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'Extractivism' debate continues: Beyond lithium (and other poisons)

The Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia are home to over half the world's lithium deposits.

By Don Fitz

April 17, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Policies that expand “extractivism” in progressive Latin American countries bring up a host of contradictions: How do the short-term benefits of financial gain from extraction compare to its long-term destructiveness? What options are available for reducing poverty without increasing mining, logging and GMO monocultures? Could the climate change effects of extraction actually hurt the world’s poor more than helping them? How can struggles against extractivism chart a path to economies based on human need rather corporate profits?

The lithium fantasy

Aotearoa/New Zealand: John Minto for Auckland mayor -- 'We need a Kiwi socialism'

[Click HERE for more coverage of politics in Aotearoa/New Zealand.]

By Daphne Lawless

August 24, 2013 -- Fightback, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The latest opinion polls put John Minto – teacher, veteran activist and MANA movement candidate – in third place in the race for mayor of Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland, to be held on October 12, 2013. Why has John Minto decided to run for the most powerful urban office in Aotearoa/New Zealand? He hesitates for quite a long time before answering – he calls it “the hardest question”.

It’s certainly not a question of seeking the limelight. A recent interview in the NZ Herald by Michelle Hewitson focussed relentlessly on delving Minto’s personality – and bringing up what John calls “the wallpaper of history” about his 30-year activist career. So he seems quite relieved that Fightback is interested in his campaign’s politics.

US economy: A major attack on labour rights

President Barack Obama bragged how he had saved the US auto industry by handing out billions in taxpayers’ money to the auto bosses, and even establishing what amounted to temporary federal ownership of the old General Motors plants when GM went bankrupt during the “Great Recession”.

By Sam Williams

December 23, 2012 -- A Critique of Crisis Theory, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Journal with permission -- December 11, 2012, brought news of a major new attack on basic labour rights in the United States. The following day, the Federal Reserve [the US central bank] announced new inflationary measures designed to end the economic stagnation the US economy has been mired in since the “Great Recession” bottomed out in July 2009.

Rising profits, sinking planet: socialist solutions to the climate crisis

"We have to put limits on the [capitalist] system's operation ... which means building a mass movement that has to build into itself not just the question of ecological justice, but also the question of social justice ... a movement with the radicalism of the 1960s' social movements with the social power of the union movements of the 1930s" -- Chris Williams.

Click HERE for more on Marxism and ecology.

Filmed by Doug Enaa Greene

Free public transport and beyond

By Stefan Kipfer

December 3, 2012 -- The Bullet (Socialist Project, Canada) -- Epochal crises allow us to see clearly the irrationalities of capitalism, notably its systematic inability to develop to the fullest human capacities and provide the basis for sustainable and respectful relationships to the rest of nature. The current world economic crisis has thrown to the dustbin of history the aspirations and capacities of millions of human beings – those laid off, driven off the land or relegated to permanent precariousness. At the same time, the crisis has intensified the exploitation of those still connected to gainful employment and driven up, at least temporarily, the ecologically destructive extraction of ‘resources,’ particularly in the global South and the peripheral areas of the global North.

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).

Anniversary of the 1937 US sit-down strike wave: Remembering another Occupy movement

Sit-in strikers at General Motors' Fisher No. 1 plant.

By Don Fitz

[See also With Babies & Banners, the classic 1977 documentary about the 1936-37 Flint sit-down strike, and the role of women in it.]

January 3, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The year 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of the great sit-down strike wave of 1937. It also begins the second year of the Occupy movement, which has more than a few similarities to the time when hundreds of thousands of Americans occupied their workplaces.

The first recorded sit-down strike in the US was actually in 1906 among General Electric workers of Schenectady, New York. When three organisers for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) were fired, 3000 of their fellow workers sat down and stopped production.

By the 1930s, the IWW was on the wane, but many of its organisers were active and workers across the US had seen its tactics first hand.

United States: 'With Babies & Banners' -- 75 years since the 44-day Flint sit-down strike

To view With Babies & Banners go to http://links.org.au/node/2681.

