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The Holocaust: `May history attest to us' -- resistance, collaboration and survival

Monument to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, Warsaw, Poland.

Hitler’s Priests, by Kevin Spicer, Northern Illinois University Press, 2008, 369 pp. US$34.95

Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive, by Samuel D. Kassow, Indiana University Press, 2007, 523 pP., US$34.95

Kasztner’s Train: the True Story of an Unknown Hero of the Holocaust, by Anna Porter, Scribe, 2008, 548 pp., A$32.95

The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, Art Spiegelman, Pantheon, 1996, 296 pp., US$35.

Review by Barry Healy

July 28, 2009 -- In October 2008 the Catholic Synod of Bishops convened in Rome for a four-day theological discussion. Without warning, on the first day, Pope Benedict XVI suspended discussion and ordered the 200 participants to attend a special commemoration mass for Pius XII, who was the pope between 1939 and 1958.

Cuba -- How the workers and peasants made the revolution

Mass rally in Havana, 1959.

July 26, 2009, marks the 56th anniversary of the guerrilla attack on the Moncada military barracks by revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro in 1953, viewed by Cubans as the start of the revolution. 2009 is also the 50th anniversary year of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.

Chris Slee, author of Cuba: How the Workers & Peasants Made the Revolution (Resistance Books, 2008), explains how the revolution was made and defended by Cuba’s working people.

[For more coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, click HERE.]

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Workers, peasants and students played an active role before, during and after the insurrection that destroyed the brutal and corrupt US-backed Fulgencio Batista dictatorship in January 1959. Batista seized power in a coup in March 1952.

How the West exploits Africa

Ghana's elected President Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in a US-backed coup in 1966.

By Tony Iltis

July 18, 2009 -- US President Barack Obama used his African heritage in his July 11 speech to the Ghanaian parliament in Accra as justification for proceeding to blame Africa’s problems on its own people. 

He acknowledged historical Western crimes, but denied that ongoing suffering is caused by the current policies of the West. Western aggression and exploitation, Obama claims, are things of the past. A July 15 Los Angeles Times editorial said: “It was the same message about good governance they’d heard from presidents [Bill] Clinton and George W. Bush. No new programs or initiatives for Africa. But just because the message is old doesn't mean it's not worth repeating.”

Obama played up his own ancestry to appeal to his audience. He referred to the indignities his grandfather suffered under British colonial rule in Kenya, including being briefly imprisoned during the independence struggle of the 1950s and ’60s.

`Bishop of the slums' -- Dom Hélder Camara and Brazil's church of the poor

Dom Hélder Camara.

By Barry Healy

July 14, 2009 -- This year marks the centennial of the birth and the tenth anniversary of the death of one of the most significant religious figures of the 20th century, an instigator of the liberation theology trend in Latin American Catholicism and a campaigner against military dictatorship: Dom Hélder Camara.

Dom Hélder could have advanced himself to the position of cardinal and from there, who knows, possibly to the papacy itself. Instead, he stood for democracy in Brazil, despite threats to his life and certainly at the expense of his career. He represented the most extreme point that the Catholic hierarchy could go in standing with the poor in the tumultuous era following the Cuban Revolution and the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II).

Remembering Dom Hélder Camara is poignant in these times when the Vatican bureaucracy is headed by Benedict XVI, who, as Cardinal Ratzinger, oppressed the Latin American church precisely because of its identity with the poor.

The record of the Australian Labor Party: high hopes and big disappointments

Gough Whitlam campaigning in 1972.

[This talk was presented at the A Century of Struggle Laborism and the radical alternative: Lessons for today conference, held in Melbourne, Australia, on May 30, 2009. It was organised by Socialist Alliance and sponsored by Green Left Weekly, Australia’s leading socialist newspaper. To read other talks presented at the conference, click HERE.]

