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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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Behind the communal flare-up in Jammu and Kashmir

By the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

August 18, 2008 -- The communally and politically motivated May 26 decision of the Congress Party-People's Democratic Party (PDP) government of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to transfer forest land [in Muslim-majority Kashmir] to the Hindu Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) [for use as a pilgrimage site near a sacred Hindu cave] is having costly repercussions, with the added danger that it may emerge as a communal [flashpoint] nationally.

The land transfer, taken in the context of irresponsible official remarks recommending changes in the demography and “culture” of the region as a “solution” to the Kashmir “problem”, was like a spark to the tinderbox of pent-up resentment in the Kashmir Valley. Lives were lost when police opened fire on protesters; the PDP tried to distance itself from its ministers’ decision in favour of the land transfer by pulling out of the government; and the government on July 1 was belatedly forced to roll back the land transfer decision.

Nationalism, revolution and war in the Caucasus

By Tony Iltis

August 27, 2008 -- Since the European Union-brokered ceasefire brought the shooting war between Georgia and Russia to an end on August 12, there has been a war of words between Russia and the West. One point of contention is the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia-proper (that is, Georgia excluding the de facto independent territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia), in particular the towns of Gori, Zugdidi and Senaki and the port of Poti.

The war began with Georgia’s August 7 attack on the territory of South Ossetia. Russia responded with a military assault that first drove Georgian troops out of South Ossetia, then continued to advance within Georgia-proper.

Russia agreed to withdraw when it signed the ceasefire and has since indicated that it is doing so — but slowly, and not before systematically destroying Georgia’s military capacity.

A bigger difference, based on competing interpretations of what is and isn’t Georgian territory, is Russia’s stated intention to maintain a beefed-up peacekeeping presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Cuban trade unionist: `Workers are key participants in the Cuban revolution'

August 27, 2008 -- Gilda Chacon is the Asia, Oceania, Africa and Middle East representative of the Cuban Confederation of Trade Unions (CTC) and an elected delegate of the People’s Power Municipal Assembly. Annolies Truman interviewed her during her August 17–20 visit to Perth, Australia, to liaise with Western Australian trade unions.

How would you describe the different role of unions in Australia and Cuba?

The fundamental difference is that we operate under two different economic systems. Australia is a capitalist country and Cuba is a socialist country. While we both have union confederations — in Australia the ACTU and in Cuba the CTC — the orientation of the unions is essentially different.

In Cuba, unions basically support the government’s economic agenda because it benefits workers. The highest budget priorities are education, health (both free at all levels) and social security. Public transport is cheap and there is little or no disparity in wages between workers and managers.

Federico Fuentes on latest developments in Bolivia

August 27, 2008 -- Federico Fuentes, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal's and Green Left Weekly's Latin America correspondent based in Venezuela and editor of Bolivia Rising, talks with Latin Radical about the recent referendum in Bolivia. It was called by Bolivia's Indigenous president, Evo Morales. In spite of right-wing calls to defeat the referendum (and continuing threats from the wealthy eastern provinces to split the country into ``autonomous'' states) the referendum victory strengthened the position of a president who is introducing reforms that phase out the negative influence of multinational corporations and global privatisation.

[Note: although the voice quality is clear there is some static and radio interference in this interview, which begins about seven minutes into the interview.]

11.6Mb 128kbps mono 12:41 mins

Malaysian socialists say Anwar Ibrahim by-election victory a 'marker of massive change'

The landslide victory by Justice Party leader Anwar Ibrahim in the August 26 Permatang Pauh by-election is welcomed in this commentary by Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, the first federal parliamentarian of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), as a "marker of the massive change" and another development that will open up democratic space in Malaysia.

By Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj
Dr JeyakumarThe by-election results in Permatang Pauh, a semi-rural constituency in the northern state of Penang, is yet another marker of the massive change that is taking place in Malaysian politics. Usually by-elections are won handsomely by the Barisan National (BN) government because the BN will approve millions of ringgit in development projects, deploy all its main leaders in the campaign and use the subservient media to the fullest. This was attempted in Permatang Pauh this time around.

