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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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Feeling the Bern Become a Flame: Jacobin founder Bhaskar Sunkara on Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign

 

February 27, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Real News Network -- Jacobin founder Bhaskar Sunkara discusses the strategies needed to keep the energy of the Sanders campaign thriving beyond presidential politics

 

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

 

The mainstream media narrative of the Democratic presidential race is that Bernie Sanders has lost momentum to Hillary Clinton. After he lost Nevada to Clinton by five percentage points, and is entering a tough race in South Carolina where he's expected to lose as well, many are asking themselves, what is behind the Bern?

 

Now joining us to discuss all of this is Bhaskar Sunkara. He is the founder of Jacobin magazine, and co-author of the book The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century. Thanks for joining us, Bhaskar.

 

BHASKAR SUNKARA: Thanks for having me.

 

DESVARIEUX: So let's talk about South Carolina. The average polling is showing that Sanders has about 28 percent of the vote, while Hillary Clinton has closer to 60 percent. So many are pointing to the fact that Sanders is not able to connect with the majority of black Southern voters. What do you think, what is presumably going to be a large defeat in South Carolina, this is attributed to?

 

The Myth of “Russian Imperialism”: in defence of Lenin’s analyses

 

By Renfrey Clarke and Roger Annis

 

February 29, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A sharp controversy within the international left in recent times has concerned the place occupied by Russia in today’s capitalist world-system. Is Russia an imperialist power, part of the “centre” of global capitalism? Or, do its economic, social and politico-military characteristics mark it as part of the global “periphery” or semi-periphery – that is, as one of the majority of countries that, to one degree or another, are the targets of imperialist bullying and plunder?[1]

 

Traditionally, the Marxist left has used the term “imperialism” with a high degree of discrimination. Imperialism for Marxists is not something called mysteriously into being when “greed” overcomes political leaders. Nor is it simply external military action, however aggressive. For Marxists, the imperialism of our time arises from specific features of the economies and social orders of the most advanced capitalist countries.

 

The classic Marxist definition of imperialism in the modern epoch was provided by V.I. Lenin in his 1916 pamphlet Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. As viewed by the Bolshevik leader, the advanced capitalism that had emerged during the preceding decades had these salient characteristics:

 

The Revolution Behind the Headlines: Autonomy in Northern Syria

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters participate in an intensive security deployment against Islamic State (IS) militants on the front line in Makhmur

By Joris Leverink

February 22, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from TeleSUR English -- During the four months Kobane was under siege from ISIS, few media paid attention to the real struggle of the people of northern Syria in which they're fighting for real democracy, women's rights and ecological sustainability. 

On January 26, after 134 days of resistance the Kurdish defense forces announced they had successfully pushed the forces of the Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS) out of the Kobane. Over the course of the four and a half months the town in northern Syrian was under attack from ISIS it became a symbol of resistance against the seemingly 'unbeatable' jihadist forces and a bulwark of freedom in the midst of the chaos and destruction of the Syrian civil war.

Declaration of the Conference of European Left Parties Solidarity Conference With Kurdish People

The European Left Parties Solidarity Conference With Kurdish People was held in the main Kurdish city of Amed on February 20.

February 20, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from ANF News — The final declaration of the European Left Parties Solidarity Conference With Kurdish People in Amed has been released.

The conference in the main Kurdish city Amed on 20 February was organised by HDP (Peoples' Democratic Party), DTK (Democratic Society Congress), DBP (Party of Democratic Regions) and KJA (Free Women's Congress).

The declaration of the European Left Parties Solidarity Conference With Kurdish People reads;

* We as Kurdish, Turkish and European left and democratic forces stand together in our fight for democracy, peace, diversity and social justice.

* We are gathered here today to call on the Turkish Government to stop the massacres and killings of civilians in the besieged Kurdish cities. Civilian woman and children are the ones suffering the most from this brutal policy. We call on the Turkish government to stop the curfew and allow for access to the besieged cities. The grave violations of basic human rights must be stopped and an international commission must be set up in order to secure that the responsible for war crimes will be prosecuted.

