Colours of a Revolution – Ruslan Dzarasov

Featuring Ruslan Dzarasov of the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, Department of Political Economy. From the GERG Revolutions Conference, taking place in September 2017 at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Ruslan has written extensively, in English and his native Russian, on the Russian Revolution and its legacy, political, economic and social, for contemporary Russia as well on the distinctive form of capitalism that has emerged in post-Communist Russia, including The Conundrum of Russian Capitalism. He is almost uniquely qualified to speak about the historical significance of Russian Revolution as a defining episode in the history of capitalist modernity as well as one of the most important of modern revolutions.

PRESENTATION – Russian Revolution is a product of the law of Uneven and Combined Development (UCD). It reflects domination of the core capitalist countries over the periphery of the world capitalism. Lenin’s theory of “overgrowth of a bourgeois-democratic revolution into the socialist one” and Trotsky’s theory of a “permanent revolution” reflect the fact that in conditions of periphery capitalism, bourgeois-democratic transformation is inevitably thwarted, and society is compelled to move to changes, socialist in their character. Due to lack of alternative victorious socialist revolutions and elimination of the Bolshevik oppositions in the USSR, degeneration of the Soviet society had led to restoration of capitalism. As a result, all Post-Soviet societies moved to dependent development with certain important differences: Ukraine demonstrates classical features of a periphery, while Russia is closer to the semi-peripheral status.

Exploitation of labour determines core-periphery relations of capitalism during all its history. It shaped modern global capitalism and caused its deep crisis. Exacerbation of international conflicts became one of the most important corollaries of this crisis. From standpoint of survival of the core, semi-periphery of modern capitalism should play an auxiliary role imposing discipline on the periphery and compelling it to increase its services to the core. However, the pre-crisis enormous industrial development allowed semi-periphery to accumulate great economic strength partially converted in growth of military and political power. Ukraine crisis was provoked by the West as a part of its strategy to strengthen its control over periphery.

‘Maidan’ protest as a version of ‘Coloured Revolution’ inspired and directed by the West exploited justified and essentially democratic protest of Ukrainian society against what is in fact nothing else than intrinsic features of a periphery capitalism. This bourgeois-democratic protest naturally failed to reach its proclaimed aims, facilitating violent takeover of power in Kiev by pro-Western and anti-Russian nationalistic forces. The new regime only entrenched peripheral nature of Ukrainian society. However, the abortive bourgeois-democratic movement sparked a genuine popular uprising in the South-East of the country. Being national-liberational in its immediate aims, it was fraught with socialist sentiments. However, its overgrowth in a genuine socialist movement was prevented by Russian ruling class.

Thus, the Law of UCD and the theory of a ‘Permanent revolution’ tell more about Ukraine crisis than class vision from the perspective of the ‘New Cold War’ or dogmatic ‘Two Imperialisms’ approach.

Videography by Paul S. Graham

Reassessing the Russian Revolution

From the GERG Revolutions Conference, taking place in September 2017 at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Featuring:

David Camfield (University of Manitoba) – Social Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Russia

John Riddell (University of Toronto) – Self-Emancipation in the Early Communist International

Paul Kellogg (University of Athabasca) – Stalinism and Counter-Revolution: Reflections on Trotsky’s Final Book

Videography by Paul S. Graham

Theses on Indigenous Challenges to Dominant Structures – Peter Kulchyski

Featuring Peter Kulchyski, Professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba. From the GERG Revolutions Conference, taking place in September 2017 at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Peter Kulchyski is working at the intersection of politics, law, history and culture among indigenous peoples, especially in northern Canada. He has produced a healthy body of scholarly and popular writings on these issues, insisting on the value of a materialist approach and the necessity of attention to the revolutionary possibilities brewing in bush country. His forthcoming creative non fiction, Report on an Inquiry into an Injustice, (spring 2018) uses the situation of a small group of mountain Dene to expose the hypocrisies of the contemporary capitalist state.

PRESENTATION – Could a revolution happen un-noticed by the global left? What if, in the remaining lands of gathering and hunting peoples, a forceful challenge to the political economy of contemporary social hierarchy were being staged? What if that challenge had broader implications by resisting the exploitation of extractive resources demanded by the contemporary moment of capital accumulation? Influenced by and deploying the rhetorical strategy of Walter Benjamin in his ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’ – but also drawing upon approaches to revolution in the work of British historians including Christopher Hill, Eric Hobsbawm, and E.P. Thompson, as well as anthropologist Eric Wolfe and a political philosophy tradition from Hegel and Marx to Lenin and Luxemburg — this paper will argue that, from Pimicikamak in northern Manitoba to Mapuche in Chile, the social relations and political activism of bush people may have an oversized role to play in challenging the existing global structures of capitalist and patriarchal hierarchy.

