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Doug Enaa Greene

More than universal healthcare: the meaning of socialism

 

 

Schemes of state and municipal ownership, if unaccompanied by this co-operative principle, are but schemes for the perfectioning of the mechanism of capitalist government - schemes to make the capitalist regime respectable and efficient for the purposes of the capitalist; in the second place they represent the class-conscious instinct of the business man who feels that capitalist should not prey upon capitalist, while all may unite to prey upon the workers... To the cry of the middle class reformers, “make this or that the property of the government,” we reply, “yes, in proportion as the workers are ready to make the government their property.”

 

  James Connolly [1]

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

August 1 2018
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Left VoiceA recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times boldly stated, “Americans like socialism now.” Increasingly among younger people, the word “socialism” has lost its Cold War stigma. According to the article, the new-found interest in socialism is linked to the 2008 crash and its recovery, “which has seen nearly all newly created wealth claimed by the 1% while wages stagnate, has led to a rebirth of the American left.”[2] In other words, for most people, capitalism just wasn’t working.

 

The Relevance of Marx at 200

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

May 10, 2018 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Left Voice  — May 5 is the 200th birthday of Karl Marx. However, what is there to celebrate? Surely, Marx is out of date now with the fall of the Soviet Union and the triumph of capitalism.

 

Menshevism: The Girondins of 1917

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

April 25, 2018
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Left Voice with the author's permission — Whatever their differences, Lenin, Plekhanov, Martov, and Trotsky all saw the Russian Revolution as following in the experience of the French Revolution of 1789. The Russian revolutionaries also modeled themselves on the different parties of the French Revolution, whether consciously or unconsciously, as guides for action. Lenin and the Bolsheviks believed they were modern-day Jacobins – stalwart revolutionaries who would organize the working class and take power. By contrast, the Mensheviks were moderate Girondins. Menshevism was committed to gradualism and opposed to the “historical impatience” of a socialist revolution. Like the Girondins, the Mensheviks were honorable, but like their predecessors, they lacked faith in the revolutionary abilities of the people. That was the root of their failure in 1917.

 

Blanqui and the Communist Enlightenment

 

 

Dedicated to my cousin, Finley William

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

February 6, 2018 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Left Voice with the author's permission — Currently, the principles of the Enlightenment are under attack on several fronts. On the one hand, there are fascists and religious fundamentalists who are opposed to secularism, democracy, and equality. On the other hand, large segments of the left have rejected Enlightenment-inspired “grand narratives” as inherently oppressive and totalitarian. Now that Enlightenment ideas are under attack, the left stands on the same philosophical ground as the right, making it ill-equipped to defend universalist principles. Other so-called defenders of the Enlightenment, whether liberals or social democrats, offer no positive alternative to reactionaries. They remain stalwart defenders of the status quo of capitalism, wars, and racism.

 

Blanqui’s Politics of Revolution: An Interview with Doug Greene

 

 

October 18, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Left Voice — In this interview, historian Doug Greene talks about Blanqui, his life and politics, and more. His new book, Communist Insurgent: Blanqui's Politics of Revolution, will be out next month.

 

Gracchus Babeuf revisited

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

September 11, 2017 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from RS21 — In most English language scholarship on the French Revolution, Gracchus Babeuf (1760-1797) remains a marginal figure. At most, he merits a mention in a few paragraphs, where he is generally portrayed as an eclectic and utopian figure, who led an extremist movement doomed to fail. Sadly that view is shared by too many socialists, who dismiss Babeuf as just a Jacobin elitist with little to teach the present. Thankfully, Ian Birchall’s Spectre of Babeuf provides a welcome corrective to the neglect of Babeuf by giving him the respect he deserves as a participant in the French Revolution and as an original socialist thinker from whom revolutionaries can still learn a great deal.

 

Crisis and Breakdown

 

 

 

“Either the socialist transformation is, as was admitted up to now, the consequence of the internal contradictions of capitalism, and with the growth of capitalism will develop its inner contradictions, resulting inevitably, at some point, in its collapse, (in that case the “means of adaptation” are ineffective and the theory of collapse is correct); or the “means of adaptation” will really stop the collapse of the capitalist system and thereby enable capitalism to maintain itself by suppressing its own contradictions. In that case socialism ceases to be an historic necessity. It then becomes anything you want to call it, but it is no longer the result of the material development of society."

 

Rosa Luxemburg

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

The Oath: The story of the Jewish Bund

 

 

Jewish Bund demonstration during the Russian Revolution of 1917

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

We swear an endless loyalty to the Bund.

Only it can free the slaves now.

The red flag is high and wide.

It waves in anger, it is red with blood!

Swear an oath of life and death!

