Theory History

It is a well-known fact that accident can play a considerable role in both history and the lives of individuals. In the course of my life I have observed many accidents and extraordinary coincidences. But I have never experienced such a unique and unforeseeable concatenation of circumstances as that which I am about to relate here.

Xie Xuehong (Hsieh Shue-hong, 謝雪紅) was a key figure in the revolutionary movement in Taiwan in the early 20th century. Despite having to fight against the tremendous barriers that a backward patriarchal society placed before an impoverished, illiterate peasant woman, she was able to found and build the Taiwanese Communist Party (TCP, 台灣共產黨).

Josh Holroyd reviews Nelson at Naples by Jonathan North, which exposes the atrocities committed by Horatio Nelson during his part in crushing the Neapolitan Revolution of 1799. The tragic events North describes, which reveal the unbridled barbarism of a reactionary old order fighting for its life, are rich with lessons for revolutionaries today.

On 22 November, at the Leon Trotsky House Museum in Mexico City, Alan Woods began his talk on the English Revolution by saying that, while postmodernists claim there are no laws in history and that it is impossible to understand, there are recurrent processes and even familiar characters across the centuries. Similar material conditions provoke historical phenomena with certain similarities.

The German Revolution of 1918 ended the First World War. During a little-known episode of the Revolution, German soldiers liberated Belgium from a brutal military occupation before the armistice of the 11 November was signed. This revolutionary movement was also crucial in pushing through a swift introduction of universal general suffrage in Belgium.

"The development of the International Left Opposition is proceeding amidst sharp crises that cast the fainthearted and the short-sighted into pessimism. In reality these crises are completely unavoidable. One has only to read the correspondence of Marx and Engels attentively, or to preoccupy oneself seriously with the history of the development of the Bolshevik Party to realise how complicated, how difficult, how full of contradictions the process of developing revolutionary cadres is."

100 years ago, on 9 May 1918, the Scottish socialist John Maclean went on trial at the Edinburgh High Court facing charges of sedition. Maclean, however, used the trial to make an impassioned defence of himself and his socialist ideas (lasting 75 minutes in total), which we publish in full here.

We publish here in English an oft-quoted text, The Sexual Revolution in Russia, by Dr. Grigory Batkis, published in German in 1925 as a contribution to the proceedings of the World League for Sexual Reform. Unable to locate an English language edition, we found a copy of the German original and had it translated by our German and Austrian comrades of the IMT.

On the occasion of May Day we republish the following leaflet written by Lenin in 1904, when Russia was about to enter a period of revolutionary turmoil. In it, Lenin calls on the workers and peasants to unite, overthrow the blood-sucking aristocrats, bankers and landowners, and take full ownership of all that labour creates. The message still holds true today. Long live worker solidarity! Happy May Day!

In the bourgeois media today, Afghanistan is portrayed only in relation to Islamic fundamentalism, jihad, warlords and drug cartels. While these ills are a sad fact of life in Afghanistan today, that was not always the case. 40 years ago, a revolution almost shook the country out of its backwardness, only to be thrown back after the imperialist-backed, fundamentalist counter-revolution. To understand the current situation in the Middle East, as well as the rise of the reactionary forces, it is necessary to understand the rise and fall of the Saur revolution in Afghanistan in 1978.

The October Revolution radically changed the situation for homosexuals in Russia, as it did for women. In 1922 the first criminal code of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) was passed as law. In 1918 all the old Tsarist laws were suspended and when finally, after a few years of debate, the new constitution was adopted, homosexuality or “sodomy” as it was called, was decriminalised. This was an enormous advance for homosexuals, who under the Tsar could be arrested and sentenced to years of imprisonment or sent to labour camps.

50 years ago, on 4 April 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – the leader of the civil rights movement in America – was shot dead in cold blood. On that day, Dr. King was in Memphis, Tennessee, to lead a demonstration and rally in support of a three-month-long fight for trade union recognition by 1,300 local refuse collectors.

Wellred Books proudly presents the new edition of Leon Trotsky’s My Life.Since this book was first published, it has been regarded as a unique political and literary document. Written in the first year of Trotsky’s exile in Turkey, it contains the earliest authoritative account of the rise of Stalinism and the expulsion of the Left Opposition, who heroically fought for the ideas and traditions of Lenin.

We publish here a collected series of articles on the 1837-1838 Rebellions of Upper and Lower Canada (original available at Fightback). It is important that Marxists understand the place of these important events in the history of the class struggle in Canada and Quebec.