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Dave Hill

FOURTH INTERNATIONAL

Revolutionary Marxists

http://4thinternational.blogspot.co.uk/

4th INTERNATIONAL Revolutionary Marxists

The Views and Opinions of Revolutionary Marxists in the Fourth International

 

The first three posts are …

Posts:

 

Andreas Kloke: Answer to the statement of the FI on Greece 

Dear Comrades, you’ve probably seen that the “Executive Bureau of the Fourth International” (EBFI) has issued a statement on G…

 

Manos Skoufoglou: The Pendulum

It is generally true that there is some delay between the real, active class struggle and elections. However, the re…

 

Vote in Greece in the June 17 2012 election for Antarsya and a Transitional Programme by Dave Hill

In this paper I argue that Antarsya should not join Syriza in an electoral coalition or joint list, but that Antarsya should fight the elect…

 

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‘Human Herbs’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

‘Stagnant’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo  

‘The Lamb’ by William Blake – set to music by Victor Rikowski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vw3VloKBvZc

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Revolution

REVOLUTION AND COUNTER-REVOLUTION IN EUROPE – BY PIERRE FRANK

 IIRE publishes Pierre Frank’s “Revolution & Counter-revolution in Europe”

Between 1918 and 1968, the forces of revolution and counter-revolution fought a ceaseless battle over Europe’s history. This new issue of the Notebooks for Study and Research, “Revolution & Counter-revolution in Europe” shows how the Moscow-led communist parties led the revolutionary movements to disaster In Germany, Spain, France and elsewhere. The 282 page book is available for 10 euros from the International Institute for Research and Education at: http://bit.ly/PFrank

In the decades after the Second World War, democracy was regularly threatened by right-wing movements which aimed to dramatically constrict democratic rights. This ‘Bonapartism’ continually threatened democracy in France until the 1968 worker- and student-revolt destroyed the foundations of Gaullism. In this book a participant and political leader within the revolutionary movement gives his perspectives on those struggles.

A biographical note by Ernest Mandel, which introduces this volume, explains how over six decades in the workers movement Pierre Frank became perhaps the best-known anti-Stalinist revolutionary in France. He was one of the first to be arrested during the crisis of 1968, when the French section of the Fourth International was banned.

Frank was secretary to Leon Trotsky in the 1930s, a central leader of the Fourth International from the 1940s and, until his death in 1984, editor of its French-language theoretical journal, Quatrième Internationale. His best-known books are “The Long March of the Trotskyists”, also published by the IIRE, and “Histoire de l’Internationale Communiste”, a chapter of which has been specially translated for this volume.

Frank played a special role in the establishment of the IIRE. His substantial collection of books was bequeathed to the IIRE and it remains the largest single collection in the Institute’s library.

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Daniel Bensaid

DANIEL BENSAID – MEMORIAL MEETINGS

Activist-academics Gilbert Achcar, Stathis Kouvelakis and Alex Callinicos are among the speakers invited to address the memorial meeting for Daniel Bensaïd. The gathering on Tuesday 9 February will celebrate the life of France’s most famous Marxist intellectual, who played a global role in leading the Fourth International and influencing a wide range of other Marxists. The meeting will start at 7.30pm in the University of London Union on Malet Street, WC1H.

For more information about the memorial meetings, or to send messages to them, please email bensaid.memorial@ecosocialism.org

Paris meeting: Tribute in the Mutalité in Paris on Sunday 24th January from 2.30pm to 6pm.

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Daniel Bensaid

DANIEL BENSAID – OBITUARY

Daniel Bensaïd obituary
French philosopher and leading figure in the events of 1968
   
By Tariq Ali

The Guardian, 14th January 2010

Online at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/14/daniel-bensaid-obituary

The French philosopher Daniel Bensaïd, who has died aged 63 of cancer, was one of the most gifted Marxist intellectuals of his generation. In 1968, together with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, he helped to form the Mouvement du 22 Mars (the 22 March Movement), the organisation that helped to detonate the uprising that shook France in May and June of that year. Bensaïd was at his best explaining ideas to large crowds of students and workers. He could hold an audience spellbound, as I witnessed in his native Toulouse in 1969, when we shared a platform at a rally of 10,000 people to support Alain Krivine, one of the leaders of the uprising, in his presidential campaign, standing for the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR).

