The Socialist Register 2017

Rethinking Revolution

Edited by Leo Panitch and Greg Albo  

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This 53rd volume of the Socialist Register addresses the question of the meaning of revolution in the twenty-first century. Coming to terms with the legacy of 1917 is obviously one aspect of this. ‘October’ was a unique event that provided inspiration for millions of oppressed people, and also became an inevitable point of reference for socialist politics in the twentieth century. The twenty-first century left needs to both understand and transcend this legacy through a critical reappraisal of its broad effects – both positive and negative – on political, intellectual and cultural life everywhere as well as on the other revolutions that took place over the last century. But the main point of the volume is to look forward more than back. All revolutions emerge in conjunctures saturated with unique contra-dictions, contingencies, class alignments and struggles.

This concrete confluence of forces constitutes the political conditions that revolutionaries must not only understand, but also act and organize within. The ‘political event’ of gaining state power, whether by taking parliament or in a collapse of the existing political regime, has proven time and again to be less crucial than the social revolution of building capacities for self-government and the democratization and socialization of institutional resources. The ‘event’, in itself, may be a dramatic rupture that opens up new political possibilities and imaginaries bursting beyond the limited horizons of capitalist market calculation. But it will never be a sufficient condition for the exploited and oppressed to build their own capacities for establishing collective, rather than competitive, ways of living through developing socialist democracy. There is a need, in this context, for the left to maintain an openness to, and patience with, the quite varied experiments in social alternatives to neoliberalism as they emerge in the current period. It is anything but clear where new space for projects of structural reform might open up, or more profound ruptures might suddenly burst onto the political scene.

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Reviews

  • “Re-examine revolution, but surely now is not the time to abandon it.”

    — Chris Nineham for Counterfire (full review)

Contents

  • New Socialist Strategies – Or Detours? (Greg Albo)
  • Are the Multitudes Communing? Revolutionary Agency and Political Forms Today (Jodi Dean)
  • Are Racial Minorities Revolutionary Agents? (Adolph Reed)
  • Revolutionary Feminisms Today (Zillah Eisenstein)
  • Accelerated Technology, Decelerated Revolution (Nina Power)
  • Beyond Global Warming: Is Solar Communism Possible? (David Schwartzman)
  • Revolution and Counter-Revolution in an Era of Climate Change (Andrea Malm)
  • Ecosocialist Strategy for a New Workers’ Party in South Africa (Patrick Bond)
  • Eurocommunism and Today’s New Parties of the Radical Left (Fabien Escolona)
  • Assessing Syriza in Power (Michalis Spourdalakis)
  • Interrogating 21st Century Revolution in Latin America: The Bolivian Case (Robert Cavooris)
  • The Revolution Disarmed? Cuba and Venezuela (Steve Striffler)
  • Marx and Engels on Revolutionary Power: An Updated Distillation (August Nimtz)
  • Leninism’s Fault Lines: Looking Back to 1917 (Anthony Zurbrugg)
  • China’s Revolutionary Legacy (Wang Hui)
  • The Marxist-Feminist Meaning of Revolution (Frigga Haug)
  • The Revolutionary Party as an ‘Essentially Contested Concept’ in Social Theory (Costas Eleftheriou)
  • Dual Power Yesterday and Today (Richard Fidler)
  • Rethinking Revolution, Rethinking Democracy (Pierre Beaudet)
  • The Distinctive Heritage of 1917: A Critical Appraisal (Bryan Palmer & Joan Sangster)
  • Art and Revolution Today (Walter Ben Michaels)
  • Addressing the Impossible: More Alienation, Please! (Slavoj Zizek)
  • The Meaning of Revolution in the 21st Century (Leo Panitch & Sam Gindin)

Authors

  • Leo Panitch

    York University

    Leo Panitch was a Distinguished Research Professor, renowned political economist, Marxist theorist and editor of the Socialist Register. He received a B.A. (Hons.) from the University of Manitoba in 1967 and a M.Sc.(Hons.) and PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1968 and 1974, respectively. He was a Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor at Carleton University between 1972 and 1984. He was a Professor of Political Science at York University since 1984. He was the Chair of the Department of Political Science at York from 1988-1994. He was the General Co-editor of State and Economic Life series, U. of T. Press, from 1979 to 1995 and is the Co-founder and a Board Member of Studies in Political Economy. He was also the author of numerous articles and books dealing with political science including The End of Parliamentary Socialism (1997). He was a member of the Movement for an Independent and Socialist Canada, 1973-1975, the Ottawa Committee for Labour Action, 1975-1984, the Canadian Political Science Association, the Committee of Socialist Studies, the Marxist Institute and the Royal Society of Canada. He was an ardent supporter of the Socialist Project.

  • Greg Albo

    York University

    Greg Albo teaches political economy at the Department of Political Science, York University, Toronto. He is currently co-editor of the Socialist Register. He is also on the editorial boards of Studies in Political Economy, Relay, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, Canadian Dimension, The Bullet and Historical Materialism (England). Co-editor of A Different Kind of State: Popular Power and Democratic Administration and author of numerous articles in journals such as Studies in Political Economy, Socialist Register, Canadian Dimension, and Monthly Review.

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