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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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Obama and the clash of hopes

By Peter Boyle

November 12, 2008 -- There can be no doubt that the great majority of the 55 million US citizens whose votes made Barack Obama president want change.

They want a change from the system in which trillions of dollars are spent to bail out Wall Street while ordinary people on “Main Street” lose their homes, their jobs and can’t even get basic health care.

They want an end to the endless wars abroad that George W. Bush launched in the wake of 9/11 — wars that are returning thousands of young Americans home in body bags and many times more seriously wounded. They want the US to be welcomed by the rest of the world as a peacemaker rather than hated as the biggest war-maker.

So around the world, everyone with a shred humanity cheered on that wave of hope for change that gave the US its first black president on November 4.

Is the climate crisis caused by overpopulation?

By Simon Butler

November 12, 2008 -- Many environmentalists believe that environmental destruction is a product of “overpopulation”, and that the world is already “full up”. So are population reduction strategies essential to solving the climate crisis?

At best, population control schemes focus on treating a symptom of an irrational, polluting social and economic system rather than the causes. In China, for instance, such measures haven’t solved that country’s environmental problems.

At worst, populationist theories shift the blame for climate change onto the poorest and most vulnerable people in the Third World.

They do not address the reasons why environmental damage, or even instances of overpopulation, happen in the first place and they divert attention away from the main challenge facing the climate movement — the urgent need to construct a new economy based on environmentally sustainable technologies and the rising of living standards globally.

For at least 200 years, “overpopulation” has been used to explain a host of social problems such as poverty, famine, unemployment and — more recently — environmental destruction.

Barack Obama’s dual mandate

By Solidarity (US)

November 10, 2008 -- Millions of Americans see the election of Barack Obama as a referendum on white supremacy and today we join in their celebration. The racist campaigns launched against Obama, conducted sometimes in coded language and other times in inflammatory accusations, turned out to be amazingly unsuccessful. Yet the 2008 election also represents a dual reality that is important for socialists and activists for peace and social justice to grasp.

For tens of millions of Black Americans, seeing a United States president-elect who’s Black – and even more important, for their children to see a Black president – is a huge symbolic stride towards full citizenship and liberation. Perhaps no event since that legendary night in 1938, when Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmeling, has there been such a magic moment of celebration for the Black community; only in this case they weren’t simply spectators but participants in the victory.

Hamba kahle Mama Africa (Miriam Makeba)

Mama Afrika (Miriam Makeba) passes, November 10, 2008

Miriam Makeba addresses the UN, 1964

Michael Lebowitz: `Reach for the book: it is a weapon’

By Michael A. Lebowitz

[Presentation at the launch of El Camino al Desarrollo Humano: ¿Capitalismo o Socialismo? (The Path to Human Development: Capitalism or Socialism?) at the Venezuelan International Book Fair, Filven, in Caracas on November 8, 2008. The English version of the pamphlet will be published in a forthcoming edition of Monthly Review.]

Socialist Party of Malaysia: Building socialism while capitalism crumbles


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

By Choo Chon Kai, International Bureau, PSM

November 13, 2008 -- Kajang, Malaysia -- It was timely for the Socialist Party of Malaysia (Parti Sosialis Malaysia -- PSM) to host the ``Socialism 2008 –- Malaysia'' conference, when the world is caught in a deep crisis that is considered the worst since World War II. The conference showed that capitalism, during its 18-year term as the dominant ideology of the world, had wreaked havoc on the lives of people and the planet, and that there was an urgent need to put forward a socialist alternative.

Congo: Western intervention behind bloodbath


Tony Iltis interviewed on Iranian television

By Tony Iltis

November 7, 2008 -- Despite Western media and politicians having largely ignored a decade of genocidal warfare that has cost 6 million lives, the recent upsurge in fighting in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has drawn not only media attention, but visits to the region by the British and French foreign ministers and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

The current round of fighting in North Kivu province, which began on October 26 with an offensive by the Rwandan-backed rebel forces of General Laurent Nkunda, is indeed a humanitarian catastrophe — 200,000 people have been displaced, many not for the first time.

