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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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If socialism fails: the spectre of 21st century barbarism

By Ian Angus

July 27, 2008 -- From the first day it appeared online, Climate and Capitalism’s masthead has carried the slogan “Ecosocialism or Barbarism: there is no third way.” We’ve been quite clear that ecosocialism is not a new theory or brand of socialism — it is socialism with Marx’s important insights on ecology restored, socialism committed to the fight against ecological destruction. But why do we say that the alternative to ecosocialism is barbarism?

Marxists have used the word “barbarism” in various ways, but most often to describe actions or social conditions that are grossly inhumane, brutal, and violent. It is not a word we use lightly, because it implies not just bad behaviour but violations of the most important norms of human solidarity and civilised life. [1]

The slogan “Socialism or Barbarism” originated with the great German revolutionary socialist leader Rosa Luxemburg, who repeatedly raised it during World War I. It was a profound concept, one that has become ever more relevant as the years have passed.

Class war and the Anglican schism

By Barry Healy

July 29, 2008 -- Dramatic events within the worldwide Anglican Communion (the international association of national Anglican churches) have revealed a “cold split” with the potential for a complete collapse of the Episcopal formation. Superficially, the debates have centred on the right of women and homosexuals to be priests and bishops, and on gay marriage. However, while theological arguments dating back centuries are being mouthed, behind them are class-war elements of more recent vintage, including some connected with the era of US President Ronald Reagan’s backing of Central American death squads in the 1980s.

African bishops have led the charge against modernity, but they are funded and organised by right-wing US think tanks and the Sydney Anglicans’ arch-reactionary Archbishop Peter Jensen. Another player is the Vatican, which has been reported as throwing its resources behind Anglican Primate Rowen Williams.

Latin America's struggle for integration and independence

By Federico Fuentes

Caracas, July 26, 2008 -- Commenting on how much the two had in common — same age, three children, similar music tastes — Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said to Mexican President Felipe Calderon on April 11 that “perhaps we represent the new generation of leaders in Latin America”. He added, however, that one difference still remained: Calderon had still not become a socialist. “Being right wing is out of fashion in Latin America … Join us, you are always welcome.”

The election of Fernando Lugo as Paraguayan president seems to confirm the idea of a new fashion for presidents. The former priest joins the ranks of current Latin American presidents that includes two women (Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Argentina and Michelle Bachelet in Chile), an indigenous person (Evo Morales in Bolivia), a former militant trade unionist (Lula da Silva in Brazil), a radically minded economist (Rafael Correa in Ecuador), a doctor (Tabare Vasquez in Uruguay), a former guerrilla fighter (Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua) and a former rebel soldier (Hugo Chavez in Venezuela).

A people's history of sports -- Dave Zirin

Dave Zirin presents a terrific and humourous talk on ``The People's History of Sports'', providing insights and little-known history about sports in the United States. He spoke at the US International Socialist Organization's Socialism 2008 conference in Chicago on June 21, 2008.

Zirin is a radical sports editor, writer and columnist for Nation.com, and a columnist for SportsIllustrated.com, the Progressive and other media. He is author of What's My Name Fool?, The Muhammad Ali Handbook and Welcome to the Terrordome. His columns and articles can be found at http://www.edgeofsports.com.

Howard Zinn said of Zirin, ``It is so refreshing to have a sports writer who writes with such verve and intelligence, who also has a social conscience,and who refuses to keep those parts of his life separate." He is author of the forthcoming A People's History of Sports in the US.

The coming economic & environment meltdowns ... and the possibilities for fighting back

July 15, 2008 --The planet is facing a meltdown -- from the global financial system to the unprecedented environmental crisis. Almost everyone from stockbrokers to scientists to economists agree the situation is dire.

Yet Wall Street banks are given hundred-million-dollar bailouts, while millions face home foreclosures. In the Third world it's worse -- crops are used to provide fuel for thirsty rich-world SUVs, while 100 million more people face starvation due to the growing food crisis. The disregard for the hardship of the majority has seen food riots and strikes hit over 30 countries.

