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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.

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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Pakistan: Trade unions under attack -- `We have no option but to fight back!'

By Farooq Tariq

May 18, 2008 -- The announcement by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government lifting restrictions on trade union activities has brought a new wave of unionisation in many private industries. The bosses are not used to it. They have made tremendous profits under General Pervez Musharraf's eight years of dictatorship. Although he is still there as ``president'', there is some breathing space. Wherever workers have tried to form new unions, the bosses have tried their best to intimidate union activists with false legal cases, arrest, torture and kidnapping. The PPP government has yet to take any action against these bosses.

Along with several trade union leaders, I addressed a press conference today, May 18, at the Lahore Press Club to present eyewitness accounts to this torture.

Cuban VP: `Sustainable development requires a revolution in our values'

May 18, 2008

Address by José Ramón Machado Ventura, First Vice-President of Cuba’s Council of State, at a session on ``Sustainable Development: the Environment, Climate Change and Energy'', during the 5th EU/LAC (European Union/Latin America and Caribbean) summit meeting in Lima, Peru, May 16-17.

Your Excellency:

At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro 16 years ago, Fidel Castro issued a prophetic warning, stating that ``an important biological species is at risk of disappearing as a result of the rapid and progressive destruction of its natural living conditions: humanity''.

Time has proven him right.

Let us not mince our words: we won’t attain sustainable development, the negative impacts of climate change will not be halted or reversed, and the environment will not be preserved for future generations, if the irrational patterns of production, distribution and consumption imposed upon us by capitalism prevail. The globalisation of neoliberal policies has drastically exacerbated the crisis.

A brief socialist history of the automobile

By Rob Rooke

No single commercial product in the history of capitalism has had a greater effect on the economy and politics than the automobile. No other product has been such a lever to increase consumption and increase markets in the developed world. It could be argued that the car, more than any other product, was at the very heart of the 20th century’s economic expansion. In US society, for over a century, the car has been raised on a cultural pedestal worshipping individuality and defining big business’ vision of freedom.

Indonesia: Workers, poor reject petrol price rises imposed `on behalf of the poor’

May 15, 2008 -- ``Let’s seek the opportunity out of the world's crisis. In responding to the increase in global food prices, let us improve productivity. Amidst the oil crisis and price rises, let's be thrifty. Let's develop the energy resources.'' -- Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudoyono, May 1, 2008.

The poor will benefit from the increase in fuel prices rise, he said on May 7, 2008.

Meanwhile vice-president Yusuf Kalla said that so far the fuel subsidy has been benefiting the rich. He added ``The protesters who oppose this policy mean that they are helping the poor.''

Acting as if they are doing it ``on behalf of the poor'', the Indonesian government plans to impose a 30% rise on petroleum prices. It will be the third oil price rise under the Susilo Bambang Yudoyono government. To help the poor survive this unpopular policy, the government is granting direct cash transfers amounting 100,000 rupiah per month per family. The direct cash transfer ``gift'' was also implemented with the oil price rise in 2005.

Will this price rise benefit the poor?

Our history: John Reed’s `Ten days that shook the world’

Ten Days That Shook The World
By John Reed
Penguin Books 351 pages
Paperback

Review by Alex Miller

El movimiento obrero venezolano en la encrucijada

por Kiraz Janicke y Federico Fuentes
Rebelión

Primero vino la decisión del 9 de abril, cuando el presidente
venezolano Hugo Chávez, tras una larga lucha de los trabajadores,
renacionalizó la acería Sidor que un gobierno anterior había
privatizado en 1997.

Poco después la Fuerza Socialista Bolivariana de Trabajadores, una
fracción de la Unión Nacional de Trabajadores (central chavista) se
separó y lanzo una llamada a una nueva federación nacional.

A los dos días, el vicepresidente de la Asamblea Nacional, Roberto
Hernández (miembro del Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, PSUV,
que había formado parte del Partido Comunista de Venezuela, PCV)
reemplazó como Ministro de Trabajo a José Ramón Rivero, miembro de la
FSBT a quien los trabajadores de Sidor acusaban de oponerse a su
lucha.

