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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.

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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Lessons from South Africa for the fight against Israeli apartheid

Salim Vally of the Palestine Solidarity Committee of South Africa (http://psc.za.org/), addressing a meeting on February 7, 2008, part of Toronto's Israeli Apartheid Week (http://www.apartheidweek.org/), draws on the experiences of the South African anti-apartheid movement to inspire the Palestinian anti-apartheid movement. Salim Vally was deeply involved in the South African anti-apartheid movement.

Free pamphlet: Revolutionaries and parliament: The Bolshevik experience

By Maurice Sibelle

One of the greatest obstacles to winning working people to the perspective of a socialist revolution is the widespread and deeply ingrained illusion — inculcated in their minds day-in and day-out by the capitalist rulers — that through the institutions of bourgeois democracy, particularly parliament, working people can defend and advance their interests.

Historical experience has shown that socialists cannot destroy this widely held illusion simply by presenting arguments against it. On the contrary, the working masses can only be convinced that parliament is an instrument of capitalist rule when this argument is backed up by their own experience. That is, the masses of working people will have to go through the practical experience of struggles in which they can test the limits that the parliamentary system places on their activity before they can be convinced of the necessity of overthrowing this system and replacing it with genuinely democratic political institutions — a centralised system of elected committees or councils of working people’s delegates like the Russian soviets of workers’ deputies that emerged in the 1905 revolution and again in 1917.

Between 1912-14, the Russian Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin were able to use the tsarist parliament — the Duma — to help build a revolutionary workers’ movement. This experience provides possibly the richest period for lessons in revolutionary parliamentarism. It was a vital period in the history of the Bolshevik Party. The work done in this period laid the ground work for the rapid changes that occurred in 1917 and the eventual victory of the October Revolution.

The aid appeal that the BBC does not want people to see

By Dave Riley

January 27, 2009 -- LeftClick -- That emergency appeal for humanitarian aid for Gaza that the BBC refuses to broadcast? Watch it for yourself:

The video was made when the death toll was "just" "a few hundred" and it is completely apolitical (the word "Israel" doesn't even appear in the script). The power of its images alone is self-evident, making it clear why the BBC doesn't want it seen. Reality, in this case, has an anti-Israel bias. The decision provoked protests across Britain.

Send your complaint to the BBC HERE.

What does Obama mean for the world?

By Barry Sheppard, San Francisco

January 23, 2009 -- More than 1 million people gathered in bitter cold in Washington DC to witness the historical inauguration of an African American as president.

The crowd was disproportionately Black, but majority white — and jubilant. Celebrations were held in Black communities throughout the country, and in other sectors of the population.

He was sworn in by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, itself historic. In the aftermath of the election, he enjoys overwhelming support according to polls, far higher than his margin of votes. This indicates a large swing of whites among those who voted for the Republican candidate John McCain.

Hopes are running high that he will do something to turn around the accelerating downturn in the economy. On “inauguration day”, it appeared that the crisis in the banks and other financial institutions was once again critical.

With rising unemployment, rising home foreclosures, falling wages, failing retail chains and US$1 trillion poured down what one economist called a bottomless pothole to apparently no avail, the working and middle classes have experienced a massive shock.

The “free markets will solve all” ideology is a dead duck. US people are demanding that the government take action. Obama has promised to do just that.

Obama and the change the world demands

[Kavita Krishnan will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.]

By Kavita Krishnan

The United States – and the world – has just witnessed Bush's exit from and Barack Obama's entry into the White House. The mood at Obama's inauguration – an event replete with symbolic resonances, situating the Obama presidency in the history of the civil rights movement against racism in the US – indicates the endurance of that groundswell of popular hope in the US which powered Obama's election campaign. For a US people reeling from financial crisis and the highly unpopular Bush presidency, Obama has offered a promise of ``change''.

Sri Lanka: Behind the genocidal war against the Tamils

By Tony Iltis

January 17, 2009 -- The January 14 announcement by the Sri Lankan government that its forces had completed the capture of the Jaffna Peninsular, effectively bringing all of the historic Tamil nation in Sri Lanka’s north-east under military occupation, was a grim reminder that the Israeli assault on the Gaza ghetto is not the only holocaust at the start of the new year.

