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Steve Ellner: 'There is much to learn from the positives and difficulties of the Venezuelan experience'



By Lucas Koerner


October 21, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Venezuela Analysis — Distinguished Venezuelan history and politics professor Steve Ellner visited Caracas from September 26 to October 7 to teach an intensive seminar at the Venezuelan Planning School, titled “The Role of the Venezuelan State in the Transition to Socialism”. VA sat down with the long time Universidad de Oriente professor to discuss a range of pressing issues facing Venezuela, including the country’s current economic crisis, the recall referendum, the future of the Bolivarian process, the efficacy of state social programs such as the CLAPs, rentierism and the Maduro government’s controversial Mining Arc, as well as the role of international solidarity.


[21세기사회주의 컨퍼런스] 마이클 레보위츠 인터뷰: 오늘날 라틴아메리카 신자유주의 대안 만들기



[Original in English here.]


국제전략센터/International Strategy Center -- 2016년 5월 24일 – 링크스– 마이클 레보위츠는 사회주의적 대안 구축에서 나타날 수 있는 문제점을 연구하는데 많은 시간을 할애해온 맑스주의의 선도적 인물이다. 레보위츠는 2004년부터 2010년까지 6년간 베네수엘라 까라까스의 미란다 국제 센터(CIM)에서 혁신적 실천방안과 인간 발전을 위한 프로그램 개발 책임자로 일하면서 “21세기 사회주의” 건설에 참여할 기회를 가졌다.


레보위츠는 최근 링크스와 공동 주최로 호주에서 개최된 21세기 사회주의 컨퍼런스에 참석했다. 아래 내용은 컨퍼런스에서 레보위츠가 중심이 되어 논의한 오늘날 라틴 아메리카에서의 신자유주의 반대와 사회주의 대안 전망에 대해 인터뷰한 내용이다.


Hunger in Venezuela? A look beyond the spin




By Christina Schiavoni and William Camacaro


July 15, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Food First! with permission — You may have seen the headlines about Venezuela – headlines that allude to food scarcity, rioting, people eating stray animals to survive, and a country on the brink of starvation. These stories are not only alarming, but perplexing, too. Is this the same country that was recognized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as recently as 2015 for having nearly eradicated hunger?[1] Is this the same country that has been the focus of international delegations and extensive alternative media coverage for its ‘food sovereignty experiment’ involving agrarian reform, food distributions programs, and direct citizen participation in the food system?[2] What’s going on?


Beyond the boliburguesía thesis: Why critics are wrong to blame socialism for Venezuela's woes



The pressing problems facing Venezuela, ranging from triple-digit inflation to hours-long lines to purchase basic goods, have provided critics with ammunition to discredit the Left’s political and economic project


By Steve Ellner


Media Wars: the role of the Left when Venezuela's imperfect revolution is under attack



By Tamara Pearson


May 25, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Venezuela Analysis -- One of my deepest reasons for respecting Chavez was his way of speaking sin pelos en la lengua – without hairs on his tongue – directly, clearly, unafraid of admitting to problems, challenges, and his own humanity, right down to his toilet needs. He said the hard things, he stood up to the media attacks with sincere and pointed questions rather than abuse. He was known for talking a lot because there was a lot to be done and it had to be discussed in depth, not superficially. That is what we need to do too, especially right now.


Building alternatives to neoliberalism in Latin America today: An interview with Michael Lebowitz



May 24, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Leading Marxist author Michael A. Lebowitz has dedicated a big part of his research to the problem of the possibilities of building a socialist alternative. He spent six years (2004-2010) in Venezuela working as a director of the program for Transformative Practice and Human Development at the Miranda International Center (CIM) in Caracas, where he had the opportunity to participate in the building of “socialism for 21st century”.


Lebowitz was recently in Australia for the Socialism in the 21st Century conference, which was co-hosted by Links. In the interview published below, Lebowitz covers some of the topics he discussed during his visit regarding the opposition to neoliberalism and the prospects for a socialist alternative in Latin America today.


Venezuela: ¡Comuna o Nada!


