Readers’ Views on permanent revolution and the dialectic, and voices from behind bars
Marxist-Humanist Bob McGuire looks through history to Marx’s relationship to labor and the Black movement for freedom and then to our day and the relationship of Marxist-Humanism to labor and the Black struggle for freedom in speaking to the question many are asking today: What is socialism?
The Syrian Revolution has been the physical and intellectual battlefield that defines our time. As early as 2012 it was clear that what happened in Syria would determine the next stage of world history.
The Left press and many others have been commenting on this important date: Jan. 1, 1959, the day that Fulgencio Batista was overthrown. The great difficulty is that the focus has been far too narrow…
Calls for a “green new deal” risk the kind of state/party co-optation of movements from below that was involved in the 1930s New Deal.
With hate crimes, anti-Semitism, racism and anti-immigrant xenophobia on the rise, Israel’s “Jewish nation-state” law and fascism brewing globally, we excerpt two pieces addressing roots of these phenomena in capitalism’s crises.
Special offer for the book “Russia: From Proletarian Revolution to State-Capitalist Counter-Revolution: Selected writings by Raya Dunayevskaya.”
Puerto Rico is devastated by hurricanes, with climate change a factor, and by the administration’s racist malign neglect, atop an existing debt crisis the masses did not create. Real solidarity came from below. .
Whatever lip service is paid to the Russian Revolution’s 100th anniversary, its significance as a historic event and as a link to the thought and practice of Marx has been obscured because of the abandonment of revolutionary perspectives. It is high time to push to the forefront the role of the philosophy of revolution in permanence in facing the reality of dialectics of liberation, 1917 and 2017.
The administration’s war against truth and reason, such as climate change denial, calls for more than fact-checking. What is needed is to establish a totally opposite ground, that of liberation.
As the Trump administration ramps up deportations and related abuses, strikes, protests, and sanctuary cities are proliferating. The oppression of a lower caste of workers and the discrimination and violence faced by immigrants present a challenge to the Left, labor and the rest of humanity.
Trump’s barbarism in power is a crisis for bourgeois democracy and revolutionary thought. Opposition from below is far deeper than bourgeois opposition to Trump. To have efficacy today, Marx’s body of ideas must be grasped and projected as a whole. The movement from theory needs to meet the challenge of history, of freedom struggles and revolution.
Frédéric Monferrand introduces the new French edition of Marxism and Freedom. This excerpt concentrates on how the work reconstructs the Hegelian philosophical consistency of Marx’s Marxism so that it comes to life–from the 1844 Manuscripts to “Capital,” through the idea that history is the history of the efforts of humanity to make itself free.
The 1959 Cuban Revolution represented a great divide in Latin America. But the grave contradictions in its aftermath leave a dual heritage that must be comprehended and overcome if we are to work out a truly emancipatory future for Latin America.
The essay takes a critical look at the “Latin American Pink Tide” (a decade of progressive governments in South America), its limits and contradictions, and poses the question: Is there a way forward that does not substitute statism for the action and thought of the masses?
Part III of the Draft Perspectives 2016: Strikes and workers’ uprisings in China have forced industrial wages up, not pausing even during the global Great Recession, as a window on capitalism and its crises.
It was a stunning defeat. Where to now for the Venezuelan masses who supported Chavez in power, but many of whom feel disappointed in the post-Chavez period?
Governments which could never have come to power without the social movements’ mobilizations are using vague expressions of anti-capitalism, socialism, resource nationalism, anti-imperialism, etc., to impose developmentalism on their populations, often in collaboration with neoliberalism.
The two opponents facing off in Greece for five years have been the Greek masses vs. the European rulers and their institutions. The No vote manifested the revolt against austerity. We explore the meaning of these events.
The rulers’ economic squeeze on Greece is intended to be an ideological prison for the working masses of Europe. Left tendencies aim to use the state to save capitalism or move toward socialism—rather than releasing self-activity of masses in motion as the prime mover of social transformation.
Yanis Varoufakis, the Finance Minister in Greece’s Syriza government, shows where postmodernist attacks on Marx lead politically, declaring that the task of today’s Left is to save capitalism from itself.