The Tamil people have been fighting for independence from Sri Lanka since 1983 when an island-wide pogrom (the most violent of several that had regularly occurred since 1956) convinced Tamils that they would not attain equality or security under the Sinhala-chauvinist state that has ruled Sri Lanka since independence in 1948.

Sinhala is the first language of 74% of Sri Lankans. Most of the remainder are Tamil-speaking. Tamils form the majority in the north and east of the island (Tamil Eelam).

While the government has declared that the group leading the armed resistance, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), is finished as a military force, this is not the first time their demise has been announced. However, it has undoubtedly suffered a serious setback as a result of the sustained military offensive by the Sri Lankan army.

Venezuela: Mass support for constitutional reform campaign

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

By Tamara Pearson

Mérida, January 19, 2009 (venezuelanalysis.com) -- Over the January 17-18 weekend, committees from various sectors of society swore to campaign hard to win the approval by public vote of the amendment to the constitution to get rid of the two-term limit on all elected offices in Venezuela.

More than 20,000 people attended the swearing in of the heads of logistical and operational patrols of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in Caracas on January 17.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez stated at the event that there are now about 100,000 “Yes committees” organised, or in formation, to campaign in favour of changing the five articles of constitution so that all popularly elected positions are not limited to two terms.

The committees are organised along various fronts and community lines, including women, youth, workers, communal councils and the PSUV.

African American students discuss Cuba’s healthcare revolution

Radio Open Source carried this interview with three medical students from the United States studying in Cuba.
But the core of our long conversations is medicine, the Cuban way. This is aggressive, free, hands-on healthcare that makes house calls, and lingers for the feel of emotions and homelife. Doctors’ training -- like doctors’ care -- is free: the payback required of the students here from all over the hemisphere is only that they return to under served areas of their home countries...Their thinking on social determinants of health, on the primacy of public health and the vital role of prevention strategies are unmatched in the world. With spending of less than US$200 per person per year for health care, they have achieved health outcomes no different than in the USA where expenditures now exceed $7000 per person annually!”.

Black president in the White House: Not the `same old white supremacy' but …

Barack Obama delivers his inaugural address after being sworn in as president of the United States. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

By Mike Ely

For literally millions of people, for many of a new generation, the awakening to politics starts in these moments. This is the world, the arguments, the summations, the claims, the promises that they hear and that they will see unfold in the days ahead. We need to understand this moment, we need to also inhabit this world that they are seeing — in order to craft from among them a revolutionary force that can actually connect with and represent their highest hopes.

`What we expect from President Obama on Palestine' (+COSATU solidarity message to the people of Gaza)

Joint statement by the Palestine Solidarity Committee (South Africa) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions

January 20, 2009 -- In a few hours, Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as president of the United States of America, the largest and most powerful empire in recorded history. His inauguration comes at the end of a long and hard election campaign which rode on his campaign promise of ``Change'', a promise which captured the imagination of his voters and of people across the world. The change that Obama promised -- for the people of the United States and for the rest of the world -- is welcomed for the break that it suggests with the depraved capital-centred and imperialist policies of the George Bush administration.

We are confident that Obama will make some changes. We welcome his commitment to closing down Guantanamo Bay prison, an institution which makes a mockery of international law and human rights, and his commitment to eliminate torture techniques as a form of interrogation. We welcome his commitment to withdrawing troops from Iraq. We welcome his commitment to ensuring that the state, in the US, improves the health care provisions to its people. Our concern, however, is about those things that Obama is determined not to change.

What won't change?

Obama's intention to increase military personnel in Afghanistan and continue the military occupation of the country reflects both a commitment to sustaining an imperial agenda and a disrespect for the lives and choices of people in the Global South.

Thailand: Activist Giles Ji Ungpakorn charged with `insulting' monarchy

[Please sign the petition HERE against the attack on freedom of speech in Thailand, which the use of lese majeste represents.]

