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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.

Read more…

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…

United Front: Elaboration and Application

‘Long Live the Communist International’

The Comintern’s Initial Formulations: Part 3

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 Three: “Elaboration and Application.”


CONTENTS

Part 1: Leon Trotsky’s Overview

Part 2: Introducing the Policy

Part 3: Elaboration and Application

  1. Unity in the Ranks and Leadership Negotiations, by Karl Radek, November 15, 1922. 1150 words.
  2. Unite All Working-Class Forces Against Capitalism,” from the Fourth World Congress Theses on Tactics. 630 words.
  3. For a Workers’ Government,” from the Fourth World Congress Theses on Tactics. 1030 words.
  4. The United Front Against Fascism, by Clara Zetkin. 770 words.

4. Leadership Negotiations and Unity in the Ranks

Speech to Fourth World Congress discussion of the Theses on Tactics, November 15, 1922.

By Karl Radek: … [T]he idea of a struggle for power is for the moment not present among the broadest worker masses. Rather the entire situation has forced them backwards, and the great majority of the working class feels powerless. Given these facts, the conquest of power is not on the agenda as an immediate task. That is a historical fact. And if Communists answer every question, even that of state administration of dentistry, by saying that only under the dictatorship of the proletariat will teeth be extracted without pain, (Laughter) well, repeating that may possibly have propagandistic value, but it does not alter the fact that our own comrades, Communist workers, are convinced that the struggle for power is not possible at this time – even though we know that, sooner than some suppose, many states will tremble before a struggle for proletarian dictatorship. Read more…

The Comintern’s Second Congress: A Centennial Introduction

See also appendix, “Study Aids for the Second Congress” 

By John Riddell: The Second Congress of the Communist International (Comintern), convened in Moscow precisely 100 years ago, on July 19, 1920. Its deliberations, spread over almost three weeks, represent the best single introduction to the thought and dynamics of global communism during Lenin’s lifetime.

The complete proceedings are available in a handsome recent 1,455-page printing from Pathfinder Press, edited by me.[1] The earlier Pathfinder printing of 1991, however, is the version generally found in libraries, and its pagination is different from the edition currently available from Pathfinder. Page references in the present text, therefore, are to the 1991 printing. Read more…

Study Aids for Second Comintern Congress, 1920

Appendix to “The Comintern’s Second Congress: A Centennial Introduction

As noted in my introduction to the Communist International’s Second Congress, the online version of the Congress proceedings available on Marxists Internet Archive (MIA) is not complete. Sessions are enumerated inaccurately, and two sessions are left out entirely. The MIA version also omits the 21 appendices published in a 1934 Russian version, all of which are included in the Pathfinder edition.

The notes below offer a comparison of the list of congress sessions found in each of these editions, followed by a list of the appendices in the Pathfinder edition.

Comparison of List of Sessions

The following table indicates, in the first column, the list of congress sessions as given in the original German edition of 1921, the authoritative text issued by the Comintern itself and utilized by the Pathfinder Press edition (PP). The second column shows the session number as listed in Marxists Internet Archive (MIA). The third column gives the main topic of that session. Read more…

The United Front: Adoption and Application

A Review of ‘The Communist Movement at a Crossroads’


The Communist Movement at a Crossroads: Plenums of the Communist International’s Executive Committee, 1922–1923
, by Mike Taber, Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2018, 796 pp., US$50.

By John Riddell: The newest volume of the Comintern Publishing Project, The Communist Movement at a Crossroads, presents a wealth of documentation and debate portraying the world movement’s dynamics at a time of fateful choices concerning its future path.

1920: A Comintern congress in session. (Source: Archive Jules Humbert-Droz)

Three major conferences of the enlarged Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) were held in 1922-23, along with a major world congress – evidence of the world movement’s vitality and its culture of intense discussion. The Crossroads volume contains the full text of debate at the three ECCI gatherings, translated from transcripts of 25 days of deliberations. Read more…

‘Socialist Voice’ (2004-11) Now Available as a Searchable Archive

A complete set of Socialist Voicea Marxist publication based in Canada, has been posted by Marxists Internet Archive. The following text on the MIA site introduces a fully linked Socialist Voice table of contents.–JR

Introduction to ‘Socialist Voice’

A ‘Socialist Voice’ pamphlet by Suzanne Weiss.

