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The elephant in the room: Obama, the left and the race question

By Malik Miah

August 10, 2008 -- Much of the world is fascinated by the current US presidential election. The main reason is because the United States is ready to do something that most developed countries would never consider doing: electing a representative from an oppressed minority as head of state.

South Africa's activist social justice research centre under attack

By Dennis Brutus and Patrick Bond

August 6, 2008 -- Durban's University of KwaZulu-Natal vice-chancellor Malegapuru Makgoba is expected to deliver an edict that the Centre for Civil Society will close on December 31. The reason given by dean Donal McCracken to a sceptical School of Development Studies (where the centre is housed) is that staff do not have "permanent" funding. But neither do most of the university's research units, and there is money in centre reserves for at least a couple of years, plus ongoing donor support for many of our projects.

Hence this "execution" will be doggedly resisted because UKZN still has many staff and students who remember the struggle for non-racial democracy and don't mind speaking out to challenge misguided decisions.

As the two most senior academics in the centre, holding an honorary professorship and tenured research chair, respectively, we will resist, despite what a UKZN internal report recorded -- an environment of "intimidation and bullying", in which management "deploys power rather than intellect", as Rhodes professor Jimi Adesina put it.

Capitalism and the oceanic crisis: Turning the seas into a watery grave

By Brett Clark and Rebecca Clausen

The world ocean covers approximately 70 per cent of the Earth. It has been an integral part of human history, providing food and ecological services. Yet conservation efforts and concerns with environmental degradation have mostly focused on terrestrial issues. Marine scientists and oceanographers have recently made remarkable discoveries in regard to the intricacies of marine food webs and the richness of oceanic biodiversity. However, the excitement over these discoveries is dampened due to an awareness of the rapidly accelerating threat to the biological integrity of marine ecosystems.[1]

At the start of the twenty-first century marine scientists focused on the rapid depletion of marine fish, revealing that 75 per cent of major fisheries are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. It is estimated “that the global ocean has lost more than 90% of large predatory fishes”. The depletion of ocean fish stock due to overfishing has disrupted metabolic relations within the oceanic ecosystem at multiple trophic and spatial scales.[2]

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Worst single terror attacks in history

Hiroshima, August 6, 1945.

By Norm Dixon

August 6 and August 9 2009 mark the 64th anniversaries of the US atomic-bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Hiroshima, an estimated 80,000 people were killed in a split second. Some 13 square kilometres of the city were obliterated. By December, at least another 70,000 people had died from radiation and injuries.

Three days after Hiroshima's destruction, the US dropped an A-bomb on Nagasaki, resulting in the deaths of at least 70,000 people before the year was out.

Since 1945, tens of thousands more residents of the two cities have continued to suffer and die from radiation-induced cancers, birth defects and still births.

A tiny group of US rulers met secretly in Washington and callously ordered this indiscriminate annihilation of civilian populations. They gave no explicit warnings. They rejected all alternatives, preferring to inflict the most extreme human carnage possible. They ordered and had carried out the two worst single terror acts in human history.

The dissidents' guide to the Olympics: `War minus the shooting'

As the world corporate media goes Olympics mad, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has assembled a range of alternative viewpoints on what the modern Olympic Games really represent. While -- when it suits their interests -- establishment media commentators and capitalist governments loudly proclaim that ``sport and politics don't mix'', it soon becomes apparent that the Olympics spectacle is drenched in politics and the promotion of the worst aspects of dog-eat-dog capitalism. But sometimes it is also a site of struggle, as this selection of articles, drawn from the Links and Green Left Weekly archives, as well as other progressive sources, reveals.

Olympics 1968: Black Power Salute

At the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games the enduring image was Tommie Smith and John Carlos, African-American athletes, raising their gloved clenched fists in support of the Black Power movement during the ``Star Spangled Banner''. They were subsequently banned from the games for life. Black Power Salute looks at what inspired them to make their protest, and what happened to them after the Games. Featuring Tommie Smith, Lee Evans, Bob Beamon and Delroy Lindo. Click HERE for parts 2-6.

Also read about Peter Norman, the Australian athlete who gained third place, who supported Smith's and Carlos' protest. Norman is the subject of a new documentary, Salute, which can be previewed here.

Part 1

 

Paraguay: Fernando Lugo's victory and the new space for left struggle

By Hugo Richer

August 5, 2008 -- The defeat of the Colorado Party in the 2008 presidential election meant much more than a change of government in Paraguay. This defeat meant the fall of the last political party in Latin America that had been formed both politically and ideologically within the framework of the Cold War.

The 36 years of the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989) had as a leitmotiv, “the anti-communist struggle”. During the “Colorado reign”, US imperialism managed to build a solid alliance which for several decades enabled it to set up intelligence operations in the Latin American region. From Operation Condor, in the 1970s, to the presence of US troops in the years known as the “transition” in order to conduct “training exercises” with members of the Paraguayan armed forces, these military campaigns and manoeuvres were justified in all sorts of ways, from the fight against “sleeping terrorist cells” on the “triple frontier” (the region where there are common borders between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay), to the objective of ending “the cultivation, production and trafficking of drugs”.