By George Ciccariello-Maher


March 23, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from ROAR Magazine with permission — Have you heard about Venezuela’s communes? Have you heard that there are hundreds of thousands of people in nearly 1,500 communes struggling to take control of their territories, their labor, and their lives? If you haven’t heard, you’re not the only one. As the mainstream media howls about economic crisis and authoritarianism, there is little mention of the grassroots revolutionaries who have always been the backbone of the Bolivarian process.


This blindspot is reproduced by an international left whose dogmas and pieties creak and groan when confronted with a political process that doesn’t fit, in which the state, oil, and a uniformed soldier have all played key roles. It’s a sad testament to the state of the left that when we think of communes we are more likely to think of nine arrests in rural France than the ongoing efforts of these hundreds of thousands. But nowhere is communism pure, and the challenges Venezuela’s comuneros confront today are ones that we neglect at our own peril.


A Bolivarian Bernie? The Latin American Roots of Sanders’ Social Democratic Populism


Bernie Sanders at a rally held by National Nurses United in support of his candidacy.


By Lucas Koerner


March 12, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Venezuela Analysis with the author's permission -- Since the US political establishment began taking seriously the threat posed by Bernie Sanders’ presidential candidacy in recent months, the self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” senator has faced an endless barrage of red-baiting attacks.


On several occasions, Sanders’ social democratic program has been likened to Venezuela and other Latin American countries of the so-called “pink tide”, conjuring up the now routine images of apocalyptic economic meltdown replayed ad nauseum by corporate media outlets.


Sanders, for his part, has emphatically denied the comparisons– not without a small amount of red-baiting himself– preferring to draw his inspiration from Scandinavian social democracy, where a strong capitalist state guarantees a host of key social welfare provisions for its largely homogenous populace.


“We're not talking about Venezuela, we're not talking about Cuba. We are talking about the concept, which I don't think is a radical idea, of having a government which works to represent the needs of the middle class and working families rather than just the top 1 percent,” the Democratic presidential contender explained at a recent forum hosted by Telemundo.


These assertions aside, there is, however, something about Sanders’ left populist crusade against the “billionaire class” that is much more at home in Caracas than in Copenhagen.


Venezuela: a turning point for Latin America?


By Stuart Piper


January 25, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Resistance with the author's permission


“They hit us in the stomach. The revolution, and we as social movements, haven’t been able to deal with the problem of food.” Marisa, community activist in La Vega, a day after the election.


Confrontation inside and outside parliament


On the morning of Tuesday, 5 January, a few thousand supporters of Venezuela’s right-wing opposition gathered around La Hoyada metro station in central Caracas. Most had travelled in from the better-off neighbourhoods to the east. The mood was euphoric, but tense. They would march the short distance west to the National Assembly, in the company of their newly elected representatives who were about to be sworn in.


Is South America’s ‘progressive cycle’ at an end? Neo-developmentalist attempts and socialist projects

Protest by Indigenous Women against Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa in August last year

by Claudio Katz, introduction and translation by Richard Fidler

February 5, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left with permission — In this ambitious and compelling overview of the strategic and programmatic issues at stake in South America today, Argentine political economist Claudio Katz expands on many of the observations he made in an earlier interview while critically analyzing contrasting approaches to development that are being pursued or proposed. Translation from the Spanish and endnotes are by me. – Richard Fidler


Venezuela, indigenous capitalisms and the socialisms of the twenty-first century


Opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles donned indigenous hearwear and declared 'I will demarcate all indigenous lands' during his 2012 presidential election campaign

By Luis F. Angosto-Ferrández


January 18, 2016 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Progress in Political Economy – Venezuelans balloted last month – again. Nothing exceptional in a country where citizens have cast their votes in twenty different nationwide elections over the past 17 years – more than once annually, if one draws an average. Yet elections in the Bolivarian republic generate an extraordinary level of international attention and a flurry of commentary ever since the late Hugo Chávez was elected in 1998. That is what happens when people in an oil-rich country suddenly reveal themselves as rich in political resources too, and furthermore decide that neither their oil nor their politics should be managed in the interest of national and international elites: the latter rapidly deploy the best of their political repertoire (and their media) to make sure that everyone around the world realises how wrong those people in the oil-rich country are.


