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Bolivia: The People Defeat the Coup

The following article is reposted with thanks from Richard Fidler’s Life on the Left. First published in ‘Green Left Weekly,’ October 22, 2020.

By Federico Fuentes*: Bolivians have overwhelmingly voted the left-wing Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) back into office in a resounding reversal of last year’s coup.

With almost 90% of the October 18 vote counted, MAS presidential candidate Luis Arce has won with 54.5%, thumping his nearest rival, Carlos Mesa (29.26%).

Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca, Bolivia’s newly elected President and Vice-President

Arce even managed to win more votes than former MAS president Evo Morales did in the October 2019 elections. While Morales won that election, opposition protests against supposed fraud culminated in a police-military coup that forced him into exile just weeks later.

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Quebec’s October Crisis, 1970

What Today’s Left Learned from Ottawa’s Turn to Repression

Reposted with permission from Life on the Left.

By Richard Fidler: Fifty years ago this month the federal government, invoking the War Measures Act – its first use in peacetime – occupied Quebec with 12,000 troops, arrested without a warrant almost 500 citizens, and carried out 36,000 police searches of homes, organizations and publications.

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50 Years Ago: When Canada Suspended Civil Liberties

Recollections of Montreal Under the War Measures Act

By John Riddell: It was October 16, 1970, fifty years ago today. Turning on CBC radio over breakfast that day, I was startled to learn that the War Measures Act had been decreed across the entire country. The Canadian equivalent of martial law, War Measures were invoked on the excuse that the country faced an “apprehended insurrection.”

Montreal, October 1970

During that night, hundreds in Quebec had been arrested. Secretly. No charges. No phone call. No right to a lawyer or court hearing. All civil liberties were suspended. Quebec was under military occupation. A few hours later, television news started showing photos of soldiers in battledress armed with assault rifles and of tanks in the streets of downtown Montreal.

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‘A Fascinating Volume Offering Many Treasures’

Daniel Gaido’s review of The Communist Movement at a Crossroads

The Communist Movement at a Crossroads: Plenums of the Communist International’s Executive Committee, 1922–1923, edited by Mike Taber. Trans. John Riddell. Historical Materialism Book Series. Chicago: Haymarket, 2019. $50. Pp. 808.

By Daniel Gaido: Taber and Riddell have published the minutes of the three Enlarged Plenums of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) held while Lenin was still alive, between February 1922 and June 1923.

A Monumental Edition

This volume is part of Riddell’s monumental edition of the proceedings of the first Four Congresses of “The Communist International in Lenin’s Time,” held between 1919 and 1922. It also includes a volume of documents from “the preparatory years” (1907–1916) before the foundation of the International, a documentary collection on the German revolution of 1918–1919, and a third volume with the minutes of the Congress of the Peoples of the East held in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1920.

The complete series so far include eight books in nine volumes, to which a ninth book will be added entitled The Communist Women’s Movement, 1920–1922:
1. Lenin’s Struggle for a Revolutionary International: Documents, 1907-1916: The Preparatory Years, New York: Pathfinder, 1984, 604 pp.
2. The German Revolution and the Debate on Soviet Power: Documents, 1918-1919: Preparing the Founding Congress, New York: Pathfinder, 1986, 687 pp .
3. Founding the Communist International: Proceedings and Documents of the First Congress, March 1919, New York: Pathfinder, 1987, 503 pp.
4. Workers of the World and Oppressed Peoples, Unite! Proceedings and Documents of the Second Congress of the Communist International, 1920, Volume 1: New York: Pathfinder, 1991, 632 pp.
Volume 2: New York: Pathfinder, 1991, 592 pp.
5. To See the Dawn! Baku, 1920: First Congress of the Peoples of the East, New York: Pathfinder, 1993, 368 pp.
6. To the Masses! Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International, 1921, Leiden: Brill, 2015; Chicago: Haymarket, 2016, 1,299 pp.
7. Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922, Leiden: Brill, 2011; Chicago: Haymarket, 2015, 1,310 pp.
8. The Communist Movement at a Crossroads: Plenums of the Communist International’s Executive Committee, 1922-1923, Leiden: Brill, 2018; Chicago: Haymarket, 2019. 796 pp.

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The Baku Congress of 1920 Sounded the Call for the End of Empire

The following centennial appreciation of the September 1920 Baku Congress of the Peoples of the East first appeared in Jacobin, and is reprinted with permission.

By John Riddell: A century ago this month, the new Soviet government summoned anti-colonial revolutionaries from across Asia to a gathering in Baku. The Baku Congress proved to be a watershed in the fight against European colonial domination and the rise of the Global South.

