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After Spanish elections: establishment in funk over Podemos

 

Supporters of left-wing political force Podemos celebrate the strong showing for their party in the December 20 general elections

 


 By Dick Nichols

 

February 12, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — In an article that appeared in the January 24 edition of the Spanish daily El País, Pablo Iglesias, secretary-general of the radical Spanish political force Podemos, spells out his view of the kind of government the Spanish state needs after the December 20 general election produced a broadly left social majority but no clear majority coalition in the 350-seat Spanish parliament.

 

The governing conservative People's Party (PP) won 123 seats and the right-populist Citizens 40. On the left, the main opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) won 90 seats, while Podemos and the three people’s unity alliances in which it participated in Catalonia, Galicia and the Valencian Community won 69. The other seats went to the United Left-Popular Unity (IU-UP), and Catalan, Basque and Canary Island nationalist forces.

 

Decisive for determining what sort of government Spain will get — or if it will have to go to early elections — is which way the PSOE will jump in the wheeling-and-dealing presently taking place among the parties.

 

Is South America’s ‘progressive cycle’ at an end? Neo-developmentalist attempts and socialist projects

Protest by Indigenous Women against Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa in August last year
.

by Claudio Katz, introduction and translation by Richard Fidler

February 5, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left with permission — In this ambitious and compelling overview of the strategic and programmatic issues at stake in South America today, Argentine political economist Claudio Katz expands on many of the observations he made in an earlier interview while critically analyzing contrasting approaches to development that are being pursued or proposed. Translation from the Spanish and endnotes are by me. – Richard Fidler

Summary

Yanis Varoufakis: a manifesto for democratising Europe

 

‪European trade unionists protest outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels‬

 

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who last September stepped down from his post in the radical-left Syriza government, has launched his Democracy in Europe movement, DiEM25. Its ambitious aim is a radical overhaul of Europe’s institutions and the introduction of absolute transparency in decision-making, to be completed by 2025. Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is republishing here from Mediapart the manifesto Varoufakis presented in Berlin on February 9th, a plan to “regain control over our Europe from unaccountable ‘technocrats’ and shadowy institutions”.

 

For all their concerns with global competitiveness, migration and terrorism, only one prospect truly terrifies the Powers of Europe: Democracy! They speak in democracy’s name but only to deny, exorcise and suppress it in practice. They seek to co-opt, evade, corrupt, mystify, usurp and manipulate democracy in order to break its energy and arrest its possibilities.

 

For rule by Europe’s peoples, government by the demos, is the shared nightmare of:

 

• The Brussels bureaucracy (and its more than 10,000 lobbyists)

 

A return to the question of whether Russia is imperialist

 

A demonstrator in Istanbul holds a picture depicting Vladimir Putin during a protest against Russian military operations in Syria.

 

By Lou Proyect

February 9, 2016 —Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from The Unrepentant Marxist with permission — One of the main talking points of the pro-Kremlin left is that Russia is not imperialist. This goes hand in hand with an analysis claiming that Putin’s intervention in Ukraine was purely defensive, a move against the genuine imperialists in Washington, London and elsewhere.

 

The last time I dealt with this question was in June 2014 when I replied to Roger Annis, a tireless defender of Kremlin foreign policy. Annis has once again made the same arguments on Links magazine in Australia in an article co-written by Renfrey Clarke who shares his orientation to Russia. Titled “Perpetrator or victim? Russia and contemporary imperialism”, it rehashes many of the same arguments that are supposedly based on Lenin’s “Imperialism, the final stage of Capitalism”.

 

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on a 'government of change' for Spain

By Pablo Iglesias, translated by Dick Nichols

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The result of the December 20 election put an end to Spain's political shift-system, and opened up the historical possibility of our country having a government not exclusively dominated by the old party machines that have shared power over the last decades.

For the first time, Spain could have a pluralist and progressive government disconnected enough from past practices to: guarantee the introduction in its first 100 days of a program of immediate emergency social support; lead the constitutional change that the citizens are calling for; provide democratic solutions and new formulae of coexistence to meet the territorial crisis; and with fresh blood purge the parasitism from our institutions.

