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Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #7 -- Reasons for popular scepticism concerning politics and politicians

[This is the seventh in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. In one of my previous articles, I stated that in order to wage an effective struggle against neoliberalism, it is necessary to unite all those suffering its consequences, and to achieve this objective we must start with the left itself, which in our countries tends to be very dispersed. But, there are many obstacles that impede this task. The first step to overcoming them is to be aware of them and be prepared to face them.

2. One of these obstacles is the growing popular scepticism regarding politics and politicians.

3. This has to do, among other things, with the great constraints that exist today in our democratic systems, which are very different to those that existed prior to the military dictatorships.

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #6 -- The need to unite the party left and the social left

Marta Harnecker.

[This is the sixth in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. The rejection by a majority of the people of the globalisation model imposed on our continent intensifies each day given its inability to solve the most pressing problems of our people. Neoliberal policies implemented by large transnational financial capital, which is backed by a large military and media power, and whose hegemonic headquarters can be found in the United States, have not only been unable to resolve these problems but, on the contrary, have dramatically increased misery and social exclusion, while concentrating wealth in increasingly fewer hands.

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #5 -- Minorities can be right

Marta Harnecker (right) with Michael Lebowitz (left).

[This is the fifth in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. Democratic centralism implies not only the subordination of the minority to the majority, but also the respect of the majority towards the minority.

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #4 -- Should we reject bureaucratic centralism and simply use consensus?

Marta Harnecker.

[This is the fourth in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. For a long time, left-wing parties operated along authoritarian lines. The usual practice was that of bureaucratic centralism, influenced by the experiences of Soviet socialism. All decisions regarding criterion, tasks, initiatives, and the course of political action to take were restricted to the party elite, without the participation or debate of the membership, who were limited to following orders that they never got to discuss and in many cases did not understand. For most people, such practices are increasing intolerable.

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.

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #3 -- To be at the service of popular movements, not displace them

[This is the third in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. We have previously stated that politics is the art of constructing a social and political force capable of changing the balance of forces in order to make possible tomorrow that which today appears to be impossible. But, to be able to construct a social force it is necessary for political organisations to demonstrate a great respect for grassroots movements; to contribute to their autonomous development, leaving behind all attempts at manipulation. They must take as their starting point that they aren’t the only ones with ideas and proposals and, on the contrary, grassroots movements have much to offer us, because through their daily struggles they have also learned things, discovered new paths, found solutions and invented methods which can be of great value.

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #2 -- Convince, not impose

Marta Harnecker.

[This is the second in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. Popular movements and, more generally, the different social protagonists who today are engaged in the struggle against neoliberal globalisation both at the international and national levels reject, with good reason, attitudes that aim to impose hegemony or control on movements. They don’t accept the steamroller policy that some political and social organisations tended to use that, taking advantage of their position of strength and monopolising political positions, attempt to manipulate the movement. They don’t accept the authoritarian imposition of a leadership from above; they don’t accept attempts made to lead movements by simply giving orders, no matter how correct they are.

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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Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #1 -- Insurrections or revolutions? The role of the political instrument

Marta Harnecker (left).

[This is the first in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. The recent popular uprisings at the turn of the 21st century that have rocked numerous countries such as Argentina and Bolivia -- and, more generally, the history of the multiple social explosions that have occurred in Latin America and the rest of the world -- have undoubtedly demonstrated that the initiative of the masses, in and of itself, is not enough to defeat ruling regimes.

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.

Interview with Bolivia's foreign minister: `Communitarian socialism will refound Bolivia’

Interview with Bolivia’s foreign minister David Choquehuanca by Patricia Bravo and Cris González, translated from the original article in the March 20, 2009, edition of Punto Final (Chile) by David Montoute.

David Choquehuanca.

Bolivia’s new ``Political Constitution of the State’’, approved by referendum on January 25, 2009, by 61.4% of the vote and announced on February 7, is clearly of transcendental importance for the refoundation of Bolivia. The recognition of individual and collective rights, popular participation, the principle of equality and the end of all types of exclusion and discrimination are all present in the new constitutional text.

