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Aotearoa/New Zealand: Greed is good, as long as it's green

Greens Party co-leader Russel Norman sees the big business Pure Advantage group as "being an important ally for the Green Party’s vision of smart green prosperity".

[Sue Bradford will be a speaker at the World at a Crossroads II: Climate change: social change conference, in Melbourne, Australia, September 30-October 3, 2011.]

By Sue Bradford

China, Brazil, Indonesia: Capital is a fickle lover

By Walden Bello

June 22, 2011 -- Foreign Policy In Focus -- "China is today the ideal capitalist state: freedom for capital, with the state doing the 'dirty job' of controlling the workers”, writes the prominent Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek. “China as the emerging power of the twenty first century … seems to embody a new kind of capitalism: disregard for ecological consequences, disdain for workers' rights, everything subordinated to the ruthless drive to develop and become the new world force."

Capital, however, is a fickle lover.

Recently, a growing number of corporate leaders are having second thoughts about the “Chinese model” that has been so central in the globalisation of production and markets over the last three decades.

Labour rises

The deep green meaning of Fukushima

[For previous articles by Don Fitz, click HERE.]

By Don Fitz

June 26, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Humanity must decrease its use of energy. The decrease must be a lot (not a little bit) and it must happen soon. A failure to do so will lay the foundation for the destruction of human life by some combination of climate change and radiation.

How long will the disastrous consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan continue? A good estimate is about 4.5 billion years — the half life of uranium-238. [1] The March 11, 2011, meltdowns sounded alarms that environmentalists have rung for over half a century. There is also a deeper green meaning: the limits of economic growth have long since passed and we need to design a world with considerably less stuff.

The industry claims that there is such a thing as a safe level of radiation and that nuclear production can be safe. Both are profoundly untrue.

The Coca-colonisation of Swaziland

King Mswati III tours Coca Cola Africa Foundation projects in 2010.

By Peter Kenworthy

June 22, 2011 -- Pambazuka News -- Next time you crack open a Coke to quench your thirst, spare a thought for the sugarcane workers in Swaziland. Coca-Cola is one of the largest and wealthiest companies in the world, as well as being one of the world’s best-known brands. The desperate situation of the poverty-stricken workers in the sugarcane fields in Swaziland, who harvest the sugarcane that is the most important ingredient of African Coke, on the other hand, is a well kept secret. Their plight is not deemed newsworthy. They live their lives in a brutal and repressive absolute monarchy where King Mswati III and a small elite live in luxury while the majority of Swazis live in abject poverty.

More than 1 billion cans or bottles of Coca-Cola are consumed every day and the Coca-Cola Company makes huge profits every year, over US$15 billion in 2005.

The truth behind Chevron's greenwashing: 'The true cost of Chevron'

June 22, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Television viewers in Australia are being bombarded by an expensive series of PR advertisements extolling how much the giant "energy" corporation Chevron "agrees" with the Australian people's concerns for the environment. In a classic example of "greenwashing", Chevron's "We Agree" campaign is a concerted effort to defuse opposition to its activities around the world.

But as with most capitalist advertising, the truth and reality behind the glossy claims are very different, as the True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report below highlights in extensive detail. Fortunately too, the satirical exposers of corporate shams the Yes Men joined forces with the environmental groups Amazon Watch and the Rainforest Action Network to issue a bogus press release and set up a phony website to expose the "We Agree" campaign.

Excerpts from 'Environment, Capitalism and Socialism': Sources of modern environmentalism; Currents in ecological thought

The following are excerpts from Environment, Capitalism and Socialism, drafted for the  Democratic Socialist Party of Australia by Dick Nichols,and  published by Resistance Books in 1999. The book can be purchased from Resistance Books' website. The extensive footnotes are only available in the hard copy. (The DSP merged with the Socialist Alliance in January 2010.) Despite its age and inevitable flaws, this book was ahead of its time in many respects and was among the first serious attempts by a revolutionary party to apply a Marxist analysis to the environment question. It remains an essential document for socialists and ecologists alike.
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Capitalist globalisation and the environment: Offshoring carbon emissions

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

June 12, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- More than 3000 participants from 183 countries are attending a two-week UN sponsored climate gathering in Bonn, Germany.  The talks are supposed to help prepare the agenda for COP 17, or as it is more formally known, the 17th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (defenders of the environment have renamed the meeting the Conference of Polluters) which will take place November 28 to December 9, 2011, in Durban, South Africa. 

The cost of climate inaction grows worse.  As the Earth Island Journal reports:

Is the capitalist economic crisis over?

Demonstrators in London against government cutbacks, March 26, 2011.

By Dimitris Fasfalis

June 6, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In so far as the global capitalist media are concerned, the global recovery and the boom in Asia and Latin America have created an ideological illusion that hides the unfolding capitalist crisis.

The latest IMF World Economic Outlook (April 2011) sets the tone of established economists concerning the pace of global economic growth: “The world economic recovery continues, more or less as predicted.” The IMF’s line of argument then runs as follows: market economies have always undergone periodic crises, which are a fundamental feature of their functioning, ensuring a healthy and sustainable growth.

Spain: The 'indignant’ and the Paris Commune

By Atilio A. Boron

May 24, 2011 – AtilioBoron.com, translated by the tlaxcala-int.org website, via the Bullet -- Perhaps it's one of history's surprises that the popular uprising surging through Spain (and which is beginning to reverberate throughout the rest of Europe) was sparked on the 140th anniversary of the Paris Commune, a heroic moment in which the fundamental demand was also that of democracy. But a democracy conceived as a government by, for, and of the people, and not as a regime serving the interests of patronage and in which the people's interests are inexorably subordinate to the imperative of business profits.

