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national question

Québec Solidaire: A Québécois approach to building a broad left party

Amir Khadir, currently Québec solidaire's sole member of the Quebec legislature, the National Assembly.

August 31, 2011 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission and that of Alternate Routes -- The following article is scheduled for publication in a forthcoming issue of the journal Alternate Routes. It is an expanded and updated version of a presentation to the third annual conference of the Critical Social Research Collaborative, held March 5, 2011, at Carleton University, Ottawa, on the theme “Varieties of Socialism, Varieties of Approaches”. Part II (below) will discuss the evolution of Québec Solidaire since its founding.

* * *

By Richard Fidler

A number of attempts have been made in recent years to launch new parties and processes, addressing a broad left or popular constituency, that are programmatically anti-neoliberal if not anti-capitalist, some of them self-identifying as part of an international effort to create a “socialism of the 21st century”. They vary widely in origins, size, social composition and influence.

Nationality’s role in social liberation: the Soviet legacy

Painting slogans for the Congress of the Peoples of the East, September 1920, Baku. Photo from IISG.

By John Riddell

July 21, 2011 -- http://johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Just under a century ago, the newly founded Soviet republic embarked on the world’s first concerted attempt to unite diverse nations in a federation that acknowledged the right to self-determination and encouraged the development of national culture, consciousness and governmental structures. Previous major national-democratic revolutions – in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the United States – had been made in the name of a hegemonic nation and had assimilated, marginalised or crushed rival nationalities. The early Soviet regime, by contrast, sought to encourage, rather than deny, internal national distinctiveness.

Free Tibet!

By Norm Dixon

September 25, 1996 -- Green Left Weekly -- The visit of Tibet's exiled ruler Tenzin Gyatso, better known as the 14th Dalai Lama, has focused attention on the Chinese government's continued denial of the Tibetan people's right to national self-determination, the absence of democratic rights and the widespread repression of dissent.

Tibetans are entitled to claim their right to national self-determination. They have a common language, territory and culture. A distinct, continuous Tibetan history can be traced back 2500 years. Whatever the arguments about the independence or otherwise of Tibet during this long period, when China's last dynasty was overthrown in 1911, all Chinese officials were expelled and the 13th Dalai Lama issued a proclamation that many Tibetans consider a declaration of independence.

While no country formally recognised this independence, Tibetan officials conducted all governmental functions without reference to, or interference from, Beijing. Lhasa conducted government-to-government relations with many countries, signing trade pacts and other deals. Until 1950, Tibet operated as a de facto independent state.

A history of oppression: the Tamils of Sri Lanka

By Danielle Sabai

June 2, 2011 -- Asia Left Observer, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- In February 2011, the president of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, celebrated the 63rd anniversary of the island’s independence. In his speech, he stressed the necessity of “protecting the reconstructed nation”, as well as protecting “one of the oldest democracies in Asia”, its unity and its unitary character.

This speech came nearly two years after the end of the war on May 19, 2009, between the Sri Lankan state and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The military command of the LTTE was decimated in the last two months of a merciless war that has had led to tens of thousands of deaths since the early 1980s.

Scotland: Why the left should back independence

By Alan McCombes

May 19, 2011 -- Scottish Socialist Party -- More than 150 years ago, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels called on the working class of all countries to unite and fight for a socialist world.

At a time when there were no telephones, no cars, no aeroplanes, no TV and no radio, their internationalist vision represented an extraordinary feat of historical imagination.

In today’s world of the internet, satellite TV, high-speed air travel, global capitalism and the World Social Forum, the philosophy of socialist internationalism no longer looks like a utopian flight of fantasy.

But what does socialist internationalism mean in practice?

“Imagine there’s no countries, I wonder if you can; nothing to kill or die for, a brotherhood of man”, sang John Lennon in his celebrated radical anthem.

Scotland: Political climate changes utterly; Voters bring break up of Britain closer?

Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond.

By Colin Fox, Scottish Socialist Party spokesperson

May 10, 2011 -- As landslides go the 2011 Holyrood election was huge. Scotland has been shaken to its political foundations as voters again voiced their contempt for the Conservative Party [Tories], its coalition partner the Liberal Democratic Party [Lib Dems], and also the Labour Party. The Scotsman newspaper described the result of the May 5 Scottish election as a "victory of hitherto unthinkable proportions" for the Scottish National Party (SNP). Even The Scotsman can be right some of the time!

