‘If, in this country, the way to freedom runs through prison, we are ready to go’

August 6, 2014

Russian anti-fascist Alexei Gaskarov’s statement in court

UPDATE, 18 August: Alexei Gaskarov and Alexander Margolin were today sentenced to three years and six months in prison; Ilya Gushchin to two years and six months; and Elena Kokhtareva to a suspended sentence of three years and three months.

The verdicts on the second group of defendants in the Bolotnaya Square case – brought against participants in the Russian protest movement of 2011-12 – will be announced on 18 August in Zamoskvoretsky Court in Moscow. The prosecutor has asked the court to sentence Alexander Margolin and Alexei Gaskarov to four years in prison; Ilya Gushchin, to three years and three


Alexei Gaskarov in court. Photo from gaskarov.info

months in prison; and Elena Kokhtareva, to three years and three months suspended, with four years of probation. All four defendants have been accused under Article 212 Part 2 (involvement in riots) and Article 318 Part 1 (use of non-threatening violence against a public official) of the Russian Federal Criminal Code. On 4 August, 28-year-old Alexei Gaskarov made his closing statement in court. This is the complete text of his speech.

The so-called Bolotnaya Square Case has been symbolic in the sense that through it the public sees how the authorities interact with the opposition, with those people whose viewpoint differs from the general line.

The first thing I wanted to talk about is something that was not addressed in the trial, but which I think is important: why on 6 May [2012], despite Read the rest of this entry »

John Maclean: the accuser of capitalism

August 1, 2014

To mark the 100th anniversary of the first world war, People & Nature today publishes Accuser of Capitalism: John Maclean’s Speech from the Dock on 9 May, 1918. (Introduction here, text of speech here.) Maclean, a Scottish Marxist, was one of a small number of socialists across
accuserEurope who denounced their governments’ participation in the war, urged workers to resist it, and hoped that it would be superceded by class war.

Maclean was jailed in 1916 for anti-government activity and released after a campaign of support. He was re-arrested in 1918 and charged under the Defence of the Realm Act with actions – public anti-war speeches to big Read the rest of this entry »

World war one and 100 years of counter-revolution

August 1, 2014

A guest post by Mark Kosman

In 1871, Karl Marx wrote that governments use war as a fraud, a ‘humbug, intended to defer the struggle of the classes’.[1] In 1914, that fraud was so effective that not only most workers but also

A detail from Stormtroops Advancing Under A Gas Attack, by Otto Dix. (See "About the picture", below

A detail from Stormtroops Advancing Under A Gas Attack, by Otto Dix. (See “About the picture”, below

most Marxists supported their respective nation’s rush to war. Ever since then, governments have used war to defer class struggle and prevent revolution. But this strategy cannot last forever.

The great unrest and the great war

In all the commemorations for the start of World War One it is unlikely that there will be many references to the huge strike wave that preceded the war. But this strike wave, known as the Great Unrest, created considerable insecurity among Britain’s elites. This was especially the case as these strikes coincided with other disturbing social movements such as the nationalist upsurge in Ireland and the increasingly violent campaign for women’s suffrage.

By the summer of 1914, workers were mobilising for what the left reformist commentators, Sydney and Beatrice Webb, called ‘an almost revolutionary outburst of gigantic industrial disputes.’ The future Prime Minister, Lloyd George, warned that if these industrial disputes Read the rest of this entry »

The Boeing 777: can Putin back down?

July 20, 2014

This article by ILYA BUDRAITSKIS, a Russian historian, researcher and socialist activist, was published on Friday 18 July, on Openleft.ru in Russian and on LeftEast in English.

We can say with confidence that the tragedy of Boeing 777, which took the lives of 298 people, has brought the conflict in Eastern Ukraine to a principally new level. Now the main centers of power – Russia, the US, and the EU – must make themselves known and must take

The crash, seen from a nearby village

The crash, seen from a nearby village

the responsibility for stopping the war or, conversely, for its practical legitimation and expansion.  Even considering the possibility that the plane was shot down by mistake, it is events of such magnitude that divide history into “before” and “after.” “After” such an event the possibilities of “strange,” “hybrid,” and other “wars without war” have been exhausted.

