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China

50 years after: The tragedy of China’s `Great Leap Forward'

By John Riddell

April 21, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- On October 1, the People’s Republic of China will mark the 60th anniversary of its foundation. This will be an occasion to celebrate one of the most influential victories of popular struggle in our era.

This great uprising forged a united and independent Chinese state, freed the country from foreign domination and capitalist rule, ended landlordism, provided broad access to education and health care, and set in motion popular energies that modernised and industrialised its economy. The revolutionary triumph of 1949 laid the foundation for China’s present dynamism and influence, as well as providing an enormous impetus to anti-colonial revolution worldwide.

Yet despite these gains, the socialist movement and ideology that headed the revolution, identified with Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong, disappeared from China soon after his death in 1976. The revolution’s central leader is still revered, but his doctrines have been set aside. The country’s present leadership has promoted private capitalist accumulation, not socialist planning, as China’s chief engine of growth. Its policies have aroused much popular protest, but not a revived Maoist movement.

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.

Robert Brenner: A Marxist explanation for the current capitalist economic crisis

Robert Brenner.

Marxist economist Robert Brenner was interviewed by Seongjin Jeong for Hankyoreh, one of South Korea’s leading daily newspapers. The interview was published on January 22, 2009.

* * *

Seongjin Jeong: Most media and analysts label the current crisis as a ``financial crisis''. Do you agree with this characterisation?

Robert Brenner: It's understandable that analysts of the crisis have made the meltdown in banking and the securities markets their point of departure. But the difficulty is that they have not gone any deeper. From US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and US Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke on down, they argue that the crisis can be explained simply in terms of problems in the financial sector. At the same time, they assert that the underlying real economy is strong, the so-called fundamentals in good shape.

China: `We feel like we are serving prison sentences', say factory workers for Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft and IBM

Workers sit on hard wooden stools without backrests 12 hours a day racing to complete 500 keyboards an hour. Each worker will complete 35,750 operations a day.

[For more discussion on China's recent economic and political developments, click HERE.]

By Charles Kernaghan

[This is an excerpt from the introduction and executive summary of a report released by the National Labor Committee in February 2009, High Tech Misery in China: The Dehumanization of Young Workers Producing Our Computer Keyboards. Click here to download the full report in PDF format.]

“I think it’s fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tools we’ve ever created. They’re tools of communication, they’re tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user...The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” -- Bill Gates

``We feel like we are serving prison sentences.” -- factory worker making Microsoft keyboards

The new assembly line: Making computer keyboards and other peripherals for Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft and IBM

John Bellamy Foster: A failed system -- The world crisis of capitalist globalisation and its impact on China

By John Bellamy Foster

John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is coauthor, with Fred Magdoff, of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (Monthly Review Press, January 2009) among numerous other works. This article was originally a presentation delivered to the International Conference on the Critique of Capital in the Era of Globalization, Suzhou University, Suzhou, China, January 11, 2009. It appeared in the March edition of Monthly Review and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with John Bellamy Foster's permission.

Economic crisis: Skyrocketing unemployment in Asia hits women and young people hardest

Unemployed workers in China at a train station, waiting to return to their rural areas. 

By Reihana Mohideen

[Reihana Mohideen will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.]

February 23, 2009 -- Recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) reports on global and regional employment trends paint a stark picture of rapidly increasing unemployment in 2008; the situation is expected to worsen in 2009 with the prediction of massive job losses. The message is clear: workers and the poor are already paying heavily for the capitalist economic crisis. Especially hard hit are working-class and poor women and young people.

Que paguen los pobres del mundo La crisis económica y del Sur del globo

Por Adam Hanieh

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens

La actual crisis económica global tiene todas las características de un evento trascendental. Economistas de la corriente dominante – no conocidos normalmente por su lenguaje exagerado – emplean ahora abiertamente frases como "catástrofe sistémica" y "mirando hacia el abismo." El 29 de octubre, por ejemplo, Martin Wolf, uno de los principales comentaristas financieros del Financial Times, advirtió que la crisis augura "bancarrotas masivas," "desempleo en alza" y una "catástrofe" que amenaza "la legitimidad de la propia economía de libre mercado... el peligro sigue siendo inmenso y queda poco tiempo."

Cabe poca duda de que esta crisis ya tiene un impacto devastador en los hogares estadounidenses fuertemente endeudados. Pero una de las características impactantes del análisis hasta la fecha – tanto de los medios de izquierdas como los dominantes – es el enfoque casi exclusivo en los países ricos de Norteamérica, Europa y del Este Asiático. De las ejecuciones hipotecarias en California a la bancarrota de Islandia, el impacto del colapso financiero es raramente examinado más allá del núcleo capitalista avanzado.

Making the world's poor pay: The economic crisis and the Global South

[This article is available in Spanish: `Que paguen los pobres del mundo La crisis económica y del Sur del glob'.]

