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Farooq Tariq, Awami Workers Party: 'Left unity a precious gain amid right-wing advances in Pakistan'

Farooq Tariq

April 10, 2014 -- Socialist Alliance/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- One of the international guests at the 10th national conference of the Socialist Alliance, to be held in Sydney June 7-9, 2014, will be Farooq Tariq, general secretary of the Awami Workers Party (AWP) in Pakistan. Conference organiser and Green Left Weekly correspondent Peter Boyle interviewed Tariq on April 10. He will speak on "The struggle for democracy and justice in Pakistan" on June 7 at the Addison Road Community Centre, Marrickville, Sydney.

Get your ticket here.

* * *

It has been nearly a year and a half since the Awami Workers Party was formed out of a merger of the Awami Party Pakistan, the Labour Party Pakistan and the Worker’s Party Pakistan. How is this united party going today?

Venezuela: (Updated March 17) Asia-Pacific socialists pledge continuing solidarity with revolution

If your organisation would like to sign this statement, please email: international@socialist-alliance.org

March 11, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Socialists in Asia-Pacific pledge support for Venezuela’s socialist revolution, a year after Chavez’s death.

March 5 marked one year since the death of Venezuela's president and revolutionary Hugo Chavez. An outspoken fighter for the oppressed in Venezuela and Latin America, the loss of Chavez is still felt keenly by socialists and anti-imperialists globally.

But the Bolivarian revolution that Chavez led is a mass movement of millions of people that lives on in the barrios and workplaces in Venezuela. This process, led by the government of President Nicolas Maduro, is facing fresh attacks by right-wing forces backed by the United States.

The recent violent protests by a minority that has repeatedly been defeated at the ballot box has caused widespread destruction and terror. Along with at least 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries, public buildings and government-run, pro-poor social missions have been attacked by opposition protesters, at the estimated cost of up to 10 million bolivars.

The international media has presented this fascist violence as a peaceful democracy struggle that has been repressed by a dictatorial Maduro government. This turns reality on its head.

Malaysian and Philippines activists: 'Solidarity with the revolutionary Venezuelan people against far-right violence'

For more on Venezuela, click HERE.

By the Socialist Party of Malaysia/Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)

February 20, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) is deeply concerned over the current situation in Venezuela where the Bolivarian Revolution is threatened by violent attacks from the far-right opposition, which aims to restore the oligarchic rule of big business and corporate interests in Venezuela.

Venezuelan right-wing opposition groups launched their latest assault on February 12 2014 by staging violent demonstrations to destabilise the Bolivarian government led by President Nicolas Maduro. Violent clashes took place and resulted in three deaths, including the death of Juan Montoya, a revolutionary community leader and staunch supporter of the Bolivarian Revolution who died from gunshot wounds in Barrio 23 de Enero. The latest incident is reminiscent of the events that led to the failed coup against then President Hugo Chavez on April 11, 2002. Right-wing opposition forces backed by the US government have employed such tactics many times in Venezuela in their attempt to defeat the Bolivarian Revolution and to restore the ancien régime which championed the savage neoliberal economic order.

Malaysia: Socialists to form Left Coalition 'to bring back class politics'

PSM secretary general S. Arutchelvan.

By Chen Shaua Fui, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

February 13, 2014 -- fz.com -- The Parti Sosialis Malaysia (Socialist Party of Malaysia, PSM), together with some other groups and individuals, is forming a body called Left Coalition to bring class politics to Malaysia..

PSM secretary general S. Arutchelvan said it is looking at forming the coalition with Parti Rakyat Malaysia, Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia and other activists and individuals.

"We are trying to bring back class politics. We feel the younger generations are actually more receptive to more radical and progressive ideologies... The 1969 (May 13) racial riot and the Cold War have not corrupted their minds. They don’t have this fear of communism because they live in a different era. And when the government said communism is evil, there were a lot of counter arguments in the social media. We think it’s the time for the left to grow”, he told fz.com.

An astute observer of Malaysian politics, Arutchelvan felt that after 1969 and the implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP), Malaysian politics had moved from class politics based on left or right ideologies to racial and religious politics.

