Category Archives: Books

Alabama Communists During the Great Depression

This interview was originally posted on npr.org. For more on these questions, please see The Marxist-Leninist’s archive of the writings of Harry Haywood, the principal theorist of the African American National Question. See also, “The Third International and the Struggle for a Correct Line on the African American National Question” by the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

How ‘Communism’ Brought Racial Equality To The South

Tell Me More continues its Black History Month series of conversations with a discussion about the role of the Communist Party. It was prominent in the fight for racial equality in the south, specifically Alabama, where segregation was most oppressive. Many courageous activists were communists. Host Michel Martin speaks with historian Robin Kelley about his book “Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression” about how the communist party tried to secure racial, economic, and political reforms.

To listen to the interview, go here: Interview with Robin D.G. Kelley.

Transcript: Continue reading

Revolutionary Social Change in Colombia: The Origin and Direction of the FARC-EP

The following book review is from Fight Back!, the newspaper of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization:

Book Review
Revolutionary Social Change in Colombia: The Origin and Direction of the FARC-EP

By Josh Sykes | February 6, 2010

Professor James J. Brittain’s new book, Revolutionary Social Change in Colombia: The Origin and Direction of the FARC-EP (Pluto Press, London: 2010), is a thoroughly researched and documented academic study of the Colombian revolution and of its largest and longest lasting guerrilla organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP). This alone makes it almost unique. Add to this the fact that it is based on five years of extensive research in Colombia’s countryside, both with the FARC and with the rural population, and it becomes clear that we have a one-of-a-kind book. What this study amounts to is a systematic and thorough defense of the FARC, facing the myths and allegations against the FARC squarely and putting them to rest. On this point, the book is invaluable.

Continue reading

Shlomo Sand: “The Invention of the Jewish People”

The following video is a discussion by Israeli professor, Shlomo Sand , about his book, The Invention of the Jewish People (Verso, 2009), which critically examines and deconstructs the idea of a Jewish nationality (“the Jewish People”) and consequently the Zionist claim for a Jewish homeland (Israel) in Palestine. The video is interesting in its exploration of the national question.

Joseph Stalin gave the Marxist-Leninist definition of a nation as a “historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture“. He goes on to say, regarding Jews,

Bauer speaks of the Jews as a nation, although they “have no common language”; but what “common destiny” and national cohesion is there, for instance, between the Georgian, Daghestanian, Russian and American Jews, who are completely separated from one another, inhabit different territories and speak different languages?

The above-mentioned Jews undoubtedly lead their economic and political life in common with the Georgians, Daghestanians, Russians and Americans respectively, and they live in the same cultural atmosphere as these; this is bound to leave a definite impress on their national character; if there is anything common to them left, it is their religion, their common origin and certain relics of the national character. All this is beyond question. But how can it be seriously maintained that petrified religious rites and fading psychological relics affect the “destiny” of these Jews more powerfully than the living social, economic and cultural environment that surrounds them? And it is only on this assumption that it is possible to speak of the Jews as a single nation at all. (Marxism and the National Question)

The point of this argument is to say that Jews of course have the right to full equality, but not to territorial self-determination (i.e. in Palestine). This is very similar to the argument that Professor Sand makes in this video. I would also suggest the book One Country by Ali Abunimah on the need for single, secular and democratic state in all of historic Palestine. As Ahmad Saadat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has argued in an interview with Fight Back! News,

Some have argued that the current reality is pushing towards a two-state solution – an Israeli state next to a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders. Of course, this solution involves ignoring the Right of Return, or replacing it with reparations. We in the PFLP argue that forcing such a solution on the Palestinian people will not end the struggle, because the facts and reality contradict such a solution. The two-state solution that is based on the racist notion of ‘a national, homogeneous Jewish state’ totally disregards the fact that over 1.3 million Palestinians – 20% of the entire population – live inside ‘Israel.’ This will continue to permit the causes of conflict to remain inside Israel. Therefore, the solution based on two states is a myth.

Our people’s quest, like any other people, is a democratic and free society. This democratic state – the only state form that can produce social and economic development – cannot be led or dominated by the parasitic and comprador bourgeoisie, but by a unity of the popular forces that share structural interests in national independence, return to the homeland, popular democracy and economic development. This is, simply, our view in the PFLP, and the view of the national, democratic liberation movement.

Revolution in the Philippines and Marxist-Leninist Study

learningmarxismI have put together a comprensive study guide, broken up by subject, and shorter list of ten essential classics of Marxism-Leninism, all with the intention of making Marxist theory accessible, comprehensible, and practical, so that it may be used as weapon in the class struggle. In the same vein, here is an excerpt from Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought as Guide to the Philippine Revolution by Armando Liwanag, Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (1993) that also sheds some light on questions of Marxist study.

In 1959, a few young men and women, independent of the old merger party of the Communist and Socialist Parties, started forming study circles to read and study the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong that could be gotten from secret collections. They initially did so amidst the open and legal studies about the problems of national independence and democracy. The Marxist-Leninist works that they read included the Communist Manifesto, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, Wages, Prices and Profit, The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, Two Tactics of Social Democracy, State and Revolution, The Foundations of Leninism, the Analysis of Classes in Chinese Society and Talks at the Yenan Forum on Art and Literature.

The most avid students of Marxism-Leninism read and studied Das Kapital, The Dialectics of Nature, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, History of the CPSU (Bolsheviks), Short Course; the first edition of the Soviet-published Fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism and the Selected Works of Mao Zedong. The volumes of the selected works of the great communists began to reach the Philippines in 1962. To get hold of Marxist reading materials in the period of 1959-62 was by itself an achievement in view of the anticommunist hysteria and repressive measures since the end of World War II.

