Donate to Links


Click on Links masthead to clear previous query from search box

GLW Radio on 3CR



Recent comments



Syndicate

Syndicate content

capitalism

Capitalism and the oceanic crisis: Turning the seas into a watery grave

By Brett Clark and Rebecca Clausen

The world ocean covers approximately 70 per cent of the Earth. It has been an integral part of human history, providing food and ecological services. Yet conservation efforts and concerns with environmental degradation have mostly focused on terrestrial issues. Marine scientists and oceanographers have recently made remarkable discoveries in regard to the intricacies of marine food webs and the richness of oceanic biodiversity. However, the excitement over these discoveries is dampened due to an awareness of the rapidly accelerating threat to the biological integrity of marine ecosystems.[1]

At the start of the twenty-first century marine scientists focused on the rapid depletion of marine fish, revealing that 75 per cent of major fisheries are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. It is estimated “that the global ocean has lost more than 90% of large predatory fishes”. The depletion of ocean fish stock due to overfishing has disrupted metabolic relations within the oceanic ecosystem at multiple trophic and spatial scales.[2]

The dissidents' guide to the Olympics: `War minus the shooting'

As the world corporate media goes Olympics mad, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has assembled a range of alternative viewpoints on what the modern Olympic Games really represent. While -- when it suits their interests -- establishment media commentators and capitalist governments loudly proclaim that ``sport and politics don't mix'', it soon becomes apparent that the Olympics spectacle is drenched in politics and the promotion of the worst aspects of dog-eat-dog capitalism. But sometimes it is also a site of struggle, as this selection of articles, drawn from the Links and Green Left Weekly archives, as well as other progressive sources, reveals.

If socialism fails: the spectre of 21st century barbarism

By Ian Angus

July 27, 2008 -- From the first day it appeared online, Climate and Capitalism’s masthead has carried the slogan “Ecosocialism or Barbarism: there is no third way.” We’ve been quite clear that ecosocialism is not a new theory or brand of socialism — it is socialism with Marx’s important insights on ecology restored, socialism committed to the fight against ecological destruction. But why do we say that the alternative to ecosocialism is barbarism?

Marxists have used the word “barbarism” in various ways, but most often to describe actions or social conditions that are grossly inhumane, brutal, and violent. It is not a word we use lightly, because it implies not just bad behaviour but violations of the most important norms of human solidarity and civilised life. [1]

The slogan “Socialism or Barbarism” originated with the great German revolutionary socialist leader Rosa Luxemburg, who repeatedly raised it during World War I. It was a profound concept, one that has become ever more relevant as the years have passed.

The coming economic & environment meltdowns ... and the possibilities for fighting back

July 15, 2008 --The planet is facing a meltdown -- from the global financial system to the unprecedented environmental crisis. Almost everyone from stockbrokers to scientists to economists agree the situation is dire.

Yet Wall Street banks are given hundred-million-dollar bailouts, while millions face home foreclosures. In the Third world it's worse -- crops are used to provide fuel for thirsty rich-world SUVs, while 100 million more people face starvation due to the growing food crisis. The disregard for the hardship of the majority has seen food riots and strikes hit over 30 countries.

Stuffed and Starved: `Snapping' the power of agribusiness

Review by Leo Zeilig

Stuffed and Starved, by Raj Patel, Black Inc., 2007

At the end of the 19th century huge areas of the globe where violently incorporated into the world market. Whole regions that had for generations been farmed for local consumption were transformed for the production of cash crops. In captured and occupied lands new food crops were introduced that had little or no local nutritional use: ground nuts (peanuts) in what is now Senegal and Nigeria, cocoa in Cote d’Ivoire, cotton and rubber production across thousands of square kilometres of Central Africa.

Ecology: The moment of truth—an introduction

By John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York

* * *

The July-August 2008 (Volume 60, Number 3) edition of the influential US socialist journal Monthly Review is a special issue on ``Ecology: The Moment of Truth”, edited by Brett Clark, John Bellamy Foster and Richard York. The issue is devoted to the planetary environmental emergency. It is essential reading for all socialists and environmentalists. With permission from Monthly Review, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal here posts the introduction by the editors, and urges Links' readers to purchase the issue and/or subscribe to Monthly Review.

* * *

The crisis of the global economy

A report of the Institute of Globalisation and Social Movements, Moscow

By Vasily Koltashov

Translated by Renfrey Clarke, Links – International Journal of Socialist Renewal (http://links.org.au)

Moscow, June 9, 2008 -- In the early weeks of 2008 virtually all Russian and foreign experts viewed the situation in the world economy favourably. Warnings from a few analysts that a major economic crisis lay ahead were not taken especially seriously by optimistic-minded populations.

