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Australia

Australian socialists debate ecosocialism

By Ian Angus

December 13, 2011 -- Climate and Capitalism (Canada) -- Should ecologically concerned socialists call themselves ecosocialists? Members of the Socialist Alliance are conducting a public policy debate.

Is there a need for the word “ecosocialism”? Does it mean something substantially different from socialism without the prefix? Will using it help to build the left? Or is it an unnecessary and dangerous concession to greens who lean to liberalism and anarchism?

Here at Climate and Capitalism, we gave our answers to those questions long ago, by putting the words “Ecosocialism or barbarism: there is no third way” at the top of every page.

But on that question we are in a minority. While the word “ecosocialism” is used by growing numbers of green lefts and left greens, it is still very far from being universally accepted.

Of course, it is just a word. What’s important is the idea that in the 21st century the fight against environmental destruction and the fight against capitalism are inextricably linked – neither can succeed without the other. The label anyone chooses to apply to that concept is far less important.

The Australian Greens and Palestine: confronting the 'inconvenient truths' of the party's right of return policy

In 1948, more than 800,000 Palestinian men, women and children were forced to flee their homes.

[After a year of debate, and under pressure from right-wing forces, the NSW Greens decided on December 4 to retreat from supporting the global pro-Palestine boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. Below, Tony Harris discusses the background to the policy.]

By Tony Harris

November 25, 2011 -- This article first appeared at Watermelon, and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- In March last year, 35 prominent Jewish Australians signed a petition renouncing their automatic right of return to Israel, labelling such a right a “racist privilege” while Palestinians, ethnically cleansed from Israel in 1948, are denied their rights of return under international law.

Lessons of #Occupy: Don’t agonise, organise!

Occupy Perth. Photo by Peter Boyle.

For more on the Occupy movement, click HERE.

By Peter Boyle, national convenor, Socialist Alliance (Australia)

[Talk given to a Socialist Alliance organised forum in the Occupy Perth camp in Forrest Place on on October 30, 2011.]

"Don’t agonise, organise!" --  This quote that has become a bumper sticker, a popular slogan in the feminist movement, the title of many a speech, conference and newsletter is credited to the Afro-American woman civil rights activist Florence Rae Kennedy. She was quoted by Gloria Steinem in Ms magazine in 1973 and since then this powerful slogan has circumnavigated the world many times and being used by many, many activists and movements.

And why do you think this has happened?

It is because this is a slogan that reasonates very strongly with the condition of the oppressed, exploited and persecuted.

On one hand, we are weighed down with the pain of the suffering and indignities inflicted as a matter of everyday business by powerful oppressors. On the other, we are challenged as to what we do in response.

Socialist Alliance condemns violent police attacks on Occupy Melbourne and Occupy Sydney

For more reports on the Occupy movement, click HERE.

By Socialist Alliance (Australia)

October 23, 2011 -- Socialist Alliance -- Socialist Alliance condemns the violent police dispersal of peaceful protesters at Occupy Melbourne (October 21) and Occupy Sydney (dawn, October 23) and pledges its full support for the re-establishment of these occupations against the tyranny of the world's richest 1%.

The experience around the world has been whenever one of these Occupy movement camps has been attacked, even more people have rallied to support them in response. We are confident the same will happen here.

#Occupy Melbourne diary: Six days of peaceful protest, then police violently attack

Green Left Weeklys Sue Bolton has been part of the Occupy Melbourne protest since it began on October 15, 2011. Below she recounts the past week of the occupation in Melbourne’s City Square, which was broken up by a violent police assault on October 21. However, protesters have vowed to re-establish the occupation once more. For more updates on Occupy Melbourne, regularly check GLW's live blog at http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/49153.

For more activist reports on the Occupy movement, click HERE.

* * *

Day 5, October 19, 2011: Still going strong

We are still going strong with about 45 to 50 tents in City Square. I estimate there are about 100 people camping each night with many others staying until late in the night.

The occupation has been set up as a well-established occupation with a 24-hour roster for the info desk and the kitchen. The kitchen is feeding homeless people who also use the square.

Todos contra Wall Street: `Foro Social Latinamericano', GLW's Spanish-language supplement, October 2011 issue

October 20, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For environmentalists, Indigenous rights activists, feminists, socialists and all progressive people, Latin America is a source of hope and inspiration today. The people of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador, among others, are showing that radical social change is possible and a better, more just society can be imagined and built.

The tide of rebellion and revolution now sweeping Latin America is posing a serious challenge to imperialism’s brutal global rule. For anyone who wants an end to war, exploitation and oppression, Latin America’s struggles to create alternatives are crucially important.

Australia's leading socialist newspaper Green Left Weekly is strongly committed to supporting the growing “people’s power” movement in Latin America. Through our weekly articles on developments in the region, GLW strives to counter the corporate media’s many lies about Latin America’s revolutions, and to give a voice in English to the people’s movements for change.

