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Cuba: Climate change, disaster and collectivism

By Susana Hurlich

September 17, 2008 -- Havana -- The TV coverage here in Cuba on the impact of hurricanes Gustav and Ike is very instructive, not just in showing clearly the extent of damage, but in giving a sense of the feelings and spirit of the people through many, many different testimonies. I notice that in much of the reporting outside the country, there's not much commentary on this aspect, which is as important -- if not more so in the long run -- as the statistics on damage.

Cuban workers work with heavy machines to remove debris infront of a house in Havana, Cuba on September 9, 2008, after the passing of Hurricane Ike. EPA/ALEJANDRO ERNESTO.

Scenes from Marx in Soho, by Howard Zinn

Scenes from Howard's Zinn's Marx in Soho (Bob Weick of the Iron Age Theatre appears in videos 2 & 5). For the latest on the play, go to http://www.marxinsoho.com/ Four more scenes follow: click HERE.

Marx on capitalism

 

Women and the Russian Revolution: `Our task is to make politics available to every working woman'

By Lisa Macdonald

The following is the Introduction to On the Emancipation of Women, a collection of the key articles and speeches on women’s liberation by Russian revolutionary V.I. Lenin, published by Resistance Books. On the Emancipation of Women is available online at http://www.resistancebooks.com.

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The persistence of gender inequality in the most advanced capitalist societies, with the most complete bourgeois democracy in which women have full formal equality, has put paid to the idea that women's liberation is possible within the framework of capitalism, even in its "healthiest" periods of expansion. Today, in a period of global capitalist stagnation and crisis, as the "gender gap" widens and women, especially in the Third World, bear the brunt of the capitalist class's neo-liberal offensive against the working class as a whole, the correctness of the Marxist analysis of women's oppression as a cornerstone of class society and its revolutionary approach to achieving women's liberation is clearer than ever before.

Celia Hart's last essay: A revolutionary fight against the demon

On September 9, 2008, supporters of the Cuban Revolution were saddened to learn of the sudden deaths of Celia Hart Santamaría and Abel Hart Santamaría, the daughter and son of Armando Hart Dávalos and Haydée Santamaría, in a car accident in Havana on September 7, possibly caused by the conditions resulting from Hurricane Gustav. Below is the last essay written by Celia, on the topic of hurricanes, global warming and the Cuban Revolution's and Cuban society's ability to protect its people from devastating storms like hurricanes Katrina and Gustav. (Click HERE to watch Celia Hart discuss the politics of Latin America in a video recorded in May 2008. A selection of Celia Hart's essays, It’s never too late to love or rebel, was published in 2006 by Socialist Resistance.)

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 Celia Hart Santamaría

Slideshow: Stalinism -- How did the Russian Revolution degenerate and was it inevitable?

Cuban trade unionist: `Workers are key participants in the Cuban revolution'

August 27, 2008 -- Gilda Chacon is the Asia, Oceania, Africa and Middle East representative of the Cuban Confederation of Trade Unions (CTC) and an elected delegate of the People’s Power Municipal Assembly. Annolies Truman interviewed her during her August 17–20 visit to Perth, Australia, to liaise with Western Australian trade unions.

How would you describe the different role of unions in Australia and Cuba?

The fundamental difference is that we operate under two different economic systems. Australia is a capitalist country and Cuba is a socialist country. While we both have union confederations — in Australia the ACTU and in Cuba the CTC — the orientation of the unions is essentially different.

In Cuba, unions basically support the government’s economic agenda because it benefits workers. The highest budget priorities are education, health (both free at all levels) and social security. Public transport is cheap and there is little or no disparity in wages between workers and managers.

Download now! Links Dossier #3: Michael Lebowitz on Socialism for the 21st Century

A selection of thought-provoking articles by Michael A. Lebowitz from Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. Lebowitz is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, and author of Beyond Capital: Marx’s Political Economy of the Working Class and Build it Now: Socialism for the 21st Century. He is a program coordinator with the Centro International Miranda, Caracas, Venezuela.

Links Dossiers are in easy-to-print PDF format and readers are encouraged to print and distribute them.

Contents

Socialism is the future: Build it now!

The spectre of socialism for the 21st century

Discussion on ‘The spectre of socialism for the
21st century’

The capitalist workday, the socialist workday

Without workers’ management, there is no socialism

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.

Venezuela: The hard battle for socialism

Interview with Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s minister of energy and petroleum from Punto Final. Translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

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Up until now, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s socialist project has counted on broad popular support. But it is encountering – as was foreseen – numerous difficulties and an opposition that is not disgusted by coup plots nor assassination attempts. On November 23, the revolutionary project will have to submit itself to a new test, this time in the form of elections for governors and mayors.

Michael Lebowitz: The spectre of socialism for the 21st century

The following is the keynote address to the annual meeting of the Society for Socialist Studies, Vancouver, June 5, 2008. It was originally titled ``Building socialism for the 21st century''. To hear an audio recording of the speech, click HERE.

