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Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal seeks to promote the exchange of information, experience of struggle, theoretical analysis and views of political strategy and tactics within the international left. It is a forum for open and constructive dialogue between active socialists from different political traditions. It seeks to bring together those in the international left who are opposed to neoliberal economic and social policies, and reject the bureaucratic model of "socialism" that arose in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China.

Inspired by the unfolding socialist revolution in Venezuela, as well as the continuing example of socialist Cuba, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is a journal for "Socialism of the 21st century", and the discussions and debates flowing from that powerful example of socialist renewal.

Links is also proud to be the sister publication of Green Left Weekly, the world's leading red-green newspaper, and we urge readers to visit that site regularly.

Please explore Links and subscribe (click on "Subscribe to Links" or "Follow Links on Twitter" in the left menu). Links welcomes readers' constructive comments (but please read the "Comments policy" above).

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Zwelinzima Vavi: The 'root cause' of the crisis in COSATU

For more on COSATU, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.

Speech by Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), to mark the 40th anniversary of the South African Labour Bulletin

November 21, 2014 -- COSATU, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- First let me say congratulations to the South African Labour Bulletin on its remarkable achievement of 40 years of uninterrupted critical publishing. Thank you for the honour of this invitation. For 40 years you have provided a voice to the voiceless; you exposed the brutality of the capitalist system that continue to brutally exploit workers; you have created space for policy debates that shaped the policies not only of trade unions but of the liberation movement as a whole.

Why greens must be red and reds must be green

November 16, 2014 -- Climate & Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- In these videos Ian Angus argues for a movement based on socialist and ecological principles, to save humanity and the rest of nature from capitalist ecocide.

Angus is editor of Climate & Capitalism, a founding member of the Ecosocialist International Network, co-author of the Belem Ecosocialist Declaration and editor of The Global Fight for Climate Justice. The presentation, delivered in Ottawa, Ontario, on November 16, 2014, was organised and co-sponsored by Ottawa Ecosocialists and Ottawa Socialist Project. It was recorded and edited by Albert Dupuis.

In part one, Ian Angus’s talk is introduced by Richard Fidler, who writes and blogs at Life on the Left. In part two, the question and answer period is chaired by Peter Gose, professor of sociology at Carleton University.

Rebellious Catalan vote rocks Spanish establishment

Click for more on political developments in Catalonia and the Spanish state.

By Dick Nichols

November 12, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On November 9, 2.305 million residents of Catalonia defied a November 4 Spanish Constitutional Court ban and voted on what future political status they wanted for their country, which is presently one of the 17 “autonomous communities” (regional governments) within the Spanish state.

This “participatory process” presented voters with the same ballot paper as the original non-binding consultation that had been adopted by the Catalan parliament on September 26. That too had been suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court on appeal by the national government of People’s Party (PP) Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

After this first legal veto the Catalan minority government of right-nationalist party Convergence and Union (CiU) adopted a substitute ballot for November 9, one that had more the status of a mass survey of public opinion than a formal plebiscite.

Ebola epidemic exposes the sickness of the global economic and political system

An awareness campaign against Ebola in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, September 25, 2014.

By the Peoples Health Movement

November 2014 -- PHM Global News, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On August 8, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola outbreak a "public health emergency of international concern". The declaration came four months after the WHO reported a major Ebola outbreak in Guinea in West African. The epidemic broke in Guinea and spread to three of its neighbours – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The cumulative number of cases and deaths as at November 12 stood at more than 13,000 cases and 5160 deaths. Most public health experts agree that the official figures are a major underestimation of the extent and spread of the disease.

Climate activism: 'It's not enough to criticise. Build movements that confront the crisis'

Gemma Weedall addresses Socialism 2014 in Malaysia.

By Gemma Weedall

[This is based on a presentation Socialist Alliance's Gemma Weedall gave to Socialism 2014, a conference organised by the Socialist Party of Malaysia. ]

November 20, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- Climate change is the biggest and most urgent threat facing humanity today. We are seeing global temperatures rise at an unprecedented rate, with 13 of the 14 warmest years on record having occurred in the past 14 years.

In fact, if you are under 37 years of age, you have never seen a year of below average temperature.

