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Links 11: Editor's introduction

Which road to socialism? Five parties’ different paths

This issue of Links focusses on socialist strategy and tactics in five very different countries—Colombia, South Africa, Spain, Indonesia and India.

Mainly through interviews with leading representatives of the main left forces in these countries, we both revisit the classic debates (reform and revolution, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary action and alliance policy) as well as locating them in a "post-communist" world where the triumphalism of the early 1990’s “end of history” is rapidly evaporating.

Allen Jenning’s interview with Olga Lucía Marín and Marco León Calarcá of the International Department of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia touches on all these themes, with particular attention going to that organisation’s view of how to combine military and mass work.

The South African Communist Party document "Our Marxism", adopted in July at its Tenth Congress, details the party’s views on the relationship between reform and revolution, and is prefaced by an account of the congress by Dale McKinley.

The Spanish United Left is a unique formation on the Western left, combining under one umbrella political currents from socialist, left-republican and traditional communist backgrounds. Its constitution specifically allows the formation of "currents of opinion" whose congresses are supported by the alliance itself. Our two interviews with United Left leaders, Manuel Monereo Pérez and Jaime Pastor, gives a fascinating picture of the internal life and debates that animate this important formation.

Links Number 9 featured a lengthy interview with a leader of the Indonesian underground. With the overthrow of dictator Suharto that underground has now emerged into the light of day and faces radically different challenges. In this issue we feature a selection of interviews with, and documents of, the People’s Democratic Party as it confronts the problems of an opposition undergoing rapid post-Suharto differentiation.

The final contribution to our theme is a reprint of the "Theses on Tactics" adopted at last November’s congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist).

This set of interviews and documents contain many different and conflicting viewpoints and emphases. We trust they will generate ongoing discussion and debate in the pages of our journal.

The other major theme tackled in this issue is the direction of development of China. As private banks flourish and a massive programme of closures of state-run industries is set in place, as the sons and daughters of the ruling elite become millionaires, the question inevitably arises: how far is China down the road to capitalist restoration? Eva Cheng, making extensive use of Chinese language sources, seeks an answer through a detailed analysis of the Chinese economy today.

If anyone doubts that the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation have entrenched the economic subjugation of the Palestinian people, Adam Hanieh’s interview with Salah Abdel Shafi, the director of Gaza’s Development Resource Centre, will remove them. The picture painted in this interview is one of structural dependence of the Palestine Authority, with the plo now acting as neo-colonial guarantor.

The French upsurge of November–December 1995 (see Links Number 7) began the present period of "social-liberal" as opposed to outright conservative neo-liberal governments in most of Europe. But how is the French Socialist Party government of Lionel Jospin negotiating an intensifying class struggle which is further polarising politics? Our interview with Revolutionary Communist League leader Pierre Rousset sketches the latest developments.

Finally, Max Lane and John Percy assess the impact of the highly successful Asia-Pacific Solidarity Conference, held last April in Sydney, Australia.

The conference was the biggest gathering of socialist, left and anti-imperialist forces from the region since the 1930s, and bodes well for the heightened collaboration among such forces in coiming years.

An interview with Links Editorial Board member and leader of the Socialist League (LS—Liga Sosyalista), Sonny Melencio, on developments in the Philippines left had already been prepared for this issues, but political events have overtaken it. The League and the Revolutionary Socialist Party of the Proletariat (RSPP—Rebolusyonaryo ng Sosyalistang Partido ng Paggawa) have now merged to form the Socialist Party of Labour. We’ll carry a thorough report in our next issue.

With this issue we welcome to the Links project comrades from the Labour Party of Pakistan (LPP). Farooq Sulyheria, LPP political bureau member, joins our editorial board. In coming issues, we hope to carry extensive articles on the social and political developments in Pakistan, including articles on the growth of the lpp itself and their views on international socialist renewal.

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