On January 22 the stock exchanges were shaken by the first slump, followed by a series of new collapses. The world’s share markets were destabilised. Inflation accelerated, with food prices beginning to rise sharply. A number of American and European banks announced colossal losses in their results for 2007. The scale of the economic problems in the US became evident. A new world crisis had begun. The emergence of its first symptoms provoked numerous questions concerning the nature of the crisis, the reasons behind it, and the logic shaping its probable development.

Political activism, class struggle -- not markets -- will save the planet

July 5, 2008 -- A political economist and activist who directs the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, Patrick Bond was a featured guest speaker at the Green Left Weekly Social Change — Climate Change conference held in Sydney, Australia, in April.

Author of a range of books, including Climate Change, Carbon Trading and Civil Society, Looting Africa: The Economics of Exploitation, and Walk Left, Talk Right: South Africa’s Frustrated Global Reforms, Bond is a long-time advocate for radical solutions to the climate and social catastrophe wraught by global capitalism.

Lauren Carroll Harris spoke to Bond at the conference about responses to climate change.

* * *

What has been the response of the market to the crisis of climate change and what role does carbon trading play?

Via Campesina farmers to heads of state: Time to change food policies!

Via Campesina

Rome, June 3, 2008 -- Now that the FAO expects that hunger will affect an extra 100 million people by the end of the year, heads of states and leaders from around the world are gathering in Rome for the FAO "High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy".

The international peasant’s movement Via Campesina welcomes this sudden high level interest in food and agriculture production, but reminds governments and international institutions that the current climate and food crisis are not the result of any sudden natural disaster. They are the fruit of decades of policies of trade ``liberalisation'' and of the vertical integration of production, processing and distribution by corporate agriculture.

Therefore, governments today have to take full responsibility for the current crisis and take resolute actions to solve it.

Cuba's vice-president: `We can confront the food crisis'

Address by José Ramón Machado Ventura, vice-president of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, to the high-level conference on World Food Security: The Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy.

(English translation by Climate and Capitalism, from Juventud Rebelde, June 4, 2008)

Two years ago, in this very hall, the international community agreed to eradicate world hunger. It adopted a goal of halving the number of malnourished people by 2015. Today that modest and inadequate goal seems like a pipe-dream.

The world food crisis is not a circumstantial phenomenon. Its recent appearance in such serious form, in a world that produces enough food for all its inhabitants, clearly reveals that the crisis is systemic and structural.

Cuban VP: `Sustainable development requires a revolution in our values'

May 18, 2008

Address by José Ramón Machado Ventura, First Vice-President of Cuba’s Council of State, at a session on ``Sustainable Development: the Environment, Climate Change and Energy'', during the 5th EU/LAC (European Union/Latin America and Caribbean) summit meeting in Lima, Peru, May 16-17.

Your Excellency:

At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro 16 years ago, Fidel Castro issued a prophetic warning, stating that ``an important biological species is at risk of disappearing as a result of the rapid and progressive destruction of its natural living conditions: humanity''.

Time has proven him right.

Let us not mince our words: we won’t attain sustainable development, the negative impacts of climate change will not be halted or reversed, and the environment will not be preserved for future generations, if the irrational patterns of production, distribution and consumption imposed upon us by capitalism prevail. The globalisation of neoliberal policies has drastically exacerbated the crisis.

A brief socialist history of the automobile

By Rob Rooke

No single commercial product in the history of capitalism has had a greater effect on the economy and politics than the automobile. No other product has been such a lever to increase consumption and increase markets in the developed world. It could be argued that the car, more than any other product, was at the very heart of the 20th century’s economic expansion. In US society, for over a century, the car has been raised on a cultural pedestal worshipping individuality and defining big business’ vision of freedom.

Global food crisis: Capitalism, agribusiness and the food sovereignty alternative

By Ian Angus

[Second of two articles. Click here for part one.]

“Nowhere in the world, in no act of genocide, in no war, are so many people killed per minute, per hour and per day as those who are killed by hunger and poverty on our planet.” —Fidel Castro, 1998

May 11, 2008 -- When food riots broke out in Haiti last month, the first country to respond was Venezuela. Within days, planes were on their way from Caracas, carrying 364 tons of badly needed food.

The people of Haiti are “suffering from the attacks of the empire’s global capitalism,” Venezuela's President Hugo Chàvez said. “This calls for genuine and profound solidarity from all of us. It is the least we can do for Haiti.”

Venezuela’s action is in the finest tradition of human solidarity. When people are hungry, we should do our best to feed them. Venezuela’s example should be applauded and emulated.

But aid, however necessary, is only a stopgap. To truly address the problem of world hunger, we must understand and then change the system that causes it.

No shortage of food

The starting point for our analysis must be this: there is no shortage of food in the world today.

Nike: How cool is exploitation?

Nike: how `cool' is exploitation?