El Salvador election 2009: High hopes for FMLN

[Stop press, March 15, 2009: El Salvador: Victorious FMLN candidate promises `to benefit the poor rather than the rich']

By the National Committee of the War Veterans' Sector of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN)

El Salvador has entered a governance crisis the signs of which include the bare participation by the general public in the life of the nation. There is no attempt by the government to achieve consensus, or a will to reach agreement on public policy; and there is no tolerance of even a minimal participation by the citizenry in public affairs. Disillusion and scepticism are the predominant feelings amongst the general public. The country's institutional structures are weak and poorly developed. This impacts even upon political parties, which neither express nor channel popular demands and lack the capacity to play an intermediary role in the conflicts caused by the demands of different sectors of society.

Stuffed and Starved: `Snapping' the power of agribusiness

Review by Leo Zeilig

Stuffed and Starved, by Raj Patel, Black Inc., 2007

At the end of the 19th century huge areas of the globe where violently incorporated into the world market. Whole regions that had for generations been farmed for local consumption were transformed for the production of cash crops. In captured and occupied lands new food crops were introduced that had little or no local nutritional use: ground nuts (peanuts) in what is now Senegal and Nigeria, cocoa in Cote d’Ivoire, cotton and rubber production across thousands of square kilometres of Central Africa.

The xenophobia outbreak in South Africa: Strategic questions facing the new social movements

By Oupa Lehulere

June 2008 -- The township of Alexandra outside Johannesburg, South Africa, has a long history of resistance to oppression and exploitation. In the late 1950s Alex (as it is popularly referred to) was the centre of bus boycotts against increases in fares and of struggles against apartheid, in the 1980s Alex was the centre of building street committees that represented what were then called ``organs of people’s power’’ – forms of alternative government to the apartheid state, and in 2002 the event that announced the presence of the new social movements on the South African post-apartheid political landscape – the 20,000-strong march led by the Social Movements United – took place in Alex.

The fact that it was Alex that would go down in history as the township that expressed most publicly the reactionary attitudes held by working-class people against fellow working-class people from other parts of Africa throws into sharp relief the process of political and organisational decline that has been underway within the South Africa’s working class since 1994.

Leo Panitch on movements, debates and struggles in Latin America

July 17, 2008 -- A report by Leo Panitch on an international seminar organised by the Brazilian Landless People's Movement (MST). Bringing together key ``organic'' intellectuals from the continent, the meeting discussed the advances and contradictions of the rise of the left movement across Latin America, one that seeks to change society by taking power. Leo Panitch is editor of Socialist Register. The meeting was sponsored by the Socialist Project in Canada.

 

Venezuela: The hard battle for socialism

Interview with Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s minister of energy and petroleum from Punto Final. Translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

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Up until now, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s socialist project has counted on broad popular support. But it is encountering – as was foreseen – numerous difficulties and an opposition that is not disgusted by coup plots nor assassination attempts. On November 23, the revolutionary project will have to submit itself to a new test, this time in the form of elections for governors and mayors.

Zimbabwe socialists: `Mobilise against the Mugabe regime!'

By the International Socialist Organisation of Zimbabwe

On June 29, 2008, Robert Mugabe was announced the winner of the presidential runoff ``election” with a vote of 2.1 million as opposed to 233,000 for Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and 131,481 spoilt ballots. The regime claimed a sweeping victory, “winning” in all constituencies even in areas where it did not win a single seat in the March parliamentary elections.

As the ISOZ had warned, these elections were not going to bring real democratic change. Rather the regime of Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) would ensure its victory by hook or crook and then seek a government of national unity with the MDC as a junior partner to deal with the imploding economic crisis.

July 19, 1979: Nicaragua's Sandinista revolution remembered -- Video by John Pilger

 

On July 19, 1979, the Nicaraguan people led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) overthrew the brutal US-backed dictator Somoza. In this film, made by John Pilger in the 1980s, the background to the revolt and the gains won -- and the United States' virulent opposition -- are graphically explained.

