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capitalism

Capitalism, sexism and queerphobia’s social basis

Melbourne protest for same-sex marriage rights, August 9, 2009. Photo by Benjamin Solah.

By Jess Moore

There are social expectations on everyone, men and women, to act in particular ways based on our sex. This is bad for everyone because it’s stifling, but it’s worse for women and queers.

These gender stereotypes and roles put men first and women second:

Corporate investors lead rush for control of poor countries' farmland

By GRAIN, October 2009

With all the talk about "food security," and distorted media statements like "South Korea leases half of Madagascar's land,"[1] it may not be evident to a lot of people that the lead actors in today's global land grab for overseas food production are not countries or governments but corporations. So much attention has been focused on the involvement of states, like Saudi Arabia, China or South Korea. But the reality is that while governments are facilitating the deals, private companies are the ones getting control of the land. And their interests are simply not the same as those of governments.

Fourth International debates `ecosocialism'

By Michael Löwy

International Viewpoint -- October 10, 2009 -- Daniel Tanuro’s report on climate change [Report on climate change at the IC of the Fourth International] is one of the most important documents produced by our movement in recent years. It is an invaluable contribution to the political arming of revolutionary Marxists and to making them capable of facing up to the challenges of the 21st century.

System's defenders warn of 'collapse' of global capitalism

By Grant Morgan

October 22, 2009 -- Something molecular is changing in the DNA of capitalism. Look at these three recent quotes:

  • "The future will be a total disaster, with a collapse of our capitalistic system as we know it today."
  • "Capitalism is near the tipping point, unprepared for a catastrophe, set up for collapse and rapid decline."
  • "There is a high probability of a crisis and collapse by 2012. The 'Great Depression 2' is dead ahead. Unfortunately, there's absolutely nothing you can do to hide from this unfolding reality or prevent the rush of the historical imperative."

What's particularly important about these quotes is who made them. Not socialists. No, they were made by ardent, intelligent and reputable defenders of capitalism. For more information, read the MarketWatch essay "America's soul is lost and collapse is inevitable".

Science and empire in the Pacific

Mai (aka Omai), the first Pacific Islander to visit Europe, with Joseph Banks in 1774. Painting by William Parry.

By Barry Healy

More than 240 years ago, on April 13, 1769, the peace of Tahiti was interrupted by the visit of Captain James Cook, supposedly observing the transit of Venus across the Sun, but really following secret orders to investigate the Pacific Ocean and its islands for the benefit of British colonialism.

Mainstream Australian history raises James Cook to a pinnacle because he established a white, British dominion on the Australian continent. However, at the time his fame was eclipsed because on board his ship was gentleman scientist Joseph Banks with a posse of staff.

Banks’ star outshone Cook’s because his work acquired the botanical treasures of Oceania for the British Empire, paving the way for Britain to dominate vital areas of science for its own benefit.

The Levellers and the 1640s English Revolution

The Putney debates. Graphic by Clare Melinsky, Rampart Lions Press.

By Graham Milner

In 1649, 360 years ago this year, an experiment in communal land holding and cultivation began on St. George's Hill in Surrey, England, as the principles of a communist society were put into practice by the Diggers -- followers of Gerrard Winstanley, a visionary and writer of radical political tracts. This experiment marked an important phase in the development of socialist tendencies in the struggle to defeat the Stuart monarchy in the 1640s. This essay attempts to analyse the dynamics of the revolutionary struggle in England during the 1640s civil war and its aftermath. It concentrates on the emergence and development of left-wing tendencies in the revolutionary movement, and attempts to provide an explanation for the defeat of the aspirations of those tendencies.

The free-market fallacies of Ayn Rand

By Phil Hearse

August 22, 2009 -- Marxsite -- Most people sympathetic to radical politics outside the United States have probably never heard of Ayn Rand, and a brief introduction to her ultra pro-free market views would doubtless be enough to convince them they haven’t missed anything. Yet 27 years after her death, Ayn Rand continues to be seriously debated in the US, her books sell hundreds of thousands each year, her views are propagated by right wing think tanks and foundations and – bizarrely – Charlize Theron is in discussions to turn Rand’s 1088-page magnus opus Atlas Shrugged into a TV mini-series.