Malaysia: Socialist assemblyperson for system overhaul; praises example of Venezuelan revolution

Dr Nasir HashimFrom ASAP, August 1, 2008 -- Dr Mohd Nasir Hashim, Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) president and state assemblyperson for Kota Damansara in Selangor, expressed his hopes to the Uncensored talk show host Francis Paul Siah on Malaysiakini.tv last week.

"There's so much work to be done'', he exclaims, reiterating his common theme of ``working for the people'' in the 30-minute show. First on his to-do list: "Damage control" and assuaging the economic plight of the poor.

However, while he's ``glad to meet with the ordinary people", Nasir also wants the people to know that he expects them to "jointly work on solutions" with him. "I don't want dependency on me or politics for every want", he said. "Maybe 50% with me, 50% somewhere else."

Venezuela: Prospects and challenges facing the PSUV

August 2, 2008 -- Federico Fuentes, Links and Green Left Weekly commentator based in Venezuela, is back in Caracas after a quick speaking tour of Australia. He talks with community radio about the lead up to the regional elections this November, and discusses the prospects of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which is the core party of President Hugo Chavez' government. The Chavista project of building grassroots democracy in Venezuela from the bottom up continues, but there are challenges ahead. Thanks to LeftClick and Latin Radical.

15Mb. 128kbps. mono 16mins

Serbia: The war criminal Karadzic and Western hypocrisy

By Michael Karadjis

August 2, 2008 (updated October 11, 2008) -- The new Serbian government last month finally cornered Radovan Karadzic, the former leader of the Bosnian Serb Republic (Republika Srpska), one of the two entities which make up Bosnia, during the war in 1992-5 when that statelet was created. Karadzic had been in hiding for many years from the International War Crimes Tribunal in, which in 1995 had indicted him for various war crimes including genocide.

The July 21 arrest led to a wave of hypocrisy in Western capitals, congratulating Serbia on the arrest of the vile criminal. Yet for the last seven years in Afghanistan and five years in Iraq, well upwards of a million people have been killed as a result of the US invasion and occupation of these countries. Whole countries are being destroyed; yet not only do these war crimes of climactic scale go unpunished, but these leading war criminals then see themselves as having the right to designate who is a war criminal.

Cooling a fevered planet: economics, policy and vision for fighting global warming

By Gar Lipow

July 1 2008 -- Nobody, except for a small lunatic fringe, still disputes that human-caused climate chaos endangers all of us. Further, most serious scientific and technical groups that have looked at the question have concluded that we have the technological capability today to replace greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels with efficiency improvements and clean energy — usually at a maximum cost of around the current worldwide military budget, probably much less. The question therefore is: what's stopping us?

To answer that we need to look at the causes of global warming — not the physical causes, but the economic and political flaws in our system that have prevented solutions from being implemented long after the problem was known.

For a limited time only! Full screening of `Now the People Have Awoken: Exploring Venezuela's Revolution'

Venezuela’s new assertiveness has brought it to the centre of international controversy: to some it has been stolen by populist dictator, while for others, it is the centre of a continent-wide democratic revolution.

There is much at stake. Venezuela sits atop huge oil reserves, which are being used to foment a new order. President Hugo Chávez, who survived a military coup in 2002, has supported a number of controversial social programs that have pushed Venezuela onto the United States government's and media's radar screens.

What makes Venezuela tick? Who is behind the movement and what does it seek? Filmed through the 2006 presidential elections, this is a documentary about the people building a new Venezuela.

Click here to watch this amazing documentary in full (55 minutes) for a very limited time.

Download now! Links Dossier #3: Michael Lebowitz on Socialism for the 21st Century

A selection of thought-provoking articles by Michael A. Lebowitz from Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. Lebowitz is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, and author of Beyond Capital: Marx’s Political Economy of the Working Class and Build it Now: Socialism for the 21st Century. He is a program coordinator with the Centro International Miranda, Caracas, Venezuela.

Links Dossiers are in easy-to-print PDF format and readers are encouraged to print and distribute them.

Contents

Socialism is the future: Build it now!

The spectre of socialism for the 21st century

Discussion on ‘The spectre of socialism for the
21st century’

The capitalist workday, the socialist workday

Without workers’ management, there is no socialism

Venezuela's young militants: An antidote to the weaknesses of the revolution

By Tamara Pearson

July 30, 2008 -- We stayed up until 2 am two nights in a row -- students from a range of faculties, and young people from various movements and revolutionary organisations. In the campsite of La Mucuy in the Andean city of Merida, we discussed and debated the role of youth in Venezuelan’s revolution and the construction of a youth wing of the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela), while around us clouds hugged the buildings and mountain slopes, horses slept in the foreground and mosquitos made meals of our legs and faces.

