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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African revolutionary Thomas Sankara's example lives on

Scenes from Thomas Sankara: An Upright Man

By Demba Moussa Dembélé

Thomas Sankara was killed in the belief that it could extinguish the example he set for African youth and progressive forces across the continent. They could not have been more wrong. One week before his assassination on October 15, 1987, in a speech marking the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Ernesto ``Che'' Guevara, Thomas Sankara declared: ``Ideas cannot be killed, ideas never die.’' Indeed, the history of humanity is replete with martyrs and heroes whose ideas and actions have survived the passage time to inspire future generations.

 


Their ideas, courage and sacrifice for the freedom and dignity of their people have made these martyrs larger than life. Thomas Isidore Sankara is one in a long lineage of African sons and daughters whose ideas and actions have left an indelible mark on the history of their continent. That is why 21 years after his death, Sankara continues to guide those who are struggling to end the domination of their continent and the enslavement of its peoples.

Will Obama end Bush's `war on terror'?

By Simon Butler

October 31, 2008 -- In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, bombings of the World Trade Center and Pentagon, US President George Bush declared an open-ended, apparently indefinite “war on terror”.

Using the terrorist attacks as an excuse, the “war on terror” has meant a war drive to extend US global domination. The threats were free flowing — at one point as many as seven nations were part of the “axis of evil” and therefore potential military targets as Bush threatened “pre-emptive strikes” against US “enemies”.

The war drive began with the 2001 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. In 2003, in the face of massive global protests, the US launched its invasion of oil-rich Iraq.

Facing sustained resistance from the Iraqi people, and increasingly unpopular at home, the failure of the Iraqi occupation has contributed to making the Bush presidency one of the least popular in history.

Campaigning for the White House, Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama has made much of his initial vote against the war in 2003.

Overwhelming UN General Assembly vote against US blockade of Cuba

New York — The UN General Assembly on October 29 approved by an overwhelming majority the resolution demanding an end of the US blockade of Cuba, a vote passed by the assembly for the 17th consecutive year, news agencies report.

Of the 192 UN member states, 185 voted in favour of the resolution, while three voted against (the United States, Israel and Palau) and two abstained (Marshall Islands and Micronesia). With this result, Cuba gained another vote this year compared to 2007, when 184 voted in favour, four against (the United States, Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands) and Micronesia abstained.

The resolution calling for an end to the blockade has been approved on 16 occasions with backing that has grown from 59 votes in 1992 to the 185 today.

Before the vote, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque spoke before the General Assembly and noted the special situation in which this resolution is taking place, an economic crisis that is being internationally felt and above all, the imminent US elections which, he observed, will produce a new president who "will have to decide whether the blockade is a failed policy."

"You are alone, isolated," said the foreign minister, addressing President George W. Bush. Pérez’ speech was loudly applauded by the General Assembly.

David Harvey: Reading Karl Marx's Capital

David Harvey has been teaching Karl Marx’s Capital, Volume I for nearly 40 years, and his video lectures are now available online at Harvey's website and above by clicking on the appropriate panels.

Harvey's course consists of 13 video lectures, a chapter by chapter reading of Capital, Volume I.

Meanwhile, in Africa ... a tale of two `bailouts'

Rwandan President Paul Kagame distributes mosquito nets. Studies show that malaria, which kills more than a million Africans every year, could be contained in just a few years at the cost of $3 billion a year.

By Jean-Paul Piérot

Original October 11, 2008, l'Humanité article in French: ``Et pendant ce temps, l’Afrique …''. Translated by Gene Zbikowski

While Africa needs US$72 billion a year in aid, hundreds of billions are being freed up to pay Western banks for the consequences of speculation.

Sister of Cuban hero jailed in US demands `Free the Cuban Five!'

Maria Eugenia is the sister of Tony Guerrero, one of the ``Cuban Five'' political prisoners held for 10 years in US prisons on ``conspiracy to commit espionage'' charges for reporting on the Miami-based, Washington-backed terrorist groups operating against Cuba.

Eugenia recently toured Australia to build support for the campaign to free the five. Below is the three-part video of her Sydney public meeting. (For more background on the case, click HERE.

For more information about the Free the Five campaign, visit http://www.fiveheroes.blogspot.com.)

Part 1

Two poems by Dennis Brutus in Caracas

[Sad news. Comrade Dennis Brutus died on December 26, 2009. Please visit Links'tribute to this great poet-revolutionary HERE.]

Below are two poems presented by veteran anti-apartheid and global social justice activist Dennis Brutus, in Venezuela for the eighth meeting of the Network of Intellectuals and Artists in Defence of Humanity and the World Forum for Alternatives, October 18, 2008.

Dennis Brutus

Bolivia: Unprecedented alliance defeats right-wing assault (now with audio)

Evo Morales
 
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NOW with audio: Listen to Federico Fuentes' assessment after just returning from Bolivia. Morales seems to have outmanouevred the ultra-right's attempts to unseat him and to have made his position stronger, while his enemies are in disarray. He is so confident of his support in the popular social movements now that he is holding another referendum next month. Thanks to Left Click.

