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Socialist Voice (Canada)

Honduras: Obama's new puppets on display; Massive demonstration as Lobo takes power

The mass national resistance movement against the June 28 coup remains a viable and significant political force. Photo by James Rodriguez.

By Felipe Stuart Cournoyer, Managua

January 26, 2010 -- During the dubious Honduran election process leading up to voting day on November 27, 2009, the people would chant “Santos[1] de santo no tiene nada. Lobo de lobo lo tiene todo” ["(Elvin) Santos gets nothing from the saints; Lobo’s taken it all from the wolf.”] 

People are not pollution -- Why climate activists should not support limits on immigration

`Despite the good intentions of its green advocates, support for immigration controls strengthens the most regressive forces in our societies and weakens our ability to stop climate change'. The cartoon above by Nicholson depicts the anti-refugee government of John Howard, many of whose policies remain in force under the Australian Labor Party.

By Ian Angus and Simon Butler

January 25, 2010 -- Immigrants to the developed world have frequently been blamed for unemployment, crime and other social ills. Attempts to reduce or block immigration have been justified as necessary measures to protect “our way of life” from alien influences.

Today, some environmentalists go farther, arguing that sharp cuts in immigration are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change. However sincere and well-meaning such activists may be, their arguments are wrong and dangerous, and should be rejected by the climate emergency movement.

Haitians plead: `Where is the help?'

 Photo: REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz.
By Roger Annis

January 15, 2010 -- Evidence of monstrous neglect of the Haitian people is mounting following the catastrophic earthquake three days ago. As life-saving medical supplies, food, water purification chemicals and vehicles pile up at the airport in Port-au-Prince, and as news networks report a massive international effort to deliver emergency aid, the people in the shattered city are wondering when they will see help.

Australia: International greetings to the Socialist Alliance's 7th national conference

January 9, 2010 -- Sydney -- The Socialist Alliance conference -- held January 2-5, 2010 -- was attended by representatives of a number of parties and organisations overseas, who presented verbal greetings to the conference. These were:

Abelardo Curbelo Padron, ambassador to Australia for the Republic of Cuba;

Sivaranjani Manickam, Socialist Party of Malaysia;

Reihana Mohideen, Party of the Labouring Masses, Philippines;

Peter Hughes, Socialist Worker New Zealand; and

Mike Treen, Unite, New Zealand.

The greetings below were sent by organisations and activists unable to attend the conference.

[Just prior to the Socialist Alliance conference, the Democratic Socialist Perspective voted to merge with the Socialist Alliance to strengthen left unity in Australia. For reports see HERE and HERE.]

Canada/Quebec: Québécois denounce Supreme Court attack on language rights

By Richard Fidler

November 9, 2009 -- The October 22 ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada overturning yet another section of Quebec’s Charter of the French Language (CFL) has been met with angry protests by a broad range of opinion in the French-speaking province.

The court declared unconstitutional a law adopted unanimously by Quebec’s National Assembly in 2002 that closed a loophole in the charter being used to circumvent the requirement that Quebec students attend French-language schools. In effect, the judgment restores free choice of language of elementary schooling for parents rich enough to send their kids for a few years to private schools not funded by the Quebec government before enrolling them in English public schools.

Canada: Vale Inco strike shows need for international action

On strike since mid-July.

By Marc Bonhomme, translated by Richard Fidler

A Québécois militant, member of Québec solidaire, discusses the global implications of the strike by 3500 workers at Vale Inco, the world’s largest nickel mine, in Sudbury, Ontario.

November 11, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- In France’s South Pacific colony of New Caledonia [Kanaky], a small delegation of Vale Inco strikers from Sudbury, in northeastern Ontario, most of them Franco-Ontarians, met in October with the union at the island’s Vale Inco nickel mine, due to open in 2010, although it threatens a UNESCO nature reserve. The newspaper Nouvelles calédoniennes reported the encounter, in its October 31 edition:

Hugo Blanco: Indigenous people are the vanguard of the fight to save the Earth

October 13, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- Peruvian peasant leader Hugo Blanco, who edits the newspaper La Lucha Indigena, was interviewed on August 28, 2009, in Arequipa, in southern Peru. The previous day he gave a presentation at a conference entitled “40 Años de la Reforma Agraria” at the city’s Universidad Nacional de San Agustín.

You said last night that today the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon are in the vanguard of the struggle in Peru. Can you say more about this?

Positive developments in the European left

By Ian Angus

October 7, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- LeftViews recently published an article by Alex Callinicos, a central leader of Britain’s Socialist Workers Party (SWP), on the state of the left in Europe. While conceding that there have been some gains, overall the picture he painted was dire.

Callinicos is an insightful writer on leftwing politics in Europe, and much of his analysis rings true. I’m certainly not going to try to offer a different analysis from my vantage point well west of the Atlantic [in Canada].

But by itself, his article might leave Socialist Voice readers with a picture of unrelieved gloom, when in fact there are some bright spots of note. In Germany and Portugal, leftwing parties made modest but important gains in last month’s elections, while in France and England we’re seeing constructive steps towards greater unity on the left.

Germany

Honduras: The threat of a Haiti-style foreign military occupation

Honduras, September 30, 2009.

By Ricardo Arturo Salgado

Tegucigalpa, September 27, 2009 –- Socialist Voice –- The Honduras crisis has sparked great interest among thinkers of both right and left up and down the continent. Many people are reflecting on events, using all the analytical tools their knowledge permits. There is wide scope for speculation, mainly because – for most people – the actions of different forces have been so unexpected in character.