Perpetrator or victim? Russia and contemporary imperialism

 

Russian military troops take part in a military drill on Sernovodsky polygon close to the Chechnya border

 

By Renfrey Clarke and Roger Annis

 

February 7, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The decision by the Crimean people in March 2014 to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia sparked fury in right-wing circles worldwide. Urged on by the new ultra-nationalist government in Kyiv, Western leaders made haste to subject Russia to political and economic sanctions.

 

In commentaries in the Western conservative media, the meme of “Russian imperialism” took firm root. Less predictable, and calling for serious reflection, was the response in another quarter: denunciations of Russian imperialism' were echoed cheerfully by significant sections of the international left.

 

For many of the leftists concerned, “Russian imperialism” was such an obvious truth that it required no serious explaining. The British weekly Socialist Worker, for example, intoned on 11 March 2014: “It remains imperative to struggle against all sides in the imperialist conflict being fought out in Ukraine.…Russian imperialism has made its move to retain political and economic domination over the country with its takeover of Crimea ‒ this should be unconditionally condemned by all revolutionaries claiming to be anti-imperialist.”

 

But just what is imperialism, now the stuff of such effortless catch-phrases? Can the term be applied meaningfully to today’s Russian state? This article is an introduction to several longer pieces forthcoming by the authors on the same subject. We will argue that today’s state and economy in Russia fit neither empirical nor Marxian theoretical definitions of imperialism.

 

'What we've achieved so far': an interview with Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn speaks on the march in support of refugees.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Red Pepper — Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in conversation with Hilary Wainwright and Leo Panitch, talks about the meaning of ‘new politics’, Tony Benn’s legacy – and opening up Labour’s policymaking to the people

Leo: Your remarkable campaign for the leadership not only doubled the party membership but galvanised some 400,000 people overall to associate with the party. This is frankly unheard of anywhere in terms of party mobilisation on the left in recent decades. What do you think this reflects about the possibilities for a new politics, not only in Britain but more broadly – especially in Europe?

Jeremy: I think our campaign excited people who were very depressed by the election result and very depressed by the analysis that was being offered at the end of it, which was essentially that Labour wasn’t managerial enough and we had to be better managers in order to do better in the future. I only really got on the ballot paper because of a combination of people – from those who just absolutely wanted an alternative to be put, to those who thought that there ought to be a democratic debate in the party. This kicked off the social media campaign that encouraged others to get involved.

Socialist Alliance (Australia) condemns murder of Baloch leader

 

Dr Mannan Baloch

 

Thursday, February 4, 2016 -- Socialist Alliance (Australia) condemns the murder by the Pakistani military on January 30 of Dr Mannan Baloch, Secretary General of Baloch National Movement (BNM), and four other BNM members. According to eyewitnesses, the military attacked the house where they were staying with mortar fire, then troops entered and shot each of the occupants in the chest and head. The youngest victim was just 19 years old. All the victims were unarmed. The BNM is not an armed organisation. It has been waging a non-violent struggle for the independence of Balochistan, which has suffered partition and occupation by Pakistan and Iran since the 1940s.

 

BNM activists are routinely victims of violence by the Pakistani state. In April 2009, BNM president Ghulam Mohammed Baloch was kidnapped from a legal office along with two other nationalist leaders. Their mutilated bodies were found five days later.

 

This forms part of a broader campaign of Pakistani state violence in Balochistan. At least 6000 Baloch civilians were killed by Pakistani forces in the 1970s. Since 2004 about 2000 civilians have been killed. Thousands of others have been arrested or simply disappeared. Civilians displaced by Pakistani state violence number in the hundreds of thousands.

 

On Greece, Syriza, Podemos and the Democracy in Europe Movement – Yanis Varoufakis interview in El Mundo

Ex-finance minister of Greece Yanis Varoufakis

January 23, 2016 -- thoughts for the post-2008 world -- Why did you resign the very next day after the ‘no’ victory in the Greek referendum?

