Lenin and Religion

by Roland Boer Lenin’s writings on religion may be divided into two categories: those that explicitly deal with religion and those that do so implicitly. In this article, I focus on the former. Too often, Lenin is understood as a doctrinaire atheist who has no time for religion. Yet, detailed attention to his statements on religion reveals a more ambivalent and complex position. I deal with four elements: (1) the duality of religion as both response to and cause of suffering; (2) the metaphors of opium and booze; (3) the question of freedom of conscience in relation to religion and … Continue reading Lenin and Religion

Taking notes 24: Why I am a Christian communist

by Roland Boer Often I am asked, in all manner of situations, what is your position? What is your belief? Christian communist, is my answer. I may be speaking with a group of Chinese students and specialists on Marxism, or a gathering of young anti-capitalist activists, or a room of trade-unionists, or a congress of hard-core Marxists, or indeed a group of religious believers. Inevitably, my answer produces a rain of questions. Christian and communist – are not the two poles apart? Are not communists and communist countries against religion, since it is the ‘opium of the people’? Are not … Continue reading Taking notes 24: Why I am a Christian communist

Teaching democracy and revolution

by Angelo J. Letizia The next dialectal step toward demolishing capitalism and bringing the next phase of the Enlightenment is brewing. As Marx noted, the present world contains the seeds to its own destruction. The present world is the womb of the new world. But this dialectic or historical movement is not immutable; we cannot sit around and wait for it to sweep us into the golden age of history like Marx prophesized (Zizek, 2009). We must take control of it and the first step to controlling the dialectic of history and the Enlightenment is through education, this includes higher … Continue reading Teaching democracy and revolution

Taking notes 21: The dangerous dreams of Slavoj Žižek

by Jerome Roos When George Orwell first sent in his celebrated dispatches from revolutionary Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s, the British socialist magazine The New Statesman infamously refused to publish them for being too critical of the Stalinist crackdown on the Trotskyist and anarchist militias. As editor Kingsley Martin put it in a letter to Orwell, “it is an unfortunate fact that any hostile criticism of the present Russian regime is liable to be taken as propaganda against socialism.” Still, Orwell, who had been embedded in the Trotskyist POUM and had fought the fascists side-by-side … Continue reading Taking notes 21: The dangerous dreams of Slavoj Žižek

Taking notes 13: Roadblocks of the Old New Left

by Roland Boer Too often the road to the most valuable lessons from the revolutionary past faces a series of roadblocks. I think here of the way the Old New Left sets up and maintains those roadblocks. But who makes up the Old New Left? I mean those who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s – a significant section of the Baby Boomers – and who were part of the Western wave of the “New Left” at that time. Soon enough they took over important leadership positions, gained control of organisations and journals, took up academic posts, and opted … Continue reading Taking notes 13: Roadblocks of the Old New Left

Conquering a new popular hegemony

by Marta Harnecker A. Our goal: a different socialism[1] 1. A new socialism, far removed from the soviet model Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union, Latin American and world leftist intellectuals fell into a state of confusion. We knew more about what we didn’t want in socialism than what we did want. We rejected the lack of democracy, totalitarianism, state capitalism, bureaucratic central planning, collectivism that sought to standardize without respect for differences, productivism that emphasized the expansion of productive forces without taking into account the need to preserve nature, dogmatism, intolerance … Continue reading Conquering a new popular hegemony

Taking notes 8: Class consciousness (from a Marxist perspective) today

by Chris Cutrone Modern classes are different from ancient separations between castes, such as between the clergy or priestly caste, and the noble aristocracy or warrior caste, and the vast majority of people, “commoners,” or those who were ignorant of divinity and without honor, who, for most of history, were peasants living through subsistence agriculture, a mute background of the pageantry of the ancient world. Modern, “bourgeois” society, or the society of the modern city, is the product of the revolt of the Third Estate, or commoners, who had no property other than that of their labor: “self-made” men. During … Continue reading Taking notes 8: Class consciousness (from a Marxist perspective) today

Illusion of the epoch: Twentieth century socialism

by Paresh Chattopadhyay In the eyes of a considerable section of the Left the Bolshevik seizure of power signalled the victory of socialist revolution leading to the establishment of socialism in Russia and setting the stage for a number of such seizures of power by the communist parties in the different parts of the world — China, Vietnam, Cuba, etc, though the latter events were  considered not quite  as socialist revolution, but as democratic revolution preparing the way towards socialism. Nevertheless, the regimes that ultimately resulted in all these lands have also been considered as socialist. In this paper we … Continue reading Illusion of the epoch: Twentieth century socialism

Getting serious about politics

by Zoltan Zigedy Economic relations clarify politics just as politics can return the favor. In truth, it is impossible to fully understand one without an understanding of the other, and especially without a grasp of their inter-relationship. No doubt that explains the wisdom of the classical economists (and Marx and Engels) in describing their studies as “political economy.” Similarly, the failure to systematically integrate the two social domains explains the frustration of the modern-day academic economists, even Nobel laureates, who fume about the politicians standing in the way of their ready solutions to the current global economic crisis. A case … Continue reading Getting serious about politics