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John Bellamy Foster: `A whole different kind of struggle is emerging'

John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is the coauthor with Fred Magdoff of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences, recently published by Monthly Review Press. This interview was conducted by Mike Whitney and first appeared at Dissident Voice. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Whitney's permission.

`Let us rediscover Marx' -- Two talks on Michael Lebowitz's `Beyond Capital: Marx’s Political Economy of the Working Class'

By Michael A. Lebowitz

[Michael Lebowitz will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets. Find other articles by Michael Lebowitz HERE.]

Economic crisis: Skyrocketing unemployment in Asia hits women and young people hardest

Unemployed workers in China at a train station, waiting to return to their rural areas. 

By Reihana Mohideen

[Reihana Mohideen will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.]

February 23, 2009 -- Recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) reports on global and regional employment trends paint a stark picture of rapidly increasing unemployment in 2008; the situation is expected to worsen in 2009 with the prediction of massive job losses. The message is clear: workers and the poor are already paying heavily for the capitalist economic crisis. Especially hard hit are working-class and poor women and young people.

Food sovereignty: Accelerating into disaster -- when banks manage the food crisis

January 26, 2009 -- Against the dramatic background of a profound global food and general economic crisis the Spanish government organised the “High Level Ministerial Meeting on Food Security for All” on the January 26-27, 2009, in Madrid.

The emergency of today is rooted in decades of neoliberal policies that dismantled the international institutional architecture for food and agriculture and undermined the capacity of national governments to protect their food producers and consumers. The central cause of the current food crisis is the relentless promotion of the interests of large industrial corporations and the international trade that they control, to the detriment of food production at the local and national levels and the needs and interests of local food producers and communities. At the World Food Summit in 1996, when there were an estimated 830 million hungry people, governments pledged to halve the number by 2015. Today, in the midst of a terrible food crisis, the figure of hungry people has risen to well beyond 1 billion.

The capitalist crash and the challenges facing socialists in Canada

By Roger Annis and John Riddell

[Roger Annis will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.]

The first casualty of the financial collapse has been the claim that “there is no alternative” to unrestricted free market capitalism. The imperialist governments are bankrolling imperilled banks and industrial conglomerates with immense bailouts — an estimated $5.1 trillion in the US alone by November 2008 — while preparing “stimulus” packages aimed at restoring financial markets.[1]

The “stimulus” includes potentially useful projects along with many that are far more dubious. But urgently needed social investment, such as housing or a national daycare program, receives scant consideration. The spending is shaped to restore corporate profitability, not to sustain workers’ livelihoods. Thus, the US government’s auto industry bailout is conditional on wages and working conditions in union-organised plants being cut to match non-union operations, and Canada’s federal government has set similar conditions.

World economic crisis: No room for band-aid solutions in the Third World

By Reihana Mohideen

December 29, 2008 -- According to recent Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) figures, another 40 million people have been pushed into poverty and hunger so far this year as a result of spiralling food prices, and the total number of people suffering hunger and malnutrition has reached 963 million worldwide.

While the prices of major cereals have fallen by more than 50per cent of their peak in 2008, they still remain high compared to previous years.[1] Nearly two-thirds of the world's hungry live in Asia (583 million in 2007). In sub-Saharan Africa, one in three people -- or 236 million (2007) -- are chronically hungry. Most of the increase in the number of hungry occurred in a single country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, as a result of widespread and persistent conflict. The FAO predicts that the impact of the economic crisis, on the heels of the food price crisis and oil price increases, could further exacerbate malnutrition and hunger levels.

End of neoliberalism? Sorry, not yet

South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign and Anti-Privatisation Forum have won gains against commodification and corporate globalisation

By Patrick Bond

December 26, 2008 -- Those who declare that the Great Crash of Late 2008 heralds the end of free market economic philosophy -- "neoliberalism" for short -- are not paying close enough attention.

This includes the Swedish Bank's Economic Nobel Prize laureate, Princeton professor Paul Krugman. "Everyone's talking about a new New Deal, for obvious reasons", he told his New York Times column readers. "In 2008, as in 1932, a long era of Republican political dominance came to an end in the face of an economic and financial crisis that, in voters' minds, both discredited the free-market ideology and undermined its claims of competence. And for those on the progressive side of the political spectrum, these are hopeful times."

