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March 5, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Resistance Books (Britain) has kindly given permission for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal to publish excerpts from long-time Canadian revolutionary socialist Ernie Tate's just-published two-volume memoirs, Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s. Links readers are urged to order a copy; to do so email email@example.com.
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Preface by Phil Hearse
It’s a great pleasure to write the preface for Volume II of Ernie Tate’s memoirs of the 1950s and ’60s. I first met Ernie and his partner Jess MacKenzie in 1967, when I was part of a small group of young socialists from the London Borough of Ealing recruited to the International Marxist Group (IMG). So it’s the British part of the story that I know well.
Matt McCarten and Labour Party leader David Cunliffe protest for workers' rights in 2010. Photo: Getty Images.
March 4, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Long-time New Zealand left stalwart and leader of the militant Unite trade union stunned friends and foes alike with his sudden announcement that he is joining the staff of the New Zealand parliamentary Labour Party leader David Cunliffe.
Below Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal posts McCarten's final weekly column from the NZ Herald on Sunday, as well as a number of reactions from the NZ left.
By Federico Fuentes
February 26, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I have had a few people ask me what I think of the recent article by Mike Gonzalez ("Is Venezuela burning"), regarding events in Venezuela.
Putting aside the fact he can't even get the name right of the oil minster (Rafael Ramirez, not Rodriguez), here are three things that are wrong with the article.
1) Gonzalez writes: “It is no secret that behind the façade of unity, there is a struggle for power between extremely wealthy and influential groups within government — a struggle that began to intensify in the months before Chavez’s death.”
If this was no secret, then surely there would be a mountain of evidence to prove this. But Mike Gonzalez offers none. A more serious analysis would indicate the opposite: that despite the narrow election victory by Nicolás Maduro in April 2013, the immediately wave of opposition violence and campaign around “fraud”, the ongoing economic war against the government, the municipal elections and the most recent events, there has been no visible signs of fractures in the government.
Unarmed Ukrainian troops march on the Belbek airfield in Crimea to retake it from soldiers under Russian command. After a shouting match, the Ukrainians withdrew and some members of both sides played soccer together.
By Boris Kagarlitsky, Moscow; translated by Renfrey Clarke
March 4, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Why, do you suppose, war has not yet broken out between Russia and Ukraine? The answer is very simple: no one plans to go to war, and no one can. Kiev for practical purposes does not have an army, while the government that has appeared in Kiev has no control over half of Ukraine, and cannot even exercise particular control over its own supporters. If the Ukrainian authorities make any serious attempt to mobilise their forces, this will merely provoke new protests. Even rumours of such a possibility have been enough to provoke anti-government demonstrations in Odessa.
By Richard Seymour
March 5, 2014 -- Lenin's Tomb, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- The enemy of your enemy might still be your enemy. Because, complexity. Because, nuance. Because, concrete analysis of concrete situations. How much do I really need to underline this?
I raise the point because the tendency to try to distil the situation in Ukraine into one or at most two relatively simple contradictions is apparent in abundance. Lindsey German's article for Stop the War Coalition (UK) is a classic instance of this. It attempts a "clarification" of the political stakes, largely by way of clearing away complicating clutter and allowing people to see the interests of US imperialism and its allies at work. But in so doing, German's article resorts to utter nonsense and embarrassingly crude reductions.
Volodymyr Ishchenko, deputy director of the Center for Society Research in Kiev, interviewed by Maxime Benatouil
March 4, 2014 -- Transform! Network
Maxime Benatouil: What root causes explain such large parts of the population joining the protests, on Maidan Square and elsewhere?
Volodymyr Ishchenko: First, let me tell you that the protests weren’t exclusively initiated by the students. It is a quite widespread misperception. The first protests were launched by various groups: journalists, civic activists, and students. All these groups share a common European dream, a very deep-rooted idea that Europe has the solution to Ukraine’s problems. To them, it means: more democracy, more justice, less corruption and a better welfare. This is a very old idea, well-anchored in Eastern European societies. Ever since the 19th century, there has been a will to catch up with Western Europe. Many Ukrainians still think that way.
From L’Humanité (French Communist Party daily newspaper).
