Friday April 18th, 2014, 9:11 am (EDT)

Social Movements

Social Movements

Continuing Sources of Marxism

Looking for the Movement as a Whole

In 1913 Lenin identified three intellectual sources of Marxism: German philosophy, English political economy, and French utopian socialism—each in turn created in the social conditions of their societies. But the process did not end there. Marxism continues to grow and to learn from the most advanced, liberating ideas of each period. (It is also influenced in negative ways, narrowing its horizons and getting dragged along by fashion in times of defeat). Here, I want to identify four contemporary sources of enrichment of Marxism: ecology, feminism, national/racial struggles, and pacifism. It is important to recognize them as sources of ideas, not only as allies in political struggles. Their interaction with Marxism is, of course, different from the pre-Marxist sources. They come to Marxism from the outside, but from an outside already influenced in part by Marxism, and they are both welcomed and resisted.… | more |

Blood on the Path of Love

The Striking Workers of Faisalabad, Pakistan

The government and the bosses go hand-in-hand; more often than not, the bosses are the government.…today’s Pakistani elite are incestuously interconnected via family relations and marriages with a large patronage network of squabbling, but self-serving, interest groups. Their rationale is to keep the country and its resources for themselves: they negotiate among themselves and take the spoils from any sales to the international elite.… Against these latter-day pharaohs stand the conscious and spirited workers.… Mian Qayyum, Bawa Lalif Ansari, and Muhammad Rana [are contemporary narrators of their struggle].… | more |

Free-Market Feminism

Hester Eisenstein, Feminism Seduced: How Global Elites Use Women’s Labor and Ideas to Exploit the World (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2010), 272 pages, $26.95, paperback.

Feminism Seduced, written for a general audience, presents a powerful, historically grounded critique of liberal feminism. Drawing on three decades of writing by socialist/Marxist feminists and women-of-color feminists, Eisenstein weaves a compelling account of how the central ideas of “hegemonic feminism” have legitimized the corporate capitalist assault on the working class in the United States and on small farmers and workers, both urban and rural, in the global South.… However, when Eisenstein moves from critique to offering an alternative strategy, she only recycles dualisms that have, as she acknowledges, bedeviled the women’s movement for well over one hundred years.… | more |

Foreword to the Summer Issue

In the eyes of much of the world, the year 1989 has come to stand for the fall of the Berlin Wall, the demise of Soviet-type societies, and the defeat of twentieth-century socialism. However, 1989 for many others, particularly in Spanish-speaking countries, is also associated with the beginning of the Latin American revolt against neoliberal shock therapy and the emergence in the years that followed of a “socialism for the 21st century.” This revolutionary turning point in Latin American (and world) history is known as the Caracazo or Sacudón (heavy riot), which erupted in Caracas, Venezuela on February 27, 1989, and quickly became “by far the most massive and severely repressed riot in the history of Latin America.”… | more |

Latin America & Twenty-First Century Socialism: Inventing to Avoid Mistakes

Twenty years ago, left forces in Latin America and in the world in general were going through a difficult period. The Berlin Wall had fallen; the Soviet Union hurtled into an abyss and disappeared completely by the end of 1991. Deprived of the rearguard it needed, the Sandinista Revolution was defeated at the polls in February 1990, and Central American guerrilla movements were forced to demobilize. The only country that kept the banners of revolution flying was Cuba, although all the omens said that its days were numbered. Given that situation, it was difficult to imagine that twenty years later, left-wing leaders would govern most of the Latin American countries.… | more |

II. Twenty-First Century Socialism

“Why talk of socialism?” we may ask. After all, “socialism” has had such negative connotations since its collapse in the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries. For many years after Soviet socialism disappeared, intellectuals and progressive forces talked more of what socialism must not be than of the model that we actually wanted to build. Some of the facets of Soviet socialism that were rejected—and rightly so—were: statism, state capitalism, totalitarianism, bureaucratic central planning, the kind of collectivism that seeks to homogenize without respecting differences, productivism (which stresses the growth of productive forces without being concerned about the need to protect nature), dogmatism, atheism, and the need for a single party to lead the transition process.… | more |

