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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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Australia: National conference strengthens Socialist Alliance for challenges ahead

By Duroyan Fertl and Dick Nichols

December 13, 2008 -- Over the weekend of December 5-7, more than 150 people attended the sixth Socialist Alliance national conference, held in the Geelong Trades Hall, Victoria. The conference opened against the backdrop of the Alliance’s promising results in the November 29 Victorian local government elections, in which its candidates scored up to 18.9%.

The conference began with a special public seminar, "Financial meltdown: what working class response?", addressed by David Spratt, from Carbon Equity and co-author of Climate Code Red, economist and Victorian National Tertiary Education Union president Jamie Doughney, and Pip Hinman, from the Socialist Alliance.

New Palestine solidarity journal: Jafa -- A Bulletin in Solidarity with Palestinian Workers and Unions

Labour for Palestine (Canada) is proud to launch:

Jafa -- A Bulletin in Solidarity with Palestinian Workers and Unions

*** Available for download at www.caiaweb.org/labourcommittee or click HERE (14mb PDF)***


As an initiative coming out of the first Labour for Palestine conference, held in Toronto May-June 2008, we are pleased to bring you the first issue of Jafa: A Bulletin in Solidarity with Palestinian Workers and Unions.

Jafa will be published quarterly and aims to bring together news and analysis on the situation of Palestinian workers and unions wherever they are -- in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, citizens of Israel, refugee camps and across the diaspora.

We stand in solidarity with the 2005 call from Palestine for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli apartheid. This call was signed by all major Palestinian trade union federations, including the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions.

Down with the government of murderers! Greek left on the murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos (+ video, audio; updated Dec. 23)

December 10-23, 2008 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is publishing a number of declarations, statements, calls and articles from Greek left organisations in response to the assassination by Greek police of Alexis Grigoropoulos. Please keep in mind that the translations may be less than perfect, but due to the urgency of the situation they have been posted as is.

We’ll add more as we receive them. Thanks to ESSF and Rustbelt Radical for the initial compilation.

* * *

Quebec: Breakthrough for Québec Solidaire

By Paul Kellogg

December 9, 2008 -- Amir Khadir, one of the two spokespersons for Québec Solidaire (QS), has won a seat in the Quebec National Assembly. Among the many excellent aspects of the Québec Solidaire platform is a call for the Quebec government to pass a motion opposing “any Canadian imperialist intervention in Afghanistan.”[1] The QS success represents an important advance for the social justice and anti-war movements in both Quebec and English Canada.

Khadir’s victory was not just the victory of one individual. In his riding [parliamentary constituency seat] of Mercier, QS won 8861 votes, 38.06% of votes cast, defeating Daniel Turp, a star candidate of the Parti Québécois (PQ) by 872 votes. But in the ridings surrounding Mercier, QS also did extremely well. In Gouin, the other co-spokesperson for QS, Françoise David, came a very close second to the PQ winning 7987 votes (31.95%). In ridings adjacent to either Mercier or Gouin, QS won 2963 votes (13.01%) in Laurier-Dorion, 2228 votes (11.43%) in Outremont, 3009 votes (15.22%) in Saint-Marie-Saint-Jacques, 2502 votes (12.91%) in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, and 2470 votes (8.24%) in Rosemont – more than 30,000 votes in total in these seven ridings on the Island of Montreal.

More right-wing attacks in Venezuela: Stop the killing of trade unionists! Bring hired killers to justice!

A statement by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network

December 10, 2008 -- The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network condemns the murder of Venezuelan trade unionist Simon Caldera, who was shot in Aragua state on December 4. Caldera was a leader of the pro-revolution Bolivarian Construction and Industry Union.

Caldera is the fourth trade unionist to be murdered in one week in Aragua. His murder follows the shocking killings of three pro-revolution militants from the National Union of Workers (UNT) – Richard Gallardo, Luis Hernandez and Carlos Requena – on November 27. All four were victims of drive-by shootings.

The assassination by hired killers of activists organising oppressed people to win their rights has mainly been used in recent years by large landowners against supporters of land reform in Venezuela. More than 150 land reform activists have been killed since the revolutionary government of President Hugo Chavez began its land reform policies in 2001 – policies that benefit impoverished campesinos at the expense of large landowners.

India: West Bengal Left Front government sides with big capital, attacks peasants

By Satya Sivaraman

Nandigram and Beyond, edited by Gautam Ray,
Gangchil Publications, Kolkata, 2008, pp 224, Rs395.

In recent times there has been no greater rupture within the Indian left movement than that precipitated by peasant struggles in Singur and Nandigram against forced acquisition of land for industrial purposes. The spectacle of West Bengal’s Left Front regime, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) --(CPI (M) -- sending police and party cadre to gun down poor peasants fighting to protect their land not only earned it the wrath of ordinary Indian citizens everywhere but also left large sections among its own supporters deeply divided.