Thailand: February 2 election has solved nothing; unity of democratic forces needed

Anti-democratic thugs opened fire on those wanting to vote.

For more on Thailand, click HERE.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

February 3, 2014 -- Ugly Truth Thailand -- The February 2 general election cannot solve the Thai political crisis because those lined up against the government and the holding of democratic elections are fundamentally opposed to democracy.

The election was marred by violence from Democrat Party thugs who were determined to prevent the election taking place. Armed thugs fired automatic weapons into crowds of people who were expressing their wish to vote. These thugs have been enjoying total impunity for over a month while intimidating voters and candidates.

Thailand: Anti-democratic thugs unleash violence around Bangkok’s voting stations

Anti-democratic protesters attempt to disrupt pre-poll voting, January 26, 2013.

For more on Thailand, click HERE.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

January 27, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On January 26, the Democrat Party’s mad dogs unleashed violence around Bangkok’s voting stations. Voting stations throughout the country were supposed to be open for people to cast their votes in advance on the February 2 general election. Advanced voting is a required service since it is compulsory for people to cast their ballot.

In many areas of Bangkok, angry residents argued with the anti-democratic protesters. They also protested against local election commissioners who closed voting stations whether or not they were surrounded by Sutep Tuaksuban’s Democrat Party thugs. At some stations the thugs physically attacked citizens who wanted to vote. What happened on the day shows that significant sections of the Bangkok population are opposed to the Democrat Party’s attempts to wreck the election. This will only come as a surprise to those commentators who claim that the Thai crisis is a “rural vs Bangkok” dispute. At the last election almost half of the Bangkok electorate voted for Pheu Thai.

Philippines: 'Forward, bayanihang sosyalismo!' Popularising a socialism 'with local colour'

The above video presents a summary of the activities of the Partido lakas ng Masa in 2012-2013.

Introduction by Reihana Mohideen

January 24, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following is the English-language translation of a document on bayanihan socialism that was presented at the convention of the Philippines socialist party Partido lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses, PLM) in December.2013.

It is an attempt to project more strongly the socialist character of PLM and at the same time to popularise the ideas of socialism to a mass audience in the Philippines. Lessons were drawn from the Latin American experience, of linking the egalitarian principles of socialism with national and Indigenous historical experiences and traditions. It also flows from the understanding that it's no longer enough to struggle around specific issues, but that there is an urgent need to put forward an alternative vision or possibility, that is socialism, in a way that the masses can understand.

Another important question raised in the paper is the restructuring of the working class, towards contractualisation and the growth of the informal economy and the urban poor, which is an important area for ongoing discussion and assessment. 

Cambodia: Truthout's outrageous attack on garment workers' struggle for a living wage

Striking garment workers marching to the Ministry for of Labor Vocational Training with placard demanding US$160 a month minimum wage, December 30. Photo by Workers Information Centre, Cambodia.

By Chrek Sophea, Phnom Penh

January 20, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- I was deeply saddened to read the article by Anne Elizabeth Moore titled “What’s the Price of Workers’ Lives in Cambodia?”, published on January 17 in the US-based Truth-out.org website.

This story contained an outrageous attack on the Cambodian garment workers' demonstration over the minimum wage by a well-known Cambodian blogger, academic and human rights activist Sopheap Chak.

I am used to hearing such arguments from employers as a way to escape from their responsibility to pay workers a decent wage, but I did not expect this from an experienced human rights activist.

Chak, program director for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), claimed she has been watching the recent events closely, but disparaged the garment workers' campaign for a US$160 a month minimum wage.

China: Behind workers' declining share of the economy

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared.]

By Hao Qi

January 2014 -- Monthly Review -- In the past two decades, China’s economic growth has been increasingly dependent on investment.1 To maintain the growth of investment, China must sustain a fairly high rate of profit, and the fall in labour’s share has been seen as a crucial factor to sustain profitability.2 Using a raw measure of labour’s share—the compensation of employees as a percent of GDP—as shown by the bottom solid line in Chart 1, labour’s share has experienced a major decline from 51.4 percent in 1995 to 42.4 percent in 2007.