Last year in Australia, over 150 weather records were broken, including experiencing our hottest day, week, month and year on record. It is likely that these records will not be long-standing, with all signs indicating they will be broken again this coming summer.

There are predictions that at current rates of emissions increases, the Arctic will be ice free in summer as soon as four years from now, but in the best case scenario, in about 20 years.

This represents a dangerous tipping point that will take us into uncharted territory from which we may not be able to return.

United States: Lorain County labour defends political independence

Ohioans successfully defeated Right to Work last time -- but it may come around again. Meanwhile, unions around Lorain have had it with Democrats who attack labour. Photo: AFSCME.

Click for more on left electoral politics at the municipal level.

By Bruce Bostick

November 17, 2014 -- Labor Notes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In Ohio’s most trade union-dense county, the dominant Democratic Party machine declared war on what has historically been its own base: labour. So last year, in opposition to the machine, the labour federation in Lorain County, the Central Labor Council (CLC), ran and elected several independent candidates.

This time around, as an anti-union “Right to Work” bill looms again in Ohio, the CLC is taking aim at the leader of the pack: City of Lorain mayor Case Ritenauer.

Heaven or hell? Books look back on the German Democratic Republic

Stasi Hell or Workers’ Paradise? Socialism in the German Democratic Republic ― What Can We Learn From It?
By John Green & Bruni de la Motte
Artery Publications, 2009
50 pp.

Red Love: The Story of an East German Family
By Maxim Leo
Pushkin Press, 2013
272 pp.

Reviews by Barry Healy

November 16, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- The German Democratic Republic (GDR, or "East Germany") disappeared a quarter of a century ago after 41 years’ existence. The East German state is mostly remembered as “Stasiland”, as Anna Funder’s history of its secret police is called.

Yet, for all of its Stalinist failings, East Germany’s values still stubbornly retain many Germans’ endorsement, especially those of the eastern regions. In 2008, Der Spiegel surveyed young Germans nationwide and discovered that most defended what the GDR stood for.

This is usually dismissed as merely a form of nostalgia, but these two texts grapple with the fuller picture. What they recall are memories of when the fear of fascism could motivate whole nations ― and the promise of socialism inspired.

Husband and wife team Bruni de la Motte and John Green have personal links to the GDR. Born in Britain, Green studied in the GDR between 1964 and '68 and then worked on GDR television for 20 years.

Democratic Left Front (South Africa): 'Defend NUMSA! Struggle for an independent, socialist workers' movement'

For more on NUMSA, click HERE. More from the Democratic Left Front.

Statement by the Democratic Left Front (South Africa)

November 20, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In December 1985, millions of oppressed and exploited in South Africa and indeed across the world celebrated the birth of a giant of the working class, the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU).

Forged in struggles on factory floors, mine shafts, farms and homes of the rich across the country, the independent trade union movement became a powerful expression of the unity of the working class. COSATU embodied the principles of workers’ democracy and unity, fought for improvements in the lives of ordinary workers and played a leading role in the struggle against apartheid and for socialism.

On the eve of its 30th anniversary, COSATU’s rich legacy of independent workers’ struggles is being torn asunder. The expulsion of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) by the leadership clique of COSATU threatens the very existence of the federation.

Escocia: El Partido Socialista Escocés después del referéndum

[English at http://links.org.au/node/4123.]

Por Dick Nichols

12 de noviembre de 2014 -- Viento Sur -- La iglesia Augustine United Church de Edimburgo es un lugar frío cuando sopla el viento, como era el caso cuando el Partido Socialista Escocés (Scottish Socialist Party, SSP) celebró su conferencia anual de 2014 el pasado 25 de octubre.

Sin embargo, el ambiente se caldeó cuando los más de 200 miembros presentes del SSP pasaron a abordar los retos que plantea un vibrante nuevo periodo que se ha abierto en la política escocesa, marcado por una implicación popular sin precedentes en el activismo y el debate sobre el futuro de Escocia. Esta fase comenzó con la derrota de los defensores del “Sí” por un 55 % contra un 45 % en el referéndum por la independencia del 18 de septiembre. El efecto más sorprendente de esa victoria para el establishment del Reino Unido es el hecho de que el “victorioso” Partido Laborista Escocés, el principal partido impulsor de la campaña “Better Together” (“Mejor juntos”) contra la independencia, está ahora en crisis.