Over the past several months, as an endless supply of people and weapons has passed through the gaping hole in the Russo-Ukrainian border [to support the separatist forces], the nerve centre of the diplomatic Read the rest of this entry »

‘A gangster-police putsch, presented in “people’s” wrapping’

July 20, 2014

This interview with VT, an anarchist based in Donetsk, was conducted by the Russian anarchist group Avtonomnoe Deistvie, in early May – that is, before the intensification of military conflict and the Kyiv government’s “anti terrorist operation”. So VT comments not on the effect of the conflict, but on the character of the separatist movement and its relationship to the working-class community – and that is why I publish it here. GL.

Are there anarchist groups in the Donbas?

Anarchist activity is low, there isn’t much of it. So its influence on the political situation is small. There are “unorganised” anarchist groups in several cities in the Donbas: Donetsk, Avdiyivka, Kramatorsk, Horlivka, Mariupol, and Yasynuvata. Each group probably includes less than ten people. There is also a Revolutionary Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists Read the rest of this entry »

The ideologue who tried to make environmentalism mean population control  

July 13, 2014

Review of The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon and our gamble over Earth’s future, by Paul Sabin (Yale University Press, 2013).

It was the Indian food crisis of the mid 1960s that turned the biologist Paul Ehrlich from a field researcher on butterflies into one of the USA’s most vocal environmentalists and population control advocates.

Ehrlich published his best-seller The Population Bomb – which warned that “mankind will

Pete Seeger/ Earth Day 1970

Pete Seeger, the folk singer, at Earth Day 1970. See “About the photo”, below.

breed itself into oblivion” and called for “radical surgery” to excise the “cancer” of population growth – in the summer of 1968.

The American elite was receptive to Ehrlich’s “grim predictions about the future”, Paul Sabin writes in The Bet. That year, violent revolt swept through American cities; the USA was mired in the Vietnam war and faced opposition to it at home; and student and worker protests swept through the rich countries and culminated in the French general strike.

Ehrlich became a media superstar, doing more than 100 public lectures and 200 radio and TV shows in 1970 alone. The Population Bomb was reprinted 22 times in three years. In the Read the rest of this entry »

Ukraine: Russian White Guards in the Donbass

July 6, 2014

Here ZBIGNIEW MARCIN KOWALEWSKI challenges the myth that the separatists in eastern Ukraine are leaders of a workers’ uprising. Kowalewski is deputy editor of the Polish edition of Le Monde Diplomatique and author of several works on the history of Ukraine. This article appears here with his permission; it was also published in English by International Viewpoint, in French by Mediapart, and in Russian by the Praxis Centre.

There is no revolution in the Donbass, not even a mass movement. They exist only in the propaganda of the supporters of an armed separatist movement, led by far-right nationalists. Imported from Russia, they seek the

A border post in Luhansk, through a shot-up truck windscreen. Photo: uainfo.org

A border post in Luhansk, through a shot-up truck windscreen. Photo: uainfo.org

restoration of the Tsarist Empire. The Kremlin supports this reincarnation of the White Guards and the Black Hundreds[1] who are destabilising Ukraine; but it seems that it is also afraid of them.

On April 22, Boris Kagarlitsky affirmed (here, Russian original here) that “the successful uprising of hundreds of thousands (and perhaps millions) of people in eastern Ukraine is not to be explained on the basis of Russian interference”. An uprising of hundreds of thousands, even millions? Even the propaganda of the Russian regime aimed at people abroad, with the channel Russia Today in the forefront, is a thousand times more measured.

On the international left, almost nobody knows Russian, and even less Ukrainian; so when the left wants to know what is happening in Ukraine, it finds itself in a catastrophic situation. So as not to depend on the Western media, it is condemned to have recourse to the English-language propaganda of the Putin regime and to that of the so-called “anti-imperialist networks” which are pro-Russian (often “red-brown” or downright brown) as well as what is Read the rest of this entry »


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