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Inspired by the unfolding socialist revolution in Venezuela, as well as the continuing example of socialist Cuba, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is a journal for "Socialism of the 21st century", and the discussions and debates flowing from that powerful example of socialist renewal.
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By Peter Boyle
September 1, 2009 -- There has been a lot of media coverage in Australia around the August 31 return of the remains of the last two Australian armed forces personnel – Canberra bomber pilots – who were missing in action in the Vietnam War. But none of the articles put this in the context of the death and damage inflicted on the Vietnamese people by the United States and its ally Australia.
Operating as part of the US Air Force's 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Canberra bombers flew 6% of the wing's sorties but inflicted 16% of the damage. Overall, 11,963 sorties were flown by the Canberra bombers in Vietnam and 76,389 bombs were dropped. Two Canberra bombers were lost in the process.
Total Australian military casualties in the Vietnam War were 521 killed and 2398 wounded, but the numerous high-altitude bombing raids carried out by Australia's Canberra bombers alone would have inflicted much higher casualties.
Thailand: Time for democracy movement to be clear about how to fight (Da Torpedo คุณดา Redshirt strategy แนวทางเสื้อแดง)
By Giles Ji Ungpakorn
September 3, 2009 -- On August 28, Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul (known by her nickname as “Da Torpedo”) was sentenced to 18 years in prison for lese majeste (insulting the royal family) after a secret trial in Bangkok. This is another example of how Thailand is rapidly coming to resemble authoritarian countries like North Korea. Other examples are the use of the Internal Security Law to prevent peaceful demonstrations by the pro-democracy ``Redshirts'' and the way that the unelected prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, urged the military to kill demonstrators in April. What is also shocking is the way that there has been complete silence from so-called “human rights activists” and NGOs and academics in Thailand about what has been going on. This can only be described as shameful. Amnesty International's long-term policy of turning its back on Thai prisoners of conscience, jailed over lese majeste, is also appalling. It throws into question the role of that organisation.
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[The following exchanges were first published in the US socialist magazine Against the Current. They have been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission. Susan Weissman is the author of Victor Serge: The Course is set on Hope and editor of The Ideas of Victor Serge and Victor Serge: Russia Twenty Years After. She is a member of the editorial boards of Against the Current and Critique. The first essay is adapted from a section of a paper she delivered at a July 2008 conference on Trotsky’s legacy and first appeared in Against the Current, issue 136, September-October 2008. Following that is a response from Ernie Haberkern and reply by Susan Weissman. Some of Victor Serge's writings are available at the Marxists Internet Archive and at Resistance Books.]
By Susan Weissman
On September 2 and 3, 2009, the Constitutional Court of South Africa will hear the final appeal in a case brought by five Soweto residents challenging Johannesburg's discriminatory prepaid water meter system. Their six-year legal battle would reaffirm the constitutional right to water for all South Africans.
Low-income communities in Johannesburg's townships do not have sufficient water resources and do not receive the same water services as residents in wealthier, often white, suburbs. Yet, the Bill of Rights of South Africa guarantees everyone's right to have access to sufficient water.
By Adolfo Giméne, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal
August 14, 2009 – Asunción -- The anniversary of the first year of Fernando Lugo’s government coincided with a five-day national protest (August 10-15) organised by the United Popular Space (Espacio Unitario Popular, EUP), a coming together of many social organisations and left parties , with the support of figures from diverse political sectors, including the governor of the department of San Pedro, Jose Pakova Ledesma, from the Authentic Radical Liberal Party (Partido Liberal Radical Auténtico, PLRA). [Lugo was elected president on April 20, 2008, but did not formally take office until August 15.]
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Photos and text by Ulfa Ilyas
On August 25, 2009, a demonstration was held in Jakarta, Indonesia, organised by the Parliament of the Streets Alliance at the inauguration of newly elected members of parliament. The protesters demanded free education for all citizens, free health programs, employment and housing programs for poor people.
Henri Anggoro, a leader of the Poor People’s Union (Serikat Rakyat Miskin Indonesia, SRMI), which organises in the sprawling shanty towns, said that experience has shown that parliament ignores the interests of the people. "They only represent the interests of a handful of people, rather than representing the people who elected them", he said.
[After working as a tram conductor in Melbourne and Adelaide he was replaced by a ticket machine in 1998 and so lost his lifetime profession. He returned to study and is now writing his PhD thesis. The thesis -- of which this article is an excerpt -- is a detailed examination of the extent to which Communist Party of Australia union activists raised political issues in their unions.
[In particular it looks at the peace movement, attitudes to the post-war migration program and the Aboriginal struggle for human rights. There was been a general perception that Communist Party union activists were nothing more than industrial militants. The thesis aims to challenge this and show that CPA members often raised political issues and sought support for them from their co-workers.]