Yanis Varoufakis - Because the Prime Minister told me, on the night of that magnificent result, that it was time to surrender to the troika. Not what I had entered politics for and certainly not what the mandate that the 62% NO vote we had just received stipulated.

Did the European leaders press Tsipras to get rid from you? Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the Eurogroup of finances ministers, has admitted that he did so…

They knew that I would never sign up to a new non-viable, toxic loan agreement. That was clear from the beginning. I was elected to negotiate a viable agreement. And since it is the finance minister who signs these agreements on behalf of the state, it was essential to the troika that I should be removed.

Why do you think you are so uncomfortable (and considered even dangerous) for the EU leaders?

Because I was an obstacle to the maintenance of their permanent denial regarding their failed fiscal reform programs.

What has been your major mistake during the time you were Greece Finance Minister?

Rekindling Hope: SYRIZA's Challenges and Prospects

 

Greek farmers protesting against planned pension system reforms.

 

By Michalis Spourdalakis

 

January 27, 2016 -- Socialist Project -- Before turning to the main theme of this article it would be very useful to come to terms with at least the following preliminary observations:

 

The left in government and especially the radical left in government has never been the subject of easy discussion among leftists. As the project of social transformation was never a peaceful stroll in the park, the debates on the question of in and/or out of government, let alone those about political power, have been very heated. In fact, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that these debates are as old as the left itself. Before, during, and after coming into office, leftist theorists and practitioners have been involved in fierce discussions and heated arguments, often leading to organizational splits and fragmentation. The intense polemical nature of these debates has very rarely led to useful, positive, and practical conclusions for the left.

 

Danish refugee policy and the position of the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten)

 

January 28th, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) -- On Tuesday, January 26th, 2016, a broad majority in the Folketing (Danish parliament) passed bill L 87 which introduces a long series of restrictive measures aimed at making it less attractive to seek asylum in Denmark.

 

Internationally the focus has been directed mainly at the part of the bill that authorizes the police to take jewellery, cash and other valuables from asylum seekers in order to finance the cost of their stay in Denmark during asylum procedures.

 

The Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten), which holds 14 of the 179 seats in the Folketing, is against this part of the bill but does not consider it the most problematic part. In practice it will hardly have any affect, as most asylum seekers arrive without significant valuables. Furthermore the new law excludes jewellery with an emotional value to the asylum seeker. And each asylum seeker (including children) gets to keep the equivalent of DKK 10.000 (EUR 1.340) in cash in those rare cases when asylum seekers arrive with appreciable amounts of money.

 

Should socialists get behind Bernie Sanders? - Two views from the US left

Bernie Sanders' campaign to win pre-selection in the Democratic primaries and become the party's presidential candidate has generated much debate on the US left.

Bernie Sanders' Socialist America

 

By Ethan Earle

 

January 2016 -- Reposted from Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, New York Office -- I was born in North Carolina, but my parents are from Vermont and I grew up taking long summer road trips up the east coast to visit our family in Burlington, the state’s largest city with just over 40,000 people. It was on one of these trips, sometime in the early 1990s, that I first learned about Bernie Sanders and his uniquely American brand of democratic socialism.

 

New books shed light on Trotsky's struggle against Soviet bureaucracy

Leon Trotsky

 

  Reviewed by Barry Healy

 

Leon Trotsky
Paul Le Blanc
Reaktion Books, 2015, 224 pp., $39.99

 

  Trotsky and the Problem of Soviet Bureaucracy
Thomas M. Twiss
Brill, 2014, 502 pp., $205.00

 

  January 25, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Leon Trotsky was one of the central leaders of the Russian Revolution. As the organiser and Commissar of the Red Army that saved the Soviet power and leading light of the struggle against Stalinism, he is surely one of the great heroic — and tragic — figures of the Twentieth Century.

 

  Taken together these two books provide an insight into the major theoretical dilemma that emerged from the Russian experience: how a successful revolution could degenerate into a parody of workers’ democracy to the point of becoming a murderous dictatorship.

