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Socialist Alliance

The Flame, October-November 2010 -- Green Left Weekly's Arabic-language supplement

Soubhi Iskander.

November 2, 2010 -- With the help of Socialist Alliance members in the growing Sudanese community in Australia, Green Left Weekly -- Australia's leading socialist newspaper -- publishes a regular Arabic language supplement. The Flame covers news from the Arabic-speaking world as well as news and issues from within Australia. Editor-in-chief is Soubhi Iskander is a comrade who has endured years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the repressive government in Sudan.

Australia: The nature of the Greens: a rejoinder to Nick Fredman

Australian Greens MPs and federal Labor Party leaders sign the agreement to back the ALP in government.

By Ben Hillier

October 23, 2010 -- In a recent article (“A Marxist critique of the Australian Greens”, available at marxistleftreview.org) I argue that the Greens cannot be regarded as a left alternative to the Australian Labor Party. My conclusions are based on the following considerations:

1. The Australian Greens is a pro-capitalist party with no organic links to the working class – either ideologically or organisationally.

2. The Greens is an organisation 9000 strong that has several thousand unionists as members. Yet they have no activist base in the union movement. There is no union/workers’ fraction in the organisation; no Greens unionist conference; and it has no rank-and-file groups. The organisation has made no serious attempt to intervene into the workers’ movement at all. It has a number of officers from the union movement as members, but no organised current in the bureaucracy.

`French workers and people show the way in resisting attacks' -- solidarity from Philippines, Australia, Indonesia

Demonstration in Lyon, central France, October 16, 2010. AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani, Boston.com.
For more on the French workers' upsurge, click HERE.

1,000,000th visitor to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

October 20, 2010 -- In the early hours of October 20, 2010, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal passed an historic milestone -- its 1,000,000th visitor (since statistics began being kept on April 4, 2008). The unknown visitor entered site at Renfrey Clarke's essential article, "The new climate-change denialism: Who promotes it, and how to answer it".

Those 1 million visitors have collectively read more than 1.33 million articles since April 2008.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal's mission has been to promote the revival of a democratic, ecological, thinking, activist socialism, and to encourage and publicise the activities and views of active socialists around the world who are rebuilding the socialist and radical alternative in deed as well as word.

Links' success is especially gratifying because there were some who claimed -- when we took the decision to go solely online, rather than continue to produce the excellent but largely unread hard-copy version -- that Links was being "closed down" and was part of an abandonment of our fundamental socialist principles. Well, there are now more than a million arguments against that pessimistic forecast.

The limits to energy efficiency under capitalism

By Simon Butler

October 9, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- It is close to an article of faith among environmentalists that using less energy is a big part of the solution to climate change. Energy efficiency is often said to be the “low hanging fruit” of climate policy. On face value, the benefits seem obvious.

The knowledge needed to make big gains in efficiency already exists. Using less energy will save consumers and industry money, whereas other policies will be costly. And most importantly, lower energy use could make a big dent in global greenhouse gas emissions.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency both promote energy efficiency as an important climate measure.

However, strong evidence has emerged that new energy efficient technologies alone won’t do much to cut emissions. Indeed, in a capitalist economy, it’s very likely that energy efficiency gains will lead to higher energy use, not less.

Australia: A response to Socialist Alternative on the Greens and class

Greens' leader Senator Bob Brown addresses a rally demanding action on climate change.

Ben Hillier replies at http://links.org.au/node/1959

By Nick Fredman

October 13, 2010 -- Ben Hillier’s article, “A Marxist critique of the Australian Greens” (available at http://www.marxistleftreview.org/) contains some useful information and analysis on the Australian Greens, a formation that has achieved a significant breakthrough in the recent federal election. Hillier is correct, generally, in writing of the Greens’ “populist left nationalism” and “middle class ideological basis”. But he over-emphasises the sociologically middle-class nature of the Greens’ voting base (and probably membership), as part of a general confusion on class today. In a related error, he is quite wrong, and quite sectarian, to state that the Greens “do not in any sense represent an alternative to the ALP” [Australian Labor Party].

War on Afghanistan: a crime against humanity


Made with Slideshow Embed Tool
Sydney protest rally to mark the ninth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, held on October 8, 2010. Organised by Sydney Stop The War Coalition. Photos by Peter Boyle.

Statement by the Socialist Alliance (Australia) national executive

October 8, 2010 -- On October 17, 2001 the Australian government deployed troops to Afghanistan, just nine days after the US had begun bombing one of the most poverty-stricken and war-weary countries on Earth.