Socialist Voice: Marxist Perspectives for the 21st Century was an online journal published in Canada from 2004 to 2011. During that time 475 articles were posted on the website SocialistVoice.ca; many were also distributed by email to subscribers. In addition, Socialist Voice published 17 pamphlets in both hard copy and pdf form.

The founding Editors of Socialist Voice were Roger Annis and John Riddell. They were subsequently joined by Ian Angus. Over time, contributing editors from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Nicaragua, and the United States joined the project, and an online discussion forum, SV-Circle, was created for discussion among editors and readers. Read more…

The Struggle Against Fascism: Lessons from the Past

A Review of “Fighting Fascism: How to Struggle and How to Win,’ by Clara Zetkin, Haymarket Books, 2017, 144 pages; edited by Mike Taber and John Riddell. This text is translated and reposted with permission from Puntorojomag.org. Original Spanish text follows.

By Héctor A. Rivera, May 20, 2020

The health and economic crises unleashed by COVID-19 have mobilized far-right forces around the world. The socialist left needs to learn from the struggles of the 20th century to confront these forces before they transform themselves into mass movements.

Puntorojo offers this review of the book Fighting Fascism (2017), published in English by Haymarket Books; it provides our readers with a summary of the theories and strategies applied by the Communist International to fight against this reactionary phenomenon. In the face of the current crisis, organizing in broad coalitions against the extreme right is a matter of life and death for socialists, the feminist struggle, and indigenous movements.

Preface

The book Fighting Fascism (2017) is published by the Haymarket Books, a left-wing publishing house [in the United States]. Edited by Mike Taber and John Riddell, the book gives us an idea of Clara Zetkin’s precise commentary on the question of fascism. It provides a very good introduction that contextualizes the rise of the extreme right, and it gives a good summary of Zetkin’s work. Read more…

Vietnam Vanquishes the Virus

The heroic people that whipped the U.S. warmakers has made quick work of Covid-19

By John Riddell: The Globe and Mail, Canada’s premier big-business newspaper, conceded on May 27 that, in terms of limiting the spread of Covid-19, Vietnam has been 800 times more successful than Canada.

On May 30, 2020, Vietnam reported only 327 confirmed cases of Covid-19 – about three cases per million inhabitants – compared to Canada’s ratio of more than 2,390 cases per million.

Spectators cheer with small Vietnamese flags at National Football Cup match in Hung Yen province on May 25, 2020.

On that day, “Vietnam reported its first new case since April 16,” reported the Globe’s Eric Reguly.(1) He quoted a journalist in Ho Chi Minh City: “Football matches are back. Things are back to normal here.”

At time of writing, Vietnam has yet to experience its first death from the Covid-19 virus. Canada’s toll to date: 6,373. Read more…

Introduction to ‘The Communist Movement at a Crossroads,’ Part 1

Overview; First and Second Enlarged Plenums (Feb.–Mar. and June 1922)

Editors’ Note: Posted here, in three installments, is the introduction to The Communist Movement at a Crossroads: Plenums of the Communist International’s Executive Committee, 1922-1923. Edited by Mike Taber and translated by John Riddell, the book is published by the Historical Materialism Book Series, and is available from Haymarket Books.

This volume is the latest in a series begun in 1983 under the general editorship of John Riddell. The aim of this series has been to present, in its own words, the record of the Communist International (Comintern) under Lenin, chronicling the development of this dynamic revolutionary undertaking and showing it as a vibrant and living movement embracing millions around the world.[1]

This latest volume is noteworthy in showing the Comintern taking up several questions of contemporary relevancy, among them the united front and fascism. For this reason, the book will be of special interest both to those studying the history of the world Communist movement as well as to activists seeking to examine key strategic questions that remain on the agenda today.

