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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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Nationalisation — a key demand in the socialist program

By Dave Holmes

For all the misery it represents for ordinary people, there is at least one positive result of the current capitalist financial crisis. The idea of nationalisation is getting an airing again in the West, however squeamish bourgeois leaders and pundits may be about using the actual word. Of course, this is clearly a case of governments mobilising massive resources and taking drastic action to save bankers and speculators from the consequences of their greed but, nevertheless, there it is. And if nationalisation — state or public ownership — is allowable in this dubious instance, why not for far more deserving and urgent causes such as saving the planet and the lives and welfare of masses of working people?

The question of nationalisation is important because it is simply impossible to conceive of addressing a whole series of key problems facing us today without a major expansion of the public sector and bringing the “commanding heights” of the economy under state ownership and control. First, of course, there is the overriding issue of climate change and all the things related to that — especially energy and water sustainability, food security and the preservation of workers’ jobs as the economy is restructured. Then there is the struggle to preserve workers’ jobs and livelihoods in the face of widespread downsizing during the economic downturn.

Poster: Makeba presente

By Ricardo Levins Morales

Miriam Makeba passed away on November 10 at a concert in Italy. The link below is to a poster I made in tribute to Makeba as soon as I heard the news.

When I was a child, my father would occasionally travel to the United States. When he returned to Puerto Rico he would sometimes bring back a music record. Sometimes it would be Makeba. I only understood the words to a few of the songs she was singing (Makeba sang in many languages), but I understood the sprit and the rhythms. The sounds of drumming has always made sense to me. I also new that she was in some way connected to the struggle for a better world.

Miriam Makeba was banned from her homeland by the apartheid regime after addressing the United Nations committee on apartheid and spent the next thirty years in exile. As with all of those who pass out of this world she will continue to be with us as long as we carry her. This poster tribute is one more vessel in which to bring her along with us. The road toward justice is a long one. I know that as long as I walk it Miriam Makeba's songs will be with me.

`Too many people' arguments provide no solution to the global warming crisis

By Simon Butler

November 17, 2008 -- In Green Left Weekly, Climate and Capitalism and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal , I argued that population reduction schemes provide no answers to the threat of climate change. Population-based arguments wrongly treat population levels as the cause, rather than an effect, of an unsustainable economic system. This means they tend to divert attention away from pushing for the real changes urgently needed.

Campaigning for such measures as the rapid introduction of renewable energy and the phasing-out of fossil fuels, along with a shift to sustainable agricultural methods, should instead be the highest priority of the environmental movement.

Strategies to reduce human population also end up blaming some of the world’s poorest people for the looming climate crisis, when they are the people least responsible. Instead, it is the powerful, vested interests that profit most from the fossil-fuel economy who pose the real threat to the planet. They must be confronted.

John Bellamy Foster: Ecology and the transition from capitalism to socialism

Walk Against Warming, Sydney, 2006.
Photo by Alex Bainbridge/Green Left Weekly

By John Bellamy Foster

[This article, which first appeared in the November 2008 issue of Monthly Review, is a revised version of a keynote address delivered at the “Climate Change, Social Change” conference, Sydney, Australia, April 12, 2008, organised by Green Left Weekly. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission. Watch and listen to Bellamy Foster's presentation HERE. For more articles on Marxism and the ecology, click HERE.]

CPI (ML) Liberation on `Obamania'

By CPI (ML) Liberation

November 11, 2008 --The emphatic victory of Barack Obama in the US presidential election has generated a great deal of interest and enthusiasm, a veritable ``Obamania'', across the world. There are indeed several special aspects to this remarkable victory. That he is the first black person to be elected to the highest political office in the US; that his campaign emphasised ``hope'' and ``change'' at a time when the US is passing through an extremely gloomy period in its history, and, above all, that his arrival marks the much-awaited end of the hated Bush presidency, and a decisive popular rejection of its hallmarks, have all added up to make this probably the most memorable election in recent US history. For political observers watching this election from afar, the most encouraging aspect perhaps has been the passionate popular participation that made this election an energised extension of not only the fight against racism but also the wider anti-globalisation, anti-war campaign.

China and the global capitalist economic meltdown

By Peter Boyle

Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific (ASAP) -- As the US, Japan and Europe slide into recession, the leaders of many smaller countries are desperately hoping that continued strong growth in the Chinese economy, which has contributed about 15 per cent of world economic growth in recent years, might save them from this meltdown.

