Reformism

So why not join the Labour party?

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Many socialists will consider joining Corbyn's party to defend him, but is it the right move for revolutionaries, asks Sally Campbell.

Shaun Doherty has outlined how important it is for socialists — even revolutionary ones — to back and defend Corbyn’s leadership of Labour. But if we’re so keen to help Corbyn hang onto his position, why don’t we just join the Labour Party? Surely that’s where the battle will take place and where Jeremy needs numbers of defenders against the right of the party?

How about a life in politics?

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Donny Gluckstein asks what the relationship is between “politics”, the state and radical social change, looking at reformist and revolutionary strategies as well as the rejection of it all in the form of anti-politics.

The foundations of mainstream politics are crumbling and the results are both exhilarating and troubling. Alongside the recent election victory of Syriza, and with Podemos topping Spanish polls, there is the frightening growth of the far-right in many European countries.

Why read 'Left Wing' Communism

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In August 1914 the Second International grouping of socialist parties failed its most important test with catastrophic consequences.

Nearly all the leaders of European socialism collapsed into chauvinism, supporting their own nations' interests in an imperialist war which cost the lives of tens of millions of workers.

One of the few parties to remain against the war throughout was the Bolsheviks in Russia. The experience of war and disillusionment with their leaders led to the radicalisation of workers and soldiers.

What sort of party do we need?

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In our ongoing series of debates on the role of Leninism today, Alex Callinicos replies to Ian Birchall's contribution in last month's Review. He returns to the fundamentals of Leninist organisation and presents a different account of the political arguments of the 1980s

There has been a shift in the focus of anti-capitalist debate. A decade ago, in the immediate wake of Seattle, Genoa, and Florence, in a climate of popular revolt against capitalism and war, a major question was: party or movement? In other words, were various forms of localised organisation sufficient for what Michael Hardt and Toni Negri call the "multitude" of those oppressed by capital to break the power of the ruling class?

Labour's surrender to austerity

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In June Ed Miliband and Ed Balls signalled that a future Labour government will accept the framework of the Tories' austerity plans and put a cap on welfare spending. Iain Ferguson looks at Labour's shift to the right and challenges the myths about the welfare state used to justify this turn.

"Even in these hard times, is it too much to expect an opposition to oppose now and again?" (Sunday Herald, 16 June).

For historians of the British Labour Party, June 2013 is likely to be remembered as a key milestone in Party's political and ideological evolution.

Which strategy for the left?

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In last month's Socialist Review, Ed Rooksby, a supporter of the Left Unity initiative, put forward his view that a left government can play a key role in the fight for radical change. Mark L Thomas argues this ignores the role of the state.

The Left Unity initiative has struck a chord with a significant number of socialists in Britain. The call by Ken Loach and others for a new left party had seen over 8,000 people put their names to it and Left Unity has now held a series of meetings and formed local groups across the country. It clearly expresses a mood for something better than the austerity agenda accepted by Labour under Ed Miliband.

Why it's time to realign the left

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Radical left parties such as Syriza in Greece and the Front De Gauche in France have made significant gains recently. But what about Britain? Socialist film maker Ken Loach has recent issued a call for a new left party to be formed here too. Ed Rooksby, one of the supporters of the call, explains why he thinks the time is right to launch such a party and what its aims should be. Socialist Review will respond in our next issue.

Radical left parties committed to fighting austerity and able to attract considerable popular support have emerged across Europe - most spectacularly in Greece. We are in desperate need of a similar party in Britain - one which is willing to take the risk of seeking to break the stranglehold of a social democracy that has long since capitulated to neoliberalism and present an unashamedly socialist alternative. Thankfully, for the first time in a long period, the conditions for the emergence of a broad left coalition of forces in the UK capable of attracting large-scale support seem ripe.

Why read Reform and Revolution?

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Rosa Luxemburg's short book Reform or Revolution is often overlooked these days, in favour of her more famous, The Mass Strike. Written while in her late twenties, Reform or Revolution demonstrates the keeness of Luxemburg's Marxism and the sharpness of her polemic.

The book is a response to a series of articles and an eventual book by Eduard Bernstein. Bernstein was an important figure in the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) to which Luxemburg also belonged. Bernstein was arguing for a movement away from the ideas embodied in classical Marxism.

Luxemburg argued "His conception of the march of economic development is incompatible with the Marxist theory of surplus value. Therefore, Bernstein abandons the theory of value and surplus value, and, in this way, the whole economic system of Karl Marx."

Egypt: State in flux

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The waves of strikes that have swept Egypt since the overthrow of Mubarak have fractured the state machine, giving a boost to reformist forces. Anne Alexander looks at how revolutionaries should relate to these new forces, especially those emerging around Hamdeen Sabahi.

The stifling heat of summer makes Cairo hell for its poorest inhabitants. The rich turn up their air conditioners, while hundreds of thousands in the "informal" neighbourhoods suffer water shortages and power cuts. This year the people of the Saft al-Laban area took matters into their own hands. On 22 July, after weeks without water, they stormed the Giza governorate buildings and locked the gates. On 11 August they took their protests to the Ministry of Water and Sanitation. At one point protesters cornered the minister, putting down a glass of filthy brown water in front of him.

Do we need reform or revolution?

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Lois Clifton argues that in a period of serious crisis the debate between reform and revolution becomes even more important

The revolutions that have swept across the Middle East have forced the question of reform or revolution back onto the political agenda.

As Western elites scrambled to regain political leverage in the region, a contradiction became clear - revolution is fine in Egypt, but elsewhere workers should only fight for gradual reforms.

Workers are brought up to believe that capitalism is normal. Society tells us that anyone who believes the status quo can be changed is simply extremist, utopian or unrealistic.

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