The objective of the beginners in the study of Marxism-Leninism was to seek solutions to what they perceived as the fundamental problems of the Filipino people, use Marxism-Leninism to shed light on the history and concrete circumstances of the Filipino people and find ways to resume the Philippine revolution and carry it out until victory. In the study of Marxism-Leninism, with special reference to the Philippine revolution, they sought to grasp the three components of Marxism, which are materialist philosophy, political economy and scientific socialism as laid down by Marx and Engels, developed by Lenin and Stalin and further developed by Mao Zedong.

The beginners in the study of proletarian revolutionary theory were exceedingly receptive to Mao’s teachings because of their proven correctness and success in so vast a country neighboring the Philippines and their recognized applicability to the Philippines. The most read works of Mao Zedong were On Contradiction, On Practice, the Analysis of Classes in Chinese Society, The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War, Problems of Strategy in Guerrilla War Against Japan, On Protracted People’s War and On New Democracy.

The fruits of this study, theoretically, is to be found in the analysis that the CPP developed. See the CPP History page and the CPP Documents page at philippinerevolution.net.

Book Review: Red Youth – Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya

front-small“Who are you?” asked the lieutenant-colonel.

“I won’t tell you.”

“Was it you who set fire to the stables?”

“Yes, it was.”

“Your aim?”

“To destroy you.”

This is the story of the martyr Zoya, told in this excellent new book, Red Youth – Young Heroes of the Great Patriotic War: Volume 1, Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya. Edited and annotated by Mike Bessler and published by Erythrós Press and Media (Kettering: 2009), this is first volume in a series documenting the contributions of young Soviet women and men to the anti-fascist resistance in World War II.

Continue reading

Bruce Franklin’s Introduction to “The Essential Stalin”

This is a collection of scanned images of Bruce Franklin‘s introduction to The Essential Stalin: Major Theoretical Writings, 1905-1952, published by Anchor Books, New York, in 1972. This introduction by Professor Franklin was the first defence of Stalin I read. I am mirroring it from the website at http://www.btinternet.com/~fountain/stalin/index.html because to my knowledge this is the only digital version of this long out of print text availible.

As Professor Franklin says,

“Any historical figure must be evaluated from the interests of one class or another. Take J. Edgar Hoover, for example. Anti-communists may disagree about his performance, but they start from the assumption that the better he did his job of perserving ‘law and order’ as defined by our present rulers, the better he was. We Communists, on the other hand, certainly would not think Hoover ‘better’ if he had been more efficient in running the secret police and protecting capitalism. And so the opposite with Stalin, whose job was not to preserve capitalism but to destroy it, not to suppress communism but to advance it. The better he did his job, the worse he is likely to seem to all those who profit from this economic system and the more he will be appreciated by the victims of that system.”

Selected Writings of Jose Maria Sison (Two Volumes)

These important writings of Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army and current political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and Chairman of the International League of People’s Struggle, are availible now from Aklat ng Bayan.

Review: Build a Fighting Workers Movement

Click the image for a PDF pamphlet version

Click the image for a PDF pamphlet version

The following review of FRSO’s Build a Fighting Workers Movement  (also here at the Marxist-Leninist) is from Fight Back! News Service:

Review: Build a Fighting Workers Movement

A review of the pamphlet Build a Fighting Workers Movement by the Labor Commission of Freedom Road Socialist Organization

By Joe Iosbaker

This past Dec. 5, 250 workers occupied the Republic Windows and Doors factory on Goose Island in Chicago. They had been told a few days earlier that the company was closing and that there would be no severance pay, or even payment of wages or sick or vacation pay owed them. Their protest, targeting their company and the Bank of America, became a national symbol of working people’s anger at the rich and powerful. “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” they chanted as their story was reported across the world.

Now over three months later, there has been no wave of labor action in the U.S. to follow up this spectacular beginning. Why? Aren’t millions of workers just as angry? Don’t they want to strike blows against the billionaires on Wall Street?

Continue reading

Maxim Gorky’s ‘Mother’

The Marxist-Leninist recieved the following review via email:

Maxim Gorky’s ‘Mother’ — a summary

By Kazim Aizaz Alam

Maxim Gorky with J.V. Stalin in 1931

Maxim Gorky with J.V. Stalin in 1931

“Mothers are hardly ever pitied,” wrote Maxim Gorky (1868-1936) in his landmark novel Mother around 100 years ago. The novel is about the pre-revolution proletariat of Russia and focuses on the role women played in the struggle of the Russian working class on the eve of the revolution of 1905. Maxim Gorky, who was persecuted by the tsarist government and forced to live abroad for his ties with the Bolshevik Party, was moved by the brutal social and economic disparity that existed in Russian society during the tsarist government.

Continue reading

Stalin and the Defence of Science

k8283The following is from Lalkar:

Ethan Pollock wrote Stalin and the Soviet Science Wars in 2006.  This review of the book shows how the Soviet archives provided evidence of the widespread debates and knowledge concerning science which took place throughout the Soviet Union during the period under consideration, namely 1945 to 1953, to which even this bourgeois academic had to attest.

____________________________________

The continuing plunder of Soviet archives by Western academia is having some unexpected, and for imperialism unwelcome, consequences.  The lavish grants and bursaries made available to send scholars out to Moscow to dig up anti-communist dirt are, in some cases, having quite the reverse effect to that intended, facilitating the rediscovery of documents that add fresh life and colour to what is already known of the great Soviet achievements in every sphere of social development.

Continue reading