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April 9, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following letter, signed by 30 academics, municipal councillors, trade union officials, journalists, solidarity organisation convenors and political party leaders from around Australia, was initiated by the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign in Melbourne. It will be handed over the US consulates in Melbourne and Sydney on April 10. If you would like to add your name please email Denis Rogatyuk at email@example.com.
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President Barack Obama
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr President,
We, the undersigned individuals and organisations, reject your March 9, 2015, declaration deeming Venezuela as an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”.
We also oppose the sanctions your administration has placed on a number of Venezuelan state officials and call for the immediate repeal of your Executive Order on Venezuela.
The reality is that Venezuela today is not at war with any nation, nor does it have military bases outside its borders. In fact, Venezuela is helping to mediate an end to the war in Colombia and has constantly championed peace in the region.
By Dave Holmes
March 24, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Melbourne-based Australians for Kurdistan committee has launched a campaign calling for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to be removed from the Australian government’s list of terrorist organisations.
Socialist Alliance activists march on May Day in Sydney last year. Photo by Peter Boyle.
By Susan Price
February 14, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- What lessons can we learn from the recent victory of SYRIZA for building the anti-austerity movement and a political alternative to neoliberalism here in Australia? Australian Greens senator Lee Rhiannon, in her recent article in New Matilda [see https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/58246], writes that the left in Australia should wake up and take notice of what is happening in Europe. I couldn’t agree more.
Rhiannon writes that the European developments give those on the progressive side of politics encouragement and build our hopes, and then asks the reasonable question, “But do they have any direct application?” To that we can answer, yes. Not because we can or want to create a carbon copy of SYRIZA, but because there are some general lessons that can be applied here.
Sri Lanka’s newly elected president Maithripala Sirisena. Photograph: Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images.
For more coverage of Sri Lanka, click HERE.
By the Tamil Refugee Council
Melbourne, January 9, 2015 --The Tamil Refugee Council urges the Australian government to use the change of leadership in Sri Lanka to push for a resolution to the country’s most pressing issue – the long-standing oppression and persecution of Tamils.
Vigil in Sydney on January 8, 2015, for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo Paris massacre.
Statement by Australian Socialist Alliance national co-conveners on the Paris massacre
Sydney, January 9, 2015 -- The Socialist Alliance Australia condemns the massacre of journalists, cartoonists and others at and around the offices of the Paris-based publication Charlie Hebdo. However offensive anyone may have found some of the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo, this act of brutal violence is not justified.
Socialist Alliance condemns the conservative religious fundamentalist sects which promote and carry out such acts of violence. These sects are deadly enemies of democracy, justice and progress and their violent and sectarian actions weaken the real struggles for a just, equitable, democratic and sustainable future.
The Socialist Alliance also warns against and condemns any attempts by Western politicians, governments, corporate media and others to use this latest incident to whip up racist Islamophobia which is already virulent in the rich countries of the world.
This latest act of brutality does not justify the “clash of civilisations” hysteria that is widely used by racists to justify ongoing and new imperial wars, anti-refugee and anti-immigrant policies and laws, and anti-democratic “security” laws.
By Damien Cahill, Sydney
December 4, 2014 -- Damien Cahill: Thoughts on Politics, Economy and Culture, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Earlier this year Ed Miliband, leader of the British Labour Party, addressed a specially organised gathering of business leaders with the following words: “I would be a prime minister who champions the rights of the consumer and the rights of businesses to succeed and make profits in a competitive market at the same time.”
That such sentiments could be expressed by a Labour leader in the neoliberal era is unremarkable. Social-democratic parties have been falling over themselves during the last few decades to reassure capital that, not only have they jettisoned their socialist inheritance, they are also firmly on board with the neoliberal agenda.
For British Labour, Miliband is just the latest in a series of leaders that have driven the party to embrace neoliberalism.
Gemma Weedall addresses Socialism 2014 in Malaysia.
By Gemma Weedall
November 20, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- Climate change is the biggest and most urgent threat facing humanity today. We are seeing global temperatures rise at an unprecedented rate, with 13 of the 14 warmest years on record having occurred in the past 14 years.
In fact, if you are under 37 years of age, you have never seen a year of below average temperature.
Last year in Australia, over 150 weather records were broken, including experiencing our hottest day, week, month and year on record. It is likely that these records will not be long-standing, with all signs indicating they will be broken again this coming summer.
There are predictions that at current rates of emissions increases, the Arctic will be ice free in summer as soon as four years from now, but in the best case scenario, in about 20 years.
This represents a dangerous tipping point that will take us into uncharted territory from which we may not be able to return.
By Jim McIlroy
November 1, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- The passing of former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam at the age of 98 on October 21 provoked a wave of emotion from the community, both young and old. At a time when the federal government is trying to smash the remnants of the progressive reforms initiated during Whitlam's Australian Labor Party (ALP) government — in office from December 1972 to November 1975 — the Whitlam era seems like a period from another political universe.