From the News and Letters pamphlet The Coal Miners’ General Strike of 1949-50 and the Birth of Marxist-Humanism in the U.S. we excerpt from Raya Dunayevskaya’s “The Emergence of a New Movement from Practice that Is Itself a Form of Theory,” on miners’ contributions to the philosophic birth of Marxist-Humanism.
Where do we go from here? The U.S. has certainly not given up bringing down the Castros; only the method is different. The pulls of neoliberal capitalism, the world market, are now the weapons.
From Ferguson to Staten Island; Revolutionary Rojava; Youth Protest; Violence Against Women; Detroit Solidarity; Paris March; Recalling Mary Jo
Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, barely won a runoff election against the conservative free-marketeer Aécio Neves. With her election to a second term, the Workers’ Party, first under Lula Da Silva and now under Rousseff, has won its fourth consecutive presidential election. While Lula’s first election was greeted with great hope for a sweeping change in Brazil’s developmentalist trajectory, Rousseff’s cliffhanger illustrated the grave disappointment that much of Brazil’s masses felt recently….
The explosive advances of the army of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), crossing from Syria into northern and central Iraq, have brought deeper miseries to the Iraqi people who might have expected they had already endured the worst, including the effects of U.S. imperialist policy. Atrocities from mass shootings and beheadings to systematic kidnapping and rapes of women—that the world and U.S. foreign policy ignored when IS carried them out against anti-Assad revolutionaries in Syria—in Iraq no longer remained hidden.
From the July-August 2014 issue of News & Letters
Crowds filled Hong Kong’s Victoria Park on June 4 to remember the massacre in Tiananmen Square 25 years ago. Under Hong Kong’s separate administration they bore witness to the two-month-long mass movement of students and workers that spread to city after city across China, and [=>]
Suddenly, a generation of new radicals was born to replace “the silent generation” of the 1950s. By winter 1964 a new form of revolt, with a new underlying philosophy, called itself the Free Speech Movement. It becomes necessary to view the moment when the student revolt culminated in a mass sit-in.
A new conflict broke out in Bolivia at the end of March. Thousands of miners blocked highways in five departments of Bolivia to protest a pending new mining law. Three miners were killed by the national police, while the miners took dozens of police hostage.
What began in early February as a small student protest against a sexual assault at a university campus in the state of Tachira, which the government repressed, spread to a number of other campuses and cities, where demonstrations were also repressed and students arrested. Seizing the moment, a faction of the right-wing opposition party called for more protests, demanding the removal of President Maduro from office.
In Ukraine, an unexpected eruption of mass struggle led to the overthrow of Ukraine’s corrupt, oligarchic, and ultimately murderous President Viktor Yanukovych. In Bosnia, at the same time, massive, nationwide discontent with the corrupt system left in place when the 1995 Dayton Accords partitioned the country has led to the equally unexpected creation of new forms of democratic organization.
As a contribution to Black History Month we reprint Raya Dunayevskaya’s memorial for Charles Denby (1907-1983), her comrade of 35 years, Editor of News & Letters from its founding in 1955 until his death and the author of Indignant Heart: A Black Worker’s Journal.
Bolivia’s Statism; Guatemala’s Genocide Trial in Disarray; Honduras coup anniversary
From the Writings of Raya Dunayevskaya:
In 1953 Russian slave laborers in Vorkuta acted
Editor’s note: July-August marks the 60th anniversary of the historic strike in the Russian slave labor camp in Vorkuta. Following Dunayevskaya’s May 1953 Letters on Hegel’s Absolutes, the 1953 revolts in Russia and East Germany were formative events for Marxist-Humanism. Few agreed with [=>]
Another devastating sign of capitalism’s degeneracy is its failure even to slow down climate change. Youth have spearheaded a new movement to control it. It is the actual social relations, relations of production, forms of labor, relationship to the land and other means of production, by which we can judge what must be uprooted, and to what extent any society has or has not moved to a path of development that breaks from capitalism’s never-ending growth of capital, or, as Marx put it, production for production’s sake.
