Archive for the ‘WWI’ Category

In the Imperialism study/discussion group at the weekend, Andy H mentioned an introduction to Lenin’s Imperialism by an Australian Marxist.  This is the piece; it was originally written in the late 1990s and first appeared on-line in 2003.

by Doug Lorimer*

I. Lenin’s aims in writing this work

The term “imperialism” came into common usage in England in the 1890s as a development of the older term “empire” by the advocates of a major effort to extend the British Empire in opposition to the policy of concentrating on national economic development, the supporters of which the advocates of imperialism dismissed as “Little Englanders”. The term was rapidly taken into other languages to describe the contest between rival European states to secure colonies and spheres of influence in Africa and Asia, a contest that dominated international politics from the mid-1880s to 1914, and caused this period to be named the “age of imperialism”.

The first systematic critique of imperialism was made by the English bourgeois social-reformist economist John Atkinson Hobson (1858-1940) in his 1902 book Imperialism: A Study, which, as Lenin observes at the beginning of his own book on the subject, “gives a very good and comprehensive description of the principal specific economic and political features of imperialism” (see below, p. 33).

Lenin had long been familiar with Hobson’s book. Indeed, in a letter written from Geneva to his mother in St. Petersburg on August 29, 1904, Lenin stated that he had just “received Hobson’s book on imperialism and have begun translating it” into Russian.(1)

In a number of his writings between 1895 and 1913, Lenin had noted some of the characteristics of the imperialist epoch, for example: the (more…)

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As Russia’s political leaders and oligarchs struggle with how to commemorate the centenary of the 1917 workers’ revolution, Auckland actors and activists will be assembling in Karangahape Road on Guy Fawkes’ Day in November for a show that examines the potential and the end of one of the most significant moments of the 20th century.

Reds is a two-hour play by veteran screenplay writer and playwright Dean Parker.  It looks at the events and personalities that shook the world a century ago.

It will be given a reading at the Thirsty Dog, on Karangahape Rd, on Sunday November 5, Guy Fawkes’ Day, 2pm.

Top-line actors Robyn Malcolm (Outrageous Fortune), Stuart Devenie (Braindead), Jennifer Ward-Lealand (Dirty Laundry), Elizabeth McRae (Shortland St), Rachel House (Hunt For The Wilderpeople) and Charlie Bleakly (Scarfies) will be joined by former Greens MP Sue Bradford, Unite Union organisers Mike Treen and Joe Carolan, and Mangere East Community Centre director Roger Fowler.

Robyn Malcolm will be playing the (more…)

Police violence against locked-out workers sparked the formation of a workers’ militia

Constance Markievicz, founder of first republican paramilitary organisation of 1900s and a founding leader of the workers’ militia

 

by Philip Ferguson*

Described by Lenin as the world’s first Red Army, the Irish Citizen Army was formed by members of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union and other trade unionists in Dublin in August 1913.  Socialist and therefore also republican, the ICA was not, however, the first working class paramilitary organisation to be formed in Ireland in Ireland in the early 1900s.  That honour goes to Fianna Eireann, a predominantly working class youth organisation founded by Constance, Countess Markievicz who would go on to be a key figure in the workers’ militia.

James Larkin and James Connolly

The Fianna

Markievicz, a militant left-wing republican, was moved to form the Fianna in August 1909 for two reasons.  One was that, while new to Irish republicanism – she had thrown herself into it just the year before – she had already decided that any serious political movement for Irish freedom would, sooner or later, have to confront Britain in arms.  Her reading of Irish history had taught her that if you built a serious political movement, at some point the British state would confront you with its military force.  Unless you were armed and prepared to fight, your movement would end in ignominy, confusion and demoralisation.

The other – and this was the immediate factor in the formation of the Fianna – was the arrival of Baden-Powell in Ireland to start an Irish wing of his boy scouts movement.  Markievicz noted that his aim was to get Irish youth to support the British empire and oppose the liberation of their own country and their own class, the working class.  Her and friends such as Helena Moloney went recruiting for na Fianna in working class areas of Dublin.

