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The class nature of the Chinese state

By Doug Lorimer

[The general line of this report was adopted by the 18th DSP Congress, January 5-10, 1999. This text is taken from The Activist, volume 9, number 1, 1999.]

The purpose of this report is to motivate the adoption by the party of the "Theses on the Class Nature of the People's Republic of China" approved by the National Committee at its October plenum last year.

Since 1993 our party has held the position that the ruling Chinese bureaucracy has been presiding over the restoration of capitalism in China. However, our policy toward China has been ambigious: while taking an oppositional stance in our public press toward the ruling bureaucracy's restorationist course, we have left it unclear as to whether we continued to believe that China is still a bureaucratically ruled socialist state.

International Women’s Day 2012: Women march against US military expansion in the Philippines and the Pacific

Unity statement by women in the Philippines

March 8, 2012 -- On the occasion of the International Women’s Day 2012, we, Filipino women declare in strongest terms possible, our opposition not only to increased presence but to US military presence per se on Philippines soil.

The United States is increasing its military presence in Asia-Pacific, in particular in the Philippines, and the Philippine government is showing no qualms in allowing this to happen.

A news account recently reported on the United States' plan to increase its military aid to “boost” Philippine defence; the promised aid will amount to US$144 million, reflecting an increase of more than $20 million on the previous amount. In another earlier news article, US ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas was quoted as saying his government had spent US$50 million for the upgrading of Philippine military facilities.

The Washington Post in January 2012 also reported that Philippine officials were in the United States to conduct initial talks with representatives of the Obama government "about expanding the American military presence in the island nation". More high-level and intense discussions will take place this March.

China: 'A sixteen-point proposal on China's reform'

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

March 2, 2012 -- Reports from the Economic Front -- China is widely celebrated as an economic success story. And it is as far as GDP, investment and export growth is concerned. However, as we know well from our experience in the United States, such economic indicators often reveal little about the reality of people’s lives. In China workers are subject to intense working conditions with a disproportionate share of the benefits of production going to a top few. For example, as Bloomberg News notes:

The richest 70 members of China’s legislature added more to their wealth last year than the combined net worth of all 535 members of the U.S. Congress, the president and his Cabinet, and the nine Supreme Court justices.

China: Elite rule faces rising social and working-class struggles

Strikes by workers are growing across China. Photo from KasamaProject.org.

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.]

By Kevin Lin

February 11, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- China’s transition to state-led capitalism over the past three decades has generated numerous social struggles against the state and capital. With China’s ascent in the capitalist world economy, the social struggles inside China not only have a significant domestic impact, but increasingly international ramifications.

As China celebrates the Year of the Dragon, it is an opportune time to critically review the situation for social struggles and their prospects for the future.

State and elite politics

Romania: Mass protests then and now

Protesters shout as a background banner reads "Freedom, Early Elections" during an anti-government rally in Bucharest, January 24, 2012.

By Rupen Savoulian

February 15, 2012 -- Antipodean Athiest, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- Back in 1989, Romania was gripped by mass protests, led by miners, against the corrupt and authoritarian regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. The protests in Romania were part of the generalised "Velvet Revolution" against the dictatorial, bureaucratised, deformed workers’ states in Eastern Europe.

John Bellamy Foster & Robert W. McChesney: Global stagnation and China

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared.]

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.]

By John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney

February 2012 -- Monthly Review -- Five years after the Great Financial Crisis of 2007–09 began there is still no sign of a full recovery of the world economy. Consequently, concern has increasingly shifted from financial crisis and recession to slow growth or stagnation, causing some to dub the current era the Great Stagnation.1 Stagnation and financial crisis are now seen as feeding into one another. Thus IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde declared in a speech in China on November 9, 2011, in which she called for the rebalancing of the Chinese economy:

Behind capitalism's destructive car mania

Stop Signs: Cars & Capitalism ― On the Road to Economic, Social & Ecological Decay
By Bianca Mugenyi & Yves Engler
RED Publishing & Fernwood Publishing
2011, 259 pages

By Phil Shannon

February 5, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- The car, say Canadian authors Bianca Mugyenyi and Yves Engler, who took a bus ride across the United States, is a doomed jalopy going nowhere. It fails, especially in the “home of the car”, on every green count. (Watch the authors discuss their book HERE.)