By Vadim Kamenka, translated (March 4) by Gene Zbikowski
Fenruary 24, 2014 -- Kiev (Ukraine), from our special correspondent. While a majority of Ukrainians back the movement that led on February 22 to the deposition of president Yanukovich, social distress was at the centre of political discontent. This is what bore the aspiration for change which is on everyone’s lips.
Barricades by the dozen, the ground black with soot, the pavement torn up, buildings burnt to the ground – the stigmata of the clashes are still visible on Maidan square, the epicentre for the past three months of the uprising against President Viktor Yanukovych. People came by the tens of thousands on February 23 to place red flowers and to remember the dead (60 since February 18). “We will see it through to the end”, Vassili, 42 years old, promises.
By Terry Bell
March 6, 2014 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Despite media claims to the contrary there is no move by the National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) to start a political party. What the union plans to organise is a series of “socialist consultative conferences” in the nine provinces of South Africa— and this is in line with a 21-year-old Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) decision that has apparently never been rescinded.
The jargon used at the NUMSA press conference at which general secretary Irvin Jim referred to the establishment of a united front or movement that may in future contest elections was the probably cause of media confusion. Neither a movement nor the more formal united front is a political party in the traditional sense. Both are groupings of individuals and organisations that share broadly common aims.
Review by Derek Wall
March 2, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Verso has just published the English translation of the French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser’s book On the Reproduction of Capitalism. Althusser, who was arguably “the Marxist philosopher” of the late 1960s and early 1970s, is perhaps best known for his essay, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”.
By Michael Lebowitz
March 2014 -- Monthly Review -- It is now one year since the unfortunate death of Hugo Chávez on March 5, 2013. Shortly after, the editors of Monthly Review quoted a letter from István Mészáros to John Bellamy Foster which described Chávez as “one of the greatest historical figures of our time” and “a deeply insightful revolutionary intellect” (“” in the May 2013 Monthly Review). Whether Chávez will be remembered over time this way, however, depends significantly on whether we build upon the foundations he began.
February 23, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- In December 2013, Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), was elected as lead candidate of the Party of the European Left for the May 25, 2014, European elections.
The Party of the European Left unites many left parties from across the continent. The program of Tsipras’s campaign can be found on the website of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal
Tsipras’s candidacy is seen as symbolic of the fight for a different Europe — one that is ecological, peaceful, democratic and based on social justice. This is due to the Greek people’s resistance to the austerity policies that the “troika” (European Union, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund) have imposed on them and Syriza’s near-victory in the 2012 Greek elections on an anti-austerity platform.
Tsipras's candidacy has become especially symbolic of this fight in Italy, where a very divided left is looking for ways to come together. Tsipras was interviewed by Italian left daily Il Manifesto. It has been translated by Dick Nichols.
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Russian soldier in Crimea.
March 1, 2014 ---- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal ---- The OpenLeft.ru site in Russia has published the following statement on the military moves towards Ukraine by Russia in the Crimea region. Translation thanks to Op Thoughts Blogger.
Crimea: Not 'ours', and not 'yours'
Crimea has found itself unlucky to be at the intersection of Russia's imperialist ambitions, and the rough nationalist politics of the "new" Ukraine. The "Open Left" declares: the movement for self-determination in Crimea is more important in its significance than both, imperialist games and nationalist fervour.
Mass protest in Maidan Square.
March 2, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is publishing excerpts from two recent interviews (published mid-February) with members of the revolutionary left in Ukraine that shed light on the nature of the movement that overthrew the Viktor Yanukovich regime, and the attitude of the small Ukrainian left towards it.
The first is with Denis from a Kiev branch of a revolutionary syndicalist group, the Autonomous Workers Union; it is reposted from Pratele Komunizace. The second is with Ilya Budraitskis, a Moscow-based socialist in Kiev; it first appeared in Marx21.de (translated by RS21). Click on the links for the full interviews.
Protesters occupy Independence Square, December 2013.
March 2, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- These two commentaries were written in January and February 2014 – before the fall of the Viktor Yanukovich regime and subsequent events -- and have only just been translated into English. They are published at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal as they offer insights into the thinking of an important part of the revolutionary left in Russia.
For more on Ukraine, click HERE.
A quadrille of monsters
Daniel Bensaïd: Paris '68, 'When history breathed down our necks' -- excerpt from 'An Impatient Life: A Memoir'
March 1, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Below is an excerpt from the late Daniel Bensaïd's memoir, An Impatient Life, just published by Verso. It is posted with the kind permission of Verso. Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to order a copy HERE. You can download the excerpt HERE (PDF), or read it on screen below.
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The late Hugo Chavez with Nicolas Maduro (right).
By Martin Marinos
February 26, 2014 -- LeftEast -- Almost a year has passed since the death of Hugo Chávez on March 5, 2013. Arguably this has been the most difficult one for the Bolivarian Revolution. Many people, both on the left and the right expressed doubt that there could be Chavismo without Chávez. Perhaps a year is still too short of a period to assess the situation after Chávez’s passing.
Yet, the dynamic developments over the past twelve months call for some preliminary remarks. Through an analysis of the key events during the year, this piece advances the argument that despite the ongoing violent protest in Venezuela, the left has emerged stronger out of the crisis precipitated by the death of Chávez. In addition, the new president Nicolás Maduro has reconnected with his base and has shown a unique style and vision that have earned him admiration from his supporters and contempt from the opposition.
A dense crowd of protesters fill the streets beyond a barricade in Kiev. Photo by Christiaan Triebert.
By Sean Larson and Alan Maass
February 24, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovich, has been driven from power after the mass protest movement that has occupied Kiev's Maidan (Independence Square) since November survived a deadly crackdown the previous week. In a matter of days, the country's corrupt and autocratic regime was overwhelmed.
The parliamentary opposition to Yanukovich--dominated by centre-right and even far-right parties, backed by the European Union (EU) and US government--is moving quickly to establish its authority, ahead of new elections planned for May. Its goal is to head off any further action from below that might undermine their claim to speak for the uprising--and that might target the country's elite beyond Yanukovich and his ruling party.
"In the coming days and weeks there will be a wave of political analysis on the left that will frame the overthrow of the regime of Yanukovych as a pro-imperialist scheme being swallowed by a gullible population. The strong presence of extreme right-wing forces among those protesting the regime will be presented as proof positive. This will resemble the many simplistic analyses describing the course of the 'Arab Spring', particularly in Syria."
By Roger Annis
February 24, 2014 -- A Socialist in Canada, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- It is the aftermath in the Ukraine of the remarkable popular uprising Ukraine uprising that has torn down the authoritarian regime of President Viktor Yanukovych. The parliament that supported him has voted to remove him from power and has appointed a temporary replacement. Now it has issued a warrant for his arrest.
Police clash with Maidan protesters, January 19, 2014.
By Tony Iltis
March 1, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- After failing to violently crush mass protests in Kiev’s Independence Square, which have been raging since November 21, the regime of Viktor Yanukovich collapsed on February 22.
The protests began in opposition to Yanukovich’s decision to back out of a Free Trade Agreement and Association Agreement with the European Union. But in the face of police brutality, the protests evolved into a general expression of anti-regime discontent. The movement was initially known as Euromaidan (“Eurosquare”) but later just Maidan, reflecting this evolution.
The movement also has an anti-Russian character, fuelled by the likelihood that in place of the proposed agreements with EU, Yanukovich was planning to take Ukraine into a Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
On February 27, parliament elected a new government of opposition politicians and defectors from Yanukovich’s party. Before the parliamentary vote, acting-president Oleksandr Turchynov presented the new government, headed by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, in the square on February 26. They received a hostile reception.
By Noam Chomsky
Hamish Hamilton (also Penguin), 2013
Review by Alex Miller
February 26, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This volume consists of eight interviews given by Noam Chomsky to David Barsamian in 2010-12 (in fact six of them were given in 2012). As always, Chomsky’s insights into politics and power are penetrating and insightful, and cover a wide range of topics, including the Arab Spring, Wikileaks and Bradley Manning, the role of social media like Facebook and Twitter in the atomisation of society, the Obama administration, and a host of others. As is usual in Chomsky’s books, every factual claim he makes is meticulously referenced in notes at the end.