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SWP (Britain)

Britain: ‘To fight austerity we need a united left’ -- Anticapitalist Initiative

By Simon Hardy, Anticapitalist Initiative (Britain)

October 9, 2012 –  Submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The urgent need for unity on the radical left is something that has been eloquently put forward by Dan Hind on the Al-Jazeera website. Asking a very pertinent question as to whether there can be a SYRIZA-type organisation in Britain, Hind draws out some of the most important lessons of the Greek struggle and poses a challenge to the British left -- can we break out of the ghetto as well?[1]

Richard Seymour: Venezuela in the 21st century

With the announcement of Hugo Chavez’s reelection as president by 55% of the Venezuelan electorate, spontaneous crowds across the country gathered to celebrate the victory. More photos at http://venezuelanalysis.com/image.

By Richard Seymour

October 8, 2012 -- Lenin's Tomb, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Richard Seymour's permission -- Chavez lives. He has survived cancer, thus far, and will most likely survive the presidential election with a comfortable majority (update: yep). And what if he did not? Would not Venezuela still have a popular mass socialist party, a thriving democracy, an expanding union movement, a politically emasculated ruling class, a greatly enhanced welfare state which incorporates elements of grassroots participation, and probably one of the few societies in the world today where it's almost impossible to impose a vicious austerity project? Jealous much?

Richard Seymour: The problem of left unity

By Richard Seymour

August 28, 2012 -- Lenin's Tomb, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Richard Seymour's permission -- Dan Hind, enlivened by the Hellenic tumult, calls for a Coalition of the Radical Left in Britain. I love it. Of course I do. But isn’t it, to any rational observer, a perfectly silly idea?

Anyone who has spent much time listening to the British radical left these days would no more expect them to coalesce than they would expect grace, humility and talent from Gary Barlow. The latest rumble has been over Julian Assange, Wikileaks, US imperialism and the rape allegations, which has produced more mutual distrust and resentment on the left than I have seen for at least weeks. The disagreement seems to be between those who think the rape accusations against Assange have been politicised in order to facilitate his forward extradition to the US, and those who think Assange’s supporters have greatly exaggerated this risk in order to justify his refusal to go and face these allegations in Sweden.

The debate about the nature of the former Soviet Union: Who was right?

Moscow 2008.

[For more discussion on the nature of the Soviet Union click HERE. See also the related discussion on Stalinism HERE.]

By Chris Slee

July 30, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The nature of the former Soviet Union was an issue which divided the left for many decades. Now that the Soviet Union no longer exists, differing analyses of its class nature should no longer be a reason for maintaining separate socialist organisations.

Nevertheless, this historical debate has relevance to current politics, since the theories developed to explain the nature of the Soviet Union were subsequently applied to other countries, including Cuba. In particular, the theory of state capitalism, of which British Socialist Workers Party leader Tony Cliff was a leading exponent, is applied to Cuba by many groups today, including Solidarity and Socialist Alternative in Australia.

Richard Seymour: The Syrian revolt enters a new phase

Anti-Assad protest in Syria organised by the Local Coordinating Committees. Some 300 LCCs have refused to recognise the imperialist-backed Syrian National Council.

[Click HERE for more analysis of the situation in Syria.]

By Richard Seymour

Tony Cliff: biography of a devoted and enthusiastic socialist

Tony Cliff: A Marxist for His Time
by Ian Birchall
London: Bookmarks, 2011, 664 pp.

Review by Barry Healy

July 12, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Tony Cliff was one of the most significant English-speaking Marxist activists of the late 20th century. When he died in 2000, after half a century of unceasing activism, his monument was Britain’s Socialist Workers Party, which, having evolved from the earlier Socialist Review and International Socialism groups, is the largest far-left organisation in that country.

As depicted in Ian Birchall’s biography of Cliff, through the words of a large number of interviewees, not all of whom agreed with him, he refused to tolerate any hint of hero worship or personal cultism. Never a drinker, never a smoker and dying with no wealth to his name, his lived a life of energetic movement and party building combined with literary effort.

Richard Seymour: The challenge of SYRIZA

For more discussion and analysis on the political crisis in Greece, click HERE.

By Richard Seymour

"...this isn't just another election. The choice is between a New Democracy-led austerity government, which would be immensely demoralising, and a SYRIZA-led anti-austerity government, which would give the whole continental left a massive shot in the arm and open up a host of new possibilities. This is a key moment in which a great deal is condensed, which will be formative of a great deal of the political and ideological terrain for some time, and any formation that appears to bring the latter possibility closer isn't helping the industrial struggle."

