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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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Trade unions and New Zealand’s economic crisis

By Grant Brookes

Unity, May 2009 -- Comparisons now abound between the global economic crisis of 2009 and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Naturally, there are similarities and differences. The following bleak assessment of the role of trade unions in the early 1930s comes from the best-known book by one of New Zealand’s foremost social historians of the 20th century:

Latin America: Manifesto of the First Continental Summit of Indigenous Women

Puno, Peru -- May 27-28, 2009 -- We, indigenous women gathered in the sacred lands of Lake Titicaca, after two days of discussions and deliberation raise our voices in these times when Abya Yala’s[1] womb is once more with childbirth pains, to give birth to the new Pachakutik [2] for a better life on our planet. We, indigenous women, have had a direct input into the historical process of transformation of our peoples through our proposals and actions in the various struggles taking place and engendered from the indigenous movements.

We are the carriers, conduits of our cultural and genetic make-up; we gestate and brood life; together with men, we are the axis of the family unit and society. We join our wombs to our mother earth’s womb to give birth to new times in this Latin American continent where in many countries millions of people, impoverished by the neoliberal system, raise their voices to say ENOUGH to oppression, exploitation and the looting of our wealth. We therefore join in the liberation struggles taking place throughout our continent.

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #9 -- Respect differences and be flexible in regards to activism

[This is the ninth 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. Among the left, there continues to be a difficulty to work together while respecting differences. In the past, the tendency of political organisations, especially parties that self-declare themselves as parties of the working class, was always towards homogenising the social base within which they carried out political work. If this attitude was once justified due to the past identity and homogeneity of the working class, today it is anachronistic when confronted with a working class that is quite differentiated, and with the emergence of a diversity of new social actors. Today, we increasingly have to deal with a unity based on diversity, on respect for ethnic and cultural differences, for gender and for the sense of belonging of specific collectives.

South Korea’s rollback of democracy

Candlelight protests in Seoul, June 10, 2008.

By George Katsiaficas

May 25, 2009 -- The suicide of former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun on May 23, 2009, left South Korea in shock. All over the country, tens of thousands of tearful people sought to eulogise and memorialise Roh — to find ways to express their grief and anger. Conservative government politicians were blocked by local residents from joining tens of thousands people who made the journey to Roh’s small hometown the day he died. Not only were they refused admittance, many people splashed them with water and chanted that they should get out — shaming them into leaving. Opposition party spokesperson Kim Yu-jeong expressed what is in many people’s hearts when he blamed Roh’s tragic death on the conservative government’s relentless and disrespectful offensive against him: “The people and history know what made the former president do something so tragic.”

Adam Smith was closer to Karl Marx than those showering praise on Smith today

Adam Smith and Karl Marx agree that workers not bosses create value.

By Eric Toussaint, translated by Charles La Via in collaboration with Christine Pagnoulle.[1]

In the following citations, we discover that what Adam Smith wrote in the 1770s is not so distant from what Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would write 70 years later in the famous Communist Manifesto.

Biofuels and sustainable transport -- Can biofuels be produced and used responsibly?

By Renfrey Clarke

June 16, 2009 -- For governments and vehicle corporations, the charm of biofuels used to be the promise they held out of a ready-made solution to transport-related greenhouse gas emissions -- a solution that might simply be dropped in, while changing almost nothing else. Freeways, suburban sprawl, four-wheel-drive family cars -- everything could remain. Only the fuel on sale at service stations would be different.

Biofuels, the promise to the public ran, would be ``clean and green’’, an environmental zero-sum. Although carbon was released to the atmosphere when biofuels were burnt, this was carbon that had been there earlier, before being taken up by the plants from which the fuels were derived.

South Africa: Political balance shifts left -- though not enough to quell grassroots' anger

South African doctors on strike on May 29, 2009.

By Patrick Bond

June 13, 2009 -- With high-volume class strife heard in the rumbling of wage demands and the friction of township ``service delivery'' protests, rhetorical and real conflicts are bursting open in every nook and cranny of South Africa. The big splits in society are clearer now. Distracting internecine rivalries within the main left bloc have subsided. From 2005-09, the ruling African National Congress' huge wedge between camps allied to Thabo Mbeki and to the new president, Jacob Zuma, cleaved the ANC in two, but Zuma's troops have mostly flushed out the former's from the state and party.