UPDATED: Sonny Melencio and Walden Bello on the 30th anniversary of the Edsa Uprising

 

Sonny Melencio (pictured) will be one of the keynote speakers at Socialism for the 21st century: Moving beyond capitalism, learning from global struggles being held in Sydney on May 13-15.

 

What is there to celebrate on the 30th anniversary of the Edsa Revolution?

By Sonny Melencio

 

February 25, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I once had a chance to be a guest at the Rembrandt Kapihan together with a KBL (New Society Movement) senatorial candidate for the May 2016 election. The foul-mouthed KBL candidate went on a cursing spree to lambast an imaginary audience that had made Ninoy Aquino (the murdered father of current President Benigno Aquino, also known as PNoy) a hero of the first "Edsa Revolution". This seemed to be a response to my statement that we were going to celebrate Edsa 1 on February 25 with the usual protest rallies.

 

The KBL candidate spewed a barrage of crisp curses against the people’s uprising that brought down the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. After Marcos fled the country in 1986, everything went downhill for the country and the people, according to the KBL candidate.

 

Should the left support a "Brexit" in the upcoming British referendum?

 

In June, Britain will hold an referendum on whether to remain part of the European Union. Below Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is republishing two opposing views on whether the left should support a British exit, or "Brexit".

A different Europe or bust

 

February 4, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Red Pepper -- As David Cameron’s renegotiation nears its uneventful conclusion, the big picture of what kind of Europe we want to live in is in danger of being lost, writes Luke Cooper. What can we do to change it?

 

That Europe is in urgent need of reform is beyond question. At risk of being lost in the current British public debate, however, is the discussion as to the type of reforms that Europe needs. The focus on David Cameron’s ‘wish list’ of demands has established an accepted discourse that presumes that these demands reflect ‘British interests’. It also presumes that were Cameron to win European acceptance for all of his demands, then this would be ‘a good deal for Britain’.

 

Venezuela: a turning point for Latin America?

 

By Stuart Piper

 

January 25, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Resistance with the author's permission

 

“They hit us in the stomach. The revolution, and we as social movements, haven’t been able to deal with the problem of food.” Marisa, community activist in La Vega, a day after the election.

 

Confrontation inside and outside parliament

 

On the morning of Tuesday, 5 January, a few thousand supporters of Venezuela’s right-wing opposition gathered around La Hoyada metro station in central Caracas. Most had travelled in from the better-off neighbourhoods to the east. The mood was euphoric, but tense. They would march the short distance west to the National Assembly, in the company of their newly elected representatives who were about to be sworn in.

 

Michael Löwy discusses Pope Francis’s recent Encyclical Laudati Si’, ecosocialism and left unity in Europe today

 

Michael Löwy

 

February 19,2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Michael Löwy is a militant of the French section of the Fourth International. His wide-ranging interests include, in part, the connection between the Romantic movement and Marxism, ecosocialism, Liberation Theology and questions of art and culture.

 

His many publications (in various languages) include The Marxism of Che Guevara, Georg Lukács: from Romanticism to Bolshevism, The war of gods: Religion and Politics in Latin America, Fatherland or Mother Earth? Essays on the national question and Fire Alarm: Reading Walter Benjamin’s ‘On the Concept of History'.

 

This interview was conducted by Barry Healy via the internet in February, 2016.

 

***

 

You have written that Pope Francis’ Laudato Si is of “world historic importance”.

 

Why do you see this encyclical as different from previous Vatican documents and what significance do you see it having for Catholics in particular? What are the Encyclical’s strengths and weaknesses?

 

Workers' Party of Belgium leader: "We have to struggle to bring down this European Union and build another form of cooperation"

 

Workers' Party of Belgium supporters rally in solidarity with the people of Greece

 

On October 15, Liam Flenady interviewed David Pestieau, Vice-President of the Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB) at their headquarters in Brussels. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstance, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewalis only publishing this interview now but we believe it will be of great interest to our readers.