December 30, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Flint-based filmmaker Michael Moore has described the 1936 Flint sit-down strike as the "first Occupy" movement. Whether this is strictly accurate or not, the 1936-37 occupation/strike was a ground-breaking development in the US labour movement. To mark this anniversary, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal  is making available the classic 1977 documentary on the strike and the role of women in it, With Babies & Banners (via the link at the top of this article, or click here).

As Moore recounts, "On this day, December 30th, in 1936 -- 75 years ago today -- hundreds of workers at the General Motors (GM) factories in Flint, Michigan, took over the facilities and occupied them for 44 days. My uncle was one of them. The workers couldn't take the abuse from the corporation any longer. Their working conditions, the slave wages, no vacation, no health care, no overtime -- it was do as you're told or get tossed onto the curb.

China: Workers' action and collective awakening -- the 2010 auto workers' strike wave

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

By Wang Kan*, translated by Ralf Ruckus

Sozial Geschichte Online #6 (2011), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- On May 17, 2010, a strike erupted at the Honda parts plant in Nanhai, a city located in the Chinese centre of the manufacturing industry in Guangdong province. More than 1800 workers participated, and the strike disrupted all of Honda’s spare parts production facilities in China and led to the paralysing of Honda’s car production in China. On May 28, the strike wave spread to a Hyundai carfactory and on May 29 to US-American Chrysler’s joint venture Jeep factory, both in Beijing. On June 18, Toyota’s second car plant in Tianjin had to close, due to a strike.

In July, the Chinese media were universally asked to restrict their coverage of the strikes, but the strikes in the auto industry still did not stop. Prior to July 22, at least two of Honda’s joint venture factories saw strikes. The organisers and most important participants of these strikes were migrant workers (nongmingong, peasant workers). During the strike wave they showed very strong collective consciousness and capacity for collective action.

Hands over the city: Towards an urban nightmare

 

By Dave Holmes

[This is an edited version of a workshop talk given on October 2, 2011, at the World at a Crossroads: Climate Change, Social Change conference in Melbourne. For more material from the conference, click HERE. It first appeared at Dave Holmes' Arguing for Socialism and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission. See also Are livable cities just a dream? by Dave Holmes.]

I want to give an overview of the crisis of our cities as I see it. The city I focus on is Melbourne, where I live. But I doubt that the broad situation is much different in the other states.

Modern cities are "free-fire" zones for the corporations. And the situation is getting worse. We can't work out what to do without understanding this basic reality.

John Bellamy Foster: The ecology of Marxian political economy

[This article is an extended version of a talk delivered at the Marxism 2011 Conference, University College of London, July 3, 2011. Click HERE to view a video of that talk. Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to consider subscribing to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared. John Bellamy Foster 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.]

* * *

By John Bellamy Foster

Fred Magdoff: Creating an ecological civilisation

By Fred Magdoff

``It is inconceivable that capitalism itself will lead directly to an ecological civilization that provides the basic needs for all people. However, building an ecological civilization that is socially just will not automatically happen in post-capitalist societies. It will occur only through the concerted action and constant vigilance of an engaged population.''

January 2011 -- Monthly Review -- Given the overwhelming harm being done to the world’s environment and to its people, it is essential today to consider how we might organize a truly ecological civilization—one that exists in harmony with natural systems—instead of trying to overwhelm and dominate nature. This is not just an ethical issue; it is essential for our survival as a species and the survival of many other species that we reverse the degradation of the earth’s life support systems that once provided dependable climate, clean air, clean water (fresh and ocean), bountiful oceans, and healthy and productive soils.

South Korea: Epic Ssangyong workers' strike remembered

`Productivism' or liberation? Socialists debate consumerism

By Ben Courtice, Melbourne

November 2, 2010 -- In a recent seminar on trade unions and the climate movement, I observed a surprising disagreement between some of the socialists present. It was started by a comment from Melbourne University academic (and Socialist Alliance activist) Hans Baer, who suggested that the “treadmill of production and consumption” had to be challenged, that we need to challenge consumerism and the alienation of work that makes people buy things to feel better.

