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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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Canada: Political crisis exposes national, class divisions; left debates Liberal-NDP coalition

Rally in favour of a Liberal-NDP coalition, Toronto, December 6, 2008.

By Richard Fidler

OTTAWA -– December 8, 2008 -– In a classic 19th century work, English journalist Walter Bagehot divided the constitution into two parts. The “efficient” part — the executive (cabinet) and legislative — were responsible for the business of government. The “dignified” part, the Queen, was to put a human face on the capitalist state. Bagehot noted, however, that the Queen also had “a hundred” powers called prerogatives, adding: “There is no authentic explicit information as to what the Queen can do….”[1]

Bolivia's indigenous majority: Change the world by taking power

A cocalero (coca farmer) takes part in a blockade of the main road in La Paz, Bolivia, September 1998.

By Federico Fuentes

November 29, 2008 -- Having captured the imagination of progressives across the globe with scenes of indigenous uprisings confronting right-wing governments and multinationals, Bolivia has become a key focus point of discussion within the left regarding strategies for change.

However, starry-eyed notions and schemas rather than reality have often influenced the views of left commentators on the revolutionary process unfolding in South America’s poorest nation.

At the centre of this debate is the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), led by indigenous President Evo Morales, and its strategy for refounding Bolivia.

After three years of the Morales government it is possible to draw some tentative conclusions about this social experiment.

Western Saharan minister: `Only one solution -- our return to our sovereign homeland'

27 February refugee camp, south-west Algeria

November 29, 2008 -- In October, a three-member delegation of Australian trade unionists visited the Saharawi (Western Saharan) refugee camps in the Hamada desert, south-west Algeria. Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975.Green Left Weekly/LinksMargarita Windisch spoke with Sid’Ahmed Tayeb, the minister of public health for the exiled Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, when she visited the 27 February refugee camp.

The Saharawi refugee camps have now existed for close to 33 years in extremely inhumane surroundings. What has led to the Saharawis becoming refugees and what are the challenges facing the Saharawi people?

First, I would like to thank you very much for your visit. It shows us that we are not alone. This is important support that international community can give us.

A brief history of the Western Saharan people’s struggle for freedom

A Saharawi fighter on May 20, 2008, at a parade
to mark 35th anniversary of the Polisario Front. Photo by EPA/MOHAMED MESSARA.

By Margarita Windisch

[Read more on the Western Saharan people's struggle HERE.]

Spain colonised Western Sahara and its mostly nomadic people in 1884 claiming it as a protectorate of the Spanish Crown. Spanish rule over Western Sahara was codified in Berlin in 1885, where Africa was carved up among the European powers. The period of Spanish rule was marked by ongoing resistance, revolts and armed clashes with the indigenous population, with its liberation movements being brutally repressed by the Spanish authorities.

A 1966 UN resolution called for Saharawi people’s right to self-determination to be exercised via a referendum which never eventuated. The lack of political developments led to the formation of Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro (the Polisario Front) in 1973. Polisario was conceived as a nationalist front with the aim of achieving independence, and encompassed all Saharawi political trends.

Malaysia: Bicycle protesters for workers' rights defy police intimidation

Cycle protesters in Penang, December 5

By Oppressed People’s Movement (Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas, Jerit)

December 6, 2008 -- The Oppressed People’s Movement (Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas, Jerit) is conducting a cycling campaign throughout Malaysia to highlight demands for workers' right, which will be presented to the prime minister of Malaysia. The campaign officially began on December 3 at Wisma Darul Aman Kedah, where 50 cyclists were flagged off. They will cycle for 16 days through Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor. On December 18, they will hand a memorandum to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, at the national parliament in Kuala Lumpur.

Civil rights campaigner, musician Odetta remembered

Odetta (300)
Keystone / Hulton Archive

Odetta was often called "The voice of the civil rights movement."

Fidel Castro on `Team Obama'

By Fidel Castro Ruz 

December 4, 2008 -- Following Barack Obama’s speech, on May 23, 2008, to the Cuban American National Foundation established by Ronald Reagan, I wrote a reflection entitled ``The empire’s hypocritical policy''.

In that reflection I quoted his exact words to the Miami annexationists: “[…] together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba; this is my word and my commitment […] It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime. […] I will maintain the embargo.”

I then offered several arguments and unethical examples of the general behaviour of the presidents who preceded the one who would be elected to that position in the November 4 elections. I wrote:

I find myself forced to raise various sensitive questions:

1. Is it right for the President of the United States to order the assassination of any one person in the world, whatever the pretext may be?

