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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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Democracy Now! -- May 18, 2010 -- In Thailand, the government has rejected an offer by anti-government protesters to enter talks after a bloody week in Bangkok that has left at least thirty-eight protesters dead. Some fear the standoff could lead to an undeclared civil war. The protesters are mostly rural and urban poor who are part of a group called the UDD, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, more commonly known as the Red Shirts. We host a debate between Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a Thai dissident living in exile in Britain who supports the Red Shirt movement; and Philip Cunningham, a freelance journalist who has covered Asia for over twenty years.
Giles Ji Ungpakorn, Thai dissident living in exile in Britain. He was a university lecturer in Thailand before having to flee after writing a book criticising the 2006 military coup. He is a Red Shirt supporter.
By Shamus Cooke
May 16, 2010 -- When the White House is quiet as protesters are butchered in the streets of Bangkok, suspicions are raised. Silence often equals complicity. One can only imagine what the US government's response would be to a Venezuelan government slaughter: the US media and US President Barack Obama would loudly condemn such an act, in contrast to the muted response to Thailand's bloodbath.
The history of US-Thailand relations explains why. During the Vietnam War, the US used Thailand as one of the main “anti-communist” bulwarks in an area that included China, Vietnam and other countries that were challenging capitalism.
Thailand was thus transformed into a US client state and given money, guns and US government intelligence to battle Thailand’s “communists”. This relationship has equalled numerous Thai dictatorships that have a very bloody history, including the shooting of untold numbers of protesters who the Thai government named “communists” or the modern equivalent, “terrorists”.
The US-Thailand relationship began to sour when the recently deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra formed a closer relationship with China that included economic and military deals. The November 7, 2008, Asian Times summarises the consequences:
By Federico Fuentes, Cochabamba
May 15, 2010 -- The tremendous success of the April 19-22 World People's Summit on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, has confirmed the well-deserved role of its initiator — Bolivia's President Evo Morales — as one of the world’s leading environmental advocates.
Since being elected the country’s first Indigenous president in 2005, Morales has continuously denounced the threat posed by the climate crisis and environmental destruction. Morales has pointed the figure at the real cause of the problem: the consumerist and profit-driven capitalist system.
Statements by the New Anti-Capitalist Party of France, Socialist Alliance of Australia, the Socialist Party of Malaysia, the Fourth International, Focus on Global South, Australia Asia Worker Links. See also Asia-Pacific left statement -- `Resolve crisis through democracy, not crackdown!', by Asian left and progressive organisations.
* * *
New Anti-Capitalist Party: Stop repression in Thailand
By the New Anti-Capitalist Party/Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA), France
“There are Arabic newspapers in Australia, but still all reflect the views of their editors and there is a great need to establish a progressive Arabic-language press which can frankly discuss the squalid condition of the Arab world due to submission and subservience to neo-colonialism”, Iskander explains. “At the same time, the Arabic-speaking communities in Australia need to read articles relating to the Australian government policy internally — articles which will unmask the pitfalls of these policies, and will expose the violation and the lies of the capitalist parties. The Flame, we hope, will be a powerful addition to Green Left Weekly.”
On May 16, 2010, an emergency rally in solidarity with the democracy movement in Thailand was held outside the Sydney Town Hall. More photos below.
By Thai Red Australia Group for Democracy
May 16, 2010 -- Since March 14, Bangkok has been the scene of mass pro-democracy protests. The protesters known as “Red Shirts” have demanded the resignation of unelected Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and new elections. Abhisit came to power in December through the overthrow of a democratically elected government by right-wing “Yellow Shirt” gangs, assisted by the military and elements of the royal family.
(Updated May 20) Thailand: The anger of the people is justified; Tyrants cling to power over dead bodies
By Giles Ji Ungpakorn
May 19, 2010 -- Now that the official protest has been drowned in blood and stopped [read Giles Ji Ungpakorn's accounts of the May 19 assault as it unfolded, HERE], there will not be peace because there is no justice. The anger of the ordinary people has finally erupted into violence with numerous buildings being set of fire in Bangkok and the provinces. People are also trying to use any means to fight the army. There are reports that government buildings, banks, the stock exchange, luxury shopping malls and pro-military media are all being set on fire.
All this is totally justified.
