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United States

The killing of bin Laden and the ugly tribalism of US politics

Three o’clock in the morning on May 1, Washington DC erupts in celebration of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

By Rupen Savoulian

May 20, 2011 -- Early in May 2011, Osama bin Laden, a Saudi billionaire criminal and religious fanatic, was murdered by US Navy SEAL troops in Pakistan. Bin Laden was a reactionary political figure, who promoted obscurantist, fundamentalist prejudices in the service of criminal wars and terrorism. He was a long-term ally and asset of the United States, whose repugnant views and activities were cultivated throughout the 1980s during Washington’s Cold War campaign against the secular, socialist government of Afghanistan.

R. Palme Dutt's 'Fascism and social revolution'

By Graham Milner

In the present situation in the world, with the intermittent resurgence of fascist and neo-fascist movements in some countries, an avowedly Marxist treatment of the subject of fascism, such as Palme Dutt's Fascism and Social Revolution, deserves the attention of new generations of readers.

Rajani Palme Dutt (1896-1974) was born in England of an Indian father and a Swedish mother.[1] He grew up in a political household, where socialism and Indian independence were familiar subjects of discussion. A brilliant scholar at Oxford University (he took a double first), Dutt was a conscientious objector during the World War I, and was expelled from university in 1917 for disseminating Marxist propaganda.

Is the economic crisis over?

Introduction by Mike Treen

May 2, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Below is the latest entry from the Critique of Crisis Theory blog by Sam Williams [posted here with Williams' permission]. In it he analyses the current stage of the industrial cycle and asks, “Is the economic crisis over?”.

I hope that reading this post will encourage people to look more closely at the entire series on Critique of Crisis Theory, which has taken the form of a developing book on crisis theory.

The first chapter explains the biggest challenge the author faced — the fact that Marx did not leave a completed crisis theory. It was certainly the plan when Marx began Capital, but in the end only one volume was completed before his death and volumes two and three only took partial steps to a completed theory.

Manning Marable: A voice for black liberation and democracy

By Lee Sustar

April 4, 2011 -- Socialist Worker -- Anyone who studies the US black liberation movement and seeks to renew its struggles will be saddened by the untimely passing of Manning Marable, the Columbia University professor who combined wide-ranging scholarship with an active commitment to social transformation.

Leonard Weinglass (1933-2011)

By John Mage

March 25, 2011 -- Leonard Weinglass, a leading leftwing lawyer in the United States with an international perspective, died in the early evening on March 23, 2011. Len, who died on his 78th birthday, fell ill in late January while in Cuba. In the first days of February exploratory surgery at Montefiore Hospital discovered that he had inoperable cancer of the pancreas.

Lenny, a 1958 graduate of Yale Law School, became active in the US left lawyers' organisation, the National Lawyers Guild, in the course of the civil rights movements of the 1960s. He rose to fame as co-counsel with Bill Kunstler in the Chicago Seven (originally Chicago Eight) conspiracy trial of 1969-70. The seven defendants -- Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines and Lee Weiner -- were charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot and other charges arising from the mass protests in Chicago, Illinois at the time of the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Weinglass (sixth from left) with the Chigago Seven.

Japan: Left appeals for solidarity with victims and evacuees of the earthquake/tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster

Evacuees sit through an earthquake at a temporary shelter at a stadium in Koriyama. Photo: Reuters.

Appeal for financial solidarity with the victims and evacuees of the northeastern Japan earthquake/tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster

By the Japan Revolutionary Communist League (JRCL) and the National Council of Internationalist Workers (NCIW)

March 17, 2011 -- On March 11, at 2:30 PM (JST), the tremendously powerful earthquake of magnitude 9 hit the vast area of eastern Japan, comprised of northeast and Kanto regions. The earthquake gave rise to the formidable tsunami, which devastated numerous cities and towns all along the Pacific coast from the northernmost prefecture of Aomori to the southern Chiba prefecture. At the time of March 17, the number of deaths and missing persons is already close to 20,000, and the number continues to increase.

United States: New workers' movement at the crossroads

By Dan La Botz

March 4, 2011 -- Solidarity Webzine -- The new US workers' movement, which has developed so rapidly in the last couple of months in the struggle against rightwing legislative proposals to abolish public employee unions, suddenly finds itself at a crossroads. Madison, Wisconsin, where rank-and-file workers, community members and social movement activists converged to create the new movement, remains the centre of the struggle. In Ohio, which faces similar legislation, unions have also gone into motion, while working people around the country have been drawn into the fight.

