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What’s wrong with a 30-hour work week?

By Don Fitz

May 30, 2009 -- With millions of jobs lost during the first part of 2009, who is calling for a shorter work week to spread the work around? Not the Republicans. Not even the Democrats. But why is there nary a peep from unions?

In the US, the vehicle industry sets the pace for organised labour. The only discussion at the top levels of the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) is how quickly the gains won during the last 50 years can be given back. Does the UAW have no memory of the 1930s and 1940s when a shorter work week was at centre of organising demands?

The gross domestic product is plummeting at the same time that jobs are disappearing. Why should there be any connection between the two? If society produces 10% less, why don’t we all just work 10% less? Didn’t things work like that for hundreds of thousands of years of human existence? When people figured out easier ways to get what they needed, they spent less time doing it.

Ten reasons why population control is not an answer to climate change

By Simon Butler

June 1, 2009 -- Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. The scientific evidence of the scale of the threat is overwhelming, compelling and frightening. Climate tipping points -- points which if crossed will lead to runaway global warming -- are being crossed now.

We live in a time of consequences. So it’s crucial that the climate justice movement -- made up of those determined to take a stand now to win a safe climate future -- campaigns for the changes that can actually make a difference.

A discussion has surfaced about whether population-control measures should be a key plank in the climate action movement’s campaign arsenal. Below are 10 reasons why such a decision would hinder, rather than help, the necessary task of building a movement that can win.

1. Population does not cause climate change

Advocates of population control say that one of the most effective measures we can take to combat climate change is to sharply reduce the number of humans on the planet. This wrongly focuses on treating one symptom of an irrational, polluting system rather than dealing with the root causes.

Michael Lebowitz: '21st century socialism needs a 21st century Marxism'

May 23, 2009 -- Michael Lebowitz is a Canadian Marxist economist. He is the director of the “Transformative practice and human development” program at the Caracas-based left-wing think tank, the Centro Internacional Miranda. He is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University and author of Build it Now: 21st Century Socialism and the 2004 Isaac Deutscher-prize winning Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy of the Working Class.

Lebowitz was a featured speaker at the World at a Crossroads conference organised by Green Left Weekly, the Democratic Socialist Perspective and the socialist youth group Resistance, held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009. Christopher Kerr spoke with Lebowitz about capitalism's crisis and the socialist alternative.

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Given the current economic crisis, is Marxism still relevant?

It is more relevant than ever. Marxism seeks to explain the underlying reasons for what is occurring and to seek out the alternatives.

Envisioning ecological revolution -- Excerpt from John Bellamy Foster's new book, `The Ecological Revolution'

With the permission of John Bellamy Foster and Monthly Review Press, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is publishing an exclusive excerpt from Foster's latest book, The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet.

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

The roots of the present ecological crisis, John Bellamy Foster argues in The Ecological Revolution, lie in capital’s rapacious expansion, which has now achieved unprecedented heights of irrationality across the globe. Foster compellingly demonstrates that the only possible answer for humanity is an ecological revolution: a struggle to make peace with the planet.

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Biochar: An answer to global warming or a menace?

By Renfrey Clarke

May 21, 2009 -- Sometimes you have to hand it to capitalism. It’s sheer magic the way the system takes promising concepts, steeps them in the transformative power of the market – and turns them into howling social and environmental disasters.

Take biofuels, for example. With fossil fuels warming the planet, why not, indeed, take advantage of the fact that plants use carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to produce sugars and oils that can be turned into substitutes for petrol and diesel?

Neoliberal economic policies in the United States: The impact of globalisation on a `Northern’ country

By Kim Scipes

Most contemporary discussions of globalization, and especially of the impact of neoliberal economic policies, focus on the countries of the Global South (see, for example, Bond, 2005; Ellner and Hellinger, eds., 2003; a number of articles in Harris, ed., 2006; Klein, 2007; Monthly Review, 2007; and, among others, see Scipes, 1999, 2006b). Recent articles arguing that the globalization project has receded and might be taking different approaches (Bello, 2006; Thornton, 2007) have also focused on the Global South. What has been somewhat discussed (see Giroux, 2004; Piven, 2004; Aronowitz, 2005) but not systematically addressed, however, is what has been the impact of globalization and especially related neoliberal economic policies on working people in a northern country?[i]

Malaysian socialist MP on `free market fallacies'

Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj delivers his speech. Photo by PSM.

By Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj

May 18, 2009 -- The Nut Graph -- The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) organised a fundraising dinner at the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre on May 9, 2009, which was attended by some 600 members, friends and supporters. I was invited to give a short speech, and this is what I said:

Friends,

Humankind is facing a serious crisis. On one hand we are witnessing the unfolding of a recession many experts think will be the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Recessions are commonplace in the free-market economy. They occur once every 10 or so years.

Capitalism in Wonderland: Why mainstream economists can't deal with the ecological crisis

By Richard York, Brett Clark and John Bellamy Foster (posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission)

In a recent essay, “Economics Needs a Scientific Revolution”, in one of the leading scientific journals, Nature, physicist Jean-Philippe Bouchaud, a researcher for an investment management company, asked rhetorically, “What is the flagship achievement of economics?” Bouchaud’s answer: “Only its recurrent inability to predict and avert crises”.[1]

African lives -- silent casualty of the global economic crisis

By the Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa), AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa, RAVANE+ PVVIH Network for the Indian Ocean Region (Mauritius) and the Grassroots Empowerment Trust (Kenya)

HIV is not in recession! TB is not in recession!

May 6, 2009 -- On the occasion of the Conference of African Ministers of Health in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a coalition of health advocates from sub-Saharan Africa warn that the lives of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa are in jeopardy because of the lack of political will and investment to realise the right of access to life-saving treatment. Only one third of HIV-positive people in need of antiretroviral therapy (ART) to survive have access to treatment in the African region. The coalition fears that national and donor governments are betraying their health commitments, particularly promises to support the universal roll-out of ART by 2010.

Mexico's Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT) statement on swine flu epidemic

Statement by the Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT)

April 30, 2009 -- The health emergency brought about by the swine flu epidemic has important political and social repercussions, in addition to consequences for public health, that need to be explained in the midst of the confusion and distrust that contradictory governmental versions generate. It is also necessary to open the way to scientific information, truth and political criticism.

The political economy of crisis management in the heart of world capitalism

By Arindam Sen

May 2009 -- Do we see a faint glimmer of light at the -- still distant -- end of the tunnel? In March the housing market in the US stabilised somewhat and new claims for unemployment insurance stopped rising. Crisis-ridden US banks surprised everybody when they reported profits in mid-April, which was followed by a good stockmarket rally. But most other indices, including retail sales figures seem to suggest that such optimism might be premature. As late as March 31 the OECD released a very gloomy prognosis, predicting that the US economy would shrink by 4% this year and not grow at all next year.

Meanwhile, a great debate of sorts is raging over contradictory strategy options for crisis management, in the process revealing the class conflicts in US society -- both between the bourgeoisie and the working class, and among various sections of the bourgeoisie.

Two versions of the nationalisation slogan

Swine flu and a sick social system: Why the poor die and the rich sniffle

April 27, 2009 -- A World to Win News Service -- It is impossible to predict the spread, severity and consequences of the swine flu epidemic that broke out in Mexico. But influenza epidemics have occurred regularly –- with three pandemics (global epidemics) in the 20th century -- and scientists and public health authorities have known for a long time that new pandemics are inevitable. Some possible parameters and paths of development can be scientifically understood, in both the biological and social spheres.

There are two separate and mainly independent factors at work. One is the nature and evolution of the disease itself, which is not caused by human activity. Although social factors -- for instance industrial pig farming -- may have played a contributing role in the appearance of this particular disease, human beings didn't invent viruses or human and animal vulnerability to them.

The other factor is just the opposite: What kind of society people live in, what drives the economic organisation of those societies and their social and political relations. In short, if the first factor concerns natural phenomena, the second is the capitalist and imperialist world in which they occur.

Mike Davis: Capitalism and the flu

Agri-biz at root of swine flu? Real News Network report, April 30, 2009.