Michael A. Lebowitz: Socialism is the future -- Build it now

By Michael A. Lebowitz

Ideas become a material force when they grasp the minds of masses. This is true not only of ideas which can support revolutionary change. It is also true of those ideas which prevent change. An obvious example is the concept of TINA -- the idea that there is no alternative, no alternative to neoliberalism, no alternative to capitalism.

Certainly we know that there have been significant changes in the terrain upon which the working class must struggle -- changes which are a challenge because of a new international division of labour and because of the role of states in delivering a passive, docile working class to international capital. It is not only changing material circumstances which affects the working class, however. It is also the loss of confidence of the working class that makes these material changes a deadly blow. Even the Korean working class that has demonstrated so clearly in the past its militancy in the struggle against capital has been affected.

Global food crisis: Capitalism, agribusiness and the food sovereignty alternative

By Ian Angus

[Second of two articles. Click here for part one.]

“Nowhere in the world, in no act of genocide, in no war, are so many people killed per minute, per hour and per day as those who are killed by hunger and poverty on our planet.” —Fidel Castro, 1998

May 11, 2008 -- When food riots broke out in Haiti last month, the first country to respond was Venezuela. Within days, planes were on their way from Caracas, carrying 364 tons of badly needed food.

The people of Haiti are “suffering from the attacks of the empire’s global capitalism,” Venezuela's President Hugo Chàvez said. “This calls for genuine and profound solidarity from all of us. It is the least we can do for Haiti.”

Venezuela’s action is in the finest tradition of human solidarity. When people are hungry, we should do our best to feed them. Venezuela’s example should be applauded and emulated.

But aid, however necessary, is only a stopgap. To truly address the problem of world hunger, we must understand and then change the system that causes it.

No shortage of food

The starting point for our analysis must be this: there is no shortage of food in the world today.

Videos: Cuba's green revolution

A clip from the BBC's Around the World in 80 Gardens (2008) introduces the urban organic food gardening revolution in Havana, Cuba. Click HERE for a three-part talk by Cuban permaculturist Roberto Perez that delves deeper into Cuba's green revolution, and an interview with the makers of The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, the film in which Perez featured.

So there’s nothing to stop us from emulating the Cuban farming revolution.

Bolivia: Fraud, violence and mass resistance marks right-wing push

By Federico Fuentes
May 9, 2008 -- A day of violence, fraud and a “grand rebellion” against the Santa Cruz oligarchy.

This is how Bolivian president, Evo Morales Ayma, described the result of the unconstitutional May 4 “autonomy” referendum organised by the authorities in Santa Cruz — which many feared was aimed at dividing Bolivia.

* * *

Click here to watch and hear Bolivia expert Forrest Hylton discuss the background to the situation in Bolivia's Santa Cruz province

* * *

Barack Obama, Reverend Wright and Black liberation theology

By Malik Miah

The groundswell of broad support for Barack Obama (both among Blacks and whites) is a phenomenon that deserves a serious analysis and understanding. It cannot be downplayed by passing it through the lens of pure-and-simple lesser-evilism.

Some radicals dismiss the mass phenomenon, because Obama is a candidate of a ruling-class party. That simplistic rejection of Obama's campaign and its mass support is sectarian: The issue isn't whether to vote for a Democrat, but rather our response to a development that is having a wide-scale impact. How many times, in state after state, have we ever seen citizens of all races line up for hours to hear an African-American man talk about “hope'', on a platform that is fundamentally no different than his opponents?

Global food crisis: ‘The greatest demonstration of the historical failure of the capitalist model’

By Ian Angus

[First of two articles. Click here for part two.] 

“If the government cannot lower the cost of living it simply has to leave. If the police and UN troops want to shoot at us, that's OK, because in the end, if we are not killed by bullets, we’ll die of hunger.” — A demonstrator in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

April 28, 2008 -- In Haiti, where most people get 22% fewer calories than the minimum needed for good health, some are staving off their hunger pangs by eating “mud biscuits” made by mixing clay and water with a bit of vegetable oil and salt.[1]

Meanwhile, in Canada, the federal government is currently paying $225 for each pig killed in a mass cull of breeding swine, as part of a plan to reduce hog production. Hog farmers, squeezed by low hog prices and high feed costs, have responded so enthusiastically that the kill will likely use up all the allocated funds before the program ends in September. Some of the slaughtered hogs may be given to local Food Banks, but most will be destroyed or made into pet food. None will go to Haiti.