Social Movements and Progressive Governments - Building a New Relationship in Latin America

Marta Harnecker (pictured) will be one of the keynote speakers at Socialism for the 21st century: Moving beyond capitalism, learning from global struggles being held in Sydney on May 13-15.


By Marta Harnecker, translated by Richard Fidler


January 2016 — Monthly Review, reposted on Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission — In recent years a major debate has emerged over the role that new social movements should adopt in relation to the progressive governments that have inspired hope in many Latin American nations. Before addressing this subject directly, though, I want to develop a few ideas.


The situation in the 1980s and ’90s in Latin America was comparable in some respects to the experience of pre-revolutionary Russia in the early twentieth century. The destructive impact on Russia of the imperialist First World War and its horrors was paralleled in Latin America by neoliberalism and its horrors: greater hunger and poverty, an increasingly unequal distribution of wealth, unemployment, the destruction of nature, and the erosion of sovereignty.


Rightists’ election victory poses major threat to Venezuela’s advances: Can People’s Power save the Bolivarian Revolution?



President Nicolás Maduro addresses Chavista supporters on December 7, following election defeat the previous day.


By Richard Fidler


January 13, 2016 - Life on the Left, reposted on Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with author’s permission - Seventeen years after Hugo Chávez was elected Venezuela’s President for the first time, the supporters of his Bolivarian Revolution, now led by President Nicolás Maduro, suffered their first major defeat in a national election in the December 6 elections to the country’s parliament, the National Assembly.


Coming only two weeks after the victory of right-wing candidate Mauricio Macri in Argentina’s presidential election, it was a stunning setback to the “process of change” in Latin America that Chávez had spearheaded until his premature death from cancer in 2013. The opposition majority in the new parliament threatens to undo some of the country’s major social and economic advances of recent years as well as Venezuela’s vital support to revolutionary Cuba and other neighboring countries through innovative solidarity programs like PetroCaribe and the ALBA fair-trade alliance.


‘Venezuela defines the future of the progressive cycle’ An interview with Claudio Katz


Introduced and translated by Richard Fidler, article original published in Spanish in La Llamarada


July 14, 2013 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Two recent events — the second-round victory on November 22 of right-wing candidate Mauricio Macri in Argentina’s presidential election, and the December 6 victory of the right-wing Democratic Unity Roundtable,[1] winning two thirds of the seats in Venezuela’s National Assembly elections — have radically altered the political map in South America. In the following interview, Argentine Marxist Claudio Katz discusses what these setbacks for the left mean for the progressive “process of change” that has unfolded on the continent over the last 10-15 years. My translation from the Spanish.


Katz is a professor of economics at the University of Buenos Aires, a researcher with the National Council of Science and Technology, and a member of Economists of the Left.[2]


The Tragedies of the Global Commons and the Global Working Class: Reflections on the Papal Encyclical

Michael A. Lebowitz (pictured) will be one of the keynote speakers at Socialism for the 21st century: Moving beyond capitalism, learning from global struggles being held in Sydney on May 13-15.

By Michael A. Lebowitz

Links International Journal of Socialist RenewalAn earlier version of this paper was presented at ‘The First World Congress on Marxism’ at Peking University, 10 October 2015 in Beijing, China.

‘On Care for Our Common Home’: the premises

Everybody is talking about it — the dangers presented by climate change. Adding significantly, though, to the emphasis upon the need to take dramatic action now has been Pope Francis’s recent Encyclical Laudati Si’, ‘On Care for our Common Home’. Its over-riding theme is that we must ‘protect our common home’. ‘The climate,’ the document stresses, ‘is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all’ and is ‘linked to many of the essential conditions for human life’ (23). Not only, however, are we destroying those conditions but, ‘the earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth’ (21). How is it, the Encyclical asks, that we have ‘so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years’ (53)?

Is Maduro taking Chavismo down the pragmatic path? An interview with Steve Ellner (part 2)

Steve Ellner

Steve Ellner addresses a forum in 2014 on Chavismo in Caracas, Venezuela.

