Category Archives: Theory

Book Review – An Impatient Life: a Memoir by Daniel Bensaid

An Impatient Life: a Memoir by Daniel Bensaid (Foreword by Tariq Ali), translated from the French by David Fernbach, Verso, 2013
Reviewed by Robbie Mahood
AnImpatientLife_CMYK-8a1d4a4a07d612e6ac2cdbe98deb7530  Daniel Bensaid (1946-2010) was an important Marxist thinker and leader of the former French section of the Fourth International (FI), the Ligue Communiste Revolutionaire (LCR).   His memoir, very ably translated from the French, Une Lente Impatience, is a dense but rewarding read, part personal odyssey and part meditation on revolutionary politics. Continue reading Book Review – An Impatient Life: a Memoir by Daniel Bensaid

Review: “Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s – Ernest Tate, A Memoir”

Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s – Ernest Tate, A Memoir”, Resistence Books, London. Volume 1, Canada 1955-1965, 274 pages; Volume 2, Britain 1965-1970, 402 pages.
A review by Barry Weisleder
I’m very excited about the two-volume work that Ernest Tate produced, with considerable help from his life partner Jess Mackenzie. I have been involved in radical politics for 45 years, but compared to Ernie, I’m a late-comer.
When Ernie arrived in Toronto in 1955, looking for work and hungry for political knowledge, I was all of two years old. When he went to London in 1965 to help organize the British section of the Fourth International, I was twelve and my thoughts centred on school and hockey. And when Ernie returned to Toronto in 1969, I was just getting my start in radical student politics and the NDP. So my excitement about an account of events in the 1950s and 60s might seem rather unlikely.
Yet my passion about “Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s and 60s” is real because I find that it is not only about the past; it is about the present.

Continue reading Review: “Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s – Ernest Tate, A Memoir”

SA conference Condemns the Crimes of Capitalism

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Members and supporters celebrated the 20th anniversary of Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste with an international educational conference and a party convention held May 23-25, 2014 at the University of Toronto.
The conference theme ‘Capitalism is Organized Crime’ echoed across the agenda. The topics were Capitalism Damns the Environment (with speakers Malu Baumgarten, Toronto Socialist Action; and Robbie Mahood, member of SA/LAS and Quebec Solidaire in Montreal),Scandals, Repression and Corporate Dictatorship (with Barry Weisleder, federal secretary, Socialist Action – Canada; Jaime Gonzalez, LUS (Socialist Unity League) – Mexico; and Chris Hutchinson — Socialist Action USA, Connecticut), Science: For Profit, or for People? (with special guest speaker Cliff Conner. He is the author of “A Peoples’ History of Science”, and teaches history at the City University of New York Graduate Center), When Labour Won (with Julius Arscott, SA Toronto; Chris Hutchinson, SA U.S.A.; and Robbie Mahood),Is Inequality Inevitable?(with Claudia Espinoza, President of USGE Local 00079 (Public Service Alliance of Canada) and an organizer with Justicia for Migrant Workers;Kaylie Tiessen from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives; and John Orrett, member Toronto Professional Firefighters’ Association and SA Thornhill), and finally, What Would Socialism Look Like? (with special guest speaker Cliff Conner, historian and co-author of the new book “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA).
Over fifty people attended one or more of the conference sessions, all of which exhibited a high quality of presentations, and a high degree of audience participation.
A large display of books, booklets, posters and buttons near the meeting entrance was a hub of activity. Folks purchased over $500 in literature and other items.
During the conference two participants asked to join Socialist Action — in addition to the six people who joined SA in the month preceding the Toronto conference.
At the SA/LAS convention held on the Sunday, members adopted a plan of action and a budget, welcomed new members, and elected a bi-national leadership body.
The unanimously adopted central priorities of SA/LAS for the coming year include:
1. Participation in the campaign to elect an NDP government in Ontario – while honestly explaining our criticisms of the policies, tactics and undemocratic methods of the Horwath leadership, leading up to the Ontario NDP Convention in November 2014. To prepare the party left wing for the convention, we urge the Socialist Caucus to hold an Ontario conference in early September.
2. Continuing efforts to oppose the cuts to postal services, and to resist the general ruling class drive towards more austerity, autocratic governance, surveillance of the population, and police repression. We believe that defence of the CUPW and home mail delivery, with sufficient broad backing and mass action tactics, could be the key to removing the unpopular Harper government.
3. Working with the environmental movement to oppose Line 9, to oppose new pipeline contruction, to demand a rapid shift to green energy generation through public ownership and workers’ control of the resource sector, and to support indigenous peoples’ struggles for self-government and protection of the environment.
4. Stepping up efforts to build, together with others, a cross-union, class struggle tendency in the labour movement. At the Peoples’ Social Forum in Ottawa, August 21-24, where it is expected that 20,000 people will attend demonstrations and forums, SA/LAS will host a workshop on questions of strategy and tactics for the workers’ movement. At the Social Forum labour activists may gather to launch a radical cross-union left opposition, which SA aims to actively build.
5. Intervening in the Toronto municipal election, leading up to the vote on October 27.  Armed with the new SA booklet ‘Dump Rob Ford, For a Labour City Hall’, our aim is to shift the focus from the bizarre antics of Mayor Rob Ford towards a serious political discussion on the need for a Workers’ Agenda. We want particularly to engage grassroots labour and NDP activists in such a discussion.
– B.W.

 

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Booklet: Break the Grip of the Ruling Class

Socialist Action has published this compilation of talks from our latest Trotsky School: Education for Activists Conference. A PDF version is available online HERE.
This booklet contains the talks presented at the sixth annual Socialist Action Education for Activists Conference – two days of education, discussion and debate about key issues and the political alternatives facing humanity – held November 15-16, 2013 at the University of Toronto. We call the gathering a “Trotsky School”.! Why?! Because the ideas of Leon Trotsky, the co-leader with V.I. Lenin of the Russian Revolution 97 years ago, have great relevance and power in the context of the global crisis of capitalism today.! From the general strikes in Greece, Italy, France, and Spain, to the massive protests of the Quebec students’ movement, to the Idle No More indigenous peoples’ actions, to anti-pipeline demonstrations across North America, discontent with the business agenda is increasingly visible.
More people today are turning to the ideas of revolutionary Marxism for a scientific explanation of the ills of capitalism. Indeed, they want to know what to do about it. What better guide is there than the political method employed by the architects of the world’s first workers’ state?
At the conference we looked at history, political theory, economics, and we proposed a concrete programme for action.! We are proudly part of the working class. Workers are the vast majority of the so-called 99%.! But if the problem was just the 1% minority, the working class would have solved that problem a long time ago with a simple vote.! Unfortunately, there is a huge apparatus of control that keeps the capitalist class in power.
Divide and rule is their method. The challenge facing the working class is to unite – to unite across the lines of oppression.! Whether the basis of that oppression is race, gender, sexual orientation, language or national identity, we need to unite. But to do so in a good way, we need to develop and implement the programme and strategy required for working class victory.! By critically assessing political issues, past and present, such as we did at the conference, we can find the way forward.The conference theme was:! “Revolutionary Strategy”.! The sessions included:! “Security, Surveillance and the Strong State”, “How Revolutionary Youth Movements have changed the world”, “What is the Labour Bureaucracy – and What Should be Done about it”; and “The Democratic Party – Death Trap for U.S. Blacks – The case for Independent Labour/Black political action”.
These are all big questions.! We hope that you find the talks published here illuminating!
We welcome your feedback.
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