Greece: 'For an anti-austerity government of the left'

By Socialist Resistance (Britain)

This statement was agreed to at a meeting of the Socialist Resistance National Committee on May 26, 2012. Socialist Resistance is affiliated to the Fourth International. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal to promote left discussion. For more discussion and analysis on the political crisis in Greece, click HERE.]

May 28, 2012 -- Socialist Resistance -- Syriza’s stunning vote in the recent elections has shaken the Greek and European ruling classes to their foundations. It was a total rejection of the austerity package, on a progressive basis, by 60% of the electorate and has created not only the biggest crisis, but the most significant class confrontation in Europe since the Portuguese revolution of 1974.

Britain: The space to the left of the Labour Party just got huge

 

By Socialist Resistance (Britain)

"An opportunity has opened up, in the teeth of a worsening economic crisis, for the left to offer a real alternative. This demonstrates, as with Mélenchon in France, that the left can make the running even at a time of severe economic crisis. The opening of such a space raises, once again, the issue of a new broad, pluralist, party to the left of Labour ..."

April 15, 2012 -- Socialist Resistance -- George Galloway’s Bradford West victory, like the student revolt in December 2010, the inner city riots of August 2011 and the Occupy movement in October was an event that no one predicted. Yet, as Galloway said in his acceptance speech, his election was the most sensational result in by-election history involving a left candidate. He polled 18,341 votes (55.9%) with a 10,140 majority. His Labour Party opponent Imran Hussain won a humiliating 8201 votes (25%), although this was a triumph compared to the Liberal Democrats' (Lib Dems) 1505 votes (4.6%).

Britain: `Now is the time to seize the opportunity' of George Galloway's win in Bradford

[For more discussion around George Galloway's re-election and the left's response, click HERE.]

By Andrew Burgin

April 4, 2012 -- Socialist Unity -- The victory of the Respect Party in the Bradford West by-election opens up politics in Britain in a way not seen for many decades. The scale of the victory was remarkable. George Galloway’s vote surpassed that of all the three main parties added together. This was a new development and entirely unpredicted even by those close to the campaign itself.

When a young campaigner working for Respect in Bradford rang her mother a few days before the vote and told her that she felt there was a real chance that George would win, her mother, a seasoned political activist herself, thought her daughter had lost all political direction. The truth is that nobody saw this juggernaut coming not least the left itself.

And because it is a new and unexpected development it demands that we re-examine long-held and well-established understandings of political life and draw the necessary tactical and strategic conclusions.

Britain: The challenge of George Galloway’s ‘Bradford Spring’

George Galloway campaigns in Bradford West.

[For more discussion around George Galloway's re-election and the left's response, click HERE.]

By Paul Kellogg

April 4, 2012 -- PolEcon.net, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission by the author -- In the end, it wasn’t even close. Britain’s most prominent anti-war politician, George Galloway, is back as a member of parliament for his Respect Party, after receiving support so overwhelming that he had, in the words of a reporter for The Guardian, “annihilated the Labour vote”.

Britain: (Updated April 4) Tariq Ali, British left on George Galloway's surprise re-election


George Galloway explains why we won the by-election.

[For more discussion around George Galloway's re-election and the left's response, click HERE.]

On March 29, 2012, the left-wing Respect party's George Galloway was swept into the British parliament in a by-election few expected him to win. He was elected with an absolute majority of the votes cast, in a multiracial working-class seat. Below, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal publishes a number of reactions to this important victory from British left.

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Debate: Neoliberalism in disguise in Bolivia?

Location of the indigenous territory and national park known as TIPNIS.

[For more on Bolivia, click HERE.]

The following article is a reply to Jeffery Webber's article, “Revolution against ‘Progress’: the TIPNIS Struggle and Class Contradictions in Bolivia”, in International Socialism 133 (winter), www.isj.org.uk/?id=780. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission. It first appeared in International Socialism (134). International Socialism is associated with the British Socialist Workers' Party.

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By Federico Fuentes

March 27, 2012 -- International Socialism -- For more than a decade Bolivia has been rocked by mass upsurges and mobilisations that have posed the necessity and possibility of fundamental political and social transformation.1 In 2005 the social movements that led the country’s water and gas wars managed to elect a government that since then has presided over a process of change that has brought major advances.

The Lenin wars: Over a Cliff with Lars Lih

Nadezhda Krupskaya and Lenin with journalist Lincoln Eure in the Kremlin, February 1920.