2. Is it ethical for the President of the United States to order the torture of other human beings?

Team Obama: Channelling Clinton, extending Bush

By Patrick Bond

December 4, 2008 -- Barack Obama was elected on a platform of change. Yet, his actions are pointing to more and more of the same. The question of whether Obama can possibly replace Bush as a danger to world peace is worth considering.

The president-elect’s turn to the Zionist, militarist wing of the US ruling class in recent weeks negates the interest and support he showed for the Palestinian cause while a Chicago community organiser during the 1990s and to the anti-war movement when Bush attacked Iraq five and a half years ago.

To counteract ongoing their economic and cultural decline, it appears that US imperialist managers have adopted two strategies: political revitalisation via Obama’s carefully crafted image as a non-imperialist politician with roots in African-American, Kenyan and even Indonesian traditions; and the activism anticipated through his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, a firm supporter of the US war against Iraq.

In reaction to election campaign allegations that he is a peacenik, Obama himself uttered that the ``surge'' of US troops in Iraq ``succeeded beyond our wildest dreams''.

Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist): The differences of opinion within our party

By Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplap’

We should say honestly that there is a difference of opinion on how to accomplish the Nepalese Revolution. Mainly, the difference of opinion is about the party line, political program and tactics in our party. This clearly justifies that a serious u-turn has occurred before the Nepalese Revolution. The responsibility of carrying the revolution ahead successfully has fallen upon the shoulders of the revolutionary communists of Nepal and the revolutionary communists of the world. We all should direct our attention to it.

Zimbabwe: First signs of united front mass action against elite settlement

Protesting health workers in Harare, December 3. The protest was attacked by riot cops.
(See a short video of the December 3, 2008, protest HERE.)

By the National Co-Ordinating Committee, International Socialist Organisation Zimbabwe

December 2, 2008 -- The situation in Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented levels of crisis. As we have been saying for the last few years, such a crisis was climaxing and with a number of possibilities arising. First and most likely was the likelihood of the bourgeois elite politicians in [President Robert Mugabe's] Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) uniting together in an elitist government of national unity in which ZANU-PF would be the senior partner around a Western- and capitalist-supported neoliberal economic agenda. The MDC's popularity would be used to pacify the urban working people from rising up.

Indonesia: Activists debate electoral tactic

Dita Sari will stand in the 2009 election

Indonesia: Tracing a path towards parliament

By Kelik Ismunanto

November 29, 2008 -- After such a long period of time in a vacuum, uncertain of how to respond to changes caused by neoliberal economic policies, little by little, democracy movement activists have been able to wrest back the political podium.

In the last few months, several national television stations provided a political stage for activists such as Dita Sari, Budiman Sujatmiko, Pius Lustrilanang and other young activists who are contesting the 2009 elections, to explain their reasons for choosing the parliamentary tactic.

Among young activists, there are opinions in favour and against this tactic.

Malaysia: Detention without trial -- Abolish the Internal Security Act 1960!

By Enalini Elumalai, general coordinator Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)

November 27, 2008 -- While Malaysia celebrated its 51st anniversary of Merdeka (independence) from Britain in 2008, the Malaysian government continued to arrest and detain individuals without charging them or putting them on trial under the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA), the legacy of a colonial legislation enacted to combat the communist insurgency in Malaya in the 1940s and 1950s. 

The ISA was originally enacted to succeed emergency laws aimed at combating the communist insurgency in the 1940s and 1950s. It was also used against political dissidents, students and labour activists. Since then, the ISA has been used against those who commit acts deemed to be “prejudicial to the security of Malaysia” or threatening to the “maintenance of essential services” or “economic life”. The government determines which acts fall into these categories and, using a strained interpretation of the legislation, has detained scores of individuals under the ISA in cases that would normally require prosecution.

Thailand: A second `coup for the rich'

The `Red Shirts' have become a `genuine pro-democracy mass movement of the poor'

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn, Bangkok

December 2, 2008 -- Today the constitutional court dissolved the democratically elected governing party, the People Power Party, in Thailand for the second time, forcing the government to resign. This follows the refusal of the armed forces and the police to follow government instructions to clear the two international airports blocked by armed People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) fascists. [The constitutional court dissolved Thailand's top three ruling parties for electoral fraud in the 2007 election that brought them to power. Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat has been banned from politics for five years.]

Socialist Party of Malaysia: The left in coalition politics (+ interview with PSM MP)

Jeyakumar (`Kumar') Devaraj (third from right) with PSM supporters.

By Jeyakumar Devaraj

November 8, 2008 -- Ever since the First International, building and working within coalitions with other groups has been one of the strategies used by the left to attempt to advance its political agenda. This practice has continued up until the present.