Having come from the aristocracy, Markievicz knew about shooting and had a great interest in things military.  She wrote the Fianna handbook, taught the boys to drill and to shoot and, later, how to blow things up.  The Fianna were also sent out to rough up the Boy Scouts.  This ‘ruffianism’ was guided by two ideas: (more…)

212 pages; softcover.  Price: $20.00 USD (plus shipping: $5.00 US, $22.50 int’l); published by Marxists Internet Archive; ISBN: 978-0-692-88676-2

Orders:  http://www.erythrospress.com/store/mariategui.html

José Carlos Mariátegui (1894-1930), the founder and director of the seminal journal Amauta and of the Peruvian Socialist Party, is regarded as one of Peru’s, and Latin America’s most influential and original Marxist thinkers.  Indeed, in the three-quarters of a century since his death, interest in Mariátegui and his ideas has waned but little, if at all.

The main selection in this volume, History of the World Crisis, consists of a series of lectures delivered to workers’ schools by Mariátegui upon his return to Peru after a four-year stay in Europe.  In those seventeen lectures, delivered between June 1923 and January 1924, Mariátegui insightfully and incisively examines the post-World War I world crisis, the weakening of (more…)

Below is the text of a talk delivered by Dani in Dunedin on Friday, July 21.

by Dani Sanmugathasan

Good evening! My name is Dani Sanmugathasan, and I am a member of the British Marxist and Leninist organisation called the Revolutionary Communist Group. The following talk will be on the topic of ‘Corbynmania’ – the opportunist phenomenon that’s swept through the labour movements in core economies over the last two years – and a good place to start is at the events in London earlier this month.

INTRODUCTION

“Oh, Je-re-my Cor-byn!” rang out the chants of many on the streets of London on the 1st of July at the People’s Assembly’s ‘Tories Out’ march. The People’s Assembly, Momentum, Radical Housing Network, the Socialist Workers Party, the Stop the War Coalition, the Socialist Party, and the large trade unions (PCS, RMT, CWU, Unison, Len McCluskey’s Unite the Union…) were all rallying round the Labour Party leader, the holy Son of Attlee, the man who would save Britain from the iron grip of Tory austerity.

But beside these organisations, a distinct second current of marchers – composed of such organisations as Class War, the Focus E15 Mothers, Lesbians & Gays Support the Migrants, Architects for Social Housing, Movement For Justice, the Revolutionary Communist Group, and trade unions like the IWGB – led a different chant: “Labour, Tory, same old story!” These groups made (more…)

Imperialism had a debilitating and corrupting impact on the workers’ movement in the developed capitalist world. The leaderships of many workers’ parties lined up behind their own exploiters and helped send millions of workers to horrible deaths and mutilation.

Before World War I broke out, the parties of the Second International were pledged to oppose such a war.  Yet as soon as the shooting started, the bulk of these parties lined up behind their own ruling classes and encouraged the working class in each of these countries to go and kill the workers of other countries.

Those who opposed the imperialist war were faced with, among other things, the task of explaining how this had happened.  Where did the rot in the Second International come from?

In fact, there had been a number of political battles already which showed that reformism and imperialist nationalism were becoming more and more powerful within the Second International.  These battles had included what stance to take on immigration and immigration controls and what stance to take towards the possession of colonies.

When the Third International was established, its founders made thorough-going anti-imperialism one of the conditions for membership.

In the work below, Lenin examines the impact of imperialism on the workers’ movement and the parties of the Second International.  It was written in October 1916 and published in a revolutionary newspaper in Russia in December of that year.  Several people translated it and it was marked up by several comrades for the Marxist Internet Archive.  The MIA is an invaluable source for the writings of a wide range of revolutionaries – as well as figures from the non-revolutionary left; please support the work of the MIA.

by V.I. Lenin

Is there any connection between imperialism and the monstrous and disgusting victory opportunism (in the form of social-chauvinism) has gained over the labour movement in Europe?

This is the fundamental question of modern socialism. And (more…)