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Lessons of the Caucasus war: Imperial ambitions need to be opposed

By Andrey Kolganov and Aleksandr Buzgalin, translated by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal’s Renfrey Clarke

Moscow, September 2, 2008 -- To most Russians, it was obvious from the beginning that the latest war in the Caucasus began with an attack by Georgian forces on South Ossetia, and that ultimately it was unleashed on the initiative of the United States. To the West, meanwhile, it was just as clear from the outset that the August war in the Caucasus represented an assault on small, defenceless and democratic Georgia by huge, aggressive and authoritarian Russia. This is what almost all the world media have asserted, and continue to assert. To a significant degree, this is even believed by a significant section of world civil society, including by anti-globalisation activists who for the most part have little sympathy for the US establishment.

Behind the communal flare-up in Jammu and Kashmir

By the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

August 18, 2008 -- The communally and politically motivated May 26 decision of the Congress Party-People's Democratic Party (PDP) government of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to transfer forest land [in Muslim-majority Kashmir] to the Hindu Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) [for use as a pilgrimage site near a sacred Hindu cave] is having costly repercussions, with the added danger that it may emerge as a communal [flashpoint] nationally.

The land transfer, taken in the context of irresponsible official remarks recommending changes in the demography and “culture” of the region as a “solution” to the Kashmir “problem”, was like a spark to the tinderbox of pent-up resentment in the Kashmir Valley. Lives were lost when police opened fire on protesters; the PDP tried to distance itself from its ministers’ decision in favour of the land transfer by pulling out of the government; and the government on July 1 was belatedly forced to roll back the land transfer decision.

Nationalism, revolution and war in the Caucasus

By Tony Iltis

August 27, 2008 -- Since the European Union-brokered ceasefire brought the shooting war between Georgia and Russia to an end on August 12, there has been a war of words between Russia and the West. One point of contention is the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia-proper (that is, Georgia excluding the de facto independent territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia), in particular the towns of Gori, Zugdidi and Senaki and the port of Poti.

The war began with Georgia’s August 7 attack on the territory of South Ossetia. Russia responded with a military assault that first drove Georgian troops out of South Ossetia, then continued to advance within Georgia-proper.

Russia agreed to withdraw when it signed the ceasefire and has since indicated that it is doing so — but slowly, and not before systematically destroying Georgia’s military capacity.

A bigger difference, based on competing interpretations of what is and isn’t Georgian territory, is Russia’s stated intention to maintain a beefed-up peacekeeping presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russia-Georgia: Behind the war on South Ossetia

By Tony Iltis

August 16, 2008 -- On August 7, after a week of border clashes, Georgia's pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili launched a military attack against South Ossetia.

South Ossetia, while internationally recognised as part of Georgia, has been predominantly under the control of a pro-independence administration since Georgia separated from the former Soviet Union in 1991. Since a 1992 ceasefire, the South Ossetian statelet has been protected by Russian peacekeepers.

Within 24 hours, Georgian troops had taken the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, after destroying much of it with artillary. More than 30,000 refugees (out of a population of 70,000) fled across the border to the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, which is part of the Russian Federation.

Using this, and the killing of 20 Russian peacekeepers, as pretexts, Russia intervened in full force: bombing targets throughout Georgia, driving the Georgians out of South Ossetia (including territory not previously held by the South Ossetian administration) and crossing into Georgia-proper to take the town of Gori.

Martin Luther King's last struggle -- a talk by Brian Jones

Teacher and actor Brian Jones educated and moved his audience with his talk, ``Martin Luther King's last struggle'' at the United States' International Socialist Organization's ``Socialism 2008'' conference in Chicago on June 20, 2008.

 

Since 1999, Jones has portrayed Karl Marx in Howard Zinn's play Marx in Soho in US tours. He lent his voice to the audio recording of Noam Chomsky's book Hegemony or Survival and to several staged readings from Zinn's latest book, Voices of a People's History of the United States. He is a teacher in New York and contributes frequently to the Socialist Worker newspaper and the International Socialist Review magazine.

Socialism conferences are sponsored annually by the Center for Economic Research and Social Change, publisher of International Socialist Review and Haymarket Books. Conferences are co-sponsored by the International Socialist Organization, publisher of Socialist Worker and Obrero Socialista.

The elephant in the room: Obama, the left and the race question

By Malik Miah

August 10, 2008 -- Much of the world is fascinated by the current US presidential election. The main reason is because the United States is ready to do something that most developed countries would never consider doing: electing a representative from an oppressed minority as head of state.

Olympics 1968: Black Power Salute

At the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games the enduring image was Tommie Smith and John Carlos, African-American athletes, raising their gloved clenched fists in support of the Black Power movement during the ``Star Spangled Banner''. They were subsequently banned from the games for life. Black Power Salute looks at what inspired them to make their protest, and what happened to them after the Games. Featuring Tommie Smith, Lee Evans, Bob Beamon and Delroy Lindo. Click HERE for parts 2-6.

Also read about Peter Norman, the Australian athlete who gained third place, who supported Smith's and Carlos' protest. Norman is the subject of a new documentary, Salute, which can be previewed here.

Part 1

 

NATO's Balkan war and the Kosova liberation struggle

By Doug Lorimer

[The general line of this report was adopted by the June 12-14, 1999 DSP National Committee plenum. Text is taken from The Activist, volume 9, number 5, 1999]

On Wednesday March 24, 1999, the secretary-general of NATO, former Spanish social-democratic minister of culture Javier Solana, told a press conference: "I have just given the order to the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, United States General Wesley Clark, to begin air operations against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."

