Articles by James Robertson

About James Robertson

James Robertson is originally from Tamworth, Australia. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of History at New York University where he is researching the intellectual history of Yugoslav socialism.

The Life and Death of Yugoslav Socialism

The following originally appeared at Jacobin. During the Cold War, the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia represented to many a viable alternative to the Soviet model. Grounded by workplace self-management, the Yugoslav system seemingly gave workers the right to exercise democratic control on the shop floor. The distinct Yugoslav path to socialism found admirers around the world. In Eastern Europe, the combination of market socialism and self-management offered a model for anti-Stalinist reformers. In the capitalist West, democratic socialists hopefully viewed the experiment as a more “human” sociali ..

Transgression as ends and means: The trial of Kaur Kender

Early last year the Estonian writer and controversial public figure Kaur Kender was formally charged with production of child pornography. The charges related to a novella Kender penned in the winter of 2014 entitled Untitled 12, which depicts the violent sexual abuse of women and children by an unnamed protagonist. The persecution of the novella’s author has ensured that it has achieved an infamy incommensurate with its literary worth. Kender’s trial began in May in Tallinn. At the request of the prosecutor, Lea Pähkel, the trial has been partially closed ‘for reasons of public morality’ bu ..

On Czech Marxism: An interview with Ivan Landa and Jan Mervart

LeftEast’s James Robertson speaks with Czech scholars Ivan Landa and Jan Mervart about their current project collating and translating some of the key texts from the history of Czech Marxism. Robertson: Both of you are currently involved in publishing a series of English translations of works by Czech (and Slovak?) Marxists. Can you say a few words about this project? How did it come about? Which philosophers you are working on? Landa: In fact we are currently pursuing two bigger parallel editorial projects: English translations of some of the most interesting Czech Marxist thinkers and besides that the cri ..

The fight for socialism in Slovenia. An interview with Anej Korsika

Anej Korsika

Anej Korsika is a political scientist, a member of the Marxist think tank, Institute for Labour Studies in Ljubljana and a member of the socialist party Initiative for Democratic Socialism. James Robertson is a historian of Yugoslavia, a member of the International Socialist Organization and of the editorial board of Left East.  JR: Let’s start with a brief history of the Initiative for Democratic Socialism (IDS) and its role in the formation of the Združena levica (UL, United Left) earlier this year. What are the origins of IDS?  AK: The Initiative for Democratic Socialism, to use the old cliche, has a ..

Bringing the class back in(to what?): A response to F. Poenaru

In his recent analysis of events in Ukraine, Florin Poenaru raises several points whose relevance goes well beyond the specific situation in that country. They speak to important problems that concern the (re-)building of the revolutionary Left in post-socialist Eastern Europe more broadly. This piece responds to some of these points in an effort to contribute to a wider political discussion on the strategies and analysis of the Left today. The central argument here concerns Florin’s call for Leftists working in and on Eastern Europe to ‘bring class back’ when assessing the politics of mass move ..

Ukraine’s protest movement: the far-right in focus. An interview with Tetiana Bezryk

An interview of James Robertson with Tetiana Bezryk. 1.In the past few weeks we’ve seen the government make significant concessions to the protests – the repeal of the anti-protest laws and the resignation of Prime Minister Azarov. Why has the government decided to make these compromises? Does this have anything to do with the recent radicalization of the protests (the confrontation with the police on Hrushevky street, the occupation of the Ministry of Justice)? First of all, it is worth mentioning that these new-old laws, which were adopted on January 16, the so-called ‘Black Thursday laws̵ ..