Following the call for a youth wing of the party, various revolutionary youth in Merida had organised the camp as a space to meet and ensure that this new youth organisation would be specifically revolutionary, and that it wouldn’t contain the errors of the current PSUV. As well, it was important that this organisation be built by the youth from the ground, rather than declared by the leadership and built downwards.

Too often, in my opinion, the initiatives of the revolution come from Chavez rather from the base. When Uribe, the right-wing president of Colombia, came to Venezuela recently, Chavez came out against calls for protests against him. In Merida, it was the young people who protested anyway.

The Scottish Socialist Party: the biggest small party

By Richie Venton

SSP - For a workers MP on a workers wage

July 26, 2008 -- What a phenomenal result in the July 24 Glasgow East by-election on two parallel levels: the earth-shattering defeat of the Labour Party in Red Clydesider John Wheatley’s seat, Labour’s third-safest seat in Scotland, held by them since 1922; and the tremendous achievement for the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) in winning fifth place, the highest position for any of the smaller parties, despite all the apparently insurmountable obstacles we faced.

If we compare the votes with those of the 2005 Westminster election in the identical Glasgow East seat, Labour has gone into freefall from 18,775 to 10,912; the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) rocketed from 5268 to 11,277 -- in a turnout down from 48.2% in 2005 to 42.1% this time.

Socialist Alternative gets the balance wrong on propaganda and action

Reviewed by Ben Courtice

From Little Things Big Things Grow: strategies for building revolutionary socialist organisations, by Mick Armstrong, Socialist Alternative, 2007.

As official politics continues to move to the right, a growing gulf is opening up between the hopes and aspirations of millions of working people and the agenda of the ruling capitalist establishment and its parties… Much of the time that disenchantment and discontent finds no outlet, but then it explodes in massive mobilisations like those against the outbreak of the Iraq war in 2003, or the repeated giant rallies against Howard’s WorkChoices.[i]

Sudanese Communist Party on ICC's request to indict Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir

Statement of the Sudanese Communist Party

Khartoum, July 20, 2008 -- The inclusion of the name of the President of the Republic of the Sudan among those wanted for justice by the International Criminal Court increases the complications engulfing the crisis prevailing in the Sudan. Despite the fact that such procedures were already in place and expected since the establishment of the Court, and this last step of naming the President of the Sudan was preceded by a similar step indicting two prominent figures in the government in February 2007, the Government of the Sudan was ill-prepared both legally and politically to react to either attempts.

If socialism fails: the spectre of 21st century barbarism

By Ian Angus

July 27, 2008 -- From the first day it appeared online, Climate and Capitalism’s masthead has carried the slogan “Ecosocialism or Barbarism: there is no third way.” We’ve been quite clear that ecosocialism is not a new theory or brand of socialism — it is socialism with Marx’s important insights on ecology restored, socialism committed to the fight against ecological destruction. But why do we say that the alternative to ecosocialism is barbarism?

Marxists have used the word “barbarism” in various ways, but most often to describe actions or social conditions that are grossly inhumane, brutal, and violent. It is not a word we use lightly, because it implies not just bad behaviour but violations of the most important norms of human solidarity and civilised life. [1]

The slogan “Socialism or Barbarism” originated with the great German revolutionary socialist leader Rosa Luxemburg, who repeatedly raised it during World War I. It was a profound concept, one that has become ever more relevant as the years have passed.

Class war and the Anglican schism

By Barry Healy

July 29, 2008 -- Dramatic events within the worldwide Anglican Communion (the international association of national Anglican churches) have revealed a “cold split” with the potential for a complete collapse of the Episcopal formation. Superficially, the debates have centred on the right of women and homosexuals to be priests and bishops, and on gay marriage. However, while theological arguments dating back centuries are being mouthed, behind them are class-war elements of more recent vintage, including some connected with the era of US President Ronald Reagan’s backing of Central American death squads in the 1980s.

African bishops have led the charge against modernity, but they are funded and organised by right-wing US think tanks and the Sydney Anglicans’ arch-reactionary Archbishop Peter Jensen. Another player is the Vatican, which has been reported as throwing its resources behind Anglican Primate Rowen Williams.

Latin America's struggle for integration and independence

By Federico Fuentes

Caracas, July 26, 2008 -- Commenting on how much the two had in common — same age, three children, similar music tastes — Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said to Mexican President Felipe Calderon on April 11 that “perhaps we represent the new generation of leaders in Latin America”. He added, however, that one difference still remained: Calderon had still not become a socialist. “Being right wing is out of fashion in Latin America … Join us, you are always welcome.”

The election of Fernando Lugo as Paraguayan president seems to confirm the idea of a new fashion for presidents. The former priest joins the ranks of current Latin American presidents that includes two women (Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Argentina and Michelle Bachelet in Chile), an indigenous person (Evo Morales in Bolivia), a former militant trade unionist (Lula da Silva in Brazil), a radically minded economist (Rafael Correa in Ecuador), a doctor (Tabare Vasquez in Uruguay), a former guerrilla fighter (Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua) and a former rebel soldier (Hugo Chavez in Venezuela).

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