In Baku, Azerbaijan, one hundred years ago this month, an unprecedented assembly of anti-colonial activists proclaimed the advent of a global struggle for colonial freedom. About 2,050 participants, drawn from thirty-seven mostly Asian and Muslim peoples, approved the call for a “holy war” for the liberation of peoples of the East in September 1920.

Even today, decades after most colonies achieved at least formal sovereignty, the call of Baku resonates in a world shaken by rising struggles against racism and white supremacy.

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Soviet Russia, Zhenotdel, and Women’s Emancipation, 1919-1930

Just how much progress was made in the fight for equality? Anne McShane focuses in particular on Central Asia. See also Part 2 of this study, Zhenotdel: Clubs, Cooperatives, and the Hujum.


Introduction by Mike Taber: Anne McShane is a Marxist activist from Britain and Ireland who writes regularly for Weekly Worker, the newspaper of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). McShane has developed these views in more detail in her PhD thesis, “Bringing the Revolution to the Women of the East: The Zhenotdel Experience in Soviet Central Asia through the Lens of Kommunistka.” McShane has begun work to edit her thesis up into a book.

The 2017 article below, which we are running in two parts, is reposted with permission from Weekly Worker.

Discussion of these questions has practical importance for the struggle for women’s liberation today. The Russian Revolution of 1917, and the early years of the Soviet Republic, blazed a revolutionary path for achieving women’s full rights and equality in society. By focusing on Soviet Central Asia, McShane enables readers to get a new appreciation of the profound impact of the Russian Revolution on this question.

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Zhenotdel: Women’s Clubs, Cooperatives, and the ‘Hujum’

Part 2 of a two-part series. For Part 1, see “Soviet Russia, Zhenotdel, and Women’s Emancipation, 1919-1930.” Reposted with permission from Weekly Worker.

By Anne McShane: Women’s clubs in central Asia could not by their very nature have the same direct relationship with Soviet organs as delegate meetings. There could not be internship schemes, at least initially, because of seclusion and the cultural barriers that prevented men and women working together. Instead women would become involved in economic activity, education and cultural activities through the club.

The April 1921 conference stated that the bureau itself would provide the link to the soviets. It pledged to lead a campaign within the party “to strengthen the struggle against prejudice toward women, which has deep roots among men in the population”. The Zhenotdel committed itself to “assist the party to educate the male proletariat and peasantry in the spirit of communism and an acknowledgement of the shared interests of men and women”.

With the crisis in the bureau following Kollontai’s removal and the slashing of funds to it resulting from the NEP, work in central Asia virtually collapsed. Then in 1923 Serafima Liubimova, a supporter of Kollontai, was appointed regional secretary and relaunched the organisation at a conference in March of that year. Delegates agreed to “organise women’s clubs within which there will be artels, trade schools, elementary schools, libraries, crèches and other facilities to support women”.

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United States: Trump’s Bonaparte Moment

By Barry Sheppard: August’s Republican National Convention centred on two interrelated themes. One was the adulation of Donald Trump as the strong leader who can save the country, and who must hold onto power, come what may.

The other was the mobilisation of a blatant, racist assault on the Black Lives Matter movement. BLM activists were accused of being “violent thugs.” intent on physically destroying the country, and which Trump would crush in the streets.

Trump’s presence and speeches dominated each session, culminating in his long acceptance speech, with the White House as his backdrop.

“We must never allow mob rule,” he said. Read more…

The Comintern’s Great Turn of 1920-21: Part 1

From the Second World Congress to the March Action

See also Part 2: The Third World Congress and Its Outcome


Table of Contents

Part 1: From Second World Congress to ‘March Action’

      1. 1920: Year of Great Hopes
      2. Four Historic Conventions
      3. The German Party Turns Left
      4. The ‘March Action’

Part 2: The Third World Congress and Its Outcome

      1. The Contending Forces Meet in Moscow
      2. Disputes over National Parties
      3. The Main Congress Debates
      4. Profile of a Compromise
      5. The Comintern Broadens Its Scope
      6. School of Strategy

Bibliography

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The Comintern’s Great Turn of 1920-21: Part 2

Long Live the Communist International

The Third World Congress and Its Outcome

See also Part 1: “From Second World Congress to March Action

Table of Contents

Part 1: From Second World Congress to ‘March Action’

      1. 1920: Year of Great Hopes
      2. Four Historic Conventions
      3. The German Party Turns Left
      4. The ‘March Action’

Part 2: The Third World Congress and Its Outcome

      1. The Contending Forces Meet in Moscow
      2. Disputes over National Parties
      3. The Main Congress Debates
      4. Profile of a Compromise
      5. The Comintern Broadens Its Scope
      6. School of Strategy

Bibliography

Read more…

An Appeal from Senegal: End U.S. Blockade of Cuba

Cuban doctors en route for South Africa

The Confederation for Democracy and Socialism, an alliance of five groups based in Senegal, has released the following call for an end to the 59-year-old blockade maintained by the United States against Cuba. Translation from the original French by Ameth Lô (GRILA).