Thailand: Interview with Red Sunday leader Sombat Boonngamanong

Hundreds joined a bike ride for freedom in the historic city of Ayutthaya on October 3. Sombat Boonngamanong, garlanded, is on the red bicycle second from right. Photo by Ooi ThaiDelphi/CBN Press. Published with permission.

October 6, 2010 -- Sombat Boonngamanong, a cultural activist and NGO organiser, was not one of the central leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (popularly known as the Red Shirts) when their mass protest camp (at the Ratchaprasong intersection in the heart of Bangkok) was bloodily dispersed by the Thai military on May 19, 2010. Thousands were injured, 91 killed and hundreds have become political prisoners in this crackdown. But Sombat has since emerged as a popular figure in the dramatic Red Shirts' resurgence over the last month.

Workers in the Russian and Cuban revolutions

Fidel Castro addresses a huge crowd in front of the presidential palace in Havana, Cuba, in 1959. 

By Chris Slee

October 4, 2010 -- This is a response to "Cuba: Stalinism isn't socialism", by John Passant, a prominent member of Socialist Alternative in Australia.

John Passant writes:

One of Marx’s unique and profound contributions to socialism is his idea that the emancipation of the working class is the act of the working class. This is the very reason Cuba isn’t socialist... Castro took power, but the working class as the working class played no role whatsoever in the overthrow of Batista. In fact they ignored Fidel’s call for a general strike in 1958.

In reality the working class played a key role in the Cuban Revolution, through general strikes, mass demonstrations and by taking over their workplaces. For details, see my pamphlet Cuba: How the workers and peasants made the revolution.

Passant mentions the failed general strike of April 1958, but ignores the successful general strike of January 1959. According to historian Hugh Thomas:

Socialist Alliance: Solidarity with US socialists and anti-war activists raided by FBI

October 1, 2010 -- The Socialist Alliance (Australia) reaches out in comradely solidarity to the socialist and anti-war activists in the US who were subjected to early-morning raids on their homes and offices by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in Minneapolis, Chicago, Michigan and North Carolina on September 24.

We understand that the FBI seized computers, passports, books, documents, cell phones, photos, financial records, diaries, maps and other materials using warrants were issued under a 1996 statute which made it a crime for US citizens to provide “material assistance” to any organisation designated by the government as “terrorist".

We condemn these raids and demand that the property seized be immediately returned and the victims of the raids be fully compensated. We also call for the revocation of the anti-democratic grand jury subpoenas against some of the raided activists.

We will also approach other organisations and activists to discuss and plan solidarity with the activists now being victimised under US "terrorism" laws.

คนนับพันรวมตัวปล่อยตัวนักโทษการเมือง

Burma: Asian left parties condemn attacks on workers' rights

Statement initiated by Working People Association (Indonesia) and Network of Progressive Youth Burma

[If your organisation would like to sign, please email:international@prp-indonesia.org.]

September 16, 2010 -- We, the undersigned organisations, strongly condemn the military junta of Burma for its new decree to curb workers’ right to form trade unions and its harsh punishments against any industrial action.

The military junta of Burma -- the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) -- decreed a new regulation on August 20, 2010, at a meeting in Rangoon attended by industry employers, government ministers and Burmese military officials, including Lt-Gen Myint Swe of the ministry of defence. It stated that, whoever launches or participates in industrial protests demanding better rights or conditions will be fired and blacklisted. The reason for the decree, labour activists in Burma believe, is that the junta wants to prevent further industrial action and employers don’t want their workers taking action to demand better wages, so now they can fire those who protest and stop them from getting jobs elsewhere.

Thailand: Red Shirts allege military behind activist killings

Krissada in Chiangmai hospital ICU. Photo by Ruangsil.

[See also "Thailand: Red Shirt protests on the rise again". For more on the Thai people's struggle for democracy, click HERE.]

By Peter Boyle

September 16, 2010 -- Chiangmai, in Thailand’s north, is considered to be a Red Shirt stronghold. On August 29, a 21-year-old local Red Shirt (popular name for the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, UDD) activist “James” Krissada Klaharn and his girlfriend Nongnuch Kampor were driving home at about 1.15 am after a long day selling popular stickers at a roadside stall, when the killers struck.

Nongnuch was driving. They noticed a vehicle, with headlights off, following them. Suddenly the vehicle accelerated, pulled alongside and sprayed their cars with bullets. Krissada was hit in the legs, abdomen and shoulder.