Bangladesh: Climate change and neoliberal policies

By Danielle Sabai

May 9, 2011 -- Asia Left Observer, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Located in the largest delta at the world, where two Himalayan rivers, the Brahmaputra and the Ganges, converge and flow into the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh is used to climatic catastrophes. Half of the land area of Bangladesh is less than 10 metres above sea level. It consists mainly of silt deposited by the rivers that flow down from the Himalayan glaciers. When the snow melts it regularly causes large-scale floods. The coast is at the mercy of cyclones and giant waves which submerge the coastal areas.

Are ‘African lions’ really roaring? Latest fibs from world financiers

Africans who spend between US$2-$20 a day are now "middle class", says the African Development Bank chief economist Mthuli Ncube.

By Patrick Bond

May 10, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Apparently, “one in three Africans is middle class” and as a result Africa is ready for “take off”, according to African Development Bank chief economist Mthuli Ncube speaking last week at the World Economic Forum-Africa summit in Cape Town. “Hey you know what, the world please wake up, this is a phenomenon in Africa that we've not spent a lot of time thinking about.”

‘The Ecological Rift’: a radical response to capitalism’s war on the planet

John Bellamy Foster, renowned US economist and ecologist, editor of the US socialist journal Monthly Review and author of The Ecological Rift, The Ecological Revolution, The Great Financial Crisis (with Fred Magdoff), Marx’s Ecology; Ecology Against Capitalism, and The Vulnerable Planet, will be a featured international guest at the second World at a Crossroads: Climate Change – Social Change Conference, Friday, September 30 – Monday, October 3, 2011, Melbourne University.

* * *

Review by Simon Butler

The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth
John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York
Monthly Review Press, 2010
544 pages

Read an excerpt from The Ecological Rift HERE.

Green illusions and the carbon tax

By Tim Anderson

April 30, 2011 -- The proposal for a carbon tax raises the issues of tax equity and political strategy. Yet despite their inter-relatedness, we need to disentangle these issues to focus on the original question. As a mean of addressing climate change, the carbon tax proposal comes in the context of difficult global negotiations, where almost any proposal has been seen as a breakthrough, and where (after the last financial derivatives bubble) there is justified suspicion of emissions trading schemes.

In Australia the political context includes a narrow, two-party debate which has reverted to tax incidence, with both major parties basically captured by the major investor groups and Labor having recently been humiliated over a failed proposal for a new mining tax. Into this mix we have the Greens, presenting as an alternative, yet signing an accord with the Labor government over its carbon tax.

I would like to briefly touch on the tax equity issue, before moving to the carbon tax and then to the question of political strategies.

Tax equity

Global microfinance industry totters as Grameen Bank founder’s career ends in disgrace

Grameen Bank's Muhammad Yunus (right) with Bangladeshi women. The promised empowerment and poverty reduction failed to eventuate.

By Patrick Bond

April 27, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Bangladesh’s once-legendary banking environment is now fatally polluted. The rot is spreading so fast and far that the entire global microfinance industry is threatened. Controversy ranges far beyond poisonous local politics, the factor most often cited by those despondent about Grameen Bank’s worsening crisis.

Climate finance leadership risks global bankruptcy

By Patrick Bond

April 24, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- South Africa’s most vocal neoliberal politician, Trevor Manuel (pictured above), has just been named as co-chair of the Green Climate Fund. On April 28-29, 2011, in Mexico City, Manuel and other elites met to design the world’s biggest-ever replenishing pool of aid money: a promised US$100 billion of annual grants by 2020, more than the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and allied regional banks put together.

The Climate Justice lobby is furious because, as the network of 90 progressive organisations wrote to the United Nations, “The integrity and potential of a truly just and effective climate fund has already been compromised by the 2010 Cancún decisions to involve the World Bank as interim trustee.” A Friends of the Earth International study earlier this month attacked the World Bank for increased coal financing, especially $3.75 billion loaned to South Africa’s Eskom a year ago.

Reading 'The Shock Doctrine' in Cairo

[The following article was provided by Cairo-based Australian journalist Austin Mackell and first appeared at his website, Moon Under Water. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with his permission.]

* * *

Story and photos by Austin G. Mackell, Cairo

April 12, 2011 -- Moon Under Water -- The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein, is the duck's fucking nuts. The most fitting endorsement I have heard of it comes from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow: “The only book of the last few years in American publishing that I would describe as a mandatory must-read. Literally the only one.”

Nuclear means catastrophe: The lesson of Fukushima

People are tested for radiation exposure near Fukushima. 

By Daniel Tanuro

March 17, 2011 -- International Viewpoint via Climate and Capitalism -- What has happened was entirely predictable: yet another major nuclear “accident”. At the time of writing, it is not yet certain that it will take on the dimensions of a disaster similar to Chernobyl, but that is the direction in which things, alas, look set to evolve. But whether it develops into a major disaster or not, we are once again faced with evidence that nuclear technology can never be 100% secure.

`Coolie revolts': exclusive excerpt from 'The Devil's Milk: A social history of rubber'

The Devil’s Milk: A social history of rubber
By John Tully
Monthly Review Press, 2011

March 13, 2011 -- With the kind permission of Monthly Review Press, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is honoured to be able to bring its readers an exclusive excerpt from Australian socialist John Tully's fascinating new book, The Devil’s Milk: A social history of rubber. The section below details how the peoples of the colonies exploited by the imperialist rubber barons fought back against their oppression. Links readers are urged to purchase a copy of this excellent new book. See also an interview with John Tully about his new book, "New book reveals the history of rubber: holocausts, environmental destruction and class struggle".

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