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United States

Team Obama: Channelling Clinton, extending Bush

By Patrick Bond

December 4, 2008 -- Barack Obama was elected on a platform of change. Yet, his actions are pointing to more and more of the same. The question of whether Obama can possibly replace Bush as a danger to world peace is worth considering.

The president-elect’s turn to the Zionist, militarist wing of the US ruling class in recent weeks negates the interest and support he showed for the Palestinian cause while a Chicago community organiser during the 1990s and to the anti-war movement when Bush attacked Iraq five and a half years ago.

To counteract ongoing their economic and cultural decline, it appears that US imperialist managers have adopted two strategies: political revitalisation via Obama’s carefully crafted image as a non-imperialist politician with roots in African-American, Kenyan and even Indonesian traditions; and the activism anticipated through his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, a firm supporter of the US war against Iraq.

In reaction to election campaign allegations that he is a peacenik, Obama himself uttered that the ``surge'' of US troops in Iraq ``succeeded beyond our wildest dreams''.

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.

Native blood: the truth behind the myth of `Thanksgiving Day' (now with video)

Video: Thanksgiving: A Native American View

By Mike Ely

It is a deep thing that people still celebrate the survival of the early colonists at Plymouth — by giving thanks to the Christian god who supposedly protected and championed the European invasion. The real meaning of all that, then and now, needs to be continually excavated. The myths and lies that surround the past are constantly draped over the horrors and tortures of our present.

CPI (ML) Liberation on `Obamania'

By CPI (ML) Liberation

November 11, 2008 --The emphatic victory of Barack Obama in the US presidential election has generated a great deal of interest and enthusiasm, a veritable ``Obamania'', across the world. There are indeed several special aspects to this remarkable victory. That he is the first black person to be elected to the highest political office in the US; that his campaign emphasised ``hope'' and ``change'' at a time when the US is passing through an extremely gloomy period in its history, and, above all, that his arrival marks the much-awaited end of the hated Bush presidency, and a decisive popular rejection of its hallmarks, have all added up to make this probably the most memorable election in recent US history. For political observers watching this election from afar, the most encouraging aspect perhaps has been the passionate popular participation that made this election an energised extension of not only the fight against racism but also the wider anti-globalisation, anti-war campaign.

Obama and the clash of hopes

By Peter Boyle

November 12, 2008 -- There can be no doubt that the great majority of the 55 million US citizens whose votes made Barack Obama president want change.

They want a change from the system in which trillions of dollars are spent to bail out Wall Street while ordinary people on “Main Street” lose their homes, their jobs and can’t even get basic health care.

They want an end to the endless wars abroad that George W. Bush launched in the wake of 9/11 — wars that are returning thousands of young Americans home in body bags and many times more seriously wounded. They want the US to be welcomed by the rest of the world as a peacemaker rather than hated as the biggest war-maker.

So around the world, everyone with a shred humanity cheered on that wave of hope for change that gave the US its first black president on November 4.

Barack Obama’s dual mandate

By Solidarity (US)

November 10, 2008 -- Millions of Americans see the election of Barack Obama as a referendum on white supremacy and today we join in their celebration. The racist campaigns launched against Obama, conducted sometimes in coded language and other times in inflammatory accusations, turned out to be amazingly unsuccessful. Yet the 2008 election also represents a dual reality that is important for socialists and activists for peace and social justice to grasp.

For tens of millions of Black Americans, seeing a United States president-elect who’s Black – and even more important, for their children to see a Black president – is a huge symbolic stride towards full citizenship and liberation. Perhaps no event since that legendary night in 1938, when Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmeling, has there been such a magic moment of celebration for the Black community; only in this case they weren’t simply spectators but participants in the victory.

Will Obama end Bush's `war on terror'?

By Simon Butler

October 31, 2008 -- In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, bombings of the World Trade Center and Pentagon, US President George Bush declared an open-ended, apparently indefinite “war on terror”.

Using the terrorist attacks as an excuse, the “war on terror” has meant a war drive to extend US global domination. The threats were free flowing — at one point as many as seven nations were part of the “axis of evil” and therefore potential military targets as Bush threatened “pre-emptive strikes” against US “enemies”.

The war drive began with the 2001 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. In 2003, in the face of massive global protests, the US launched its invasion of oil-rich Iraq.

Facing sustained resistance from the Iraqi people, and increasingly unpopular at home, the failure of the Iraqi occupation has contributed to making the Bush presidency one of the least popular in history.

Campaigning for the White House, Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama has made much of his initial vote against the war in 2003.

John Bellamy Foster: `Capitalism has reached its limits'

Postscript to "The Financialization of Capital and the Crisis"

By John Bellamy Foster

October 26, 2008 -- Six months ago the United States was already deep in a financial crisis -- the roots of which were explained in `The Financialization of Capital and the Crisis' (Monthly Review, April 2008). Yet, the conditions now are several orders of magnitude worse and are affecting the entire world.

We are clearly in the midst of one of the great crises in the history of capitalism. More than a mere financial panic, what is taking place is a major devaluation of capital of still undetermined dimensions. Marx explained that capital was invariably over-extended in a boom and that in the crisis that followed a part of that capital was devalued, enabling the rest to return to profitability and to the process of accumulation and expansion.

