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BRICS lessons in (un)sustainable urbanisation

The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance takes on climate, BRICS, Transnet, truckers and big oil.

By Patrick Bond

November 28, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- What is to be done, in the wake of Warsaw climate summit’s conclusive failure to cap CO2 emissions last weekend? The answer: walk out of the United Nations process when it needs de-legitimation, and work much harder to curtail pollution in your home sites of struggle, everyone in civil society agreed. 

France: 'We need a tax revolution', says Left Front's Jean-Luc Mélenchon

Part 1.

[For more on French politics, click HERE.]

November 24, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Leader of France's Left Front (Front de Gauche) Jean-Luc Mélenchon was interviewed on November 9, 2013, about the March 2014 municipal elections, and the disputes that have erupted within the front around them. For further detail, see "France: As National Front support grows, strategy struggle erupts in Left Front".

New film: 'Viva Venezuela: Fighting for Socialism'

November 19, 2013 -- RCG -- In October 2012 Venezuela faced a choice: whether to deepen the Bolivarian Revolution that under the leadership of Hugo Chavez had brought dignity, health, education and hope -- or to return to a brutal, unequal, neoliberal society where oil wealth lined the pockets of multinational companies and Venezuela's elite. The people of Venezuela who voted for Chavez, voted to fight for socialism.

The Revolutionary Communist Group was on the streets of Caracas throughout the presidential elections in October 2012. We joined hundreds of thousands as they thronged the city, braving torrential rain or baking sun, to express their support. This film takes you on that journey, through the barrios, universities and workplaces to meet the political activists, students and workers who are changing their future.

The film premièred in London on October 25, 2013, where 150 people packed out Bolivar Hall to hear speakers from the RCG, the Venezuelan and Cuban embassy discuss the movement in Latin America and its relevance to the struggle here in imperialist Britain. It continues to screen all around the country, picking up momentum, not only increasing our understanding of the struggle in Venezuela, but helping us understand the tasks that face us here in Britain.

United States: Seattle socialist Kshama Sawant defeats Democrat incumbent

KEXP Interview with Kshama Sawant.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal congratulates Kshama Sawant and US Socialist Alternative on their important and inspiring success in the Seattle City Council election.

* * *

November 15, 2013, Seattle, Washington -- Vote Sawant -- Today’s King County elections ballot count saw the Socialist Alternative candidate for Seattle City Council, Kshama Sawant, pulling further ahead of 16-year Democratic Party incumbent, Richard Conlin. The socialist candidate has now won 88,222 votes compared to Conlin’s 86,582. After today’s count was released, Richard Conlin announced he was conceding the race.

[Washington state votes by mail, and a majority of ballots typically come in after election day and will be counted until November 26 as long as they are postmarked November 5 or earlier.]

John Riddell: Do we need an anti-capitalist government? United fronts in the 20th and 21st centuries (videos)

[Click HERE for more by John Riddell.]

November 11, 2013 -- SocResVideo, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- John Riddell, editor and translator of Towards the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922, speaking in London on November 3, 2013, at the "Building Unity, Taking Power: Left Histories and Contemporary Practice" seminar organised by the Anti-Capitalist Initiative, International Socialist Network and Socialist Resistance. The above talk is "Do we need an anti-capitalist government". The second below is "United fronts in the 20th and 21st centuries". They are followed by some of the discussion.

Toward the United Front, Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922
Edited and translated by John Riddell
Brill, 2011 (hard back), 1310 pages, 200 euros
Haymarket Books, 2012 (paper back) US$55

Russell Brand is right, we need a revolution (but his sexism is wrong)

Russell Brand versus Jeremy Paxman.

By Stuart Munckton

November 2, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Comedian, Hollywood star and former host of MTV and Big Brother's Big Mouth Russell Brand took on veteran BBC broadcaster Jeremy Paxman in a Newsnight interview subsequently viewed millions of times on YouTube (see above).

The journalist, veteran of many bruising encounters with politicians of all stripes, decisively lost.

Brand was interviewed because he had just guest-edited a special edition of left-leaning magazine The New Statesman on the theme of revolution.

As well as a 4500-word essay by Brand arguing that the status quo totally fails ordinary people and only revolutionary change could save humanity from destruction, the edition includes contributions from radical writers Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky, as well as a range of actors and singers.

Brian Manning (1932-2013) and the Gurindji `walk offs’

Brian Manning addressed the Gurindji Freedom Day celebration to mark the 45th anniversary of the historic walk-off.

