The Russian Revolution and Its Fate

The two Trotskyisms during World War 2: Workers' Liberty 3/48

Tracing the development of "two Trotskyisms" through from the 1940 split to the 1944 polemic between Harry Braverman and Max Shachtman. Click here to download as pdf or read online. The pagination in the pdf is correct, but, by a mishap, the pages of the printed version of Workers' Liberty 3/48, as a pull-out in Solidarity 347, are in the wrong order. Our apologies to readers. Check the printed version with the pdf, or follow this guide: Page 2 has been mistakenly swapped with page 6, and page 7 with page 11. The printed pull-out can be navigated as follows: 1: the first page, with the...

The fall of Stalinism in Eastern Europe — Workers' Liberty 3/25

Download as pdf, or read online below. Timeline Introduction 1. The risen people: Eastern Europe after the revolutions 2. What’s in the coffin at the funeral of socialism? 3. Lies against socialism answered 4. Stalin’s system collapses 5. Why socialists should support the banning of the CPSU 6. The triumph of unreason: market madness in the ex-USSR 7. What was the Bolsheviks’ conception of the 1917 revolution? 8. Why the workers want to restore capitalism 9. In the beginning was the critique of capitalism 10. An open letter to Ernest Mandel 11. Trotsky and the collapse of Stalinism 12. And...

"Battersea versus the British Empire"

This is part two of a series. For the other articles, see here. In 1921, aged 47, after 16 years in the UK, Shapurji Saklatvala was selected as Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Battersea North. This came shortly after his very public decision to leave the Independent Labour Party and join the Communist Party of Great Britain. He would become both Labour's first "BAME" MP and one of Britain's first avowedly revolutionary socialist MPs. How did these things fit together? Communists and Labour Saklatvala had become active in the London Labour Party in 1918, through the ILP (which was...

Shapurji Saklatvala: Labour's first "BAME" MP

This is part one of a series. For the other articles, see here. In 1922, sixty-five years before before Diane Abbott and three other Labour MPs of colour entered Parliament, Indian-born Shapurji Saklatvala was elected MP for Battersea North in South West London. Like some other Labour candidates more recently, Saklatvala was a bourgeois figure standing in a working-class constituency which was not his home. There the similarity ends. The first “BAME” Labour MP was a revolutionary socialist who attacked Ramsay MacDonald for failing to oppose British colonialism and Gandhi for failing to...

How the Bolsheviks governed

The 1917 October Russian revolution produced the world’s first workers’ state. But how did the Bolsheviks govern? Historian Lara Douds has mined state and party archives in Moscow to produce an excellent book, Inside Lenin's Government: Ideology, Power and Practice in the Early Soviet State (2018) on how the central apparatus operated. In the early period of Soviet power, the Council of People’s Commissars (Sovnarkom) rather than party bodies governed. Douds argues that “in no way could the party central committee be viewed as the effective government of the nascent Soviet regime. Instead, it...

Combatting antisemitism within the revolution

“Bolshevism has made Russia safe for the Jew. If the Russian idea should take hold of the white masses of the western world, then the black toilers would automatically be free,” wrote the Jamaican-American author Claude McKay in September 1919. By contrast, journalist and playwright Isaac Babel’s description of antisemitism in the Red Army in the years immediately following the October Revolution led him to ask the question: “Which is the Revolution and which the counter-revolution?” Echoing Babel’s question, the writer Ilia Ehrenburg described his experience of waiting to vote in the...

The message from Andrew Murray

Ever the Stalinist nostalgic, in his new book The Fall and Rise of the British Left, Murray laments the passing away of “a largely vanished world of working-class power” and the fact that “none of the scenarios which gripped the left I grew up with in the twentieth century appear fully plausible any more.” What is to fill the vacuum? Murray’s answer is not: Slough off the dead weight of Stalinism, re-assert the centrality of independent working-class politics, and reforge a labour movement fit for the overthrow of capitalism. Instead, and this is his explanation for Corbyn’s election as Labour...

Learning from the rich debates of the past

The Communist International (Comintern), founded in the aftermath of the October 1917 Russian revolution, was the greatest forum for Marxist strategic debate so far. The first five years of the Comintern, between 1919 and 1923 were a school for learning and discussing how revolutionary parties should be built, how to assess the situation and orientate, and how to win a majority of workers to socialism. The publication of The Communist Movement at a Crossroads: Plenums of the Communist International’s Executive Committee, 1922-1923, edited by Mike Taber, is extremely valuable. This volume is...

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