Review: “Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Work” – Paul Frölich

I have a lot of mixed feelings about Paul Frölich’s famous biography of Rosa Luxemburg. A lot of what is written in the book strikes me as ultra-left, maybe even Trotskyist; and since I am not expert on Luxemburg’s life and her theories, I find it difficult to determine how much of the ultra-leftism, encompassing everything from dubious economic conclusions to outright anti-Sovietism, is an … Continue reading Review: “Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Work” – Paul Frölich

Review: “The Lama Question: Violence, Sovereignty, and Exception in Early Socialist Mongolia” – Christopher Kaplonski

Christopher Kaplonski’s “The Lama Question: Violence, Sovereignty, and Exception in Early Socialist Mongolia” is the third book I have read about socialist Mongolia. The book is not a comprehensive historical analysis of the struggle between Mongolian socialists and the feudal Buddhist establishment like its name might suggest. Rather, Kaplonski’s interest is in elaborating on anthropological theories of state violence, especially Giorgio Agamben “state of exception” … Continue reading Review: “The Lama Question: Violence, Sovereignty, and Exception in Early Socialist Mongolia” – Christopher Kaplonski

Review: “Scandinavian Social Democracy Today” – O. K. Timashkova

“Scandinavian Social Democracy Today” by O. K. Timashkova is one of the many books by Progress Publishers, naturally one of my favourite publishers, that I recently acquired from Gould’s Books in Australia. Obviously a Marxist-Leninist analysis of Scandinavian social democracy and so-called “democratic socialism” by a Soviet scholar intrigued me. Timashkova really dives into the political economy of the Scandinavian countries, mostly Sweden but also … Continue reading Review: “Scandinavian Social Democracy Today” – O. K. Timashkova

Review: “Super Profits and Crises! Modern U.S. Capitalism” – Victor Perlo

I still have one more chapter to read (“Socialism vs. Capitalism”) but I couldn’t wait to share this book with everyone because this book is FRIGGIN AWESOME! Victor Perlo was a Marxist-Leninist economist and statistician. In “Super Profits and Crises! Modern U.S. Capitalism,” Perlo combines an immense amount of economic and statistical data with the most outstanding Marxist-Leninist analysis. But it isn’t only data that … Continue reading Review: “Super Profits and Crises! Modern U.S. Capitalism” – Victor Perlo

Review: “One Union in Wood: A Political History of the International Woodworkers of America” – Jerry Lembcke and William M. Tattam

“One Union in Wood: A Political History of the International Woodworkers of America” by Jerry Lembcke and William M. Tattam is one of the BEST labour studies books I have ever read. The authors don’t just examine the history of the IWA chronologically, such as the various strike battles and other struggles of Canadian and American lumber workers, like what most union histories do. This … Continue reading Review: “One Union in Wood: A Political History of the International Woodworkers of America” – Jerry Lembcke and William M. Tattam

Review: “Japan’s New Imperialism” – Rob Steven

“Japan’s New Imperialism” by Rob Steven is a slightly-dated (published 1990) but nonetheless comprehensive analysis of the rise of Japanese imperialism in Southeast Asia since the 1970s. Since the end of decolonization, “a new revolutionary force is sweeping through and transforming Southeast Asia. That force is capitalism, and once again the catalytic upsurge in its development is coming from Japan,” so begins the book. Examining … Continue reading Review: “Japan’s New Imperialism” – Rob Steven

An Analysis of Soviet Economic Policy in the Periphery: Tajikistan in Context

Map Source: https://www.freeworldmaps.net/asia/tajikistan/map.html

Below is a copied and pasted version of a paper I published on Academia.edu (here) in which I examine the economic relationship between Tajikistan and the Soviet Union.

The economic relations between the Russian Soviet federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) (the centre) and the Soviet Union’s peripheral republics has frequently been described as ‘colonial’.

