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United States

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.

New York City: Left Forum 2011, March 18-20

towards a politics of solidarity 


 

Each spring in New York City, Left Forum gathers intellectuals and activists from around the world to address the burning issues of our times. It provides a unique space for the generation of ideas crucial to theorizing and building a resurgent Left. This year the Forum will include participants from all corners of North America, as well as Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. It will truly be a rare opportunity for a global left dialogue. Join us at the 2011 conference, March 18-20 at Pace. 

Wanderings of a Zen Marxist: 30th anniversary of John Lennon's murder -- `The US vs John Lennon'

On December 8, 1980, John Lennon was murdered in New York. To mark the 30th anniversary of Lennon's murder Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal makes available the fascinating documentary The US vs John Lennon (above). Below, we reproduce a review by Green Left Weekly's Phil Shannon about the political and cultural significance of John Lennon and his evolution.

The wanderings of a Zen Marxist

Come Together: John Lennon in his Time
By Jon Weiner
Faber and Faber, 1995, 379 pages (pb)

Reviewed by Phil Shannon

Message to the US -- Blame the wars, not China

By Paul Kellogg

December 2, 2010 -- PolEconAnalysis -- There is a growing chorus of voices in the media and the academy singling out the actions of the Chinese state as central to the dilemmas of the world economy. This focus finds its most articulate presentations, not in the xenophobia of the right, but in the polite analysis of many left-liberals.

Paul Krugman, for instance, writing in the run-up to November’s G20 summit in South Korea, praised the United States’ approach of creating money out of nothing (“quantitative easing”) as being helpful to the world economy, and criticised the Chinese state’s attempts to keep its currency weak as being harmful. “The policies of these two nations are not at all equivalent”, he argues, adding his influential voice to the chorus which is increasingly targeting China for the world’s woes.[1] Krugman’s, however, is a simplistic analysis which overlooks the role of the US over decades in creating huge imbalances in the world economy, and has the dangerous effect of scapegoating one of the poorest nations of the world (China) for the problems created by the world’s richest.

Wikileaks: A call to struggle against empire

Sign the petition:"Truth is a crime in an empire of lies: Defend Wikileaks".

By Andrea Pason and Billy Wharton

December 4, 2010 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – Running an empire produces many nasty habits, habits that lead you to treat people, nations, assets and the environment as objects upon which to project your own power. The US government runs such an empire. As a result, innocent people die, the environment is ravaged and funds that could have been used to meet human needs have been fed into an insatiable military industrial complex. This has long been known by the socialist left and now, with the release and publication of secret US diplomatic messages, Wikileaks has made it visible to the entire world.

Currency wars and the privilege of empire

By Paul Kellogg

October 23, 2010 -- PolEconAnalysis -- In uncertain times, the headline was soothing: "Secretary Geithner vows not to devalue dollar".[1] United States Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner was saying, in other words, that if there were to be "currency wars" -- competitive devaluations by major economies in attempts to gain trade advantage with their rivals -- the United States would not be to blame. Who, then, would be the villain? China, of course.

Earlier this year, Democratic Party congressman Tim Murphy sponsored a bill authorising the United States to impose duties on Chinese imports, made too inexpensive (according to Murphy and most other commentators) by an artificially devalued Chinese currency. "It's time to deliver a strong message to Beijing on behalf of American manufacturing: Congress will do whatever it takes to protect American jobs."[2]

Turning the tide of oil in US and world politics

By Dan La Botz

October 22, 2010 -- The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico represents the latest in a series of atrocities committed by petroleum companies against the environment and against humanity. Yet, terrible and tragic as the BP spill is, it is merely a marginal event in the long and sordid history of the oil companies in US and world history. The petroleum companies have been at the centre of US politics for a hundred years, determining its domestic agenda, its environmental policy and its foreign policy. To be a US politician was to be baptised in oil. To be an admiral or a general was to be a warrior around the globe for the petroleum industry.

Foreign policy

By the 1920s, with the rise of the internal combustion engine and the automobile, and the conversion of the US Navy from coal to oil, petroleum became the most sought after commodity in the world. Oil became a strategic commodity, a necessity of modern life and modern warfare. From that time on, the oil corporations moved to the centre of US politics. President Warren G. Harding’s cabinet was known as the “oil gang”, and the cabinet-level corruption involved in the attempt of private parties and corporations to get at the navy oil reserves led to the Teapot Dome scandal, for which Harding’s administration is best remembered.

Mondragon: A path to 21st century socialism?

By Louis Proyect

October 11, 2010 -- On day five of Carl Davidson's visit to Mondragon, he alludes to a transition to a "Third Wave" future by the Basque cooperative. The Fagor pressure cookers might be phased out in favour of "the high-design and high-touch products of a third wave future in a knowledge economy". In order to succeed in this new business, Mondragon would have to develop "new entrepreneurs", according to Isabel Uriberen Tesia, a Mexican on the Mondragon staff.

Davidson has been committed to the Third Wave since 1997 when he launched an online magazine (now defunct) called cy.Rev. Back then I took exception (http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/computers/cyrev.htm) to some of its major themes, especially the idea of a "third wave" popularised by futurists Alvin and Heidi Toffler, as well as Republican Party leader Newt Gingrich. I summarised the Third Wave as follows:

Making sense of Trotskyism in the United States: Two memoirs

[This review-essay was written for and is scheduled to appear in the British journal Revolutionary History, which has granted permission to circulate it on-line. Please include this acknowledgement when sharing it. The text is from Labor Standard.]

North Star, A Memoir (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2010)
By Peter Camejo
364 pages with index

Outsider’s Reverie, A Memoir (Los Angeles: Boryana Books, 2010)
By Leslie Evans
438 pages with index.

By Paul Le Blanc

October 1, 2010 -- The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) of the United States was for a number of years the largest and strongest section of the Fourth International — both of which were formally established in 1938, both representing the revolutionary socialist perspectives associated with Leon Trotsky. Rooted in opposition to Stalinism in the early Communist movement, the U.S. Trotskyists worked closely with Trotsky in building the Fourth International, the global network of small revolutionary groups adhering to the original “Bolshevik-Leninist” perspectives. They also played a heroic role in U.S. class struggles of the 1930s, and their reputation among many was as unyielding partisans of workers’ democracy and Trotsky’s revolutionary Marxist orientation. Yet in the non-revolutionary aridity of 1950s America, their ranks dwindled down to handfuls of stalwarts, perhaps 400 aging members, in a handful of cities.

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