Realities of China today

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

Against the Current -- Interest in the post-1978 Chinese market reform experience remains high and for an obvious reason: China is widely considered to be one of the most successful developing countries in modern times. The Chinese economy has recorded record rates of growth over an extended time period, in concert with a massive industrial transformation. Adding to the interest is the Chinese government's claim that this success demonstrates both the workability and superiority of "market socialism."

There are those on the left who share this celebratory view of the Chinese experience, believing that it stands as an effective rebuttal to the neoliberal mantra that still dominates economic thinking. Therefore, they encourage other countries to learn from China's gradual, state controlled process of marketization, privatization, and deregulation of economic activity. A small but significant number share the Chinese government's view that China has indeed pioneered a new type of socialism.

‘Transformation’ from above: the upside-down state of the `beautiful game' in South Africa

Bafana Bafana (and Kaizer Chiefs) supporter

By Dr Dale T. McKinley

For the better part of the past century, the most popular sport in South Africa (both in relation to public entertainment and active participation) has been soccer. From its initial introduction into South Africa as a sport played almost solely by the propertied (white) gentry, soccer quickly became, by the turn of the twentieth century, the sport of choice amongst the non-white population and white lower classes.

Philippines: Militant workers demand `big-time rollback' of labour export policy

By Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party Philippines)

October 27, 2008 -- The militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called for a historic reversal of the strategy of labour export as the government-sponsored Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) opened its first day.

"A one-time, big-time rollback of the failed policy of labour export is just as urgent and necessary as the bloated prices of oil. It is time to think out of the box and shift to domestic full employment instead of promoting overseas employment", declared Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson at a big rally led by Solidarity Action of labour Against GFMD (SALAG).

PM opposes the GFMD since it alleges that the main problem it is trying to solve is how to profit from remittances not how to protect migrants. "It would have been funny if it were not tragic that the GFMD is steadfastly fascinated with the neoliberal agenda even though the bankruptcy of globalisation has been exposed by the financial meltdown and economic recession in the US and the world", Magtubo asserted.

Nepal: The struggle intensifies; interview with Prachanda

Editorial, Red Star, newspaper of the CPN (Maoist), October 24-November 7, 2008

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is going to hold a party congress at the beginning of 2009. The decision to hold a party congress has created much interest among the common people as well as party leaders, cadres, sympathisers and well wishers.

Once again on ‘The myth of the Tragedy of the Commons’: a reply to criticisms and questions

A reply to criticisms and questions about my article on Garrett Hardin’s influential essay.

By Ian Angus

November 3, 2008 -- The response to my recent article “The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons” (also posted at Links at http://links.org.au/node/595) has been very encouraging. It prompted a small flood of emails to my inbox, was reposted on many websites and blogs around the world, and has been discussed in a variety of online forums.

The majority of the comments were positive, but many readers challenged my critique of Garrett Hardin’s very influential 1968 essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons”. A gratifying number wrote serious and thoughtful criticisms. While they differed in specifics, these responses consistently made one or more of these three points:

Venezuela: ‘Our votes are for Chavez and the revolution’

Stalin Perez Borges

By Federico Fuentes

Caracas, October 31, 2008 -- “On November 23, we will not just be voting for this or that governorship, we will be deciding the destiny of this revolutionary process”, Stalin Perez Borges, a national coordinator of the National Union of Workers (UNT) and United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) militant, told Green Left Weekly

On that day, regional elections for 23 governorships, more than 300 mayors and hundreds of state legislative assembly members will occur — a crucial contest between the revolutionary forces lead by President Hugo Chavez (mainly grouped in the PSUV) and the US-backed right-wing opposition.

Perez Borges and militants from the different union currents that are also in the PSUV have been organising in their unions and workplaces to ensure a strong victory in these elections.

“Our position is that, despite some of the problems that exist, we as revolutionaries will be participating not just on voting day, but in the campaign. This is the best way to strengthen and deepen the process.”