Cars are the single largest contributor to US noise pollution and 40,000 people in the US die from car accidents each year (one million across the globe).

Pablo Solon on Rio+20: For an international campaign against the commodification of nature

For a bottom-up international campaign against the commodification and financialisation of Nature

By Pablo Solon

January 28, 2012 -- The document for the Rio+20 conference of the United Nations (June 20-22, 2012) -- entitled The Future We Want -- was published in January 2012. Its main purpose is to promote a “Green Economy”. In the document's "zero draft", this concept of the Green Economy is left deliberately vague: there is no clear definition provided and no clarity on the usage of this term. In reality, however, it aims to promote the further commodification and financialisation of nature by introducing new market mechanisms like the as carbon markets that were first introduced a decade ago through the Kyoto Protocol and REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) programs which put a monetary price on carbon storage in forests.

A money-free world?

By Anitra Nelson,  co-editor of Life Without Money

February 2, 2012 -- RMIT Blog Central, submitted to Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- When Time magazine announced “The Protester” as 2011 Person of the Year, we had to ask: Is this a signal of radical worldwide change? Did something special start to stir in 2011?

Certainly 1911 was such a momentous year: cities fell like dominoes across China so that, on New Year’s Day 1912, Sun Yat-sen became the provisional president of a liberal republic; civil strife was breaking out in Mexico, by May ending Porfirio Diaz’s dictatorial reign from 1877; and, in Russia, a brief restoration of conservative order was crumbling under the onslaught of Bolshevik and anarchistic activities. Lenin observed “increasing signs that the era of so-called peaceful bourgeois parliamentarianism is drawing to an end”.

Hollywood: Glimpses of empire

Part 1: In the belly of empire

“There must be some way out of here’, said the
joker to the thief,
There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, ploughmen dig
my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is
worth.”
-- Bob Dylan[1]

Raj Patel: Feeding 10 billion (audio)

January 11, 2012 -- In a Saskatoon lecture, writer and activist Raj Patel argues that the only way to feed everyone is to completely rethink agriculture and empower women. He outlines the history of the "Green Revolution" and how it was based on attempts to defeat "communism", control population and spread the market system. The lecture was broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Ideas program.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Globalisation, capitalism and China

Workers at the Foxconn (the Taiwanese multinational corporation owned) factory located in China in which many Apple products are assembled.

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.]

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

January 24, 2012 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- A January 22, 2012 New York Times story, "The iEconomy: How US Lost Out on iPhone Work", has been getting a lot of coverage. The article makes clear that Apple and other major multinational corporations have moved production to China not only to take advantage of low wages but also to exploit a labour environment that gives maximum flexibility.

The following quote gives a flavour for what attracts Apple to China:

China: Misery in Santa's workshop -- inside China's toy factories

A 2004 film shows that little has changed.

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.]

December 23, 2011 -- A new report by Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) reveals the terrible working conditions endured by workers who produce many of the toys that will be enjoyed by children in the Western world this Christmas.

In Guangdong province, from where 70% of China’s toys are exported, migrant workers’ official basic salary is around 850-1320 yuan a month (US$134-208), the statutory local minimum wage. The minimum wage is barely enough for self-subsistence.

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa: COP17 and class struggle

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa convened its first International Seminar on Climate Change and Class Struggle on December 4, 2011.

By the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa

[The following statement was issued at the conclusion of the NUMSA central committee meeting (CC), held December 11-14, at Vincent Mabuyakhulu Conference Centre, Newtown, Johannesburg.]

December 14, 2011 -- Amidst the deepening crisis of climate change and in the context of the COP17 negotiations that were taking place in Durban, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa convened its first International Seminar on Climate Change and Class Struggle on December 4, 2011.