Conclusion

My reflections on the kind of political instrument needed to build twenty-first century socialism are intended to contribute to a larger body of thought about the horizon toward which a growing number of Latin American governments are moving. I conclude by emphasizing the need for a new left culture, a tolerant and pluralist culture that stresses that which unites us rather than that which divides us. A culture that promotes unity around values—such as solidarity, humanism, respect for difference, and protection of the environment—and turns its back on the view that hunger for profit and the laws of the market are the guiding principles of human activity.… | more |

Biography and Acknowledgements

Biography and Acknowledgements for “Latin America & Twenty-First Century Socialism: Inventing to Avoid Mistakes”… | more |

Women’s Role in the Nepalese Movement

Making a People’s Constitution

At this very moment Nepal is making a constitution through the historic Constitutional Assembly (CA). It is important to note that up till now all prior constitutions handed over to the people of Nepal were through direct intervention of oligarchs or kings. It was the historic ten years of People’s War (PW) (1996-2006) complimented with 19 days of People’s Movement (April 2006) that made it possible to bring about a free and fair CA election in April 2008 as a means to make a people’s constitution by the people themselves. It is under the leadership of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [CPN(Maoist)] and its skillful use of a united front with various parties that the monarchy system was abolished in 2008.… | more |

Spring Thunder Anew

Neo-Robber Baron Capitalism vs. ‘New Democracy’ in India

It has been a long and tortuous route. Forty-three years ago, a group of Maoist revolutionaries conceived of and embarked upon a revolutionary road that still inspires their political descendants, alarms the dominant classes, and provokes slander and denigration on the part of the establishment left, post-modernists and well-funded NGO bosses. This is the path of protracted people’s war (PPW). It relies on an alliance of the Indian proletariat with the poor and landless peasantry and the semi-proletariat to establish ‘base areas’ in the countryside, run them democratically as miniature, self-reliant states, carry out ‘land to the tiller’ and other social policies there, thereby building a political mass base to finally encircle and ‘capture’ the cities … | more |

‘The Dangers are Great, the Possibilities Immense’

The Ongoing Political Struggle in India

It is always easy to criticize and dismiss an argument in its weakest formulation. Attacking the policies of the security-centric Indian state establishment, particularly the Home Minister, today does not need much daring. So let us instead take the benign, almost humanist utterance of the Prime Minister in his address to state police chiefs in September 2009: don’t forget, he said, that the Maoist movement has support among the poorest of the poor in the country. Those on the left opposing the impending armed state offensive often invoke this quote from the PM to buttress their point about how these are really poor people, innocent civilians and ordinary villagers who will suffer if the offensive is undertaken … | more |

Interview with Baburam Bhattarai

Transition to New Democratic Republic in Nepal

World People’s Resistance Movement: Thank you for meeting with us today. In your article in The Worker #4 ‘The Political Economy of the People’s War’ you write that “the transformation of one social system into another, or the destruction of the old by the new, always involves force and a revolutionary leap. The People’s War is such a means of eliminating the old by a new force and of taking a leap towards a new and higher social system.” Why then did the Maoist party enter the peace process and attempt to change society through Constituent Assembly elections? … | more |

An Alternative Worth Struggling For

“We are sinking in the Devil’s excrement,” wrote a close observer of Venezuela’s adventures in oil. Was Venezuela’s deep culture of corruption, crime, and clientalism imaginable in the absence of the oil rents which became the supreme object of desire? Was the truncation of industry and agriculture and the vast chasm between a privileged oligarchy and an impoverished mass inevitable-given the effects of oil wealth upon a poor, developing country?… | more |

The U.S. Media Reform Movement: Going Forward

All social scholarship ultimately is about understanding the world to change it, even if the change we want is to preserve that which we most treasure in the status quo. This is especially and immediately true for political economy of media as a field of study, where research has a direct and important relationship with policies and structures that shape media and communication and influence the course of society. Because of this, too, the political economy of communication has had a direct relationship with policy makers and citizens outside the academy. The work, more than most other areas, cannot survive if it is “academic.” That is why the burgeoning media reform movement in the United States is so important for the field. This is a movement, astonishingly, based almost directly upon core political economic research… | more |

