Invent the Future

"We must dare to invent the future" - Thomas Sankara

This is a slightly expanded version of an article that appeared in the Morning Star on 15 May 2017. Given the number of biographies of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara that have been published in the 50 years since his assassination, many authors would probably struggle to find anything original to write about. Che’s youngest brother Juan Martín Guevara, however, is able to offer an unparalleled insight into the family life, background, influences and early experiences that helped to form the legendary revolutionary. Such is the stated purpose of the book: to take Che down from the cross; ”to get people to […]

Fidel Castro Alejandro Ruz will be forever remembered as the pre-eminent leader of the Cuban Revolution; its chief strategist and charismatic comandante; a deeply principled, courageous, compassionate and intelligent human being; a guerrilla and a statesman; a relentless fighter against exploitation, oppression and injustice. But we should be careful not to treat him as some kind of museum relic or historical curiosity. One can study the life of Genghis Khan for the sake of general interest, without expecting to harvest lessons with direct application to modern political life; however, Fidel operated in the current political era: the era of the […]

This is a slightly expanded version of an article that appeared in the Morning Star on 4 January 2017. In this short book, the renowned Egyptian Marxist Samir Amin presents an overview of the world’s first large-scale experiment building socialism – the Soviet Union – and contextualises it within what he describes as the “long transition”: the extended, overlapping processes of capitalism’s death and socialism’s birth. The idea of the long transition is essentially a response to the end-of-history narrative prevailing in mainstream politics, ie that socialism has failed and that capitalist liberal democracy is permanently established as the pinnacle […]

This wasn’t supposed to happen. When Jeremy Corbyn announced, a few months ago, that he was throwing his hat in the ring for the Labour leadership contest, many – myself included – were sceptical. The whole project seemed irrelevant and hopeless; even if he did get sufficient MP nominations to get on the ballot, everybody knew that his candidature would end in ignominious defeat. The episode was set to provide yet more proof (as if any were needed) that the entire ‘left Labour’ project was long past its sell-by date. The bookmakers, whose predictions are generally far more reliable than […]

Samora Machel is the name most closely associated with the liberation of Mozambique from Portuguese colonialism and the construction of an independent post-colonial state. Born on 29 September 1933, he would today be celebrating his 82nd birthday had he not died in a plane crash in 1986, almost certainly engineered by the intelligence services of apartheid South Africa. Machel was a deeply committed and capable leader, accomplished revolutionary strategist, firm anti-imperialist and proud Marxist-Leninist. His story, and that of the Mozambican Revolution, deserves serious study. It’s unfortunate that the legacy of Machel, Frelimo (the Mozambique Liberation Front) and the heroic […]

People of Ho Chi Minh’s calibre don’t come around often. One of the great revolutionaries of the twentieth century, he excelled as a leader, a teacher, a journalist, a strategist, an internationalist, a unifier, a guerrilla fighter, a negotiator, a creative thinker, a poet. He endured decades of exile and then decades of war. He suffered prison and torture in China in the early 1940s (by which time he was already in his fifties). As a guerrilla leader and then as the president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam under attack from French colonialism, he lived with his comrades in […]

10 April 2015 marks the 22nd anniversary of the tragic assassination of Chris Hani, a legendary freedom fighter and one of the most courageous and talented leaders of the anti-apartheid struggle. Although he was only 50 at the time of his death, Hani’s contribution to the struggle was that of several lifetimes. Born in 1942 in the Transkei, he was politicised by the sheer poverty that he saw around him in his early life. He joined the ANC’s Youth League at the age of 15, and quickly went on to become a dedicated organiser. As a student radical at the […]

Amílcar Lopes da Costa Cabral, one of the greatest anti-colonial leaders of the twentieth century, was born on the 12th of September 1924 in Bafatá, a small town in central Guinea-Bissau. Today, ninety years later, let us take a moment to remember this brilliant revolutionary – the undisputed leader and architect of the struggle to liberate Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde from the yoke of Portuguese colonialism. As a revolutionary theorist, as a guerrilla fighter, as an inspiring agitator, as an uncompromising internationalist, Cabral’s legacy continues to inform the global struggle against imperialism and for socialism. From a base of […]

This is an expanded version of a speech given by Carlos Martinez at the event ‘STRIKE THE EMPIRE BACK: legacies and examples of liberation from neo-colonialism and white supremacy’ As far as most people are concerned, ‘ideology’ is a term of abuse, an insult you fling around: we accuse people of being “too ideological”, of being bookworms, of dividing people with “isms and schisms”, of “thinking too much” (I have to say I’ve never in my life met anyone who actually thinks too much, but I’ve met plenty of people who don’t think enough!). The Cult of Activism There is […]

“The Grenada Revolution was a grasp of joy … that life unfulfilled could and would change, be transformed for a people who had known 400 years of transportation, slavery, colonialism, neocolonial dictatorship and exportation to the cities of Europe and North America. Joy that the organised genius of ordinary people could at last be applied to develop their own resources for their own future. There was the joy of education, of seeing your children achieving free secondary schooling and your illiterate mother learning how to read and write, the joy of seeing wasted, unemployed youths forming cooperatives and planting the […]