 

Since the interview was conducted, a number of significant events have taken place in France and Belgium, including the Paris attacks on November 13 and the ensuing lock-down of the city of Brussels, as well as the banning of the Paris Climate March planned for November 29. These events have had a significant impact on the political situation in Belgium and Europe, and the Worker's Party has playing an important role in responding to them.

 

While not covering this new situation, this interview still represents an important introduction to the politics of the PTB and their orientation towards significant issues in Belgian and European politics.

 

* * *

 

Over 100,000 people demonstrated as part of the union-led national day of action on October 7 in opposition to the austerity measures of the government of Prime Minister Charles Michel. What are the key issues facing the people of Belgium, and what’s next for the struggle?

 

Solidarity with Rojava, with the Kurdish revolution and with the liberation struggle of the PKK!

 

A convey of Kurdish revolutionary fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG)

 

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Viewpoint -- An international statement on the situation in Syria in Iraq “Let us mobilise against dictatorships, imperialist aggression and Daesh. We reject the politics ‘national security’, racism and austerity” published by International Viewpoint on 11 December, has now (as of 4 January 2016) been signed by over 40 revolutionary socialist organizations spanning five continents.[1]

 

We very much welcome the emergence of such broad joint statements from the Left! As individuals who feel closely tied to the revolutionary Left and its fortunes, we hope to see more international initiatives of this type in the future, as they can contribute to an intensification of international coordination between the forces of the revolutionary Left, thereby helping to make us a more visible social and political force. We’d like to thank the comrades for taking the initiative for this international statement, and we share the analysis and the demands of the statement.

 

Propaganda as “News”: Ecuador Sells out Indigenous and the Environment to China

A portion of the Yasuni National Park in Ecuador

By Stansfield Smith

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A news article appeared at end of January - “Ecuador To Sell A Third Of Its Amazon Rainforest To Chinese Oil Companies” - and has resurfaced again and again on the internet. Posted on progressive websites such as Reader Supported News, Daily Kos, The PeoplesVoice.org and ThinkGlobalGreen.org, the story often comes with maps of the affected area, and includes pictures of indigenous peoples living peaceably with nature or protesting against oil drilling.

Almost all these stories refer back to an article published three years ago, in March 2013, in the Australian online journal Business Insider:

“Ecuador is planning to auction off three million of the country’s 8.1 million hectares of pristine Amazonian rainforest to Chinese oil companies, Jonathan Kaiman of The Guardian reports.” And, “Ecuador owed China more than $7 billion — more than a tenth of its GDP — as of last summer. In 2009 China began loaning Ecuador billions of dollars in exchange for oil shipments. It also helped fund two of the country’s biggest hydroelectric infrastructure projects, and China National Petroleum Corp may soon have a 30 per cent stake in a $10 billion oil refinery in Ecuador.”[1]

Yanis Varoufakis: a manifesto for democratising Europe

 

‪European trade unionists protest outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels‬

 

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who last September stepped down from his post in the radical-left Syriza government, has launched his Democracy in Europe movement, DiEM25. Its ambitious aim is a radical overhaul of Europe’s institutions and the introduction of absolute transparency in decision-making, to be completed by 2025. Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is republishing here from Mediapart the manifesto Varoufakis presented in Berlin on February 9th, a plan to “regain control over our Europe from unaccountable ‘technocrats’ and shadowy institutions”.

 

For all their concerns with global competitiveness, migration and terrorism, only one prospect truly terrifies the Powers of Europe: Democracy! They speak in democracy’s name but only to deny, exorcise and suppress it in practice. They seek to co-opt, evade, corrupt, mystify, usurp and manipulate democracy in order to break its energy and arrest its possibilities.

