The Bourgeois RevolutionsRobert Lochhead
IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 11/12 (72pp. €6, £3.75, $6)
The current political relevance of the history of past revolutions is revealed in the ongoing polemics over the meaning of the French revolution of 1789 and the English revolution of 1640-60. The comparative study of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century revolutions is also indispensable to analyzing the particularities of the various Western European states to which these revolutions gave birth. It is a necessary reference point, finally, for the study of revolutions in the Third World. The idea that they were 'bourgeois revolutions' is central to the Marxist analysis of contemporary society. Robert Lochhead's study presents their general features and examines two case studies (the Low Countries and England) in depth to illustrate the complexity of the classes, parties and leaders who made these revolutions. It concludes with an overview of various interpretations of the nature of these revolutions, showing the diversity of the Marxist tradition in this regard.
Robert Lochhead was born in 1950 in Bern, Switzerland. He teaches biology and has been an activist in the public services union and a city councillor elected on the Socialist Alternative/Green slate in Nyon, Switzerland. He is the author of many articles published in the newspaper La Brèche, notably on ecology.
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The Formative Years of the Fourth International (1933-38)Daniel Bensaïd
IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 9 (48 pp. €2.75, £2, $3.25)
A new problem was posed to the movement for socialist democracy in the 1930s. To its fight against capitalism, it now had to add a fight against Stalinist bureaucracy in the USSR. In The Formative Years of the Fourth International, Daniel Bensaïd outlines the arguments that led part of this movement to found an independent international organization. He unravels the historical reasons, conjunctural prognoses and organizational choices behind the decision, showing in particular that the foundation of the Fourth International in 1938 concluded a prolonged attempt to regroup many anti-Stalinist, anti-fascist and anti-imperialist currents, beginning in 1933. Due to the concrete conditions of the 1930s, however, the regroupment failed to broaden the Fourth Internationalist current significantly.
Daniel Bensaïd was born in 1946. He was active in the French student and anti-imperialist movements that led up to May 1968. Drawing the lessons of the failure of the general strike, he emerged as one of the main advocates of building an independent radical left. He is an IIRE Fellow and teaches sociology at the University of Paris. His many published works include: Portugal: la révolution en marche (1975), Mai si! rebelles et repentis (with Alain Krivine, 1988), Le pari mélancolique (1997) and Les irréductibles: théorèmes de la résistance à l'air du temps (2001).
The Porto Alegre Alternative: Direct Democracy in ActionIain Bruce, editor
IIRE/Pluto Press, Notebook for Study and Research no. 35/36 (162 pp., € 19.20, £12.99, $23.50)
Brazilian socialists André Passos Cordeiro, Ubiratan de Souza, Pepe Vargas, Raul Pont and João Machado describe in The Porto Alegre Alternative how Porto Alegre's participatory budget was born, how it works, how it developed in interaction with popular movements and spread with local Workers' Party (PT) victories, and how it has staked out new ground in promising a radically democratic alternative in the interests of the poor to top-down political and economic decision-making. They argue that the 'Porto Alegre' model does offer an alternative to capitalist politics as usual, but that Brazilian President Luis Ignacio da Silva ('Lula') unfortunately does not seem to have learned its lessons. As editor Iain Bruce writes, the participatory budget's linkage of socialism and direct democracy takes up 'an inescapable task for those seeking to restate the case for socialism in the twenty-first century, in an idiom that makes sense to the new generations coming to politics after Seattle and the immense movement against war in Iraq'.
Iain Bruce is a British journalist and filmmaker who has made documentaries for Channel 4 and the BBC. His latest documentary touches on Porto Alegre and its connection with the wider global justice movement.
The Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of the New World DisorderGilbert Achcar
IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 33/34 (128 pp., €15.00, £10.00, $15.99)
The US shift towards "unlimited war" precipitated by the events of 11 September 2001 was long in the making. Gilbert Achcar traces the rise of militant, anti-Western Islamic fundamentalism to its roots in US policies aimed at control ling the oil reserves of the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, the "Muslim Texas". He examines the disintegration of class-ridden societies in the Middle East today and shows how these processes are rooted in the interests and policies of US imperialism. The US war on terrorism is raising this disintegration to new heights of destruction and disorder.
IIRE Fellow Gilbert Achcar lived in Lebanon until moving to France and most recently Berlin, where he is a researcher in social sciences at the Centre Marc Bloch. He is a frequent contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique, editor of The Legacy of Ernest Mandel and author of several books, including the forthcoming Eastern Cauldron.'