By Adam Hanieh

November 22, 2008 -- The current global economic crisis has all the earmarks of an epoch-defining event. Mainstream economists – not usually known for their exaggerated language – now openly employ phrases like ``systemic meltdown'' and ``peering into the abyss''. On October 29, for example, Martin Wolf, one of the top financial commentators of the Financial Times, warned that the crisis portends “mass bankruptcy”, “soaring unemployment” and a “catastrophe” that threatens “the legitimacy of the open market economy itself... the danger remains huge and time is short”.

There is little doubt that this crisis is already having a devastating impact on heavily indebted American households. But one of the striking characteristics of analysis to date – by both the left and the mainstream media – is the almost exclusive focus on the wealthy countries of North America, Europe and East Asia. From foreclosures in California to the bankruptcy of Iceland, the impact of financial collapse is rarely examined beyond the advanced capitalist core.

China and the global capitalist economic meltdown

By Peter Boyle

Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific (ASAP) -- As the US, Japan and Europe slide into recession, the leaders of many smaller countries are desperately hoping that continued strong growth in the Chinese economy, which has contributed about 15 per cent of world economic growth in recent years, might save them from this meltdown.

There's hope and then there's hard facts. Recently the latter has replaced those desperate hopes with terror. A measure of this was the November 4 decision of Australia's Reserve Bank to make a bigger than expected interest rate cut. Any temptation by holders of large mortgages and other debts in Australia to reach for the champagne was killed by the realisation that this decision, in the words of one business correspondent, "was a recognition by Australia's top policymakers that the Chinese economy is no longer providing a firewall to insulate the Australian economy from the international crisis".

 

Realities of China today

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

Against the Current -- Interest in the post-1978 Chinese market reform experience remains high and for an obvious reason: China is widely considered to be one of the most successful developing countries in modern times. The Chinese economy has recorded record rates of growth over an extended time period, in concert with a massive industrial transformation. Adding to the interest is the Chinese government's claim that this success demonstrates both the workability and superiority of "market socialism."

There are those on the left who share this celebratory view of the Chinese experience, believing that it stands as an effective rebuttal to the neoliberal mantra that still dominates economic thinking. Therefore, they encourage other countries to learn from China's gradual, state controlled process of marketization, privatization, and deregulation of economic activity. A small but significant number share the Chinese government's view that China has indeed pioneered a new type of socialism.

The decline of US power: Can Russia, China, India or Europe fill the gap? Can people's power?

 

 

August 16, 2008, Radio New Internationalist

The new superpowers

Commentators claim that as a superpower, the US is in decline. Is this the case?

The dissidents' guide to the Olympics: `War minus the shooting'

As the world corporate media goes Olympics mad, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has assembled a range of alternative viewpoints on what the modern Olympic Games really represent. While -- when it suits their interests -- establishment media commentators and capitalist governments loudly proclaim that ``sport and politics don't mix'', it soon becomes apparent that the Olympics spectacle is drenched in politics and the promotion of the worst aspects of dog-eat-dog capitalism. But sometimes it is also a site of struggle, as this selection of articles, drawn from the Links and Green Left Weekly archives, as well as other progressive sources, reveals.

China: Socialist revolution and capitalist restoration

By Chris Slee

The Chinese revolution was one of the most important events of the twentieth century. The victory of the revolution in 1949 was a major defeat for imperialism. The new Communist Party government carried out democratic measures such as land reform, and improved the conditions of workers and peasants through the spread of health care and literacy. It began expropriating industry, and within a few years had nationalised all capitalist enterprises. It proclaimed that the revolution had entered the socialist stage.

A Lego recreation of Jeff Widener's 1989 photograph of "The unknown rebel".

 

But the new state was bureaucratically distorted from its inception. The bureaucrats enjoyed substantial privileges. They repressed dissent amongst workers, peasants, students and intellectuals. And they engaged in violent power struggles amongst themselves, undermining the gains of the revolution.

Looking back on the Beijing massacre

By Liang Guosheng

On June 4, 1989, troops, armoured personnel carriers and tanks of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) forced their way through human and constructed barricades into central Beijing, taking control of Tiananmen Square. In the process, according to an estimate by Amnesty International soon afterwards, approximately 1000 unarmed protesters were gunned down or otherwise killed.

Numerous eyewitness accounts confirmed the extent of the massacre. The dead were students and other Beijing workers and residents who had gathered the previous evening to protest against the PLA's forced entry into central Beijing and the square, which on May 20 Premier Li Peng had declared a martial law district.

During the last seven years more eyewitness interviews, analytical articles and quite a range of books have been published concerned with what has come to be termed the 1989 Democracy Movement and Beijing Massacre. More recent works have also covered the ensuing government crackdown and the fate of those protesters captured by the government, executed or imprisoned.