Part 1

Part 2
 
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By Federico Fuentes

La Paz, Bolivia -- October 28, 2008 -- After three months of intense class struggle, there can be no doubt that the US-backed right-wing opposition to the government of President Evo Morales has suffered three important defeats. The right’s offensive to topple Morales, which climaxed with the September 11-12 “civic coup” attempt, has been decisively rolled back by the combined action of the government and social movements.

The government secured a historic vote in its favour with more than 67% endorsing Morales’ mandate in a referendum in August that also revoked the mandate of two opposition prefects. Another opposition prefect was arrested for his role in the coup. And now Morales has secured a referendum for the new draft constitution to “refound Bolivia” on the basis of justice for the indigenous majority.

Venezuela: Between assassination plots and abstention

By Federico Fuentes, Caracas

October 25, 2008 -- Talk of assassination plots and rising concerns about a high abstention rate have marked the beginning of the November 23 regional elections race here in Venezuela.

Formally at stake are 23 governorships, more than 300 mayorships and hundreds of representatives on the state legislative councils. However, the result of these elections could also have an important impact on the future of the Bolivarian Revolution led by the Chavez government.

During the November 2004 regional elections, the pro-Chavez forces, on the back of the thumping victory in the August 2004 recall referendum on Chavez’s mandate, painted the electoral map red as they swept into 21 of the 23 governorships up for election (they later rewon the governership of Amazonas to make it 22 out of 24 all up).

Malaysian opposition stands up to racialism and intimidation

By Peter Boyle

October 25, 2008 -- Some parties in Malaysia’s ruling National Front (BN) government are trying to intimidate opposition parties and social activists, Socialist Party Malaysia (PSM) secretary general S.Arutchelvan told Green Left Weekly, a few days after the PSM’s sole federal MP, Dr D. Jeyakumar, had his car torched by thugs on October 17.

The previous day, a 26-year-old human rights activist, Cheng Lee Whee, was arrested under the notorious Internal Security Act (ISA) after she made a report accusing the police of abuse of power in an eviction of a poor squatter colony in the state of Johor. She was charged with “spreading false information”.

Cheng had complained that about the violent eviction of 27 squatters and their supporters who were attempting to stop the demolition of a predominantly Malay village Kampung Baru Plentong Tengah on October 16.

Choo Shinn Chei, a PSM activist, also had her laptop confiscated by police in this incident.

This follows mounting arrests and detentions of other activists — and even bloggers — under the ISA. This has provoked thousands to demonstrate in recent months for repeal of this colonial-era detention-without-trial law.

New African resistance from below to global finance

By Patrick Bond

October 25, 2008 -- A far-reaching strategic debate is underway about how to respond to the global financial crisis, and indeed how the North's problems can be tied into a broader critique of capitalism.

The 2008 world financial meltdown has its roots in the neoliberal export-model (dominant in Africa since the 1981 World Bank Berg Report and onset of structural adjustment during the early 1980s) and even more deeply, in 35 years of world capitalist stagnation/volatility. Africa has always suffered a disproportionate share of pressure from the world economy, especially in the sphere of debt and financial outflows. But for those African countries which made themselves excessively vulnerable to global financial flows during the neoliberal era, the meltdown had a severe, adverse impact.

Stop the war in Sri Lanka! The Tamil national question in demands a political solution!

Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation central committee statement on developments in Sri Lanka.

October 27, 2008 -- The Sri Lankan government's ongoing military campaign to corner and crush the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has led to a terrible humanitarian crisis in the country. Reports emanating from the island indicate that the Sri Lankan state is on the verge of wresting military control over large parts of LTTE territory including the administrative headquarters in Killinochi. While the number of people killed so far in the crossfire between the advancing Sri Lankan armed forces is anybody's guess, some 500,000 people are estimated to have been displaced and rendered homeless in their own land. With the Sri Lankan government not allowing any relief to reach the people in refugee camps, international humanitarian organisations have been forced to leave the battle zones and recently even UN food convoys have had to return, leaving a vast population in the battle zones on the brink of starvation.

John Bellamy Foster: `Capitalism has reached its limits'

Postscript to "The Financialization of Capital and the Crisis"

By John Bellamy Foster

October 26, 2008 -- Six months ago the United States was already deep in a financial crisis -- the roots of which were explained in `The Financialization of Capital and the Crisis' (Monthly Review, April 2008). Yet, the conditions now are several orders of magnitude worse and are affecting the entire world.

We are clearly in the midst of one of the great crises in the history of capitalism. More than a mere financial panic, what is taking place is a major devaluation of capital of still undetermined dimensions. Marx explained that capital was invariably over-extended in a boom and that in the crisis that followed a part of that capital was devalued, enabling the rest to return to profitability and to the process of accumulation and expansion.