Nepal: CPN (Maoist) national convention -- beginning the `great debate'; Split avoided

By Indra Mohan Sigdel ``Basanta''

December 5, 2008 -- The Nepalese people’s revolution is now at a crucial juncture, full of opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, the possibilities are so great that the party’s success in developing a scientific ideological and political line consistent with the present objective conditions could lead the Nepalese people’s revolution to a victorious accomplishment. And also, it could be a new opening of the world proletarian revolution in the beginning of the 21st century. While on the other hand, its failure to do so would lead to disastrous consequences, leading to an extensive demoralisation of the oppressed classes not only in Nepal but the world over. Therefore, in short, the November 17-26, 2008, national convention of our party, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), had an international dimension.

Canada: Political crisis exposes national, class divisions; left debates Liberal-NDP coalition

Rally in favour of a Liberal-NDP coalition, Toronto, December 6, 2008.

By Richard Fidler

OTTAWA -– December 8, 2008 -– In a classic 19th century work, English journalist Walter Bagehot divided the constitution into two parts. The “efficient” part — the executive (cabinet) and legislative — were responsible for the business of government. The “dignified” part, the Queen, was to put a human face on the capitalist state. Bagehot noted, however, that the Queen also had “a hundred” powers called prerogatives, adding: “There is no authentic explicit information as to what the Queen can do….”[1]

Bolivia's indigenous majority: Change the world by taking power

A cocalero (coca farmer) takes part in a blockade of the main road in La Paz, Bolivia, September 1998.

By Federico Fuentes

November 29, 2008 -- Having captured the imagination of progressives across the globe with scenes of indigenous uprisings confronting right-wing governments and multinationals, Bolivia has become a key focus point of discussion within the left regarding strategies for change.

However, starry-eyed notions and schemas rather than reality have often influenced the views of left commentators on the revolutionary process unfolding in South America’s poorest nation.

At the centre of this debate is the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), led by indigenous President Evo Morales, and its strategy for refounding Bolivia.

After three years of the Morales government it is possible to draw some tentative conclusions about this social experiment.

Western Saharan minister: `Only one solution -- our return to our sovereign homeland'

27 February refugee camp, south-west Algeria

November 29, 2008 -- In October, a three-member delegation of Australian trade unionists visited the Saharawi (Western Saharan) refugee camps in the Hamada desert, south-west Algeria. Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975.Green Left Weekly/LinksMargarita Windisch spoke with Sid’Ahmed Tayeb, the minister of public health for the exiled Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, when she visited the 27 February refugee camp.

The Saharawi refugee camps have now existed for close to 33 years in extremely inhumane surroundings. What has led to the Saharawis becoming refugees and what are the challenges facing the Saharawi people?

First, I would like to thank you very much for your visit. It shows us that we are not alone. This is important support that international community can give us.

A brief history of the Western Saharan people’s struggle for freedom

A Saharawi fighter on May 20, 2008, at a parade
to mark 35th anniversary of the Polisario Front. Photo by EPA/MOHAMED MESSARA.

By Margarita Windisch

[Read more on the Western Saharan people's struggle HERE.]

Spain colonised Western Sahara and its mostly nomadic people in 1884 claiming it as a protectorate of the Spanish Crown. Spanish rule over Western Sahara was codified in Berlin in 1885, where Africa was carved up among the European powers. The period of Spanish rule was marked by ongoing resistance, revolts and armed clashes with the indigenous population, with its liberation movements being brutally repressed by the Spanish authorities.

A 1966 UN resolution called for Saharawi people’s right to self-determination to be exercised via a referendum which never eventuated. The lack of political developments led to the formation of Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro (the Polisario Front) in 1973. Polisario was conceived as a nationalist front with the aim of achieving independence, and encompassed all Saharawi political trends.

Malaysia: Bicycle protesters for workers' rights defy police intimidation

Cycle protesters in Penang, December 5

By Oppressed People’s Movement (Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas, Jerit)

December 6, 2008 -- The Oppressed People’s Movement (Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas, Jerit) is conducting a cycling campaign throughout Malaysia to highlight demands for workers' right, which will be presented to the prime minister of Malaysia. The campaign officially began on December 3 at Wisma Darul Aman Kedah, where 50 cyclists were flagged off. They will cycle for 16 days through Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor. On December 18, they will hand a memorandum to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, at the national parliament in Kuala Lumpur.

Civil rights campaigner, musician Odetta remembered

Odetta (300)
Keystone / Hulton Archive

Odetta was often called "The voice of the civil rights movement."

Fidel Castro on `Team Obama'

By Fidel Castro Ruz 

December 4, 2008 -- Following Barack Obama’s speech, on May 23, 2008, to the Cuban American National Foundation established by Ronald Reagan, I wrote a reflection entitled ``The empire’s hypocritical policy''.

