BTS 6/27/05: 1905 Centenary

1905 ushered in a century of revolutions, wars and path-breaking discoveries. A new epoch began that held out the hope that the economy and society could be organized to serve humanity and the community, and not the reverse. In Russia the first socialist revolution was attempted and failed, yet became the dress rehearsal for the successful revolution of 1917. A new form of democratic organization emerged, the workers councils, and with it, the hope for democratic governance from below. In the US, 1905 marks the centenary of the Wobblies, the Industrial Workers of the World, whose imaginative and daring radical tactics changed the face of trade unionism, and coupled with the emergence of the soviet—which was immediately appropriated by workers everywhere as an organizing tool – the epoch of revolution had truly begun. And in science, 1905 marks a revolution in Physics, the year Albert Einstein published his special theory of relativity as well as contributing to the groundwork of the Quantum Revolution.

On tonight’s BTS we look backward from the present, melting ice age of neoliberalism –- 2005, and we hope to highlight the enduring relevance of the struggles and discoveries initiated in that period of incredible optimism, 1905. Don’t miss a minute of this program: Hillel Ticktin joins us to discuss the Russian Revolution of 1905, Paul Buhle reminds us of the creative courage of the Wobblies’ struggles for social justice, and Ansar Fayyazuddin brings Einstein’s revolution in physics,as well as his socialist political commitments alive with clarity and eloquence.

Read More for info on today's guests:

1. Hillel Ticktin, Editor of Critique, author of hundreds of articles on the political economy of Russia and the former Soviet Union, the history of socialism, the nature of finance capital, Marx, Trotsky and more. He is Professor Emeritus of the Centre for the Study of Socialist Theory and Movements and the Institute of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Glasgow.

2. June 27, 1905 (exactly 100 years ago today) witnessed the founding of the leading indigenous American revolutionary industrial union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or "wobblies.")

Paul Buhle is Senior Lecturer at Brown University, a columnist, a journalist, a former member of Students for a Democratic Society and a disciple of CLR James. Buhle founded the journal Radical America, and is the author/editor of nearly thirty books, including: From the Lower East Side to Hollywood: Jews in American Popular Culture, Taking Care of Business, Images of American Radicalism, Marxism in the United States, Radical Hollywood: The Untold Story behind America's Favorite Movies, The Encyclopedia of the American Left, The Immigrant Left in the United States, The New Left Revisited, Insurgent Images: The Agitprop Murals of Mike Alewitz. For the centenary of the Wobblies, Paul has just published Wobblies! A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World (Verso).

3. Albert Einstein: popular cultural icon, genius, Person of the Century, socialist and rationalist, a hero of our times. 100 years ago he published five papers, all landmarks, all revolutionary. Most remarkable was his special theory of relativity, but another also contributed directly to groundwork being laid of the Quantum Revolution.

Ansar Fayyazuddin, formerly of Stockholm University, teaches Physics at Baruch college, CUNY., He has written what I would argue is the best article to appear on Einstein this centenary year: it is “Einstein’s 1905 Revolution, New Physics, New Century,” published in ATC116 (May-June 2005) - click on the link to read the article in its entirety.