Di Shvue

 

Marxism: The philosophy of praxis

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

To Harrison and Sam.

 

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.”
-Karl Marx

"Marxism is the theory of the proletarian movement for emancipation."
-V. I. Lenin

 

Revolutionary theory and popularization

 
 

By Doug Greene

 

February 23, 2017 Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Left Voice with the author's permission — Marxist theory is not the same thing as the popularization of socialist or communist ideas but is (at its best) an open-ended, creative, and continually developing theoretical framework for understanding and changing the world. As Lenin put it, "without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement."[1] However, in order for Marxist theory to fulfil its goal, ways must be found to popularize it for millions so they can understand and apply it.

 

Why Blanqui?

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

February 1, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Verso Books with the author's permission — Karl Marx claimed that Louis-Auguste Blanqui was the “man whom I have always regarded as the brains and inspiration of the proletarian party in France.” Although largely forgotten today, there was a time when revolutionaries throughout the world viewed this nineteenth century French political prisoner as a central figure and hero of revolutionary socialism. In this time of so much political backsliding and compromise, it is worth looking at the life of Blanqui.

 

Redeeming the revolution: A review of “October 1917 - Workers in Power”

 

 

Reviewed by Doug Enaa Greene

 

October 1917 – Workers in Power.
Paul Le Blanc, Ernest Mandel, David Mandel, François Vercammen, and contemporary texts by Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin, Leon Trotsky.
Edited by Fred Leplat and Alex de Jong
London: Merlin Press, the IIRE and Resistance Books, 2016. 256 pages

 

The critical communism of Antonio Labriola

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

December 30, 2016 –– Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Socialist Review with the author’s permission –– Antonio Labriola, if he is known today at all, is remembered as a minor Marxist theorist in the Second International, overshadowed by such well known figures as Karl Kautsky, Rosa Luxemburg, or Eduard Bernstein. Sometimes Labriola will be mentioned as a formative influence on the Marxism of Antonio Gramsci and Leon Trotsky. Yet Labriola deserves to be known and studied based on his own merits. He provided a critique of Second International orthodox Marxism, arguing that it divorced theory and practice, engaged in sterile, dogmatic systematization, and held to an economically deterministic form of Marxism. Labriola revived Marxism as an open philosophy of praxis, that is, as a critical and revolutionary method. He did not take for granted the inevitability of historical progress, but argued that it was necessary for socialists to intervene actively in shaping it.

 

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.

 

Walter Benjamin, Louis-Auguste Blanqui and the apocalypse

 

 

Paris Commune

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

September 27, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Red Wedge with the author's permission — In the Spring of 1940, as the Nazis conquered France and were the dominant power on the European continent, the exiled German Marxist philosopher Walter Benjamin wrote his final work, Theses on the Philosophy of History. In a moment of political defeat, with fascism triumphant, the parties of the far left lying prostrate and subjugated, Benjamin penned the following words:

 

The subject of historical cognition is the battling, oppressed class itself. In Marx it steps forwards as the final enslaved and avenging class, which carries out the work of emancipation in the name of generations of downtrodden to its conclusion. This consciousness, which for a short time made itself felt in the “Spartacus” [Spartacist splinter group, the forerunner to the German Communist Party], was objectionable to social democracy from the very beginning. In the course of three decades it succeeded in almost completely erasing the name of Blanqui, whose distant thunder [Erzklang] had made the preceding century tremble. [1]

 

Trotsky and Gramsci on revolutionary strategy

 

 

Gramsci and Trotsky: Strategy for the Revolution in the West
Emilio Albamonte and Matías Maiello
Argentina: Left Voice, 2016
158 pages

 

Review by Doug Enaa Greene

 

The Communist Manifesto: A weapon of war

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

September 16, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — With the exception of the Bible, no other work in history has been more praised and denounced, analyzed and criticized, both seriously and superficially, than the Communist Manifesto.

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.

 

Tania: the revolutionary warrior

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

June 27, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- "Yes, this is really a very serious situation ... But I can tell you, once again, that there is nothing more beautiful than to be in the middle of a critical situation, where the revolutionary struggle is the most difficult. How many would like to be here in Cuba to participate in defense of the Cuban revolution! I'm lucky enough to be able to do so. This is why I returned to Latin America. If I were interested in living well, surrounded by all the comforts, I would have stayed in Berlin, where I had everything. The Latin American revolution is advancing steadily toward a higher level, and I am fortunate enough to take part of it! ... Patria o muerte! Venceremos!"

 

Tamara Bunke wrote this in a letter to her parents in 1962 when she was an internationalist volunteer in Cuba during the height of the Missile Crisis as the revolution was mortally threatened by the forces of imperialism.
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