Hailing Red Armies

In 1978 the fortunes of the poorest and most oppressed of Afghanistan seemed to be looking up. In April the so-called “Saur Revolution” – essentially a military coup, with tacit support from the Kabul-based coalition of a nascent middle class, students, and government bureaucrats – toppled the regime of Mohammed Daoud Khan. Replacing him was Nur Muhammad Taraki, leader … More Hailing Red Armies

The “Revolution for Democracy” in Syria Revisited

As described in my previous posts on the issue, the Syrian conflict is highly complex and involves a Russian-and Iran-backed “secular” Assad regime, extremely brutal in nature, pitted against an overwhelmingly jihadist and reactionary armed uprising. Initial protests were mostly non-violent, but as with other protests in the so-called “Arab Spring,” they were contested space. They contained … More The “Revolution for Democracy” in Syria Revisited

Gender and Communism Through the Prism of Hollywood

It cannot be too strongly maintained that this is still not Social-Democracy, that the Social-Democrat’s ideal should not be the trade union secretary, but the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people … More Gender and Communism Through the Prism of Hollywood

On Programs and Politics: Movements and Movementism in the Syrian Civil War (DWS Series Part IV)

The previous installment of this series analyzed, criticized, and contextualized one of the more sophisticated attempts at constructing a theory of state capitalism. Part of the context was an impressionistic empiricism. Those in the “third camp” tradition tend to conflate the political or economic suppression of workers with an underlying system of class exploitation, just as they … More On Programs and Politics: Movements and Movementism in the Syrian Civil War (DWS Series Part IV)

Lenin and State Capitalism: Debunking a Persistent Myth

Something I have run up against repeatedly over years of discussing Marxist politics in person and online is the myth that Lenin mistakenly believed socialism to be a form of capitalism. One piece of “evidence” for this claim is a quote drawn from Lenin’s “The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It.” In the section … More Lenin and State Capitalism: Debunking a Persistent Myth

The Life & Death of Shachtmanism (DWS Series Part III)

In my previous blog post in this series, I distinguished between deformed and degenerated workers’ states presiding over planned economies and bonapartist third-world dictatorships that used sweeping nationalizations to accelerate bourgeois development and accumulate capital through a combination of black markets, bribery, and rent-seeking. Some ostensible Trotskyist groups, like those descended from Ted Grant’s Militant tendency, make no … More The Life & Death of Shachtmanism (DWS Series Part III)

“Proletarian Bonapartism” and Prebendal Politics (DWS Series Part II)

In Part 1 of the DWS series, I laid out what I consider to be a theory of deformed workers’ states. That theory posited that such states came into existence under distinct conditions. Petty-bourgeois movements, usually anti-imperialist, were supported by discontented layers of workers and/or peasants and were thereby forced to smash the bourgeois state managed … More “Proletarian Bonapartism” and Prebendal Politics (DWS Series Part II)