 

  Because Trotsky’s revolutionary integrity remained untarnished after his murder in 1940 at the hands of a Stalinist assassin it is easy to fall into a deification of his work — something that competing Trotskyist sects have delighted in doing.

 

  Paul Le Blanc steers clear of those rocks in his very fine, short biography. He demonstrates a very clear-eyed and measured approach, combined with an unqualified opposition to Stalinist tyranny.

 

Interview with YPS Commander In Şirnex, North Kurdistan

January 19, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Rojava Report -- In a new interview for Özgür Gündem, reporter Ersin Çaksu speaks with Roni Botan, a commander with the Civilian Defense Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Sivîl / YPS) in the Kurdish town of Şirnex (Turkish: Şırnak). YPS units have been declared across North Kurdistan in recent months in response to attempts by Turkish security forces to crush local movements for autonomy. The interview has been translated into English

 

-Does any living-being have a chance to survive without defending oneself?

 

Today is a day for taking responsibility for the projects of self-government and for raising one’s voice.

 

-If there had been barricades in Wan (Van), Sêrt (Sirt) and Qoser (Kızıltepe) would there have been as many extrajudicial executions?

 

Now a weekend protest makes no contribution to the revolution. However there is no in front of or behind the barricade. There is Kurdistan. There is self-government. Either we will become a new Vietnam or we will experience what happened to the Tamils of Sri Lanka. I am speaking to the youth: There is leadership. There is a party. There is a movement. What are you waiting for?

 

Catalogna: il premier si suicida per consentire la formazione di un governo a favore dell’indipendenza

 
[English at http://links.org.au/node/4600 ] di Dick Nichols, traduzione di Giuseppe Volpe ZNet Italy

 

19 gennaio 2016 – Il 9 gennaio il titolo di prima pagina di La Vanguardia, il quotidiano filo-sistema della Catalogna, diceva: “Insieme Per Il Sì e CUP esauriscono le opzioni di accordo: il fallimento dei negoziati apre la via alle elezioni il 6 marzo”.

 

I dialoghi all’interno della maggioranza filo-indipendenza del parlamento catalano – composta dalla convenzionale coalizione Insieme Per Il Sì e dall’anticapitalista Candidature Popolari Unite – Appello Costituente (CUP-CC) – erano alla fine crollati dopo più di tre mesi di incontri. Questa maggioranza era emersa dalle elezioni “plebiscitarie” catalane del 27 settembre, convocate come sostituto del referendum in stile scozzese che è sempre stato respinto dai maggiori partiti spagnoli, il Partito Popolare (PP) al governo e il Partito Socialista Spagnolo dei Lavoratori (PSOE).

 

Nonostante l’intervento all’ultimo minuto delle tre organizzazioni di massa del nazionalismo catalano – il Congresso Nazionale Catalano (ANC), l’Associazione delle Municipalità per l’Indipendenza (AMI) e il movimento per la cultura catalana Omnium Cultural – il CUP-CC continuava a rifiutarsi di accettare il premier pro tempore Artur Mas come capo del primo governo filo-indipendenza della Catalogna.

 

Rebuilding Kobanê

 


Tom Anderson and Eliza Egret report from the war-torn city of Kobanê and meet those trying to rebuild what Daesh and US bombs have destroyed

 

January 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Red Pepper — ‘We have cleared 1.5 million tonnes of rubble,’ Abdo Rrahman Hemo (known as Heval Dostar), head of the Kobanê Reconstruction Board, tells us humbly as we sit in his office in Kobanê city in November 2015. But as we walk through the bombed streets, with collapsed buildings all around us and dust filling our lungs, it's hard to believe that Kobanê could have been any worse. ‘We have estimated that 3.5 billion dollars of damage has been caused,’ he continues.

 

It's been one year since the US bombing of Kobanê — then partly occupied by Daesh — and most of the buildings are still in tatters. Kobanê is in Rojava (meaning 'West' in Kurdish), a Kurdish majority region in the north of Syria that declared autonomy from the Assad regime in 2012.

