Skip to content

Comments Policy

This is an expressly left-wing, socialist site, and the discussions here will reflect that. Comments that defend or promote anti-socialist or pro-capitalist views are not appropriate and will not be approved.

Comments will be moderated and not all will necessarily appear. The moderator is the final authority on this. Comments that violate the letter or spirit of this policy will be deleted without notice. Repeat violators will be banned without notice or appeal.

Comments should be relevant to the subject matter discussed in the associated article.

Brief quotations from articles posted elsewhere are acceptable, but long excerpts or entire articles are not. If you believe that another article is relevant, provide a link, not the text. If you post an entire article, it may be deleted or abridged, at the moderator’s discretion.

Comments should be of substance, and where possible backed by facts and/or sources. One-liners, witty or otherwise, are not appropriate.

We use an automatic filtering system to block spam: we accept no responsibility for any message being incorrectly blocked. Any advertising, commercial message or spam that gets through the filter will be removed.

The moderator will not approve comments that are racist, homophobic, sexist, or abusive; or comments whose apparent purpose is to impede debate by baiting others or provoking heated responses.

All comments must include  a valid email address. The moderator reserves the right to repost comments, to this website or otherwise.

  1. Harry Poeze permalink

    Dear Mr. Riddell,
    I recently borrowed your Toward the United Front, the long awaited sequel to the earlier proceedings. Thanks a lot! You announce the publication of an affordable edition – when will this be available?
    Allow me to correct a few data on Tan Malaka, whose biography I wrote. He was born in 1894, he left Comintern in 1927 and was executed in 1949 not by the Dutch army, but by the Indonesian regular army.
    As for Van Kol, his first name is not Hendrick, but these are Henri Hubertus.
    I look also forward to see the proceedings of the third Comintern Congress.
    With best regards,
    Harry Poeze

  2. Lee Artz permalink


    I have article on State and Media in the Venezuelan revolution that I would like to share with you and Links. Where should I email?

    Former steelworker and comrade of US Trotskyists

  3. Panagiotis Sotiris permalink

    Dear John

    I watched your presentation on Worker government (HM Toronto 2012) at Leftstreamed. It was really interesting and. A small comment on how you describe the different positions within the Greek Left. As a member of the coordinating commitee of, I want to say that ANTARSYA is not sumply suggesting insurrection against SYRIZA’s proposition for a left government. Mainly we are trying to open the discussion on how a government of the Left can indeed put forward a program of urgent radical measures, especially regarding our relation to the EU and the Eurozone, and on how any question of governmental power must also be combined with forms of popular power from below. Here are some small comments I’ve written on the subject.

    Panagiotis Sotiris

  4. Dear John
    We met at the Marxism Festival in London 2006, where you talked to me about Brynjólfur Bjarnason at the Comintern in 1920. I have been writing a blog on the development of the Icelandic working class and the Icelandic left. so I thouight you might like to see this.


    all the best
    Sarah Ensor

  5. Bill Leumer and Ann Robertson permalink

    Here is a resolution passed by the San Francisco Labor Council in the U.S. on June 8, 2015 in support of the Syriza government in its negotiations with the institutions:


    Whereas Greece has been subjected to extreme austerity measures for the past five years by the “troika” (the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank) that have resulted in more than 25 percent unemployment and a contraction of the economy by 25 percent, thereby making it even more difficult for Greece to pay back its loans;

    Whereas the austerity measures have focused almost entirely on the Greek working class by lowering the minimum wage, lowering wages, undermining the right of unions to engage in collective bargaining, laying off of state workers, reducing pensions, and imposing regressive taxes;

    Whereas the austerity measures have avoided targeting the rich, who have been notoriously delinquent in paying their taxes;

    Whereas Greece is suffering a humanitarian crisis where people do not have enough to eat, they have suffered mass evictions, and they have lost the most basic amenities such as health care and electricity, all resulting in a heightened suicide rate;

    Whereas economists such as Nobel Prize-winning Paul Krugman have described this austerity program as an “economic and human nightmare,” making the Greek economy “worse than before the program started;”

    Whereas the Greek people are overwhelmingly against these austerity measures;

    Whereas the radical left Syriza Party was recently elected to head up the Greek government because of its adamant opposition to any additional austerity measures;

    Whereas the Syriza government and the “troika” are currently deadlocked in negotiations with the “troika” insisting on additional austerity measures while the Syriza representatives are refusing to accept them because they will hurt the working class even more and because they will push the Greek economy into an even deeper depression; and

    Whereas AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has gone on record supporting the Syriza government’s rejection of what he termed “the failed austerity policy;”

    Therefore Be It Resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council supports the Syriza government’s rejection of the austerity measures, and supports its call for the restoration of the minimum wage, the rehiring of laid off government workers, full restoration of labor rights, and its aim to establish economic justice in general; and

    Therefore Be It Further Resolved that this resolution be sent to the Syriza government, the General Confederation of Greek Workers, the California Federation of Labor, the AFL-CIO, Change to Win, and independent unions such as the N.E.A and the U.E.