Canada: NDP breakthrough in Quebec -- a challenge for the Canadian left

New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton.

By Richard Fidler

May 8, 2011 -- Life on the Left -- If New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton’s election-night speech to his Toronto supporters is an indication of what lies ahead, the NDP is going to have a hard time coming to terms with a parliamentary caucus now composed of a majority of MPs from Quebec.

To a crowded room in which nearly everyone was waving Canadian flags, the NDP leader delivered two-thirds of his remarks in English without ever mentioning the expression “Quebec nation”. The scene, televised across Canada, did not go unremarked in Quebec, where most of the NDP’s sudden support had come from nationalist-minded voters, including many sympathisers of Quebec independence.

Philippines: Interview with Moro liberation movement leader

Ghazali Jaafar (left). Photo by Jolly Lais.

Ghazali Jaafar, vice-chairperson for political affairs of the central committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), interviewed by Tony Iltis in Barangay Simuay, Maguindanao province

Introduction by Tony Iltis

April 10, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- The Moro people of the Philippines’ southern Mindanao Islands have never considered themselves Filipinos. The Spanish colonisers never succeeded in subjugating the Moro sultanates. However, when Spain ceded the Philippines to the US in 1898, the Moro homeland, Bangsamoro, was included.

In the ensuing war, which lasted until 1913, 20,000 Moros — fighters and civilians — were killed. The US set about integrating Bangsamoro to the Philippines through land ownership laws that delegitimised the communal land tenure systems of the Muslim Moro tribes and the non-Muslim indigenous tribes (sometimes called Lumads).

‘Beyond capitalism’? Québec solidaire launches debate on its program for social transformation

Françoise David, QS president, and Amir Khadir, its sole elected member of the National Assembly.

By Richard Fidler, Montréal

April 7, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – At a convention held here March 25-27, 2011, Québec solidaire (QS) concluded the second round in the process of adopting its program. More than 350 delegates from party associations across the province debated and adopted the party’s stance on issues in relation to the economy, ecology and labour. And they reaffirmed their determination to build the party as an independent political alternative, rejecting proposals by QS leaders to seek “tactical agreements” with the capitalist Parti québécois (PQ) and/or the Parti vert (Greens) that would have allowed reciprocal support of the other party’s candidate in selected ridings.

Manning Marable: A voice for black liberation and democracy

By Lee Sustar

April 4, 2011 -- Socialist Worker -- Anyone who studies the US black liberation movement and seeks to renew its struggles will be saddened by the untimely passing of Manning Marable, the Columbia University professor who combined wide-ranging scholarship with an active commitment to social transformation.

Western Sahara: `We want to go back to our country. Nothing will stop us wanting our rights'

Tagiyou Aslama. Photo by Alan Bain.

Tony Iltis interviews Tagiyou Aslama

March 20, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- Western Sahara is the last country in Africa awaiting decolonisation. Invaded by Spain in the late 19th century, in the early 1970s mass mobilisations heralded the birth of the modern independence movement. In 1973, Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario Front) was established to wage an armed independence struggle.

By 1975, the dying days of the Franco dictatorship, the Spain had been fought to a standstill. However, rather than allow independence, Spain made an agreement with neighbouring countries, Morocco and Mauritania, whereby these countries would occupy Western Sahara while Madrid would retain access to its maritime resources.

Many Saharawi fled to refugee camps on the border with Algeria. However, most of the men returned to fight for independence. On February 27, 1976, the Polisario Front declared the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

Sri Lanka: The ‘colonisation war’ against Tamils

Within the box is one of the Tamil areas targeted by the Sri Lankan government for Sinhalese settlements. Map from Tamilnet.