Cambodia: Striking garment workers killed in brutal repression: interview, photos

 Striking garment worker shows spent cartridges from police and military shootings the Veng Sreng Street in Phnom Penh on January 3. Photo by Malay Tim, President Cambodian Youth Network.

* * *

Chrek Sophea, former garment worker and interim coordinator of the Worker’s Information Centre (WIC), a women garment workers' base association in Phnom Penh, interviewed by Peter Boyle

South Korea: Rail workers strike against privatisation, general strike called

Railway workers' three-week strike against privatisation garnered wide support—and government repression. Photo by DDanzi Ilbo.

By Li San

January 8, 2014 -- Labor Notes -- South Korea’s railway workers have ended a 22-day strike, the longest such stoppage in the country’s history. Though they didn’t win a clear victory, they succeeded in placing the issue of privatisation in public focus.

The government’s and management’s attack on the strike was ruthless to the point of recklessness, while the public’s solidarity and sympathy with the striking workers continued to rise.

And the full impact of the action has yet to ripple out. Amid rising political tensions, the country’s biggest union umbrella, the 700,000-strong Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), has called for a one-day general strike February 25.

Privatisation Plans Sparked Strike

About 15,000 unionists, or about 45 per cent of the workforce, of Korea Railroad Corporation (Korail) walked off the job December 9 to protest what they saw as a preliminary step to privatising rail service—a plan by management to spin off the most lucrative slice of its business.

Thailand: Yingluck sleepwalks into the trap set by anti-democratic forces

Yingluck Shinawatra (centre).

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

December 21, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Pheu Thai government were pressurised into dissolving parliament by a nasty coalition of Sutep Tuaksuban’s Democrat Party, middle-class protesters, pro-military academics, conservative civil servants and NGO groups. This is the same coalition that supported the 2006 military coup.

Having now tasted blood, they want more. They are demanding that Yingluck resigns her position as caretaker prime minster, a role stipulated by the constitution. They want the election to be boycotted by opposition parties. They also want to postpone the general election, which is due in early February. They are justifying this by their dishonest claim to want to “reform” Thai politics before any new election.

India: Fearless freedom for women won’t be stopped by the wall of reaction

Protesters from the All India Progressive Women's Association in Delhi, December 22-23, 2012.

[For more discussion of feminism, click HERE. For more on India, click HERE.]

Editorial from the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation’s ML Update

December 16, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- “What has changed since last December?” is the question everyone is asking a year after the brutal gang rape and murder that sparked off a massive movement. After all, the number of rapes and sexual assaults are higher than ever, and women certainly don’t feel safer.

The terrible legacy of Agent Orange and dioxin

US wages chemical warfare on Vietnam.

By Coral Wynter                       

December 16, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Agent Orange was manufactured by Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemicals to use as a herbicide and defoliant in the Vietnam War. Agent Orange is the combination of the code names for Herbicide Orange (HO) and Agent LNX.

At the famous Battle of Dien Bien Phu, North Vietnamese General Giap and the Viet Minh forces totally defeated the French army on May 7, 1954, and the French garrison surrendered. At the 1954 Geneva Conference, the French negotiated a ceasefire agreement with the Viet Minh, and its leader Ho Chi Minh, and independence was granted to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

India: Scrap Article 377, defend LGBTI/queer rights through mass movements

The Supreme Court verdict that the colonial era Article 377 criminalising alternative sexualities is constitutional has resulted in mass protests by the LGBT community and by its supporters. December 15 was the global day of rage. This is the Kolkata protest. Photos courtesy of Kunal Chattopadhyay.

By Soma Marik

December 15, 2013 -- Radical Socialist -- In 1895, during the trial of Oscar Wilde, the German socialist Eduard Bernstein wrote a few articles in the German Social Democratic press on the issue. While confused by today’s standards, Bernstein made a few cogent points. On the view that same sex relations were unnatural, Bernstein commented:

Thailand: There is no 'crisis of succession'

 Ordinary Red Shirts struggle for democracy, dignity and social justice, while Thaksin and his political allies wage a very different campaign to regain the political influence they enjoyed before the 2006 coup d'état.

