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John Bellamy Foster on the economic and ecological crises: `The common denominator is capitalism'

John Bellamy Foster interviewed by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly's Ruth Ratcliffe

A 20-minute interview recorded with a handheld cam in Oregon, USA, in February 2009. John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthy Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is co-author, with Fred Magdoff, of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (Monthly Review Press, January 2009) among numerous other works. Foster discusses the global economic crisis, its implications for the world and particularly the Australian economy. He also discusses the ecological crisis and the potential for revolutionary change.

Lessons from the past: The Great Depression and the Communist Party of Australia

A section of the Wharfie's Mural, the large-scale work of art from the walls of the CPA-led Waterside Workers Federation (WWF) canteen in Sussex Street, Sydney, in the 1950s and '60s.

By Dave Holmes

[This is an excerpt from the new pamphlet, Meltdown! A socialist view of the capitalist crisis, by Resistance Books. Meltdown! features essays by John Bellamy Foster, Phil Hearse, Adam Hanieh, Lee Sustar and others. Purchase a copy from Resistance Books.]

The current economic crisis is a fundamental crisis of the world capitalist system. British socialist Phil Hearse calls it the “third slump” in the history of the capitalism (the other two being the Great Depression of the 1930s and the 1974-75 sharp downturn). And the levels of mass distress may yet come to rival the 1930s.

Market madness: `Oversupply' of water tanks during a record water crisis!

Not enough water; `too many' tanks

By Dave Holmes

Melbourne, February 26, 2009 -- Australian plastics manufacturer Nylex has been placed in the hands of receivers. Nylex is a well-known name — the company produces the iconic Esky, water tanks, wheelie bins, hose and garden fittings and interior trimmings for car manufacturers. According to the February 13 Melbourne Age, “The drought and a government rebate stimulated demand for water tanks, but oversupply pushed down prices and demand collapsed after substantial rain in Queensland and NSW.”

The slump in the auto industry also contributed to the company’s woes. In the end, the banks (ANZ and Westpac) called in their loans.

The jobs of its 700-strong work force are in the balance. The receivers may or may not find a buyer for Nylex, but any new owner is likely to heavily restructure the company, leading to substantial job losses.

Australian Tamils call for ceasefire in Sri Lanka -- sign the crisis statement

In an attempt to put an urgent stop to the humanitarian catastrophe, a group of young Tamil Australians have written a Sri Lankan Crisis Statement for the wider Australian community to sign.

From March 2, 2009, they will take it to the media and the Australian government to raise their concern for this largely unreported war.

If you want to sign this statement, please email fastuntoaction@hotmail.com as soon as possible, or visit http://fastuntoaction.wordpress.com/sri-lanka-crisis-statement-of-support

* * *

Sri Lankan Crisis Statement

We are Australian citizens who share a deep concern about the escalating civilian crisis in Sri Lanka.

We call on the Australian government to demand the Sri Lankan authorities and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam declare an immediate ceasefire.

We are deeply concerned about the lack of medical staff and aid agencies serving the estimated 250,000 civilians trapped in the conflict zone.

Australia: Fire tragedy highlights scale of global warming emergency and need for real action

Socialist Alliance statement

Melbourne, February 11, 2009 -- Like all people across Australia Socialist Alliance members have been devastated by the Victorian bushfire tragedy, the greatest disaster in peace-time Australian history.

We express our condolences to and solidarity with all who have lost family, friends and homes in this shocking holocaust, made worse by the possibility that some of these fires were deliberately lit.

We salute the efforts of Victorian Country Fire Authority workers and all volunteers who have sacrificed time, effort and security and done everything in their power to halt the ravages of the fires. Emergency service workers battled for up to 30 hours without sleep trying to control the infernos, help the injured, and attend to the thousands left homeless.

Meltdown, fires as climate emergency hits Australia: Urgent action required

By Katherine Bradstreet

Melbourne, February 7, 2009 -- The heatwave across south-eastern Australia in recent weeks has given a hint of what we can expect as global temperatures continue to rise: black-outs, fatalities and transport chaos as privatised infrastructure fails. 

Many are in mourning as bushfires have devastated rural Victoria, with the death toll passing triple figures and more than 750 homes destroyed. The country town of Marysville has been erased from the map. Several other towns have all but been destroyed.