The continent-wide rebellion is weakening imperialism’s power. As a result, it is taking increasingly threatening steps to push back the power of the people. Our solidarity, to help the people of Latin America defend and extend their tremendous achievements, is vital.

(Updated Oct. 19) Occupy Wall Street inspires global protests against the '1%' (activist reports, videos, pics)


Occupy Sydney, October 15, 2011. Photos by Kate Ausburn.

October 16 , 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- According to http://15october.net, protests and actions -- inspired by the Occupy Wall Street mass movement across the United States -- were to take place in more than 950 cities in more than 80 countries on October 15. Actions had already begun in some parts of the world before that.

Australian socialists: 'Occupy to put human need before corporate greed'

Statement by Socialist Alliance (Australia)

Download a PDF version of this statement to print and distribute

October 14, 2011 -- Socialist Alliance -- The Occupy Wall Street protest started small. But it has now become a global movement, with occupy events planned in about 1500 cities worldwide.

It’s born out of the recognition that, in country after country, ordinary people are being made to pay for an economic crisis caused by the super-rich. The 99% are being told they must surrender their livelihoods, their future, their security and their dignity to keep a broken system afloat.

In contrast, the 1% are having a wonderful crisis. The world’s biggest corporations have emerged stronger, more profitable and more powerful than ever before.

To add insult to injury, the 1% want to convince us that we, the 99%, are to blame for the crisis. They say our wages are too high and that we don’t work hard enough. They say our social security systems are not affordable and that our rights at work are should be done away with. They say our public education and health systems are not efficient and that our public services must be privatised.

Australia: Climate Change, Social Change conference attracts hundreds

[For more material from the conference, click HERE.]

By Viv Miley

October 8, 2011 -- Socialist Alliance -- More than 500 people gathered in Melbourne over September 30 to October 3 to take part in four days of stimulating talks and discussion at the second Climate Change Social Change conference. The conference, which featured five plenary sessions, 39 workshops and more than 90 speakers, was organised by Green Left Weekly, Socialist Alliance and Resistance. Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal also sponsored the conference.

The conference brought together activists, academics and unionists from Australia, Asia, North America and the Pacific to share ideas and experiences from the movements for Indigenous people's rights, against environmental destruction, for women's rights, for queer rights, for peace, social justice and workers’ rights.

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.

How socialists work to win mass support

By Dave Holmes

[The following talk was presented at the Socialist Ideas Conference organised by the Australian Socialist Alliance and Resistance, Melbourne, September 3, 2011. It first appeared at Dave Holmes' Arguing for Socialism and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

* * *

Will the level of popular and working-class struggle rise significantly in the coming years? How can we overcome or neutralise the deadly effect of ruling-class propaganda on the minds of so many ordinary people? Can left-wing forces rally significant support and lead big struggles? How do we work towards this goal?

Bible sects like the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Mormons go door to door preaching their message. Their success depends on the scope of the effort: How many people can they mobilise and how many doors can they knock on? It also depends on the general level of social distress and alienation in society, on the number of people searching for solace and comfort.

Socialists obviously don't reject propaganda, we are putting it out all the time, but our strategy is — and must be if we are serious — fundamentally based on something else.

2,000,000th article read; 1,500,000th visitor: more milestones for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

October 5, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In the late afternoon of October 5, 2011, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal passed another historic milestone -- its 2,000,000th article read (since statistics began being kept on April 4, 2008). The reader from South Africa entered site at the popular "Dissecting those 'overpopulation' numbers", an excerpt from the just published Too Many People? Population, Immigration and the Environmental Crisis by Ian Angus and Simon Butler.

That reader was the 1,509,498th visitor to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

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.

Trade unions must join the fight against climate change

Ian Angus speaking at the Climate Change Social Change conference. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

September 29, 2011 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Ian Angus, editor of Climate and Capitalism, is currently in Australia to speak at the Climate Change Social Change conference in Melbourne, September 30 – October 3.

During his pre-conference speaking tour, he was invited to address several meetings of trade union members. The following is a lightly edited transcript of the opening comments he made at union meetings in Melbourne and Geelong.

[For more articles by Ian Angus, click HERE.]

* * *

Thank you for inviting me to speak today.

Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster: A `realistic’ answer to the ecological crisis

"What is clear from ... Magdoff and Foster, is that 'what every environmentalist needs to know about capitalism' is that: 1) it is the root cause of the environmental crisis, 2) capitalism is incapable of solving it, either by going green or by becoming non-growth.'

John Bellamy Foster, co-author with Fred Magdoff of What every environmentalist needs to know about capitalism, 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. Read an exclusive excerpt from What every environmentalist needs to know about capitalism HERE.

* * *

By Liam Flenady

On the Australian left: 'Let’s unite behind Green Left Weekly'

September 8, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- For many years we were regular contributors to Green Left Weekly and proud supporters of the paper. We’ve now decided to resume writing for GLW and we urge other former contributors to consider doing the same.

