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.

Please explore Links and subscribe (click on "Subscribe to Links" or "Follow Links on Twitter" in the left menu). Links welcomes readers' constructive comments (but please read the "Comments policy" above).

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Patrice Lumumba `will live forever’ -- exclusive book excerpt

Leo Zeilig, author of Lumumba, a new political biography of Congo independence leader Patrice Lumumba, has kindly given permission for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal to offer its readers an exclusive excerpt to download.

Venezuela: New mission, laws to extend popular power; trade union movement rebuilds

By Federico Fuentes

Caracas, September 6, 2008 -- The August 24 announcment by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to officially launch the social mission April 13, and the decreeing of 26 new and reformed laws on July 29, represent a further push to empower the poor communities.

Moreover, these moves represent a new offensive as part of Chavez’s stated aim of building “socialism of the 21st century” and eradicating poverty by giving power to the people.

Among other things, the new mission and laws build upon the communal councils that have been established across the country with the goal of organising the Venezuelan people, in order to transfer responsibilities until now in the hands of the state bureaucracy inherited by the Bolivarian revolution.

Mission April 13 is named in honour of the successful struggle of the poor majority, who along with the majority of the armed forces, defeated the coup organised by Venezuela’s business federation, Fedecamaras, on April 11, 2002. The coup briefly removed Chavez from the power, but an uprising resorted him two days later.

Celia Hart's last essay: A revolutionary fight against the demon

On September 9, 2008, supporters of the Cuban Revolution were saddened to learn of the sudden deaths of Celia Hart Santamaría and Abel Hart Santamaría, the daughter and son of Armando Hart Dávalos and Haydée Santamaría, in a car accident in Havana on September 7, possibly caused by the conditions resulting from Hurricane Gustav. Below is the last essay written by Celia, on the topic of hurricanes, global warming and the Cuban Revolution's and Cuban society's ability to protect its people from devastating storms like hurricanes Katrina and Gustav. (Click HERE to watch Celia Hart discuss the politics of Latin America in a video recorded in May 2008. A selection of Celia Hart's essays, It’s never too late to love or rebel, was published in 2006 by Socialist Resistance.)

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 Celia Hart Santamaría

Cuba, bloggers and the internet wars: a review of Antony Loewenstein’s `The Blogging Revolution'

By Tim Anderson

Antony Loewenstein is confused. Flushed with the success of his first book, My Israel Question, he has ventured into the wider world of global politics and has stumbled.

His first book presented the perspective of a young Australian Jew, reflecting critically on Israel. His second book, The Blogging Revolution, attempts a wider analysis of the cyber-media and democracy, by reference to six countries: Iran, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and China.

Sustainable capitalism?

By David Travis

September 9, 2008 -- On the fringe of the green movement, one always hears the following phrases coming from the mainstream with great regularity: "green capitalism", "sustainable capitalism", "social entrepreneurs", "green entrepreneurs", etc. None of these terms tend to mean anything specific, and no one who uses them is in a great hurry to spell out, for example, how a green entrepreneur is different in any fundamental way from some other kind of entrepreneur, or how capitalism could be driven toward sustainability rather than profit. So you can imagine my pleasure at meeting the author of a book called Sustainable Capitalism: A Matter of Common Sense.

Why Washington hates Iran - free pamphlet download

The following is the introduction to Why Washington Hates Iran: A Political Memoir of the Revolution That Shook the Middle East, a new Socialist Voice pamphlet published by South Branch Publications. The entire pamphlet is available for free download from http://readingfromtheleft.com/PDF/WhyWashingtonHatesIran.pdf.

The author, Barry Sheppard, was a member of the US Socialist Workers Party for 28 years, and a central leader of the party for most of that time. In 2005, Resistance Books published the first volume of his political memoir, The Party: The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988. The new pamphlet is a chapter from the second volume, now in preparation.

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By Barry Sheppard

In defence of Naomi Klein's analysis of South Africa

By Patrick Bond

In response to Beware Electocrats: Naomi Klein on South Africa by Ronald Suresh Roberts in Radical Philosophy commentaries, July-August 2008, http://www.radicalphilosophy.com/default.asp?channel_id=2187&editorial_id=26668

Klein’s chapter on South Africa follows this exchange.