On November 3, 2013, Brian Manning -- veteran Northern Territory communist, trade unionist, campaigner against racism, long-time activist for Indigenous people's rights and solidarity campaigner with the East Timorese people (among many other causes) -- died in Darwin, aged 81. Brian won enormous respect for his commitment to human rights and his unstinting dedication to changing the system. As a tribute to Brian, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal highlights one important chapter in his inspiring political life: his important role in the historic struggle of the Gurindji people for their rights.

* * *

By Terry Townsend

[The following is an excerpt from The Aboriginal Struggle & the Left (Sydney: Resistance Books, 2009.]

Western Australia: Socialist councillor re-elected in Fremantle

For more on socialists in municipal councils, click HERE.

By Alex Bainbridge

October 20, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Socialist Alliance Western Australia's co-convenor Sam Wainwright was re-elected to the Fremantle municipal council on October 19. In the other wards, progressive councillors defeated conservative opponents, and Greens Mayor Brad Pettitt was also returned.

Wainwright won 58% of the vote in his ward compared to 33% at the 2009 poll. Wainwright's absolute vote also increased from 438 votes to 602 this year.

Over the last four years Wainwright has made a priority of organising and promoting community campaigns and supporting council initiatives such as a dramatic increase in the cycling budget. He has been a strong supporter of the Fremantle Road to Rail campaign and helped promote a community-owned wind farm at North Quay.

He introduced the Workplace Values policy which recognises the right of council employees to trade union representation and job security, and set a target for the employment of Indigenous people.

Wainwright has vigorously defended the Warrawee Women's Refuge which battles to maintain funding levels, and introduced policy to include and respect people with disabilities.

Socialists and the fight against rape culture, misogyny and women's oppression

For more discussion on feminism, click HERE.

October 13, 2013 -- Green Left TV/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Socialist Alliance and socialist youth group Resistance held a seminar in Sydney on March 14, 2013, on the topic of 21st century feminism. Socialist Alliance's Lisa Macdonald, a Green Left Weekly journalist, and Alison Pennington, a member of the Resistance and Socialist Alliance, spoke about the culture of violence that exists in our society, how women can fight collectively to live in an equal and violence-free society, and why socialists wholeheartedly support these struggles.

France: Jean-Luc Mélenchon's speech at the 2013 Fete L´Humanité

(Note: to improve the resolution of the subtitles in each, after pressing "play", click on the "cog" at the bottom of the video, and increase the setting for "quality" to 360p. Then restart the video.)

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Front de Gauche leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon addressed the fete of left newspaper L´Humanité in Paris on September 15, 2013. In this six-part video (above and below) Mélenchon discusses French foreign policy in relation to Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, the colossal failures of "Chicago School" [neoliberal] economics, the attacks of the European Union, the Front de Gauche's program when elected, religion and politics, and the front's opposition to militarism.

Malaysia: Kampong Hakka -– when 100 years of community residence does not matter

By S. Arutcheclvan, general-secretary, Socialist Party of Malaysia

October 3, 2013 -- Socialist Party of Malaysia/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The first Monday of every October is designated by the United Nations as World Habitat Day. The main purpose to celebrate this date is to reflect on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. The UN has dedicated one day to highlight the plight of people fighting for shelter as it seems that the right to a home is one of the most fundamental human rights. With this, let me argue the case of kampong Hakka in Mantin, Negeri Sembilan.

When I first stepped into kampong Hakka a year ago, I was amazed that a Chinese new village complete with temple, community hall and school existed in this village and I was further shocked to learn that all the people living there have been declared illegals just because some rich company has bought their land.

When I looked at the structure of their homes and their lifestyle, I was convinced that these villagers have a history to talk about. They have lived here for many decades. Most of the villagers were elderly people as their children had left to more urban town centres. Their economic activity varies, with most of them being petty traders and self-employed.

France: Front de Gauche leader Jean-Luc Melenchon opposes attack on Syria

Front de Gauche leader Jean-Luc Melenchon discusses the threat of a US attack on Syria, broadcast September 1, 2013. Below is an earlier TV appearance by Melenchon in which he also discusses Syria. (Note: to improve the resolution of the subtitles in each, press play then click on the "cog" at the bottom of the video, and increase the setting for "quality" to at least 360p. Then restart the video.)

Michael Lebowitz: Some explanations of the fall of ‘real socialism’

By Michael Lebowitz

September 13, 2013 -- The Bullet, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission. This essay is from a talk given to the Centre for Political Emancipation in Belgrade, Serbia, on May 6, 2013. It can also be seen above and on YouTube. -- Why did "real socialism" and, in particular the Soviet Union, fall? Let me note a few explanations that have been offered. With respect to the Soviet Union, one very interesting explanation that has been suggested is that it's all the fault of Mikhail Gorbachev. And not simply the errors of Gorbachev but the treachery. Those who offer this explanation rely in particular upon a document which is sometimes described as his confession. This document begins as follows:

The other September 11: 'The Battle of Chile', Patricio Guzmán's classic documentary

Part 1: Insurrection of the bourgeoisie.