South Africa: World Bank shrugs at inequality and corporate subsidies

ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa's Lonmin's Bermuda-based "marketing" operations were revealed as a major source of tax avoidance.

Click for more by Patrick Bond. For more on South Africa, click HERE.

By Patrick Bond

November 20, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- South Africa is achieving a sizable reduction in poverty and inequality through its fiscal tools" -- that was the main claim by the World Bank’s Pretoria-based country director Asad Alam last week, in the foreword to the November 2014 report, Fiscal Policy and Redistribution in an Unequal Society.

Ukraine: 'Without peace, humanitarian crisis will be uncontrollable', warns European Left

Statement of a delegation of the Party of the European Left just returned from Kiev

November 17, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A delegation of the Party of the European Left (EL), headed by two of its vice-presidents, Margarita Mileva and Maite Mola, returned on November 16, after a four-day visit to Kiev.

The aim of the trip was to learn about the situation of the conflict in Ukraine on the ground, in such difficult moments in which the tension increases dangerously and threatens to put an end to the ceasefire, the Minsk agreements and to restart large-scale combats in the province of Donbas.

During these days, the delegation met with activists of social movements, non-governmental organisations, organisations in defence of civil and human rights of Kiev and Donbas, with independent journalists and media activists as well as the Communist Party of Ukraine.

Croatia, Slovenia: 'The left is rising again'

Demian Vokši interviewed by Vladimir Unkovski-Korica

November 5, 2014 -- LeftEast, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

The Radnička fronta (Workers’ Front, Croatia) has been recently founded and often calls itself the "Croatian Syriza". Could you tell us something more about the emergence and program of the Workers' Front? Who are you, how many are you, what do you stand for?

The Workers' Front was founded in May 2014 by a group of workers, trade unionists, students, activists and unemployed. Our goal is to create a broad progressive platform, combining the activity of a political party with direct action at the workplaces and political activism in general.

At the centre of our mission is the provision of a coherent critique of the capitalist system, and together with other progressive groups, to employ direct strategies against it. We think that a fundamental change of Croatian politics and society is necessary because the capitalist system, which is currently on the offensive in dismantling the remnants of welfare state, is inherently producing inequality, destroying the environment and increasing the ability of rich and the powerful to live off the work of the oppressed and the neglected, while simultaneously diminishing the latter’s ability to influence the political process in any meaningful way.

Mike Treen: A critique of crisis theory

November 10, 2014 -- Mike Treen, Unite Union national director, discusses why capitaism continues to have crises today and why they will continue with increasing severity until working people take power and impose democratic ownership, control and planning to suit the needs of both humanity and Mother Earth.

November 10, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following is based on talks given by Mike Treen, national director of the New Zealand Unite Union, at the annual conference of the socialist organisation Fightback, held in Wellington, May 31-June 1, 2014, and a seminar hosted by Socialist Aotearoa in Auckland on October 12.

* * *

The National Business Review reported a comment by New Zealand's minister of finance Bill English on August 15 that he had occasionally pointed out in speeches to business audiences that New Zealand has had post World War Two recessions roughly every 10 years: in 1957-58; 1967-68; the mid-1970s; the mid-1980s; 1997-98 and 2007-8. He would observe laconically: “You'd think we would see them coming.”

But of course bourgeois economists, commentators and journalists don't generally see them coming. One problem, however, is that sometimes the Marxist alternative sees them coming a little too often.

Volodymyr Ishchenko on Ukraine: Maidan, the far right and civil war

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has published various left viewpoints from the region on the political situation in Ukraine. Another video is below. For more by
Volodymyr Ishchenko
.

By Volodymyr Ishchenko

November 4, 2014 -- Danyliw Research Seminar on Contemporary Ukraine -- How significant was the participation of the far right in Maidan? Unfortunately, this question quickly falls  victim to extreme politicisation due to two phenomena: first, active propaganda aimed at discrediting Maidan by its opponents, including the Russian media, and second, by whitewashing attempts by Maidan's (left-) liberal or moderate nationalist supporters.