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By Douglas Jordan
Ted Kennedy during his first campaign for US Senate in 1962.
By Lance Selfa
August 28, 2009 -- Democratic Party senator Ted Kennedy's political career reflects the course of US liberalism, from its heyday in the 1960s to its sorry state today.
For decades, Ted Kennedy was the bogeyman used by conservatives in their fundraising appeals to raise millions of dollars. To them, the liberal Kennedy seemed to represent everything they hated--there was no easier way to get a right-wing crowd booing and hissing than to mention Kennedy's name.
So it was more than a little jarring to hear conservatives sing Kennedy's praises for his "bipartisanship" in the wake of Kennedy's death from brain cancer on August 25.
"There is nobody else like him", Republican Senator Judd Gregg told the Associated Press. "If he had been physically up to it and been engaged on this [the current health-care reform debate], we probably would have an agreement by now."
This interview with Gérard Jodar, president of the pro-independence trade union federation USTKE (Union of Kanak and Exploited Workers), was published in Libération, issue #14790, on August 17 2009. He was interviewed by Matthieu Ecoiffier. Translated into English for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Annolies Truman.
Sentenced at the end of June 2009 to a year in prison for ``hindering the circulation of an aircraft'' [click HERE for background information to the struggle], Gérard Jodar is one of very few trade unionists to be imprisoned in France –- and his lawyers’ application for a lesser sentence has just been rejected by the appeals judge of the Noumea Supreme Court.
Gérard Jodar explains the conditions of his detention as well as the situation on the ``Pebble’’ [the nickname for New Caledonia, the colonial name for the South Pacific territory of Kanaky, which remains a colonial possession of France -- translator].
By Phil Hearse
August 22, 2009 -- Marxsite -- Most people sympathetic to radical politics outside the United States have probably never heard of Ayn Rand, and a brief introduction to her ultra pro-free market views would doubtless be enough to convince them they haven’t missed anything. Yet 27 years after her death, Ayn Rand continues to be seriously debated in the US, her books sell hundreds of thousands each year, her views are propagated by right wing think tanks and foundations and – bizarrely – Charlize Theron is in discussions to turn Rand’s 1088-page magnus opus Atlas Shrugged into a TV mini-series.
The Times Educational Supplement claimed in July that the Ayn Rand revival is gathering pace on US campuses. According to the TES:
By Malik Miah
August 2009 -- The critical lack of quality and affordable health care is devastating for African Americans. Twice as likely as whites to go without health insurance, African Americans suffer chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes at an escalating rate. The root of the problem is not inferior Black — or better white — health care. It is first and foremost a class issue, exacerbated for Blacks and Latinos because of the institutional racism that still permeates society.
Only the wealthy can afford “the best medical care in the world”. Everyone else’s care is rationed by the employer or private plans that each can afford to buy, or if uninsured, by the use of “free” clinics and emergency rooms. The debate over the broken US health-care system and what to do about it is one of life and death.
August 26, 2009, marks 60 days since Honduras' oligarchy overthrew the elected president of the country. As protests against the coup continue without let up, Western governments have refused to do anything concrete to support democracy, or as in the case of the US administration of President Barack Obama, been complicit.
The international corporate mass media has shunned providing coverage of the mass opposition in the streets of Tegucigalpa. This news blackout, and the resulting heightened state repression, has done little to deter the ongoing resistance to the coup inside Honduras.
Engels: A Revolutionary Life, by John Green, Artery Publications, 2008.
Marx’s General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, by Tristram Hunt, Macmillan/Metropolitan, 2009. (First published in Britain as The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels.)
Reviewed by Ian Angus
August 24, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- Most people on the left know that Friedrich Engels was co-author of the Communist Manifesto and Karl Marx’s lifelong collaborator. But few of today’s radicals know much more than that about the man who built barricades and fought a guerrilla war in Germany in the 1848-49 revolution, the indefatigable organiser who played a decisive role in building the Marxist current from a handful of exiles in the 1850s into the dominant trend in the international working-class movement by the time of his death in 1895.
By Don Fitz
August 22, 2009 -- An action can have opposite effects, depending on it s social contexts. An isolated individual who protests company policy by refusing to go to work could well get fired and become an example used to intimidate others. When an entire workforce stays off the job, it’s called a “strike” and has a very good chance of forcing the company to change its policy.
As positive as they may be for friends and family, individual lifestyles of non-violence do not stop wars from being fought. But a society that eliminates corporate control of the economy gets rid of the need for expansion and takes an enormous step towards non-violence. In this context, non-violent lifestyles solidify non-violent global politics.
It is even more so with “energy efficiency”. It is impossible for individual choices to purchase energy-efficient products to have any positive effect on climate change. But, in a democratically run economy, energy efficiency would be a cornerstone of resolving the catastrophic legacy of production for profit.
By Rob Marsden
August 22, 2009 -- Socialist Resistance -- Today, the twin drivers of economic recession and the possibility of catastrophic climate change are beginning to push working people towards action. A series of small-scale but high-profile occupations of threatened factories, not just at Vestas wind turbine plant but also at Visteon car plant, where 600 workers took on the might of Ford and won a greatly enhanced redundancy package, show what is possible. In the 1970s workers at Britain's Lucas Aerospace went even further. We look back at the lessons of Lucas Aerospace.
It is clear that if we are to avert catastrophic climate change by moving rapidly to a low-carbon economy, certain industries will have to be wound down or drastically scaled back, for example, the power generation, aviation and car industries. However, rather than this leading to a net loss of jobs, efforts must be put into creating new green jobs or ``converting'' old jobs.
By Ricardo Arturo Salgado, translated by Felipe Stuart Cournoyer
August 22, 2009 -- Pre-revolutionary situation? Some analyses of the situation in Honduras are fairly static. We have to differ with many local and foreign analysts who have tried to understand the situation in Honduras by imposing pre-existing parameters and by using basic concepts of the Marxist dialectic without any scientific criterion. Many have seen a failure of the Honduran grassroots resistance, failing to understand that historical materialism is not a mathematical formula where only variables change, but rather, a way to interpret reality objectively.
Corazon Aquino (far right) in 1986.
By Reihana Mohideen
August 14, 2009 – Former president of the Philippines Corazon Aquino died on August 1. Following the 1983 assassination of Benigno Aquino, her husband, Cory Aquino became the Philippine’s leading bourgeois opposition figure to the US-backed dictator Ferdinand Marcos. She stood against Marcos in the 1986 presidential election. After Marcos was proclaimed the winner of the blatantly rigged election, a mass uprising – dubbed the ``people power revolution’’ -- overthrew Marcos and Aquino became president. She was in office from 1986 to 1992.
The Philippines left’s reaction to the death of Corazon Aquino has been intriguing. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) did a complete about-turn, recanting its previous position that Cory Aquino was a representative of the reactionary classes.
Below is spokesperson for the Labour Party Pakistan Farooq Tariq's introduction to his new book, Facing the Musharraf Dictatorship: An Activist's Narrative. Following that is the preface by Peter Boyle, national secretary of the Democratic Socialist Perspective of Australia. Facing the Musharraf Dictatorship is available from Good Books Lahore. Email goodbooks_1 [at] yahoo.com to order a hard copy. You can also download the entire 300-page PDF file at the end of the two articles below.
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By Farooq Tariq
It was October 12, 1999. As usual, I was at the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) secretariat in Lahore. Around 6pm, Farooq Sulehria called me to break the news that Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif had removed the army chief General Pervez Musharraf who was flying back to Pakistan from a visit to Sri Lanka. Sulehria asked me to issue a press statement to explain the LPP's point of view. "Wait and see the response of the army", I told him.
By Ricardo Arturo Salgado, translated from the Spanish by Felipe Stuart Cournoyer
August 21, 2009 -- Tegucigalpa -- A lot has been written on the Honduran situation, more in solidarity with opposition to the coup than in favour of it. The media seems to feed on scandalous news -- no blood, no news. Unless what’s involved is a people on the way to liberation...
A few weeks ago I publicly exposed a potential collapse of the health system in Honduras; today public hospitals have only four basic medicines. They are being told to make emergency purchases from pharmaceutical firms owned by golpistas [coup makers]: Laboratorios Finlay, owned by Jorge Canahuati Larach, who also owns the newspapers el Heraldo and La Prensa, and is an arms supplier; Elías Asfura, owner of Laboratorios Karnel, also has various TV Channels and now owns the once government-owned Channel 8; MANDOFER, owned by the Andonie Fernández family which also owns Audio Video, a golpista group that includes Radio América.
Faces from the Comuna `Renacer del Sur'. Photos by Peter Boyle.
By Peter Boyle
August 20, 2009 -- At the base of the Bolivarian revolutionary process in Venezuela are some 30,000 communal councils. These are pictures of some of the people active in communal councils in poor barrios (neighbourhoods) in the south of the city of Valencia. They were taken in November 2008 when members of the Australian-Venezuela Solidarity Netwok brigade were hosted by the Comuna ``Renacer del Sur'' (Rebith of the South Commune).
Daniel Sanchez, a leader of the Rebirth of the South Commune, and Yoly Fernandez, a community organiser in Mission Mercal, Venezuela’s subsidised food program, are touring Australia in August and September to explain how “people’s power” is transforming their country and creating a new socialism of the 21st century.
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