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April 27, 2009 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- Mike Davis, whose 2006 book The Monster at Our Door warned of the threat of a global bird flu pandemic, explains how globalised agribusiness set the stage for a frightening outbreak of the swine flu in Mexico.

The fight to be a society of good ancestors -- capitalism and ecosocialism

Ian Angus addresses the World at a Crossroads conference. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

By Ian Angus

[Ian Angus was a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads: Fighting for Socialism in the 21st Century conference, in Sydney Australia, April 10-12, 2009. The event, which drew 444 participants from more than 15 countries, was organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Below is Angus’ talk to the plenary session on “Confronting the climate change crisis: an ecosocialist perspective”. It first appeared on Climate and Capitalism and has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

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Michael Lebowitz: What would Marx say today?

Michael Lebowitz addresses the World at a Crossroads conference. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

Is it time to dust off a copy of Das Kapital and revisit Marx's analysis of capitalism's ills?

Michael Lebowitz has recently been in Australia as a featured guest of the World at a Crossroads conference, held in Sydney April 10-12, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Green Left Weekly. He was interviewed by the ABC Radio's Late Night Live on April 14, 2009.

Audio: Capitalism and Climate Change -- Ian Angus

Left Click -- Ian Angus is the editor of climateandcapitalism.com and a founder of the Eco-socialist International Network. He is also associate editor of Canada's Socialist Voice and the director of the Socialist History Project. Ian toured Australia (Perth poster, left) in the run up to the World at a Crossroads conference held in Sydney on April 10-12, 2009, which was organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective.

Fourth International: Draft report on climate change

By Daniel Tanuro

Below is a reworked version of the report on climate change and climate campaigns, drafted by Daniel Tanuro and presented at February 2009 meeting of the International Committee (IC) of the Fourth International. This report has been adopted as the basis of a resolution to be written for the coming Fourth International world congress. This first appeared on the International Viewpoint website.

I. THE CLIMATIC THREAT: CAUSES, RESPONSIBILITIES, SOCIAL AND ECOLOGICAL IMPACTS

1. Climate change is a fact without precedent

Climate change is a fact. In the 20th century, the average temperature of the surface of the Earth increased by 0.6°C, the sea level went up from between 10 and 20 cm, glaciers retreated almost everywhere in significant proportions, the violence of cyclones increased in the North Atlantic, and more extreme weather phenomena, such as storms, floods and droughts, were recorded.

Review: John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff's `The Great Financial Crisis'

The Great Financial Crisis
By John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff
New York, Monthly Review Press, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-58367-184-9 paper

Review by Patrick Bond

Four decades ago, Monthly Review cofounder Paul Sweezy vigorously debated financialisation of the US economy with Robert Fitch and Mary Oppenheimer, whose article ``Who Rules the Corporations?'' in the journal Socialist Revolution proved most irritating. The central dispute was over whether debt relationships between banks and corporations – as well as interlocking directorships and other ruling-elite relationships -- translated into control by the former.

Asking ``The Resurgence of Financial Control: Fact or Fancy?'', Sweezy disdainfully answered ``fancy''. During the golden age era of financial stability, until the early 1970s, Sweezy's tracking of intracapitalist power relations allowed him to conclude that bankers were not in control, they were mainly facilitators.

Atilio Borón: From infinite war to infinite crisis

Atilio Borón (right) with friend.

By Atilio Borón[*], translated by Machetera, Scott Campbell, Christine Lewis Carroll and Manuel Talens

March 25, 2009 -- Machetera/Tlaxcala -- Some thoughts on the current capitalist crisis, its probable “solutions” and the role that a socialist option might play in the present juncture.

(Updated April 2) Eric Toussaint on G20: `Putting a fresh coat of paint on a world that is collapsing'; police attack protesters

London on March 28, 2009. Protest organised Put People First, an alliance of more than 150 unions, and attended by 35,000 people. Photo by Xinhua.

Stop press April 2

George Monbiot: G20 protests: Riot police, or rioting police?

At the G20 protests in London only one group appears to be looking for violent confrontation – and it's not the protesters.

Red Pepper: Death in the City

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