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Communist International Publishing Project: List of Books

PA76By John Riddell: The record of the Communist International (Comintern) during Lenin’s lifetime, 1919-23, is widely considered by Marxists to form the foundation of revolutionary socialist policy in the modern era. Nonetheless, many of the basic documents of this movement were long unavailable in English.

Since 1983, I have worked with Mike Taber and a broad team of collaborators to publish in English major documents of revolutionary Marxist movement from 1907 to 1923, with a focus on the first five years of the Communist International. All of these volumes are available from Pathfinder Press and Haymarket Books.

Here are the volumes published so far: Read more…

A controversial Bolshevik appeal finds an echo in the streets

‘1917: The View from the Streets’ – leaflets of the Russian Revolution #12-13.

June 18 demo B-2

Banners  on July 1 (June 18) demonstration in Petrograd: “Peace to the entire world; all power to the people; all land to the people. Down with the minister-capitalists.

One hundred years ago today, on June 22 (9) 1917, the Bolshevik Party circulated among Petrograd workers the first proclamation below (drafted by Joseph Stalin). Nine days later, the Bolsheviks’ slogans won mass support at a giant Soviet-called demonstration. 

In mid-May, the Bolshevik Military [soldiers] Organization (BMO) proposed to the Bolshevik Party Central Committee (CC) a demonstration opposing the Provisional Government’s planned military offensive. Fearing that such an action was premature, the CC was not receptive. BMO organizers became more insistent over coming weeks, as soldiers worried about attempts to restore military discipline and feared transfer to the front. Read more…

Lessons from Finland’s 1917 revolution

Also available in French, Portuguese, and Spanish.

By Eric Blanc. The forgotten Finnish Revolution has perhaps more lessons for us today than events in 1917 Russia.

Finnish women red guard 1917-1

Women members of Red Guards, Finland 1917

In the past century, histories of the 1917 revolution have usually focused on Petrograd and Russian socialists. But the Russian empire was predominantly made up of non-Russians — and the upheavals in the imperial periphery were often just as explosive as in the center.

Tsarism’s overthrow in February 1917 unleashed a revolutionary wave that immediately engulfed all of Russia. Perhaps the most exceptional of these insurgencies was the Finnish Revolution, which one scholar has called “Europe’s most clear-cut class war in the twentieth century.” Read more…

Climate vandalism and North American capitalism

(First published in The Bullet, June 7, 2017. Reposted by permission.)

By Socialist Project. North America has been witness to two distinct forms of climate vandalism over the last year.

North America has been witness to two distinct forms of climate vandalism over the last year.

In the case of the United States, it came from President Donald Trump’s decision last week to formally withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord of December 2015, an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) set for 2020 to address greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, and adaptation, as well as proposals for financial assistance. The 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris was adopted by consensus, and as of June 2017, 195 countries have signed the agreement, with 148 ratifying it, with each country setting targets, making plans and reporting on its efforts to mitigate climate change. Read more…

Moderate socialists call for peace – and renewed offensives

‘1917: The view from the streets’ – leaflets of the Russian Revolution #10-11

Raternization Russia Germany 1918

Russian and German soldiers fraternizing at the front

One hundred years ago, on May 15 (2), 1917, the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies issued two appeals – one to all socialists of the world and the other to all soldiers at the front. Read more…

The proletariat and its ally: The logic of Bolshevik ‘hegemony’

Part 2 of Lars Lih’s series ‘All Power to the Soviets’

By Lars T. Lih, April 2017. Were the Bolsheviks fundamentally prepared or fundamentally unprepared by their previous outlook to meet the challenges of 1917? To answer this question, we must first arrive at an understanding of the political strategy of Old Bolshevism. A coherent political strategy must answer two fundamental questions:

  1. What are the driving forces of the revolution in Russia—that is, what classes of Russian society would determine the course of the revolution, what were their interests and degree of organization, how would these classes clash and interact?
  2. What are the prospects of the upcoming revolution—that is, what progressive accomplishments could socialists reasonably hope for and what accomplishments were unlikely to happen?

Read more…

Karl Kautsky: The proletariat and its ally

The following is the concluding section of “The Driving Forces and the Prospects of the Russian Revolution,” written by Kautsky in 1906. For a discussion of this article, see “The Logic of Bolshevik ‘hegemony’ ”. Selected and translated by Lars T. Lih. Read more…

A small glossary for the hegemony scenario

By Lars T. Lih. Three vivid and emotive Russian words are indispensable for a real understanding of the hegemony scenario: vlast, narod, and vozhd. While each of them have typical English equivalents that are not in themselves inaccurate, the English words leave out much that is important. Read more…

April 1917: Lenin’s arrival in Russia

A previously untranslated reminiscence by Grigory Zinoviev

Zinoviev drawing by Yuri Annenkov

Grigory Zinoviev, drawing by Yuri Annenkov

One hundred years ago today, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin returned to Russia with a small group of revolutionaries aboard the famous ‘sealed train.’ The following reminiscence of this event was written after Lenin’s death in 1924 by Grigory Zinoviev, one of Lenin’s companions on the train. Introduction and translation by Ben Lewis. Republished with permission from Weekly Worker. Read more…

A revolutionary line of march: ‘Old Bolshevism’ in early 1917 re-examined

By Eric Blanc. The following article continues a series initiated by Eric Blanc’s “Before Lenin: Bolshevik Theory and Practice in February 1917 Revisited.” See also comment by Gaston Gutierrez (in Spanish).