By Patrick Bond, Durban
May 15, 2010 -- On June 11, South Africans start joling [jol -- to have fun, to party] like no time since liberation in April 1994, and of course it is a huge honour for our young democracy to host the most important sporting spectacle short of the Olympics. All the ordinary people who have worked so hard in preparation deserve gratitude and support, especially the construction workers, cleaners, municipal staff, health-care givers and volunteers who will not receive due recognition.
The following joint statement of solidarity -- initiated by Socialist Alliance, Australia -- has been signed by a number of left and progressive organisations in the Asia-Pacific region. If your organisation would like to sign on, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joint statement from Asia-Pacific left and progressive organisations
May 13, 2010
We, left and progressive organisations from the Asia-Pacific region, express our solidarity with the resistance of the Greek people against the harsh austerity being imposed upon them by the governments of the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The proposed “rescue package” for the Greek economy by the IMF-EU has triggered a huge struggle that will have worldwide ramifications for working people.
[The following is the editorial in the latest edition of AfricaFile's At Issue Ezine, vol. 12 (May-October 2010), which examines the development of the southern African liberation movement-led countries. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]
By John S. Saul
Marching to defend Maoist barricades against right-wing provocations.
[For more coverage of the struggle in Nepal, please click HERE.]
Story and photos by Jed Brandt, Kathmandu
May 11, 2010-- jedbrandt.net -- The largest mobilisation of human beings in Nepal's history brought hundreds of thousands of villagers into the capital Kathmandu for the May 1 protests – and the entire country to a standstill.
On May 1, this city belonged to the members and supporters of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). From Kalinki to the Old Bus Park, packed buses poured into the city. Every seat and aisle was filled. Young men perched on the roofs. Bags of rice, lentils and vegetables were stockpiled in the schools, wedding halls and construction sites that served as makeshift camps for the protesters.
“The response to global warming is global democracy for life and for the Mother Earth.… we have two paths: to save capitalism, or to save life and Mother Earth.” — Speech by Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, to the G77 + China at the United Nations, May 7, 2010.
By Evo Morales, president of Bolivia
[Text from Climate and Capitalism.]
May 7, 2010 -- I have come here to share the conclusions of the First World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, held last April 20 to 22 in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I convened this conference because in Copenhagen the voice of the peoples of the world was not listened to or attended to, nor were established procedures respected by all states.
The conference attracted 35,352 participants, and of those, 9254 were foreign delegates, representing movements and social organisations from 140 countries and five continents. The event also benefited from the participation of delegations from 56 governments.
By Colin Fox
May 10, 2010 -- Did you hear the one about the election everyone lost? On May 6, 2010, Labour the party in power lost 100 seats and with it the chance to continue in government after 13 years. The Conservatives lost the victory all the polls had been promising them for the past 18 months. The Liberals suffered perhaps the most devastating humiliation after Cleggmania turned out to be a complete and utter mirage. The man who apparently wowed us so much in the great TV leadership debates actually lost a significant number of seats rather than gaining any.
The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) also lost seats. Instead of going from seven to 20 as SNP leader Alex Salmond confidently predicted they actually went back to six.
By Federico Fuentes, Caracas
May 9, 2010 -- The May 2 internal preselection of United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) candidates for the September 26 national elections was an example of the mobilising force of this mass party in construction. More than 2.5 million party members participated. This demonstrated the PSUV is the largest national political force, and highlighted its democratic and participatory nature.
The participation rate was greater than the 2.3 million people who voted to preselect PSUV candidates for governors and mayors in 2008. More than 3500 candidates stood in the 87 different electoral circuits, for 110 deputy and 110 alternate positions.
The national leadership, headed by PSUV president Hugo Chavez — also the Venezuela's president — will decide a further 52 deputy and 52 alternate deputy candidates for province-based lists.
Indigenous peoples will select candidates for the parliament’s three Indigenous seats.
By Giles Ji Ungpakorn
May 11, 2010 -- Pro-democracy Red Shirt protests in Bangkok, which started in mid-March, are about to be wound up. Leaders [of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, UDD] have accepted a compromise with the military-backed government of Abhisit Vejjajiva. Elections will not be held immediately, but on November 14. Earlier Abihist had indicated an election in February 2011 at the earliest.