ARCHIVES AS LIVING
I have been following the readings for the 2012-2013 Marxist-Humanist discussions with great enthusiasm. I was especially energized by the “Women as force and reason of revolution” selections. Raya Dunayevskaya’s 1970 piece “The Women’s Liberation Movement as Reason and as Revolutionary Force” was fresh and relevant to today. This is no surprise [=>]
OFFICIAL CALL FOR PLENUM
to Work Out Marxist-Humanist Perspectives for 2013-2014
February 24, 2013
To All Members of News and Letters Committees
The world today is riven between the creativity of masses in revolt and the violent degeneracy of counter-revolution, whose destructiveness even extends to the revived specter of nuclear war two decades after the collapse of [=>]
When highly lauded Burmese human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi doubted whether the Rohingya Muslims really belong in Burma, the incipient racism and ethnic chauvinism echoed personally. I consider myself, my family and many other ethnic minorities to be exiles, having fled persecution in Burma during the post-colonial era of national independence movements. In [=>]
In January, as Xi Jinping’s term as head of the Communist Party of China was beginning, the head of the Political and Legal Committee kinda sorta promised the end of “re-education through labor.” Local police have been able send at their discretion those “disrupting public order” to labor camps since the 1957 crackdown on the [=>]
The reelection of Hugo Chávez as president is an important moment in Venezuela and Latin America as a whole. After more than a decade in power—during which his administration practically eliminated illiteracy, drastically reduced misery and poverty, including far greater access to food and healthcare, and improved housing—the majority of the population continues to support [=>]
From the Writings of Raya Dunayevskaya
Editor’s note: On the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, we present Raya Dunayevskaya’s analysis of how it tested not only the rulers’ rash folly but the anti-war movement’s short-mindedness–a lesson still urgent today. She wrote this piece as a Political Letter on Oct. 25, 1962, titled “Marxist-Humanism vs. [=>]
World in View
by Gerry Emmett
Three members of the punk band/art collective Pussy Riot were each sentenced to two years in prison on Aug. 17, accused of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” On Feb. 13, they had entered the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow and cried out “Our Lady, chase Putin out!” They were [=>]
Workers who created a wave of strikes in China from auto and electronics to steel over the past two years have confronted the power of private capital, the state and the Communist Party. In 2011 alone, China’s State Council acknowledged 500 large-scale “mass incidents” per day, including peasant resistance to land grabs as well as [=>]
by Franklin Dmitryev
When the bailout of banks in Spain, the Eurozone’s fourth largest economy, was announced on June 9, the immediate reactions revealed the two worlds that exist in every country. The Spanish masses intensified their protests, marching directly on both banks and government, while Greek and Spanish workers exchanged messages of solidarity against the [=>]
From the March-April 2012 issue of News & Letters:
World in View
Bosnian genocide 20 years after
by Gerry Emmett
April 2012 marks 20 years since the start of the genocide in the former Yugoslavia, 1992-1995. This was a deliberate, state-sponsored attempt by Serbian President Slobodan [=>]
From the January-February 2012 issue of News & Letters:
World in View
Kim dynasty drags on
by Gerry Emmett
The body of late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il will be placed on display in Pyongyang, beside that of his father Kim Il-sung. The official news agency reported “natural wonders” following Kim’s death, including that “…a Manchurian crane [=>]
Lead article in the new January-February 2012 issue of News & Letters:
Widening labor and peasant revolts threaten Chinese rulers
by Bob McGuire
Open rebellion in the village of Wukan in December revealed the forced land seizures that have underpinned China’s industrial expansion as it has risen to serve as the world’s workshop. What rulers in [=>]
As Others See Us
This review by Abe Cabrera is excerpted from a Sept. 20, 2011, post on his blog, The Rose in the Crosshttp://elblogdelpelon.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/the-masses-as-reason/
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Raya Dunayevskaya’s book, Marxism and Freedom: From 1776 Until Today, is the founding document of a small political movement, Marxist-Humanism. Opposed equally to the tyranny of “ordinary” capitalism and its counterpart in the [=>]
The Marxists Internet Archive has added another interesting piece to their Raya Dunayevskaya Archive. There’s a post about it here:
A Letter to Natalia Trotsky on the Theory of State Capitalism