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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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Nationalise big oil, enemy of the planet and its people

By Dick Nichols

June 17, 2008 -- The latest surge in the spot price of crude oil (to US$139 a barrel—87.4 cents a litre) dramatises the urgent need for society to wean itself off “black gold”. The longer we remain hooked the greater the devastation both to our environment and to the living standards of billions, especially the poorest peoples of the planet.

The challenge is huge. The response must combine defence against the threat to livelihoods from price rises with a plan to restructure economies and ways of living so that oil-intensive production and transport becomes a thing of the past.

From Marx to Morales: Indigenous socialism and the Latin Americanisation of Marxism

By John Riddell

June 16, 2008 -- Over the past decade, a new rise of mass struggles in Latin America has sparked an encounter between revolutionists of that region and many of those based in the imperialist countries. In many of these struggles, as in Bolivia under the presidency of Evo Morales, Indigenous peoples are in the lead.

Latin American revolutionists are enriching Marxism in the field of theory as well as of action. This article offers some introductory comments indicating ways in which their ideas are linking up with and drawing attention to important but little-known aspects of Marxist thought.

How Europe underdevelops Africa (but how some fight back)

By Patrick Bond and Richard Kamidza

ADDIS ABABA, June 11, 2008 -- In even the most exploitative African sites of repression and capital accumulation, sometimes corporations take a hit, and victims sometimes unite on continental lines instead of being divided and conquered. Turns in the class struggle might have surprised Walter Rodney, the political economist whose 1972 classic How Europe Underdeveloped Africa provided detailed critiques of corporate looting.

In early June, the British-Dutch firm Shell Oil –- one of Rodney's targets -- was instructed to depart the Ogoniland region within the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria, where in 1995 Shell officials were responsible for the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa by Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha. After decades of abuse, women protesters, local NGOs and the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) gave Shell the shove. France's Total appears to be the next in line to go, in part because of additional pressure from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

Indonesia: Left confronts fuel price hike

By Data Brainanta

June 13, 2008 -- Fuel price hikes have always sparked widespread mass protests in Indonesia since the overthrow of the dictator Suharto in a popular uprising in 1998. However, the timing this year was special. The hike occurred near the time of the 10-year anniversary Suharto’s fall on May 21 and the National Awakening Day on the 20th, which commemorates the birth of Indonesia’s first nationalist organisation. Three leftist fronts, each representing different tactics, took to the streets to reject the policy.

Scottish Socialist Party: Free public transport for all: travel doesn't have to cost the Earth

 

The Scottish Socialist Party’s campaign for free public transport is an ``audacious, eye-catching idea'' according to Douglas Fraser, political editor of The Herald newspaper.

In the Belgian city of Hasselt, which covers an area double the size of Dundee, congestion was eliminated in the late 1980s after the introduction of a totally free public transport system.

Free public transport would be the biggest single pro-environment policy enacted by any national government anywhere on the planet, dramatically slashing car use and CO2 emissions.

Free fares would represent a major shift of wealth in favour of the many thousands of people who currently pay sky-high fares to subsidise the transport companies.

Eyewitness report from Venezuela's May Day



June 13, 2008 -- LatinRadical -- Coral Wynter is back after coordinating the distinctive presence of the Australian Venezuela Solidarity Network's ``May Day'' brigade to Venezuela that included, appropriately, a large contingent of Australian trade unionists. The previous Australian government of John Howard had the Australian embassy in Venezuela closed down when a Washington-inspired coup against President Hugo Chavez failed, but hopefully that will change, if Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown (with the Australian brigadistas) returns after his own visit with the news that President Hugo Chavez is not a ``dictator'', but a popularly elected leader who has increased his electoral popularity regularly at each electoral contest.

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South Africa: Water struggles from Johannesburg and beyond

By Dale T. McKinley

It’s been five years since residents of the poor community of Phiri (Soweto) were first confronted with the practical consequences of the City of Johannesburg’s corporatisation and commodification (read: privatisation) of water delivery. That was when Phiri was chosen as the first community in the Johannesburg Metro to ``benefit'' from the implementation of its Operation Gcin’amanzi. What subsequently happened has now been well documented many times over: the surreptitious and forcible installation of pre-paid water meters under the pretext of fixing ageing infrastructure; the victimisation and cutting-off of supply to those who refused; and, sustained resistance pitting community residents – organised through the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) and the newly formed Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP) -- against an ``unholy alliance'' of Johannesburg Water, the City of Johannesburg, state prosecutors, the South African Police Services and private security firms.