 

Venezuela, indigenous capitalisms and the socialisms of the twenty-first century

 

Opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles donned indigenous hearwear and declared 'I will demarcate all indigenous lands' during his 2012 presidential election campaign

By Luis F. Angosto-Ferrández

 

January 18, 2016 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Progress in Political Economy – Venezuelans balloted last month – again. Nothing exceptional in a country where citizens have cast their votes in twenty different nationwide elections over the past 17 years – more than once annually, if one draws an average. Yet elections in the Bolivarian republic generate an extraordinary level of international attention and a flurry of commentary ever since the late Hugo Chávez was elected in 1998. That is what happens when people in an oil-rich country suddenly reveal themselves as rich in political resources too, and furthermore decide that neither their oil nor their politics should be managed in the interest of national and international elites: the latter rapidly deploy the best of their political repertoire (and their media) to make sure that everyone around the world realises how wrong those people in the oil-rich country are.

 

Social Movements and Progressive Governments - Building a New Relationship in Latin America

Marta Harnecker (pictured) will be one of the keynote speakers at Socialism for the 21st century: Moving beyond capitalism, learning from global struggles being held in Sydney on May 13-15.

 

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Richard Fidler

 

January 2016 — Monthly Review, reposted on Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission — In recent years a major debate has emerged over the role that new social movements should adopt in relation to the progressive governments that have inspired hope in many Latin American nations. Before addressing this subject directly, though, I want to develop a few ideas.

 

The situation in the 1980s and ’90s in Latin America was comparable in some respects to the experience of pre-revolutionary Russia in the early twentieth century. The destructive impact on Russia of the imperialist First World War and its horrors was paralleled in Latin America by neoliberalism and its horrors: greater hunger and poverty, an increasingly unequal distribution of wealth, unemployment, the destruction of nature, and the erosion of sovereignty.

 

Plan B for Europe - Appeal to build a European area of work in order to end austerity and build a true democracy.

 

By Susan George, Yanis Varoufakis, Ada Colau, Zoe Konstantopoulou, Ken Loach, Noam Chomsky, et. al

 

January 19, 2016 - Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Plan B Europa - In July 2015, we witnessed a financial coup d’état carried out by the European Union and its institutions against the Greek Government, condemning the Greek population to continue suffering the austerity policies that had been rejected on two occasions in the polls. This coup has intensified the debate over the power of the EU, and by extension it’s institutions, its incompatibility with democracy, and its role as guarantor of the basic human rights demanded by European citizens.

 

We know that there are alternatives to austerity. Manifestos such as “For a Plan B in Europe“, “Austerexit” or DiEM25 (Democracy in Europe Movement 2025) denounce the blackmail of the third memorandum of understanding imposed against Greece, the catastrophe that it would cause and the antidemocratic nature of the EU. The President of the European Commission no less, Jean -Claude Juncker, said : ” There can be no democratic decision against European treaties “.

 

Catalonia: Premier falls on sword to allow pro-independence government to form

 

Artur Mas announced he would be stepping down from the role of premier of Catalonia on January 9 in order to help pave the way for the formation of the region's first pro-independence government

 

By Dick Nichols

 

January 14, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On January 9, the front-page headline of La Vanguardia, Catalonia's establishment daily read: “Together For Yes and the CUP exhaust options for agreement — failure of negotiations opens the way for elections on March 6.”

 

Talks within the pro-independence majority in the Catalan parliament — composed of the mainstream Together For Yes coalition and the anti-capitalist People's Unity Candidacies-Constituent Call (CUP-CC) — had finally collapsed after over three months of meetings. This majority had emerged from Catalonia's September 27 “plebiscitary” elections, called as a substitute for the Scottish-style referendum that has always been refused by Spain's major parties, the ruling People's Party (PP) and the opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE).

 

Despite the last-minute intervention of the three mass organisations of Catalan nationalism — the Catalan National Congress (ANC), the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) and the movement for Catalan culture Omnium Cultural—the CUP-CC was still refusing to accept acting premier Artur Mas as head of Catalonia's first pro-independence government.

 

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