Even before the bushfire catastrophe, South Australia and Victoria had seen a sharp increase in deaths as a result of the heatwave, with Adelaide’s central morgue quite literally overflowing — the “excess” cadavers were stored temporarily in a refrigerated freight container.

Thousands of homes were left without electricity as demand soared, overwhelming the existing grid. Melbourne’s rail system collapsed into chaos as temperatures reached over 40°C.

Australia: Climate Summit unites new environment movement


Human chain surrounds Parliament House, Canberra, February 3, 2009. Photos by Greenpeace.

By Simon Butler, Canberra

Italian metalworkers, Western Australian maritime workers call for boycott of apartheid Israel

Italy's metalworkers: Prosecute Israeli war crimes, suspend EU-Israel agreement

Federazione Impiegati Operai Metallurgici nazionale (FIOM), the largest metalworkers' union in Italy, whose membership numbers 360,000, called for prosecution of Israeli officials for war crimes and suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, as well as of the military cooperation agreement between Italy and Israel. The following is FIOM's January 13 2009 statement on Gaza, published on the union's web site.

Federazione Impiegati Operai Metallurgici nazionale, Corso Trieste, 36 - 00198 Roma, tel. +39 06 85262341-2 fax +39 06 85303079, http://www.fiom.cgil.it/, email: protocollo@fiom.cgil.it.

COMITATO CENTRALE F.I.O.M.

13 gennaio 2009

GAZA

El mundo en una encrucijada: luchando por el socialismo en el siglo xxi

Invitados internacionales de:

Venezuela, Argentina, Canadá, Pakistán, Indonesia, Malasia, Filipinas, Timor Leste, India, Australia y más

Abril 10 a 12, 2009

Sydney, Australia

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Para más información y comprar su entrada:

Young Israeli socialist speaks out for a free Palestine

January 7, 2009 -- Isaac Shuisha, an Israeli citizen and student involved in the Palestine solidarity movement in Sydney, spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Simon Butler about the reasons behind Israel’s assault on Gaza and the campaign for a free Palestine. Shuisha is a member of the socialist youth organisation, Resistance. [See also ``Jewish and Israeli opposition to Israel's slaughter in Gaza''.]

What has motivated you to be a part of the campaign against Israel’s ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people? 

Growing up in Israel, you are exposed to a very specific narrative about the history of Israel/Palestine. In this story, all that “we Israelis” ever wanted is to live in peace, but alas, all the Arab people surrounding us want nothing less than to drive us all into the sea.

In Israel, this is considered to be the indisputable truth, which you hear every time you read the paper, every time you go to school, every time you talk to your parents.

This is why most Israelis support the current attacks on Gaza: after being exposed to this overwhelming brainwashing, people really believe that this attack on Gaza is the only way to defend ourselves.

Australian unionists back `boycott apartheid Israel' call

Geelong Advertiser -- January 9, 2009 -- Geelong Trades Hall secretary Tim Gooden has backed calls for the Rudd Government to cut ties with Israel over the current crisis in the Gaza Strip.

In a letter headed Trade Unionists for Palestine, Mr Gooden and other prominent unionists have called on the Rudd Government to denounce ``the latest Israeli aggression against Gaza''.

The signatories include the state president of the Tertiary Education Union, Dr James Doughney, AMWU state secretary Steve Dargeval, the assistant secretary of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union Burt Blackburne.

The group called on the ACTU and regional trades and labour councils to:

DEMAND the Rudd Government sever all ties with Israel; and

GIVE full support to the protest movement in Australia against the Israeli aggression.

The letter makes no mention of rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas militants.

Australia: National conference strengthens Socialist Alliance for challenges ahead

By Duroyan Fertl and Dick Nichols

December 13, 2008 -- Over the weekend of December 5-7, more than 150 people attended the sixth Socialist Alliance national conference, held in the Geelong Trades Hall, Victoria. The conference opened against the backdrop of the Alliance’s promising results in the November 29 Victorian local government elections, in which its candidates scored up to 18.9%.

The conference began with a special public seminar, "Financial meltdown: what working class response?", addressed by David Spratt, from Carbon Equity and co-author of Climate Code Red, economist and Victorian National Tertiary Education Union president Jamie Doughney, and Pip Hinman, from the Socialist Alliance.

