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Issue 29

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Links 29: Editor's introduction

Since 1959, the Cuban Revolution has provided inspiration and an example for countless socialists and anti-imperialists around the world. The revolution’s ability to continue constructing a humane, progressive and egalitarian society—despite imperialist encirclement and the economic blows accompanying the demise of the Soviet Union—is living proof of the viability of the socialist project.

Cuba seeks revolutionary renewal

By John Riddell and Phil Courneyeur

Cuba: Three premises to save the revolution when Fidel dies

By Heinz Dieterich

1. Fidel sets the task: November 17, 2005

On November 17, 2005, at the University of Havana, Fidel warns about the danger of the Cuban Revolution ending up like the Soviet Revolution. To avoid this, he sets a task: “What are the ideas or levels of awareness that would make it impossible for a revolutionary process to be reversed?”

This is an invitation to world debate, a call for the solidarity of reasoning. But world solidarity does not understand it so. It is shocked when the commandant who for almost fifty years has affirmed that the revolution is invincible, that “Socialism is immortal and the party eternal”, suddenly publicly declares the opposite. It is an epistemological earthquake: the commandant of certainty, of conviction in the final victory, reintroduces dialectics into the Cuban official discourse without warning, preambles or roundabouts. He is applying dialectics to stagnation, as Bertolt Brecht would say.

Heinz Dieterich and the ‘salvation’ of the Cuban Revolution

By Jesús Arboleya Cervera

The debate on the future of the Cuban Revolution when Fidel Castro is no longer there is very popular today. The topic is of legitimate concern for the left, both because of the historical importance of the revolution and its Third World influence, and also because it is part of the confrontation with the right, since the strategy of the United States has been to use the topic to provide hope to a counter-revolution that has been declared defeated for as long as the Cuban leader remains alive.

I believe it is in this context that we would have to place the recent statements of Foreign Affairs Minister Felipe Pérez Roque during the latest sessions of the National Assembly of People’s Power [Cuba’s parliament]. In indicating what he considers are the strengths and weaknesses of the revolution to face the event, Pérez Roque is acting on the Cuban reality and joining a valid political effort to reinforce the political and ideological consensus which supports the revolution.

September 12-October 6: A period of international awareness in support of the Cuban Five

The president of the Cuban Parliament, Ricardo Alarcón, has urged that a period starting September 12 and ending October 6, 2006 be used to break down the silence surrounding the case of the Cuban Five as well as to condemn all terrorism and demand justice for its victims.

Uncivil war: Imperialism and resistance in Iraq

By Rohan Pearce
"I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today will last five days, five weeks or five months, but it won’t last any longer than that”—US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, cnn, November 15, 2002.

“Now, I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators”—US Vice President Dick Cheney, NBC’s Meet the Press, March 16, 2003.

'Democracy promotion' and neoliberalism in the Middle East

By Adam Hanieh
All the eyes of the world are on Iraq … if there is not a successful transformation there, that will definitely bolster the arguments of all those people who are already marching on the streets against globalization, against the values of a free society, a market society and the possibility of creating capital.”—Hernando de Soto, June 2003.1
Two dramatic structural shifts have taken place across the Middle East over the past two decades. First, since the mid-1980s, most countries have made far-reaching changes in their economic policies. Under the stewardship of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (imf), governments have embraced privatisation, dismantling of state-owned industries, an end to guaranteed public employment, reductions in tariffs and taxes and an opening to foreign capital. The basic precepts of neo-liberalism are common to the economic policies of virtually all states in the area.
At the same time, the rapid succession of elections in Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Palestine is indicative of a political transformation occurring across the region. Alongside the growing pressures from below for democratisation, commentary from the Bush administration has praised the supposed “democratic winds” sweeping the Middle East region (with the pointed exception of Hamas’ recent victory in elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council).

