Battle of Ideas

Bolshevism, the civil war, and Stalinism

A review of Samuel Farber, Before Stalinism (Polity Press, 1990), re-posted from here.

Sam Farber, justly respected for his critical Marxist writings on Cuba, sums up his attitude in this book by quoting Victor Serge, an anarchist who rallied to the Bolsheviks after October 1917, became an activist in the Left Opposition, and then parted ways with Trotsky over his, Serge’s, rejection of Trotsky’s criticisms of the POUM in the Spanish Civil War.

Bolivarianism and Bonapartism

El Cinco de Julio (July 5) is Venezuelan Independence Day. It marks the day in 1811 when a congress of Venezuelan provinces declared Venezuela’s separation from the Spanish Crown. In doing so, Venezuela became the first Spanish American colony to declare independence. For most Venezuelans, this is a day to commemorate not only the initial signatories to the Declaration of Independence, but also the major figures in the broader fight for national liberation from Spanish rule. Chief amongst these is Simón Bolívar, popularly known as El Libertador.

A heroine of Poplar

Minnie Lansbury was one of the rebel Labour councillors of Poplar (East London) who in 1921 forced the Tory¬Liberal coalition government to start central government payments to equalise resources between councils in poor and in well¬off areas.

Janine Booth’s biography of Lansbury is rich in detail about her life; working¬class conditions at the time; and much more. It is a solid achievement given the scarcity of material available on Lansbury to work on.

A deviation from the road

“The force of things and the behaviour of men have contradicted all Lenin’s optimistic forecasts, his hopes in a superior democracy as much as his semi-libertarian ideas expressed in the State and Revolution and other writings of the same period, at the dawn of the revolution. Nothing in the individual theses of Trotsky has stood the test any better, in particular his wordy and abstract theory of the ‘permanent revolution’.” — Boris Souvarine, Stalin. A Critical Survey of Bolshevism, 1939.

Socialism and singlejacking

A review of Stan Weir's writings, 'Singlejack Solidarity'.

"The term singlejack... On-the-job organisers for the Western Federation of Miners and the Industrial Workers of the World... used it to describe that method of organising where dedicated advocates are developed one at a time on a highly personalised basis..."

The leading Minneapolis Trotskyist Ray Dunne was a prime example. An IWW shop steward met Dunne, aged 15, in a lumberjack camp. He identified Dunne as willing to stand up against the boss, and also thoughtful.

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.