It is unclear whether the blanket censorship of the Thai media will be lifted. One clear demand that the Red Shirt leaders are expecting to be met is that the Red Shirt's TV channel (People Channel TV) will be allowed back on air. Whether websites like Prachatai will be unblocked is also unclear. Another demand is that the law be applied equally to all.
The government claims that the prime minister and deputy prime minister will "surrender" to the police in relation to charges of murdering citizens on April 10, 2010. But it is unclear whether any real charges will be filed against them.
By Patrick Bond
May 5, 2010 -- The “climate debt” that the industries and over-consumers of the global North owe Africans and other victims of climate change not responsible for causing the problem has accrued by virtue of the North’s excessive dumping of greenhouse gas emissions into the collective environmental space. Damage is being accounted for, including the more constrained space the South has for emissions. This historical injustice – and “debt” -- is now nearly universally acknowledged (aside from Washington holdouts), and reparations plus adaptation finance are being widely demanded.
In Copenhagen, the 2009 United Nations summit on climate change witnessed a great deal of theatre over conceptual problems, including, who should make emissions cuts and to what degree; should markets be the main mechanism; who owes a climate debt; how much is owed; and how the debt should be collected. The willingness of African heads of state to raise the matter publicly beginning in mid-2009 was notable, but their inability to ensure political solidarity led to the imposition of the Copenhagen Accord on December 18, in a manner that sets back the cause.
By Nick Southall
[The following speech was presented to the socialist youth group Resistance national conference dinner, held in Thirroul, Australia, on April 24, 2010.]
Tonight I will be looking at love as a form of power, a form of work and a form of wealth, as a need, desire, intention and action, and I will be locating our ability to transform social relations in political acts of love.
Capitalism poisons our lives with a concentration on consumption, materialism and competition, undermining loving relationships. Yet, alongside the system's violence, exploitation and oppression, there are continuing struggles about who has control over social relations, social cooperation and labour, over whether love is destroyed, suppressed, harnessed to strengthen capital or used to build and extend loving alternatives.
By Reihana Mohideen
May 9, 2010 -- The country faces a possible failure of elections on May 10 due to the inability of the Philippines' elite to ensure a resolution to the political crisis through elections, and the general incompetence of a corruption ridden, elite-controlled, weak state to conduct credible elections, above all one based on a fully automated voting system.
Only five days before the elections a major test run of the equipment failed. In several precincts around the country, for example, votes cast for the opposition Liberal Party candidate Noynoy Aquino were counted as votes for the candidate backed by the government party Lakas Kampi CMD’s (Christian Muslim Democrats), Gilbert Teodoro.
In one important aspect, i.e. the public trust in the electoral commission to conduct credible elections, the elections have already failed. People are extremely distrustful of the electoral commission and its credibility is virtually in tatters. The commission is suspected of being manipulated by the president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (known as GMA in the Philippines) to serve her personal political interests, and several commissioners are known to be in the pay of GMA.
May 3, 2010 -- The bailout of the debt-ridden Greek government seems finally to be complete. The European Union (EU) – most centrally the French and German treasuries – along with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will provide €110 billion ($150 billion) in emergency loans. The price for these loans will be high. Along with steep tax increases and cuts in spending, the loans are conditional on a public sector wage freeze being extended through to 2014. This is in reality a wage cut, as there will be drastic changes to the so-called “bonuses” – holiday pay that has become an essential part of the income package of low-paid public sector workers.
The anger at these cuts is everywhere in Greek society. Giorgos Papadapoulos is a 28-year-old policeman who normally confronts demonstrators. But in March he put aside his riot shield and joined the mass protests which have become a regular part of life in Greece. “It’s a different feeling for me”, he told journalists while he was on the demonstration. “But this is important. It hurts me and my family.” However, the crisis in Greece has revealed not just a shift to the left in Europe. It has also brought to the surface a seamy reactionary underside to politics in the EU portion of the Eurasian landmass.
By Reihana Mohideen, based on an interview with well-known Marxist Francisco Nemenzo
May 6, 2010 -- An important political development in recent years, a result of the widespread opposition to the government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo [known in the Philippines as GMA], is the radicalisation of junior officers and soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which has drawn a new generation into progressive politics.