Part 2: The coup.

Part 3: The power of the people.

For more on the coup in Chile click HERE.

September 11, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Patricio Guzmán's classic documentary, The Battle of Chile. Uploaded on the 40th anniversary of US-backed General Augusto Pinochet's bloody coup against the socialist government of Salvador Allende -- the other "September 11".

New pamphlet by Marta Harnecker: 'Instruments for doing politics'

The above series of videos in Spanish by Marta Harnecker are what the pamphlet below is based on. Instrumentos de la Política esta dividida en 12 videos con una duración aproxdimada de 11min cada uno.

[Read more from Marta Harnecker HERE.]

(PDF version available HERE and Spanish-language version available HERE.)

September 5, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Elizabeth Briemberg and revised by Fred Fuentes and Bill Fletcher

Motsotso wa NUMSA (The NUMSA moment): South Africa's most radical trade union (video)

September 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) is the most radical and most political trade union in South Africa today. It opposes the deepening neoliberal economic policies of the South African government, which is led by the African National Congress. It is opposed to recent attacks on the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) aimed at weakening that body's political independence and militancy, and it campaigns for socialist policies and serious approaches to the question of workers' rights and climate change.

This video, produced by UhuruProductionsJHB, looks at what NUMSA is and who it stands up for.

Read more about NUMSA HERE.

Aotearoa/New Zealand: John Minto for Auckland mayor -- 'We need a Kiwi socialism'

[Click HERE for more coverage of politics in Aotearoa/New Zealand.]

By Daphne Lawless

August 24, 2013 -- Fightback, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The latest opinion polls put John Minto – teacher, veteran activist and MANA movement candidate – in third place in the race for mayor of Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland, to be held on October 12, 2013. Why has John Minto decided to run for the most powerful urban office in Aotearoa/New Zealand? He hesitates for quite a long time before answering – he calls it “the hardest question”.

It’s certainly not a question of seeking the limelight. A recent interview in the NZ Herald by Michelle Hewitson focussed relentlessly on delving Minto’s personality – and bringing up what John calls “the wallpaper of history” about his 30-year activist career. So he seems quite relieved that Fightback is interested in his campaign’s politics.

'Rocking the Foundations' -- the story of Australia's pioneering red-green trade union

August 14, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- An outstanding historical account of the "Green Bans" first introduced by the communist-led New South Wales Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) in the 1970s in response to community demand to preserve inner-city parkland and historic buildings. One of the first women to be accepted as a builders labourer, filmmaker Pat Fiske in 1985 traced the development of a union whose social and political activities challenged the notion of what a union should be.

More on the BLF from the Green Left Weekly archives below.

Essential viewing for unionists and environmentalists

Review by Ben Courtice

[This review appeared in Green Left Weekly, March 12, 1997.]

This film, an old favourite of radical activists, charts the rise of the NSW branch of the Builders Labourers' Federation. Beginning as a corrupt bosses' union in the 1940s, by the 1970s it was a powerful force for progressive social change and is now famous for placing "green bans" on building sites that were environmentally and socially destructive.

The old, corrupt leadership of the union was voted out after a 10-year campaign by a group of rank-and-file members who then reoriented the union to establish a high level of accountability for officials.

Federico Fuentes on socialism in the 21st century and revolutionary leadership in Latin America

Green Left TV -- Federico Fuentes speaking at the "Organising for 21st century socialism" seminar in Sydney, June 8-9, 2013. Organised by Socialist Alliance.

Fuentes is co-author of Latin America's Turbulent Transitions: The Future of Twenty-First Century Socialism.

Latin America's Turbulent Transitions: The Future of Twenty-First Century Socialism
By Roger Burbach, Michael Fox & Federico Fuentes
Zed Books, 2013.

Order at Resistance Books.

 

The Great Rift: Capitalism and the metabolism of nature and production

August 7, 2013 -- MRZine -- John Bellamy Foster: We need a society that is geared, as István Mészáros always tells us, to substantive equality. And no compromise on the issue of equality. Bolívar said equality is the law of laws. So we need substantive equality and we need ecological sustainability. And they have to go together. How do we know they have to go together? Because what is causing the ecological damage and what is causing the social damage is the same thing: it's the rift in the production system; it's the alienation of nature, which is one with the alienation of human society.

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