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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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Photos and text by Ulfa Ilyas
On August 25, 2009, a demonstration was held in Jakarta, Indonesia, organised by the Parliament of the Streets Alliance at the inauguration of newly elected members of parliament. The protesters demanded free education for all citizens, free health programs, employment and housing programs for poor people.
Henri Anggoro, a leader of the Poor People’s Union (Serikat Rakyat Miskin Indonesia, SRMI), which organises in the sprawling shanty towns, said that experience has shown that parliament ignores the interests of the people. "They only represent the interests of a handful of people, rather than representing the people who elected them", he said.
[After working as a tram conductor in Melbourne and Adelaide he was replaced by a ticket machine in 1998 and so lost his lifetime profession. He returned to study and is now writing his PhD thesis. The thesis -- of which this article is an excerpt -- is a detailed examination of the extent to which Communist Party of Australia union activists raised political issues in their unions.
[In particular it looks at the peace movement, attitudes to the post-war migration program and the Aboriginal struggle for human rights. There was been a general perception that Communist Party union activists were nothing more than industrial militants. The thesis aims to challenge this and show that CPA members often raised political issues and sought support for them from their co-workers.]
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By Douglas Jordan
Ted Kennedy during his first campaign for US Senate in 1962.
By Lance Selfa
August 28, 2009 -- Democratic Party senator Ted Kennedy's political career reflects the course of US liberalism, from its heyday in the 1960s to its sorry state today.
For decades, Ted Kennedy was the bogeyman used by conservatives in their fundraising appeals to raise millions of dollars. To them, the liberal Kennedy seemed to represent everything they hated--there was no easier way to get a right-wing crowd booing and hissing than to mention Kennedy's name.
So it was more than a little jarring to hear conservatives sing Kennedy's praises for his "bipartisanship" in the wake of Kennedy's death from brain cancer on August 25.
"There is nobody else like him", Republican Senator Judd Gregg told the Associated Press. "If he had been physically up to it and been engaged on this [the current health-care reform debate], we probably would have an agreement by now."
This interview with Gérard Jodar, president of the pro-independence trade union federation USTKE (Union of Kanak and Exploited Workers), was published in Libération, issue #14790, on August 17 2009. He was interviewed by Matthieu Ecoiffier. Translated into English for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Annolies Truman.
Sentenced at the end of June 2009 to a year in prison for ``hindering the circulation of an aircraft'' [click HERE for background information to the struggle], Gérard Jodar is one of very few trade unionists to be imprisoned in France –- and his lawyers’ application for a lesser sentence has just been rejected by the appeals judge of the Noumea Supreme Court.
Gérard Jodar explains the conditions of his detention as well as the situation on the ``Pebble’’ [the nickname for New Caledonia, the colonial name for the South Pacific territory of Kanaky, which remains a colonial possession of France -- translator].
By Phil Hearse
August 22, 2009 -- Marxsite -- Most people sympathetic to radical politics outside the United States have probably never heard of Ayn Rand, and a brief introduction to her ultra pro-free market views would doubtless be enough to convince them they haven’t missed anything. Yet 27 years after her death, Ayn Rand continues to be seriously debated in the US, her books sell hundreds of thousands each year, her views are propagated by right wing think tanks and foundations and – bizarrely – Charlize Theron is in discussions to turn Rand’s 1088-page magnus opus Atlas Shrugged into a TV mini-series.
The Times Educational Supplement claimed in July that the Ayn Rand revival is gathering pace on US campuses. According to the TES:
By Malik Miah
August 2009 -- The critical lack of quality and affordable health care is devastating for African Americans. Twice as likely as whites to go without health insurance, African Americans suffer chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes at an escalating rate. The root of the problem is not inferior Black — or better white — health care. It is first and foremost a class issue, exacerbated for Blacks and Latinos because of the institutional racism that still permeates society.
Only the wealthy can afford “the best medical care in the world”. Everyone else’s care is rationed by the employer or private plans that each can afford to buy, or if uninsured, by the use of “free” clinics and emergency rooms. The debate over the broken US health-care system and what to do about it is one of life and death.
August 26, 2009, marks 60 days since Honduras' oligarchy overthrew the elected president of the country. As protests against the coup continue without let up, Western governments have refused to do anything concrete to support democracy, or as in the case of the US administration of President Barack Obama, been complicit.
The international corporate mass media has shunned providing coverage of the mass opposition in the streets of Tegucigalpa. This news blackout, and the resulting heightened state repression, has done little to deter the ongoing resistance to the coup inside Honduras.
Engels: A Revolutionary Life, by John Green, Artery Publications, 2008.
Marx’s General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, by Tristram Hunt, Macmillan/Metropolitan, 2009. (First published in Britain as The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels.)