Nowhere is this colonial narrative more common than when discussing Tajikistan. The least industrially developed of the Soviet Union’s fifteen republics, there is no shortage of literature describing Tajikistan as a Soviet colony. According to Jesse Driscoll, “Tajikistan was never more than a frontier cotton colony.”[1] Similarly, Robert Strayer describes how the “imposition of a single-crop, cotton-growing economy on large parts of Central Asia during the Stalin years had created a highly dependent, almost colonial relationship with the more developed regions of the Soviet Union.”[2]

The theory of Tajikistan’s de facto status as a Soviet colony is attractive to scholars of Central Asia due to the civil war that engulfed Tajikistan between 1992-97. For decades scholars have debated the various factors that contributed to the outbreak of violence: regionalism, Islamic militancy and the spillover of the war in Afghanistan (one of the most famous mujahideen warlords, Ahmed Shah Massoud, was a Tajik), the overthrow of the Soviet Union, etc.[3] Yet, as Idil Tunçer-Kılavuz notes, none of these factors, collectively or individually, explain why Tajikistan experienced civil war, since all these factors also existed in Uzbekistan, including the existence of a powerful Uzbek warlord in Afghanistan, Abdul Rashid Dostum, with cross-border connections.[4] “Uzbekistan resembles Tajikistan in many ways,” writes Tunçer-Kılavuz:

Unlike the other Central Asian countries, the territories of today’s Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have long been home to sedentary societies. The literature on Central Asia describes their societies as having been influenced by Islam to a greater extent than the other Central Asian countries. They have similar social cleavage structures in terms of salience of regional identities and the prevalence of Islamic sentiment. Both their economics are based on agriculture. They share the legacy of the same Soviet past, having lived under the same Soviet institutions and policies, and then separated from the collapsed state. Economic factors stated as the causes of civil war in Tajikistan were valid for Uzbekistan as well. Both countries suffered from poverty, and the end of subsidies from the Soviet Union. They had similar social structures, with largely rural societies. A large degree of intermingling between their populations has taken place.[5]

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Marxism and the National Question: Nagorno-Karabakh in Context

Below is a copied and pasted version of a paper I published on Academia.edu (here) in which I attempt to apply Marxist dialectics and Lenin’s theory of the right of nations to self-determination to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. For the full bibliography, please visit my Academia.edu page.

(Featured image source: https://karabakhfacts.com/nagorno-karabakh-republic-artsakh-map/)

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, social disintegration and political instability caused by the overthrow of the Soviet Union sparked numerous ethnic and territorial conflicts in many newly independent Soviet republics. Some of these conflicts never ended but became “frozen” (a slightly misleading but frequently used term) due to stalemate, leaving some regions de facto independent for the last several decades.

Among these “frozen” conflicts is that which involves Nagorno-Karabakh (officially known as the Republic of Artsakh). Between 1988-94, Karabakh Armenians, with the support of the Armenian SSR (later the Republic of Armenia), fought a brutal war against the Azerbaijani SSR (later the Republic of Azerbaijan). The war killed an estimated 20,000, and displaced another 1.5 million, making it one of the bloodiest post-Soviet conflicts[1]. In April 2016, fighting erupted between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan, in which “dozens of Armenian and Azerbaijani tanks ‘squared off against one another in open battle.’”[2]

On the one hand, Karabakh Armenians, supported by Armenia, argue that Nagorno-Karabakh has the right to self-determination. On the other, Azerbaijani leaders, supported by the U.S. and most Western countries, Turkey,[3] and Israel,[4] argue that Nagorno-Karabakh’s secession violates the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

What can Marxism and Lenin’s theory of the right of nations to self-determination tell us about the conflict vis-à-vis Nagorno-Karabakh? This is more than an exercise in semantics; Nagorno-Karabakh is the “most dangerous unresolved conflict in wider Europe,” writes Thomas de Waal, with the potential for a new “catastrophic war”[5].

In this paper I will attempt to argue, using Marxism and Lenin’s theory of the right of nations to self-determination under specific conditions as my basis, that Nagorno-Karabakh should cede from Azerbaijan.

Continue reading “Marxism and the National Question: Nagorno-Karabakh in Context”