Liz Ross of Socialist Alternative took umbrage at this, declaring that workers should create and enjoy wonderful technological products, tearing down a straw figure that Hans was supposedly arguing to stultify the creativity of the working class.

Turning the tide of oil in US and world politics

By Dan La Botz

October 22, 2010 -- The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico represents the latest in a series of atrocities committed by petroleum companies against the environment and against humanity. Yet, terrible and tragic as the BP spill is, it is merely a marginal event in the long and sordid history of the oil companies in US and world history. The petroleum companies have been at the centre of US politics for a hundred years, determining its domestic agenda, its environmental policy and its foreign policy. To be a US politician was to be baptised in oil. To be an admiral or a general was to be a warrior around the globe for the petroleum industry.

Foreign policy

By the 1920s, with the rise of the internal combustion engine and the automobile, and the conversion of the US Navy from coal to oil, petroleum became the most sought after commodity in the world. Oil became a strategic commodity, a necessity of modern life and modern warfare. From that time on, the oil corporations moved to the centre of US politics. President Warren G. Harding’s cabinet was known as the “oil gang”, and the cabinet-level corruption involved in the attempt of private parties and corporations to get at the navy oil reserves led to the Teapot Dome scandal, for which Harding’s administration is best remembered.

Did consumers cause the BP oil disaster? Debunking the `consumer sovereignty' superstition


“So said Tony Hayward” is a music video featuring imagery dredged from the internet, based on a song written by William Carroll of the Department of Sociology at University of Victoria, Canada. It's a tango about the BP oil spill (April 20-July 15, 2010) and its disastrous impacts, focused around the story of BP CEO Tony Hayward's hapless efforts to spin and manage a massive, and televisually spectacular, environmental catastrophe (to learn more, visit http://www.socialistproject.ca/leftstreamed/ls65.php).

By Ian Angus

Convert the ailing car industry to socially necessary production!

A 1960s car designer's vision of the car of the future. Today, the private car's days are numbered.

With the economic recession and environmental crisis alternative plans for socially useful, sustainable production have never been more relevant argues Lars Henriksson.

When the financial shit hit the fan last year the overproduction in the auto industry became visible. In the Swedish auto industry the proportions between fan and shit was especially problematic. The crisis involved two of the world’s smallest mass producers, both owned by troubled US corporations, and both producing large, fuel consuming semi-luxury cars. In a country of 9 million it was like having two bankrupt car companies and their chain of sub contractors plus two crisis-hit truck companies in London.

The auto crisis of course became a big political issue in Sweden and still is. As elsewhere in the world there were two principle lines of argument in the mainstream discussion about what should be done.

Biofuels and sustainable transport -- Can biofuels be produced and used responsibly?

By Renfrey Clarke

June 16, 2009 -- For governments and vehicle corporations, the charm of biofuels used to be the promise they held out of a ready-made solution to transport-related greenhouse gas emissions -- a solution that might simply be dropped in, while changing almost nothing else. Freeways, suburban sprawl, four-wheel-drive family cars -- everything could remain. Only the fuel on sale at service stations would be different.

Biofuels, the promise to the public ran, would be ``clean and green’’, an environmental zero-sum. Although carbon was released to the atmosphere when biofuels were burnt, this was carbon that had been there earlier, before being taken up by the plants from which the fuels were derived.

Rick Wolff: GM -- The system strikes back; Michael Moore: `Convert the factories to build trains, buses, windmills'

By Rick Wolff

June 5, 2009 -- The greatest tragedies among many in the collapse and bankruptcy of General Motors (GM) concern what is not happening. There are those solutions to GM's problems not being considered by Obama's administration. There are the solutions not being demanded by the United Auto Workers Union (UAW). There are all the solutions not even being discussed by most left commentators on the disaster. Finally there are crucial aspects of GM's demise not getting the attention they deserve.

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