Nepal: Prachanda -- `No illusions on the ultimate goal of socialist communism'

September 3, 2008 -- In his first interview since he became Nepal's prime minister, Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal ``Prachanda'' spoke to Rabindra Mishra of BBC's Nepali Service about the strategies of his new government.

BBC: In the past Maoist leaders had vowed not to keep any private property. They handed over their private properties to the party. Now, what will you do to your salary that you will be drawing as prime minister?

That (money) will go to the country and the people. It will be deposited in the party treasury. Except some amount for the general upkeep, the salary will be deposited in the party treasury.

Then, how can one be assured of the right to private property under your government when you are yourself are not keeping private property?

India's Katrina: Bihar floods -- criminal negligence, not divine deluge (+ emergency appeal)

By Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

[See below for relief fund details.]

September 2, 2008 -- The regime of Nitish Kumar, which rules the Indian state of Bihar, boasts of ``Bihar Shining''. These claims are now submerged by the cries of ``Bihar Drowning''. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government's claims of ``good governance'' have proved a washout in the face of the floods, and now the Chief Minister Kumar is trying to paint the floods as a ``natural'' calamity or divine ``deluge'' (Pralay).

Nothing could be further from the truth. The flood devastation was highly preventable – and is a direct result of callous negligence of basic flood-prevention strategies by the Bihar and central Indian governments. Despite the fact that every year breaches in embankments cause floods in the state, maintenance and repair of embankments have been rampantly neglected.

Thailand: Democracy lost in shuffle between royalist `opposition' and Thaksin government

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

September 2, 2008, Bangkok -- For the past two or more years, especially since the September 2006 coup, Thai society has been hypnotised into forgetting about the real social and political issues. Instead, the whole of society and, most tragically, the social movements have been entranced by a fight between two factions of the Thai ruling class.

On the one side are the deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his disbanded Thai Rak Thai Party, its successor the Peoples Power Party government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej. Opposing them are a loose collection of authoritarian royalists comprising the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), the pro-coup royalist military, the pro-coup judiciary and the Democrat Party. The authoritarian royalists are not a unified body. They only share a collective interest in wiping out Thaksin’s party.

Venezuela: Second wave of nationalisations launched

By Federico Fuentes

September 3, 2008 -- On August 27, Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez announced the end of negotiations with former owner Ternium over the nationalisation of the Sidor steel factory, stating that the government would “take over all the companies that it has here”, and that Ternium “can leave”. Speaking during a televised broadcast, Chávez explained that Ternium “did not recognise our sovereignty”.

“The deadline for reaching an agreement has expired. We will move ahead and pay them what it really costs. Moreover, it will not be all in one go as they wanted. No, we will pay them at a pace that is appropriate for us.”

Until the April 9 decision to nationalise Sidor, the Ternium consortium, whose biggest shareholder is the Italian-Argentine transnational Techint, had 60% control of one of the largest steel factories in Latin America, located in the industrial state of Bolívar.

Lessons of the Caucasus war: Imperial ambitions need to be opposed

By Andrey Kolganov and Aleksandr Buzgalin, translated by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal’s Renfrey Clarke

Moscow, September 2, 2008 -- To most Russians, it was obvious from the beginning that the latest war in the Caucasus began with an attack by Georgian forces on South Ossetia, and that ultimately it was unleashed on the initiative of the United States. To the West, meanwhile, it was just as clear from the outset that the August war in the Caucasus represented an assault on small, defenceless and democratic Georgia by huge, aggressive and authoritarian Russia. This is what almost all the world media have asserted, and continue to assert. To a significant degree, this is even believed by a significant section of world civil society, including by anti-globalisation activists who for the most part have little sympathy for the US establishment.

Class struggle and ecology -- An ecosocialist contribution to the discussion on revolutionary regroupment*

By Liam Mac Uiad

....we with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and... all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage of all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly -- Friedrich Engels.

Ecology as crucial as imperialism

For socialists in the 20th century imperialism was the great dividing line between those who accepted the logic of capitalist society and those who were willing to challenge it. In the first decades of the 21st century it is apparent that imperialism and war will remain inherent features of late capitalism. To these threats we must add the genuine and serious risks of severe ecological degradation and climate change caused by the capitalist economic model as factors that will shape socialist politics in the coming decades.

The biosphere and us

Slideshow: Stalinism -- How did the Russian Revolution degenerate and was it inevitable?