Pramoedya Ananta Toer

By Max Lane
Pramoedya Ananta Toer was born in Blora, Java, Indonesia, on February 6, 1925, and died in Jakarta on April 30, 2006. Blora was a small but busy town. His father was a teacher in a local nationalist school and prominent in nationalist activity. Pramoedya finished primary school, graduating in 1939, and later went on to study at a vocational school in radio in the city of Surabaya. He worked in a Japanese news agency during the Japanese occupation of the East Indies, where he also learned stenography. He left the agency and moved back to Java during this period.
After the proclamation of independence, he joined a youth militia and then the republican army fighting the Dutch colonial army, during which time he was captured and imprisoned. He resigned from the army after the war against the Dutch and from then on became immersed in the world of literature, although he had already begun writing before this.1

Resistance against capitalist restoration in China

By Eva Cheng
Beginning in late 1978, the Communist Party of China's ``reform and door opening'' program has purportedly sought to strengthen China's socialist course by introducing market mechanisms to speed the development of the productive forces. However, by the 1990s, especially in the second half, when state-owned enterprises were privatised en masse, displacing numerous workers and increasingly depriving retired workers of their hard-earned entitlements, the CPC's claims of staying on the socialist path had become a subject of hot debate.

The corruption and degeneration of a section of the CPC were issues even before the so-called reform, and were certainly made worse by the influx of foreign capital in the 1980s. This added to growing frustration with workers' worsening plight, forming the backdrop to the student protests beginning in 1986-87 and escalating into a series of bold mobilisations in early 1989, which Beijing answered by massacring the protesters on June 4, 1989.

A Property Law (Draft) that violates the constitution and basic principles of socialism

By Gong Xiantian
[Subtitled “An open letter prompted by the annulment of section 12 of the constitution and section 73 of the General Rules of the Civil Law of 1986”, this paper by Beijing University Professor Gong Xiantian was dated August 12, 2005. The translation for Links is by Eva Cheng.]

As a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC), a citizen of the People’s Republic of China, a professor who has engaged in years of research on the teaching on law, someone with party spirit, conscience, knowledge and experience, I am of the view that the Property Law (Draft) of the People’s Republic of China (abbreviated as Draft from here on) violates the fundamental principles of socialism and will roll the “wheel of history” backwards. In the absence of amendments of a principled nature, the National People’s Congress has no right to legislate the Draft because it violates the Constitution (see appendix)!

Ousting Arroyo: chronicle of the July and February days in Manila

By Sonny Melencio
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has so far survived two attempts to oust her from office. The first attempt constituted the so-called “opposition salvo” in July 2005. It was followed by the aborted “military uprising” in February.

The first attempt was staged by bourgeois opposition groups composed of rival electoral parties, top officials and teams who left Arroyo’s executive cabinet, the Makati Business Club (a prominent capitalist group) and former president Corazon Aquino. The second attempt was staged by rebel groups within the armed forces, composed mainly of junior officers and soldiers of the elite army force.

Both attempts were joined by so-called civil society groups, mainly the organised forces belonging to various militant formations. Chief among these are the forces that grouped together around Laban ng Masa,1 a newly formed coalition of the left that has persistently called for the establishment of a transitional revolutionary government as the alternative to the Arroyo regime. The transitional government (or trg as it is popularly called) is a coalition government that brings together in a transition council all the representatives of the major forces responsible for Arroyo’s ouster. The trg is also a reforming government that will carry out in its 1000 days of rule a program of economic relief and political reforms aimed at reversing the tide of neo-liberal economic onslaught and dismantling the reign of elite politics in the country.

The Democratic Socialist Perspective and the Socialist Alliance

The following resolution was adopted by the DSP's 22nd Congress in Sydney, January 5-8, 2006, following extensive internal discussion about the experience as a leading force within the Socialist Alliance since its formation in 2001.


The Bolshevik Party and democratic centralism: A response to Murray Smith

By Doug Lorimer
In Links No. 26, Murray Smith, a former leading member of the Scottish Socialist Party and now a leading member of the Ligue Communiste
Révolutionnaire (the French section of the Trotskyist Fourth International),
made extensive comments on my article ``The Bolshevik Party and `Zinovievism’: Comments on a Caricature of Leninism’’ printed in Links No. 24., focussing in particular on the issue of the public expression and debate of political differences within the Bolshevik Party.(1)

At the end of his article, Smith argues that ``the idea that
discussions take place within the party and that only the decisions are made public can work only in the early stages in the development of a party, when it has weak links with the working class. In fact, as we have seen, there never really was such a stage in Russia: even in the early stages the key debates were public. But in the far-left groups that developed from the opposition to
Stalinism, this tradition definitely developed. Why? Probably as a result of a
long period of being on the defensive and of relative isolation.’’

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