 

For rule by Europe’s peoples, government by the demos, is the shared nightmare of:

 

• The Brussels bureaucracy (and its more than 10,000 lobbyists)

 

A return to the question of whether Russia is imperialist

 

A demonstrator in Istanbul holds a picture depicting Vladimir Putin during a protest against Russian military operations in Syria.

 

By Lou Proyect

February 9, 2016 —Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from The Unrepentant Marxist with permission — One of the main talking points of the pro-Kremlin left is that Russia is not imperialist. This goes hand in hand with an analysis claiming that Putin’s intervention in Ukraine was purely defensive, a move against the genuine imperialists in Washington, London and elsewhere.

 

The last time I dealt with this question was in June 2014 when I replied to Roger Annis, a tireless defender of Kremlin foreign policy. Annis has once again made the same arguments on Links magazine in Australia in an article co-written by Renfrey Clarke who shares his orientation to Russia. Titled “Perpetrator or victim? Russia and contemporary imperialism”, it rehashes many of the same arguments that are supposedly based on Lenin’s “Imperialism, the final stage of Capitalism”.

 

After Spanish elections: establishment in funk over Podemos

 

Supporters of left-wing political force Podemos celebrate the strong showing for their party in the December 20 general elections

 


 By Dick Nichols

 

February 12, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — In an article that appeared in the January 24 edition of the Spanish daily El País, Pablo Iglesias, secretary-general of the radical Spanish political force Podemos, spells out his view of the kind of government the Spanish state needs after the December 20 general election produced a broadly left social majority but no clear majority coalition in the 350-seat Spanish parliament.

 

The governing conservative People's Party (PP) won 123 seats and the right-populist Citizens 40. On the left, the main opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) won 90 seats, while Podemos and the three people’s unity alliances in which it participated in Catalonia, Galicia and the Valencian Community won 69. The other seats went to the United Left-Popular Unity (IU-UP), and Catalan, Basque and Canary Island nationalist forces.

 

Decisive for determining what sort of government Spain will get — or if it will have to go to early elections — is which way the PSOE will jump in the wheeling-and-dealing presently taking place among the parties.

 

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on a 'government of change' for Spain

By Pablo Iglesias, translated by Dick Nichols

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The result of the December 20 election put an end to Spain's political shift-system, and opened up the historical possibility of our country having a government not exclusively dominated by the old party machines that have shared power over the last decades.

For the first time, Spain could have a pluralist and progressive government disconnected enough from past practices to: guarantee the introduction in its first 100 days of a program of immediate emergency social support; lead the constitutional change that the citizens are calling for; provide democratic solutions and new formulae of coexistence to meet the territorial crisis; and with fresh blood purge the parasitism from our institutions.

Perpetrator or victim? Russia and contemporary imperialism

 

Russian military troops take part in a military drill on Sernovodsky polygon close to the Chechnya border

 

By Renfrey Clarke and Roger Annis

 

February 7, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The decision by the Crimean people in March 2014 to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia sparked fury in right-wing circles worldwide. Urged on by the new ultra-nationalist government in Kyiv, Western leaders made haste to subject Russia to political and economic sanctions.

 

In commentaries in the Western conservative media, the meme of “Russian imperialism” took firm root. Less predictable, and calling for serious reflection, was the response in another quarter: denunciations of Russian imperialism' were echoed cheerfully by significant sections of the international left.

 

For many of the leftists concerned, “Russian imperialism” was such an obvious truth that it required no serious explaining. The British weekly Socialist Worker, for example, intoned on 11 March 2014: “It remains imperative to struggle against all sides in the imperialist conflict being fought out in Ukraine.…Russian imperialism has made its move to retain political and economic domination over the country with its takeover of Crimea ‒ this should be unconditionally condemned by all revolutionaries claiming to be anti-imperialist.”

 

But just what is imperialism, now the stuff of such effortless catch-phrases? Can the term be applied meaningfully to today’s Russian state? This article is an introduction to several longer pieces forthcoming by the authors on the same subject. We will argue that today’s state and economy in Russia fit neither empirical nor Marxian theoretical definitions of imperialism.