Reviewed by Ian Angus
August 24, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- Most people on the left know that Friedrich Engels was co-author of the Communist Manifesto and Karl Marx’s lifelong collaborator. But few of today’s radicals know much more than that about the man who built barricades and fought a guerrilla war in Germany in the 1848-49 revolution, the indefatigable organiser who played a decisive role in building the Marxist current from a handful of exiles in the 1850s into the dominant trend in the international working-class movement by the time of his death in 1895.
By Don Fitz
August 22, 2009 -- An action can have opposite effects, depending on it s social contexts. An isolated individual who protests company policy by refusing to go to work could well get fired and become an example used to intimidate others. When an entire workforce stays off the job, it’s called a “strike” and has a very good chance of forcing the company to change its policy.
As positive as they may be for friends and family, individual lifestyles of non-violence do not stop wars from being fought. But a society that eliminates corporate control of the economy gets rid of the need for expansion and takes an enormous step towards non-violence. In this context, non-violent lifestyles solidify non-violent global politics.
It is even more so with “energy efficiency”. It is impossible for individual choices to purchase energy-efficient products to have any positive effect on climate change. But, in a democratically run economy, energy efficiency would be a cornerstone of resolving the catastrophic legacy of production for profit.
By Rob Marsden
August 22, 2009 -- Socialist Resistance -- Today, the twin drivers of economic recession and the possibility of catastrophic climate change are beginning to push working people towards action. A series of small-scale but high-profile occupations of threatened factories, not just at Vestas wind turbine plant but also at Visteon car plant, where 600 workers took on the might of Ford and won a greatly enhanced redundancy package, show what is possible. In the 1970s workers at Britain's Lucas Aerospace went even further. We look back at the lessons of Lucas Aerospace.
It is clear that if we are to avert catastrophic climate change by moving rapidly to a low-carbon economy, certain industries will have to be wound down or drastically scaled back, for example, the power generation, aviation and car industries. However, rather than this leading to a net loss of jobs, efforts must be put into creating new green jobs or ``converting'' old jobs.
By Ricardo Arturo Salgado, translated by Felipe Stuart Cournoyer
August 22, 2009 -- Pre-revolutionary situation? Some analyses of the situation in Honduras are fairly static. We have to differ with many local and foreign analysts who have tried to understand the situation in Honduras by imposing pre-existing parameters and by using basic concepts of the Marxist dialectic without any scientific criterion. Many have seen a failure of the Honduran grassroots resistance, failing to understand that historical materialism is not a mathematical formula where only variables change, but rather, a way to interpret reality objectively.
Corazon Aquino (far right) in 1986.
By Reihana Mohideen
August 14, 2009 – Former president of the Philippines Corazon Aquino died on August 1. Following the 1983 assassination of Benigno Aquino, her husband, Cory Aquino became the Philippine’s leading bourgeois opposition figure to the US-backed dictator Ferdinand Marcos. She stood against Marcos in the 1986 presidential election. After Marcos was proclaimed the winner of the blatantly rigged election, a mass uprising – dubbed the ``people power revolution’’ -- overthrew Marcos and Aquino became president. She was in office from 1986 to 1992.
The Philippines left’s reaction to the death of Corazon Aquino has been intriguing. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) did a complete about-turn, recanting its previous position that Cory Aquino was a representative of the reactionary classes.
Below is spokesperson for the Labour Party Pakistan Farooq Tariq's introduction to his new book, Facing the Musharraf Dictatorship: An Activist's Narrative. Following that is the preface by Peter Boyle, national secretary of the Democratic Socialist Perspective of Australia. Facing the Musharraf Dictatorship is available from Good Books Lahore. Email goodbooks_1 [at] yahoo.com to order a hard copy. You can also download the entire 300-page PDF file at the end of the two articles below.
* * *
By Farooq Tariq
It was October 12, 1999. As usual, I was at the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) secretariat in Lahore. Around 6pm, Farooq Sulehria called me to break the news that Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif had removed the army chief General Pervez Musharraf who was flying back to Pakistan from a visit to Sri Lanka. Sulehria asked me to issue a press statement to explain the LPP's point of view. "Wait and see the response of the army", I told him.
By Ricardo Arturo Salgado, translated from the Spanish by Felipe Stuart Cournoyer
August 21, 2009 -- Tegucigalpa -- A lot has been written on the Honduran situation, more in solidarity with opposition to the coup than in favour of it. The media seems to feed on scandalous news -- no blood, no news. Unless what’s involved is a people on the way to liberation...