South Korea: Mass movement stops the neoliberal bulldozer

By Christopher Kerr

July 12, 2008, Seoul -- The neo-conservative regime of President Lee Myungbak has been humbled by the spontaneous emergence of a mass movement — sparked by female middle and high school students. This movement has resulted in the largest and longest sustained demonstrations since the fall of the military dictatorship. 

The mass protests have been primarily against the imposed resumption of the importation of US beef but have, in the course of their development, tapped into latent anger against the implementation neoliberal policies.

In April, Lee, before meeting US President George Bush at his Texas ranch, agreed to lift all existing bans on US beef imposed in 2003 after a case of mad cow disease was detected.

The move was unpopular due to the perceived scientific risks that it posed to the Korean population and because the Korean market already substituted for US beef by consuming its own produce along with Australian imports.

Who’s afraid of Liberation Theology?

By Barry Healy

[This is the text of a talk presented at the Marxism Summer School conducted by the Australian Democratic Socialist Perspective in January 2005. The pope referred to is the then-reigning Pope John-Paul II. The current Pope Benedict XVI is mentioned, being Cardinal Ratzinger at the time this talk was presented. See the appendices for more on Ratzinger and his background.]

I have an acquaintance who is a staunch supporter of the Liberal Party and a fundamentalist Christian, she occasionally gives me a lift to the railway station in the morning, which I appreciate. I didn’t know her religious bent until one morning she started regaling me with her opinion of Marxism, which was entirely based on the one sentence written by Marx that she knew: “Religion is the opium of the people.”

I don’t think she could even give a coherent explanation of the sentence, let alone an understanding of its context. She just knew that it was godless communism and that was enough for her.

Mauritius: Britain cites Lalit's support for Chagossians to oppose their return

By Lalit de Klas

July 16, 2008 -- According to attorney-at-law Robin Mardemootoo, who represented the Chagos Refugee Group at the House of Lords Judicial Committee, which acts as the ultimate court of appeal in London, last week, the Mauritian revolutionary organisation Lalit was referred to during one hour of pleadings by the UK government legal representative Jonathan Crow, QC. There are not official transcripts of this kind of hearing.

Argentina: It's only a small step from sectarianism to support for Kirchner

By Sergio Garcia, translated and introduced by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

After more than 100 days of intense conflict between supporters and opponents of the Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner government in Argentina, centred on the conflict over the divisive move to increase taxes on exports of foodstuff such as soya and sunflower oil, Fernandez has been forced to put the resolution to debate in congress.

Palestine in the Middle East: Opposing neoliberalism and US power

By Adam Hanieh

July 15, 2008 -- Over the last six months, the Palestinian economy has been radically transformed under a new plan drawn up by the Palestinian Authority (PA) called the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP). Developed in close collaboration with institutions such as the World Bank and the British Department for International Development (DFID), the PRDP is currently being implemented in the West Bank where the Abu Mazen-led PA has effective control. It embraces the fundamental precepts of neoliberalism: a private sector-driven economic strategy in which the aim is to attract foreign investment and reduce public spending to a minimum.

Forests and climate change – examining the spin

By Susan Austin

Tasmania, Australia -- It’s easy to get confused about the issue of forests and climate change. Climate scientists say that preserving our forests is a quick, easy and cheap way to prevent further global warming, and Australia’s previous federal government allocated A$200 million towards preserving forests in South-East Asia. Yet both the federal government and the Tasmanian state government are overseeing the continuing destruction of Tasmania’s old-growth forests to feed a profitable wood-chip export industry and a soon-to-be-built pulp mill. And what’s more, they say that the industry is carbon-positive and sustainable. What’s really going on?

Pope's immoral stance a death sentence; protest the unholy father

By Tony Iltis

July 12, 2008 -- The visit to Sydney for World Youth Day (WYD), July 15-20, by Pope Benedict XVI and 300,000 Catholic pilgrims is set to become the scene for protests. Ironically, the protests are being fuelled by the clumsy efforts of the NSW state Labor Party government to suppress them — passing laws making it illegal to “annoy” pilgrims and defining “annoy” broadly enough to include having signs, or even wearing t-shirts, with messages that the doctrinally rigid pope or his followers disapprove of.

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No to Pope Rallies, July 19, 2008

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