Revolutionary Socialism

Bassem Chit (1979-2014)

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After the sudden loss of a revolutionary who inspired and organised young activists in the Middle East, Simon Assaf records Bassem Chit's legacy.

The sudden death from a heart attack of Lebanese revolutionary socialist Bassem Chit is a tremendous blow to our movement. Bassem was a man of immense energy and extraordinary bravery, with a sharp tactical and strategic mind.

Why Read The Civil War in France?

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The Paris Commune of 1871 was the result of the world's first working class revolution. It survived for only two months but it was the most democratic and liberating government the world had seen up till that point. It offered a glimpse of a model of democracy that goes beyond the limited parliamentary democracy which is the best we can expect under capitalism.

Marx did not pluck a theory of what real democracy would look like from thin air - he learnt it from the concrete example of the Paris Commune. The Civil War in France, a pamphlet based on speeches to the First International, was written by Marx in 1871. It is both an impressive, succinct history of the Paris Commune and a powerful polemic against capitalism.

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.

Could there be an international revolution?

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Emma Davies argues that international revolution is possible - and essential if we are to overthrow capitalism

The past few years have shown the increasingly interconnected nature of the world we live in. We've seen the knock-on effects one event can have internationally - whether it's the financial crisis or the wave of dissent that has spread across the Arab world and beyond. Capitalism is truly global in nature. Any revolution that seeks to put an end to capitalism would have to spread internationally. Could this ever happen?

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.

What is permanent revolution?

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Regi Pilling looks at what Leon Trotsky meant by permanent revolution and if it still has relevance today.

At the start of this year the dictator Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled Egypt for three decades, was toppled by mass protests and strikes. But today we see the military violently retaking Tahrir Square, protesters attacked and strikes outlawed. Should the revolution stop now that Mubarak has gone? Could it move beyond political changes to economic and social transformation? Could socialism be brought about?

Their democracy or ours?

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Donny Gluckstein looks at what democracy means under capitalism - and our alternative

Democracy is today's all-popular buzzword, beloved alike of mainstream politicians, the Arab revolutionaires, and young people protesting in Spain. For people like David Cameron democracy means a parliament which gives rein to the tyranny of market forces, and the grotesque inequalities that brings. Those facing poverty and unemployment expect the opposite of this democracy - freedom from want, and a just society.

How can we end oppression?

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Emma Davis looks at how socialists understand oppression

We live in a society blighted by oppression. This February, David Cameron gave a speech about the country's supposed problems with immigration and diversity - on the same day the racist English Defence League took to the streets in Luton to intimidate Muslims. Despite significant gains over the past century women earn an average of 17 percent less than men. Homophobic and transphobic attacks are on the rise.

Why does a mass strike matter?

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Kevin Best looks at why socialists argue for mass strikes

Revolutionaries are arguing hard and organising to put coordinated strikes - and a general strike - at the heart of resistance to the cuts. Strikes represent the working class's most potent weapon, utilising its unique social position as the producers of wealth in society, the source of bosses' profits.

Could we win the army to revolution?

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Mariam Green looks at how a revolution can split the army


Events in the Middle East and North Africa make the question of the role of the army in revolution more than just a matter of academic interest. If the army is not won over it remains a tool for counter-revolution, capable of drowning a revolt in blood. How the army responds to such a situation can decisively affect its outcome.

As the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky put it, "The fate of every revolution at a certain point is decided by a break in the disposition of the army."

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