The Times Educational Supplement claimed in July that the Ayn Rand revival is gathering pace on US campuses. According to the TES:

United States: Race and class -- African Americans in a sick system

By Malik Miah

August 2009 -- The critical lack of quality and affordable health care is devastating for African Americans. Twice as likely as whites to go without health insurance, African Americans suffer chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes at an escalating rate. The root of the problem is not inferior Black — or better white — health care. It is first and foremost a class issue, exacerbated for Blacks and Latinos because of the institutional racism that still permeates society.

Only the wealthy can afford “the best medical care in the world”. Everyone else’s care is rationed by the employer or private plans that each can afford to buy, or if uninsured, by the use of “free” clinics and emergency rooms. The debate over the broken US health-care system and what to do about it is one of life and death.

Stubborn facts

The false promise of energy efficiency and a real alternative

By Don Fitz

August 22, 2009 -- An action can have opposite effects, depending on it s social contexts. An isolated individual who protests company policy by refusing to go to work could well get fired and become an example used to intimidate others. When an entire workforce stays off the job, it’s called a “strike” and has a very good chance of forcing the company to change its policy.

As positive as they may be for friends and family, individual lifestyles of non-violence do not stop wars from being fought. But a society that eliminates corporate control of the economy gets rid of the need for expansion and takes an enormous step towards non-violence. In this context, non-violent lifestyles solidify non-violent global politics.

It is even more so with “energy efficiency”. It is impossible for individual choices to purchase energy-efficient products to have any positive effect on climate change. But, in a democratically run economy, energy efficiency would be a cornerstone of resolving the catastrophic legacy of production for profit.

Climate change: Why population is not the problem

By Jess Moore

August 9, 2009 -- We face a climate crisis and something needs to change. The world’s resources are finite, as is the amount of destruction humans can do to the planet if we are to survive. There is a debate in the environment movement about whether or not curbing population is an essential part of the solution. We have a decade, maybe a decade and a half, to transform our current relationship with the planet. Of course, the starting point for environmentalists cannot be solutions. We first need to identify the cause of the crisis before we can know how to fight it.

People who see limiting population as essential to solving the climate crisis argue the cause of environmental degradation, at least in part, is overpopulation. Most “populationists” argue there are already too many human beings on the planet to provide for everyone’s basic needs. All contend that curbing population growth or decreasing population is some or all of the solution to climate change and to the fact that the basic needs of many people are not satisfied.

Sustainability: utopian and scientific

By Mark Burton

To make the move to a sustainable future where people are no longer threatened by an ecological catastrophe will require a number of things –- above all a strong and broad movement with effective and intelligent leadership and an accurate understanding of the current problems and how they can be overcome. Sadly, only some parts of this constellation of forces are in place today.

In particular the green movement is not an effective political and social movement and the left is still in disarray, largely concerned with defensive politics and harking back to a world long gone.

As for ideas and analysis of the situation and what needs to be done, some powerful critiques of the current economic orthodoxies have recently appeared that set out an alternative way in which the wellbeing and prosperity of the population can be achieved and maintained. However, these contributions are insufficient since they do not provide a sufficiently profound diagnosis of the causes of the problem. Without such a diagnosis there can be no convincing prescription for a remedy. But the situation is even worse than that. There is also no convincing approach to obtaining the necessary changes.

John Bellamy Foster: `The transition to socialism and the transition to an ecological society are one’

John Bellamy Foster's keynote address to the Climate Change, Social Change conference (organised by Green Left Weekly), Sydney, Australia, April 12, 2008. This talk is the basis of the last chapter of The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet.

Read an exclusive excerpt from Foster's The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet at http://links.org.au/node/1066.

Links readers are also encouraged to purchase a copy of this important new book HERE.

* * *

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.

Can carbon trading save our forests?

