The Socialist Register 2017
What is the meaning of revolution in the twenty-first century?
One hundred years ago, the events of October 1917 inspired socialists and oppressed peoples around the world, and it became an inevitable point of reference for twentieth-century politics. Today the Left needs to both come to terms with this legacy and to transcend it through a critical reappraisal of its broad effects — those positive and negative — on political, intellectual and cultural life.
About the book
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.
- 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)