Introduction

In the hundred years since the overthrow of Tsarism, there has been a near consensus among socialists and scholars that Bolshevism underwent a strategic rupture in early 1917. According to this account, the Bolsheviks supported the liberal Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin returned to Russia in April and veered the party in a radical new direction by calling for socialist revolution and soviet power.

Through a re-examination of Bolshevik politics in March 1917, the following article demonstrates that the prevailing story is historically inaccurate and has distorted our understanding of how and why the Bolsheviks eventually came to lead the Russian Revolution. Read more…

Soviets: World’s workers must unite for peace

“1917: The View from the Streets”: Leaflets of the Russian revolution – #9

One hundred years ago today, on March 27 (14), 1917, the Petrograd Soviet issued the following appeal “To the Peoples of the World,” calling for a restoration of workers’ unity in the cause of peace.

The moderate socialists known as Mensheviks who dominated the Petrograd Soviet until September 1917 pursued a policy of “revolutionary defensism,” which advocated military defense of Russia and its revolution against German aggression while calling upon European socialists to pressure their governments to bring about peace. Read more…

‘All Power to the Soviets!’ Part 1: Biography of a slogan

A Series by Lars T. Lih (Spring, 2017)

Vlast sovetam-B-2

Banners: “Power to the Workers’, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Soviets”; “Down with the Minister Capitalists”.

The following article is the first in a seven-part series. An appendix to this article, “Mandate for Soviet Elections,” has been posted separately. See also other writings of Lars Lih. –JR

By Lars Lih. “All power to the Soviets!” is surely one of the most famous slogans in revolutionary history. It is right up there with “Egalité, liberté, fraternité” as a symbol of an entire revolutionary epoch. In this essay and others to follow later in the spring, I would like to examine the origin of this slogan in its original context of Russia in 1917.

Our slogan consists of three words: вся власть советам, vsya vlast’ sovetam. “Vsya” = “all,” “vlast’” = “power”, and “sovetam” = “to the soviets”. The Russian word sovet simply means “advice,” and, from that, “council.” By now, of course, we are very used to the Russian word, because it evokes a specific set of meanings arising out of the revolutionary experience of 1917. Read more…

Pravda: ‘Mandate for Soviet Elections’

For possible use in electing delegates to the Soviet of Worker and Soldier Deputies

PravdaThe following declaration appeared 7 May 1917 on the front page of the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda under the title, Draft of a mandate for use in electing delegates to the Soviet of Worker and Soldier Deputies. This Mandate marked the first appearance of the slogan “All power to the soviets” in an official party statement. Its purpose was to help the soviet constituency distinguish genuine revolutionary candidates from revolutionaries in name only.

The statement has been translated and submitted by Lars Lih as an appendix to his contribution, “’All Power to the Soviets!’ Part 1: Biography of a Slogan” and as a guide to the meaning of that slogan in 1917.–JR Read more…

Louis Proyect: The revolutionary democratic-dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry? Say what?

Louis Proyect responds here to analyses of  the 1917 Russian revolution by Eric Blanc and Lars Lih that have appeared on this website. Louis’ article first appeared on his site, https://louisproyect.org/, on March 4, 2017, and is reposted with permission. For links to related material, see bottom of this post.

Louis Proyect (from louisproyect.org)

By Louis Proyect. When I first heard the term “revolutionary democratic-dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry” not long after joining the SWP in 1967, I said to myself “What the fuck is that?” Democratic dictatorship, say what?

Soon, I learned that this was a term coined by V.I. Lenin to convey the goals of the Bolshevik Party in the coming Russian revolution. Basically, it meant that the workers would make a revolution against the feudal class in Russia that dominated the countryside and that was represented politically by the Czar. After that stage had been accomplished, Russia would go on to the next stage of capitalist development freed from feudal constraints. Under those conditions, the workers would take advantage of constitutional freedoms to build a socialist party modeled on the German social democracy that can overthrow the capitalist system. Read more…

‘The only guarantee of Polish independence is international solidarity’

Proclamation of Polish socialist workers in Petrograd

“1917: The View from the Streets” – leaflets of the Russian revolution – #8

Koszutska older

Maria Koszutska (1876 – 1939), theorist and leader of the PPS-Left

One hundred years ago today, on March 17 (4) 1917, the following appeal calling on Polish workers to support the Russian Revolution and fight for Polish independence was adopted at a rally of Polish socialist workers in Petrograd.

After the outbreak of World War One, the bulk of Poland (which had previously been ruled by the Tsarist government) came under German occupation. By 1917, roughly three million Poles – many of whom had been evacuated from Poland on the eve of the German invasion – found themselves under Tsarist rule. In response, Polish socialist parties began organizing the large groups of displaced Polish workers in industrial cities like Petrograd and Moscow.

Little is known about the initiators of the following appeal. Given its simultaneous stress on class struggle, internationalism, and Polish independence, the authors were likely members of the revolutionary Marxist Polish Socialist Party-Left and/or the far left wing of the Polish Socialist Party (Revolutionary Fraction).[1] Whereas most Polish nationalists and the moderate leaders of the Polish Socialist Party (Revolutionary Fraction) had throughout the war sought to promote Polish independence through a pact with German or Austrian imperialism, the following appeal makes the case for why national liberation could only be won through the struggle and solidarity of the international working class.

Selection, translation, and annotation by Eric Blanc. Read more…