In that reflection I quoted his exact words to the Miami annexationists: “[…] together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba; this is my word and my commitment […] It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime. […] I will maintain the embargo.”

I then offered several arguments and unethical examples of the general behaviour of the presidents who preceded the one who would be elected to that position in the November 4 elections. I wrote:

I find myself forced to raise various sensitive questions:

1. Is it right for the President of the United States to order the assassination of any one person in the world, whatever the pretext may be?

2. Is it ethical for the President of the United States to order the torture of other human beings?

Team Obama: Channelling Clinton, extending Bush

By Patrick Bond

December 4, 2008 -- Barack Obama was elected on a platform of change. Yet, his actions are pointing to more and more of the same. The question of whether Obama can possibly replace Bush as a danger to world peace is worth considering.

The president-elect’s turn to the Zionist, militarist wing of the US ruling class in recent weeks negates the interest and support he showed for the Palestinian cause while a Chicago community organiser during the 1990s and to the anti-war movement when Bush attacked Iraq five and a half years ago.

To counteract ongoing their economic and cultural decline, it appears that US imperialist managers have adopted two strategies: political revitalisation via Obama’s carefully crafted image as a non-imperialist politician with roots in African-American, Kenyan and even Indonesian traditions; and the activism anticipated through his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, a firm supporter of the US war against Iraq.

In reaction to election campaign allegations that he is a peacenik, Obama himself uttered that the ``surge'' of US troops in Iraq ``succeeded beyond our wildest dreams''.

Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist): The differences of opinion within our party

By Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplap’

We should say honestly that there is a difference of opinion on how to accomplish the Nepalese Revolution. Mainly, the difference of opinion is about the party line, political program and tactics in our party. This clearly justifies that a serious u-turn has occurred before the Nepalese Revolution. The responsibility of carrying the revolution ahead successfully has fallen upon the shoulders of the revolutionary communists of Nepal and the revolutionary communists of the world. We all should direct our attention to it.

Zimbabwe: First signs of united front mass action against elite settlement

Protesting health workers in Harare, December 3. The protest was attacked by riot cops.
(See a short video of the December 3, 2008, protest HERE.)

By the National Co-Ordinating Committee, International Socialist Organisation Zimbabwe

December 2, 2008 -- The situation in Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented levels of crisis. As we have been saying for the last few years, such a crisis was climaxing and with a number of possibilities arising. First and most likely was the likelihood of the bourgeois elite politicians in [President Robert Mugabe's] Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) uniting together in an elitist government of national unity in which ZANU-PF would be the senior partner around a Western- and capitalist-supported neoliberal economic agenda. The MDC's popularity would be used to pacify the urban working people from rising up.

Indonesia: Activists debate electoral tactic

Dita Sari will stand in the 2009 election

Indonesia: Tracing a path towards parliament

By Kelik Ismunanto

November 29, 2008 -- After such a long period of time in a vacuum, uncertain of how to respond to changes caused by neoliberal economic policies, little by little, democracy movement activists have been able to wrest back the political podium.

In the last few months, several national television stations provided a political stage for activists such as Dita Sari, Budiman Sujatmiko, Pius Lustrilanang and other young activists who are contesting the 2009 elections, to explain their reasons for choosing the parliamentary tactic.

Among young activists, there are opinions in favour and against this tactic.

Malaysia: Detention without trial -- Abolish the Internal Security Act 1960!

By Enalini Elumalai, general coordinator Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)

November 27, 2008 -- While Malaysia celebrated its 51st anniversary of Merdeka (independence) from Britain in 2008, the Malaysian government continued to arrest and detain individuals without charging them or putting them on trial under the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA), the legacy of a colonial legislation enacted to combat the communist insurgency in Malaya in the 1940s and 1950s. 

The ISA was originally enacted to succeed emergency laws aimed at combating the communist insurgency in the 1940s and 1950s. It was also used against political dissidents, students and labour activists. Since then, the ISA has been used against those who commit acts deemed to be “prejudicial to the security of Malaysia” or threatening to the “maintenance of essential services” or “economic life”. The government determines which acts fall into these categories and, using a strained interpretation of the legislation, has detained scores of individuals under the ISA in cases that would normally require prosecution.

Thailand: A second `coup for the rich'

The `Red Shirts' have become a `genuine pro-democracy mass movement of the poor'

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn, Bangkok

December 2, 2008 -- Today the constitutional court dissolved the democratically elected governing party, the People Power Party, in Thailand for the second time, forcing the government to resign. This follows the refusal of the armed forces and the police to follow government instructions to clear the two international airports blocked by armed People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) fascists. [The constitutional court dissolved Thailand's top three ruling parties for electoral fraud in the 2007 election that brought them to power. Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat has been banned from politics for five years.]

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