The following day 371 NATO warplanes undertook bombing raids and six NATO warships in the Adriatic launched cruise missiles against targets in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Between March 25 and the cessation of NATO bombing raids on June 9, more than 30,000 combat missions had been flown by NATO warplanes against Yugoslavia. Thousands of civilians in Serbia have been killed or wounded. Millions of Serbian workers are now living without electricity, or water, or jobs. Factories, power stations, houses, hospitals, bridges and roads have been destroyed or damaged. The destruction of oil refineries and petrochemical plants have poisoned the air, rivers and soil of Serbia with toxic products. It has been estimated that the reconstruction of damaged or destroyed infrastructure will cost between $US15-50 billion.

From Marx to Morales: Indigenous socialism and the Latin Americanisation of Marxism

By John Riddell

June 16, 2008 -- Over the past decade, a new rise of mass struggles in Latin America has sparked an encounter between revolutionists of that region and many of those based in the imperialist countries. In many of these struggles, as in Bolivia under the presidency of Evo Morales, Indigenous peoples are in the lead.

Latin American revolutionists are enriching Marxism in the field of theory as well as of action. This article offers some introductory comments indicating ways in which their ideas are linking up with and drawing attention to important but little-known aspects of Marxist thought.

Bolivia: When minorities deny the rights of the majorities

By Miguel Lora Fuentes, Bolpress (translation by David Montoute)

How true it is that nothing lasts forever. Bolivia’s exploited classes, of mainly indigenous origin, are now confronting more than five centuries of exclusion. This territory’s original inhabitants were subjugated by the cross and the sword during the colonial period, they were harassed and had their lands taken from them under the Republic, and their culture was ignored during the bourgeois-democratic revolution of 1952. Now, as they finally take state power by democratic means at the beginning of the 21st century, the dominant minority accuses them of wanting to install the ``first racist, fascist state in Latin America’’.

The current historical juncture is characterised by a profound crisis of the market economy, of liberal democracy and of the very foundations of the old republican colonial state, a monocultural, centralist and exclusionary state that has remained intact since the foundation of the Republic.

Why Barack Obama’s nomination for the US presidency is historic

By Malik Miah

``America, this is our moment’’, stated Barack Obama on June 3 after winning enough delegates to become the presumed presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. Obama becomes the first African American in the history of the country to be nominated by one of the ruling parties. It happened on the evening of June 3 as the final two primaries occurred in Montana and South Dakota, where he and his main opponent New York Senator Hillary Clinton won one state each.

Yugoslavia, Washington and the `Balkanisation' of Bolivia

By Michael Karadjis

I feel forced to write to correct some confusion that has been circulating regarding the current US ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, who has been supporting the so-called ``autonomy'' referendum by the Bolivian oligarchy.

A continuous line has come out that Goldberg ``has experience in partition'' because he allegedly participated in the dismemberment of Yugoslavia. This tends to be a secondary point alongside a more general point that erroneously compares actual oppressed nations, such as the Kosovar Albanians, the poorest people in Europe, who have striven for independence for over a century, with the rich oligarchy of low-lands Bolivia, engaged in an imperialist-backed destabilisation of the Bolivian revolution.

Along with Kosova, some also list Tibet and other examples of so-called ``secessionism'' as being related to the Bolivian oligarchy's campaign. One feels compelled to add Palestine, Eritrea, Bangladesh, East Timor, Aceh, Tamil Ealam and other national liberation struggles by oppressed peoples just to make it consistent.

The transformation of South Africa's communists

12 February 1997

Raising the Red Flag: The International Socialist League and the Communist Party of South Africa 1914-1932
By Sheridan Johns
Mayibuye Books, Bellville, South Africa
1995, 309pp.

Review by Norm Dixon

Mayibuye Books specialise in publishing works relating to South Africa's liberation struggle, most by participants in the movement. Under apartheid many valuable works were suppressed. Now free to publish anything, it may seem strange that Mayibuye would decide to publish a book that began as an unpublished thesis by an obscure US academic 30 years ago. Strange or not, it is a decision to be welcomed.

Barack Obama, Reverend Wright and Black liberation theology

By Malik Miah

The groundswell of broad support for Barack Obama (both among Blacks and whites) is a phenomenon that deserves a serious analysis and understanding. It cannot be downplayed by passing it through the lens of pure-and-simple lesser-evilism.

Some radicals dismiss the mass phenomenon, because Obama is a candidate of a ruling-class party. That simplistic rejection of Obama's campaign and its mass support is sectarian: The issue isn't whether to vote for a Democrat, but rather our response to a development that is having a wide-scale impact. How many times, in state after state, have we ever seen citizens of all races line up for hours to hear an African-American man talk about “hope'', on a platform that is fundamentally no different than his opponents?

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 ***

Speech & video: Martin Luther King: Beyond Vietnam -- A time to break the silence

On April 4, 1967, African-American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King addressed a gathering of religious antiwar activists at Riverside Church in New York City. On April 4, 1968, he was assassinated.

``I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a `thing-oriented' society to a `person-oriented' society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.'' -- MLK.

***

 

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.

Imperialism's long-term opposition to Kosova’s independence

By Michael Karadjis

The previous article of this series showed that the basis for Kosova’s right to self-determination is real, and that there has been a genuine, mass-based striving for it all century. Yet some on the left have argued that Kosova’s recent declaration of independence is merely an initiative of the imperialist powers, which allegedly have had a long-term aim to create an ``independent’’ Kosovar state under their control.

(Click here for the first article in the series.)

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