By Michael A. Lebowitz

A spectre is haunting capitalism. It is the spectre of socialism for the 21st century. Increasingly, the characteristics of this spectre are becoming clear, and we are able to see enough to understand what it is not. The only thing that is not clear at this point is whether the spectre is real – i.e., whether it is actually an earthly presence.

Friedrich Engels: the Che Guevara of his day

Review by Alex Miller

Engels: A Revolutionary Life

By John Green

Artery Publications

Paperback 2008

347 pages, £10

Most people know that Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) was the lifelong friend and collaborator of Karl Marx, and for most people the image of Engels that springs most readily to mind is of a heavily bearded, earnest old Victorian gentleman (most likely standing in the background of a group consisting of Marx and his family).

Che Guevara's final verdict on the Soviet economy

By John Riddell

June 8, 2008 -- One of the most important developments in Cuban Marxism in recent years has been increased attention to the writings of Ernesto Che Guevara on the economics and politics of the transition to socialism.

A milestone in this process was the publication in 2006 by Ocean Press and Cuba's Centro de Estudios Che Guevara of Apuntes criticos a la economía política [Critical Notes on Political Economy], a collection of Che's writings from the years 1962 to 1965, many of them previously unpublished. The book includes a lengthy excerpt from a letter to Fidel Castro, entitled ``Some Thoughts on the Transition to Socialism''. In it, in extremely condensed comments, Che presented his views on economic development in the Soviet Union.[1]

In 1965, the Soviet economy stood at the end of a period of rapid growth that had brought improvements to the still very low living standards of working people. Soviet prestige had been enhanced by engineering successes in defence production and space exploration. Most Western observers then considered that it showed more dynamism than its US counterpart.

At that time, almost the entire Soviet productive economy was owned by the state. It was managed by a privileged bureaucracy that consolidated its control in the 1920s under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. Managers were rewarded on the basis of fulfilling production norms laid down from above; workers were commonly paid by the piece.

Michael A. Lebowitz: Socialism is the future -- Build it now

By Michael A. Lebowitz

Ideas become a material force when they grasp the minds of masses. This is true not only of ideas which can support revolutionary change. It is also true of those ideas which prevent change. An obvious example is the concept of TINA -- the idea that there is no alternative, no alternative to neoliberalism, no alternative to capitalism.

Certainly we know that there have been significant changes in the terrain upon which the working class must struggle -- changes which are a challenge because of a new international division of labour and because of the role of states in delivering a passive, docile working class to international capital. It is not only changing material circumstances which affects the working class, however. It is also the loss of confidence of the working class that makes these material changes a deadly blow. Even the Korean working class that has demonstrated so clearly in the past its militancy in the struggle against capital has been affected.

Videos: Cuba's green revolution

A clip from the BBC's Around the World in 80 Gardens (2008) introduces the urban organic food gardening revolution in Havana, Cuba. Click HERE for a three-part talk by Cuban permaculturist Roberto Perez that delves deeper into Cuba's green revolution, and an interview with the makers of The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, the film in which Perez featured.

So there’s nothing to stop us from emulating the Cuban farming revolution.

Three books on the life and thought of the `red terror doctor’

Reviews by Alex Miller

Karl Marx: A Biography
By David McLellan, Palgrave Macmillan
4th Edition 2006
487 pages, paperback

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.

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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.

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Michael A. Lebowitz: La jornada laboral capitalista y la jornada laboral socialista

By Michael A. Lebowitz

[Translation by J. Duckworth]

A medida que el primero de mayo se acerca, vale la pena recordar cuatro aspectos sobre ese día:

1. Para l@s trabajador@s el primero de mayo no es la celebración de un día feriado estatal, ni un regalo de él, sino que conmemorara es la lucha —desde abajo— de l@s trabajador@s.

2. Inicialmente, el primero de mayo se centraba en la lucha por una jornada laboral mas corta.

3. La lucha para una jornada laboral mas corta no es una lucha aislada sino la lucha contra la explotación capitalista.

4. La lucha contra la explotación capitalista es una parte esencial pero no es la única parte de la lucha general contra el capitalismo.

Hoy quiero exponer algunas ideas que se refieren tanto a la jornada laboral capitalista como a la socialista y espero que ellas puedan ser útiles en la lucha actual en Venezuela y que sirvan, de manera más inmediata, a los debates de hoy.

Michael A. Lebowitz: May Day -- The capitalist workday, the socialist workday

By Michael A. Lebowitz

April 24, 2008 -- As May Day approaches, there are four things that are worth remembering:

1. For workers, May Day does not celebrate a state holiday or gifts from the state but commemorates the struggle of workers from below.

2. The initial focus of May Day was a struggle for the shorter workday.

3. The struggle for the shorter workday is not an isolated struggle but is the struggle against capitalist exploitation.

Cuba: The challenge of fossil fuels and climate change

Roberto Perez, Cuban biologist and permaculturalist, Antonio Núñez Jimenez Foundation for Nature and Humanity, a Cuban NGO. Feature talk at the Climate Change Social Change Conference, Sydney, April 12, 2008. The conference was organised by Green Left Weekly.

 

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