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Cuban Five now all free! Will the US blockade of Cuba now end?

Click HERE for background on the Cuban Five.

By Julie Webb-Pullman

December 18, 2014 -- Scoop -- Cubans and many others around the world are jubilantly celebrating the return to Cuba on December 17 of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, the final three members of the Cuban Five to be released from US prisons, in a prisoner swap for US spy Alan Gross.

Cuba's President Raul Castro said in Havana that the release of the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters was the culmination of a respectful and reciprocal dialogue, without detriment to Cuba's national independence and sovereignty.

In a simultaneous address in the United States, President Barack Obama announced the release of Alan Gross, who arrived back in the United States on December 17 morning with his wife.

At the same time, both leaders announced a normalisation of relations, including re-establishment of diplomatic relations and an easing of US economic and travel restrictions on Cuba.

However, the complete lifting of the 50-year blockade requires US Congress approval.

In his announcement, Obama said that isolation has not worked, and it is time to try a new approach.

South Africa: Radical NUMSA-backed United Front declares 'Enough is enough'!

The long-awaited process of building a new united front of radical forces in South Africa proposed and supported by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has kicked off with a meeting on December 13-14, 2014. Below is the declaration issued by the meeting. Read more about recent developments in South Africa HERE.

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Declaration of the Preparatory Assembly of the United Front, Johannesburg

December 14, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Globally we are experiencing the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s. Wars and counter-revolutions stretch from the Middle East to the far-east to Africa and the Americas. Imperialism knows no constraint. The devastating ecological and climate crises are caused by a predatory capitalist system that is endangering the very existence of humanity.

Greece: 'Why we must support a SYRIZA government'

“Their struggle is your struggle too! Everyone to the streets!”

By Andrew Burgin

December 10, 2014 -- Left Unity (Britain), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has called a presidential election, which will take place this month. It’s the parliament that elects the president in Greece but if the electoral sums don’t add up – which so far they don’t – and no president is elected, then the government must call a general election. In the event of a general election, it is likely that SYRIZA – the party of the radical left – will be the largest party and will form the government.

Concerns about a SYRIZA victory are expressed clearly by the stock market: the Athens exchange closed 12.8% down the day the presidential election was announced. The markets may be down, but there is great popular enthusiasm for a SYRIZA victory. Support for the party has grown hugely over the last few years because it rejects the austerity policies that have brought Greece to crisis point and will it break with neoliberalism.

South Africa: Zwelinzima Vavi's open letter to the SACP

December 17, 2014 -- COSATU, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A response to comrade Jeremy Cronin and an open letter to leaders and members of the South African Communist Party (SACP), by Zwelinzima Vavi (pictured), general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

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Dear comrades

After reading Comrade Jeremy Cronin's public response to my address on 21 November 2014 at the ceremony to mark the 40 years of the South African Labour Bulletin on the topic "Is the labour movement at the turning point?", I was convinced that a public debate was necessary, not just with comrade Jeremy but with the entire leadership and membership of the SACP. I am doing this not just as a General Secretary of COSATU but also as a member of the SACP.

Belgium: Towards a major confrontation after successful general strike

Strikers march on December 15, 2014.

[For more on Belgium, click HERE.]

By Daniel Tanuro

December 17, 2014 -- International Viewpoint, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The 24-hour strike that mobilised the Belgian working class on December 15 was an enormous success. The country was completely paralysed: in Flanders, in Wallonia and in Brussels, in the private and public sectors, in industry and the services, transport and the trade, the big and small companies. Such a massive movement has not been seen since the strike of November 1993 but, unlike that one, the strike of December 15 should not remain uncompleted.

Lenin y Kautsky: El extraño caso de Lenin en el armario

[English at "Lars Lih on Lenin and Kautsky: 'The strange case of the closeted Lenin'", http://links.org.au/node/4186.]

Por Lars Lih, traducción para www.sinpermiso.info: Gustavo Buster

14/12/14 -- Sinpermiso.info -- En primer lugar, permítanme decir que es muy elogioso tener dos críticas - una sustancial, la otra no - a mis puntos de vista sobre Lenin publicados recientemente. La primera es de Kevin Corr y Gareth Jenkins, del SWP[1]) y la segunda está escrita por Peter Taaffe del Socialist Party in England and Wales[2].

En mi opinión, la crítica de Taaffe no tiene que ver con mis puntos de vista y no le interesa realmente lo que defiendo. Peter Taaffe simplemente afirma que escribo frases pretenciosas, románticas y después expone sus propios puntos de vista. No es una polémica seria digna de una respuesta. Por su parte, sin embargo, Corr y Jenkins en su artículo, "El caso de la desaparición de Lenin”, pretenden refutar mis puntos de vista reales y en su mayor parte su crítica hace un buen trabajo a la hora de resumir cuales son..