In May 2008, we and about 50 other former members of the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) launched the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and the monthly paper Direct Action (DA) following a bitter internal dispute in the DSP that centred on the Socialist Alliance.

In August 2010, we and six other members of the Sydney branch of the RSP left the organisation as a group, having concluded that the RSP was not viable as a Marxist party because it lacks both a critical mass of activists and realistic possibilities for recruitment.

We were unable to establish enough of a readership and support base for DA to justify the effort that goes into the paper.

GLW, on the other hand, has established itself over the past two decades as a socialist publication with a relatively high profile, readership and support base.

It’s the only such publication that comes out weekly and its website is among the ten most visited Australian political websites.

Malalai Joya: Occupation troops are making Afghanistan worse

Malalai Joya. Photo: malalaijoya.com.

September 8, 2011 -- Overland magazine via Green Left Weekly -- Malalai Joya is a writer, activist and former parliamentarian in the national assembly of Afghanistan. Prior to speaking at two Overland events at the 2011 Melbourne Writers’ Festival, she discussed occupation and resistance in Afghanistan today.

* * *

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said: “We’re in Afghanistan to make sure that it never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists, a place where they can go and train and plan violent attacks. We need to see that mission through.” What role are Australian troops really playing in Afghanistan and what should the Australian people be demanding of their government?

The presence of Australian troops is only beneficial for the bunch of warlords and criminals ruling Afghanistan. The Afghan people face dire conditions as the US and their allies have massacred innocent women, children and men — and are continuing to do so.

Since 2001, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed by the blind bombardments of the US and their allies, which include Australia, as well.

`Foro Social Latinamericano', Green Left Weekly's Spanish-language supplement, August 2011 issue

September 3, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For environmentalists, Indigenous rights activists, feminists, socialists and all progressive people, Latin America is a source of hope and inspiration today. The people of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador, among others, are showing that radical social change is possible and a better, more just society can be imagined and built.

The tide of rebellion and revolution now sweeping Latin America is posing a serious challenge to imperialism’s brutal global rule. For anyone who wants an end to war, exploitation and oppression, Latin America’s struggles to create alternatives are crucially important.

Australia's leading socialist newspaper Green Left Weekly is strongly committed to supporting the growing “people’s power” movement in Latin America. Through our weekly articles on developments in the region, GLW strives to counter the corporate media’s many lies about Latin America’s revolutions, and to give a voice in English to the people’s movements for change.

The continent-wide rebellion is weakening imperialism’s power. As a result, it is taking increasingly threatening steps to push back the power of the people. Our solidarity, to help the people of Latin America defend and extend their tremendous achievements, is vital.

Capitalism is just depressing

By Mark Harris

July 23, 2011 -- Resistance.org.au -- There is no denying it, depression is on the rise across the world. The World Health Organization says depression will be the second largest contributor to the global burden of disease by 2020. For young people this is already the case. Depression leads to about 850,000 deaths every year.

But why is depression on the rise? In some instances it is a product of more readily available methods of diagnosis and public understanding of the disorder. But increases in suicide rates and other indicators suggest that the increase in depression is well beyond this statistical readjustment.

Depression is not always caused by a chemical imbalance or as a result of human biology. It is a result of social factors such as loneliness, lack of social support, financial strain, lack of purpose and unemployment. These are endemic under capitalism.

Even in a wealthy country like Australia, youth often look to a future that is at best unfulfilling. Furthermore, capitalism is based on competition. In all sorts of ways we can only succeed if someone else fails. Obvious examples are job interviews or exams to get into uni.

Capitalist culture

Capitalist culture emphasises competition and individualism. Even the main form of transport — cars — means being physically separated from, and often in competition with, other people travelling on the same road.

Australia: Labor government's carbon price is not a serious response to global warming

Protesters heckle climate denier Barnaby Joyce, a senator with the right-wing opposition National Party, as he speaks in Wollongong's Crown St Mall. Photo by Paola Harvey.

By Simon Butler

July 15, 2011 -- "Our Common Cause", Socialist Alliance's weekly column in Green Left Weekly -- Action on climate change is one of the most important issues of all. But the Australian Labor Party federal government’s carbon price plan is not a serious response. It is not grounded in climate science. The biggest problem is that it aims to take 10 years to cut Australia’s emissions by just 5% (based on 2000 levels). This is nowhere near enough. It’s so far from enough that even if it succeeds, the world will still be pushed into an unstable, dangerous climate system.

Most other developed countries have pledged much bigger emissions cuts than Australia. Yet most climate scientists say all the promised cuts put together will be too little, too late.

Review: 'From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy'

By Rupen Savoulian

July 8, 2011 -- Antipodean Athiest, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- In the lead-up to the March 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the pop group the Dixie Chicks played a concert at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire theatre in London. One of the group’s members, Natalie Maines, a native of Texas, made a critical comment about a fellow Texan, George W. Bush who was then president of the United States. She said that “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.” A seemingly innocuous comment, you would think?

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