So the bigger story now is the deep-rooted economic crisis. Government fiddling at the margins with Keynesian policies is not having any discernable impact. A lower interest rate -- down 4.5% from last year's peak (to around 10% prime with around 8% inflation) -- and a probable 5% state deficit/GDP ratio (last year's was a 0.5% surplus) are not nearly enough tinkering to stave off a serious depression.

The Industrial Workers of the World in Australia: achievements and limitations

The IWW's newspaper Direct Action campaigned opposed capitalist war in 1914.

[This talk was presented at the Laborism and the radical alternative: Lessons for today conference, held in Melbourne, Australia, on May 30, 2009. It was organised by Socialist Alliance and sponsored by Green Left Weekly, Australia’s leading socialist newspaper. To read other talks presented at the conference, click HERE.]

* * *

By Verity Burgmann

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #8 -- The left must attempt to set the agenda for struggle

[This is the eighth 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. In the previous article, we stated that a large section of the party left has found it very difficult to work with social movements and develop ties with the new social forces in recent decades. This has been due to several factors.

European election: `An alarm is ringing' -- time `to build the broadest possible left unity'

Statement by Socialist Resistance (Britain)

June 14, 2009 -- The European election results are not good reading for the workers’ movement. Across Europe the turnout was only 43.2% and the main winner was the centre right. Centre-right governments in France, Italy, Germany and Poland all made gains to one degree or another as they did in Austria and Hungary.

On the other hand social-democratic parties, particularly those in government in Britain, Spain and Portugal were in full retreat.

In Britain — where there was toxic mix of economic crisis and political crisis around MPs’ expenses corruption — the turnout was even lower at 34.4%, and the results were disastrous for the Labour Party. Its share of the poll collapsed to 15.8%, its worst result for 99 years. It came third after the UK Independence Party (UKIP) — which stood on a dangerous nationalist and anti-migrant ticket — and was beaten by the Tories in Wales.

The implications of this for new Labour can hardly be exaggerated, and it now faces near inevitable defeat at the hands of the Tories in a general election.

Nepal: Maoist student leader -- `It is still a fight to establish a democratic republic, for establishing a socialist system'

Manushi Bhattarai (left).

Ben Peterson interviewed Manushi Bhattarai. She is part of the Maoist team that won student elections at Tribhuvan University -- Nepal's largest university. Peterson is in Nepal reporting for Australia's leading socialist newspaper Green Left Weekly and for his blog Lal Salam (where this interview first appeared).

* * *

Ben Peterson: Thanks for meeting with me. The All Nepal National Independent Student Union (Revolutionary) (ANNISU(R)) won the student elections at Tribhuvan University. What did the campaign involve, and what are some of your policies as a revolutionary student union?

New Zealand: Responding to the crisis -- Broad left unity to mobilise masses of people

By Vaughan Gunson

Unity, May 2009 -- Facing the left today are incredible challenges. The global economic meltdown, combined with the nightmare scenarios of runaway climate change and resource depletion, looms as a human disaster of an unimaginable scale.

The question we are all asking ourselves: is how can we organise ourselves and grassroots people into a movement that has the strength and vision to set the world on a different course?

Over the last decade Socialist Worker-New Zealand, a small Marxist organisation, has moved towards the realisation that we need to be building alongside other activists a broad left party which has the breadth and reach to give leadership to masses of people. And that we need to begin now, not later.

DSP reiterates support for the right of self-determination for the Tamil people

Democratic Socialist Perspective (Australia) statement in response to the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka

June 12, 2009 -- The Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) -- a Marxist organisation affiliated to the Socialist Alliance of Australia -- supports the right of Tamils to self-determination. We have campaigned in solidarity with the Tamil people for several decades. For example, at the time of the 1983 massacre the DSP worked with the Tamil community in Australia to organise protests. This year too, the DSP, Socialist Alliance and Resistance worked closely with Tamil communities, including helping organise rallies, to highlight the calls for a ceasefire and for self-determination.

Ireland: Socialist Workers Party calls for a `broad radical left party'

Joe Higgins.