John Bellamy Foster on climate change: `Demand solutions based on necessity, not wealth and profits'

John Bellamy Foster: We need to go down to 350 parts per million [of carbon dioxide], which means very big social transformations on a scale that would be considered revolutionary by anybody in society today -- transformation of our whole society quite fundamentally. We have to aim at that, and we have to demand that of our society.

Forget about capitalism, forget about whether the system can do it. Don't let that be your barometer. Say this is necessary for the planet, for human survival, for justice, for environmental justice, and we just have to do it.

We demand that be done, and we work out the operating system of the world economy, we work out our social relations of production, in accordance with necessity, in accordance with what is necessary for the planet, not in accordance with what is necessary for the accumulation of wealth and profits for a very few.

Thailand: Prison sentence for ex-PM Thaksin. What does it mean?

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

October 22, 2008 -- The prison sentence handed down to ex-Thai prime minister Thaksin is just one part of the present Thai political crisis. I write this short piece because I have been contacted by both the BBC TV and radio to give a telephone interview, but on both occasions the telephone line went dead during the interview. Times like this can make us paranoid. It was probably a technical fault which just happened to occur twice.

Thaksin was found guilty of a ``conflict of interest'' because he was prime minister at the time when his wife bought a piece of land at a knock-down price from the Thai state. The land originated from bankruptcies due to the 1997 economic crisis. Earlier Prime Minister Samak was found guilty of appearing on a TV cooking program and forced to resign. Samak was head of the Peoples Power Party (PPP), the descendant of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party (TRT) which was dissolved by the courts during the time of the military junta.

It is interesting to note that Thaksin's wife was not found guilty of any corruption by the courts, nor was the organisation that held the land auction. This means that there is no evidence that the price paid for the land was below market rates or artificially depressed.

Three left views on Obama: Howard Zinn, Mike Davis, Todd Chretien

Howard Zinn: `Obama creates an opening for change but direct action needed'


October 22, 2008 -- Real News Network -- Howard Zinn says vote against McCain, vote for Obama. Even though Obama does not represent any fundamental change, he creates an opening for a possibility of change. Obama will not fulfill that potential for change, unless he is enveloped by a social movement, which is angry enough, powerful enough, insistent enough, that he fills his abstract phrases about change with some content. We need direct action, because only that kind of indignation is going to have some affect on the people in Washington.

Howard Zinn is an historian, political scientist, social critic, activist and playwright. He is best known as author of the best-seller A People's History of the United States. Zinn has been active in the civil rights and the anti-war movements in the United States.

Quebec left's challenge to socialists in the rest of Canada

Bloc Québécois supporters

By Richard Fidler

October 19, 2008 -- Once again, the Bloc Québécois has taken a majority of Quebec’s seats in Canada's House of Commons — 50 out of 75, one less than in 2006, although down by three percentage points.

In doing so, it dashed Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s hopes of a Conservative breakthrough in Quebec that would deliver him a majority government in Ottawa. Working people throughout Canada heaved a sigh of relief.

The Bloc’s support is more than a rejection of the Tories’ right-wing policies. As Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe declared on election night, October 14, it is a clear demonstration “that Quebec is a distinct nation linguistically, culturally, socially and economically”. This was the sixth consecutive federal election since 1993 in which the pro-sovereignty Bloc has won a majority of Quebec’s seats under the first-past-the-post system.

The Flame, October 2008 - Green Left Weekly's Arabic supplement

According to the 2006 census, the most commonly spoken language in Sydney households, after English, is Arabic. In Australia as a whole, Arabic is the fifth most commonly spoken language. The Arabic-speaking community includes Lebanese, Egyptians, Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians, Jordanians and Sudanese. Many other ethnic groups also speak Arabic in addition to their language because they have lived in Arabic-speaking countries. These include Armenians, Kurds, Assyrians, Mandaeens and many more.

With the help of Socialist Alliance members in the growing Sudanese community in Australia, Green Left Weekly -- Australia's leading socialist newspaper -- is publishing a regular Arabic language supplement. The Flame will cover news from the Arabic-speaking world as well as news and issues from within Australia. The editor-in-chief will be Soubhi Iskander, a comrade who has endured years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the repressive government in Sudan.

South African Communist Party on capitalist economic crisis, right-wing split in the ANC

NUMSA members

Speech to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) 8th national congress by Blade Nzimande, South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary

October 14, 2008 -- The SACP wishes to express its appreciation for the invitation to come and address this august body, the 8th national congress of this giant affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). Your congress is taking place at very crucial domestic and international conjunctures which though may seem distinct but are deeply interrelated developments: the global crisis of finance capital and the splinter group from the African National Congress (ANC). I say these are related because we are part of a global capitalist system, whose impact on our shores go beyond just the economic realm, but has had disproportionate influence on our politics as well.

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