Pakistanis protest US attacks on tribal areas

Civil society, trade unions, political parties and students marched on November 1 in Karachi to protest at the US bombing of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). US missile strikes hours apart killed at least 27 people on October 31 near the border with Afghanistan, only days after Pakistan demanded that the United States halt an intensifying campaign of using Predator drones to bomb tribal areas in Pakistan.

African revolutionary Thomas Sankara's example lives on

Scenes from Thomas Sankara: An Upright Man

By Demba Moussa Dembélé

Thomas Sankara was killed in the belief that it could extinguish the example he set for African youth and progressive forces across the continent. They could not have been more wrong. One week before his assassination on October 15, 1987, in a speech marking the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Ernesto ``Che'' Guevara, Thomas Sankara declared: ``Ideas cannot be killed, ideas never die.’' Indeed, the history of humanity is replete with martyrs and heroes whose ideas and actions have survived the passage time to inspire future generations.

 


Their ideas, courage and sacrifice for the freedom and dignity of their people have made these martyrs larger than life. Thomas Isidore Sankara is one in a long lineage of African sons and daughters whose ideas and actions have left an indelible mark on the history of their continent. That is why 21 years after his death, Sankara continues to guide those who are struggling to end the domination of their continent and the enslavement of its peoples.

Will Obama end Bush's `war on terror'?

By Simon Butler

October 31, 2008 -- In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, bombings of the World Trade Center and Pentagon, US President George Bush declared an open-ended, apparently indefinite “war on terror”.

Using the terrorist attacks as an excuse, the “war on terror” has meant a war drive to extend US global domination. The threats were free flowing — at one point as many as seven nations were part of the “axis of evil” and therefore potential military targets as Bush threatened “pre-emptive strikes” against US “enemies”.

The war drive began with the 2001 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. In 2003, in the face of massive global protests, the US launched its invasion of oil-rich Iraq.

Facing sustained resistance from the Iraqi people, and increasingly unpopular at home, the failure of the Iraqi occupation has contributed to making the Bush presidency one of the least popular in history.

Campaigning for the White House, Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama has made much of his initial vote against the war in 2003.

Overwhelming UN General Assembly vote against US blockade of Cuba

New York — The UN General Assembly on October 29 approved by an overwhelming majority the resolution demanding an end of the US blockade of Cuba, a vote passed by the assembly for the 17th consecutive year, news agencies report.

Of the 192 UN member states, 185 voted in favour of the resolution, while three voted against (the United States, Israel and Palau) and two abstained (Marshall Islands and Micronesia). With this result, Cuba gained another vote this year compared to 2007, when 184 voted in favour, four against (the United States, Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands) and Micronesia abstained.

The resolution calling for an end to the blockade has been approved on 16 occasions with backing that has grown from 59 votes in 1992 to the 185 today.

Before the vote, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque spoke before the General Assembly and noted the special situation in which this resolution is taking place, an economic crisis that is being internationally felt and above all, the imminent US elections which, he observed, will produce a new president who "will have to decide whether the blockade is a failed policy."

"You are alone, isolated," said the foreign minister, addressing President George W. Bush. Pérez’ speech was loudly applauded by the General Assembly.

David Harvey: Reading Karl Marx's Capital

David Harvey has been teaching Karl Marx’s Capital, Volume I for nearly 40 years, and his video lectures are now available online at Harvey's website and above by clicking on the appropriate panels.

Harvey's course consists of 13 video lectures, a chapter by chapter reading of Capital, Volume I.

Meanwhile, in Africa ... a tale of two `bailouts'

Rwandan President Paul Kagame distributes mosquito nets. Studies show that malaria, which kills more than a million Africans every year, could be contained in just a few years at the cost of $3 billion a year.

By Jean-Paul Piérot

Original October 11, 2008, l'Humanité article in French: ``Et pendant ce temps, l’Afrique …''. Translated by Gene Zbikowski

While Africa needs US$72 billion a year in aid, hundreds of billions are being freed up to pay Western banks for the consequences of speculation.

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