An article written for the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution, to be read in Beijing today.
Socialism a century ago seemed to be the wave of the future. There were various schools of socialism, but the common ideal was to guarantee support for basic needs, and for state ownership to free society from landlords, predatory banking and monopolies. In the West these hopes are now much further away than they seemed in 1917. Land and natural resources, basic infrastructure monopolies, health care and pensions have been increasingly privatized and financialized.
Numerous correspondents sent me the latest lengthy Atlantic essay by the brilliant and eloquent but bourgeois Black Identitarian Ta-Nehesi Coates and asked for my reflections. I reluctantly agreed to read and comment on Coates’ long treatise.
The Historical Gastonia Textile Mill Strikes Are Not Forgotten
When in the early part of this millennium I was writing a rather surrealistic novel, ASHEVILLE, about the town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina where I started out my life, I ran into the story of the Asheville-based self-professed Communist writer, Olive Tilford Dargan, of whom I had never heard before. Visiting then her gravesite in the little known Green Hills Cemetery in West Asheville and researching her and her activities I fell into a gossamer review of early 19th century labor struggles in the good old U.S. South.
Left Forum 2017, Gramsci’s Importance for the Left Today, John Jay College, CUNY, 6-2-2017, New York City, Laura Flanders, Chair, The Laura Flanders Show, Chris Hedges, Truthdig, On Contact RT, Richard D. Wolff, Democracy at Work; Left Forum, Kate Crehan, College of Staten Island, Graduate Center, CUNY
The recent death of the Russian poet with whom I was acquainted, Yevgheny Yevtushenko, prompted these considerations of the role of poets in social-cultural-political progress in general and in a particularly spectacular fashion in Russia. In few other countries have poets played a more significant than in Russia. Nonetheless, for centuries Russian poets have been harassed, persecuted, and punished for their songs. Dostoevsky imprisoned, Pushkin exiled, Yesenin, Mayakovsky and Tsvetaeva suicides, Mandelshtam and others perished in the cultural events of 1937. Poets seldom lead easy lives anywhere. The poet sees the ideals but he must flee from the world in order to rejoice in them and he cannot remain unaffected by the caricatures of these ideals around him.
I want to speak about the big picture in terms of what happened last Tuesday, Nov. 8, with Trump’s election. That event is important for a party like ours, a revolutionary communist party at the center of world imperialism. Yes, U.S. imperialism is weakening, but it is still the center of world imperialism.
THE 2016 presidential election has created an environment where millions of people who are sympathetic to socialism will be pressured to choose between the revolting and ridiculous Republican bigot Donald Trump and the supposed “lesser evil” Hillary Clinton.
The culture and politics of race and class struggle in the 1940s
No one knows better than socialist activists of the twenty-first century that each generation must face its own “crisis” of Marxism. But we don’t face this challenge to our theory and social movements just as we please. The way we remember our past governs our own dreams for the future. Above all, at a moment like today, when thousands of newly radicalizing young people know pretty much what they are fighting against, but are unclear about what they are fighting for, there is no point in simply pummeling the gates of history with one’s fists. Sooner or later, we look to the past for shared, or at least recognizable, political experiences that might be retrofitted and rebooted; tactics and strategies that have succeeded or failed; causes and explanations for economic and social trends that have persisted or morphed; and even role models, candidly reported, for how to live our chosen lives as Marxists. Marxism doesn’t embalm history; it seeks to join a living past to present changes.
At the ‘Socialism in the 21st Century’ Conference held in Sydney in May 2016 and organised by the Socialist Alliance, Michael Lebowitz, a world leading Marxist author who writes and researches the problems and possibilities of building a socialist alternative, here presents a paper on what Socialism might look like in this century and the differences with 20th Century Socialism as represented by the developments in the Soviet Union.
“Rosa Luxemburg: Reform or Revolution?” Luxemburg scholar Sandra Rein is the first speaker at the Left Forum 2016 panel. She is introduced by panel moderator Laura Flanders. Rein is associate professor of Political Studies at the University of Alberta (Canada) and holds a Social Sciences and Humanities Research grant to investigate the ideas of Rosa Luxemburg, Emma Goldman and Raya Dunayevskaya. She is also a member of the Editorial Board for the Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg.
“The state is an organ of class domination, an organ of oppression of one class by another; its aim is the creation of ‘order’, which legalizes and perpetuates this oppression by moderating the collisions between the classes…”
The Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Revolution
First published in 1917, Lenin’s “Imperialism. The Highest Stage of Capitalism”, his major theoretical work, shows imperialism as a “direct continuation of the fundamental properties of capitalism,” a primary manifestation of capitalism in its late stages.