Three left views on Obama: Howard Zinn, Mike Davis, Todd Chretien

Howard Zinn: `Obama creates an opening for change but direct action needed'


October 22, 2008 -- Real News Network -- Howard Zinn says vote against McCain, vote for Obama. Even though Obama does not represent any fundamental change, he creates an opening for a possibility of change. Obama will not fulfill that potential for change, unless he is enveloped by a social movement, which is angry enough, powerful enough, insistent enough, that he fills his abstract phrases about change with some content. We need direct action, because only that kind of indignation is going to have some affect on the people in Washington.

Howard Zinn is an historian, political scientist, social critic, activist and playwright. He is best known as author of the best-seller A People's History of the United States. Zinn has been active in the civil rights and the anti-war movements in the United States.

Don't pay for a failed system

US$700 billion dollars is twice the combined debt of the world’s poorest 49 countries.

By Tony Iltis

October 11, 2008 -- “Meltdown” is a word that one hears a lot on the news these days.

Despite the US$700 billion government bailout of banks in the US, similar (albeit smaller) bailouts in Europe, and various forms of state intervention in the finance industry on both sides of the Atlantic, sharemarkets worldwide are in free fall. Comparisons with the Great Depression of the 1930s are common. Homelessness and unemployment are rising and are set to increase dramatically.

Meanwhile, more quietly but even more relentlessly, another meltdown is occurring: that of the polar icecaps. According to the Western world’s establishment politicians and corporate media, the way to avert catastrophic climate change lies in setting up elaborate emissions trading schemes and carbon markets: that is, relying on precisely the mechanisms that have created the economic meltdown!

United States: The financial calamity, African Americans and Obama

Barack Obama supporters

By Malik Miah

October 8, 2008 -- The deepening financial calamity exposes how the “fundamentals” of the economy impact on working people, particularly African Americans. The so-called unfettered free market system has been a failure.

The issue of the economy has given the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, the first Black candidate for a major party, a big boost. After eight years of Bush-Cheney, Obama should be a shoo-in. Democrats are expected to garner big majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

John Bellamy Foster: Can the financial crisis be reversed?

Interview with John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review, for Página/12 (Argentina). This interview was first posted at MRzine on October 10, 2008, and has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

Página/12: What is your opinion about the decision of the US Treasury Department to consider taking ownership stakes in many United States banks? Do you think this is the right political-economic strategy? I mean, will it lead to the recovery of the system?

Richard D. Wolff: Capitalism hits the fan: a socialist solution

Richard Wolff is professor of economics at UMass Amherst. He talks about the underlying cause of the current capitalist crisis (NOT ``financial'' crisis) and capitalism in general. Socialism and workers' democracy is presented as the alternative. The talk was presented by the Association for Economic and Social Analysis and the journal Rethinking Marxism in early October 2008.

Capitalist versus socialist state intervention in the economy

By Martin Saatdjian

October 1, 2008 -- Venezelanalysis -- The current financial crisis reveals the first symptoms of a major, perhaps revolutionary, socioeconomic change in world affairs. Much has been said how, after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, capitalism overshadowed socialism and "the end of history" was decreed in much of the intellectual world. Not surprisingly, less has been mentioned that while socialism was dying in Europe, it was also blossoming in Latin America. In 1989, events known as El Caracazo -- major protests in Venezuela against neoliberalism and the "Washington Consensus" aimed at reducing the role of the state in the economy -- erupted. The election of Hugo Chavez as president of Venezuela in 1998 was a reaction not only to people's dislike [of neoliberalism] and the failure of neoliberalism, but also to the strong repression that followed the 1989 protests.

Four crises of the contemporary world capitalist system

By William K. Tabb

Monthly Review, October 8, 2008 -- This essay examines aspects of the global political economy that I hope will inform progressive governments and movements for social change. It evaluates the constraints and opportunities presented in the current conjuncture of world capitalist development by analysing four areas of crisis in the contemporary world capitalist system. These are not the only contradictory elements in the contemporary conjuncture, but they are, in my view, the most salient.

Updated with video and audio: The financial crisis: A socialist perspective

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October 4, 2008 (KPFA/Left Business Observer) Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin on the financial crisis, neoliberalism and the American empire -- the end of what, if anything, exactly? Listen HERE

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Real News Network interviews with Leo Panitch

October 10, 2008:

Wall Street crisis: Poor to bail out the rich again

By Peter Boyle

September 26, 2008 -- "Rich people got it good in this country", said African-American comedian Wanda Sykes on the September 24 Tonight Show with Jay Leno. "We refuse to let them not be rich. Think about it. Broke people are about to bailout rich people. This is what is going on."

"And they want no oversight. $700 billion dollars and no oversight! No oversight? Why should we? I want receipts dammit! What do you mean no oversight? Because, oh, you're so good with the other money?"

"This is the biggest piece of garbage ever. You know what? It's welfare for the rich...

Peter Camejo remembered: tributes from the left

Below are number left tributes to Peter Camejo, who died on September 13: from Green Left Weekly (Australia); Ralph Nader, US presidential candidate; veteran US socialist Barry Sheppard; Socialist Worker (USA) and Louis Proyect, moderator of the Marxism List (USA).

As a tribute, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has also republished two of Peter's most influential and enduring lectures (at http://links.org.au/node/625), talks that continue to educate young revolutionary socialists to this day. 

Peter Camejo.

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