Memoirs of a Critical Communist

Memoirs of a Critical Communist

MEMOIRS OF A CRITICAL COMMUNIST
Towards a history of the Fourth International

by Livio Maitan

with a preface by Daniel Bensaïd

Translated by Gregor Benton

Edited and with an introduction by Penelope Duggan

RRP: £20, €24, $28; 456 pages, inc. b&w photos.
Pub. Resistance Books, IIRE and Merlin Press

Gregor Benton writes:

Livio Maitan helped inspire the growth of Italian Trotskyism. There was also a wave of Maoism in the 1960s and a debate ensued, to which Livio contributed his book on China, Party, Army, and Masses. I was deeply influenced by it, and I translated it for New Left Books. The book combined criticism of the Chinese Revolution with support. From it, I learned how to write engaged scholarship.

Livio could have shone at a leading university had he wanted, but instead he spent most of his life working on a shoestring. In 2002, he wrote this history of the Fourth International to go alongside his autobiography.

Translating this new book was a bittersweet experience. Through it, I was able to relive chapter by chapter my wild political youth and my middle age. Livio Maitan’s spirit lifts this story from a catalogue of false starts into a chronicle of heroism and optimism. He died before Black Lives Matter, Me Too, Corbynism, Gilets Jaunes, Extinction Rebellion  and other new struggles, but he paved the way for them.

This book shows the road to socialism remains open.

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UNITY AND STRATEGY – Ideas for Revolution

UNITY AND STRATEGY – Ideas for Revolution

UNITY AND STRATEGY – Ideas for Revolution

With contributions by Leon Trotsky, Daniel Bensaïd, Steve Bloom, James Burnham, Duncan Hallas, Tom Kerry, Piers Mostyn, Michel Pablo, and John Riddell.

Published by the IIRE and Resistance Books, Price £8, Paperback 240 pages.

This book contains an updated translation of the founding document of the Fourth International, The Transitional Program. In this work, Trotsky lays out his strategy for socialist revolution.

The book also contains classic and contemporary articles delving into different aspects of revolutionary strategy. Together with The Transitional Program for Socialist Revolution, these documents make the book a valuable tool for activists thinking about how to defeat capitalism.

One of the major challenges for socialists is to build an anti-capitalist movement that connects daily struggles to the goal of overthrowing capitalism. Leon Trotsky was a leading marxist strategic thinker. His answer to this challenge was that socialists should build movements which unite working people around their own needs. In such movements, socialists should urge working people to trust in their own power and formulate goals that break with capitalism.

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Contributions to the history of the Fourth International

Contributions to the history of the Fourth International

The Long March of the Trotskyists – Contributions to the history of the Fourth International

By Pierre Frank and Daniel Bensaid

We live in an age where everything has been internationalised. Imperialism brought in its wake world politics and world economics. This was the objective criterion for launching the Third (Communist) International. Stalin’s counter-revolution brought the communist parties into a treasonous decline, grabbing onto the coat tails of the leading forces in the liberal left and the institutional apparatuses.

In this book, Pierre Frank explains how the Fourth International, founded in 1938 by Revolutionary Marxist militants, nuclei, currents and organizations, answered the problem of the construction of anti-capitalist, revolutionary political formations.

As Ernest Mandel’s biographical essay explains, Pierre Frank was secretary to Leon Trotsky in 1932-1933. His book draws on his experience as a central leader of the Fourth International through to 1979.

Daniel Bensaïd’s appendix explains the following 30 years of the Fourth International life, developing the perspective of establishing a new independent political representation of the working class that takes into account the diversity of the working class in defending a resolutely class-based programme.

Two contributions develop its perspective of establishing a new independent political representation of the working class that takes into account the diversity of the working class in defending a resolutely class-based programme: a statement by founders of the French LCR explaining its decision to dissolve into the NPA; and the key resolution adopted by the Fourth International’s 2009 world congress.

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New Parties of the Left: Experiences from Europe

New Parties of the Left: Experiences from Europe

“New Parties of the Left: Experiences from Europe” provides an  analysis of the European regroupment of the radical left. With its pan-European focus combined with detailed accounts from France, Denmark, Britain, Germany, Italy and Portugal this book offers an insight into contemporary political history of the radical left in Europe. Social democratic and Stalinist parties, including the Labour Party in Britain and the Socialist Party in France, have shifted to the right across the continent and have fully embraced neo-liberalism. This has opened up a political space to the left of social-democracy which has been filled by new formations of the radical left over the last decades.

The book starts out with an introductory background chapter which takes an overall look at the developments of the radical left in Europe since 1989 and the collapse of the Left as we knew it. This chapter provides statistical information, such as membership figures and election results, about the left parties and discusses similarities, differences and political challenges for these new parties.

The late IIRE Fellow Daniel Bensaïd puts the discussion on the reorganisation of the European left into a broader historical and ideological perspective in the chapter ‘An idea whose time has come’. With the financial crisis, Bensaïd writes, a holy alliance between the left and the right is being preached in order to socialise the losses after having privatised the profits. Social democratic parties have, across the continent, actively contributed in the destruction of the tools of social solidarity, and hereby undermined their own social base. At the same time, European communist parties are undergoing a slow agonising death. Against this background, Bensaïd argues, there is a need for new anticapitalist parties, as he points out the successful stories across the continent.

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Strategies of Resistance & ‘Who Are the Trotskyists?

Strategies of Resistance & ‘Who Are the Trotskyists?

Author: Daniel Bensaïd

Preface: Paul Le Blanc

 

Daniel Bensaïd’s challenging survey comes at an appropriate moment. It is a gift to activists reaching for some historical perspective that may provide hints as to where we might go from here. Embracing and sharing the revolutionary socialist political tradition associated with Leon Trotsky, Bensaïd is not simply a thoughtful radical academic or perceptive left-wing intellectual – though he is certainly both – but also one of the foremost leaders of an impressive network of activists, many of them seasoned by innumerable struggles.

Daniel Bensaïd emerged decades ago as a leader of the French section of the Fourth International, the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR). Coming from the ‘generation of ’68’ – the layer of young revolutionary activists of the 1960s – he blends an impressive intellectual sophistication with a refreshing inclination for revolutionary audacity, and with activist commitments which have not faded over the decades.

In the tradition of Ernest Mandel, Bensaïd has reached for the continuing relevance of revolutionary Marxism not only in the battlegrounds of academe (as a professor of philosophy and author of such works as Marx for Our Times), but even more in the battlegrounds of social and political struggles against the oppressive and lethal realities of capitalist ‘globalization.’

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Take the power to change the world

Take the power to change the world

In this 144-page collection of essays, some of today’s most important progressive thinkers – including John Holloway, well-known Marxist philosopher Daniel Bensaïd and theorist of liberation theology and the national question, Michael Löwy – discuss strategies to change the world.

The Zapatista rebels and the Seattle demonstrators were the tip of an iceberg of social and political revolt against the injustices of corporate-led globalisation. In 2002 John Holloway, working in Puebla, Mexico, came forward with his book Change the World without Taking Power. The book took up a phrase used by Zapatista leader Subcommandante Marcos, that the EZLN wanted to democratise Mexico, but did not seek to ‘take power’.

The success of Holloway’s book came from the political conjuncture – the ‘spirit of the times’. For tens of thousands of global justice and anti-war activists, often influenced by the ideas of NGOs, the aim was precisely to make the world fairer and curb the power of the multinational corporations, but not necessarily to end capitalism as such. Contributions in this book show how a whole new series of experiences since the year 2000 have put Holloway’s thesis to the test.

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