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General strike shakes France’s Caribbean colonies

Introduction by Richard Fidler

February 26, 2009 -- Life on the Left -- The general strike in two French colonies in the Caribbean is firm, with no end in sight. It began in Guadeloupe on January 20 and spread to neighbouring Martinique on February 5 as a protest against the high cost of living and, more generally, the gross inequality between the conditions of the black population and a tiny white elite, descendants of slaveholders, who control most industry and agriculture.

The two islands, each with a population of about 400,000, are officially designated overseas departments of France, and the repression of the strikers by the French government, which has flown in more than a thousand gendarmes from the metropolis, has underscored their colonial oppression.

The islands, along with two other French colonies — French Guiana in South America and La Réunion in the Indian Ocean, both of which are experiencing mounting unrest — have the highest unemployment rates in the European Union, double those of metropolitan France. Also, prices of basic commodities and food staples, most of them imported, are much higher.

Chavismo: Christian, pro-Muslim, pro-Jewish and anti-Nazi

By Roy Chaderton Matos, Venezuela's ambassador to the Organization of American States. Translated by Yoshie Furuhashi for MRZine, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

January 30, 2009 -- Watching television footage of one of the necessary and legitimate protests against the Israeli Embassy in Caracas, I spotted a lone sign with a slogan that left me thunderstruck.  The slogan was something like: "We condemn Hitler for not having completed his work of extermination..."

The frightening message, totally alien to the Bolivarian process and the Chavista commitment to liberty, democracy, equality and social justice, shows that, every now and then in our struggles and protests, "loose cannons" come dog us and that we have to detect them and neutralise them and expel them like any foreign body.

`For international solidarity between workers' -- British left debates Lindsey oil refinery strike wave (updated Feb. 7)

Below are a range of views from the British and Scottish left on the strike wave that erupted at the Lindsey oil refinery and rapidly spread across the country. Statements from Socialist Resistance, Scottish Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party, Respect MP George Galloway, the Socialist Party, the Morning Star, Lenin's Tomb blog and the Socialist Unity blog.

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For international solidarity between workers

Socialist Resistance statement

African American students discuss Cuba’s healthcare revolution

Radio Open Source carried this interview with three medical students from the United States studying in Cuba.
But the core of our long conversations is medicine, the Cuban way. This is aggressive, free, hands-on healthcare that makes house calls, and lingers for the feel of emotions and homelife. Doctors’ training -- like doctors’ care -- is free: the payback required of the students here from all over the hemisphere is only that they return to under served areas of their home countries...Their thinking on social determinants of health, on the primacy of public health and the vital role of prevention strategies are unmatched in the world. With spending of less than US$200 per person per year for health care, they have achieved health outcomes no different than in the USA where expenditures now exceed $7000 per person annually!”.

Black president in the White House: Not the `same old white supremacy' but …

Barack Obama delivers his inaugural address after being sworn in as president of the United States. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

By Mike Ely

For literally millions of people, for many of a new generation, the awakening to politics starts in these moments. This is the world, the arguments, the summations, the claims, the promises that they hear and that they will see unfold in the days ahead. We need to understand this moment, we need to also inhabit this world that they are seeing — in order to craft from among them a revolutionary force that can actually connect with and represent their highest hopes.

Civil rights campaigner, musician Odetta remembered

Odetta (300)
Keystone / Hulton Archive

Odetta was often called "The voice of the civil rights movement."

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.

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.

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.

Obama raises hopes but pledges more war

By Barry Sheppard

September 14, 2008 -- Socialist Voice -- The nomination of Barack Obama as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party is historic. He is the first African American presidential candidate of one of the two major capitalist parties. He may win the election and become the first black president, something inconceivable only two years ago. That a black man might become head of government in a society still marked by ingrained racism puts race at the centre of the election campaign — more on this below.

Obama gave his acceptance speech at the end of the Democratic Party convention to some 84,000 people. Such a turnout for a presidential candidate is itself unprecedented. During the Democratic Party primary campaign Obama regularly spoke to audiences of thousands. He has raised hopes in a nation weary of war and which is in a worsening economic downturn hitting workers and the middle class hard.

South Africa: The state, xenophobia and nationalism

By Dale T. McKinley

Johannesburg, September 2008 -- While the violent intensity and geographical spread of the recent attacks on immigrants across South Africa certainly surprised most of us, we should not have been surprised that such attacks happened — or at the state’s response.

We shouldn’t be surprised given the political and socio-economic context within which the post-1994 South African state was formed and has functioned. It is only by analysing this context, with particular reference to the “marriage” of nationalist politics and “nation-building” alongside economic neoliberalism, that we can understand and critically appraise the reaction of the South African state to the recent xenophobic pogroms.

When the dominant force in South Africa’s liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC), came to power in the 1994 elections, it took political control of an existent state that had been built to secure the interests of a national capitalist class.