A letter to the Sydney Morning Herald on October 23, 2014, summed up the mood: "The death of Gough Whitlam not only provided an opportunity for political midgets such as [present ALP federal leader] Bill Shorten and [Liberal Party-National Party coalition Prime Minister] Tony Abbott to become authorities on giants ... It also showed how these two agree on almost everything else. The contrast with the Whitlam era is complete.”
Socialist Alliance: 'No Australian military involvement in Iraq'; 'End Australian partnership with NATO'
September 4, 2014 -- Socialist Alliance, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following statements were adopted by the Socialist Alliance national executive on September 4, 2014, in response to the Australian government's decision to join the US and other imperialist states in a new military intervention in Iraq.
* * *
1. The US wars on Iraq (1991 and 2003) killed hundreds of thousands and completely wrecked the country. The US promoted sectarian divisions in order to retain control. It created the conditions for the rise of the "Islamic State" and is thus responsible for the current crisis.
2. Australia was an enthusiastic junior partner in both US wars on Iraq and thus shares responsibility for the terrible suffering inflicted on the Iraqi people as well as the current situation.
3. There is a humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria due to the Islamic State’s ethnic cleansing and general terror campaign. Approximately 1.5 million refugees are living in camps in Rojava (the Kurdish liberated zone in northern Syria), Turkey and the Federal Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
a. Australia should give large-scale assistance to these refugees. This should be delivered by non-military means.
b. Australia should massively increase its refugee intake from Iraq and Syria.
c. No asylum seekers already here should be forcibly returned to Iraq or Syria.
Ukraine government troops mass for an offensive in the east in April.
Ukraine army blocks access to Malaysia Airlines crash site
STOP PRESS, July 29, 2014: Roger Annis reports that there has been “constant and heavy shelling” by the Ukraine army during the past two days on the towns and villages in Donetsk region surrounding the crash site of MH17. The site was turned over to international investigators four days ago by Donetsk self-defence fighters, but the investigators have not been able to access it due to military operations of the Ukraine army. "Self-defence fighters say the army controls the area surrounding the site. There are no observers present." Read more HERE.
By Tony Iltis
Statement by the Socialist Alliance (Australia)
July 24, 2014 -- Socialist Alliance -- The Socialist Alliance conveys its condolences to the families of all its victims of the suspected shooting down to Malaysian Airlines flight 17 (MH17) over war-torn eastern Ukraine but it rejects the inflammatory Cold-War-style political posturing by both Liberal PM Tony Abbott and Labor Party opposition leader Bill Shorten.
Both these politicians have shamelessly sought to exploit this terrible tragedy to step up their pro-war and imperialist propaganda and they have been urged on by the capitalist media.
If the downing of MH17 was a deliberate shooting down of a civilian airliner, then who ever was responsible would be guilty of an atrocious crime against humanity and should be punished accordingly.
However, an independent and objective international investigation into the incident needs to be allowed to take place without provoking more war or leaping to conclusions about who may be responsible.
Instead the Australian government has flagged sending soldiers as part of an "international deployment" to eastern Ukraine under the guise of securing the crash site. This comes amid reports that the US was planning to send military advisers to assist the Ukranian regime in its war against rebels in the east.
Statement by Socialist Alliance (Australia)
June 19, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The US, Australia and other partners-in-crime in the war on Iraq must not be allowed to use the latest developments in that country to increase their military intervention in the region. The Socialist Alliance adds its voice to others in Australia rejecting Prime Minister Tony Abbott's all-the-way-with-the-USA commitment made to US President Barack Obama over Iraq.
The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a monstrous war crime. Millions of people have died or been displaced as a consequence of that invasion and the subsequent occupation. The leaders of governments that ordered that invasion and occupation – chief among them former US President George W. Bush, former British PM Tony Blair and former Australian PM John Howard – need to be brought to account as war criminals.
The invasion of Iraq did not bring democracy but simply replaced one brutal regime with another more pliant to Western imperial interests. The invaders cared nothing for the people of Iraq and region and acted to advance the selfish interests of the powerful corporations they serve.
"Despite repeated warnings from the majority of the world's scientists of the urgent need to slash greenhouse gas emission, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passed over 400 parts per million for the first time in human history – signalling the globe’s dangerous race to catastrophic and irreversible global warming."
Adopted by the 10th National Conference of the Socialist Alliance, June 7-9, 2014.
1. The 10th national conference of Socialist Alliance is taking place at a time extreme inequality, intensified conflict and ecological crisis on a global scale. The 85 richest individuals in the world now hold as much wealth between them as the 3.5 billion poorest people in the world. A world divided by such extreme inequality will never be at peace and this is fundamentally why wars and uprisings continue to break out in numerous countries. This unprecedented concentration of wealth and power also is an absolute block to the urgently needed transition to an ecologically sustainable future.