The Flame, November 2008 - Green Left Weekly's Arabic supplement

According to the 2006 census, the most commonly spoken language in Sydney households, after English, is Arabic. In Australia as a whole, Arabic is the fifth most commonly spoken language. The Arabic-speaking community includes Lebanese, Egyptians, Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians, Jordanians and Sudanese. Many other ethnic groups also speak Arabic in addition to their language because they have lived in Arabic-speaking countries. These include Armenians, Kurds, Assyrians, Mandaeens and many more.

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

Trade unionists call for solidarity with Western Sahara

UGTSARIO congress delegates

By Margarita Windisch

The 6th Congress of the Western Sahara General Union of Saguia El Hamra and Rio de Oro Workers (UGTSARIO) took place from October 19-21, 2008, in El Aaiun, one of four Saharawi refugee camps in the Hamada desert in south-west Algeria.

The brutally harsh Hamada desert, justifiably termed the most inhospitable place on Earth, has become the home away from home for more than 160,000 Saharawi refugees since Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara in 1975.

Three Australian trade unionists (two from the Australian Workers Union --AWU -- and one from the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance -- MEAA) travelled thousands of kilometres to attend the congress and participate in the 4th International Trade Union Conference in Solidarity with the Western Saharan Workers, which was convened as part of the 6th UGTSARIO congress. All three were also members of the Australian Western Sahara Association.

UGTSARIO congress

Nationalisation — a key demand in the socialist program

By Dave Holmes

For all the misery it represents for ordinary people, there is at least one positive result of the current capitalist financial crisis. The idea of nationalisation is getting an airing again in the West, however squeamish bourgeois leaders and pundits may be about using the actual word. Of course, this is clearly a case of governments mobilising massive resources and taking drastic action to save bankers and speculators from the consequences of their greed but, nevertheless, there it is. And if nationalisation — state or public ownership — is allowable in this dubious instance, why not for far more deserving and urgent causes such as saving the planet and the lives and welfare of masses of working people?

The question of nationalisation is important because it is simply impossible to conceive of addressing a whole series of key problems facing us today without a major expansion of the public sector and bringing the “commanding heights” of the economy under state ownership and control. First, of course, there is the overriding issue of climate change and all the things related to that — especially energy and water sustainability, food security and the preservation of workers’ jobs as the economy is restructured. Then there is the struggle to preserve workers’ jobs and livelihoods in the face of widespread downsizing during the economic downturn.

The Flame, October 2008 - Green Left Weekly's Arabic supplement

According to the 2006 census, the most commonly spoken language in Sydney households, after English, is Arabic. In Australia as a whole, Arabic is the fifth most commonly spoken language. The Arabic-speaking community includes Lebanese, Egyptians, Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians, Jordanians and Sudanese. Many other ethnic groups also speak Arabic in addition to their language because they have lived in Arabic-speaking countries. These include Armenians, Kurds, Assyrians, Mandaeens and many more.

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

Fictitious capital and real compacts

By Anitra Nelson

October 15, 2008 -- Radical Notes -- Perhaps we need a Marxian to sort out the world's financial woes. The insights of Karl Marx on capitalist crises, especially speculation and financial crises, were sophisticated for his time. Indeed, this nineteenth century communist revolutionary called financial assets and loans 'fictitious capital' or 'imaginary wealth' as distinct from 'real capital' -- industrial or productive capital -- such as factories and commodity stocks.

Global warming - No more business as usual: This is an emergency!

By David Spratt

October 10, 2008 -- A year ago I was researching what was intended to be a short submission to the Garnaut review [commissioned to advise the Australian federal government of Labor Party Prime Minister Kevin Rudd], when events in the polar north turned the world of climate policy upside down. It was found that eight million square kilometres of sea-ice — an area the size of Australia — was melting, in the immortal words of one glaciologist, "a hundred years ahead of schedule".

Yet the international policy debate carried on as if this had not happened. Out-of-date scenarios, research and observations were being used to propose emission reduction targets that would still lead to catastrophe even if fully implemented.

And so a short submission became a long detour into how the climate debate is being constructed, and the result, with Philip Sutton,  was a book we did not intend to write, Climate Code Red.

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