Martin Luther King's last struggle -- a talk by Brian Jones

Teacher and actor Brian Jones educated and moved his audience with his talk, ``Martin Luther King's last struggle'' at the United States' International Socialist Organization's ``Socialism 2008'' conference in Chicago on June 20, 2008.

 

Since 1999, Jones has portrayed Karl Marx in Howard Zinn's play Marx in Soho in US tours. He lent his voice to the audio recording of Noam Chomsky's book Hegemony or Survival and to several staged readings from Zinn's latest book, Voices of a People's History of the United States. He is a teacher in New York and contributes frequently to the Socialist Worker newspaper and the International Socialist Review magazine.

Socialism conferences are sponsored annually by the Center for Economic Research and Social Change, publisher of International Socialist Review and Haymarket Books. Conferences are co-sponsored by the International Socialist Organization, publisher of Socialist Worker and Obrero Socialista.

The elephant in the room: Obama, the left and the race question

By Malik Miah

August 10, 2008 -- Much of the world is fascinated by the current US presidential election. The main reason is because the United States is ready to do something that most developed countries would never consider doing: electing a representative from an oppressed minority as head of state.

Olympics 1968: Black Power Salute

At the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games the enduring image was Tommie Smith and John Carlos, African-American athletes, raising their gloved clenched fists in support of the Black Power movement during the ``Star Spangled Banner''. They were subsequently banned from the games for life. Black Power Salute looks at what inspired them to make their protest, and what happened to them after the Games. Featuring Tommie Smith, Lee Evans, Bob Beamon and Delroy Lindo. Click HERE for parts 2-6.

Also read about Peter Norman, the Australian athlete who gained third place, who supported Smith's and Carlos' protest. Norman is the subject of a new documentary, Salute, which can be previewed here.

Part 1

 

The xenophobia outbreak in South Africa: Strategic questions facing the new social movements

By Oupa Lehulere

June 2008 -- The township of Alexandra outside Johannesburg, South Africa, has a long history of resistance to oppression and exploitation. In the late 1950s Alex (as it is popularly referred to) was the centre of bus boycotts against increases in fares and of struggles against apartheid, in the 1980s Alex was the centre of building street committees that represented what were then called ``organs of people’s power’’ – forms of alternative government to the apartheid state, and in 2002 the event that announced the presence of the new social movements on the South African post-apartheid political landscape – the 20,000-strong march led by the Social Movements United – took place in Alex.

The fact that it was Alex that would go down in history as the township that expressed most publicly the reactionary attitudes held by working-class people against fellow working-class people from other parts of Africa throws into sharp relief the process of political and organisational decline that has been underway within the South Africa’s working class since 1994.

How international big business colluded with South Africa's apartheid regime; Audio added July 13, 2008

Dennis Brutus, veteran anti-apartheid campaigner, describes how US, British and other major multinational corporations colluded with the racist regime of apartheid South Africa. Brutus is attempting to win reparations for superprofits made through the exploitation and repression of black South African workers. For further background to this, go to ``Can reparations for apartheid profits be won in US courts?''.

 

 

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Friday, July 11th, 2008

SOUTH AFRICAN POET DENNIS BRUTUS ON STEAL THIS RADIO!

Xenophobia tears apart South Africa's working class

By Thandokuhle Manzi and Patrick Bond

May 26, 2008 -- The low-income black township here in Durban which suffered more than any other during apartheid, Cato Manor, was the scene of a test performed on a Mozambican last Wednesday morning (May 21). At 6:45am, in the warmth of a rising subtropical winter sun, two unemployed men strolling on Belair Road approached the middle-aged immigrant. They accosted him and demanded, in the local indigenous language isiZulu, that he say the word meaning ``elbow'' (this they referred to with their hand). The man answered ``idolo'', which unfortunately means ``knee''. The correct answer is ``indololwane''. His punishment: being beaten up severely, and then told to ``go home''.

 

March against xenophobia, Johannesburg, May 24, 2008.

`Our struggle knows no borders!' -- South African left, unions respond to xenophobic attacks

STOP PRESS: Read the memorandum and pledge delivered by the thousands who marched against xenophobia in Johannesburg on May 24, and the statement of the Anti-Privatisation Forum following the successful march.

See also ``Xenophobia tears apart South Africa's working class'' by Thandokuhle Manzi and Patrick Bond.

Watch South Africa: The New Apartheid, on the South African government's treatment of migrant workers and refugees and the involvement of racist white farmers.

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May 21, 2008 -- According to the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, as of May 19, 2008, the death toll in a wave of attacks targeting foreigners around South Africa's main city of Johannesburg has risen to at least 32, with an estimated 6000 people seeking shelter in police stations, churches and community halls. The violence has spread to Zandspruit, northwest of Johannesburg, and Tembisa, Primrose, Reiger Park and Thokoza, on the eastern perimeter of the city, as well as other working-class communities.

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