Solía existir en la izquierda una narrativa lineal, indiscutible, que era algo como:

South Africa: Was 2014 the year of 'radical transformation'?

By Dale McKinley, Johannesburg

December 10, 2014 -- SACSIS.org.za, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Breaking news! In case you missed it, 2014 was the first full year of South Africa’s "radical second phase" of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR).

Apparently, we are now well into a nation-wide process of "radical transformation" that is definitively putting the country on a "new growth and development path".

For a moment at least, forget about the return of rolling blackouts, the record-breaking wealth and conspicuous consumption of the rich, the ongoing crisis of local government service delivery, the palpable intensification of racial discord, the invasions of parliament by armed riot police, the split within the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the continuing epidemic of corruption and fraud within both the public and private sectors, the increasingly out-of-control conduct of our police force and many of the other defining features and events of 2014.

How socialists of Lenin’s time responded to colonialism

Manabendra Nath Roy

Manabendra Nath Roy.

For more discussion on the Communist International, click HERE. Click for more by John Riddell.

By John Riddell

[This text was first presented at the Ideas Left Out conference on Elbow Lake, Ontario, August 2, 2014.]

December 14, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- As the 19th century neared its close, revolutionary socialists were hostile to the world’s imperial powers and to their colonial empires, which then encircled the globe. They foresaw the overthrow of colonialism as a by-product of socialist revolution in the industrialised capitalist countries.

They had little knowledge, however, of the anti-colonial freedom movements that began to emerge at that time. It was not until the Russian Revolution of 1917 that an alliance was forged between revolutionary socialism and the colonial freedom movement.

The propaganda war over Crimea’s break from Ukraine

Celebrations in Lenin Square, in the Crimean capital of Simferopol, after the Crimean people voted to make the peninsula a part of Russia. More pictures at http://mashable.com/2014/03/16/crimea-votes-the-day-in-pictures/.

By Roger Annis

December 17, 2014 -- submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author, first published on Truthout, December 10, 2014 -- In the propaganda campaign being waged by the NATO countries and the government of Ukraine against Russia and in support of Kiev’s war in the east of the country, the events in Crimea of the past nine months occupy a pivotal place.

The secession from Ukraine that followed the March 16 referendum vote in Crimea is the number one pretext to justify the war as well as NATO’s rising aggression in Eastern Europe.

GMOs, pesticides, climate, nuclear energy: How capitalism controls science

By Don Fitz

December 11, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, submitted by the author; a version of this article first appeared at Truthout.org -- Did you ever think that investigation of the potential dangers of putting genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into food would be based on objective research? Or that unbiased reviews of research by academic journals would chart a steady march toward scientific truth? If so, you would be very wrong. Through all of its phases, scientific research is subject to repression, manipulation and more insidious forms of control that push it toward a profit-based consensus.

Three well-known GMO studies form a pattern of authors' being harassed, intimidated and even having their findings "retracted" or withdrawn by a scientific journal after being published.

Suppression of GMO research

How citizens’ revolt in Burkina Faso unfolded

By Ernest Harsch

December 9, 2014 -- African Futures, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- Even the long months of demonstrations and strikes that came before did not fully prepare the people of Burkina Faso for what they would accomplish during the last week of October 2014. In Ouagadougou, the capital, hundreds of thousands—organisers claimed a million—packed the central square on Tuesday, October 28, to protest President Blaise Compaoré’s “constitutional coup”, as they called his plan to force through an amendment enabling him to run for reelection yet again, after more than a quarter century in power.

Lima climate agreement fails humanity and the Earth

Protesters at the People's Climate March in Lima.

December 14, 2014 -- Climate & Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Late in the night, 194 countries of the UN framework convention on climate change finally reached agreement. Far from satisfactory, this deal jeopardises any “historic agreement” in Paris. The climate justice NGOs and movements, including Attac France and the Friends of the Earth France, have released this first analysis.

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No justice in Lima outcome

The world faces a planetary emergency: climate change, caused by a system that puts the pursuit of profit above the needs of people and the limits of nature. It is already devastating millions of people across the planet. Climate science predicts we will soon breach critical tipping points and could be locked in to 4-5°c of warming with catastrophic impacts for us all.

The Lima Conference should have been a milestone that marked out how governments will take urgent action to tackle climate change and to support vulnerable people across the world to adapt to its locked in impacts.

Scotland: Labour Party leadership vote confirms entrenched right-wing politics, opens way for left

Jim Murphy campaigns against independence for Scotland.

For more on Scotland and independence, click HERE.