It establishes the creation of “a Unified Social State of Law whose character would be Plurinational Communitarian, free, independent, sovereign, democratic, intercultural, with decentralised autonomous departments, regions, municipalities and indigenous circumscriptions”.

A Green's view of Cuba: Reflections on the 50th anniversary of the revolution

Barb in Cuba
Barbara Chicherio and husband Don Fitz in Havana.

By Barbara Chicherio

During January 2009 I visited Cuba over a long weekend. My stepdaughter started medical school there this past August and this was the first chance in several months for her Dad and me to see her. Visiting Rebecca was wonderful, but I was unprepared for what I encountered during the three short days spent in Cuba and how the experience would shift my perception of the global economy.

April 30: Vietnam celebrates Liberation Day

By Peter Boyle

April 30, 2009 -- Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific -- There are two unforgettable images of Vietnam's Liberation Day on April 30, 1975. The first is the image of liberation fighters entering the Independence Palace (now Reunification Palace) in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). The second is the hasty evacuation by helicopter from the roof of the US embassy.

Thirty-four years later Vietnam will celebrate not just the end of a 16-year war of aggression by the US, Australia and other imperialist and pro-imperialist states but also the end of the two-decade-long economic blockade that was subsequently imposed by the US on this poor and war-ravaged nation.

Michael Lebowitz: Venezuela's socialism of the 21st century

April 16, 2009 -- 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. Lebowitz is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He is a program coordinator with the Centro International

Left activists discuss solutions at World at a Crossroads international socialism conference

Photos by Alex Bainbridge. Individual pictures can be viewed here.

By Simon Butler

Sydney -- April 18, 2009 -- Green Left Weekly -- Several participants at the World at a Crossroads conference, held in Sydney on April 10-12, remarked that the conference could not have been better named.

As the world economy lurches into a deep recession, and the looming climate emergency reaches a crisis point, the world truly is at a crossroads. The future will be decided in the conflict between the greedy capitalist elites and those around the world fighting for a far better world — a world free of racism, war and environmental plunder.

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.

Bolivia's ‘communitarian socialism’

Banner supporting a `yes' vote in the January 25, 2009, constitutional referendum.

By Federico Fuentes

April 1, 2009 -- The historic enactment of Bolivia’s new constitution that grants unprecedented rights to the country’s indigenous majority, approved by over 61% of the vote on January 25, represented the beginning of “communitarian socialism”, according to President Evo Morales.

This was not the first time Bolivia’s first indigenous president had raised the concept of “communitarian socialism”. In his April 2008 speech to the United Nations, Morales spoke of the need for “a communitarian socialism in harmony with Mother Earth”.

While Morales’s political party is officially known as Movement Towards Socialism–Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (MAS-IPSP), it was originally simply IPSP. Blocked from registering itself as an electoral party, the IPSP took up the offer of the then-existing MAS party to use its registered name to run in elections.

La revolucion energetica: Cuba's energy revolution

By Laurie Guevara-Stone, photos by Mario Alberto Arrastia Avila

April 2, 2009 -- A new revolution is sweeping the island of Cuba, which is making massive progress on energy efficiency and renewable generation. Indeed, such is the success of the two-year old program on this small island of 11 million people, that many other countries could learn from its efforts to be energy independent and curb climate change.

Sydney, April 10-12, 2009: `World at a Crossroads' 21st century socialism conference day-by-day agenda

 

World at a Crossroads: Fighting for socialism in the 21st Century
Easter 2009, April 10-12, Sydney

Venue: Sydney Girls High School

World At A Crossroads is a conference that brings together hundreds of socialists, progressive activists and Marxist thinkers from around Australia, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and North America in dozens of panel presentations and workshops dealing with the urgent questions that confront us all: war, imperialism, food security, racism, workers' rights, sexism, the media and culture. Feature sessions and streams will include:

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