Issue 14

Has the dictatorship over needs ended in eastern Europe?

By Laszlo Andor

Among state socialist countries, Hungary distinguished itself from the 1960s by introducing comprehensive economic reforms. These reforms, together with the so-called Prague Spring of Czechoslovakia, were typically interpreted as attempts to establish "socialism with a human face". A major feature of this new face was that the New Economic Mechanism[1] abandoned the Stalinist bias for forced accumulation and heavy industry, and improved the conditions of consumption and agriculture.

Contours of the Mexican left

By Phil Hearse

The left in Mexico is a huge and incredibly diverse phenomenon and one which is potentially extremely powerful. It encompasses tens of thousands of tenacious, devoted and often very brave men and women, fighting against a state which, despite the democratic space created in the past 20 years, still routinely responds to its worker and peasant opponents with disappearances, assassinations, imprisonment and torture. Every critical point made here has to be seen against that background.

The prospects for socialism (or barbarism)

By Boris Kagarlitsky

Not long before the European elections, in which the social democratic vote collapsed, two of the most authoritative social democratic leaders, Tony Blair and Gerhard Schröder, published a letter in which they formulated the principles of the so-called "new centre" (neue Mitte). These principles could be summed up as arguing that the traditional ideas of social democracy (redistribution, a mixed economy and state regulation in the spirit of Keynes) needed to be replaced by new approaches in the spirit of neo-liberalism.

True, the authors of the letter took their distance from neo-liberalism itself, stating that they did not share its illusions that all problems could be solved through market methods. At the same time, they proposed to solve the problems of world trade by liberalising it further. Instead of solidarity, they called for increased competition, and instead of job creation, for preparing young people better for life under the conditions of a constantly changing market conjuncture.

A critique of Norm Dixon's article, 'Marx, Engels and Lenin on the National Question'

By Malik Miah

Malik Miah is a member of the Editorial Board of Links and of the US socialist organisation Solidarity.

In Links Number 13, Norm Dixon writes: "The struggle of oppressed nations for national liberation remains one of the most burning issues in the world today". And therefore "socialists need to understand the national question if they are to make sense of the world, provide leadership and correctly determine their attitude and response to many international events".

I wholeheartedly agree. However, Dixon presents a formalistic and schematic understanding of the theory of the national question as first discussed by Marx and Engels in a period of rising capitalism and by Lenin in the age of imperialism. Dixon narrowly defines what a nation is and what Lenin means by self-determination, and rejects the nationalism of many oppressed peoples.

Scottish independence and the struggle for socialism

By Alan McCombes

Alan McCombes is the editor of Scottish Socialist Voice, the newspaper of the Scottish Socialist Party.

For socialists, internationalism has always been a sacred principle. "The workingmen have no country", declared the founders of scientific socialism 150 years ago.

In 1863, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels founded the International Workingmen's Association, the First International. The movement was created in recognition of the fact that the world was not a patchwork quilt of hermetically sealed national states, but a chain of interlinked nations in which major events in a single country could have continent-wide, and even worldwide, repercussions.

This world view was dramatically borne out by the events of 1917-1919, when the successful Bolshevik revolution immediately ignited a forest fire of mass revolutionary movements across Europe.

More recently, in the 1960s, the US ruling class expounded the "domino theory", and attempted to bomb Vietnam into oblivion for fear that "godless communism" would sweep through the whole of east Asia.

A brief introduction to the Socialist Party of Timor

By Max Lane

The Socialist Party of Timor (PST) is still a small party, with around 500-600 committed activists, now mostly based in branches in several East Timorese towns. It has received another 2000-2500 applications for membership in recent months. Its leaders acknowledge that the organisation is still in a very early stage of development and is not yet consolidated.

The left and UN military intervention in East Timor

By Terry Townsend

January-April 2000 -- The streets of what is left of Dili, the capital of East Timor, were packed on October 31, 1999, as tens of thousands of people joined a procession led by Catholic Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo. Ostensibly to mark the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, the procession was the culmination of two tumultuous months that brought the brutal 24-year-long Indonesian occupation and annexation of East Timor to an end.

Links 14: Editor's introduction

East Timor: The left and military intervention

Much in this issue continues the topic "socialism and nationalism", which was the theme of Links number 13, where we expressed the hope that the discussion would be ongoing in future issues. The topic is still, of course, far from exhausted.

In the recent past, the most dramatic eruption of the national issue into world politics occurred in regard to East Timor, the referendum on independence or autonomy, and the violent aftermath. In this Links, we carry

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