This is the brutal world of capitalist agriculture — a world where some people destroy food because prices are too low, and others literally eat dirt because food prices are too high.

Three books on the life and thought of the `red terror doctor’

Reviews by Alex Miller

Karl Marx: A Biography
By David McLellan, Palgrave Macmillan
4th Edition 2006
487 pages, paperback

Adding insult to injury: Bush says starving India eats too much

By Kavita Krishnan

May 7, 2008 -- Karl Marx, born on 5 May, 1818, nearly two centuries ago, had in 1867 laid bare the ``intimate connection between the pangs of hunger of the most industrious layers of the working class, and the extravagant consumption, coarse or refined, of the rich, for which capitalist accumulation is the basis'' (Capital Vol. 1, Ch. 25). In May 2008, nearly a century and a half later, as we hear Emperor Bush hold forth on global hunger, we are reminded that capitalism and global wealth remains just as intimately wedded to hunger.

For related Links articles, including a video by Hugo Chavez, click here

Respect and the London election results

By Nick Wrack and Alan Thornett, Socialist Resistance

May 6, 2008 -- The New Labour project is falling apart at the seams. Its local election results were the worst in 40 years, with only 24% of the vote and coming third behind the Liberal Democrats. This is a disastrous result for British Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown. In London, the election of the Conservative Party's Boris Johnson as mayor and the presence of a far-right British National Party (BNP) member on the Greater London Assembly will disturb and depress all who value the multi-cultural diversity of the city.

`Tipping point' in New Zealand politics at the grassroots: the Residents Action Movement

The Residents Action Movement (or RAM) is a left-wing local government electoral ticket in the Auckland Regional Council of New Zealand's largest city. RAM is in the process of becoming a national-level political party to contest the 2008 elections. RAM can be characterised as as broad left coalition, stretching from social liberals, community activists and former National Party members to social democrats, democratic socialists and left-wing radicals. Its chairperson is currently Grant Morgan, who is also a leading member of Socialist Worker (Aotearoa).

This interview with Grant Morgan, Daphne Lawless (a RAM candidate in last year's Auckland Regional Council election and is a current member of the RAM executive) and Oliver Woods, RAM co-organiser, was recorded by telephone on May 1, 2008, and broadcast by LeftCast.

Are livable cities just a dream?

By Dave Holmes

When one sees a modern city from the air, especially at night, it is a truly awe-inspiring spectacle. What always strikes me is the immensity of the project, a testimony to the power and creativity of human beings. However, on the ground and actually living and working in this wonder, things are quite different and the social and ecological problems crowd in and fill one’s view. The truth is that our cities have always been dominated by the rich and powerful and built and operated to serve their needs — not those of the mass of working people who live and toil in them.

* * *

This article is based on a talk presented at the Climate Change | Social Change Conference in Sydney, April 2008. The conference was organised by Green Left Weekly. For more articles, audio and video from the conference, click here.

* * *

Venezuela's labour movement at the crossroads; Stalin Borges Perez on May Day

 

See http://www.links.org.au/node/388#comment-527 for a report on the Caracas May Day March.

* * *

Venezuela's labour movement at the crossroads

By Kiraz Janicke and Federico Fuentes

Militants mark May Day in Timor Leste, Pakistan and Malaysia (video)

Timor Leste: Workers and students rally for May Day in Dili

By Mericio Akara

DILI, May 1, 2008 -- A May Day rally attended by some 700 workers organised by the Trade Union Confederation of Timor Leste demanded the implementation of labour laws, just wages that comply with the minimum wage regulations and lowering of prices. Demonstrators consisted of workers from several companies in Dili, students and civil society activists. The Luta Hamutuk Institute sent along its members to participate also.

Continued below pictures, click here to read more ...

 


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