A few weeks ago I publicly exposed a potential collapse of the health system in Honduras; today public hospitals have only four basic medicines. They are being told to make emergency purchases from pharmaceutical firms owned by golpistas [coup makers]: Laboratorios Finlay, owned by Jorge Canahuati Larach, who also owns the newspapers el Heraldo and La Prensa, and is an arms supplier; Elías Asfura, owner of Laboratorios Karnel, also has various TV Channels and now owns the once government-owned Channel 8; MANDOFER, owned by the Andonie Fernández family which also owns Audio Video, a golpista group that includes Radio América.
Faces from the Comuna `Renacer del Sur'. Photos by Peter Boyle.
By Peter Boyle
August 20, 2009 -- At the base of the Bolivarian revolutionary process in Venezuela are some 30,000 communal councils. These are pictures of some of the people active in communal councils in poor barrios (neighbourhoods) in the south of the city of Valencia. They were taken in November 2008 when members of the Australian-Venezuela Solidarity Netwok brigade were hosted by the Comuna ``Renacer del Sur'' (Rebith of the South Commune).
Daniel Sanchez, a leader of the Rebirth of the South Commune, and Yoly Fernandez, a community organiser in Mission Mercal, Venezuela’s subsidised food program, are touring Australia in August and September to explain how “people’s power” is transforming their country and creating a new socialism of the 21st century.
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By Billy Wharton
August 19, 2009 -- The were two big winners at the recent “town hall” healthcare meeting held in the North Bronx, New York City, neighbourhood of Parkchester on August 17 – the lunatic right wing and the private health insurance industry. These victories came despite the fact that the vast majority of those who lined up to participate in the meeting supported either a single-payer system or a public option. Most came away disappointed. I got kicked out.
The right wing won this contest without even participating in it. Sure there was one woman with a “Freedom Isn’t Free Shirt”, but there were certainly none of the antics that have come to typify other ``town hall'' meetings. Not even one “Death Panel” sign. How then did the right wing win? Democrat Representative Joseph Crowley, the organiser of the event, guaranteed this by closing off all space for public discussion.
By Jess Moore
August 9, 2009 -- We face a climate crisis and something needs to change. The world’s resources are finite, as is the amount of destruction humans can do to the planet if we are to survive. There is a debate in the environment movement about whether or not curbing population is an essential part of the solution. We have a decade, maybe a decade and a half, to transform our current relationship with the planet. Of course, the starting point for environmentalists cannot be solutions. We first need to identify the cause of the crisis before we can know how to fight it.
People who see limiting population as essential to solving the climate crisis argue the cause of environmental degradation, at least in part, is overpopulation. Most “populationists” argue there are already too many human beings on the planet to provide for everyone’s basic needs. All contend that curbing population growth or decreasing population is some or all of the solution to climate change and to the fact that the basic needs of many people are not satisfied.
By the Socialist Party of Malaysia
August 13, 2009 -- Pulau Pinang, Malaysia -- PSM -- Today was the moment of truth for Kampung Buah Pala villagers. It was the third time that their homes have faced demolition. But it was the first time that the local villagers outnumbered the outsiders who were the majority during the previous attempt on August 4. Today, when the police, the developer and the bailiff came, the villagers did not have the luxury of the presence of state assemblymen, MPs, the state government representative or even lawyers. Only a handful of Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM, Parti Sosialis Malaysia) members and Hindraf [a civil rights organisation] supporters were with the villagers.
By Faiz Ahmed
The military coup carried out by masked soldiers in the early hours of June 28against the democratically elected President of Honduras, José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, was a bandit act with differing messages intended for different audiences.
One such audience is the oligarchical groupings throughout the hemisphere, who will be emboldened by Washington's tacit tolerance of the coup makers. Another audience is the Latin American leftist and popular governments, who are being told that their agendas can be trumped by non-democratic means.
And there is yet another audience: the predominantly English-speaking Caribbean governments who, like Zelaya, are far from ideologically opposed to capitalism, but are aware of their inability to improve the overall quality of life of their societies within capitalism's current configuration. As a result, many of these island governments are edging towards regional agreements based on principles antithetical to the capitalist system.
By Graham Milner
August 16, 2009 -- The Industrial Revolution began in England, and the emergence of the industrial working class brought to the fore a new social and political force in world history. The bloody events of 190 years ago, on August 16, 1819, when a mass workers' protest in Manchester demanding political reform and labour rights was broken up by the army, with considerable loss of life, stand out as a stark warning to socialist activists everywhere that the ruling classes will react with violence and terror when their power and privileges are challenged.
On August 16, 1819, mounted regular troops and yeomanry of the British army, acting on the instructions of government officials, attacked without warning a mass meeting of more 100,000 people drawn from the industrial centres of Lancashire in the north-west of England. The meeting, held on St. Peter's Field in the centre of Manchester, the major industrial city of Lancashire, had been organised as part of a national campaign to win a radical reform of the British parliament and to redress the economic grievances of working people. More than 400 men, women and children were killed or seriously injured as a result of this ``action''.