Lawyers' `Long March' in Pakistan `a great event in the movement against dictatorship' (+ video)

By Farooq Tariq
Thousands of lawyers, political, trade unions and social movement activists have made their way to Islamabad. They are participating in the Long March called by the lawyers' movement. This is to push the Pakistan Peoples Party government to restore the top judges without any conditions.

June 11 report: The Long March started from Karachi on June 9 and arrived in Sukhar at early hours of June 10. Here they were joined by the participants from different groups from Baluchistan. They arrived at Multan on June 10 in the late hours, where the deposed chief justice Iftikhar Choudary had arrived to welcome the rally. They left for Lahore around 1pm.

Canadian workers demand immediate end to war in Afghanistan (+ video)

By Michael Skinner

On 29 May 2009, the delegates at the national convention of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), representing more than 3 million workers from every region of Canada and Quebec, voted overwhelmingly to demand that the government of Canada immediately end its participation in the illegal war in Afghanistan.

This CLC demand represents a significant consolidation of labour power. Several national unions, notably the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), had already adopted policies to oppose Canada's participation in the war in Afghanistan. However, some powerful unions whose members work in the rapidly expanding Canadian military and development industries could profit from continuing the war. The women and men of these unions made the difficult decision to stand in solidarity with the working people of Afghanistan rather than act on self-interest.

India: US imperialism’s new cop on the South Asian beat

By Kavita Krishnan

June 11, 2008 -- The Indian ruling class is striving to forge what it calls a ``strategic partnership’’ with the United States, and in this aim the major ruling-class political parties are united. The previous government -- a coalition termed the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) headed by the Hindu majoritarian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- which was in power from 1999-2004, had in the wake of 9/11 strived to prove to the US rulers that India was a more stable and suitable ally on the subcontinent for the US ``war on terror’’ than Pakistan.

Che Guevara's final verdict on the Soviet economy

By John Riddell

June 8, 2008 -- One of the most important developments in Cuban Marxism in recent years has been increased attention to the writings of Ernesto Che Guevara on the economics and politics of the transition to socialism.

A milestone in this process was the publication in 2006 by Ocean Press and Cuba's Centro de Estudios Che Guevara of Apuntes criticos a la economía política [Critical Notes on Political Economy], a collection of Che's writings from the years 1962 to 1965, many of them previously unpublished. The book includes a lengthy excerpt from a letter to Fidel Castro, entitled ``Some Thoughts on the Transition to Socialism''. In it, in extremely condensed comments, Che presented his views on economic development in the Soviet Union.[1]

In 1965, the Soviet economy stood at the end of a period of rapid growth that had brought improvements to the still very low living standards of working people. Soviet prestige had been enhanced by engineering successes in defence production and space exploration. Most Western observers then considered that it showed more dynamism than its US counterpart.

At that time, almost the entire Soviet productive economy was owned by the state. It was managed by a privileged bureaucracy that consolidated its control in the 1920s under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. Managers were rewarded on the basis of fulfilling production norms laid down from above; workers were commonly paid by the piece.

Bolivia: When minorities deny the rights of the majorities

By Miguel Lora Fuentes, Bolpress (translation by David Montoute)

How true it is that nothing lasts forever. Bolivia’s exploited classes, of mainly indigenous origin, are now confronting more than five centuries of exclusion. This territory’s original inhabitants were subjugated by the cross and the sword during the colonial period, they were harassed and had their lands taken from them under the Republic, and their culture was ignored during the bourgeois-democratic revolution of 1952. Now, as they finally take state power by democratic means at the beginning of the 21st century, the dominant minority accuses them of wanting to install the ``first racist, fascist state in Latin America’’.

The current historical juncture is characterised by a profound crisis of the market economy, of liberal democracy and of the very foundations of the old republican colonial state, a monocultural, centralist and exclusionary state that has remained intact since the foundation of the Republic.

NEW! Links Dossier #1: PSUV: Birth of a mass revolutionary party

The first in a series of occasional Links Dossiers, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is making available a selection of its key articles on the exciting development of Venezuela's United Socialist Party (PSUV). The dossier is in PDF format, to allow easy downloading, printing and distribution.

To download Links Dossier #1 -- PSUV: Birth of a mass revolutionary party, click HERE

Links Dossier #1 -- PSUV: Birth of a mass revolutionary party

Contents

Revolution, party and a new international

PSUV vice president Alberto Müller Rojas: The party is a `political necessity'

Asamblea de Socialistas: `The left has to be inside the PSUV to wage the ideological battle'

Marea Socialista: `We need to insert the working class into the PSUV'

Draft program of the PSUV

China: Socialist revolution and capitalist restoration

By Chris Slee

The Chinese revolution was one of the most important events of the twentieth century. The victory of the revolution in 1949 was a major defeat for imperialism. The new Communist Party government carried out democratic measures such as land reform, and improved the conditions of workers and peasants through the spread of health care and literacy. It began expropriating industry, and within a few years had nationalised all capitalist enterprises. It proclaimed that the revolution had entered the socialist stage.