Graphic

By Norm Dixon

August 28, 1996

Image is a vital to the success of the giant international sports footwear and apparel corporation Nike. Endorsements by sports superstars like basketballer Michael Jordan, soccer maestro Eric Cantona and sprinting ace Cathy Freeman -- to name just a very few -- have made the company's "Swoosh" logo synonymous with "cool" for millions of young people worldwide. That image would be badly tarnished if it became widely known that the Nike empire is built on cheap Third World labour (including child labour), denial of trade union rights and collaboration with repressive regimes, most notably the Suharto regime in Indonesia.

Nike Australia's public relations spokesperson, Megan Ryan, was coy about how much the company spends on marketing and sponsorship when Green Left Weekly spoke to her recently.

BHP-Billiton: a corporation founded on apartheid plunder

25 April 2001

 

BY NORM DIXON

In late March, newspaper headlines hailed the announcement that giant Australian-owned mining, oil and steel corporation BHP and the huge Anglo-South African mining and base metals conglomerate Billiton had agreed to merge, forming the world's largest mining and second-largest resources corporation. The new monolith is worth A$57 billion at current stock market prices.

None of the capitalist “market analysts” who have churned out thousands of words on the merger thought it necessary to point out that Billiton's accumulated capital is the product of decades of collaboration with the racist apartheid system in South Africa.

Billiton's parent company Gencor formally came into being with the amalgamation of two companies formed in the late 19th century, the General Mining and Finance Corporation (later known as Genmin) and the Union Corporation.

Billiton was purchased by Gencor from Royal Dutch/Shell in 1994. In 1997, Gencor chose Billiton to be its off-shore investment subsidiary listed on the London Stock Exchange. Gencor's extensive non-precious metals assets (aluminium, titanium, nickel, chrome and manganese alloys, and coal) in South Africa, Mozambique, Australia, Colombia, Brazil, Suriname and North America were transferred to Billiton.

Gencor's gold and platinum holdings — Gengold and Impala Platinum — remain with the parent company listed on the Johannesburg stock exchange.

Global food crisis: ‘The greatest demonstration of the historical failure of the capitalist model’

By Ian Angus

[First of two articles. Click here for part two.] 

“If the government cannot lower the cost of living it simply has to leave. If the police and UN troops want to shoot at us, that's OK, because in the end, if we are not killed by bullets, we’ll die of hunger.” — A demonstrator in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

April 28, 2008 -- In Haiti, where most people get 22% fewer calories than the minimum needed for good health, some are staving off their hunger pangs by eating “mud biscuits” made by mixing clay and water with a bit of vegetable oil and salt.[1]

Meanwhile, in Canada, the federal government is currently paying $225 for each pig killed in a mass cull of breeding swine, as part of a plan to reduce hog production. Hog farmers, squeezed by low hog prices and high feed costs, have responded so enthusiastically that the kill will likely use up all the allocated funds before the program ends in September. Some of the slaughtered hogs may be given to local Food Banks, but most will be destroyed or made into pet food. None will go to Haiti.

This is the brutal world of capitalist agriculture — a world where some people destroy food because prices are too low, and others literally eat dirt because food prices are too high.

Are livable cities just a dream?

By Dave Holmes

When one sees a modern city from the air, especially at night, it is a truly awe-inspiring spectacle. What always strikes me is the immensity of the project, a testimony to the power and creativity of human beings. However, on the ground and actually living and working in this wonder, things are quite different and the social and ecological problems crowd in and fill one’s view. The truth is that our cities have always been dominated by the rich and powerful and built and operated to serve their needs — not those of the mass of working people who live and toil in them.

* * *

This article is based on a talk presented at the Climate Change | Social Change Conference in Sydney, April 2008. The conference was organised by Green Left Weekly. For more articles, audio and video from the conference, click here.

* * *

John Bellamy Foster on the global financial crisis

‘Nobody knows where the toxic debt is buried and how much there is’

John Bellamy Foster is editor of the Monthly Review, a prominent political journal established by the Marxist economist Paul Sweezy in the 1940s.

Foster is a professor of sociology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, USA. He has written widely on political economy and has established a reputation as an environmental socialist.

He has proven that Karl Marx was a radical ecologist in his book, Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature.

Foster is interviewed by Peter Boyle for Links - International Journal of Socialist Renewal and Green Left Weekly. It was conducted during the Climate Change Social Change conference in Sydney, April 11-13, 2008.

The written version of the interview is available at Green Left Weekly.

The labour aristocracy and opportunism in the history of Australian working-class politics

By Jonathan Strauss

The theory of the labour aristocracy argues that opportunism in the working class has a material basis. Such class-collaborationist politics express the interests of a relatively privileged stratum of workers who receive benefits supported by monopoly superprofits. Karl Marx and, especially, Frederick Engels, first developed this theory. It is most closely associated with V.I. Lenin, however, for whom it became “the pivot of the tactics in the labour movement that are dictated by the objective conditions of the imperialist era”.[1]

Syndicate content

Powered by Drupal - Design by Artinet