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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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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.

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

Capitalism in Crisis

Capitalism in Crisis

TOWARDS A MARXIST ANALYSIS OF THE GLOBAL CRISIS

 

The International Institute for Research and Education: http://www.iire.org

Seminar: Towards A Marxist Analysis of the Global Crisis

On 2-4 October, the IIRE held its first international Economy Seminar on the Global Crisis. Thirty-six participants, economists and non-specialists, from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America attended the three-day event which was open to activists from different tendencies of the radical left.

The objectives of the seminar were to analyse the nature, characteristics and consequences of the current global economic crisis, from perspectives relevant to social activists, and to fortify the global network of Marxist economists. All talks will be available at the IIRE podcast, which we expect to launch with the next newsletter. For now it is possible to download all the talks in one file (original languages, more than 500MB).

Three main questions guided the various sessions of the weekend. First, what is the nature or cause of the crisis? Second, what are the social, economic and political consequences? Finally, what are the links between the current economic crisis and the global ecological and food crises? A solid look at Keynesianism, Ernest Mandel’s contribution on long waves and economic cycles and a (self-) critical take on discourse and propaganda were activities that peppered the debates.

The seminar kicked off with a well-attended public meeting on the crisis with guest speakers Chris Harman of the SWP in Britain and IIRE fellows Michel Husson of the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies and Claudio Katz of the University of Buenos Aires.

François Chesnais (France) opened the seminar itself with an introduction on the role that the so-called financialisation of the economy had in the global crisis. He stated that the crisis cannot be labelled either financial or financialised. Rather, the current crisis has its roots deep in the process of capital accumulation, which, revealing its contradictions, should lead us to look at the dynamics of productivity, the rate of profit and its distribution. The discussion that followed generated a debate between over-accumulation versus under-consumption as explanations for understanding the crisis.

Ozlem Onaran (Turkey), Claudio Katz (Argentina) and Bruno Jetin (France) presented reports on the conditions of the European, Latin American and Asian economies. The debates paved the way for a deeper understanding on how the crisis is perceived and dealt with in the different regions. Participants concluded that an essential characteristic of the crisis is the lack of de-linking tendencies among countries and continents; on the contrary, the efforts to save capitalism have been concerted and almost unanimous.

Michel Husson (France) and Klaus Engert (Germany) analysed the crisis in the framework of the theory of long waves. According to this theory, elaborated by IIRE founder Ernest Mandel, it is possible to use important endogenous factors, i.e. related to the logic of capital and its internal contradictions, to explain the general fall in accumulation that began during the 1970s and has not yet concluded. This discussion left open the possibility of a new ascending wave of economic growth and capitalist accumulation dependent on such exogenous factors as a radical change of the relationship of forces between the classes. One of the conclusions, therefore, was that another wave of attacks on the working class is most likely on its way.

Eric Toussaint (Belgium) emphasised that there is no automatic link between the fact that the crisis is being paid for by workers and the popular masses, and an increase of social struggles. Political, ideological and organisational factors will also play a role in the development of the struggles.

Esther Vivas (Spain) and Daniel Tanuro (Belgium) brought in a fundamental analytical dimension with their introductions: the economic crisis cannot be observed in isolation from the global ecological and food crises. Vivas presented the causes and structure of the food crisis: the current model of agricultural and livestock production is in a large measure responsible for climate change. Tanuro demonstrated how the official, ruling class responses to climate change are insufficient, unreal, irrational and even put us in more danger. He argued that eco-socialists should push for and end to unnecessary production, the retraining of workers in affected sectors and the development of a new agricultural model instigated by radical anti-capitalist measures.

Overall, the analyses revealed that the crisis is systemic, that those who are paying for it are the popular and working classes, and that now, more then ever, it is necessary to build an emancipatory, global anti-capitalist and eco-socialist project.

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

Exploring Marx’s Capital

Thursday, 26th March, 6.30 p.m. (Lombokstraat, 40 – Amsterdam)


“Constant and variable Capital and surplus value”

 

Guglielmo Carchedi, University of Amsterdamhttp://www.iire.org).

 

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE STARTING TIME IS 6.30 P.M.

This is the fourth lecture of the project “Exploring Marx’s Capital”, which is an integral part of the series Returns of Marxism in Amsterdam 2008/2009 (for more info:


Each lecture of the month from December onwards focuses upon a topic in Marx’s Capital. More precisely, it follows chronologically the main topics of Marx’s Capital Volume I, from the “commodity form” to “primitive accumulation”.sara@iire.org – for the reading group in English;
leesgroepmarxkapitaal@hotmail.com – for the group held in Dutch.

 

The mini-series “Exploring Marx’s Capital” is related to the Capital Reading Group of Capital vol. I (both in English and in Dutch) that we started in November at the IIRE and at the University of Amsterdam.

The meetings of the Capital reading group take place twice a month, and are followed by the public lecture at the end of the month. If you are interested in participating, please do not hesitate to contact the following emails:

 

Please circulate

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk