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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

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.

 

'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.

 

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.

 

Victor Serge: On the borders of victory and defeat

 

 Victor Serge (left), Benjamin Péret, Remedios Varo, and André Breton

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

January 18, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, reposted from Red Wedge with the author's permission — In 1941, reflecting on his own life, which spanned several revolutions, exile, and prison, Victor Serge commented:

 

The only meaning of life lies in conscious participation in the making of history. The more I think of that, the more deeply true it seems to be. It follows that one must range oneself actively against everything that diminishes man, and involve oneself in all struggles which tend to liberate and enlarge him. This categorical imperative is in no way lessened by the fact that such an involvement is inevitably soiled by error: it is a worse error to live for oneself, caught within traditions which are soiled by inhumanity. [1]

 

Rightists’ election victory poses major threat to Venezuela’s advances: Can People’s Power save the Bolivarian Revolution?

 

 

President Nicolás Maduro addresses Chavista supporters on December 7, following election defeat the previous day.

 

By Richard Fidler

 

January 13, 2016 - Life on the Left, reposted on Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with author’s permission - Seventeen years after Hugo Chávez was elected Venezuela’s President for the first time, the supporters of his Bolivarian Revolution, now led by President Nicolás Maduro, suffered their first major defeat in a national election in the December 6 elections to the country’s parliament, the National Assembly.

 

Coming only two weeks after the victory of right-wing candidate Mauricio Macri in Argentina’s presidential election, it was a stunning setback to the “process of change” in Latin America that Chávez had spearheaded until his premature death from cancer in 2013. The opposition majority in the new parliament threatens to undo some of the country’s major social and economic advances of recent years as well as Venezuela’s vital support to revolutionary Cuba and other neighboring countries through innovative solidarity programs like PetroCaribe and the ALBA fair-trade alliance.

 

Nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to say: How the broad climate movement has failed us

 

 

Greenpeace activists during a protest in Paris at the COP21 United Nations climate change conference in November.

 

By James Jordan

 

January 13, 2016 - Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal - It has been a month since the UN climate summit in Paris, aka COP 21. One might expect the kind of ebb and flow we often see in popular movements. Interest in climate issues, the cause of the day during the summit, might be expected to wane and move to the back burner of public discourse until such time as another development pushes it forward again.

 

However, climate change is fundamentally different. It is going to get worse — we will be getting slapped in the face with this one for a long, long time, even under the best scenarios. Only a few weeks after COP 21, the world experienced a wave of floods and extreme weather exacerbated by global warming. In the US, there were record-setting floods along the Mississippi River. In South America, floods caused the evacuation of 180,000 persons. In Scotland, floods cut across class lines to threaten a historic castle neighboring the Queen's Balmoral residence, its foundation being eaten away by the swollen Dee river. Meanwhile, oil wars and drought continue to drive an immigration crisis in Syria and throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa. The issue of climate is not the “struggle du jour” - it is going to be the main course for quite a while.

 

‘Venezuela defines the future of the progressive cycle’ An interview with Claudio Katz

 

Introduced and translated by Richard Fidler, article original published in Spanish in La Llamarada

 

July 14, 2013 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Two recent events — the second-round victory on November 22 of right-wing candidate Mauricio Macri in Argentina’s presidential election, and the December 6 victory of the right-wing Democratic Unity Roundtable,[1] winning two thirds of the seats in Venezuela’s National Assembly elections — have radically altered the political map in South America. In the following interview, Argentine Marxist Claudio Katz discusses what these setbacks for the left mean for the progressive “process of change” that has unfolded on the continent over the last 10-15 years. My translation from the Spanish.

 

Katz is a professor of economics at the University of Buenos Aires, a researcher with the National Council of Science and Technology, and a member of Economists of the Left.[2]

 

The Tragedies of the Global Commons and the Global Working Class: Reflections on the Papal Encyclical

Michael A. Lebowitz (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 Michael A. Lebowitz

Links International Journal of Socialist RenewalAn earlier version of this paper was presented at ‘The First World Congress on Marxism’ at Peking University, 10 October 2015 in Beijing, China.

‘On Care for Our Common Home’: the premises

Everybody is talking about it — the dangers presented by climate change. Adding significantly, though, to the emphasis upon the need to take dramatic action now has been Pope Francis’s recent Encyclical Laudati Si’, ‘On Care for our Common Home’. Its over-riding theme is that we must ‘protect our common home’. ‘The climate,’ the document stresses, ‘is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all’ and is ‘linked to many of the essential conditions for human life’ (23). Not only, however, are we destroying those conditions but, ‘the earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth’ (21). How is it, the Encyclical asks, that we have ‘so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years’ (53)?

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