By Jeremy Smith

Why have we scheduled this talk? First, I want to mark part of the historical memory of the working class in a modest way. Second, it helps pull apart the myths of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and Laborism. Third, it addresses a century-long debate which goes back to the Victorian Socialist Party (VSP) and the Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World, IWW); a debate which remains unresolved. The high hopes held for Labor when it has been elected and the bitterest of disappointments felt after its failure to deliver leave for us lessons too easily forgotten. We need to remind ourselves of those lessons.

Versailles vs Comintern: two visions of world peace

Lenin addresses the opening of the second congress of the Communist International.

By Barry Healy

June 28, 2009, was the anniversary of the two bookends of World War I, in which it is estimated more than 15 million people died. On that date in 1914 Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo and, five years later, in 1919, 90 years ago this year, the Versailles Treaty was signed in Paris.

The first war in which the capacity of modern industry to deploy, feed, arm and dismember people was so hideously demonstrated, WWI was experienced by its victims as the "war to end all wars". Unfortunately, it proved not to be.

Out of the ashes of the conflict two competing visions of world peace arose: Versailles and the revolutionary and democratic alternative represented by the Communist International (Comintern) emanating from the 1917 Russian Revolution.

US President Woodrow Wilson swept into the treaty negotiations declaring: “The world must be made safe for democracy.” Over six months of intense horsetrading at Versailles a new imperialist order was hammered out, resulting in many of the conflicts that followed.

Jean Hale, 1912-2009 -- Farewell to a `most revered activist'

Jean Hale.

By Sylvia Hale

June 13, 2009 -- Jean Hale (nee Heathcote) was born on July 29, 1912, in Brisbane. Her grandfather, Wyndham Selfe Heathcote, was an Anglican clergyman who opposed the Boer War. His opposition to the Anglican Church's social policies and his opinions, such as this from one of his essays -– “The death of Jesus, as a social reformer using direct action, has been transmuted into the death of a God dying for the world” –- found him at loggerheads with the church and resulted in his leaving to become a Unitarian minister. His public speaking skills, which Jean inherited, were considerable. In October 1916 the Woman Voter reported that, “despite the large seating capacity of the building, thousands of people were turned away” from a debate between himself and Adela Pankhurst (the youngest member of the British suffragist family).

Australia's Green Left Weekly celebrates its 800th issue

Congratulations on reaching the 800th issue. It is not easy these days for independent left journals to sustain themselves, when they are so badly needed. Look forward to hearing about the 1000th.

-- Noam Chomsky, radical US activist, writer and intellectual

As so much of the corporate media becomes a parody of itself, the agents of power not of people, we need the view from ground more than ever and Green Left Weekly more than ever.

-- John Pilger, journalist and documentary maker

For the most up-to-date list of solidarity messages, please visit Green Left Weekly's greetings page.

June 28, 2009 -- The need for a radical green and left alternative to the monopolised corporate media is even greater today than when the first issue of Green Left Weekly came out in February 1991. From the outset we knew this non-profit project could survive only with the dedication and support from those inspired by a vision of democratic and ecologically sustainable socialist change.

Australia: Towards a history of the Communist Party of Australia

[These articles were first published in Green Left Weekly in 1995 to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of Australia.]

By John Percy

September 27, 1995 -- Seventy-five years ago, under the impact and inspiration of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, the Communist Party of Australia was founded. It was a modest beginning, but an historic event. The CPA formed in 1920 finally dissolved in 1991, but for most of its life it was the dominant party on the left in Australia and an important force in the workers movement.

There are many proud chapters in its history -- the numerous trade union struggles led; organising the unemployed, women, Aborigines, young people; important civil liberties fights; and solidarity with international struggles, in Spain, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa and East Timor, to name a few.
The CPA's founders had a vision of socialist revolution in Australia, and this was the goal of most of its rank-and-file members over the years. The party inspired dedication and commitment from thousands of men and women, and organised the most militant, idealistic, self-sacrificing section of the Australian working class.

