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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.
Please explore Links and subscribe (click on "Subscribe to Links" or "Follow Links on Twitter" in the left menu). Links welcomes readers' constructive comments (but please read the "Comments policy" above).
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By Norm Dixon
August 6 and August 9 mark the anniversaries of the US atomic-bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. 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.
(Updated Aug. 6) Vestas workers: `Fight for green jobs not over ... Change should be made for the people, not for money'
Ventnor Blog -- August 5, 6pm, 2009 -- With Mike Godley having left yesterday, we spoke to Mark, one of the six who are still inside at the Vestas sit-in. We discussed how they had to reorganise themselves now four people have left.
He said that that morale was still good and how they’ll “still be fighting Vestas”. Mark explained that “It was strange to have that many people leaving at once.”
It’s unclear if Vestas have applied for bailiff papers to have them removed from the building. Vestas have issued a statement that they are very patient and that they can wait. Mark said, “They did ask us yesterday that if we wanted to leave the door open they would come in and get us. We replied ‘No’.”
(Updated August 5) South Korea: Graphic photos, video -- Ssangyong sit-in workers' appeal: `Our lives are at stake'
(For best results: allow video to load on `pause' before pressing play.)
Urgent appeal by the Korean Metal Workers Union and Korean Confederation of Trade Unions
By Francisco Dominguez
August 3, 2009 -- The July 18, 2009, edition of The Economist contained an article on Bolivia ("Bolivia's divisive president. The Permanent Campaign") which asserted that, “Venezuelan troops helped quell a rebellion centred on the airport at Santa Cruz in the east in 2007”. The article did not bother to substantiate such a serious charge against Venezuela and was one of several unjustified and unsubstantiated allegations against the president and government of Bolivia.
Caracas, August 3, 2009 -- Venezuelanalysis.com -- The head of Venezuela's telecommunications agency (CONATEL) and minister of housing and infrastructure Diosdado Cabello announced on August 1 the immediate closure of 32 privately owned radio stations and two regional television stations, because their broadcast licences had expired or they had violated regulations. Cabello said the recovered licences would be handed to the community media. The minister said many of the stations were operating illegally and had failed to register or pay fees to CONATEL. Decisions are still pending on a further 206 stations.
Nelson Belfort, president of the Chamber of Radio Broadcasters and the Caracas-based Circuito Nacional Belfort, which owns five of the closed radio stations, described the move as a government "attack" that aims to limit freedom of expression. He said the CNB would appeal the decision.
Wave of workplace occupations aims to reverse tide of closures; August 5: Thomas Cook workers arrested
Avril Boyne, more than eight months' pregnant, who has nine years' service at Thomas Cook, protesting at the closure of the travel agency and the redundancy package offered to staff at the Thomas Cook office, Grafton Street, Dublin. Thomas Cook is offering five weeks' pay for each year of service but workers are holding out for eight weeks. Photograph by Matt Kavanagh/Irish Times.
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STOP PRESS: Thomas Cook sit-in raided by police, workers arrested!
Graham Brown is a retired coalminer and a climate change activist. He’s also a member of the Upper Hunter branch of the NSW Greens party. The Hunter Valley, near the city of Newcastle, is a major source of Australia's coal exports. Brown is helping build a union and community alliance to create a “just transition” to a carbon-neutral economy. Such a transition would ensure workers in the coal industry move into alternative employment. Socialist Alliance's Zane Alcorn spoke to Brown.
How important is public ownership of electricity generation in a transition to a carbon-neutral economy?
It is definitely of the first importance. A private company is out to make a profit. When that profit starts to drop, it’ll move away. There’s no commitment to the community.
Public ownership is the reverse of that. It will enable the transition to carry through from start to finish. But it’s not going to finish, it’s going to be ongoing. Retrofitting power stations is a first step, but down the track, the best thing about renewable energy is that it is decentralised, and it will be owned by the public. Each community will have its own power generators.
July 31, 2009 -- We, the undersigned social, political and solidarity organisations, faced with the ongoing coup d’état in Honduras and the imperialist project of installing military bases in Colombia whose objective is to throttle the hope for liberty and emancipation across the Latin American continent,
1. Our complete support for the immediate and unrestricted return of President Manuel Zelaya and the restitution of constitutional order, without conditions, to Honduras. Furthermore, we demand the punishment of those responsible for the coup d’état and the recognition of people’s sovereignty to freely decide their future, through referendum, consultation or any other means of participative democracy.
2. We denounce the cynicism shown by the US government and its satellites in the Organisation of America States, with an attitude which speaks of the recognition of the constitutionality of Zelaya’s Presidency at the same time as they reach agreements and hold conversations with the organisers of the coup, and carry out all types of delaying tactics with the objective of demobilising the impressive resistance movement which has been awakened in the interior of Honduras, coordinated in the National Resistance Front against the Coup.
By S. Arutchelvan
August 1, 2009 -- Parti Sosialis Malaysia -- The 40,000-strong mobilisation today in Kuala Lumpur and the thousands who did not make it because of police roadblocks gave a very clear and precise message to Malaysia's Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak: repeal the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA).
By Federico Fuentes
Caracas -- July 25, 2009 -- On July 22, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez again declared his complete support for the proposal by industrial workers for a new model of production based on workers’ control.
This push from Chavez, part of the socialist revolution, aims at transforming Venezuela’s basic industry. However, it faces resistance from within the state bureaucracy and the revolutionary movement. Presenting his government’s “Plan Socialist Guayana 2009-2019”, Chavez said the state-owned companies in basic industry have to be transformed into “socialist companies”.
The plan was the result of several weeks of intense discussion among revolutionary workers from the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana (CVG). The CVG includes 15 state-owned companies in the industrial Guayana region involved in steel, iron ore, mineral and aluminium production.
The workers’ roundtables were established after a May 21 workshop, where industrial workers raised radical proposals for the socialist transformation of basic industry. Chavez addressed the workshop in support of many of the proposals.
By François Sabado
The principal lessons of the European elections of June 7, 2009, are the following: massive abstention; progress for the right flanked by the far right; a collapse of social democracy; an increase in the votes for the ecologists; while the radical left, left reformists and anti-capitalists maintained their position, without making new advances, except in Portugal and Ireland.
Crisis of legitimacy
First of all, the recent European elections confirmed widespread popular abstention. The rate of abstention, at 57 per cent across the European Union, increased compared to the election of 2004, where it had already, at 54.6 per cent, beaten the previous record. The level of abstention decreased in nine countries and increased in 17. This level of abstention provides a fresh demonstration of the crisis of legitimacy of the European Union and the governing parties which situate their policies within this framework. It is the result of the peoples of Europe being marginalised in the process of building a European Union that is neoliberal and anti-democratic.
Below is the text of a speech written by a Vestas worker for delivery at trade union and environmental movement meetings. It gives an excellent insight into the background of the struggle, and its wider political significance. It first appeared at http://savevestas.wordpress.com. See also ``Capitalism vs the environment: Wind turbine workers fight factory closure with sit-in'' for more coverage.
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I’ve come today to speak about a little factory called St. Cross on the Isle of Wight – otherwise known as Vestas; you may have heard about it before …
July 25, 2009 -- The first All-Stakeholders' Conference aimed at drafting a new constitution in Zimbabwe was held in Harare on July 13-14. The constitutional reform process is the result of the agreement reached between President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), when they formed a power-sharing government in February 2009.
The agreement between ZANU-PF and the MDC sets an 18-month timeline for drafting the constitution. It mandates two so-called all-stakeholders’ conferences and national consultation, but the process is controlled by a parliamentary committee. The final draft is to be determined by parliament before going to a referendum.
Many in the pro-democracy movement believe the constitutional reform process is dominated by politicians and will fail to incorporate the demands of ordinary Zimbabweans suffering worst from the country’s social and economic crisis.
Pacific islanders struggle for survival against global warming -- `Rich countries must slash emissions now'
July 29, 2009 -- For Pacific islanders, climate change is not a threat looming somewhere in the future. Rising sea levels and unpredictable weather are having devastating effects right now. Climate change has already forced some communities to leave their traditional homes.Simon Butler spoke to two climate change activists from the Pacific about their campaign for immediate cuts to global greenhouse emissions.
Pelenise Alofa Pilitati is the chairperson of the Church Education Directors' Association in Kiribati. Reverend Tafue Lusama is the chairperson of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network. They are on an Australian speaking tour through July and August, which is co-sponsored by Greenpeace and Oxfam. For details of the tour go to http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/news-and-events/events/pacificvoicestour-300609.
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Simon Butler: What are you hoping to achieve with your speaking tour?
Hitler’s Priests, by Kevin Spicer, Northern Illinois University Press, 2008, 369 pp. US$34.95
Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive, by Samuel D. Kassow, Indiana University Press, 2007, 523 pP., US$34.95
Kasztner’s Train: the True Story of an Unknown Hero of the Holocaust, by Anna Porter, Scribe, 2008, 548 pp., A$32.95
The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, Art Spiegelman, Pantheon, 1996, 296 pp., US$35.
Review by Barry Healy
July 28, 2009 -- In October 2008 the Catholic Synod of Bishops convened in Rome for a four-day theological discussion. Without warning, on the first day, Pope Benedict XVI suspended discussion and ordered the 200 participants to attend a special commemoration mass for Pius XII, who was the pope between 1939 and 1958.
[With the permission of Monthly Review Press, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is making available an exclusive excerpt from Jonah Raskin's The Mythology of Imperialism: A Revolutionary Critique of British Literature and Society in the Modern Age. A PDF file, available to read or download, of Chapter 2, ``Kipling's Contrasts'' is below. Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are encouraged to purchase The Mythology of Imperialism from the Monthly Review Press website, click HERE.]
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``We, the readers and students of literature, have been hijacked. The literary critics, our teachers, those assassins of culture, have put us up against the wall and held us captive.”
July 26, 2009, marks the 56th anniversary of the guerrilla attack on the Moncada military barracks by revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro in 1953, viewed by Cubans as the start of the revolution. 2009 is also the 50th anniversary year of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.
Chris Slee, author of Cuba: How the Workers & Peasants Made the Revolution (Resistance Books, 2008), explains how the revolution was made and defended by Cuba’s working people.
[For more coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, click HERE.]
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Workers, peasants and students played an active role before, during and after the insurrection that destroyed the brutal and corrupt US-backed Fulgencio Batista dictatorship in January 1959. Batista seized power in a coup in March 1952.
By Felipe Stuart Cournoyer
Update, July 24, 2009 -- Today, Honduras has been totally paralysed by a general strike, and Honduran resistance activists and protesters are chanting.
Zelaya - get used to it. The people are rising up
(it rhymes in Spanish).
Also common is the resistenCia, resistenCia, resistenCia, el pueblo unido jamas sera vencido (people united will never be overcome) and so on...
This afternoon Zelaya crossed over the frontier at Las Manos north of Esteli. He stood technically just inside Honduran territory, having crossed the chain separating the two countries in the "neutral" strip between them. Zelaya remained there for about two hours, hoping to meet up with members of his family and others who were trying to join him.
(Updated August 3) Capitalism vs the environment: Wind turbine workers fight factory closure with sit-in
Bolivians celebrate their new constitution. President Evo Morales in centre.
The following article by Raúl Prada Alcoreza was originally published in the first issue (June 2008) of Crítica y Emancipación, a biannual Latin American journal of the social sciences. This translation from the Spanish, by Shana Yael Shubs and Ruth Felder, was published this year in a complete English-language version of the journal’s first issue. It was distributed at the recent congress of the Latin American Studies Association, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June. A review of the first issue of Crítica y Emancipación was published at http://tinyurl.com/nuk4jp. This article also appeared at Bolivia Rising.