Nepal: CPN (M) -- Present situation and our challenges

By Basanta

August 12, 2008 -- This is an era of imperialism and proletarian revolution. It is known also as the Leninist era. The specificity of this era has been the spread by imperialism through exploitation and robbery of the world, through the economic base of feudalism and the superstructure of bureaucrat and comprador bourgeois in the oppressed countries.

CPN (M) leader Prachanda

Behind the communal flare-up in Jammu and Kashmir

By the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

August 18, 2008 -- The communally and politically motivated May 26 decision of the Congress Party-People's Democratic Party (PDP) government of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to transfer forest land [in Muslim-majority Kashmir] to the Hindu Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) [for use as a pilgrimage site near a sacred Hindu cave] is having costly repercussions, with the added danger that it may emerge as a communal [flashpoint] nationally.

The land transfer, taken in the context of irresponsible official remarks recommending changes in the demography and “culture” of the region as a “solution” to the Kashmir “problem”, was like a spark to the tinderbox of pent-up resentment in the Kashmir Valley. Lives were lost when police opened fire on protesters; the PDP tried to distance itself from its ministers’ decision in favour of the land transfer by pulling out of the government; and the government on July 1 was belatedly forced to roll back the land transfer decision.

Nationalism, revolution and war in the Caucasus

By Tony Iltis

August 27, 2008 -- Since the European Union-brokered ceasefire brought the shooting war between Georgia and Russia to an end on August 12, there has been a war of words between Russia and the West. One point of contention is the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia-proper (that is, Georgia excluding the de facto independent territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia), in particular the towns of Gori, Zugdidi and Senaki and the port of Poti.

The war began with Georgia’s August 7 attack on the territory of South Ossetia. Russia responded with a military assault that first drove Georgian troops out of South Ossetia, then continued to advance within Georgia-proper.

Russia agreed to withdraw when it signed the ceasefire and has since indicated that it is doing so — but slowly, and not before systematically destroying Georgia’s military capacity.

A bigger difference, based on competing interpretations of what is and isn’t Georgian territory, is Russia’s stated intention to maintain a beefed-up peacekeeping presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Cuban trade unionist: `Workers are key participants in the Cuban revolution'

August 27, 2008 -- Gilda Chacon is the Asia, Oceania, Africa and Middle East representative of the Cuban Confederation of Trade Unions (CTC) and an elected delegate of the People’s Power Municipal Assembly. Annolies Truman interviewed her during her August 17–20 visit to Perth, Australia, to liaise with Western Australian trade unions.

How would you describe the different role of unions in Australia and Cuba?

The fundamental difference is that we operate under two different economic systems. Australia is a capitalist country and Cuba is a socialist country. While we both have union confederations — in Australia the ACTU and in Cuba the CTC — the orientation of the unions is essentially different.

In Cuba, unions basically support the government’s economic agenda because it benefits workers. The highest budget priorities are education, health (both free at all levels) and social security. Public transport is cheap and there is little or no disparity in wages between workers and managers.

Federico Fuentes on latest developments in Bolivia

August 27, 2008 -- Federico Fuentes, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal's and Green Left Weekly's Latin America correspondent based in Venezuela and editor of Bolivia Rising, talks with Latin Radical about the recent referendum in Bolivia. It was called by Bolivia's Indigenous president, Evo Morales. In spite of right-wing calls to defeat the referendum (and continuing threats from the wealthy eastern provinces to split the country into ``autonomous'' states) the referendum victory strengthened the position of a president who is introducing reforms that phase out the negative influence of multinational corporations and global privatisation.

[Note: although the voice quality is clear there is some static and radio interference in this interview, which begins about seven minutes into the interview.]

11.6Mb 128kbps mono 12:41 mins

Malaysian socialists say Anwar Ibrahim by-election victory a 'marker of massive change'

The landslide victory by Justice Party leader Anwar Ibrahim in the August 26 Permatang Pauh by-election is welcomed in this commentary by Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, the first federal parliamentarian of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), as a "marker of the massive change" and another development that will open up democratic space in Malaysia.

By Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj
Dr JeyakumarThe by-election results in Permatang Pauh, a semi-rural constituency in the northern state of Penang, is yet another marker of the massive change that is taking place in Malaysian politics. Usually by-elections are won handsomely by the Barisan National (BN) government because the BN will approve millions of ringgit in development projects, deploy all its main leaders in the campaign and use the subservient media to the fullest. This was attempted in Permatang Pauh this time around.

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