By Ken Ferguson

December 13, 2014 -- Scottish Left Project, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The election of arch Blairite Jim Murphy – by a 20% margin – as Scottish Labour Party leader is surely final confirmation that the former working-class party is now a wholly owned tool of the Westminster establishment and its role as servants of the neoliberal speculation policies of the City of London.

That Labour Party members elected Murphy in the belief that he is the new Messiah tells us just how out of touch with Scottish opinion both they and their party have become.

Faced with the mass radicalisation and ferment of progressive ideas developed by the Yes campaign, which has gone way beyond the independence issue into areas as diverse as land reform, poverty pay and building a just sustainable Scotland they repeated their September reaction and said No thanks.

Ireland: Huge water protest brings Dublin to standstill -- again

By Duroyan Fertl

December 12, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- Up to 100,000 protesters shut down Dublin city on December 10 in the latest mass demonstration against the introduction of water charges. Protesters from across the country braved media hysteria, riot police and police barricades, and the threat of a fierce storm, to descend on the centre of Dublin, placing Leinster House – home of the Dáil (the Irish parliament) – and other government buildings in “lock down”.

The protest – organised by the Right2Water campaign – was the third major protest against the charges in two months. It came after a 100,000 strong march in Dublin on October 11 and protests across Ireland on November 1 that attracted about 200,000 in dozens of towns and cities.

The introduction of new charges on water use, levied via new state-owned company Irish Water, has brought years of anger with austerity cuts and government arrogance to a head. Not only is the cost of water already covered by general taxation, it is also widely believed water charges are a first step towards privatising Irish Water and the revenue from water charges.

James Connolly: National liberation and socialism

Tribute to James Connolly by MyLittleTripod.

By Doug Enaa Greene

[See the video of this talk below.]

December 14, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- "My business is revolution."[1] These words of the Irish socialist James Connolly succinctly sum up the main focus of his life. James Connolly is one of the towering socialist figures of our time. Connolly’s commitment to socialism and internationalism saw him work as labour organiser in Scotland, the United States and Ireland.

Connolly was also a stalwart member of the left wing of the Second International along with Lenin, Eugene Debs, Rosa Luxemburg and Leon Trotsky. However, Connolly is most well known for his central role in the struggle of Irish independence, especially in leading the Easter Uprising of 1916. The revolt failed and cost Connolly his life, but it was the spark that led to the end of British rule in the 26 counties of southern Ireland.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s 'The Era of the People': 'Citizens’ revolution' and ecosocialist vision


[The people] are supposed to exercise power through parliamentary assemblies. But the financial oligarchy which rule our present situation have taken upon themselves the right to veto their decisions. This is why the system doesn’t fear the left, which it has been able to control … But it has a clear-headed fear of the people. Since it is the people who directly and physically contend with them for power with a spontaneous program that is the negation of the established order. -- Jean-Luc Mélenchon

By Liam Flenady

Namibia: SWAPO wins presidency with 86% vote but grassroots frustration mounts

By Henning Melber

December 8, 2014 -- Nordic Africa Institute, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- On November 28, 2014, close to 900,000 Namibians of a registered electorate of some 1.2 million (a bit more than half of Namibia’s total population, estimated at 2.3 million) voted in the country’s fifth parliamentary and presidential elections since independence.

The result was predictable, though the dimensions of the overwhelming dominance of the former liberation movement SWAPO (South West Africa People's Organisation) did surprise. While SWAPO secured in every election since 1994 well above a two-thirds majority, this time the result crossed the 80% mark. The party’s presidential candidate Hage Geingob topped this by a whopping 86%.

Pablo Iglesias (Podemos) on working-class consciousness and politics

Click for more on Podemos and politics in Spain.

Spanish leftist leader Pablo Iglesias, from the political party Podemos, explains his approach to the masses. During its campaign for the 2014 European election, Podemos was criticised by some on the left for avoiding traditional terms such as "class struggle", "bourgeois", "proletariat"...

Read the full text of the comments at https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/12/pablo-iglesias-podemos-left-speech/.

Germany: Red-red-green government in Thuringia

By Victor Grossman

December 7, 2014 -- MRZine, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Political parties in Germany are represented by colours: the Christian-Democrats (CDU), due to clerical ties, are black, the Greens of course are green, the Social Democrats (SPD) are traditionally red. When the redder Die Linke (Left) party came along critics said the SPD should switch to "pink". But it didn't, so the new government in the eastern state of Thuringia is a "red-red-green coalition" -- the very first in Germany with the Die Linke on top!  A true sensation! The coalition squeezed  to victory -- by one single wavering vote.

Were the SPD and Greens really willing to be junior partners with Die Linke, scorned as pariahs? They were, but in an almost exactly split legislature every vote was needed to beat possible maneuvers by the CDU, now very bitter at getting pushed out after ruling Thuringia since 1990.  

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