By Susan Austin

June 26, 2009 – Hobart, Tasmania -- Along with over 400 other people, I turned up to the Wrest Point Casino here to attend the premiere of The Burning Season on June 1. I had the film’s headline --  “As inspiring as The Inconvenient Truth was frightening” in the back of my mind, hoping for a good news story. Instead I sat through a well-orchestrated promo for a carbon trading company, set up by a young Australian-based millionaire whose message was that it is possible to make money and save the environment at the same time.

By setting up a carbon trading company called Carbon Conservation, and brokering high-level deals between big banks and provincial Indonesian governors, the film’s “star”, young entrepreneur Dorjee Sun, was able to secure the protection of large areas of forests that may otherwise have been logged or burnt.

Adam Smith was closer to Karl Marx than those showering praise on Smith today

Adam Smith and Karl Marx agree that workers not bosses create value.

By Eric Toussaint, translated by Charles La Via in collaboration with Christine Pagnoulle.[1]

In the following citations, we discover that what Adam Smith wrote in the 1770s is not so distant from what Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would write 70 years later in the famous Communist Manifesto.

Biofuels and sustainable transport -- Can biofuels be produced and used responsibly?

By Renfrey Clarke

June 16, 2009 -- For governments and vehicle corporations, the charm of biofuels used to be the promise they held out of a ready-made solution to transport-related greenhouse gas emissions -- a solution that might simply be dropped in, while changing almost nothing else. Freeways, suburban sprawl, four-wheel-drive family cars -- everything could remain. Only the fuel on sale at service stations would be different.

Biofuels, the promise to the public ran, would be ``clean and green’’, an environmental zero-sum. Although carbon was released to the atmosphere when biofuels were burnt, this was carbon that had been there earlier, before being taken up by the plants from which the fuels were derived.

Swine flu and the case for a single-payer healthcare system in the United States

By Billy Wharton

June 3, 2009 -- On April 13, 2009, 39-year-old Adela María Gutiérrez Cruz became the first victim of a new virus that would become known as the swine flu (H1N1). By the time Cruz arrived at a local hospital on April 9, she had already entered acute respiratory distress due to an “atypical pneumonia”. Further investigations led to a town outside of a factory farm, run by a subsidiary of the US meat conglomerate Smithfield Foods, in the neighbouring state of Vera Cruz. Causalities began to mount. Yet, nearly two weeks after the first deaths, none of the families of the dead had received anti-viral medications.(1) Mexican health officials claimed to not have the resources to visit the families.

Rick Wolff: GM -- The system strikes back; Michael Moore: `Convert the factories to build trains, buses, windmills'

By Rick Wolff

June 5, 2009 -- The greatest tragedies among many in the collapse and bankruptcy of General Motors (GM) concern what is not happening. There are those solutions to GM's problems not being considered by Obama's administration. There are the solutions not being demanded by the United Auto Workers Union (UAW). There are all the solutions not even being discussed by most left commentators on the disaster. Finally there are crucial aspects of GM's demise not getting the attention they deserve.

World farmers’ alliance Vía Campesina challenges food profiteers (excerpt from new pamphlet)

The following review is an excerpt from a new pamphlet, La Vía Campesina: Farmers North and South Confront Agribusiness, by John Riddell and Adriana Paz, published by Socialist Voice in Canada. To download the pamphlet, please click HERE.

More on Via Campasina.

* * *

Review by John Riddell

La Vía Campesina: Globalization and the Power of Peasants by Annette Aurélie Desmarais. Fernwood Publishing, 2007.

May 31, 2009 -- The neoliberal assault that has driven labour into retreat over the last two decades has also sparked the emergence of a peasants’ international, La Vía Campesina. Based in 56 countries across five continents, this alliance has mounted a sustained and spirited defence of peasant cultivation, community and control of food production.

Annette Desmarais’s book on La Vía Campesina has given us a probing and perceptive account of the world peasant movement’s origins, outlook and activities. (”La Vía Campesina” means “Peasant Path” or “Peasant Way”. See “Peasants or Farmers?” at the end of this article.)

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