Videography by Paul S. Graham

Between Revolution and Counter Revolution in Latin America

From the GERG Revolutions Conference, taking place in September 2017 at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Featuring:

Patricia Harms (Brandon University) – Creating a Second Revolution: Gendering the Guatemalan Revolution, 1944 – 1954

Margaret Power (Illinois Institute of Technology) – Anti-Colonial Struggle and Leftist Politics: The Relationship between the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, the Communist Party of Puerto Rico, and the Communist Party USA, 1930 – 1955

Jorge Nállim (University of Manitoba) – The American Cultural Cold War, Revolutions, and Military Coups in Latin America, 1950s – 1960s

Videography by Paul S. Graham

The Russian and Chinese Revolutions and Scientific Socialism in the 21st Century – Allen Ding

Featuring Allen Ding, Professor of Political Economy and Deputy Director of the Center for Economics of Shanghai School at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, speaking at the GERG Revolutions Conference, taking place in September 2017 at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Ding is Secretary General of the World Association for Political Economy and Managing Editor of the World Review of Political Economy. He holds a Ph.D. of Economics, was a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School during 2009-2010 and has been Research Associate at Harvard Asia Center since 2010.

PRESENTATION – By analyzing the contradictions of capitalist society, Marx and Engels developed the theory of Scientific Socialism and expounded the basic framework of the new social system, which would replace capitalism. Lenin and other Russian revolutionaries combined Marxist theories with the specific situation of Russia, which led to the great victory of the October Revolution.

The positive significance of the socialism with Chinese characteristics has been acknowledged worldwide. Chinese road has provided practical experience for the modernization of developing countries and has provided significant reference for the revival of the Scientific Socialism in the 21st century.

Videography by Paul S. Graham

World Revolution in the Present and Future Tense

From the GERG Revolutions Conference, taking place in September 2017 at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Featuring:

Reinaldo Contreras (University of Winnipeg) – The Globalization of Neo-colonialism and the Future of Protest and Revolution

David Barkin and Alejandra Sanchez Jiminez (Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Mexico City) – The Collective Revolutionary Subject: New Forms of Social Transformation

Henry Heller (University of Manitoba) – Leninism, the General Intellect and World Revolution Today

Videography by Paul S. Graham

GERG 2017 Revolutions Conference – Welcome

Featuring GERG Director Radhika Desai

On September 29 to October 1, 2017, the Geopolitical Economy Research Group held its Revolutions Conference at St. John’s College, University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg.

In the 100th anniversary year of the Russian Revolutions, the conference focuses on the theme of revolution. GERG wanted to speak to the widespread and widely varying causes, contexts, conditions and consequences of modern revolutions.

As inequality, unemployment, indebtedness, social conflict, political awakening (including among indigenous peoples in Canada and internationally) and political polarization mount, the world appears poised on the cusp of radical and thoroughgoing social transformation, though of uncertain direction.

Videography by Paul S. Graham

The Russian Revolution at 100 – Kees van der Pijl

Featuring Kees van der Pijl, from the GERG Revolutions Conference, taking place in September 2017 at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Kees van der Pijl is Professor Emeritus of international relations at the University of Sussex and former director of the Centre for Global Political Economy and is currently active with the Dutch Anti Fascist Resistance, having served as its president.

PRESENTATION – The leaders of the Russian Revolution famously saw it as a permanent revolution—a social explosion of the contradictions of a pre-bourgeois society requiring it to go beyond democratic revolution towards socialism, preferably aided by simultaneous socialist transformation in Western Europe, or be defeated.

The Soviet legacy survives today not only in the contender posture being half-heartedly replicated by the BRICS countries and other emerging economies but also in historic achievements such as the defeat of Nazism in Europe and it is not without relevance in the great questions of social transformation that have become so urgent.

Videography by Paul S. Graham

Venezuela – Was Another World Possible? – Julia Brixton

Featuring Julia Buxton, from the GERG Revolutions Conference, taking place in September 2017 at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Julia Buxton of the Central European University, School of Public Policy has authored many books and articles on contemporary Latin America and had focused, in particular, on Venezuela under Chavez and since.

PRESENTATION – With a particular focus on Venezuela during the Chavez period, Buxton has gone beyond ideological rhetoric to document empirically the human impact of rapid social change and gain a deeper appreciation of the popular experience and understanding of revolution.

Videography by Paul S. Graham

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