But notwithstanding some promised fiscal stimulation and public works projects in the US, a more realistic -- and also radical -- approach requires us to first humbly acknowledge that a dangerous period lies immediately ahead, because of at least three factors:

Two paths in the face of the capitalism’s global fracture

Some of the presidents of the ALBA bloc.

By Luis Bilbao, translated from the December 2008-January 2009 issue of America XXI by Federico Fuentes, for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. Luis Bilbao will be a featured international speaker at the World at a Crossroads conference, in Sydney, April 10-13, 2009.

Spend the trillions on climate!

Sydney, October 2, 2008. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

By Martin Khor

December 15, 2008 -- The two crises of our times — economic recession and global warming — should be tackled together. The trillions of dollars earmarked for economic recovery can be spent to fight climate change. The economic crisis should not stop governments from serious action to combat climate change, but should instead be an opportunity to fund climate-related activities.

This was a clear message that came out of the last days of the United Nations climate talks at Poznan in Poland.

The two major crises of our times – the economic recession and global warming – were addressed by the UN secretary-general and some world leaders at the opening ceremony of the ministerial segment of the two-week talks.

If the US and Europe can come up with so many trillions of dollars to save their financial institutions within a few months, surely there is money to tackle the climate crisis, which is a far bigger problem involving the world’s survival.

Workers' Republic - Scenes from a successful factory occupation

When the workers at Republic Windows and Doors -- in Chicago, USA -- were notified their factory would close in three days, they took matters into their own hands. The unionised workers seized control of the factory for six days to demand the entitlements they were owed by law. They also demanded that Bank of America, which was ``bailed out'' with taxpayers' money just weeks before, make funds available to the company to pay the workers. On the sixth day, December 10, 2008, of their occupation, they won all their demands, and showed the world's working class a classic example of people's power.

This short video from Labor Beat (http://www.laborbeat.org) represents a fraction of its coverage of this historic event (something not seen in the USA for decades).

John Bellamy Foster: The great financial crisis: causes and consequences

A November 3, 2008, public lecture by John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review and co-author (with Fred Magdoff) of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences, which will published by Monthly Review Press in January 2009. See also ``Financial implosion and stagnation: Back to the real economy'' , by John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff.

The `third slump' and its consequences

By Phil Hearse

November 30, 2008 -- Ernest Mandel called the market crash and global recession of 1974-5 the ``second slump'' (1) – the first one being of course that of the 1930s, initiated by the stockmarket crash of 1929. We now know that the crash of 2008-9 is more severe, and will have more devastating consequences than that in the 1970s; whether it will be as bad as the 1930s slump we have yet to see. But it is now clear that this is a fundamental crisis of the neoliberal ``mode of regulation'' which now is under severe pressure and probably cannot survive in its present form.

Theorists who in this period stress the relative stability and continuity of modern capitalism are, as we shall see, way off the mark. This article aims to give a brief explanation of why the crash has happened; to situate it in the history of development of capitalism; to discuss possible consequences, especially those for the working class in Britain and internationally; and to suggest political implications for the radical left.

Audio: David Harvey on the `Enigma of capital' and the current capitalist economic crisis

A lecture by Professor David Harvey
City University of New York Graduate Center
November 14, 2008
1 hour 2 minutes

Listen now:

Open this page in a new page, or download MP3 file (42.7 MB)

(To download on a PC right-click on the above file and click ‘Save as’ or ‘Download to’. On a Mac Control-click instead of right-click.)

Que paguen los pobres del mundo La crisis económica y del Sur del globo

Por Adam Hanieh

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens

La actual crisis económica global tiene todas las características de un evento trascendental. Economistas de la corriente dominante – no conocidos normalmente por su lenguaje exagerado – emplean ahora abiertamente frases como "catástrofe sistémica" y "mirando hacia el abismo." El 29 de octubre, por ejemplo, Martin Wolf, uno de los principales comentaristas financieros del Financial Times, advirtió que la crisis augura "bancarrotas masivas," "desempleo en alza" y una "catástrofe" que amenaza "la legitimidad de la propia economía de libre mercado... el peligro sigue siendo inmenso y queda poco tiempo."