    Submitted by Ann Robertson, California Faculty Assoc.; Alan Benjamin, OPEIU 3; Kathy Setian, IFPTE Local 20; Rodger Scott, AFT 2121; Allan Fisher, AFT 2121; Galina Gerasimova, AFT 2121; Dave Welsh, NALC 214; Carl Finamore, Local Lodge 1781 IAMAW

  6. Dear John,

    I read Lars Lih’s article on the debate in the Bolshevik Party after Lenn’s return, in which he seemed to be arguing that Lenin had dropped the democratic tasks and shifted to calling for a socialist revolution pure and simple, and that the Boishevik strategy circa 1905 needed no modifications in the direction of the task of establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat. He also seemed to be arguing that Kamenev was right against Lenin, and that Lenin later returned to their position, at least in practice.

    I don’t have the scholarship or knowledge of Russian to attempt to prove in detail that this was wrong, but I did and do.

    It seems to me that this would seem to be consistent with arguing that Kamenev and Zinoviiev were also right against Lenin in October 1917, and that the dictatorship of the proletariat was not on the agenda and should not have been attempted. To my knowledge, Lenin never called the regime established by the October insurrection anything but the dictatorship of the proletariat, even when it carried out sweeping democratic tasks in a way that no partly bourgeois government, not even a peasant-led one, would have been capable of doing.

    Now I notice that this article by Lih is no longer available on this site. Did I hallucinate this article, or was there some political reason why I can’t find it. I hope you continue to make his articles available since I would like to know whether I misread where he was going and even if he was, I think this perspective from such an outstanding contributor to our knowledge deserves to be discussed.

    Of course, this is not about whether Lenin or Trotsky was right in 1904 — Lenin was — but whether Lenin and Trotsky were right in 1917, quite a different issue.

    Sorry to be so late about this.

    Congratulations on completing your heroic task, in its way not unlike the three volumes of Capital.
    I hope I can find it here. Will you be at the Liberal-Left forum this year? I would be glad to see you.
    Fred Feldman

  7. Hi John… as mentioned:

    Remarks on Lars T. Lih’s “Lenin’s Aggressive Unoriginality, 1914-1916”

    It’s undeniable that the transition from the Second to the Third International marked a rupture in the socialist movement. One question posed by that rupture: Did the program of Third International represent something completely original, or did it simply restore the traditions of Marx & Engels that the Second International had betrayed? The truth is that it’s not possible to restore something old without simultaneously creating something new. The dilemma is abstract and it dissipates on closer inspection.

    However—what doesn’t go unnoticed in Lih’s paper is that in order to justify his view that Lenin was unoriginal, Lih has to gloss over the conclusion that Lenin codified in ‘Imperialism in the Split in Socialism,’ as well as earlier and more broadly in Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism and ‘Socialism and War’—namely that with the rise of imperialism, opportunism developed social roots within the labour movements of the advanced capitalist countries, and that it was therefore necessary for Marxists to organize themselves into a revolutionary vanguard party. Lih’s paper is full of entertaining anecdotes but he ends up skirting the key question—as well as the Third International’s programmatic clash with the Second International over the colonial question and the peasant question, both of which are well documented in the Riddell Comintern series.

    What consequences would the oversight represented by Lih’s argument pose today for the conscious element of the labour movement? The most immediate would be a theoretical justification for reverting to Kautsky’s ‘party of the whole class.’ In Kautsky’s own day that model developed into a means to conciliate the social-imperialist politics of the Second International, which had become rooted in the ‘aristocracy of labour’ that lived off the superprofits from imperialism. However, once again, it’s impossible to restore something old without creating something new. Now, proletarian socialism is in a trough. Even the influence of the labour aristocracy and its reformist and chauvinist brand of socialism has died down. In consequence, rejection of Lenin’s conception of the vanguard party leads to conciliation of the ruling class not indirectly—through a retrograde wing of the labour movement—but through direct adaptation to bourgeois movements and ideologies. For starters, environmentalism…

  8. Tam Dean Burn permalink

    Hi John
    I am an admirer of your work. I’m a subscriber and saw you at Communist University recently. I’m going to try to get deeper into the United Front question as this seems key right now. I want to understand the CPGB “of a special type” idea in regards to the Labour Party.
    But another thing that just occurred due to your posting about Quebec 1970 is that you may have valuable lessons for those of us in Scotland in regards to a very strong pull towards nationalist solutions. Are there particular articles or debates you could point me to?
    Respect and solidarity

  9. Linda Gail Arrigo permalink

    To John Riddell: I have been looking for Penny Simpson for several years, to include her in a book I have written about hujman rights efforts in Taiwan in the 1970s, now preparing second edition. Penny joined with me in Taipei in 1978 to smuggle information on political prisoners, but our group was intimidated by secret police … Now 40 years later the party of political prisoners is in the presidency again, and we are doing an exhibition. I want to recognize her efforts. … She told me in 1978 about being arrested, stripped naked, etc. in Montreal. So I know the person you write about is the right Penny Simpson. Linda Gail Arrigo, in Taipei …, please write ASAP

    • Hi Linda–Thanks for your inquiry, which I suppose was sparked by my mention of Penny’s role in the War Measures Act crackdown. By the way, she went on tour after her release — she is a vibrant and persuasive educator!I have no link to Penny and have not heard news of her in several decades.If you wish, I could write a couple of contacts who might know and post something on my facebook page. Could you say something of yourself? How you knew her, where she was (and when) when you last heard from her, why you want to contact her? I do not wish to pry into your affairs, but if I’m going to make inquiries, I have to provide a bit of context. Two-three lines would be sufficient.Warm regards, John

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: