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Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal seeks to promote the exchange of information, experience of struggle, theoretical analysis and views of political strategy and tactics within the international left. It is a forum for open and constructive dialogue between active socialists from different political traditions. It seeks to bring together those in the international left who are opposed to neoliberal economic and social policies, and reject the bureaucratic model of "socialism" that arose in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China.

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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Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #4 -- Should we reject bureaucratic centralism and simply use consensus?

Marta Harnecker.

[This is the fourth in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. For a long time, left-wing parties operated along authoritarian lines. The usual practice was that of bureaucratic centralism, influenced by the experiences of Soviet socialism. All decisions regarding criterion, tasks, initiatives, and the course of political action to take were restricted to the party elite, without the participation or debate of the membership, who were limited to following orders that they never got to discuss and in many cases did not understand. For most people, such practices are increasing intolerable.

What’s wrong with a 30-hour work week?

By Don Fitz

May 30, 2009 -- With millions of jobs lost during the first part of 2009, who is calling for a shorter work week to spread the work around? Not the Republicans. Not even the Democrats. But why is there nary a peep from unions?

In the US, the vehicle industry sets the pace for organised labour. The only discussion at the top levels of the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) is how quickly the gains won during the last 50 years can be given back. Does the UAW have no memory of the 1930s and 1940s when a shorter work week was at centre of organising demands?

The gross domestic product is plummeting at the same time that jobs are disappearing. Why should there be any connection between the two? If society produces 10% less, why don’t we all just work 10% less? Didn’t things work like that for hundreds of thousands of years of human existence? When people figured out easier ways to get what they needed, they spent less time doing it.

Ten reasons why population control is not an answer to climate change

By Simon Butler

June 1, 2009 -- Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. The scientific evidence of the scale of the threat is overwhelming, compelling and frightening. Climate tipping points -- points which if crossed will lead to runaway global warming -- are being crossed now.

We live in a time of consequences. So it’s crucial that the climate justice movement -- made up of those determined to take a stand now to win a safe climate future -- campaigns for the changes that can actually make a difference.

A discussion has surfaced about whether population-control measures should be a key plank in the climate action movement’s campaign arsenal. Below are 10 reasons why such a decision would hinder, rather than help, the necessary task of building a movement that can win.

1. Population does not cause climate change

Advocates of population control say that one of the most effective measures we can take to combat climate change is to sharply reduce the number of humans on the planet. This wrongly focuses on treating one symptom of an irrational, polluting system rather than dealing with the root causes.

El Salvador: The beginning of a new era -- and great challenges

By Jay Hartling

May 31, 2009 -- El Salvador -- On Monday, June 1, 2009 El Salvador will turn a new page in its history with the inauguration of the country´s first left government, joining the ranks of the majority of Latin America. Representing the Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) ), Mauricio Funes and Salvador Sanchez Ceren, president and vice-president elect, will face a national assembly in which the FMLN is outnumbered by more than 2:1. Out of a total of 84 seats, the FMLN only have 35. This will make broad sweeping changes difficult, but not impossible, and may force Funes to use the power of the presidential veto as a bargaining chip. It is important that those of us observing from a distance understand the complicated environment within which the new government will be operating.

The new government represents a coalition of interests including the FMLN and its national grassroots system of committees, and a broad cross-section of civil society. More and more information is coming to light that despite the glowing picture painted by the outgoing right-wing ARENA party, the country is bankrupt -- the result of twenty years of failed economic and social policies, and rampant corruption by ARENA and its allies, the PDC and PCN. It is likely that the new government will discover the depth of the corruption and mismanagement after it assumes office.

Fidel Castro’s declarations of resistance

Review by Alex Miller

The Declarations of Havana,
by Fidel Castro, with an introduction by Tariq Ali,
Verso, 2008, 138 pages

May 22, 2009 -- As Cuba celebrates the 50th anniversary of the revolution that overthrew the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, it is fitting that three of the most famous documents relating to the struggle against Batista and the early days of the revolution are published together in a single volume. The Declarations of Havana is part of Verso’s new “revolutions” series.

By reading the three documents back-to-back, one is able to trace the development of the Cuban Revolution from its nationalist-democratic beginnings to its socialist conclusion.

On July 26, 1953, a 26-year-old lawyer named Fidel Castro — along with his younger brother Raul — led an armed attack on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba, hoping to spark an uprising that would remove the hated Batista from power.

Michael Lebowitz: '21st century socialism needs a 21st century Marxism'

May 23, 2009 -- Michael Lebowitz is a Canadian Marxist economist. He is the director of the “Transformative practice and human development” program at the Caracas-based left-wing think tank, the Centro Internacional Miranda. He is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University and author of Build it Now: 21st Century Socialism and the 2004 Isaac Deutscher-prize winning Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy of the Working Class.

Lebowitz was a featured speaker at the World at a Crossroads conference organised by Green Left Weekly, the Democratic Socialist Perspective and the socialist youth group Resistance, held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009. Christopher Kerr spoke with Lebowitz about capitalism's crisis and the socialist alternative.

* * *

Given the current economic crisis, is Marxism still relevant?

It is more relevant than ever. Marxism seeks to explain the underlying reasons for what is occurring and to seek out the alternatives.

South Korea: The legacy of the 1980 Kwangju uprising

South Korean troops march on Kwangju, May 1980.

On the weekend of May 15-18, 2009, the city of Kwangju, South Korea, held the Kwangju International Peace Forum to celebrate the struggle for democracy in South Korea and to support similar struggles elsewhere in Asia. Christopher Kerr of South Korea-based solidarity group Venceremos caught up with George Katsiaficas to discuss the legacy of the 1980 Kwangju uprising. Katsiaficas is visiting professor of sociology at Chonnam National University and author/editor of numerous books on international social movements including South Korean Democracy -- Legacy of the Gwangju Uprising and Unknown Uprisings: South Korean Social Movements Since World War 2).

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Chris Kerr: What happened in May 1980 in Kwangju and how was it significant to the democracy movement at that time?

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #3 -- To be at the service of popular movements, not displace them

[This is the third in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. We have previously stated that politics is the art of constructing a social and political force capable of changing the balance of forces in order to make possible tomorrow that which today appears to be impossible. But, to be able to construct a social force it is necessary for political organisations to demonstrate a great respect for grassroots movements; to contribute to their autonomous development, leaving behind all attempts at manipulation. They must take as their starting point that they aren’t the only ones with ideas and proposals and, on the contrary, grassroots movements have much to offer us, because through their daily struggles they have also learned things, discovered new paths, found solutions and invented methods which can be of great value.

Socialist Party of Malaysia condemns Sri Lanka's slaughter of Tamils

Tamils demand national self-determination on May 1, 2009. Photo by Peter Boyle.

By the Socialist Party of Malaysia (Parti Sosialis Malaysia, PSM)

May 27, 2009 -- Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared victory over Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as the last LTTE strongpoints crumbled. The victory is for no one but only the chauvinistic nationalist Sinhalese government led by Rajapaksa, which had launched a brutal, merciless and cold-blooded military offensive against the Tamil population for several months, inflicting nothing but death, destruction and misery. The victory proclaimed by Rajapaksa will not put an end to the conflict that has lasted for several decades, but signals a new assault on working people in Sri Lanka -- Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslim.

`The only fight we lose is the one we abandon’: Mexico’s first openly lesbian MP on LGBTI rights and people’s power

Patria Jiménez. Photo by Rachel Evans.

By Rachel Evans

May 21, 2009 -- Coyacan, Mexico -- I interviewed Patria Jiménez in Coyacan’s normally bustling markets. The onset of the swine flu crisis had emptied the streets and enforced a stiffness into Mexico’s normally effusive greetings tradition. No kissing hello or shaking hands was encouraged. Jiménez ignored swine-flu protocol and greeted me warmly.

In 1997, Jiménez made history by being elected the first openly lesbian member of Mexico's Chamber of Deputies. Representing an alliance that included the the Workers Revolutionary Party (PRT) and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), Jiménez was also the first openly lesbian candidate to be elected in Latin America. She is standing again within a coalition, Salvemos a México (We Will Save Mexico), for the July 2009 federal elections.

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #2 -- Convince, not impose

Marta Harnecker.

[This is the second in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. Popular movements and, more generally, the different social protagonists who today are engaged in the struggle against neoliberal globalisation both at the international and national levels reject, with good reason, attitudes that aim to impose hegemony or control on movements. They don’t accept the steamroller policy that some political and social organisations tended to use that, taking advantage of their position of strength and monopolising political positions, attempt to manipulate the movement. They don’t accept the authoritarian imposition of a leadership from above; they don’t accept attempts made to lead movements by simply giving orders, no matter how correct they are.

Envisioning ecological revolution -- Excerpt from John Bellamy Foster's new book, `The Ecological Revolution'

With the permission of John Bellamy Foster and Monthly Review Press, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is publishing an exclusive excerpt from Foster's latest book, The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet.

Links readers are encouraged to purchase a copy of this important new book HERE.

The roots of the present ecological crisis, John Bellamy Foster argues in The Ecological Revolution, lie in capital’s rapacious expansion, which has now achieved unprecedented heights of irrationality across the globe. Foster compellingly demonstrates that the only possible answer for humanity is an ecological revolution: a struggle to make peace with the planet.

* * *

India’s 2009 general election: Lessons for the left


By Dipankar Bhattacharya, general secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

May 24, 2009 -- The results of 2009 elections for the Lok Sabha elections (India’s lower house of parliament) can be described as a string of surprises, not only for many well-entrenched parties and seasoned politicians but also for a host of commonsense notions about contemporary Indian political reality. Of late, it has become customary to look at elections in India through the prism of coalition politics, caste equations and regional diversities. Verdict 2009 has given a serious jolt to this facile view and reasserted the underlying structural dynamics of Indian politics.

Tamil self-determination and the LTTE: Some lessons for the struggle

On May 23, 2009, anti-war activists joined members of Sydney's Tamil community in a march to protest the Sri Lankan government's war against the Tamil people, organised by the Stop The War Coalition.

* * *

By Reihana Mohideen

May 21, 2009 -- “To save the lives of our people is the need of the hour. Mindful of this, we have already announced to the world our position to silence our guns to save our people", said Selvarasa Pathmanathan, the head of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's (LTTE) International Diplomatic Relations on May 17, thus flagging the military defeat of the LTTE.

Pakistan: Appeal -- Help oppose the Taliban and government military operations

May 21, 2009 -- This is a formal appeal by the Labor Relief Campaign to help in the fight against the Taliban and the Pakistan government's military operations. The purpose is to provide immediate help to some of the more than 1.5 million internally displaced people from the Malakand Division of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in Pakistan. This displacement has resulted from the fight between the Taliban and the Pakistani government. We also aim to publish Mazdoor Jeddojuhd in the Pushto language more frequently. At present it is published weekly in Urdu and monthly in Pushto. We want to counter the ideas both of religious fanatics and state repression. We aim to aid the labour and social movements in the province by publishing their activities and views, bringing them together to form new networks.

The situation

The Taliban have taken over parts of Pakistan. They have threatened to occupy other parts as well. To pacify them, the government went into an accord with the Taliban this April 2009, imposing a so-called Nizam Adl (system of justice) in Malakanad. The Taliban then imposed medieval laws in the areas under their control, targeting women and minorities. This accord also provided the Taliban with the opportunity to move into other areas.

Blood for oil in Nigeria: Military launches massive attack on Niger Delta villages

May 21, 2009 -- Democracy Now! -- The Nigerian military has been accused of killing hundreds, maybe thousands, of civilians in the oil-rich Niger Delta. The military offensive began eight days ago (May 13, 2009) but has received little international attention. We go to Nigeria to speak with Denzil Amagbe Kentebe of the Ijaw National Congress. We’re also joined by Sandy Cioffi, director of the new documentary Sweet Crude about the Niger Delta. The village of Oporoza, where much of the film was shot, has just been burned down.

CPI (ML) Liberation: A crime against humanity, not a `famous victory', in Sri Lanka

By the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

May 21, 2009 -- According to an announcement by the Sri Lankan government, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) chief Prabhakaran is dead, killed by the Lankan Army. The LTTE is yet to confirm the death, and some sections are questioning the veracity of the claim.

The exact manner of Prabhakaran's death is clouded in suspicion. The Sri Lankan government claims he was killed when the army opened fire on a van in which he and two top aides were travelling; initially, Sri Lankan officials said the van caught fire under rocket attack and Prabhakaran's body was badly burnt. Subsequently, they claimed to have found his body, dead from a bullet, dressed in fatigues and having identification papers on him, during a combing operation. There are many unanswered questions about the manner of the death: including the suspicion that he might have been captured alive by the Lankan army, or that he might have taken his life before capture.

Biochar: An answer to global warming or a menace?

By Renfrey Clarke

May 21, 2009 -- Sometimes you have to hand it to capitalism. It’s sheer magic the way the system takes promising concepts, steeps them in the transformative power of the market – and turns them into howling social and environmental disasters.

Take biofuels, for example. With fossil fuels warming the planet, why not, indeed, take advantage of the fact that plants use carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to produce sugars and oils that can be turned into substitutes for petrol and diesel?

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #1 -- Insurrections or revolutions? The role of the political instrument

Marta Harnecker (left).

[This is the first in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. The recent popular uprisings at the turn of the 21st century that have rocked numerous countries such as Argentina and Bolivia -- and, more generally, the history of the multiple social explosions that have occurred in Latin America and the rest of the world -- have undoubtedly demonstrated that the initiative of the masses, in and of itself, is not enough to defeat ruling regimes.

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