There's hope and then there's hard facts. Recently the latter has replaced those desperate hopes with terror. A measure of this was the November 4 decision of Australia's Reserve Bank to make a bigger than expected interest rate cut. Any temptation by holders of large mortgages and other debts in Australia to reach for the champagne was killed by the realisation that this decision, in the words of one business correspondent, "was a recognition by Australia's top policymakers that the Chinese economy is no longer providing a firewall to insulate the Australian economy from the international crisis".

 

A crucial test for Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution

Once again, the intricate process of the Bolivarian Revolution will put its strengths and weaknesses in play in the form of an electoral contest.

Can Africa survive Obama's advisers?

Kenyans celebrate Obama's victory.

By Patrick Bond

November 12, 2008 -- One of Barack Obama's leading advisers has done more damage to Africa, its economies and its people than anyone I can think of in world history, including even Cecil John Rhodes. That charge may surprise readers, but hear me out.

His name is Paul Volcker, and although he is relatively unknown around the world, the 82-year-old banker was recommended as ``a legend!'' to Obama by Austan Goolsbee, the president-elect's chief economic adviser (and a professor at the University of Chicago). Volcker was recently profiled by the Wall Street Journal: "The cigar-chomping central banker from 1979 to 1987, he received blame for driving up interest rates and tipping the US into the deepest recession since the Great Depression."

We'll consider the impact of Volcker's rule on Africa in a moment. But why dredge up crimes nearly 30 years old?

This kind of reckoning is important, as three current examples suggest:

Obama and the clash of hopes

By Peter Boyle

November 12, 2008 -- There can be no doubt that the great majority of the 55 million US citizens whose votes made Barack Obama president want change.

They want a change from the system in which trillions of dollars are spent to bail out Wall Street while ordinary people on “Main Street” lose their homes, their jobs and can’t even get basic health care.

They want an end to the endless wars abroad that George W. Bush launched in the wake of 9/11 — wars that are returning thousands of young Americans home in body bags and many times more seriously wounded. They want the US to be welcomed by the rest of the world as a peacemaker rather than hated as the biggest war-maker.

So around the world, everyone with a shred humanity cheered on that wave of hope for change that gave the US its first black president on November 4.

Is the climate crisis caused by overpopulation?

By Simon Butler

November 12, 2008 -- Many environmentalists believe that environmental destruction is a product of “overpopulation”, and that the world is already “full up”. So are population reduction strategies essential to solving the climate crisis?

At best, population control schemes focus on treating a symptom of an irrational, polluting social and economic system rather than the causes. In China, for instance, such measures haven’t solved that country’s environmental problems.

At worst, populationist theories shift the blame for climate change onto the poorest and most vulnerable people in the Third World.

They do not address the reasons why environmental damage, or even instances of overpopulation, happen in the first place and they divert attention away from the main challenge facing the climate movement — the urgent need to construct a new economy based on environmentally sustainable technologies and the rising of living standards globally.

For at least 200 years, “overpopulation” has been used to explain a host of social problems such as poverty, famine, unemployment and — more recently — environmental destruction.

Barack Obama’s dual mandate

By Solidarity (US)

November 10, 2008 -- Millions of Americans see the election of Barack Obama as a referendum on white supremacy and today we join in their celebration. The racist campaigns launched against Obama, conducted sometimes in coded language and other times in inflammatory accusations, turned out to be amazingly unsuccessful. Yet the 2008 election also represents a dual reality that is important for socialists and activists for peace and social justice to grasp.

For tens of millions of Black Americans, seeing a United States president-elect who’s Black – and even more important, for their children to see a Black president – is a huge symbolic stride towards full citizenship and liberation. Perhaps no event since that legendary night in 1938, when Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmeling, has there been such a magic moment of celebration for the Black community; only in this case they weren’t simply spectators but participants in the victory.

Hamba kahle Mama Africa (Miriam Makeba)

Mama Afrika (Miriam Makeba) passes, November 10, 2008

Miriam Makeba addresses the UN, 1964

Michael Lebowitz: `Reach for the book: it is a weapon’

By Michael A. Lebowitz

[Presentation at the launch of El Camino al Desarrollo Humano: ¿Capitalismo o Socialismo? (The Path to Human Development: Capitalism or Socialism?) at the Venezuelan International Book Fair, Filven, in Caracas on November 8, 2008. The English version of the pamphlet will be published in a forthcoming edition of Monthly Review.]