In both states, things are coming to a head. In Wisconsin the courts have ordered the capitol building closed and the governor is threatening layoffs to begin next week. In both Wisconsin and Ohio the legislators are threatening to push the bills through one way or another. And now, in the fight to win, the movement has come to a fork in the road.

Two different tendencies in the labour movement point in two quite different directions. The top leaders of the AFL-CIO and Change to Win unions like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have thrown their weight into the struggle in the only way that they know how. Following the model they use in political campaigns, they have reached out to established organisations to build coalitions. They have sent organisers into take charge and to reach out to communities. Their goal is to rebuild their institutional power and their relationship with the Democratic Party, hoping to turn the upsurge in support for public employees into a political victory.

United States: The new American workers' movement and the confrontation to come

Protesters fill the Rotunda at the state capitol building on February 16, 2010, in Madison, Wisconsin.

By Dan La Botz

February 28, 2011 -- Solidarity Webzine -- The new US workers' movement—born in the last few weeks in the giant protests in Wisconsin and Ohio—faces a fateful confrontation. In Madison and Columbus, Republican legislators are pushing to abolish public employee labour unions and tens of thousands of workers are protesting and resisting. We have seen nothing like this face-off between workers and bosses in the United States since the labour upheaval of the early 1970s, though the issues in the balance are more like those of the 1930s. The very existence of the US labour movement is at stake. The question is: What will it take to win?

The ‘mubaraking’ of Gaddafi, Maliki, Mugabe and others

By Patrick Bond

February 27, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The late South African anti-apartheid poet-activist Dennis Brutus occasionally used “Seattle”, the name of a city in the northwestern United States, as a verb. We should “seattle Copenhagen”, he said in late 2009, to prevent the global North from doing a climate deal in their interests, against Africa’s.

New book reveals the history of rubber: holocausts, environmental destruction and class struggle

The Devil’s Milk: A social history of rubber
By John Tully
Monthly Review Press, 2011

[Order the The Devil’s Milk from Monthly Review Press HERE. John Tully launched the book in Melbourne on February 17, at Readings Books, Carlton (309 Lygon St). He will also launch it in New York City on February 22, 7.30pm, at The Brecht Forum,  451 West Street.]

February 18, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This new book from Monthly Review Press – by Australian socialist John Tully -- documents the history of rubber and the role it has played in the development of capitalism.

Rubber is an essential industrial material, although underappreciated by most of us, even though we are surrounded by it. Since its industrial uses began to be fully appreciated in the 1800s, the quest for rubber has been, in Tully’s words, “a paradigm of imperialism”.

Video: 'The Invention of the White Race', by Theodore W. Allen

Theodore W. Allen, author of the two-volume history The Invention of the White Race (Verso:1994, 1997), died on January 19, 2005. The books trace the origins of "white" as a racist invention in early American history. Above and below is rare video footage of Allen in his later years in an interview with Stella Winston for Brooklyn Cable.

United States: Obama out of touch with the people, State of the Union shows

"What a distance from the White House to the unemployment line. From the Rose Garden to the food pantry."

By Billy Wharton

January 25, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The 2011 State of the Union speech revealed just how far out of touch US President Barack Obama is from the reality of working people in the United States. What a distance from the White House to the unemployment line. From the Rose Garden to the food pantry.

Tonight’s State of the Union sent the message one final time that the Obama presidency was and is designed to protect the privileges accrued by the richest 5% in society. Obama lived up to the characterisation of him as a “hedge-fund Democrat”, a politician assigned the task of deflecting the real demands of the people for a society and economy based on solidarity, peace and justice.

A call for more corporate globalisation

Martin Hart-Landsberg: China and the jobs issue

"Approximately 90 per cent of China’s high technology exports to the US are produced by multinational corporations and many of them are being bought and sold in the US by other multinational retailers."

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

January 21, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front -- The president of China, Hu Jintao, just completed a visit to the United States and, not surprisingly, many people used the occasion to raise the jobs issue. The US economy continues to suffer from high unemployment. And the US continues to run an enormous trade deficit with China, a deficit that dwarfs any other bilateral deficit. The connection made is as follows: China is an unfair trader. Its state policies, including subsidies and labour repression, are a major reason for the destruction of the US manufacturing sector and jobs.

This nation-state framing encourages us to see US workers in direct competition with Chinese workers, with their gains largely coming at our expense. It also tends to promote a simple response: force China to quicken its embrace of market forces so that its economy will become more like ours. Unfortunately, this framing misleads more than it helps to clarify current economic dynamics. It also leads to a counterproductive response.

