Reviews

Trotskyism, Stalinism and the Second World War Matthew Wed, 10/25/2017 - 10:42

Barry Finger reviews The Two Trotskyisms Confront Stalinism: the Fate of the Russian Revolution volume two, edited by Sean Matgamna (Workers’ Liberty, 2015).


­Revolutionary socialism at its liveliest is always a vast theatre of ideological battlegrounds, a Permanent War of Questions, as Julius Jacobson — a one-time follower of Max Shachtman — so aptly put it.

The October revolution: taking power and holding on Matthew Wed, 10/18/2017 - 11:51

In the early hours of 24 October the soviet seizure of power began. This was not a response to the government’s ill-conceived decision to launch punitive action against the Bolsheviks. The blueprint had already been drawn up by the Military Revolutionary Committee; insurrectionary forces were to seize the Marinskii Palace and disperse the pre-parliament. Then the Winter Palace was to be surrounded, ministers arrested and the Provisional Government overthrown.

Embers of Light: review of "The Two Trotskyisms Confront Stalinism" AWL Fri, 10/13/2017 - 21:03

Revolutionary socialism at its liveliest is always a vast theater of ideological battlegrounds, a Permanent War of Questions, as Julius Jacobson – a one-time follower of Max Shachtman – so aptly put it. For those, and there were precious few, who still valiantly retained the capacity, the sitzfleisch as well as the activists’ militant vigor, in the years leading up to and through the second world war, to think through and refine volumes of innumerable majority and minority reports, theses and resolutions, what was at stake was nothing short of a desperate race to outpace history.

Colin Shindler reviews "The Left in Disarray" AWL Fri, 10/13/2017 - 20:48

Most of the time, the key terms of the anti-capitalist Left have no clear meaning, they express and convey emotion, not reason. They are the tools of demagogy more than of reasoned discourse…our language of politics is decayed, disablingly.

Capital in the 21st Century Matthew Thu, 10/05/2017 - 08:55

Economic inequality has increased. It is on a solid trend to continue increasing. The USA, the most unequal of the richer countries, may set a new historical record for income inequality by 2030, and other countries are following similar though not identical trajectories.

1917 was a revolution, not a coup

Submitted by Matthew on 4 October, 2017 - 11:43 Author: Paul Hampton

The British Trotskyist group Socialist Resistance has published a book, October 1917 — Workers in Power (Merlin 2016), which defends the key decisions of the Bolsheviks, while making some reasonable criticisms of the regime created after the civil war. The collection of essays is useful in many respects, but feels somewhat stale and has a number of notable gaps.

Antinomies of the concept of hegemony

Submitted by AWL on 3 October, 2017 - 7:43 Author: Paul Hampton
The H Word

Hegemony is a primary concept for understanding global politics today. Principally it expresses the hierarchy of states under US leadership, but hegemony has deeper meanings associated with the ways ruling classes maintain their rule. For socialists, hegemony also encapsulates working class leadership in the struggles of other oppressed layers, along with Marxist leadership of the labour movement. Antonio Gramsci used hegemony in a rich variety of contexts in his important contributions to Marxist thinking.

Cuba: the role of the working class

Submitted by AWL on 3 October, 2017 - 7:30 Author: Pablo Velasco
Castro and Guevara

What role did the Cuban working class play in the 1959 revolution? This is the key question discussed in Steve Cushion’s provocative book, A Hidden History of the Cuban Revolution: How the Working Class Shaped the Guerrillas’ Victory, (Monthly Review, 2016). Whilst the book demonstrates the active role workers played in Cuban history during the 1950s, the author is soft on Castroism and inflates the role of the Stalinists.

Don’t mourn, organise! AWL Tue, 10/03/2017 - 18:45
Don’t mourn, organise!

Left-wing melancholia aptly sums up the psychology of many socialists of a certain age, beaten down by decades of defeat and sanguine about the resources of hope in the present. Enzo Traverso brings this issue to the foreground in his recent book, Left-Wing Melancholia: Marxism, History, and Memory (2017). Traverso is a professor at Cornell University and politically close to the Fourth International of Mandel, Bensaid and Löwy. Yet this new book – as befitting the subject matter – is a bitter disappointment.

Clancy Sigal: 6 September 1926 - 16 July 2017 AWL Tue, 10/03/2017 - 18:21
Clancy Sigal in 1962

The author of possibly one of the best novels about British coalminers and their communities, Clancy Sigal, was a Chicago-born Jew who came to Britain during the McCarthy period having previously been an organiser for the United Automobile Workers.