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

January 20, 2009 -- Today, the police informed me that I have been charged with lese majeste because of eight paragraphs in Chapter 1 of my book A Coup for the Rich. The paragraphs are listed below.

According to the police charge sheet, the charges arise from the fact that the director of Chulalongkorn University bookshop decided to inform the police Special Branch that my book "insulted the Monarchy". The bookshop is managed by the academic management of the university. So much for academic freedom!

Paragraphs from A Coup for the Rich that are deemed to have "insulted the Monarchy":

Good riddance, Dubya!



Poster of President George W. Bush outside the US Consulate in Montreal, Canada. US President George W. Bush and shoes are now synonymous. People around the world were inspired by Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi. Source: Flickr. Thanks to http://osocio.org/message/bye_bye_dubya_and_thank_you/.

Lenin on liquidationism

By Chris Slee

January 2007 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In recent years there have been a number of cases where revolutionary Marxist parties have initiated or participated in attempts at building broad socialist parties. Examples include the Scottish Socialist Party; the Socialist Alliance and later Respect in England; the Socialist Alliance in Australia; Papernas in Indonesia; participation in the Party of Communist Refoundation in Italy; and the New Anti-Capitalist Party initiated by the Revolutionary Communist League (Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire) in France.

Sometimes Marxist groups that participate in such broad formations are accused of "liquidationism". This was a term used by Lenin to refer to the policy of certain members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party who wished to dissolve ("liquidate") the RSDLP after the crushing of the 1905 revolution.

El Salvador: Election results add to tension as presidential race heats up

celebracion2

FMLN members celebrate victories on January 18.

 [For the latest information of the FMLN's election campaign, click HERE.]

* * *

January 20, 2009 -- Amanda Peters was on the spot as an official observer, and as part of a delegation from CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador). She spoke with community radio's Latin Radical as the first results started coming in, and gives her nervous prognosis for the presidential round coming up on March 15.

Peace requires justice — freedom for Palestine! Maintain solidarity!


Thousands protest against Israel's war on Gaza in Tel Aviv and Yaffa, January 17, 2009. Below: 10,000 people protested in Melbourne on January 18, 2009. Photos by Margarita Windisch.

Thailand: Petition for freedom of speech; Interview with Giles Ji Ungpakorn on the use of `lese majeste' laws

Please sign the petition (below the videos) and ask others to sign.

Palestine government salutes Venezuela's Hugo Chavez

Palestinian National Authority

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Deputy Office, Gaza

January 12, 2009

In the Name of God; the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

President Hugo Chavez,

Your Excellency, President Hugo Chavez,

We, the people of Palestine, commend your courage to speak and act upon your conscience regardless of your detractors' criticism or cowardice.

Mr. President, we have watched death rain upon our families and children in Gaza for weeks; and yet we stand proud and ready for any outcome. We are a resilient people who wish for peace but will fight rather than bow to injustice. We live and die by the codes of our forefathers -- codes of honor, integrity, truth and bravery.

Throughout history, in a just conflict, there always emerges a champion, a single hero who, by his actions, embodies all the virtues the masses aspire to. You have demonstrated that you are such a man.

South Africa's new opposition party: Face to face with `Terror'

The following was presented by social movement activist Ashwin Desai as part of t

COSATU leader Zwelinzima Vavi: Sanction and boycott apartheid Israel!

Protesters call for boycott of apartheid Israel, Johannesburg, January 2, 2009.

By Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)

January 14, 2009 -- From our own experience, we know how painful and dehumanising is the system of segregation, otherwise known as apartheid. Apartheid is a system based on the assumption that one group or race is superior to others and therefore has a right to all the privileges and virtues associated with that particular status. It has a right to run and determine the lives of others, excluding them from certain privileges, merely because they do not belong to the “chosen” group.

What other definition would so fittingly define a system based on different rights and privileges for Jews and Arabs in the Middle East? The bantustanisation of Palestine into pieces or strips -- West Bank, Ramallah, Gaza Strip and so on -- run by Israel and with no rights whatsoever for the Palestinians, is definitely an apartheid system.

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