In the first part of the interview (available here) conducted by Evaristo Marcano, Professor Steve Ellner contextualized government politics that favored those businesspeople who did not support the general strike of 2002-2003. According to him, the strategy was relatively successful from a political viewpoint, but not an economic one. In the second part of the interview, Ellner argues that populist policies also have to be contextualized in order to be objectively analyzed. At the same time, he calls for a critical examination of the assertion that the government’s social programs and labor policies have generated low levels of productivity.

E.M. Populism is a topic that has been widely studied and has generated considerable polemics. Renowned analysts specializing in Latin America have dedicated considerable effort to understand the phenomenon. Recently, Margarita López Maya, in an article published in a daily of national circulation, maintained that the upcoming elections in Venezuela will pit the populist model against democracy. By framing the issue in these terms, is she not ignoring the complexity of a phenomenon that, at least in Latin America, has many variations?

Is Maduro taking Chavismo down the pragmatic path? An interview with Steve Ellner (part 1)


Steve Ellner


 Steve Ellner addresses a forum on Chavismo in Caracas, Venezuela.

Steve Ellner is a well-known analyst of Venezuelan and Latin American politics and is a retired professor at the Universidad de Oriente. He has published scores of journal articles and over a dozen books, his last being the edited Latin America’s Radical Left: Challenges and Complexities of Political Power in the Twenty First Century, published by Rowman & Littlefield.

This interview by Evaristo Marcano was originally published in Spanish in and

Chavez non c’è più ma il Chavismo è destinato a restare

[English at]

Di Federico Fuentes

4 agosto 2015 -- ZNet Italy -- Se Hugo Chavez non fosse morto nel 2013, l’ex presidente venezuelano il 28 luglio avrebbe compiuto 61 anni. Tuttavia, anche se Chavez non c’è più, la sua impronta indelebile sul panorama politico del Venezuela, sopravvive.

Il 6 dicembre i venezuelani andranno alle urne per la ventesima volta da quando Chavez era stato eletto presidente per la prima volta nel 1998. L’elezione di dicembre per l’Assembela Nazionale si avvia a diventare   un’altra fondamentale battaglia tra le forze che per 15 anni hanno appoggiato o si sono opposte a Chavez.

Per le forze chaviste, la vittoria è vitale per la difesa  e l’intensificazione della loro “rivoluzione bolivariana.”

Per l’opposizione, il successo rappresenterebbe un passo importante verso la rimozione del successore di Chavez, Nicolas Maduro, o tramite un referendum  prima della scadenza del suo mandato nel 2016 o per mezzo del possibile uso del parlamento per metterlo in stato di accusa.

Nella maggio parte dei paesi, le persone in carica devono fare i conti  con un prevalente umore anti-politico riflesso nella maggiore mutevolezza  dei votanti e nei più rapidi  cambiamenti  di governo. Anche l’Australia, relativamente tranquilla, ha visto quattro diversi governi nello scorso decennio.

Venezuela: Chávez elment, de a chavizmus megmaradt

[English at]

Írta: Federico Fuentes

2015. augusztus 06 -- Green Left Weekly/Latin-Amerika Társaság -- A 2013-ban elhunyt Hugo Chávez egykori venezuelai elnök és forradalmi szocialista július 28-án lett volna 61 éves. Bár Chávez eltávozott, emléke a venezuelai politikai színtér kitörölhetetlen része maradt.

December 6-án Venezuela huszadik alkalommal fog az urnákhoz járulni azóta, hogy Chávezt 1998-ban először elnökké választották. Eközött a két időpont között a szegénypárti átalakítási folyamat jelentősen visszavetette a szegénységet és hatalommal ruházta fel a szegény többséget.

Komoly akadályokkal is felmerültek, amely akadályozzák és veszélyeztetik a „bolivári forradalom” – ahogyan a Chávez által vezetett folyamatot hívják – fennmaradását.

A decemberi nemzetgyűlési választás egy újabb kritikus ütközetet jelent azok között, akik 15 éven keresztül támogatták vagy ellenezték Chávezt.

A chavista erők számára létfontosságú a győzelem, hogy megvédjék és elmélyítsék a forradalmat.

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