Bill Livant (May 24, 1932–June 2, 2008)

Bill Livant was an independent Marxist intellectual whose main purpose was to provide theoretical tools to people engaged in revolutionary struggles. The Red Scare after the Second World War did not diminish the admiration he had felt for the Soviet Union during the war. The subsequent execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg was an ideological turning point for him. While working on his PhD in psychology at the University of Michigan, Bill stood out as a prominent radical. He was part of the Students for a Democratic Society movement that produced the Port Huron Statement… | more |

City of Youth: Shenzhen, China

Since ancient times, people have dreamed of a City of Youth, where the population never ages, and where any outsider who comes to live there will remain forever young. They probably did not have in mind, however, the “agelessness” of today’s Shenzhen, China. Lying just over the border from Hong Kong, this “instant city” has grown in just over twenty-five years from a small fishing village to a sprawling metropolitan region approaching ten million people. As the first Special Economic Zone in China, it was a model for the capitalistic “market reforms” and “opening to the world” initiated in the late 1970s by Deng Xiaoping. One of its most striking aspects is the low average age of its residents, which has hovered for years at around twenty-seven. This stands in ever sharper contrast to China as a whole, where the population is rapidly aging.… | more |

A Revolutionary Identity

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra Years (Boston: South End Press, 2005), 304 pages, paperback, $18.00.

Few U.S. revolutionaries of her generation have “lived to tell the tale” like Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, to borrow the title of Gabriel García Márquez’s memoirs. Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra Years is the last volume of a trilogy including Red Dirt: Growing up Okie (University of Oklahoma Press, 1992) and Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years (City Lights, 2001). Although influenced by oral traditions in his “native” Colombian Caribbean, García Márquez has little to say about his own political commitments, or Colombian politics more generally. In contrast, influenced by traditions of storytelling native to rural Oklahoma and Native American communities throughout the U.S. West, Dunbar-Ortiz’s latest memoir puts flesh on the bones of the slogan “the personal is political.” The phrase, she notes, was coined within the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and carried into the women’s liberation and antiwar movements.… | more |

The Death and Life of Che

By the time Ernesto Che Guevara (1928–67) was executed on October 8, 1967, in La Higuera, Bolivia by soldiers under the direction of an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency, he had become a kind of ideological “fetish” for his Washington adversaries. For them Guevara was not simply some “terrorist” or “insurgent”—words used to describe him and his Cuban revolutionary comrades then, just as they are used to describe those who resist Western imperial designs today. He was something new in the context of the post-Second World War Cold War. The United States and its clients claimed they were engaged in a struggle to staunch “Soviet aggression” Moscow saw itself as engaged in a contest of competing systems: capitalism versus socialism. But from the outset of his political life, Che’s perspective was burnished in and energized by the immiseration and oppression he confronted in the “Third World.” … | more |

Magic Death for a Magic Life

I believe in the armed struggle as the only solution for peoples who fight to free themselves, and I am consistent with my beliefs. Many will call me an adventurer, and that I am; but of a different kind—of those who risk their skins to test their truths. It may be that this will be the end. I don’t seek it, but it is within the logical calculus of probabilities. If it should be so, I send you a last embrace. I have loved you much, but I have not known how to express my affection; I am extremely rigid in my actions, and I think that sometimes you did not understand me. Besides, it wasn’t easy to understand me, but just believe me today. Now, a will that I have polished with an artist’s loving care will sustain weak legs and tired lungs. I will do it….Give a thought once in awhile to this little soldier of fortune of the 20th century

Dual Power in the Venezuelan Revolution

Too often, the Bolivarian Revolution currently underway in Venezuela is dismissed by its critics—on the right and left—as a fundamentally statist enterprise. We are told it is, at best, a continuation of the corrupt, bureaucratic status quo or, at worst, a personalistic consolidation of state power in the hands of a single individual at the expense of those “checks and balances” traditionally associated with western liberal democracies. These perspectives are erroneous, since they cannot account for what have emerged as the central planks of the revolutionary process. I will focus on the most significant of these planks: the explosion of communal power… | more |