More than 100,000 people mobilised across Australia for “March in March” 2014, in more than 34 towns and cities, in the largest anti-government protest for nearly a decade.
Adopted by the 10th National Conference of Socialist Alliance, June 7-9, 2014
1. Australia has escaped recession for more than two decades, despite the impact of the Asian and global financial crises on the world's economies. While Australia experienced strong economic growth in the years following the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), economic growth has now slowed to 2.8%, and is mainly driven by commodity exports, consumer spending and housing investment. With mining projects shifting from the capital investment stage into production for export, falling commodity prices, as well as increased global competition for commodity exports will likely impact on Australia's export income (and economic stability) in the years to come.
Review by Chris Slee
In the Shadow of Gallipoli
By Robert Bollard
NewSouth, Sydney 2013
June 3, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On April 25, 1915, Australian troops landed at Gallipoli on Turkey’s coast. They were part of a British imperial force aiming to capture Constantinople (now called Istanbul) and the land alongside the narrow waterway linking the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. It was hoped that this would enable British ships to enter the Black Sea and bring supplies to Russia, which was an ally of Britain in World War I.
The plan failed. After hanging onto a narrow strip of land for eight months, the Australians (along with the rest of the invading force) withdrew after suffering heavy casualties.
Protesters outside Tony Abbott's $396/head dinner with the Sydney Institute on April 28.
Abbott's 'stronger', 'happier' Australia equals more pain for workers, pensioners and the poor
By Susan Price and Peter Boyle, Socialist Alliance co-convenors
May 1, 2014 -- Socialist Alliance -- A casino was a fitting venue to host Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott's keynote address to the 25th birthday dinner of conservative think tank, the Sydney Institute, on April 28. Abbott's speech, coming two weeks ahead of the annual budget, was full of promises of "happiness", "security" and "a better life", but in reality, Australian workers, pensioners and the poor will be lucky if they're left with much more than the shirt on their backs once the government is done fleecing them.
See also "Australia & New Zealand: The imperialist reality behind ANZAC myth".
Read more on World War I.
By John Rainford
October 25, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal on April 25, 2014 -- With political advantage from a national celebration of the centenary of World War I in mind, the Julia Gillard government last year allocated an initial $83.5 million towards the “ANZAC Centenary”.
Through a local grants program, up to $125,000 is available for each federal MP to fund suitable projects in their electorates. But unfortunately for Labor, the project is now headed by Tony Abbott, who has appointed himself head of the Centenary. Stand by for a broadside of jingoism and a celebration of empire.
Unlike World War II, a conflict that arose from the march of fascism, the origins of WWI are more difficult to explain. Why did the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie by nineteen-year-old Gavril Princip in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 lead to war?
By Pat Brewer
April 8, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The New South Wales (NSW) parliament is due to debate the final passage of the anti-woman legislation known as “Zoe’s law” [Crimes Amendment (Zoe's Law) Bill 2013]. Originally introduced by the far-right Christian Democratic Party’s Fred Nile in the upper house (Legislative Council) and later taken up by Liberal Party MP Chris Spence in the lower house (Legislative Assembly), where it has already passed, it has yet to be voted on by the Legislative Council. As yet it has not been scheduled for a vote but it is likely to pass given the support it has among many members from both major parties, the Liberal Party and the Australian Labor Party.
Review by Coral Wynter
The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia
By Bill Gammage
Allen & Unwin, 434 pp., 2012
March 13, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This is an extraordinary book, one that will increase your appreciation of the country’s first people, as we begin to understand their amazing knowledge and sheer genius in the way they cared for the land, or as Bill Gammage calls it the “biggest estate on Earth”.
Gammage describes with many examples how the Aborigines looked after the land. No corner was forgotten, including deserts, rainforests and rocky outcrops, across the entire continent for at least 60,000 years until the colonisers began to destroy all this labour after their arrival in 1788.
By Mel Barnes, Green Left Weekly editor
March 8, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- You can tell how good a newspaper is from the enemies it keeps. Rupert Murdoch's Australian wrote a sneering dismissal of the new Saturday Paper, launched last weekend, and used its ultimate insult by comparing the new paper to Green Left Weekly, calling GLW “ignorant, moralistic and simplistic”.
This is from a paper whose editorial line doubts the existence of climate change, claims locking up refugees in offshore detention centres indefinitely is the more humane option and promotes a “user-pays” system in health care, education and welfare.
It attacks GLW, which it has previously named the “best known radical left newspaper in Australia”, because it campaigns for the opposite position on almost every issue. But if GLW was as irrelevant as the Australian tries to make out, why would it bother attacking it so often?