Socialist Alliance: Let the Tibetans decide their future

By Dick Nichols

April 26, 2008 -- The protests and arrests in Lhasa and the demonstrations and counter-demonstrations around the Olympic torch relay has re-focused the world on the plight of Tibetans. This has, in turn, sparked a debate on the left about whether the Tibetan struggle is a just one, or not what it seems. The Socialist Alliance national executive decided at its April meeting that the right to self-determination applies as much to the Tibetans as to any other people. It’s not for others to decide according to some private benchmark of oppression whether or not the Tibetans are “really” oppressed. Obviously, the protests in Lhasa and other centres reflect deep feelings of discrimination and alienation: these things cannot be manufactured.

In this context it is irrelevant that some in the West, especially high-profile Hollywood followers of the Dalai Lama, believe in the weird delusion that old theocratic Tibet was a Shangri-la that was cruelly destroyed by the “Chinese communist dictatorship”. The fact that the Tibetan resistance army up until 1959 was funded and trained by the CIA is also irrelevant.

Tibet and the `Olympic tradition'

Below are two articles discussing the protests against the Olympic torch relay by supporters of Tibet's right to national self-determination. The first appeared in Green Left Weekly. The second is by Pierre Rousset, a member of the French Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) and editor of the Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières (ESSF) website. It was translated for Links -- International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- by Katie Cherrington.

***

Pro-Tibet protests grow — why Tibet deserves justice

By Tony Iltis

April 19, 2008 -- Australian Capital Territory (ACT) police have been given enhanced stop-and-search powers for dealing with protests planned for the Canberra leg of the global Olympic torch relay on April 24. This comes as protests by the Tibetan diaspora and their supporters have turned the torch’s world tour into a public relations disaster for the Beijing Olympics.

Continued below photos ...

*** Stop press, April 24 ***

For the right to self-determination of the Tibetan people

By Pierre Rousset

March 24, 2008 -- The Chinese army has Tibet and its provinces under tight control. The repression of the ``rioters'' who have descended into the streets these last two weeks has been severe. Solidarity and the effective recognition of the right of the Tibetan people to self-determination is urgent.

Some on the left (rare in France, but more numerous elsewhere) refuse to commit to solidarity for fear of playing the game of the United States against China. Others, on the right, call for demonstrations against 59 years of Chinese occupation –- it was in 1950-1951 that the Peoples Liberation Army entered the country -– and denounce a ``communist'' dictatorship. These two positions ``mirror'' one another, attaching little importance to history: the ``Tibetan question'' arises in very different contexts according to different periods.

Stop the bloodshed — freedom for Tibet!

By Tony Iltis

March 28, 2008 -- A demonstration by Buddhist monks in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, on March 10 to commemorate the anniversary of China’s crushing of the Tibetan independence movement in 1959 triggered protests for self-determination that, by March 14, had escalated into anti-Chinese riots in which 19 people were killed.

Over 100 Tibetans are reported to have been killed, and hundreds more arrested, by Chinese occupation forces.

This eruption of mass anger — that spread to cities throughout the Tibetan Autonomous Region and the neighbouring provinces of Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan, historically part of Tibet and with large ethnic Tibetan communities — was a response not only to the 58-year-old Chinese military occupation of Tibet, but to the dispossession and marginalisation of Tibetans by an influx of both global capital and Han Chinese transmigrants.

Tension in Tibet: Political dialogue only key to lasting solution

By Kavita Krishnan

In the wake of the anniversary of the 1959 Tibet movement (March 10) and ahead of the Beijing Olympics, Tibet has once again emerged as a hot spot of ethnic tension. There are reports of violence against and killing of protesting Tibetan monks by Chinese forces; and also of ethnic targeting of Han Chinese and Hui Muslims by Tibetan protesters. Chinese authorities have straightaway blamed the Dalai Lama for provoking the violent protests. The [Chinese] Army has been deployed after more than a week of escalating tension. While there is little ``independent'' information to judge the actual nature and scale of the turbulence within Tibet and attempts by the Chinese state to suppress it, solidarity protests are being witnessed in many centres across the world and Tibetan refugees based in India are particularly vocal against the recent turn of events in Tibet.

The turmoil in Tibet has been greeted by die-hard anti-China hawks with demands of boycott of the Beijing Olympics. In India, BJP and the likes of George Fernandes have raised an uproar in Parliament with their shrill anti-China hate campaign over Tibet.

In solidarity with the people of Tibet

By Pierre Rousset

March 18, 2008 -- The demonstrations which began on March 10, 2008, in Tibet, and which turned into riots since March 14, are remarkable both for their breadth and their radicalism. Far from being confined to the capital, Lhasa, they have spread to the bordering provinces of China, where communities of Tibetans reside: witnesses report important mobilisations in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan.

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