By the Socialist Workers Party (Ireland)

June 11, 2009 -- The election of Joe Higgins as MEP and the defeat of Fianna Fail in Dublin indicates that the political landscape is changing. The recent elections represent a seismic shift in Irish politics. Ever since 1927, Fianna Fail has dominated the working-class vote but this has now changed -- most probably forever.

Even before the current economic crisis, the Fianna Fail vote had entered a long slow decline. At the height of the Celtic Tiger, for example, Bertie Ahern scored less votes than Charlie Haughey. When the crash hit, Fianna Fail dropped all pretence of populism and launched an aggressive attack on working-class conditions.They have now paid dearly for this.

The electoral base of the Greens has also been decimated. The Greens claimed that they are in government to help save the planet from environmental decay. But they have stood over decisions which have cut the public bus service. They have also voted for cuts in education spending, even while defending the absurd bail out of the banks. Their removal from local authority councils is therefore well deserved.

Uniting the socialist left: the Australian experience

Peter Boyle is national secretary of the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), a Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance in Australia. He was interviewed by Socialist Voice (Canada) co-editor Roger Annis.

 * * *

Socialist Voice: The Australian left founded a project of left unity and activism in 2001. Can you describe the early years of that project and what it achieved?

Peter Boyle: The Socialist Alliance was formed in 2001 on the back of great optimism about the prospects for left revival in the wake of the rise of a movement at that time against capitalist globalisation. Some 20,000 people had participated in a three-day long blockade of a summit of the World Economic Forum in Melbourne the previous year. That was Australia’s “Seattle” [1] and it was followed up on May 1, 2001 with mass blockades of the stock exchanges in all the capital cities of the country.

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #7 -- Reasons for popular scepticism concerning politics and politicians

[This is the seventh 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. In one of my previous articles, I stated that in order to wage an effective struggle against neoliberalism, it is necessary to unite all those suffering its consequences, and to achieve this objective we must start with the left itself, which in our countries tends to be very dispersed. But, there are many obstacles that impede this task. The first step to overcoming them is to be aware of them and be prepared to face them.

2. One of these obstacles is the growing popular scepticism regarding politics and politicians.

3. This has to do, among other things, with the great constraints that exist today in our democratic systems, which are very different to those that existed prior to the military dictatorships.

European election: 60% abstain; gains for the right; revolutionary left wins seats in Portugal and Ireland

[See also ``European election: British left discusses urgent need for left unity'' and ``Ireland: Socialist Workers Party calls for a `broad radical left party'''.]

June 9, 2009 -- Socialist Resistance/International Viewpoint -- There was a broad popular abstention in the European elections. Nearly 60% of voters did not vote. Because of this, only a deformed vision of the real relationship of forces in Europe is possible. But it confirms the crisis of legitimacy of the European Union and of the governing parties that implement their policies within this framework, writes François Sabado. Other tendencies emerge, initially a rise of the right across Europe.

The right won in the big countries where it governs: in Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Poland, Austria and Hungary. In Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia and Cyprus, the parties of the right also came first.

United States: Solidarity sometimes (exclusive excerpt from Steve Early’s new book, Embedded With Organized Labor)

[With the permission of Monthly Review Press, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is publishing an exclusive excerpt from Steve Early’s new book, Embedded With Organized Labor: Journalistic Reflections on the Class War at Home. Embedded With Organized Labor describes how trade union members in the United States have organised successfully, on the job and in the community, in the face of employer opposition now and in the past. Steve Early has produced a provocative series of essays -- an unusual exercise in “participatory labor journalism” useful to any reader concerned about social and economic justice. As workers struggle to survive and the labour movements try to revive during the current economic crisis, this book provides ideas and inspiration for trade union activists and friends of labour alike.

Swine flu and the case for a single-payer healthcare system in the United States

By Billy Wharton

June 3, 2009 -- On April 13, 2009, 39-year-old Adela María Gutiérrez Cruz became the first victim of a new virus that would become known as the swine flu (H1N1). By the time Cruz arrived at a local hospital on April 9, she had already entered acute respiratory distress due to an “atypical pneumonia”. Further investigations led to a town outside of a factory farm, run by a subsidiary of the US meat conglomerate Smithfield Foods, in the neighbouring state of Vera Cruz. Causalities began to mount. Yet, nearly two weeks after the first deaths, none of the families of the dead had received anti-viral medications.(1) Mexican health officials claimed to not have the resources to visit the families.

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