Issue 24: Editor's introduction

Getting organised against the empire

In this issue, we focus on the struggle against imperialism and the effort to build an international revolutionary socialist movement as part of that struggle. Discussing and documenting changes and developments in these areas is an ongoing need.

The opening article, by Malik Miah, Barry Sheppard and Caroline Lund, all frequent contributors to Links, analyses the state of the US imperial project after the Bush-proclaimed "end" to the war in Iraq.

A decade after removal of the restraint that had been exercised by the Soviet bloc, they write, "… the US has embarked full tilt to establish its world domination over the exploited and oppressed nations and over its imperialist allies/competitors. This third attempt [after Britain beginning in the nineteenth century and German imperialism under the Nazis] at imperialist empire aims to truly cover the entire world."

The authors point out that in this situation, a central task of revolutionaries is the building of a broad movement against imperialist war. The second article in this issue, by Pip Hinman, discusses the experience of attempting to build such a movement in Australia against the imperialist war on Iraq.

Hinman points out that a major obstacle for socialists in Australia (and in varying degrees in other imperialist countries) is the conservatism of the union bureaucracy and the social democratic Australian Labor Party. Keeping the movement independent of such pro-capitalist forces is key, she writes, and her account of the differences within the Australian movement is informative and intriguing.

Much the same point is made in a historical document reprinted here. Gus Horowitz's "Socialists and the anti-war movement" was a report to the 1969 convention of the US Socialist Workers Party at a time when the swp was a leading force in building the movement against US imperialism's war against Vietnam. The strategy of revolutionary socialists at that time may have some lessons for the movement today.

Many articles in this issue deal with aspects of the various attempts to unite revolutionaries or, more broadly, the left. Sundaraman, in an article from the journal of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), asks some provocative questions about the regular gatherings of the World Social Forum. "The `space' offered for discussion and debate by the WSF in the past three years has been great", he writes, "but it is time to move on and try more creative ways of changing the world … Otherwise the WSF runs the real risk of becoming an event with hundreds of physically and vocally active but politically stagnant participants."

A high point for socialists recently was the success of the Scottish Socialist Party in having six of its candidates elected to the Scottish Parliament in May. In this issue we print three reports to the SSP National Committee's June meeting about the election campaign and the prospects it opened.

The SSP was created by the coming together of a number of different socialist tendencies, initially as an alliance rather than a united organisation. Ramani de Silva describes another regroupment process in the Philippines, which has resulted in the creation of a new party from three distinct organisations. The merger has come at an opportune time, she writes, as the capitalist order in the Philippines faces a deepening economic and social crisis.

In Australia, a Socialist Alliance was created in December 2000, inspired at least in part by the Scottish example. Previous issues of Links have reported on developments in the Australian sa, in particular the efforts to carry the process forward towards greater unity. In this issue, Peter Boyle and Sue Bolton report on the second national conference of the Alliance, which voted by a large majority to move towards becoming a united, multi-tendency socialist party.

From Russia, Boris Kagarlitsky reports on an important effort to create ongoing collaboration and discussion among disparate organisations of the left. As a result of the June meeting in Golitsino, he writes, "Russia now has a left movement worthy of the name".

In "Venezuela and the new Latin American revolution", Jorge Jorquera describes the revolutionary process under way in Venezuela. Importantly, he situates this process in the context of a continental political crisis of neo-liberalism, which is to say a crisis of US imperialism's current mode of rule in Latin America. This article thus relates very directly to the opening article's conclusion that the US imperial project is doomed in the long term because it engenders its own opposition.

And what kind of party is needed? This is, of course, an ongoing debate, and much of that debate revolves around the nature of the Bolshevik Party. In this Links, Doug Lorimer challenges the claim that much of what socialists today regard as Leninism actually originated with Zinoviev after Lenin's death.