Australia: 10 years ago -- S11 2000 blockade: 'This is what democracy looks like'

September 11, 2010 -- Ten years ago, thousands of Australian activists joined forces to blockade a meeting of the powerful World Economic Forum in Melbourne for three days, beginning September 11, 2000. Despite a massive show of police force and violence, the unity of the protesters prevailed. The atmosphere of the protest was one of of determination and festivity. There were puppets, humour, banners and placards, songs, wandering drummers and minstrels. The crowd was diverse with trade unionists, socialists, anarchists, environmentalists, social justice activists, high school students, children, pensioners: a strong diversity of people united in opposition to an undemocratic and powerful elite.

Thailand: Aksi Protes Kaos Merah Marak Kembali

Rabu, 8 September 2010

Oleh Peter Boyle

Berdikari Online -- Pada 4 September lalu, sekitar 20.000 pendukung Kaos Merah berkumpul dalam sebuah konser di Pattaya, kota pariwisata Thailand yang terletak di tepi laut. Mobilisasi ini salah satu yang terbesar sejak militer dengan berdarah membubarkan perkemahan protes mereka di Bangkok pada 19 Mei 2010, menewaskan 91 orang dan melukai ribuan lainnya.

Pemimpin Kaos Merah dan Anggota Parlemen dari Partai Puea Thai, Jatuporn Prompan, menyerukan kepada rakyat untuk meletakkan mawar merah di depan seluruh penjara di negeri itu pada 17 September nanti. Ratusan pimpinan dan aktivis Kaos Merah masih ditahan. Pada 18-19 September, akan digelar aksi-aksi massa di penjuru negeri dan di luar negeri untuk menandai empat bulan sejak pembantaian berdarah.

“Hari ini adalah awal kampanye kita untuk membuka pintu penjara dan membebaskan saudara-saudara Kaos Merah kita”, seru Jutaporn dalam konser tersebut.

Thailand: Red Shirt protests on the rise again

Sombat Boonngamanong (centre) at Pattaya beach action. Photo by Gunn Redguy.

By Peter Boyle

September 8, 2010 -- Up to 20,000 Red Shirt supporters rallied at a concert in the Thailand seaside resort city of Pattaya on September 4, in what was one the biggest mobilisations since the military bloodily dispersed their mass protest camp in Bangkok on May 19, 2010, killing 91 and injuring thousands more.

Red Shirt leader and Puea Thai party MP Jatuporn Prompan called on people to place red roses outside prisons around the country on September 17. Hundreds of Red Shirt leaders and activists continue to be detained. On September 18-19, actions marking four months since the massacre will be held all over the country as well as overseas.

“Today is the beginning of our campaign to open the prison doors to let our Red Shirts brothers and sisters free”, Jutaporn told the concert.

Rehabilitating utopia and saving the future

By Ben Courtice

August 29, 2010 -- Blind Carbon Copy [BCC] -- Socialism was conceived as a creative and idealistic movement, but lost its way for most of the 20th century. Recapturing this imaginative energy can help find solutions to such huge threats as climate change. This article started as a short impromptu speech I gave to launch the third edition of the Australian Socialist Alliance's Climate Charter.

* * *

Socialism used to be a rallying point for idealists, utopians, dreamers and those who were simply hopeful. It carried an almost millenarian promise of redemption and salvation. More importantly, it allowed its advocates to exercise their imagination. If socialism was to democratically realise the wishes of the common working people, why should they be restrained in their wishes?

Australia: The DSP in the 1980s

[This first appeared as the introduction to Building the Revolutionary Party: Jim Percy Selected Writings 1980-87 (Resistance Books: Chippendale, 2008). Dave Holmes is now a leader of the Socialist Alliance in Melbourne. This and other writings are also available at Dave Holmes' blog, Arguing for Socialism.]

By Dave Holmes

This is the second volume of writings and speeches by Jim Percy, one of the founders of Australia's Democratic Socialist Perspective and its longtime central leader until his death in 1992. These seven items — reports given by Jim to conferences and leadership gatherings of the DSP (or SWP, Socialist Workers Party, as it was known in this period) — span the years 1980 to 1987.

Australia: Film -- `Alyawarr walk-off protest vs Northern Territory intervention'

Alyawarr walk-off protest vs Northern Territory intervention from Actively Radical TV on Vimeo.

By Actively Radical TV

August 25, 2010 -- In July 2009, the Alyawarr people in the township of Ampilatwatja, approximately 350 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs, in Central Australia, walked out of the government "proscribed area" and into the desert to set up a protest camp.

This protest action was in defiance of the Northern Territory Intervention Act 2007, brought in under the conservative Coalition government of then-prime minister John Howard. The intervention was and continued under the Australia Labor Party governments of prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. The Alyawarr community and others are calling for the intervention to be abolished and reinstatment of the Racial Discrimiation Act, which was suspended in order to bring in the racist Northern Territory Intervention Act.

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