“Cuba is a firm and reliable friend of Africa and Africans,” note the Senegalese socialists. “When the World Health Organization called for cooperation, Cuba, as always, was among the first countries to step forward.” Cuba has sent its specialized medical brigades to combat the Covid-19 virus in ten African countries.

For the original French text, see Afriques en Lutte. Read more…

Settler Colonialism in Canada: A Brief Outline

Genocidal Apartheid and Anti-Colonial Resistance

Presentation to a Socialist Action (Canada) panel discussion, August 6, 2020. The other speakers were Peter Kulchyski, professor of Native studies, University of Manitoba and Maria Paez Victor of the Circulo bolivariano Louis Riel.

By John Riddell: Half a century ago, I helped in publication of Richard Fidler’s pamphlet Red Power in Canada, published in 1970 by the League for Socialist Action. It included the program of a visionary Indigenous group on the West Coast, the Native Alliance for Red Power, that called for Indigenous sovereignty and reparations.

Three years earlier, our rulers had organized celebrations of what they called “Confederation” – the formation of the state of Canada. This extravaganza was met by wide scepticism, and not only among First Nations. Masses of Quebeckers called Confederation “les cent ans d’injustice.” Socialists in the rest of Canada picked up on this, as in a “centennial issue” of Young Socialist Forum whose front cover declared, “One Hundred Years of Injustice.” Read more…

The Legacy of the Second International

Mike Taber discusses the significance of the new book he has edited, Under the Socialist Banner: Resolutions of the Second International, 1889-1912, to be published next spring by Haymarket Books.

This article is based on a talk he gave to the August 2 Online Communist Forum organized by the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and Labour Party Marxists. The text was printed in the August 6 issue of Weekly Worker.

Second International congress in Amsterdam, 1904. Banner: Proletarians of all countries, unite!

By Mike Taber: First of all, thanks to the Online Communist Forum for inviting me to kick off the discussion here today. I hope participants will find it of interest.

I will be taking up five things:

  1. The conflicted appreciation of the Second International and its legacy.
  2. What the Second International was.
  3. Debates that took place within it.
  4. The book I have prepared on Second International resolutions from 1889 to 1912;
  5. The relevance of all this today.

Read more…

First Formulations of the United Front

Seven Comintern Texts from 1921-23: Part 1

MAY DAY 1920

By John Riddell: Although the united front is today likely the most-discussed policy of the Communist International, no single Comintern text fully lays out its scope and significance. Instead, early presentations of this controversial policy are found scattered through many texts written over a two-year period.

I am therefore posting here seven of the most important explanations, several of which not previously available online. Given the overall length of these texts (9000 words), and their character as interrelated original source material, I am publishing the seven items simultaneously in three interlinked posts:

  1. Part 1 contains the most rounded summary of the policy, written by Leon Trotsky in 1922.
  2. Part 2 presents two initial statements on this issue by the Comintern’s Executive Committee from late 1921–early 1922. They present the united front as a tactical policy linked to a specific conjuncture in the class struggle.
  3. Part 3 contains elaborations of the policy by Comintern leaders through mid-1923. Here, as in Trotsky’s overview, the policy is considered to be of general validity. In addition, it is extended to embrace the struggle for workers’ power.

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Introducing the United Front

The Comintern’s First Formulations 1921-23, Part 2

The Communist International’s early presentations of united front policy are scattered through many texts written over a two-year period. I am posting seven of the most important such explanations in three parts. Here is Part Two: “Introducing the Policy.”


CONTENTS
Part 1: Overview by Leon Trotsky

Part 2: Introducing the Policy

Item #2: “Theses on the United Front.” Adopted by the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI), 18 December 1921. 3030 words.

Item #3: “A United Front Is Indispensable.” Excerpt from appeal by the Comintern Executive Committee, January 1, 1922. 850 words.

Part 3: Elaboration and Application


‘Theses on the United Front’

Adopted unanimously by the Executive Committee of the Communist International, 18 December 1921.

1. The international workers’ movement is at present going through an unusual transitional period, which poses important tactical problems for the Communist International as a whole as well as each of its sections. Read more…