Climate change cannot be resolved separately from the resolution of the capitalist crisis. Capitalism is currently devouring its own children throughout the world. The crisis is a global class war. We need to link our struggles around climate change with global anti-capitalist struggles.

Capitalism, not consumers, is the big green problem

By Simon Butler

December 4, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- Most environmentalists would agree consumerism and consumer culture put too heavy a burden on the planet. Consumer spending is central to the capitalist economy, which is why economists and governments also pay it close attention. But most mainstream economists say endless economic growth, which implies limitless consumption, is both possible and desirable. This ignores how it helps fuel our ecological problems.

Today, most things sold on the market are made to be thrown out and replaced. A big part of economic activity is made up of selling products “designed for the dump”.

It's not hard to see why this suits the biggest firms with the most market power. They make more money selling new products regularly than they can from products that are long-lasting, repairable and easy to upgrade.

This cycle begins with the extraction of raw materials from the earth. The throwaway economy needs to turn more and more of nature into products for sale: fossil fuels, soil nutrients, fresh water, metals and timber.

The cycle ends with the steady release of waste back into the ecosphere: waste gases into the sky, waste pollutants into water, and waste chemicals and toxics into the soil.

Political crisis in Italy and Greece: Karl Marx on ‘technical governments’

By Marcello Musto

November 16, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In recent years Karl Marx has again been featuring in the world’s press because of his prescient insights into the cyclical and structural character of capitalist crises. Now there is another reason why he should be re-read in the light of Greece and Italy: the reappearance of the "technical government".

As a contributor to the New-York Tribune, one of the widest circulation dailies of his time, Marx observed the political and institutional developments that led to one of the first technical governments in history: the British cabinet of the Earl of Aberdeen, December 1852 to January 1855.

China: Marxism with capitalist characteristics?

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.]

Ian Parker reflects on a recent visit to China

November 9, 2011 -- Socialist Resistance -- Capitalism in China is rapidly uprooting and throwing into the marketplace all that seemed fixed and frozen since the revolution in 1949, but -- as with all other forms of capitalism -- this market is all but free. The bureaucracy holds in place systems of authority necessary for capital accumulation, and the Chinese state is a key player in the enrichment of a new bourgeoisie. There are particular political-economic and ideological conditions for this transition, of course, and one of the most important is the legacy of Maoism, and how the claim to be a socialist country is squared with the rapid abandonment of each and every tenet of socialism.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Yes, Virginia, there is a 1%

For more on the Occupy movement, click HERE.

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

October 24-November 7, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The Occupy Wall Street movement has succeed in forcing the media to acknowledge the extent and seriousness of income inequality. In many ways wealth inequality is a bigger problem, since it is wealth that largely underpins income and power differences.

According to an Economic Policy Institute posting,

the richest 5 percent of households obtained roughly 82 percent of all the nation’s gains in wealth between 1983 and 2009. The bottom 60 per cent of households actually had less wealth in 2009 than in 1983, meaning they did not participate at all in the growth of wealth over this period.

It is worth dividing the top 5% into what has now become two familiar groups, the top 1% and the next 4%.

Is the #Occupy movement 'socialist'?

Occupy Brisbane, Australia.

For more on the Occupy movement, click HERE.

By Ash Pemberton

October 29, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- Some conservative commentators have declared the global Occupy movement to be “socialist”. Right-wing musician Ted Nugent said in the Washington Times on October 14: “Occupy Wall Street is nothing more than anti-American socialism on parade... These useful idiots are clamoring for social justice, as if they don’t have enough of that already.” Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly declared: “The Occupy Wall Street movement is basically socialistic.”

'The EU Crisis Pocket Guide' for the 99%

October 2011 -- The Transnational Institute has produced a useful pocket guide -- The EU Crisis Pocket Guide -- on how a crisis made in Wall Street was made worse by EU policies, how it has enriched the 1% to the detriment of the 99%, and outlining some possible solutions that prioritise people and the environment above corporate profits.

Download the booklet from these links, or read the 12-page version on screen below this article.

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