Revolution

Third World Revolution

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What sort of political changes are possible when workers are a minority of the population? Neil Davidson looks at a question which has absorbed Marxists for over 100 years.

At the beginning of the last century a series of revolutions in Russia (1905), Turkey (1906), Persia (1909), Mexico (1910), China (1911) and Ireland (1916) announced that the inhabitants of the colonial world were not prepared to be passive spectators of the historical process. Yet beyond freeing themselves from the direct or indirect control of the great powers, the goals of these revolutionary movements were ambiguous, even contradictory. Were they to enable the newly liberated states to enter the world capitalist system?

Revolution in the Revolution

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For the last four years Venezuela has been the political centre of the radicalisation of Latin America. Now those who started a revolutionary process are debating how to take the process further. Chris Harman reports from Caracas.

Venezuela is a country where people have suffered enormously at the hands of the world system over the last 30 years. But it is also a country where millions now have faith in their ability to change things for the better.

Not that long ago, Venezuela was a richer country than most others in Latin America. The mass of the population had better living standards, and its wealth made it a magnet for south European migrants in the 1950s.

Revolution in the Air

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Chris Harman analyses critical choices facing the Latin American left.

'The US has lost the plot in Latin America.' So said at least one commentator during last month's Summit of the Americas in the Argentinian city of Mar del Plata. Not only was Bush faced with a big and militant demonstration outside led by former football star Diego Maradona, but his plans for a Free Trade Area of the Americas got the thumbs-down from the government leaders assembled inside.

It was symptomatic of a swing to the left throughout South America in the last five years. But how deep is this swing, and where is it going?

Chain Reaction

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Watching the televised congress of Italy's biggest far left party, Rifondazione Comunista, last month brought to mind a statement by its general secretary, Bertinotti, when he spoke at the SWP's Marxism two years ago.

The old debate between reform and revolution, he said, is no longer relevant at a time when reformists cannot deliver reforms and revolutionaries cannot bring about revolution.

It is an argument frequently heard in the global movement of the last five years. We can all see that neoliberalism and war are causing immense damage, it is argued, and we have to forget our differences in order to oppose them.

The Axis of All Events

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The 1905 Russian revolution, as described by Leon Trotsky.

October, November and December 1905 was the period of revolutionary culmination. It began with a modest strike of Moscow's typesetters and ended with government troops crushing the ancient capital of the Russian tsars. But with the exception of the final moment - the Moscow rising - Moscow did not occupy first place in the events of that period.

Bourgeois Revolutions: On the Road to Salvation for all Mankind

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This year's Isaac Deutscher memorial lecture was given by Neil Davidson. He took up the controversial issue of the role played by bourgeois revolutions in the formation of the modern world.

I owe at least two debts to Isaac Deutscher. One is that, for non-academics like me, he provided a model of how to write politically engaged but scholarly historical work. The other is more relevant to the theme of my lecture: his writings on the bourgeois revolutions.

Karl Marx: The Best Hated Man

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Karl Marx continues to be damned because of the revolutionary power he identified, argues Paul Foot.

Karl Marx was so famous when he died in March 1883 that eleven people went to his funeral at Highgate cemetery. The funeral oration given by his friend and collaborator Frederick Engels ended with the observation that Marx, though he was a delightful character, a loyal friend and a devoted father, was the 'best hated and calumniated man of his times'. That may have been true at the time but it became even more true later. Most socialists and revolutionaries can expect some relief from the abuse of high society after they are dead.

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