However the strategy of working in coalitions with other groups has, fairly often, led to controversy, disagreements and even acrimonious splits, both of the coalitions as well as within the left parties involved themselves.

Why does this happen? Is the strategy of coalition work worth the effort and trouble? What are the benefits of coalition building? What are measures a socialist party can take to avoid some of the negative consequences of coalition political work?

The `third slump' and its consequences

By Phil Hearse

November 30, 2008 -- Ernest Mandel called the market crash and global recession of 1974-5 the ``second slump'' (1) – the first one being of course that of the 1930s, initiated by the stockmarket crash of 1929. We now know that the crash of 2008-9 is more severe, and will have more devastating consequences than that in the 1970s; whether it will be as bad as the 1930s slump we have yet to see. But it is now clear that this is a fundamental crisis of the neoliberal ``mode of regulation'' which now is under severe pressure and probably cannot survive in its present form.

Theorists who in this period stress the relative stability and continuity of modern capitalism are, as we shall see, way off the mark. This article aims to give a brief explanation of why the crash has happened; to situate it in the history of development of capitalism; to discuss possible consequences, especially those for the working class in Britain and internationally; and to suggest political implications for the radical left.

Evo Morales on addressing climate change: `Save the planet from capitalism'

By Evo Morales Ayma, president of Bolivia

November 28, 2008 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Sisters and brothers, today our Mother Earth is ill. From the beginning of the 21st century we have lived the hottest years of the last thousand years. Global warming is generating abrupt changes in the weather: the retreat of glaciers and the decrease of the polar ice caps; the increase of the sea level and the flooding of coastal areas, where approximately 60% of the world population live; the increase in the processes of desertification and the decrease of fresh water sources; a higher frequency in natural disasters that the communities of the earth suffer[1]; the extinction of animal and plant species; and the spread of diseases in areas that before were free from those diseases.

One of the most tragic consequences of the climate change is that some nations and territories are the condemned to disappear by the increase of the sea level.

Everything began with the industrial revolution in 1750, which gave birth to the capitalist system. In two and a half centuries, the so called “developed” countries have consumed a large part of the fossil fuels created over five million centuries.

Venezuela: Significance of the election results and the new struggles (with audio)

Supporters of the revolution mobilise in Miranda, in defiance of the opposition victory there. Photo by Winston Bravo, ABN.
By Federico Fuentes, Caracas

November 29, 2008 -- Supporters and opponents of Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution have come out with differing assessments post the November 23 regional elections, which Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez had defined as the most important electoral contest yet for the process of change.

Venezuela: US-backed right wing murders unionists, attacks revolutionary gains

A statement from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network

November 28, 2008 -- In the aftermath of the November 23 regional elections, Venezuela’s right-wing opposition has launched, in the states it won, an all-out assault on grassroots community organisations.

President Hugo Chavez and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won a clear mandate in the elections for the project to build socialism of the 21st century: the PSUV won 17 states with 5,730,774 votes nationwide, compared to the opposition’s 3,948,912 votes. The opposition’s vote was concentrated in key strategic areas, giving them the governorships of five states and the mayor of Greater Caracas.

In the days following the elections, grassroots activists in Caracas, Miranda and Tachira have reported that the public community health clinics (part of Barrio Adentro, the free universal healthcare program), communal councils and other centres where social programs operate are being shut down or attacked by opposition party, despite the public assurances of at least one right-wing govenor-elect that the legal frameworks would be respected.

Venezuela: After the regional elections, the workers propose a clean out and more revolution

Stalin Perez Borges

By Stalin Perez Borges, translated by Kiraz Janicke and Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

November 25, 2008 -- I want to give some preliminary and personal impressions, in the heat of the moment, where many comrades are very preoccupied by the significance of the [Chavista movement’s] loss of the Mayor of Greater Caracas and of some important or key governorships in the country.

It’s time to calm down and sit down together in order to evaluate in depth with the comrades. There are various points that we should analyse in order to draw conclusions that truly reflect reality. It is necessary to open a profound debate within the party [United Socialist Party of Venezuela – PSUV], to reflect and proceed with self-criticism, as President Chavez indicated on Sunday night.

Indian communists condemn Mumbai terror attack

By Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

November 27, 2008 -- The terror strike last night on Mumbai's most prominent landmark locations including luxury hotels and the biggest and busiest railway station in the city has already claimed more than 100 lives. Those killed in the terror strikes include as many as 16 policemen including ATS Chief Hemant Karkare who was heading the probe into Malegaon blasts and several foreign citizens. The CPI (ML) strongly condemns the attacks and offers deep condolences to the families of all those killed. We hope the hostages are rescued without any further loss.

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