Capitalism and social classes in Venezuela: The historic mission of the working class

By Jesús Germán Faría,  Venezuela’ vice-minister for social security, ministry of popular power for labour and social security translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Capitalism is a system based on the private ownership of the means of production. The capitalists, who own these, employ [workers’] labour power in exchange for a salary to be able to carry out their business. Obviously, this hiring of workers does not occur because of altruistic values. The ultimate aim of this decision – like any other under capitalism – is the possibility of obtaining profits. Moreover, the workers, who own no means of production, are left with no other option than to sell their labour power, converting themselves into waged slaves.

Bolivia: Two years of `post-neoliberal’ Indigenous nationalism -- a balance sheet

By the Bolpress editorial board, translated by Sean Seymour Jones for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

State intervention in economic activity -- the nationalisation of businesses, restrictions on exports and price controls, among other measures -- doesn’t appear to be contributing to the materialisation of the structural changes postulated by the National Development Plan (PND) of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). This is the evaluation of business leaders, analysts and political leaders from the right-wing opposition in Bolivia. However, according to the government of President Evo Morales, the brutal and desperate reaction of the dominant classes "in relegation" proves that something is changing.

Slideshow: Ecology against capitalism

Debunking the `Tragedy of the Commons'

By Ian Angus

August 24, 2008 -- Will shared resources always be misused and overused? Is community ownership of land, forests and fisheries a guaranteed road to ecological disaster? Is privatisation the only way to protect the environment and end Third World poverty? Most economists and development planners will answer “yes” — and for proof they will point to the most influential article ever written on those important questions.

Since its publication in Science in December 1968, “The Tragedy of the Commons” has been anthologised in at least 111 books, making it one of the most-reprinted articles ever to appear in any scientific journal. It is also one of the most quoted: a recent Google search found “about 302,000” results for the phrase “tragedy of the commons”.

For 40 years it has been, in the words of a World Bank discussion paper, “the dominant paradigm within which social scientists assess natural resource issues” (Bromley and Cernea 1989: 6). It has been used time and again to justify stealing indigenous peoples’ lands, privatising health care and other social services, giving corporations ``tradable permits'' to pollute the air and water, and much more.

Venezuela: Solidarity needed for trade unionists under attack; please sign protest letter

By Federico Fuentes and Kiraz Janicke

August 23, 2008 -- The owner of Fundimeca, an air-conditioning factory in Valencia, Carabobo, is waging an intense campaign of terror and intimidation against the factory's workers. Fundimeca's workers has been fighting to ensure that the company complies with Venezuela's constitution and labour laws, in particular an order by the labour inspectorate to rehire nine workers. Fundimeca employs 360 workers, 80% of whom are women.

One worker has been shot in the leg by armed thugs and 18 workers and three union leaders are currently facing trial in Carabobo courts, accused of various charges including criminal gang activity with the threat of jail terms looming over their heads.

Among those standing trial is Stalin Perez Borges, a national coordinator of the National Union of Workers (UNT) and Venezuela's principal delegate to this year's International Labor Organisation convention — where after seven years, the delegation successfully removed Venezuela from the list of countries that supposedly violate union freedom.

Secret CIA prison on Diego Garcia confirmed

By Andy Worthington

August 2008 -- The existence of a secret, CIA-run prison on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean has long been a leaky secret in the “War on Terror” and recent revelations in TIME — based on disclosures by a “senior American official” (now retired), who was “a frequent participant in White House Situation Room meetings” after the 9/11 attacks, and who reported that “a CIA counter-terrorism official twice said that a high-value prisoner or prisoners were being interrogated on the island” — will come as no surprise to those who have been studying the story closely.

Argentina: Winners and losers of the agricultural conflict

Continuing Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal’s presentation of various positions in the debate within Argentina’s left around the rural crisis, we publish an exclusive translation of a recent article by Claudio Katz, an economist, researcher, professor and member of Economista de Izquierda (EDI -- Left Economists). Translated by Janet Duckworth. For previous articles on Argentina, go to http://links.org.au/taxonomy/term/147

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The decline of US power: Can Russia, China, India or Europe fill the gap? Can people's power?

 

 

August 16, 2008, Radio New Internationalist

The new superpowers

Commentators claim that as a superpower, the US is in decline. Is this the case?

Free West Papua! A video introduction to a struggle for self-determination

Act of Free Choice (directed by Mark Worth)

The so-called ``Act of Free Choice'' was a sham referendum held in 1969 to decide whether Indonesia should govern West Papua. The small sample of indigenous West Papuans selected to vote were threatened with physical voilence if they voted against the Indonesian regime. Of course, they ``voted'' to remain part of Indonesia.