United States: Buckeye Socialist Network launched

By Micah O'Canain

January 2011 -- Against The Current -- The 2010 Dan La Botz Socialist for Senate campaign in Ohio represents an important success in the recent context of leftist third-party initiatives. Running the first Socialist Party campaign for national office in Ohio since 1936, La Botz garnered 25,368 votes statewide, one of the more successful socialist electoral bids in decades. This experience provides some important lessons for how the left can engage the electoral arena in this period.

Discovering the radical vision of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

By Billy Wharton

January 17, 2011 (MLK Day) -- Bronx County Independent Examiner -- Discovering the radical message in the writings of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. is no easy task for secular leftists. It requires a leap into the world of black Christian theology, a long tradition that has inspired multiple attempts at emancipation – from the slave revolt of Nat Turner to the modern civil rights movement. However, the terms of discussion inside of this tradition require secular readers to think through categories firmly rooted in Christian teachings. Some patience and a willingness to deal with what might be unfamiliar examples can yield new perspectives on an American tradition dedicated to service in the call of human freedom.

Most commentators on left have no time for such exercises. They automatically gravitate toward instances when King engages with mainly secular audiences. They take inspiration from King’s overt admission of his socialist leanings, “There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a Democratic Socialism.”  Focus is placed on his brave stand against the war in Vietnam and his militant insistence on the need for racial integration. 

Socialist Party USA: `No to political assassinations! Let’s make a democratic revolution!'

By Andrea Pason & Billy Wharton, co-chairs Socialist Party USA

January 9, 2011 -- On behalf of the Socialist Party USA, we send our sincerest condolences to the families of the people killed in the January 8 shooting in Tucson, Arizona. This was an attempt at political assassination as the shooter, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, reportedly shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ, D.) in the head before turning his gun on the crowd. The dead include a 9 year child and five others, with twelve people wounded. Rep. Giffords remains in critical condition.

As socialists, we say unequivocally that political assassination has no role inside of a democratic society or our movement. Throughout [US] history, assassination has been a tool primarily used by the right wing. The death by execution of strong leaders such as Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr stand as testimony to the damage done to our cause. We are democratic socialists and we seek to make a democratic revolution. A revolution that places people in control of their own lives. Political assassination has no role in such a movement.

Why does health care in Cuba cost 96% less than in the US?

Claudia Lopez, an intern, with outpatients at 5 de Septiembre Polyclinic, Havana. Photo by Gail Reed/World Health Organisation.

By Don Fitz

January 5, 2011-- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When Americans spend $100 on health care, is it possible that only $4 goes to keeping them well and $96 goes somewhere else? Single payer health care [government-funded universal health insurance] advocates compare US health care to that in Western Europe or Canada and come up with figures of 20–30% waste in the US.

But there is one country with very low level of economic activity yet with a level of health care equal to the West: Cuba.

Life expectancy of about 78 years of age in Cuba is equivalent to the US. Yet, in 2005, Cuba was spending US$193 per person on health care, only 4% of the $4540 being spent in the US. Where could the other 96% of US health care dollars be going?

1. A fragmented system

What if the state of the world were measured by its majority?

What real democracy looks like: a communal council in Merida votes for its electoral commission in July 2010. Photo by Tamara Pearson.

By Tamara Pearson, Merida, Venezuela

December 30, 2010 -- Venezuelanalysis.com -- The rich and their golf courses. From their perspective the whole world is one -- a wonderland of hillocks and streams and games made just for them, watered without thought for drought, and the world’s poor nowhere to be seen. But a bit of the map has said it doesn’t want to be a golf course. The rich, sweaty and sulking, arm themselves with reports, statistics, surveys, foundations, institutes and “causes” and set out to prove that Venezuela is burning and broken, its economy rumbling, its health system out of order, and its politics repressive.

In fact, Venezuela has the worst economy in the world, according to a Newsweek study in August 2010.

United States: 120th anniversary of the massacre at Wounded Knee: The bloody birth of empire

December 29, 2010 -- Rustbelt Radical -- Wounded Knee, December 29, 1890 is full of meaning. Not just for the Miniconjou and Hunkpapa Lakota who were victims and perished in their hundreds, but for the course of imperial America. Its violence an echo of the violence that was the settlement of this country.

Wikileaks: Don't forget Bradley Manning -- US detains accused whistleblower in inhumane conditions

Graphic from CourageToResist.org.

December 15, 2010 -- Salon -- Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old US Army private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of that crime, nor of any other crime. Despite that, he has been detained at the US Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months -- and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait -- under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture. Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning's detention, ultimately including a Quantico brig official (Lt. Brian Villiard), who confirmed much of what they conveyed, establishes that the accused leaker is subject to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries.

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