Climate: Are US-China announced emissions cuts enough to halt global warming?

By Maxime Combes

November 14, 2014 -- MediaPart, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- An unheard of agreement. Seen by some as historic, taking the words of US President Barack Obama and not putting them into perspective. On November 12, the media and commentators welcomed almost unanimously the joint US-China announcement on greenhouse gas emissions. But what is it really?

On November 12,  Barack Obama and China's President Xi Jinping announced their targets for cuts to their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The US announced a 26-28% reduction by 2025 compared to 2005 levels. While China envisages a peak in its GHG emissions around 2030, or if possible before.

Are these announcements really unheard of?

United States: Impressive red-green electoral campaigns in New York, Maine

Brian Jones (left) and Howie Hawkins.

November 13, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- In a mostly dismal election year, Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones gave the US left something to cheer about with their Green Party campaign for the governor and lieutenant governor of New York. (Jones is also a member of the International Socialist Organization). By getting almost 5 per cent and 200,000 votes, Hawkins-Jones had the most successful independent left-wing campaign in New York state in more than 50 years.

The Hawkins-Jones campaign was able to bring attention to struggles to defend public education and ban hydrofracking -- and to show that it's possible for the left to begin building organisation outside the Democratic Party. Howie and Brian spoke to Danny Katch about their assessment of the campaign and their thoughts about next steps.

* * *

What were your hopes for the campaign and were they realised?

Howie: We wrote four goals into our original campaign plan last January. I'll run through them:

1. At least 50,000 votes to retain our line on all New York ballots for the next four years. We easily achieved this goal.

Eastern Europe: For whom the Wall fell? Balance sheet of the transition to capitalism

The Berlin Wall comes down, 1989.

By Branco Milanovic

November 3, 2014 -- Globalinequality, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal --  As I was leaving Berlin less than a week before the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and as celebrations there were going strong, I decided to look at the balance sheet of transition countries (even if the term is no longer fully adequate) over the past quarter century.

I am originally from one of them, I worked on most of them in the 1990s, and I discussed and documented the Great Depression there in my 1998 book Income, inequality and poverty during the transition to market economies. So, I was going back to a familiar terrain.

The Rojava revolution's radical democracy

November 10, 2014 -- Tenk, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Saleh Muslim Mohamed (pictured), co-president of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) representing the independent communities of Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) and its armed wings, the People’s Defence Units (YPG) and Women’s Defence Units (YPJ), visited the Netherlands. Muslim spoke about the fight of Rojava against the Islamic State (ISIS) and the development of democratic autonomy during the Rojava revolution. Jonas Staal interviewed him afterwards.

South Africa: 'I can’t defend the expulsion of NUMSA' -- COSATU general secretary

For more on NUMSA, click HERE. For more on South Africa, click HERE.

November 13, 2104 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi (pictured above) was absent from the COSATU media briefing on November 11, in the aftermath of the November 8 expulsion of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA). In the letter below, he explains why.

* * *

Letter from COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to the COSATU affiliates and others, November 11, 2014

To: COSATU president
COSATU affiliated general secretaries
COSATU provincial secretaries

November 11, 2014

Dear Comrades

RE: THE CRISIS IN THE FEDERATION

Gerry Adams: 'The good old IRA'

November 7, 2014 -- Léargas -- November 1, 2014, was the anniversary of the execution by the British of 18-year-old Kevin Barry. He was hanged on November 1, 1920. Kevin Barry was one of the "Forgotten Ten" -– Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteers who were all executed in Mountjoy prison and buried there by the British government. He and nine other freedom fighters were afforded a state funeral a few years ago when their remains were moved from Mountjoy to Glasnevin.

I was there that day, and more important than all the pomp and ceremony of the fitting state occasion was the huge turn out of citizens who lined the pavements and joined the funeral ceremony. Kevin Barry was a victim and a hero of the Tan War – a conflict that lasted two years and was followed by a bloody civil war which saw atrocities committed by both sides.

His life and death and role as an IRA Volunteer was immortalised in song shortly after his death. "Kevin Barry" became one of the most popular rebel songs of that and subsequent generations.

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