Socialist Party of Malaysia: Building socialism while capitalism crumbles


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

By Choo Chon Kai, International Bureau, PSM

November 13, 2008 -- Kajang, Malaysia -- It was timely for the Socialist Party of Malaysia (Parti Sosialis Malaysia -- PSM) to host the ``Socialism 2008 –- Malaysia'' conference, when the world is caught in a deep crisis that is considered the worst since World War II. The conference showed that capitalism, during its 18-year term as the dominant ideology of the world, had wreaked havoc on the lives of people and the planet, and that there was an urgent need to put forward a socialist alternative.

Congo: Western intervention behind bloodbath


Tony Iltis interviewed on Iranian television

By Tony Iltis

November 7, 2008 -- Despite Western media and politicians having largely ignored a decade of genocidal warfare that has cost 6 million lives, the recent upsurge in fighting in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has drawn not only media attention, but visits to the region by the British and French foreign ministers and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

The current round of fighting in North Kivu province, which began on October 26 with an offensive by the Rwandan-backed rebel forces of General Laurent Nkunda, is indeed a humanitarian catastrophe — 200,000 people have been displaced, many not for the first time.

Realities of China today

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

Against the Current -- Interest in the post-1978 Chinese market reform experience remains high and for an obvious reason: China is widely considered to be one of the most successful developing countries in modern times. The Chinese economy has recorded record rates of growth over an extended time period, in concert with a massive industrial transformation. Adding to the interest is the Chinese government's claim that this success demonstrates both the workability and superiority of "market socialism."

There are those on the left who share this celebratory view of the Chinese experience, believing that it stands as an effective rebuttal to the neoliberal mantra that still dominates economic thinking. Therefore, they encourage other countries to learn from China's gradual, state controlled process of marketization, privatization, and deregulation of economic activity. A small but significant number share the Chinese government's view that China has indeed pioneered a new type of socialism.

‘Transformation’ from above: the upside-down state of the `beautiful game' in South Africa

Bafana Bafana (and Kaizer Chiefs) supporter

By Dr Dale T. McKinley

For the better part of the past century, the most popular sport in South Africa (both in relation to public entertainment and active participation) has been soccer. From its initial introduction into South Africa as a sport played almost solely by the propertied (white) gentry, soccer quickly became, by the turn of the twentieth century, the sport of choice amongst the non-white population and white lower classes.

Philippines: Militant workers demand `big-time rollback' of labour export policy

By Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party Philippines)

October 27, 2008 -- The militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called for a historic reversal of the strategy of labour export as the government-sponsored Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) opened its first day.

"A one-time, big-time rollback of the failed policy of labour export is just as urgent and necessary as the bloated prices of oil. It is time to think out of the box and shift to domestic full employment instead of promoting overseas employment", declared Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson at a big rally led by Solidarity Action of labour Against GFMD (SALAG).

PM opposes the GFMD since it alleges that the main problem it is trying to solve is how to profit from remittances not how to protect migrants. "It would have been funny if it were not tragic that the GFMD is steadfastly fascinated with the neoliberal agenda even though the bankruptcy of globalisation has been exposed by the financial meltdown and economic recession in the US and the world", Magtubo asserted.

Nepal: The struggle intensifies; interview with Prachanda

Editorial, Red Star, newspaper of the CPN (Maoist), October 24-November 7, 2008

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is going to hold a party congress at the beginning of 2009. The decision to hold a party congress has created much interest among the common people as well as party leaders, cadres, sympathisers and well wishers.

Once again on ‘The myth of the Tragedy of the Commons’: a reply to criticisms and questions

A reply to criticisms and questions about my article on Garrett Hardin’s influential essay.

By Ian Angus

November 3, 2008 -- The response to my recent article “The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons” (also posted at Links at http://links.org.au/node/595) has been very encouraging. It prompted a small flood of emails to my inbox, was reposted on many websites and blogs around the world, and has been discussed in a variety of online forums.

The majority of the comments were positive, but many readers challenged my critique of Garrett Hardin’s very influential 1968 essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons”. A gratifying number wrote serious and thoughtful criticisms. While they differed in specifics, these responses consistently made one or more of these three points:

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