But it was also a history of mistakes, of betrayals, of lost opportunities.

To mark this important anniversary, Green Left Weekly will be carrying a series of articles on the history of the CPA.

Communism in Australia

By Dave Holmes

[This talk was presented at the A Century of Struggle Laborism and the radical alternative: Lessons for today conference, held in Melbourne, Australia, on May 30, 2009. It was organised by Socialist Alliance and sponsored by Green Left Weekly, Australia’s leading socialist newspaper. To read other talks presented at the conference, click HERE.]

Iran: Government neoliberalism, repression fuel mass discontent

Mass protest in Tehran, June 15, 2009.

By Tony Iltis and Stuart Munckton

June 20, 2009 -- Since the June 12 Iranian presidential election, and the almost immediate announcement of a landslide victory for incumbent Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Iran has been convulsed by mass protests alleging electoral fraud. 

Despite savage repression, including mass arrests, beatings of protesters, attacks on universities and at least 22 deaths, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets daily. The protests started in Tehran on June 13, but have spread throughout the country. The protesters have been calling for a re-run of the election, claiming that Mir-Hossein Mousavi won the elections despite the official results giving Ahmedinejad 64%.

The protests are occurring despite both Ahmedinejad and Mousavi emerging from within the same undemocratic regime and holding similar positions on many issues. Mousavi is presented in the Western media as a “reformer”, however he was prime minister during the 1980s when the regime committed some of its worst atrocities.

Trade unions and New Zealand’s economic crisis

By Grant Brookes

Unity, May 2009 -- Comparisons now abound between the global economic crisis of 2009 and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Naturally, there are similarities and differences. The following bleak assessment of the role of trade unions in the early 1930s comes from the best-known book by one of New Zealand’s foremost social historians of the 20th century:

The Industrial Workers of the World in Australia: achievements and limitations

The IWW's newspaper Direct Action campaigned opposed capitalist war in 1914.

[This talk was presented at the Laborism and the radical alternative: Lessons for today conference, held in Melbourne, Australia, on May 30, 2009. It was organised by Socialist Alliance and sponsored by Green Left Weekly, Australia’s leading socialist newspaper. To read other talks presented at the conference, click HERE.]

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By Verity Burgmann

China: Looking back on the 1989 democracy movement and the Tiananmen Square massacre

To mark the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reproduces an excerpt from the analysis by an eyewitness to the 1989 democratic upsurge that preceded the brutal attack. The writer was an Australian socialist who was studying in China at the time. It first appeared in Green Left Weekly on June 26, 1996.

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By Liang Guosheng

On June 4, 1989, troops, armoured personnel carriers and tanks of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) forced their way through human and constructed barricades into central Beijing, taking control of Tiananmen Square. In the process, according to an estimate by Amnesty International soon afterwards, approximately 1000 unarmed protesters were gunned down or otherwise killed.

Numerous eyewitness accounts confirmed the extent of the massacre. The dead were students and other Beijing workers and residents who had gathered the previous evening to protest against the PLA's forced entry into central Beijing and the square, which on May 20, 1989, China's Premier Li Peng had declared a martial law district.

Fidel Castro’s declarations of resistance

Review by Alex Miller

The Declarations of Havana,
by Fidel Castro, with an introduction by Tariq Ali,
Verso, 2008, 138 pages

May 22, 2009 -- As Cuba celebrates the 50th anniversary of the revolution that overthrew the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, it is fitting that three of the most famous documents relating to the struggle against Batista and the early days of the revolution are published together in a single volume. The Declarations of Havana is part of Verso’s new “revolutions” series.

By reading the three documents back-to-back, one is able to trace the development of the Cuban Revolution from its nationalist-democratic beginnings to its socialist conclusion.

On July 26, 1953, a 26-year-old lawyer named Fidel Castro — along with his younger brother Raul — led an armed attack on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba, hoping to spark an uprising that would remove the hated Batista from power.

