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Issue 15

International workers' movement news

Socialist Party of Timor congress

The Socialist Party of Timor (PST) held its first national congress on February 10-11 in Dili. Some 250 delegates from across East Timor discussed and debated the way forward for the party.

Opening remarks were made by the party president, Pedro da Costa. Because he had operated underground during the Indonesian occupation, da Costa’s identity was unknown to most members until the congress.

For a materialist analysis of national and racial oppression

By Norm Dixon

Norm Dixon is a member of the National Committee of the Australian Democratic Socialist Party and a journalist for Green Left Weekly.

In his critique of my article in Links Number 13, "Marx, Engels and Lenin on the National Question", Malik Miah (Links Number 14) charges that "Dixon presents a formalistic and schematic understanding of the theory of the national question" and "narrowly defines what a nation is and what Lenin means by self-determination, and rejects the nationalism of many oppressed peoples".

The purpose of my article was to reassert that the Marxist theory of the national question as it was developed by Marx, Engels and Lenin and definitively outlined in Stalin's 1913 pamphlet, Marxism and the National Question is firmly based on a materialist, scientific analysis of what does and does not constitute a nation.

Another purpose of the article was to alert to the consequences that losing sight of this scientific socialist understanding of a nation can lead to at the least, ideological confusion, and, at worst, support for politically inappropriate, incorrect or even reactionary slogans and demands.

Estrada's decline and the Philippines' left

By Sonny Melencio

Former movie actor Joseph Estrada was elected president of the Philippines in a landslide vote in June 1998. This electoral mandate, however, paled in comparison with the people’s mandate that brought Corazon Aquino to power in 1986. The latter was a product, not of an election, but of the people’s power uprising known as EDSA.

This comparison is significant in that Estrada’s landslide represents a lowered expectation of the masses in the government that they voted into office. The people’s euphoria during the initial period of the Aquino administration was subsequently damped by the regime’s incapacity to alleviate the destitution of the people during its six-year existence. The succeeding administration of Fidel Ramos was a continuation of this suffering.

Women's liberation and the fight for socialism

By Lisa Macdonald

With the advent of the long economic downturn in the mid-1970s, capitalism launched the most concerted worldwide offensive against women's rights in 40 years. In the neo-colonial countries, women are bearing the brunt of IMF and World Bank-imposed economic structural adjustment programs, the rise of religious fundamentalism in many countries is pushing women back into the dark ages, and women are the largely invisible victims in the increasing number of localised wars over the ever shrinking resources not in the hands of the imperialists.

In the former Soviet bloc countries, as the restoration of capitalism removes most of the protections for workers that accompanied the planned economy, it is women who are thrown first onto the scrap heap as privatisation creates skyrocketing unemployment and public welfare spending is slashed.

And in the imperialist countries, the gap between average male and female earnings is widening again, abortion access is under attack, and the right wing's propaganda campaigns against the so-called special privileges of disadvantaged groups and for the strengthening of the traditional family are rapidly gaining ground.

Militant: what went wrong?

By Phil Hearse

Phil Hearse came into politics through the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and subsequently joined the Young Communist League in 1962 at the age of 13. He was expelled in 1963 for being a member of a "Trotskyist-led faction". From 1967, he was for 27 years a member of the British section of the Fourth International, before joining Militant Labour in 1994. After three years he left with a small group to help found Socialist Democracy.

On internationalism and internationals

by B. Sivaraman

B. Sivaraman is a member of the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and editor of its journal Liberation.

The viability of Marxism

By Maria Luisa Fernández

Maria Luisa Fernández is the Cuban consul-general in Australia. This is the text of her opening address to the Marxism 2000 Conference in Sydney.

Dear friends: It is really an honour to have the opportunity of being here with all of you in this event. The study and understanding of Marxism are not easy. Many things have to be taken into account when those concepts are to be applied to any specific country, such as: history, culture, idiosyncrasies, economic development.

Cuba has a long history of wars of independence, of colonial and neo-colonial status, a school of revolutionary anti-imperialist thoughts whose leader was José Martí in the 19th century. Bearing in mind that we are far from being a perfect society, the Cuban revolution tried its best when applying Marxist concepts.

Conference reaffirms Marxism in the 21st century

By Margaret Allum

"In the world, the tendency today is to bury Marxism and communism. The equation is simple: the collapse of the European socialist bloc is the end of the ideology and the theory that inspired their existence. But Marxist and communist ideas have today, perhaps more than ever, the possibility of demonstrating their viability.”

With these words Maria Luisa Fernandez, the Cuban consul-general, opened the Marxism 2000 conference in Richmond, just outside of Sydney, from January 5 to 9. Her speech followed a welcome by Colin Giles, a representative of the local Darug Aboriginal people.

Marxism 2000, initiated and organised by the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), was the second Asia Pacific Solidarity Conference; the first was held in April 1998, also in Sydney.

Far from being a collective international obituary to the ideas and practice of Marxism, Marxism 2000 was instead a vibrant reassertion of the urgent need to build an alternative to the capitalist system and a reminder that such an alternative is the only way to solve massive global inequalities.

International left collaboration and socialist renewal

By John Percy

Introduction

As we reflect on the tumultuous twentieth century -- ``wars, revolutions, crises and constant technological change -- we have to reaffirm that socialism, now more than ever, is necessary for the future development of humanity. In fact, it's necessary for preventing society's collapse into barbarism and the ecological destruction of the planet. Marxism not only has continuing relevance; it's more applicable than ever. Society continues to be divided into economically opposed classes. Capitalism expropriates the wealth created by working people through their labour. Social production on a world scale is the norm, yet the fruits of that production remain privately owned and controlled. There is an obscene and widening gap between rich and poor, within countries and between countries: in 1995, 358 billionaires had a total wealth equal to the combined income of the world's 2.3 billion poorest people. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, demoralisation among left forces has been extensive. Some were bought off by crumbs from the imperialist table and have become outright defenders of the capitalist system. Some parties shut up shop, like the

LInks 15: Editor's introduction

Internationalism in the new century

This issue of Links features Marxism 2000, the second Asia Pacific Solidarity and Education Conference, organised by the Democratic Socialist Party and held in Sydney in January. A full description of this conference is presented beginning on page 29. A major theme of the conference, and of this issue, is internationalism - not in the abstract, but in terms of both the real content and real forms that should reflect and enhance that content.

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