Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Great moments in the struggle for social justice

Leveller Women in the English Revolution 1647

THREE years ago professional photographer Red Saunders created a series of tableaux depicting great moments in the long struggle for rights and representation in Britain. The aim of the Hidden Project, through reimaging those events, is to portray important historic scenes involving the dissenters, revolutionaries, radicals and non-conformists who have so often been hidden from history.
Tony Benn, the original Patron of the Hidden Project, said: “Those who see these photographic representations will then be able to identify with past generations and gain confidence from the knowledge that they are part of a world-wide movement that has always existed and must be sustained.”
From the Peasants’ Revolt to the Swing Riots, Red’s photographs are on an epic scale and they were acclaimed by critics at exhibitions at Bradford’s Impressions Gallery, the People’s History Museum in Manchester and the Museum of London.
They are now available as posters and greeting cards from Past Pixels, the publishing venture that works with the labour movement to bring alive our illustrious past. Past Pixels was set up in 2009 to make images of working class struggle more widely available to a newer generation and it has carved a niche for itself with a series of greeting cards dedicated to the working class movement
Individual posters are £8.00 and each card costs £2.00 from independent booksellers or directly from Past Pixels.  Check out their website for online sales or write directly to Past Pixels, P O Box 798, Worcester, WR4 4BW for the Hidden Project brochure.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: Revolutionary Democracy, September 2014

By Theo Russell

The latest issue of the Indian Marxist journal Revolutionary Democracy ,which only recently arrived in Britain, has the usual valuable selection of articles from around the world, this time with more of a focus on India.
A report on the re-emergence of the national liberation movement in South Africa by Raul Martinez is a timely and detailed criticism of the “the neo-liberal economic policies and the perpetuation of the neo-colonial dependence on imperialism” of the ANC and its close ally, the South African Communist Party.
The current issue also has a swathe of articles on India looking at the repression of national minorities, the agrarian crisis, the role of the left, the growing danger of more Bhopal-style disasters, the banking sector and other topics.
The article Agrarian Crisis: Life at Stake in Rural India describes the fundamental imbalances in the agriculture sector, accounting for 58 per cent of the workforce but only about 14 per cent of GDP.
Just over 5 per cent of landowners own 43 per cent of farmland, while 90.5 per cent share 43 per cent and 10 per cent of rural households have no land. The mass of small farmers have a weak position in the markets and are plagued with indebtedness.
The authors suggest that “farmers must come together transcending caste and religious differences” and “consider pooling land together to form production cooperatives”.
The Labyrinth of the Neo-Liberal Crisis: The Indian State and Its Instrument of Peace, by Dr Malem Ningthouja, looks at the Indian state’s “carrot and iron policy to tame (domesticate) people or wipe out those who dissent” in India’s North-eastern provinces, where “a soldier could suspect anyone and kill with impunity”. India’s “annexation” of the region aims to secure labour, raw materials, markets and “a buffer vis-a-vis presumed Chinese social imperialism, and a military stockpile and commodity stocked for commercial expansion in South and Southeast Asia”.
India’s repressive actions in the Northeast are much less well known in the West than its brutal oppression in Kashmir, but Ningthouja also looks at the problems and weaknesses of the various liberation movements in a region “inhabited by disunited and economically backward tribal and peasant communities”.
Factionalism and splits have plagued the many liberation movements, and a timeline of organisations in Manipur State since 1948 shows that there have been no less than 40 parties and guerrilla organisations resisting the Indian state in this one province alone, many of them breakaways from existing groups.
In Trotsky’s ‘Exile’ and Social Democracy, written in Moscow in 1928, Clara Zetkin attacks “the loyal band of followers of Trotsky and Zinoviev” for encouraging and magnifying the “distortions, falsifications, calumny and suspicion” of the Second International against the Soviet Union. She describes Trotsky and Zinoviev as “a gift from heaven for all who hate and fear the world proletarian revolution in the Soviet Union, and are intent upon choking it to death”.
And the article Gramsci Rejected the Ideas of Trotsky consists of excerpts from a new book by Jose Antonio Egido, showing that while Trotskyists “shamelessly attempt to appropriate Gramsci”, in reality Gramsci repeatedly criticised Trotsky, denounced the “permanent revolution” theory and staunchly supported the “socialism in one country” policy.
Other topics covered include the formation of the International Stalin Society, and report on the 4th National Congress of the Workers’ Party of Tunisia, the struggles against ISIS in the Middle East, against an anti-democratic and militarist European Union, the problems facing revolutionary forces in Latin America, a discussion between Stalin and Zhou Enlai in 1952, and some surprising and controversial comments by Mao Zedong on Stalin shortly after his death.

Revolutionary Democracy, Vol XX, No. 2, September 2014, is available from the New Communist Party for £5  plus £1 P&P. It is also stocked at Housmans Bookshop in London and News From Nowhere in Liverpool.