A Lego recreation of Jeff Widener's 1989 photograph of "The unknown rebel".

 

But the new state was bureaucratically distorted from its inception. The bureaucrats enjoyed substantial privileges. They repressed dissent amongst workers, peasants, students and intellectuals. And they engaged in violent power struggles amongst themselves, undermining the gains of the revolution.

Nicaragua: What alternative do President Daniel Ortega's opponents propose?

By Domingo Quilez, introduction and translation by Felipe Stuart Cournoyer

June 6, 2008 -- In February, the rift between the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS)[1] and the Movement for the Recovery of Sandinismo (MpRS or the Rescate Group)[2] began to widen and become more public. Although still in an electoral alliance, the Rescate Group (whose main leaders are Comandantes Henry Ruiz and Mónica Baltodano) has made clear its disagreement with the MRS policy of trying the embrace the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance Party (ALN) and Eduardo Montealegre in some kind of electoral alliance or ``movement against the dictatorship'' (meaning the presidency of the FSLN's Daniel Ortega). Montealegre's decision to run as Managua mayoralty candidate for Arnoldo Alemán's Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC) has put the skids under any electoral MRS alliance with him and the ALN that he formerly led. The ALN is now tangoing with the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN).

The MpRS is endorsing the MRS candidates in the November municipal elections, but it is apparent that differences continue to surface between these allies.

Why Barack Obama’s nomination for the US presidency is historic

By Malik Miah

``America, this is our moment’’, stated Barack Obama on June 3 after winning enough delegates to become the presumed presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. Obama becomes the first African American in the history of the country to be nominated by one of the ruling parties. It happened on the evening of June 3 as the final two primaries occurred in Montana and South Dakota, where he and his main opponent New York Senator Hillary Clinton won one state each.

Nigerian socialist: A tribute to Fidel Castro

Kola Ibrahim of the Democratic Socialist Movement of Nigeria looks at the legacy of Fidel Castro, the internationalisation of struggle and calls for ``working-class activists from Kenya to Venezuela to Georgia to Pakistan and the rest of the world'' to build a genuine working people's political platform.

Via Campesina farmers to heads of state: Time to change food policies!

Via Campesina

Rome, June 3, 2008 -- Now that the FAO expects that hunger will affect an extra 100 million people by the end of the year, heads of states and leaders from around the world are gathering in Rome for the FAO "High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy".

The international peasant’s movement Via Campesina welcomes this sudden high level interest in food and agriculture production, but reminds governments and international institutions that the current climate and food crisis are not the result of any sudden natural disaster. They are the fruit of decades of policies of trade ``liberalisation'' and of the vertical integration of production, processing and distribution by corporate agriculture.

Therefore, governments today have to take full responsibility for the current crisis and take resolute actions to solve it.

Malaysia: PSM -- a decade of struggle

Port Dickson, Malaysia, June 1, 2008 -- The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM -- Parti Sosialis Malaysia) successfully concluded its 10th congress at a time when the ruling Barisan Nasional Party faces its biggest threat to its survival in Malaysian politics and while capitalism faces its biggest challenge -- the world food crisis. It is an exciting time and it is time for change.

The PSM's successful three-day (May 30-June 1) national congress was attended by around 150 people, including delegates from seven states, three front organisations and invited guests who have been strong supporters of PSM for the past years.

The congress was held at the National Union of Banking Employees (NUBE) centre, Port Dickson. The road leading to NUBE was decorated in red. Banners greeted the delegates. [The PSM is] the vibrant and only remaining socialist party in Malaysia... [This congress marked] 10 years of uncompromising politics -- to uphold class politics against communal politics, to advance the working-class agenda against the ruling capitalist class. Ten years of survival without legal political registration.

Cuba's vice-president: `We can confront the food crisis'

Address by José Ramón Machado Ventura, vice-president of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, to the high-level conference on World Food Security: The Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy.

(English translation by Climate and Capitalism, from Juventud Rebelde, June 4, 2008)

Two years ago, in this very hall, the international community agreed to eradicate world hunger. It adopted a goal of halving the number of malnourished people by 2015. Today that modest and inadequate goal seems like a pipe-dream.

The world food crisis is not a circumstantial phenomenon. Its recent appearance in such serious form, in a world that produces enough food for all its inhabitants, clearly reveals that the crisis is systemic and structural.

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