South Korea: The legacy of the 1980 Kwangju uprising

South Korean troops march on Kwangju, May 1980.

On the weekend of May 15-18, 2009, the city of Kwangju, South Korea, held the Kwangju International Peace Forum to celebrate the struggle for democracy in South Korea and to support similar struggles elsewhere in Asia. Christopher Kerr of South Korea-based solidarity group Venceremos caught up with George Katsiaficas to discuss the legacy of the 1980 Kwangju uprising. Katsiaficas is visiting professor of sociology at Chonnam National University and author/editor of numerous books on international social movements including South Korean Democracy -- Legacy of the Gwangju Uprising and Unknown Uprisings: South Korean Social Movements Since World War 2).

* * *

Chris Kerr: What happened in May 1980 in Kwangju and how was it significant to the democracy movement at that time?

Sri Lankan socialists call for self-determination for Tamils

Sydney, May 1, 2009. Photo by Peter Boyle.

May 13, 2009 -- The statement below was presented at a press conference by Vickramabahu Karunarathne (``Bahu''), general secretary of the Nava Sama Samaaja Party (NSSP, New Socialist Party). It was first published at Liam Macuaid's blog. Below the statement is a document that outlines the NSSP's position on Tamil national self-determination.

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There is an international commotion about the bloodbath and the human disaster in Lanka. It can lead eventually to an international intervention that could enslave everybody. We called this press conference to make everybody aware of the developing situation.

April 30: Vietnam celebrates Liberation Day

By Peter Boyle

April 30, 2009 -- Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific -- There are two unforgettable images of Vietnam's Liberation Day on April 30, 1975. The first is the image of liberation fighters entering the Independence Palace (now Reunification Palace) in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). The second is the hasty evacuation by helicopter from the roof of the US embassy.

Thirty-four years later Vietnam will celebrate not just the end of a 16-year war of aggression by the US, Australia and other imperialist and pro-imperialist states but also the end of the two-decade-long economic blockade that was subsequently imposed by the US on this poor and war-ravaged nation.

50 years after: The tragedy of China’s `Great Leap Forward'

By John Riddell

April 21, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- On October 1, the People’s Republic of China will mark the 60th anniversary of its foundation. This will be an occasion to celebrate one of the most influential victories of popular struggle in our era.

This great uprising forged a united and independent Chinese state, freed the country from foreign domination and capitalist rule, ended landlordism, provided broad access to education and health care, and set in motion popular energies that modernised and industrialised its economy. The revolutionary triumph of 1949 laid the foundation for China’s present dynamism and influence, as well as providing an enormous impetus to anti-colonial revolution worldwide.

Yet despite these gains, the socialist movement and ideology that headed the revolution, identified with Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong, disappeared from China soon after his death in 1976. The revolution’s central leader is still revered, but his doctrines have been set aside. The country’s present leadership has promoted private capitalist accumulation, not socialist planning, as China’s chief engine of growth. Its policies have aroused much popular protest, but not a revived Maoist movement.

Available for download: Barry Sheppard's The Party: The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988: A Political Memoir -- The Sixties

Barry Sheppard, 1964, editor of the Militant newspaper. Photo by Ed Shaw.

http://www.barrysheppardbook.com/ -- Barry Sheppard was a member of the US Socialist Workers Party for 28 years, and a central leader for most of that time. This is the first of two volumes recounting his life in the party. It is a case study in the inspiration and difficulties involved in building the nucleus of a revolutionary socialist party.

This book covers from 1960 to 1973, the period of radicalisation known as "The Sixties". Walking picket lines for Black civil rights, helping to organise the anti-Vietnam War movement, interviewing Malcolm X, meeting with US soldiers in Vietnam, defending the Cuban Revolution, collaborating with socialists worldwide including in Australia, India, France and Japan -- Barry Sheppard has lived a life enriched by contact with and involvement in popular struggles around the world.

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