[Click HERE to follow the entire debate on Tony Cliff's Lenin.]

By Paul Le Blanc

February 19, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- There has been a competing set of political agendas underlying the recently initiated historical debate over how to understand Lenin and the Bolsheviks. From the standpoint of revolutionary socialism, this aspect of the debate is hardly cause for dismay. As activists we are appropriately attempting to get a handle on “what is to be done”. This does not absolve us of the responsibility to get the history right. But for Marxists the point is not simply to understand history, but also make use of such understanding to help change the world.

Lars Lih: Falling out over a Cliff

Click HERE to follow the entire debate on Tony Cliff's Lenin. For more discussion on revolutionary organisation, click HERE.More articles by Lars Lih are available at http://links.org.au/taxonomy/term/500.

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Remarks on the 1905 Congress and the 1912 conference of the Russian Social Democratic Worker Party (RSDWP)

By Lars T. Lih

Paul D’Amato: The mangling of Tony Cliff

Boris Kustodiev's 1920 painting "Bolshevik".

[Click HERE to follow the debate on Tony Cliff's Lenin. For more discussion on Lenin, click HERE. For more discussion on revolutionary organisation, click HERE.]

By Paul D’Amato

February 4, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Pham Binh’s criticism of the late British Marxist Tony Cliff’s Lenin: Building the Party (“Mangling the Party”), published in the Australian journal Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, is substantially wrong on many points; but its chief defect is that it is a hatchet job.

Five points in response to Pham Binh

By Paul Le Blanc

"The creation of healthy, democratic and cohesive revolutionary organisations on the Leninist model is both possible and necessary, in my opinion."

February 1, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I am sorry that Pham Binh has chosen to respond in the way that he has to my criticism of his article ("Mangling the party: Tony Cliff's Lenin"). I will make only a few comments here to help clear up misunderstandings.

1. My critical comment about Pham’s article not providing us with anything useful for those engaged in today’s struggles was not a judgment about him as a person or about all things that he may have written about the Occupy movement or anything else. A substantial review article having to do with building the revolutionary party, however, should contain (in my opinion) something of value for those of us who are committed to such things.

Paul Le Blanc’s defence of Tony Cliff’s ‘Building the Party’ – Pham Binh replies

By Pham Binh

[Read Paul le Blanc's response HERE.]

January 31, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When I discovered that Paul Le Blanc had responded to my review of Tony Cliff’s Building the Party I was hoping for the scholarly and thorough approach he used in writing his book Lenin and the Revolutionary Party. What I found was quite the opposite.

Le Blanc begins his response by claiming that my book review’s “obvious purpose is to persuade the reader that Tony Cliff’s book is little more than a mass of ‘egregious misrepresentations’ and ‘has so many gross factual and political errors that it is useless as a historical study of Lenin’s actions and thoughts.’ This is a demolition job. It doesn’t offer much that we can use and build on as we face the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

I drew my conclusions about Cliff’s book only after I closely studied what Lenin said and did and compared it to what Cliff claimed Lenin said and did. The more I studied, the more striking the divergences became.

Lenin and the Bolshevik Party: A reply to Tony Cliff and the International Socialists (1996)

By Bruce Landau

Introduction

Published in 2002 by Resistance Books, first published 1996 -- There is no more pressing task for revolutionary Marxists today than the construction of a party capable of leading the proletariat's struggle against world capitalism. But as the record of the past decades has shown, building such a party requires more than good intentions. It requires a scientific understanding of the relationship between the proletariat and its class-conscious vanguard. No one understood that relationship better than Vladimir Ilyich Lenin; he proved that by building the strongest, most flexible, and most successful workers' party in history -- the Bolshevik Party.

Mangling the party: Tony Cliff’s Lenin

[For more discussion on how socialists organise, click HERE.]

By Pham Binh

January 24, 2012 – Submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Tony Cliff's Lenin: Building the Party published in 1975 was the first book-length political biography of Lenin written by a Marxist. As a result, it shaped the approach of subsequent investigations by academics like Lars T. Lih as well as the thinking of thousands of socialists in groups like the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP, founded by Cliff), the US International Socialist Organization and Paul Le Blanc, author of Lenin and the Revolutionary Party and former member of the US SWP (no relation to Cliff's group).

Cliff begins his biography by debunking the USSR’s official state religion of Lenin-worship that “endowed [Lenin] with superhuman attributes”. Yet throughout the book Cliff refers to these “superhuman attributes”:

Lenin adapted himself perfectly to the needs of industrial agitation.

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