Indonesia: Union militant Dita Sari to contest elections

By Vannessa Hearman

August 16, 2008 -- Indonesian trade union activist and chairperson of the Deliberative Council of the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) Dita Sari has declared that she will run for the Star Reform Party (PBR) in the 2009 legislative elections.

Sari and around 40 other Papernas members have declared their intention to contest the elections as part of the PBR. Sari will occupy the number one position on the party’s candidate list for an electoral district in Central Java that incorporates the towns of Klaten, Boyolali, Sukoharjo and the city of Solo.

According to Indo Pos, the district where Sari will run is a hotly contested area, with other candidates including Puan Maharani, daughter of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, running for the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and Hidayat Nurwahid, speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly from the Prosperity and Justice Party (PKS).

The struggle for democracy in Swaziland

Two speeches by leaders of the Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO -- Swaziland's liberation movement) on the developing struggle for democracy and social justice in the small southern African country of Swaziland. Mario Masuku is president of PUDEMO; Bongani Masuku is a former secretary general of the Swaziland Solidarity Network and is the Congress of South African Trade Unions' international secretary.

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Afghanistan: Malalai Joya versus Washington's warlords (+ video)

By Farooq Sulehria

August 20, 2008 -- Afghanistan lives in fear of US-sponsored warlords. These hated warlords are not scared by the Taliban monster raising its head in the south. But ironically, they live in the fear of an unarmed women in her late twenties: Malalai Joya.

To silence Joya's defiant voice, the warlords who dominate the national parliament suspended Joya's membership for three years in 2007. Earlier, at almost every parliamentary session she attended, she had her hair pulled or was physically attacked, and called names such as ``whore''. ``They even threatened me in the parliament with rape'', she says. But she neither toned down her criticism of the warlords (``they must be tried'') nor the US occupation of her country (``the ‘war on terror’ is a mockery''). Understandably, she's been declared the ``bravest woman in Afghanistan'' and even compared with Burma's Aung Sun Suu Kyi.

Afghanistan: Women bear the brunt under the US jackboot

By Farooq Sulehria

Kabul shocks and surprises. Pleasantly surprising is not merely the city's scenic beauty. What also surprises is the change Kabul has undergone since the days of Taliban rule. It has changed beyond recognition. Instead of thousands of Kabul residents cycling dilapidated roads or earthen streets, one witnesses thousands of latest-model cars plying the newly built four-lane Airport Road that connects Kabul Airport with the Hotel Intercontinental. Hundreds of recently built structures, mostly marriage halls or housing blocks, line the road all the way. Centuries-old Bagh e Babur has also been rehabilitated. Lake side at the scenic Kargha Valley is thronged by picnicking Kabulis (mostly men).

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Rich and poor in Kabul (and Malalai Joya) -- photos by Farooq Sulehria

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Cinemas, shut down by the Taliban, now show Indian films. One needs a remote control in hand when sitting before TV sets. There are a dozen channels to choose between. Sitar e Afghan (Afghanistan's version of Idol) is a short cut to stardom.

`Our passion to destroy capitalism ... remains unwavering': Declaration of the African Conference on Participatory Democracy

Johannesburg Declaration of the African Conference on Participatory Democracy

August 16, 2008

SACP leader Blade Nzimande addresses the conference.

As comrades and compatriots, gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 14-16, 2008, from all parts of the world, at the African Conference on Participatory Democracy, hosted by the South African Communist Party and the Swedish Left Party under the auspices of the International Left Forum declare the following:.

Free Colombian trade unionist Liliana Obando!

We write to you with a request for urgent action in solidarity with Ms Liliana Obando representative of the Agricultural Workers Union Federation (FENSUAGRO) who on Friday 8th August 2008 was arrested by Colombian government forces.

Ms Obando has been detained on charges of "rebellion" against the state a catch-all charge that is regularly used to imprison those who speak out against the government for long periods without trial. 'Rebellion' also allows the regime to smear those accused of it as being 'terrorists' and helps to delegitimise their work.

The attached statement provides further information on this new act of persecution and intimidation of trade union and human rights activists.

Peace and Justice for Colombia (PJFC) seeks your urgent solidarity action and asks you to write to the Colombian authorities to protest against this act of persecution; to demand her immediate release from custody, to demand the dropping of all the alleged charges against her and for the government of Colombia to guarantee her safety and well being.

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