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Australia

`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.

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 new climate-change denialism: Who promotes it, and how to answer it

Cartoon from IVAN3MAN.

By Renfrey Clarke

October 15, 2010 – You remember the scandal provoked by the errors and exaggerations in the 2007 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)? And you know all about the even bigger “Climategate” scandal last year, when stolen emails revealed that leading climate scientists were manipulating data to fit their alarmist political agenda? Now we have the next instalment. In a new Guide to the Science of Climate Change the world’s top science body, Britain’s Royal Society, has quit playing politics and stopped peddling its claims of looming disaster.

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].

`Foro Social Latinamericano', Green Left Weekly's Spanish-language supplement, October 2010 issue

October 13, 2010 -- 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, Ecuador and El Salvador, 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. We are proud of the fact that GLW is the only Australian newspaper to have a permanent bureau in Latin America, based in Caracas, Venezuela. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Australia: Interview with new Greens MP Adam Bandt: 'I'll give a voice to the social movements'

Greens MP Adam Bandt.

Adam Bandt interviewed by Jody Betzien

September 2, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly --  Adam Bandt, the Australian Greens' MP elect for the seat of Melbourne (long considered a “safe Labor seat”), and the Greens' first House of Representatives member to be elected in a general election has been very busy since the August 21 election. He says he left the triumphant Greens' election night party at 11pm thinking that he would have to do some media the next day so should get a good night's sleep. He woke up the next morning and after a couple of hours having coffee and reading the paper, the situation sunk in. “And that was the last two hours I've had to myself since”, he told Green Left Weekly in a wide-ranging interview conducted on September 2.

`Foro Social Latinamericano', Green Left Weekly's Spanish-language supplement, Sept. 2010 issue

September 1, 2010 -- 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, Ecuador and El Salvador, 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. We are proud of the fact that GLW is the only Australian newspaper to have a permanent bureau in Latin America, based in Caracas, Venezuela. 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.

Sport and capitalism -- Would Gramsci go to the footy?

Labor PM Bob Hawke laud's tycoon Alan Bond's victory in the 1983 America's Cup.

No Pain, No Gain? Sport and Australian Culture
By Dr Jim McKay
Prentice Hall, 1991. 189 pages.

Review by Phil Shannon

Sport tells lies. According to Jim McKay, sport is a social prop to the domination of capitalist ideas and values. Fundamental to the maintenance of this dominance are the mass media, which ``selectively articulate capitalist rationality, masculine hegemony, Eurocentric racism, militaristic nationalism and liberal values'' -- a toxic mix of ideological viruses.

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.

Venezuela: Land reform, food sovereignty and agroecology

Urban food garden, Caracas.

By Alan Broughton

August 20, 2010 -- A massive transformation of agriculture is occurring in Venezuela, a transformation that has lessons for every other country in the world. The Law of the Land and Agrarian Development, the Law of Food Sovereignty and Security and the Law of Integrated Agricultural Health set out the agenda (they can be found on www.mat.gob.ve, in Spanish). The policies are based on the premises that farmers should have control of their land and product, that the country should produce its own food, and that chemical fertilisers and pesticides should not be part of agriculture.

Land in Venezuela has been in the hands of about 500 families and corporations since the 1800s and worked by an impoverished peasantry. Much of the land was underutilised as cattle ranching, pulpwood plantations, export crops such as sugar cane, or left idle. Most food was imported. This land is gradually being taken over by the government and handed to local communities who have been fighting for it for two centuries.

Australia: Swing to Greens a shift to left as neither major capitalist party wins a mandate

Newly elected Greens MP Adam Bandt with trade unionist supporters during the 2007 federal election.

By Peter Boyle

August 24, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- By denying both the ruling Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the opposition Liberal Party-National Party coalition an outright majority, in primary votes and in federal House of Representatives (lower house) and Senate (upper house), Australian electors on August 21 voted “neither of the above” for the traditional parties of government. The result after election night was a hung parliament, with several rural independent MPs and one Greens MP to decide which party will form the next government.

This followed an election campaign in which the major parties conducted an ugly race to the right, most notoriously by scapegoating the few thousand desperate refugees who attempt to get to Australia on boats.

Pakistan flood catastrophe: West gives `billions for killing, little for life'


[Readers can donate to help flood victims via the Australian trade unions' aid agency APHEDA at http://www.apheda.org.au/news/1281331224_14992.html.]

By John Passant

August 15, 2010 -- The floods in Pakistan have threatened the lives and safety of more than 20 million people. Millions have lost everything. Now hunger and disease haunt the country. Dysentery and cholera are gaining a  foothold as people without homes starve and kids without Western help die.

The US gives the Pakistan government US$1 billion a year to fight "militants". It has increased its flood aid contribution from $10 million to $25 million. That’s right. Its aid figures is millions, not billions.

That’s because for US imperialism cowering the world before its might is much more important than providing aid to people affected by the floods.

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

August 6, 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.

“There are Arabic newspapers in Australia, but still all reflect the views of their editors and there is a great need to establish a progressive Arabic-language press which can frankly discuss the squalid condition of the Arab world due to submission and subservience to neo-colonialism”, Iskander explains. “At the same time, the Arabic-speaking communities in Australia need to read articles relating to the Australian government policy internally — articles which will unmask the pitfalls of these policies, and will expose the violation and the lies of the capitalist parties. The Flame, we hope, will be a powerful addition to Green Left Weekly.”

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