Bensaïd’s penetrating analysis was never presented in a patronising way, whatever the composition of the audience. His ideas derived from classical Marxism – Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, as was typical in those days – but his way of looking at and presenting them was his own. His philosophical and political writings have a lyrical ring – at particularly tedious central committee meetings, he could often be seen immersed in Proust – and resist easy translation into English.

As a leader of the LCR and the Fourth International, to which it was affiliated, Bensaïd travelled a great deal to South America, especially Brazil, and played an important part in helping to organise the Workers Party (PT) currently in power there under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. An imprudent sexual encounter shortened Bensaïd’s life. He contracted Aids and, for the last 16 years, was dependent on the drugs that kept him going, with fatal side-effects: a cancer that finally killed him.

Physically, he became a shadow of his former self, but the intellect was not affected and he produced more than a dozen books on politics and philosophy. He wrote of his Jewishness and that of many other comrades and how this had never led him, or most of them, to follow the path of a blind and unthinking Zionism. He disliked identity politics and his last two books – Fragments Mécréants (An Unbeliever’s Discourse, 2005) and Eloge de la Politique Profane (In Praise of Secular Politics, 2008) – explained how this had become a substitute for serious critical thought.

He was France’s leading Marxist public intellectual, much in demand on talkshows and writing essays and reviews in Le Monde and Libération. At a time when a large section of the French intelligentsia had shifted its terrain and embraced neoliberalism, Bensaïd remained steadfast, but without a trace of dogma. Even in the 1960s he had avoided leftwing cliches and thought creatively, often questioning the verities of the far left.

He was schooled at the lycées Bellevue and Fermat in Toulouse, but the formative influence was that of his parents and their milieu. His father, Haim Bensaïd, was a Sephardic Jew from a poor family in Algeria and moved from Mascara to Oran, where he got a job as a waiter in a cafe, but soon discovered his real vocation. He trained as a boxer, becoming the welterweight champion of north Africa.

Daniel’s mother, Marthe Starck, was a strong and energetic Frenchwoman from a working-class family in Blois, central France. At 18 she moved to Oran. She met the boxer and fell in love. The French colons were shocked and tried hard to persuade her not to marry a Jew. She was bound to get VD and have abnormal children, they said.

With France occupied by the Germans and a bulk of the country’s elite in collaborationist mode with its capital at Vichy, the French colonial administration fell into line. As a Jew, Daniel’s father was arrested, but he managed to escape from the PoW camp, and rashly decided to go to Toulouse, where Marthe helped him obtain false papers. Armed with a new identity, he bought a bistro, Le Bar des Amis. Unlike his two brothers, who were killed during the occupation, he survived, thanks largely to his wife, who had an official Vichy certificate stating her “non-membership of the Jewish race”.

In his affecting memoir, Une Lente Impatience (2004), Daniel noted that these barbarities had taken place on French soil only a few decades prior to 1968. Le Bar des Amis, he wrote, was a cosmopolitan location frequented by Spanish refugees, Italian antifascists, former resistance fighters and a variety of workers, with the local Communist party branch holding its meetings there too. Given his mother’s fierce republican and Jacobin views (when a relative, after a French television programme on the British monarchy, expressed doubts about the guillotining of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Marthe did not speak to her for 10 years), it would have been odd if young Bensaïd had become a monarchist.

Angered by the massacre of Algerians at the Métro Charonne in 1961 (ordered by Maurice Papon, chief of police and a former Nazi collaborator), he joined the Union of Communist Students, but soon became irritated by party orthodoxy and joined a left opposition within the union organised by Henri Weber (currently a Socialist party senator in the upper house) and Alain Krivine. The Cuban revolution and Che Guevara’s odyssey did the rest. The dissidents were expelled from the party in 1966.

That same year, Bensaïd was admitted to the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Saint-Cloud and moved to Paris. Here he helped found the Jeunesse Communiste Révolutionnaire (JCR), young dissidents inspired by Guevara and Trotsky, which later morphed into the LCR.