For more on Thailand, click HERE.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

December 14, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The hypothesis that the present long-running unrest in Thailand is primarily caused by a “crisis of succession” assumes that the Thai monarch has real power and that he has been constantly intervening in politics. That is just not the case and the real cause of the crisis lies elsewhere.

Thailand does not have an absolute monarch or North Korean-style despot in his twilight years, with factions fighting over who will be the next ruler. The Thai absolute monarchy was overthrown in the 1932 revolution, and since then, power has been shared and disputed among the military and civilian elites and the top businesspeople. For much of the time between 1932 and the mid-1980s, the elites ruled by dictatorship. But this has become harder and harder to do ever since the mass uprising against the military in 1973.

Australia’s national interest versus Timor-Leste, 1941-2006

For more on East Timor, click HERE.

By Gaetano Greco, Francesco Faraci and Michael Cooke

In our Manichaean enthusiasms we in the West made haste to dispense whenever possible with the economic, intellectual and institutional baggage of the twentieth century and encouraged others to do so likewise... Not only did we fail to learn very much from the past – this would hardly have been remarkable. But we have become stridently insistent – in our economic calculations, our political practices, our international strategies, even our educational priorities – that the past has nothing of interest to teach us. Ours, we insist, is a new world; its risks and opportunities are without precedent. -- Tony Judt[1]

Thailand: Round one to Yingluck government

For more on Thailand, click HERE.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

December 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A semblance of calm has returned to Bangkok as the royalist anti-democratic protesters were allowed to symbolically occupy Government House. They took pictures and then left. A temporary truce has occurred around the king’s birthday, December 5, since the royalists did not want to appear disrespectful to their “dear leader”.

The government also wants to show its loyalty by staging the usual ceremonies in a calm atmosphere. Thaksin Shinawatra, after all, is a royalist too.

But don’t be fooled. The aged king has no real power and he has never been brave enough to stick his neck out and do anything under his own initiative. He is the tool of the military and the elites. The real power is with the army.

So what is the score so far in the battle between the royalist conservatives and the elected government?

Nepal elections: Defeat for Maoists, gains for a united left

Despite all the ideological weaknesses, the left in Nepal remains a mass force that is not seen in any other country of the region.

By Farooq Tariq

November 28, 2013 -- Viewpoint (Pakistan) -- I was present as an International Observer to the November 19 general elections in Nepal, invited by the National Election Observation Committee (NEOC). Polling was unexpectedly peaceful. Interestingly enough only 226 out of the 601 Constituent Assembly seats are directly elected. That is, the majority of seats are elected through a proportional voting system.

More than 70 per cent of Nepal’s eligible voters participated in the November 19 vote despite an election boycott and transportation strike by a coalition of 33 parties, led by the CPN-Maoist. It is clear that the boycott strategy failed.

Just eight days after the election -- when I am writing these lines -- we can begin to view the shape of the new assembly. What is shocking is that right-wing forces have been able to advance despite the fact that three main communist parties -- Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist, United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and CPN-Maoist -- still remain a major force in Nepal and enjoy the sympathy of the majority.

Wildcat strikes push China to write new anti-labour laws

Striking Honda workers, 2010.

By Ellen David Friedman

November 27, 2013 -- Labor Notes -- More than 30 years since China opened up to foreign investment, wildcat strikes surge month after month. They are driven by workers with no meaningful access to union representation, to a worker centre, to the media, to legal mechanisms, or to government intervention on their behalf. And yet workers in industries from electronics to health care continue to strike, impelled by low wages as low as US$2 an hour.

This raw resistance has generally gotten employers to give in to strikers’ economic demands. The typical wage is minimum wage, but overtime and the mandatory social insurances are often not properly paid, so workers’ demands are frequently just to get their legal due, which employers can easily meet.

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