Cabe poca duda de que esta crisis ya tiene un impacto devastador en los hogares estadounidenses fuertemente endeudados. Pero una de las características impactantes del análisis hasta la fecha – tanto de los medios de izquierdas como los dominantes – es el enfoque casi exclusivo en los países ricos de Norteamérica, Europa y del Este Asiático. De las ejecuciones hipotecarias en California a la bancarrota de Islandia, el impacto del colapso financiero es raramente examinado más allá del núcleo capitalista avanzado.

Making the world's poor pay: The economic crisis and the Global South

[This article is available in Spanish: `Que paguen los pobres del mundo La crisis económica y del Sur del glob'.]

By Adam Hanieh

November 22, 2008 -- The current global economic crisis has all the earmarks of an epoch-defining event. Mainstream economists – not usually known for their exaggerated language – now openly employ phrases like ``systemic meltdown'' and ``peering into the abyss''. On October 29, for example, Martin Wolf, one of the top financial commentators of the Financial Times, warned that the crisis portends “mass bankruptcy”, “soaring unemployment” and a “catastrophe” that threatens “the legitimacy of the open market economy itself... the danger remains huge and time is short”.

There is little doubt that this crisis is already having a devastating impact on heavily indebted American households. But one of the striking characteristics of analysis to date – by both the left and the mainstream media – is the almost exclusive focus on the wealthy countries of North America, Europe and East Asia. From foreclosures in California to the bankruptcy of Iceland, the impact of financial collapse is rarely examined beyond the advanced capitalist core.

Nationalisation — a key demand in the socialist program

By Dave Holmes

For all the misery it represents for ordinary people, there is at least one positive result of the current capitalist financial crisis. The idea of nationalisation is getting an airing again in the West, however squeamish bourgeois leaders and pundits may be about using the actual word. Of course, this is clearly a case of governments mobilising massive resources and taking drastic action to save bankers and speculators from the consequences of their greed but, nevertheless, there it is. And if nationalisation — state or public ownership — is allowable in this dubious instance, why not for far more deserving and urgent causes such as saving the planet and the lives and welfare of masses of working people?

The question of nationalisation is important because it is simply impossible to conceive of addressing a whole series of key problems facing us today without a major expansion of the public sector and bringing the “commanding heights” of the economy under state ownership and control. First, of course, there is the overriding issue of climate change and all the things related to that — especially energy and water sustainability, food security and the preservation of workers’ jobs as the economy is restructured. Then there is the struggle to preserve workers’ jobs and livelihoods in the face of widespread downsizing during the economic downturn.

China and the global capitalist economic meltdown

By Peter Boyle

Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific (ASAP) -- As the US, Japan and Europe slide into recession, the leaders of many smaller countries are desperately hoping that continued strong growth in the Chinese economy, which has contributed about 15 per cent of world economic growth in recent years, might save them from this meltdown.

There's hope and then there's hard facts. Recently the latter has replaced those desperate hopes with terror. A measure of this was the November 4 decision of Australia's Reserve Bank to make a bigger than expected interest rate cut. Any temptation by holders of large mortgages and other debts in Australia to reach for the champagne was killed by the realisation that this decision, in the words of one business correspondent, "was a recognition by Australia's top policymakers that the Chinese economy is no longer providing a firewall to insulate the Australian economy from the international crisis".

 

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.

New African resistance from below to global finance

By Patrick Bond

October 25, 2008 -- A far-reaching strategic debate is underway about how to respond to the global financial crisis, and indeed how the North's problems can be tied into a broader critique of capitalism.

The 2008 world financial meltdown has its roots in the neoliberal export-model (dominant in Africa since the 1981 World Bank Berg Report and onset of structural adjustment during the early 1980s) and even more deeply, in 35 years of world capitalist stagnation/volatility. Africa has always suffered a disproportionate share of pressure from the world economy, especially in the sphere of debt and financial outflows. But for those African countries which made themselves excessively vulnerable to global financial flows during the neoliberal era, the meltdown had a severe, adverse impact.

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