The last time I met him, a few years ago, in his favourite cafe in Paris’s Latin Quarter, he was in full flow. The disease had not sapped his will to live or to think. Politics was his lifeblood. We talked about social unrest in France and whether it would be enough to bring about serious change. He shrugged his shoulders. “Perhaps not in our lifetimes, but we carry on fighting. What else is there to do?”

Daniel Bensaïd, philosopher, born 25 March 1946; died 12 January 2010

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Strategies of Resistance

STRATEGIES OF RESISTANCE AND ‘WHO ARE THE TROTSKYISTS?’ – BY DANIEL BENSAID

A new book by Daniel Bensaid:

http://www.iire.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=186%3Astrategies-of-resistance-a-who-are-the-trotskyists&catid=18%3Anotebooks-for-study-and-research&lang=en

Strategies of Resistance & ‘Who Are the Trotskyists?’

IIRE/Socialist Resistance, Notebook for Study and Research no. 41/42 (182 pp.)

With shipping to: Europe €13,50 Rest of World €20,00 Pick up in Amsterdam €8,00

The IIRE has just published Strategies of Resistance & ‘Who Are the Trotskyists?’, a collection of works by IIRE Fellow Daniel Bensaïd, including his history of Trotskyism, newly translated into English by Nathan Rao. This 182-page book has been published in cooperation with Resistance Books. The introduction by Paul Le Blanc gives a flavour of the contents:

Daniel Bensaïd’s challenging survey comes at an appropriate moment. It is a gift to activists reaching for some historical perspective that may provide hints as to where we might go from here. Embracing and sharing the revolutionary socialist political tradition associated with Leon Trotsky, Bensaïd is not simply a thoughtful radical academic or perceptive left-wing intellectual – though he is certainly both – but also one of the foremost leaders of an impressive network of activists, many of them seasoned by innumerable struggles.

Daniel Bensaïd emerged decades ago as a leader of the French section of the Fourth International, the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR). Coming from the ‘generation of ‘68′ – the layer of young revolutionary activists of the 1960s – he blends an impressive intellectual sophistication with a refreshing inclination for revolutionary audacity, and with activist commitments which have not faded over the decades. In the tradition of Ernest Mandel, Bensaïd has reached for the continuing relevance of revolutionary Marxism not only in the battlegrounds of academe (as a professor of philosophy and author of such works as Marx for Our Times), but even more in the battlegrounds of social and political struggles against the oppressive and lethal realities of capitalist ‘globalization.’

In this particular work – succinct, crackling with insights and fruitful provocations – Bensaïd surveys the history of his own political tradition. We are not presented with a catechism, but with a set of informative and critical-minded reflections and notes. We don’t have to agree with all he says. I certainly question his taking issue with Trotsky over whether or not Lenin was essential for the triumph of the Russian Revolution (Trotsky says definitely yes, Bensaïd suggests maybe not). Nor am I satisfied when he gives more serious consideration to the dissident current in US Trotskyism of Max Shachtman and James Burnham (both of whom ended up supporting US imperialism in Vietnam) than to the tradition connected with James P. Cannon (which played a role in building a powerful movement that helped end the Vietnam war). On the other hand, Bensaïd makes no pretension of providing a rounded historical account of world Trotskyism, or even a scholarly account of the more limited issues that he does take up.

He emphasizes that ‘this essay is based on personal experience’ and is focused on what he views as ‘the major debates’ within the movement. And one is especially struck by the excellent point he makes in his Introduction regarding the necessity of understanding the varieties of Trotskyism around the world in their distinctive cultural and national specificities. Little sense can be made of Trotskyism if it is not related to the actual social movements and class struggles of various parts of the world, and to the left-wing labour sub-cultures, in which it has meaning.

The fact remains that Bensaïd offers us a thoughtful, stimulating, valuable political intervention which leaves the reader with a sense of Trotskyism’s history and ideas and diverse manifestations – and also a sense of their relevance for the struggles of today and tomorrow. For younger activists beginning to get their bearings, and for veterans of the struggle who are thinking through the questions of where we have been and where to go from here, this is an important contribution.

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