By Chris Slee

March 14, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal  – The Tamilnet website has accused the Sri Lankan government of waging a "colonisation war" against the Tamil people of the island of Sri Lanka. The government has been establishing Sinhalese settlements in traditional Tamil areas. The website compares this to Israel’s policy of establishing Jewish settlements in the West Bank, saying: "Sri Lanka is aiming at creating an Israeli model situation as fast as possible".[1]

Video: 'The Invention of the White Race', by Theodore W. Allen

Theodore W. Allen, author of the two-volume history The Invention of the White Race (Verso:1994, 1997), died on January 19, 2005. The books trace the origins of "white" as a racist invention in early American history. Above and below is rare video footage of Allen in his later years in an interview with Stella Winston for Brooklyn Cable.

Los lazos del gobierno srilanqués con Israel exponen su duplicidad

Donald Perera, embajador de Sri Lanka a Israel, en su oficina de Tel Aviv.

[English at http://links.org.au/node/1841.]

Por Chris Slee

Diego Garcia: Wikileaks confirm Greenpeace-backed `marine protection zone' was a ruse; Police ban socialist protests

US warplanes take off from Diego Garcia.

[Read the Mauritian socialists' open letter to Greenpeace -- `Don't help cover up colonialism's crimes on Diego Garcia' HERE, warning the organisation that it is being manipulated by the US and British governments. This has now been confirmed by Wikileaks.]

By Clency Lebrasse

December 17, 2010 -- Rabble.ca -- Six months ago, I wrote a piece for rabble.ca describing the appalling treatment of the people of the Chagos Islands [which includes Diego Garcia] in the Indian Ocean by the British government.

Sri Lanka: `This is a struggle for all of us. Not only Tamils but also for Sinhalese who value democracy' -- Bahu

Speech by general secretary of the Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP) Vickramabahu Karunaratne ("Bahu") at the Tamil National Remembrance Day, November 28, 2010, in London.

* * *

I am thankful for the organisation of this event for giving me the opportunity to shed my tears in memory of those who gave their life to the liberation of Tamil homeland.

Tamils have been killed by successive Sinhala-chauvinist governments in Sri lanka, last but not the least by the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. Not only Tamils, but also thousands of Sinhala youth who were sent for aggression in the Tamil homeland and to attack Tamils. Thousands of these young Sinhalese died in an alien land.

Tamil refugee: `Why I fled to Australia'


Aran Mylvaganam's story.

By Sue Bolton, Melbourne

Green Left Weekly -- This year is the 15th anniversary of the Nargar Kovil school massacre in Tamil Eelam, the Tamil area of Sri Lanka. On September 22, 1995, the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) bombed Nargar Kovil Maha Vidyalayam schoolyard, which was crammed with 750 children on their lunch break. Reports of the number of children killed vary from 26 to 70.

Twelve of the children killed were six or seven years old. One hundred and fifty were injured, including 40 seriously. Twenty-two children had their limbs amputated. Ten of the amputees were under 12.

Basque Country: Armed struggle ends, mass struggle continues

Basque trade unionists protest against the capitalist crisis.

By Jack Ferguson

September 8, 2010 -- Scottish Socialist Youth -- On September 5, 2010, the Basque armed group Euskadi Ta Azkatasuna (Basque Homeland and Freedom, ETA), which has fought an armed struggle for Basque freedom for decades, released a video declaring that several months ago it had decided to stop armed actions, and announced a ceasefire.

In its statement, ETA said:

`A force which is truly for good' -- John Coltrane and the jazz revolution

The John Coltrane Quartet (John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones) on the 1963 TV program, Jazz Casual, playing "Alabama", written by Coltrane after reading a speech by Martin Luther King eulogising four black children blown up in a racist attack on a church in 1963.

By Terry Townsend

September 23, 2010 -- John William Coltrane (abbreviated as "Trane" by his fans) was born on this day in 1926. Since his untimely death on July 17, 1967, saxophone colossus Coltrane has become an icon of African-American pride, achievement and uncompromising determination. He led a revolution in music that mirrored the turbulent growth of black militancy and revolutionary ideas within the urban black community. Today, Trane continues to inspire.

Coltrane has often been likened to Malcolm X. US jazz writer and socialist Frank Kofsky, in his classic 1970 book Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music (Pathfinder Press, New York), wrote:

Both men perceived the reality about [the USA] -- a reality you could only know if you were Black and had worked your way up and through the tangled jungle of jazz clubs, narcotics, alcohol, mobsters ...

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