Party of Germany (KPD) member Paul Levi played a leading role in several debates.
By John Riddell
December 4, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, for more articles by John Riddell, go to http://johnriddell.wordpress.com -- Until recently, I shared a widely held opinion that the Bolshevik Party of Russia towered above other members of the early Communist International as a source of fruitful political initiatives. However, my work in preparing the English edition of the Comintern’s Fourth Congress, held at the end of 1922, led me to modify this view.(1) On a number of weighty strategic issues before the congress, front-line parties, especially the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), played a decisive role in revising executive committee proposals and shaping the Congress’s outcome.]
When I translated the first page of this congress, I was not far distant from the view of Tony Cliff, who, referring to the 1921–22 period, referred to the “extreme comparative backwardness of communist leaders outside Russia”. They had an “uncritical attitude towards the Russian party”, which stood as “a giant among dwarfs”, Cliff stated.(2)
My article “Clara Zetkin’s Struggle for the United Front” states:
"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.
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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.
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Listen to John Riddell present a workshop on Clara Zetkin at the US International Socialist Organization's Socialism 2009 conference in Chicago: