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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.
Links is also proud to be the sister publication of Green Left Weekly, the world's leading red-green newspaper, and we urge readers to visit that site regularly.
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Gustavo Martínez interviewed by Susan Spronk and Jeffery R. Webber
June 21, 2010 – The Bullet – On June 10, 2010, we caught up with Gustavo Martinez, a union leader in the worker-controlled, nationalised coffee company, Fama de América, in Caracas, Venezuela. The company has 350 workers at the national level, with two separate plants – one in Caracas and one in Valencia. We sat down with Martínez to discuss the centrality of workers’ control in the ongoing struggle to transition toward socialism and some of the most pressing contradictions of the Bolivarian process in Venezuela today.
* * *
To start off, can you tell us your name, how long you've worked in this coffee company, your job in the company, and your role in the union?
By Eric Toussaint
[See parts 2 , 3 and 4 below.]
Part 1: Nationalisation, workers’ control: achievements and limitations
April 14, 2010 -- Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt -- The economic, social and political situation in Venezuela has changed a lot since the failure of the constitutional reform in December 2007, which acted as a warning to President Hugo Chávez's government. |1| This failure had the effect however of reviving the debate on the need to have a socialist perspective. The debate revolves around several key questions: further nationalisation, workers’ control, the place of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), people’s participation, etc.
By Patrick Bond, Durban
June 25, 2010 -- South Africa's soccer-loving critics have long predicted the problems now growing worse here because of its World Cup hosting duties:
- loss of large chunks of government’s sovereignty to the world soccer body FIFA;
- rapidly worsening income inequality;
- future economic calamities as debt payments come due;
- dramatic increases in greenhouse gas emissions (more than twice Germany’s in 2006); and
- humiliation and despondency as the country’s soccer team Bafana Bafana (ranked #90 going into the games) became the first host to expire before the competition’s second round.
Soon, it seems, we may also add to this list a problem that terrifies progressives here and everywhere: another dose of xenophobia from both state and society.
The crucial question in coming weeks is whether, instead of offering some kind of resistance from below, as exemplified by the Durban Social Forum network’s 1000-strong rally against FIFA on June 16 at City Hall, Durban, will society’s sore losers adopt right-wing populist sentiments, and frame the foreigner?
Statement by Asian left organisations
[To add your organisation’s endorsement, please email: email@example.com.]
June 25, 2010 -- As Israel stands increasingly isolated following its manufactured confrontation on May 31, 2010, with the peace flotilla in which nine Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara were murdered, now is the time to increase the pressure on Israel to lift the siege of Gaza.
Israel’s criminal blockade of Gaza is aimed to collectively punish 1.5 million Gazans for their choice of government.
The attack on the flotilla was aimed at demoralising Palestinians and their supporters. But, as we've seen from the global protests – particularly in Turkey and the Arab world – it has backfired on the Netanyahu government. Turkey, once a close political and military ally, has now distanced itself from Israel and supports attempts to break the Gaza blockade.
The politics of denialism: The strange case of Rwanda -- review of Herman and Peterson's ‘The Politics of Genocide’
Skulls of victims of one of the massacres during the 1994 Rwandan genocide are displayed at the Genocide Memorial Site church of Ntarama in Nyamata, Rwanda. Photo: AFP.
Review by Gerald Caplan
By Tariq Ali
[The following talk was given on April 19, 2010, to mark the 30th anniversary of the London Review of Books. It first appeared at Guernica /a magazine of art and politics. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Guernica's permission.]
Afghanistan now is at a critical stage. And now I’m very glad to say that the London Review of Books, whose thirtieth anniversary we are commemorating, has over the years published myself and others on this subject, taking essentially a critical stance to this war because, as many of you will recall, it became fashionable all over the world, not just in the United States, to think of Iraq and Afghanistan as two very different wars. Which of course, on one level, they are. But I mean different moral values were placed on these wars by good-thinking people. The Iraq war was a bad war, which should never have happened; that is the view of large numbers of people in the United States today, and always was the view of an overwhelming majority of Europeans.
Terry Eagleton: `Football -- a dear friend to capitalism'
By Terry Eagleton
June 15, 2010 -- The Guardian (UK) -- If the [new British] government is bad news for those seeking radical change, the soccer World Cup is even worse. It reminds us of what is still likely to hold back such change long after the coalition is dead. If every rightwing thinktank came up with a scheme to distract the populace from political injustice and compensate them for lives of hard labour, the solution in each case would be the same: football. No finer way of resolving the problems of capitalism has been dreamed up, bar socialism. And in the tussle between them, football is several light years ahead.
Below is an excerpt from Thai socialist Giles Ji Ungpakorn's latest book, Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy. It provides an historical background to Thai politics from the pre-capitalist era, through the turmoil of the 1930s and 1970s, up to the present day. This historical understanding is important in locating the dynamics of the ruling class and the changing politics of revolt from the time of the Communist Party through to the creation of the NGOs. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Giles Ji Ungpakorn's permission.
Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a political commentator and dissident. In February 2009 he had to leave Thailand for exile in Britain because he was charged with lèse majesté for writing a book criticising the 2006 military coup. His latest book will be of interest to activists, academics and journalists who have an interest in Thai politics, democratisation and NGOs.
[For full coverage of the World People's Conference on Climate Change, including the full text of the documents, click HERE.]
By Daniel Tanuro and Sandra Invernizzi
June 2010 -- International Viewpoint -- The World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which met in Cochabamba (Bolivia) from April 20-22, 2010, at the invitation of Bolivia's President Evo Morales, was an enormous success. Thirty-thousand participants discussed for several days the various facets of the climate crisis and adopted a series of very interesting documents, from a resolutely anti-capitalist standpoint.
The People's Agreement stems from an integral vision of climate change, incorporating the issue of the structural causes of the climate crisis, the rupture of harmony with nature, the need to recognise the rights of Mother Earth in order to guarantee human rights, the importance of creating a Tribunal of Climate and Environmental Justice, the development of global democracy so that the people can decide on this issue affecting and the planet and all of humanity.
On the other hand, the Copenhagen Accord represents a step backward with relation to the Kyoto Protocol by proposing a methodology of voluntary commitments for the industrialised countries that are principally responsible for climate change.
Video by Tom Vee TV. More video below.
[For more information about trade union solidarity with Palestine, click HERE.]
June 20, 2010 -- ANSWER -- In a historic action and unprecedented action today, more 800 worker and community activists blocked the gates of the Oakland docks in the early morning hours, prompting longshore workers to refuse to cross the picketlines where they were scheduled to unload an Israeli ship.
By Dave Holmes
Despite the apparently secular nature of so much of modern life, religion is a long way from being a spent force. For revolutionary socialists aiming to mobilise the masses for a fundamental transformation of society, religion is a question which cannot be ignored.
1. While each country has its specific situation, in the West it is undeniable that the traditional religions are considerably diminished compared to even a few decades ago, with church attendances down and religious identification increasingly nominal for wide layers of the population. Moreover, the churches are being shaken by multiple and ongoing controversies and crises — over the role of women and gays, especially as priests; over revelations of past and present sexual abuse of women and children in their institutions; over financial scandals; in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, over damaging exposures of leading clergy flouting their own code of celibacy; over clashes between their conservative and more liberal wings; and over their increased integration into the activities of the state through government funding for charitable and welfare work.
June 11, 2010 -- A major split over the US blockade of Cuba has emerged between domestic "dissidents" in Cuba and their former partners in Miami. The US corporate media is paying attention to what appears to be a new anti-Cuban strategy.
A letter signed by 74 of the "dissidents" on the island calls for an end to Washington's ban on US citizens travelling to Cuba. On the other hand, most of the Cuban-American members of Congress are fiercely defending the nearly 50-year-old economic blockade, in all its forms. The "new contras" are now up against the old.
The split represents a genuine difference in counter-revolutionary tactics, but is also linked to squabbles over money. For many years "dissidents" in Cuba have privately complained that most of the millions of dollars pledged by Washington -- for a "transition" to capitalist "democracy" in Cuba -- is snapped up by Miami.
There have been scandals over the misuse of the millions of US government dollars funnelled into propaganda channels aimed at Cuba. Miami-based Radio Marti and Television Marti were recently criticised by US Foreign Relations Committee chair John Kerry as corrupt, ineffective and of little interest to young Cubans.
Introduction by Danielle Sabai and Pierre Rousset
June 20, 2010 -- The crackdown on the opposition in Thailand and the abuses of the regime have not been met with the solidarity response and the international condemnation that the situation requires. The regime can thus freely operate and stifle the democratic movement.
News from Thailand is alarming: hundreds of people detained for violations of the emergency decree, including children; injured people chained to their hospital beds; several assassinations of local leaders of the Red Shirts have taken place. The country is moving deeper into an authoritarian and military regime. The elite are even considering postponing the elections for six years, thus giving Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva the possibility of leading the country for ten years against the will of the majority of Thai citizens.
Thai society is deeply unequal in every respect. The Red Shirts have expressed loud and clear their determination to fight the injustices they suffer: they express a class movement as well as one defending regional diversity, against the establishment in Bangkok.
By Kamcilla Pillay
June 17, 2010, Durban -- Daily News -- The sound of vuvuzelas cut through the air in Durban on June 16 -- but for one large group there was little to celebrate. Amid cries of phansi ngama-fat cats, phansi (down with fat cats, down) and a sea of banners proclaiming the government cared only for the rich, civil rights organisations took to the streets protesting against poor service delivery and the World Cup.[Photos below.]
Abahlali Base Mjondolo, KwaZulu-Natal Subsistence Fisher's Forum, Clairwood Social Forum and about 17 other organisations gathered for what they dubbed an "anti-Thiefa" protest march which started at Dinizulu Park and ended at City Hall yesterday.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez interviewed by BBC `Hardtalk'; Mark Weisbrot analyses interviewer's bias
On June 15, 2010, the BBC's Hardtalk program broadcast an wide-ranging interview with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez from the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas. The interviewer, Stephen Sackur, clearly intended to provoke Chavez with a series of ill-informed and outright dishonest claims and questions. He did not succeed. Parts 2 and 3 below.
Antenea Jimenez interviewed by Susan Spronk and Jeffery R. Webber
June 13, 2010 -- The Bullet -- We met with Antenea Jimenez, a former militant with the student movement who is now working with a national network of activists who are trying to build and strengthen the comunas [communes]. The comunas are community organisations promoted since 2006 by the government of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez government as a way to consolidate a new form of state based upon production at the local level. She told us about the important advances in the process, as well as the significant challenges that remain in the struggle to build a new form of popular power from below.
Can you tell us about the barrio where you live and the comuna?
I live in a barrio [neighbourhood] in the north part of Caracas and work in a national network that is building comunas. Currently we operate in seven states; the majority of the comunas are situated outside Caracas.
By Dale T. McKinley, Johannesburg
June 15, 2010 -- Offering an unapologetic public critique of the FIFA Soccer World Cup at the height of the collective frenzy of positive expectation, feel-good nationalism and general public excitement that now exists in our country is a risky thing to do. But it is a risk that needs to be taken precisely because, no matter what the context, myths always need to be separated from realities. In the case of the "greatest show on Earth", leaving aside the very real beauty and enjoyment of the game of soccer, the myth-making has created a situation akin to inhaling tik -– a short-lived high/euphoria that obscures all reality, followed by a rapid, depressing "come down" back to that reality.
By Reihana Mohideen
(Based on interviews with leaders of the Philippines left, Frank Pascual, Sonny Melencio and Ric Reyes.)
June 13, 2010 -- On June 9 Senator Benigno Aquino III ("Noynoy" Aquino) of the Liberal Party, the son of former President Cory Aqunio, was proclaimed president by the Philippines Congress. Noynoy was a former senator “with little legislative record to speak of”, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper, which nevertheless campaigned hard for Noynoy Aquino’s presidency, soon after Cory Aquino’s death in August 2009.
Paradoxically, with the restoration of the Aquinos to the presidency, the elections have also resulted in the restoration of the Marcoses to national politics, with the former dictator's son Bongbong Marcos being elected to the Senate, Imelda Marcos winning a seat in Congress and her daughter Imee Marcos winning the governorship of their political bailiwick, the province of Ilocos Norte.
Nuestro amigo Sonny Melencio, histórico dirigente de la izquierda socialista filipina, hace un agudo balance analítico de la situación política del país asiático.
13 junio 2010 -- www.sinpermiso.info -- De las elecciones del 10 de mayo de 2010 se han dicho que han sido las más limpias y pacíficas desde la restauración de este ejercicio tras la caída de la dictadura de Marcos en 1986. Y ello debido a la informatización del recuento de votos, que por su rapidez ha impedido que haya el suficiente tiempo como para que cualquiera de los trapo (políticos tradicionales) amañe las urnas.