 

'What we've achieved so far': an interview with Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn speaks on the march in support of refugees.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Red Pepper — Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in conversation with Hilary Wainwright and Leo Panitch, talks about the meaning of ‘new politics’, Tony Benn’s legacy – and opening up Labour’s policymaking to the people

Leo: Your remarkable campaign for the leadership not only doubled the party membership but galvanised some 400,000 people overall to associate with the party. This is frankly unheard of anywhere in terms of party mobilisation on the left in recent decades. What do you think this reflects about the possibilities for a new politics, not only in Britain but more broadly – especially in Europe?

Jeremy: I think our campaign excited people who were very depressed by the election result and very depressed by the analysis that was being offered at the end of it, which was essentially that Labour wasn’t managerial enough and we had to be better managers in order to do better in the future. I only really got on the ballot paper because of a combination of people – from those who just absolutely wanted an alternative to be put, to those who thought that there ought to be a democratic debate in the party. This kicked off the social media campaign that encouraged others to get involved.

Is South America’s ‘progressive cycle’ at an end? Neo-developmentalist attempts and socialist projects

Protest by Indigenous Women against Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa in August last year
.

by Claudio Katz, introduction and translation by Richard Fidler

February 5, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left with permission — In this ambitious and compelling overview of the strategic and programmatic issues at stake in South America today, Argentine political economist Claudio Katz expands on many of the observations he made in an earlier interview while critically analyzing contrasting approaches to development that are being pursued or proposed. Translation from the Spanish and endnotes are by me. – Richard Fidler

Summary

Socialist Alliance (Australia) condemns murder of Baloch leader

 

Dr Mannan Baloch

 

Thursday, February 4, 2016 -- Socialist Alliance (Australia) condemns the murder by the Pakistani military on January 30 of Dr Mannan Baloch, Secretary General of Baloch National Movement (BNM), and four other BNM members. According to eyewitnesses, the military attacked the house where they were staying with mortar fire, then troops entered and shot each of the occupants in the chest and head. The youngest victim was just 19 years old. All the victims were unarmed. The BNM is not an armed organisation. It has been waging a non-violent struggle for the independence of Balochistan, which has suffered partition and occupation by Pakistan and Iran since the 1940s.

 

BNM activists are routinely victims of violence by the Pakistani state. In April 2009, BNM president Ghulam Mohammed Baloch was kidnapped from a legal office along with two other nationalist leaders. Their mutilated bodies were found five days later.

 

This forms part of a broader campaign of Pakistani state violence in Balochistan. At least 6000 Baloch civilians were killed by Pakistani forces in the 1970s. Since 2004 about 2000 civilians have been killed. Thousands of others have been arrested or simply disappeared. Civilians displaced by Pakistani state violence number in the hundreds of thousands.

 

On Greece, Syriza, Podemos and the Democracy in Europe Movement – Yanis Varoufakis interview in El Mundo

Ex-finance minister of Greece Yanis Varoufakis

January 23, 2016 -- thoughts for the post-2008 world -- Why did you resign the very next day after the ‘no’ victory in the Greek referendum?

Yanis Varoufakis - Because the Prime Minister told me, on the night of that magnificent result, that it was time to surrender to the troika. Not what I had entered politics for and certainly not what the mandate that the 62% NO vote we had just received stipulated.

Did the European leaders press Tsipras to get rid from you? Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the Eurogroup of finances ministers, has admitted that he did so…

They knew that I would never sign up to a new non-viable, toxic loan agreement. That was clear from the beginning. I was elected to negotiate a viable agreement. And since it is the finance minister who signs these agreements on behalf of the state, it was essential to the troika that I should be removed.

Why do you think you are so uncomfortable (and considered even dangerous) for the EU leaders?

Because I was an obstacle to the maintenance of their permanent denial regarding their failed fiscal reform programs.

What has been your major mistake during the time you were Greece Finance Minister?

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