Mike Taber’s Introduction provides a good summary not only of the book but of the issues raised within it and the Comintern’s evolution in the period under study.–JR

To obtain the book, contact https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/1312-the-communist-movement-at-a-crossroads. Read more…

Part 2: Introduction to ‘The Communist International at a Crossroads’

Third Enlarged ECCI Plenum (June 1922) 

Second installment of the Introduction to “The Communist Movement at a Crossroads: Plenums of the Communist International’s Executive Committee, 1922-1923,” by Mike Taber. Available from Haymarket Books.

The Third Enlarged ECCI Plenum of 12–23 June 1923 was in several ways a contradictory meeting – more so for what it did not discuss than for what it did.

Three months earlier, Lenin had suffered a devastating stroke that left him incapacitated and ended his political life. Indeed, by mid-1923 elements of the post-Lenin Stalinist degeneration had already begun to appear in the Soviet Union. As will be described later in this introduction, this question was not discussed at the plenum, which also largely passed over the approaching revolutionary crisis in Germany.


Introduction to ‘The Communist International at a Crossroads’


Despite these negative signs, however, the Third Enlarged Plenum was nevertheless in general continuity with the first four Comintern congresses and the first two enlarged plenums, making important contributions to the Comintern’s political legacy in several key areas. For these reasons, the Third Enlarged Plenum deserves to be categorised as a legitimate part of the Lenin-era Comintern. Read more…

Part 3: Introduction to ‘The Communist International at a Crossroads’

A Sharp Break; An Ongoing Legacy

Third installment of the Introduction to “The Communist Movement at a Crossroads: Plenums of the Communist International’s Executive Committee, 1922-1923,” by Mike Taber. Available from Haymarket Books.

Two Questions Not Discussed 

Two decisive questions, however, were not specifically addressed at the Third Enlarged Plenum although they nevertheless remained constantly in the background:

1. The Revolutionary Situation in Germany 

As the Third Enlarged Plenum was meeting in June 1923, a revolutionary crisis in Germany was unfolding. The situation was rooted in the profound crisis of German capitalism and its devastating impact on the proletariat, peasantry, and middle classes, with two overriding political and economic contributing factors:


Introduction to ‘The Communist International at a Crossroads’

Part 1: Overview; First and Second Enlarged Plenums (Feb.–Mar. and June 1922).

Part 2: Third Enlarged Plenum, June 1923

Part 3: A Sharp Break; An Ongoing Legacy


a) In January 1923 the Ruhr region in Germany, the country’s leading coal-producing area, was invaded by 60,000 French and Belgian troops, who occupied the region in an attempt to exact war reparations. While the German capitalist government called for ‘passive resistance’ to the French occupation but did nothing to organise it, the working class took the lead on the industrial front, with strikes and demonstrations. Right-wing forces were also present, waging armed resistance against the occupiers. Read more…

Karl Marx in Wuhan, by Carlos Martinez

China and Covid-19, a Three-Part Series, Part 2

Reposted from Invent the Future, where it forms the first part of “Karl Marx in Wuhan: How Chinese Socialism Is Defeating COVID-19“ by Carlos Martinez. See second part of Martinez’s article. For my reservations regarding Martinez’s discussion of “Chinese socialism,” see China Sets the Pace in Covid-19 Battle, by John Riddell. 

By Carlos Martinez: The initial outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) took place in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, in early January 2020. The epidemic was limited almost entirely to China until a month later, when it flared up in Iran, South Korea, Japan and Italy.

Hospital team in China

By 11 March, it was clear that sustained community-level transmission of the virus was occurring in multiple regions of the world, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared it a pandemic. With the virus spreading throughout Europe and North America, there is now a serious possibility that COVID-19 will infect a large proportion of the global population and cause the early death of millions of people. It is a global health emergency of almost unprecedented proportions.

China’s Successes Containing the Virus

In the absence of a vaccine or cure, the only way to defeat a viral epidemic is to drastically reduce contagion, and this is achieved through rigorous testing, contact tracing, isolation of patients, and social distancing for the wider population. Read more…