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Communist International

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?

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?

Paul Le Blanc: Marxism and organisation

By Paul Le Blanc

This presentation was given at the Chicago educational conference of the US International Socialist Organization, Socialism 2011, on the July 2-3, 2011, weekend. The text first appeared at Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières.

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It is always worth examining the question of Marxism and organisation because, if we would like to be organised Marxists who effectively struggle for socialism, we have a responsibility to know what we are about -- and such knowledge is deepened by ongoing examination. There are scholarly reasons for going over such ground, but for activists the primary purpose is to improve our ability to help change the world. There are three basic ideas to be elaborated on here: 1) there must be a coming together of socialism and the working class if either is to have a positive future; 2) those of us who think like that need to work together hard and effectively -- which means we need to be part of a serious organisation; and 3) socialist organisations must be a democratic/disciplined force in actual workers’ struggles -- that is the path to socialism. In what follows I will elaborate on this.

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.

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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.

R. Palme Dutt's 'Fascism and social revolution'

By Graham Milner

In the present situation in the world, with the intermittent resurgence of fascist and neo-fascist movements in some countries, an avowedly Marxist treatment of the subject of fascism, such as Palme Dutt's Fascism and Social Revolution, deserves the attention of new generations of readers.

Rajani Palme Dutt (1896-1974) was born in England of an Indian father and a Swedish mother.[1] He grew up in a political household, where socialism and Indian independence were familiar subjects of discussion. A brilliant scholar at Oxford University (he took a double first), Dutt was a conscientious objector during the World War I, and was expelled from university in 1917 for disseminating Marxist propaganda.

Tariq Ali on Mao Zedong and communism in China

"Mao images are for sale, popular in China and not just with tourists, his ideas on protracted war used frequently for `guerrilla marketing'. His fate, like that of Che, seems now to be that of a treasured commodity—all that is missing is a Chinese equivalent of the Motorcycle Diaries."

Review by Tariq Ali

Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World
By Rebecca E. Karl
Duke University Press: Durham, NC 2010
paperback, 216 pages, 978 0 8223 4795 8.

November-December 2010 -- New Left Review -- The emergence of China as the world’s economic powerhouse has shifted the centre of the global market eastwards. The People's Republic of China’s (PRC) growth rates are the envy of elites everywhere, its commodities circulating even in the tiniest Andean street markets, its leaders courted by governments strong and weak. These developments have ignited endless discussion on the country and its future.

The German Communist Party and the crisis of 1923

Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebnecht, murdered by the Social Democrat government.

By Graham Milner

The German Communist Party (KPD) was founded in the very heat of revolutionary struggle. One of the party's major problems from the beginning was that it was formed as a separate organisation too late to influence significantly the course of the German Revolution of 1918-19. If there had been in existence at this time a mass revolutionary party along the lines of Lenin's Bolshevik party, then there could well have been a radical reconstruction of German society into a republic of workers' councils. Instead of such an outcome, the stunted bourgeois-democratic regime of Weimar came into being, in which most of the existing state machine, including the army, judiciary and civil service, was preserved intact.[1]

John Riddell: (Audio) The Comintern, 1919-1923: The two souls of centralism

A talk presented by John Riddell to International Socialist Organization's (USA) Marxism 2010 conference in Chicago. The talk was originally posted at Wearemany.org. John Riddell is co-editor of Socialist Voice (Canada) and editor of The Communist International in Lenin’s Time, a six-volume anthology of documents, speeches, manifestos and commentary.
Download mp3 file -- Press arrow to play

Clara Zetkin’s struggle for the united front

Clara Zetkin (left) with Rosa Luxemburg.

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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:

Versailles vs Comintern: two visions of world peace

Lenin addresses the opening of the second congress of the Communist International.

By Barry Healy

June 28, 2009, was the anniversary of the two bookends of World War I, in which it is estimated more than 15 million people died. On that date in 1914 Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo and, five years later, in 1919, 90 years ago this year, the Versailles Treaty was signed in Paris.

The first war in which the capacity of modern industry to deploy, feed, arm and dismember people was so hideously demonstrated, WWI was experienced by its victims as the "war to end all wars". Unfortunately, it proved not to be.

Out of the ashes of the conflict two competing visions of world peace arose: Versailles and the revolutionary and democratic alternative represented by the Communist International (Comintern) emanating from the 1917 Russian Revolution.

US President Woodrow Wilson swept into the treaty negotiations declaring: “The world must be made safe for democracy.” Over six months of intense horsetrading at Versailles a new imperialist order was hammered out, resulting in many of the conflicts that followed.

Proceedings of Fourth Congress of the Communist International to be published

In October, John Riddell, co-editor of Socialist Voice, completed a draft translation of the proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International. This ambitious effort (more than 500,000 words) will make all of the resolutions, speeches, and debates from that important 1922 meeting, together with full explanatory annotation, available in English for the first time. The work, which Riddell is preparing in collaboration with the London-based journal Historical Materialism, is planned for publication in 2010.

The British newspaper Socialist Worker interviewed John Riddell (below) about this project for its November 22, 2008, issue.

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By Ken Olende

In 1922 socialists from around the world travelled to Russia to discuss and debate the future of the workers’ movement.

New pamphlet: Comintern: Revolutionary Internationalism in Lenin's Time

[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]

International left collaboration and socialist renewal

By John Percy

Introduction

As we reflect on the tumultuous twentieth century -- ``wars, revolutions, crises and constant technological change -- we have to reaffirm that socialism, now more than ever, is necessary for the future development of humanity. In fact, it's necessary for preventing society's collapse into barbarism and the ecological destruction of the planet. Marxism not only has continuing relevance; it's more applicable than ever. Society continues to be divided into economically opposed classes. Capitalism expropriates the wealth created by working people through their labour. Social production on a world scale is the norm, yet the fruits of that production remain privately owned and controlled. There is an obscene and widening gap between rich and poor, within countries and between countries: in 1995, 358 billionaires had a total wealth equal to the combined income of the world's 2.3 billion poorest people. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, demoralisation among left forces has been extensive. Some were bought off by crumbs from the imperialist table and have become outright defenders of the capitalist system. Some parties shut up shop, like the

The Bolshevik Party and 'Zinovievism': Comments on a caricature of Leninism

By Doug Lorimer

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.

The Ukraine scam, internationals and internationalism

By John Percy

CONTENTS

International Potemkin villages

Wrong conception

Actual Marxist practice

The Comintern

Trotskyist tradition

Real internationalism

Globalisation

United parties

Notes

January 2004 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Embarrassing details of an extensive scam being operated against left-wing organisations surfaced in the Ukraine in mid-2003. At least twelve, possibly up to twenty, small left groups, mainly in England and the United States, were conned by an enterprising group of Ukrainian politicos pretending to be supporters of each of these parties or their "internationals" setting up their Ukrainian "sections".

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