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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.

Machiavelli and the primacy of politics





 

 


By Doug Enaa Greene

 

Dedicated to my friend Destiney Linker.

 


June 10, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- If we were to look at most people who have existed throughout history – we can say that they lived in obscurity, dire poverty, possessing no titles or pretensions to greatness. They lived and died in toil. The vast majority of humanity has passed through these conditions. Yet what did these people think about their circumstances and what to do about them?

At the crossroads of Blanquism and Leninism

 

 

Doug Greene, author of the forthcoming "Specters of Communism: Blanqui and Marx", takes up the accusation that Leninism is "Blanquist".

 

By Douglas Enaa Greene[1]

 

June 1, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Rosa Luxemburg once said that Bolshevism is nothing more than the “mechanical transposition of the organizational principles of Blanquism into the mass movement of the socialist working class.”[2] Many leftists, both now and a century ago, share Luxemburg's position that Leninism is elitist and/or Blanquism. Yet all of these judgments are far off the mark. For Lenin, Blanquism was something that the communist movement needed to overcome if they wanted to win a successful socialist revolution. Leninism is not simply Blanquism or Jacobinism adapted to Russian conditions, but the development of a Marxist mode of politics that draws clear revolutionary lessons from the defeat of the Paris Commune. The central operator of the Leninist mode of politics is a revolutionary vanguard party devoted to the emancipation of the oppressed workers and peasants. However, there remains a grain of truth in the accusation that Leninism is Blanquist, since “Blanquism” is a label used by social democrats and revisionists to condemn the revolutionary essence of Marxism

 

The Communist Order of Samurai: Leon Trotsky and the Red Army

 

 

Leon Trotsky addresses soldiers of the Red Army during the Russian Civil War

 



By Doug Enaa Greene

 



Dedicated to my friend, Sam Miller.

 


May 17, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Marxist historian Victor Serge described Trotsky's task in organizing the Red Army as its enemies threatened the embattled Soviet Republic as follows:

 

The principal organizer of the October Revolution now has the task of organizing the defence of the Soviet Republic. He goes to war, forges the blade, carries the responsibility on all fronts. He incarnates, in its keenest expression, the revolution’s will to survive.[1]

 

In 1918, Trotsky was given the job of creating a Red Army to fight off its enemies from within and without. Organizing an effective army in a society shattered and exhausted by war would have been a monumental task for even the most experienced general. Yet Trotsky, who possessed no military training, forged a well-organized, centralized, disciplined and effective fighting army of 5.5 million people by 1920 that was fired by revolutionary zeal and triumphed in the Civil War.

 

The final aim is nothing: The politics of revisionism and anti-revisionism

 

 

Chinese communist propaganda poster from the sixties: 'Defeat American Imperialism, defeat Soviet Revisionism'

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

I. Introduction

 

May 2, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Revisionism, like the terms “Marxism-Leninism” or “fascism” is arguably one of the most widely used and abused terms on the revolutionary left.

The heroic deed: myth and revolution

 

 

Che Guevara

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

April 21, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Red Wedge with the author's permission -- According to legend, the last words of Che Guevara before his execution were “I know you've come to kill me. Shoot coward, you are only going to kill a man.” What Che meant here was that the cause of revolution would live on despite his death. Whether or not the myth is true, the meaning behind it has inspired revolutionaries throughout the world. In certain ways, the myth surrounding Che Guevara has been just as important as the truth. In fact, myths provide a crucial underpinning to how ideology and society is able to function. Myths play a major role not only in society, but in radical political movements, as was recognized by the French syndicalist Georges Sorel and the Peruvian communist Jose Carlos Mariategui. And despite the scientific pretensions of much of the left, myths also supply inspiration, passion and faith to militants in the course of struggle.

 

The Left Hook: The Marxism of Sidney Hook

 

Doug Enaa Greene speaking at the Center for Marxist Education, in Cambridge, MA, on Sidney Hook as a Marxist thinker.

 

By Doug Enaa Greene, published on Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

 

To my friend Amy.

 

I. Introduction

 



When the politics of Sidney Hook, a public intellectual and philosopher, are remembered today, they are generally associated with a right-wing variant of social democracy which was compatible with both neoconservatism and McCarthyism. For example, in 1953, Hook infamously wrote Heresy, Yes-- Conspiracy, No which justified the witch-hunts of the Red Scare and the purging of communists from academia reasoning that Leninist doctrine was the basis of an international communist conspiracy of subversion – with all orders emanating from Moscow.[1] Hook would end his life receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan, whose policies in support of death squads in El Salvador he had “applauded.” However, there was a very different Hook, who during the Great Depression was not only a committed communist revolutionary, but the leading Marxist theorist of his generation.

The Resolute Subject: Daniel Bensaïd, Voluntarism and Strategy

 

Daniel Bensaïd

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 



To my brother, Daniel, who also made me see the possibilities contained in a moment.

 


April 4. 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, it has been fashionable to say that the time for communist politics has passed. One commentator went so far as to claim that “history had ended,” which meant capitalism was the only game in town. For many leftists, politics shifted from Marxist theory, revolutionary strategy and fighting to win, to begging the ruling class for “realistic” reforms. Yet there remained a stubborn few who refused to accept that capitalism was the sole vision on the horizon, but maintained a stubborn fidelity to Marxism and revolution. One of these was the French Trotskyist, Daniel Bensaïd (1946-2010), a key figure of the Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire, a leading participant in the May 1968 general strike and a militant Marxist intellectual. Bensaïd practiced a critical and creative Marxism throughout his life that fruitfully engaged with other radical political thinkers, such as Blanqui and Benjamin, and he refused to believe that the last word on our future had been said. Rather, he argued that resistance to capitalism was not only possible, but he gave serious thought about what it would take to win. Daniel Bensaïd remains a powerful voice to argue for strategic thinking and developing a “resolute subject” that could overcome the crushing weight of the “objective situation.”

 




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