President Manuel Zelaya carried out his return to Honduras in a way that astonished everyone, both the coup makers and most of his followers (myself included). Of course, the countries that are said to have participated in the operation do all they can to deny prior knowledge of his trip.

London climate justice conference: A model of ecosocialist collaboration

By Ian Angus

September 17, 2009 -- Climate and Capitalism -- On September 12, about 100 people attended “Climate and Capitalism”, a one-day conference in London, England, organised by Green Left and Socialist Resistance.

I was invited to participate as editor of the Climate and Capitalism website, and as editor of The Global Fight for Climate Justice, published this summer by Resistance Books (Britain). (The meeting was in part a launch event for the book.) I spoke at the opening plenary [see Ian Angus' presentation below] and in a workshop on the global South.

Britain’s conquest of Quebec: 250 years later, a continuing debate on how the French colonisers became colonised

By Richard Fidler

September 13, 2009 -- Life on the Left -- Colonisation. Conquest. Words that even today evoke widely varying historical memories.

Just last year Quebec City staged an elaborate round of events to celebrate the 400th anniversary of its founding as the colonial capital of New France. No expense was spared as federal and provincial governments alike poured money into the city’s coffers. Capping the ceremonies were massively attended concerts by Québécoise singer Céline Dion and former Beatle Paul McCartney — apparently deemed emblematic descendants of the French and British “founding peoples” of present-day Canada. It seemed to be one great love-in of all those involved.

(Lost in all the self-congratulatory rhetoric, of course, was any recognition that the city’s site had in fact been occupied by its Indigenous inhabitants for many centuries prior to the arrival of the Europeans.)

Suffering and struggle in rural China

Will the Boat Sink the Water? The Life of Chinese Peasants.
By Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao.
New York: Public Affairs 2006

Review by John Riddell

Is China killing the goose whose golden eggs have financed its economic upsurge? Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao pose this question in their gripping portrayal of the suffering and struggles of Chinese peasants today.

Their book’s title refers to a 1400-year-old Chinese saying, attributed to Emporer Taizong: “Water holds up the boat; water may also sink the boat.” That is, the peasantry that sustains the state may also rise up and overturn it. Chen and Wu argue that in China today, the weight of the state is suffocating the peasantry: the boat may sink the water.

A media and publishing sensation

New books reveal Friedrich Engels’ revolutionary life

Engels: A Revolutionary Life, by John Green, Artery Publications, 2008.

Marx’s General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, by Tristram Hunt, Macmillan/Metropolitan, 2009. (First published in Britain as The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels.)

Reviewed by Ian Angus

August 24, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- Most people on the left know that Friedrich Engels was co-author of the Communist Manifesto and Karl Marx’s lifelong collaborator. But few of today’s radicals know much more than that about the man who built barricades and fought a guerrilla war in Germany in the 1848-49 revolution, the indefatigable organiser who played a decisive role in building the Marxist current from a handful of exiles in the 1850s into the dominant trend in the international working-class movement by the time of his death in 1895.

They can scarcely be blamed for their lack of knowledge: it hasn’t been easy to learn about Engels’ life. In the 110 years after he died, only two substantial biographies were published in English – by Gustav Mayer in 1936 and by W.O. Henderson in 1967 – and both have long been out of print.

Honduras coup: Dress rehearsal for imperial coups across Latin America

Mass opposition has surged since the June 28 coup. Photos from Honduran Resists.

By Felipe Stuart Cournoyer

August 8, 2009 -- The people of Honduras have now suffered more than 40 days of military rule. The generals’ June 28 coup, crudely re-packaged in constitutional guise, ousted the country’s elected government and unleashed severe, targeted and relentless repression.

Grassroots protests have matched the regime in endurance and outmatched it in political support within the country and internationally. Its scope and duration is unprecedented in Honduran history. Popular resistance is the main factor affecting the international forces attempting to shape the outcome of the crisis. It weighs heavily on the minds of the coup’s authors and their international backers.

Honduras: Defying regime, Zelaya attempts return; Interview with President Manuel `Mel' Zelaya

Protesters confront police and army, July 4. Photo by James Rodríguez.

By Felipe Stuart Cournoyer

Update, July 24, 2009 --  Today, Honduras has been totally paralysed by a general strike, and Honduran resistance activists and protesters are chanting.

Zelaya - get used to it. The people are rising up
(it rhymes in Spanish).

Also common is the resistenCia, resistenCia, resistenCia, el pueblo unido jamas sera vencido (people united will never be overcome) and so on...

This afternoon Zelaya crossed over the frontier at Las Manos north of Esteli. He stood technically just inside Honduran territory, having crossed the chain separating the two countries in the "neutral" strip between them. Zelaya remained there for about two hours, hoping to meet up with members of his family and others who were trying to join him.

Iranian workers in action for democratic rights

Tehran's bus drivers have joined the struggle for democratic and trade union rights.

Introduction by Robert Johnson and John Riddell

June 29, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- The mass protests in Iran, sparked by charges of fraud in the June 12 presidential elections, express deeply felt demands for expanded democratic rights. The establishment press has been silent on the aspirations of rank-and-file protesters. Socialist Voice is therefore pleased to be able to publish several statements by components of Iran's vigorous trade union movement, which has been a major target of repression by Iran's security forces. We have provided the titles and some introductory comments.

Uniting the socialist left: the Australian experience

Peter Boyle is national secretary of the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), a Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance in Australia. He was interviewed by Socialist Voice (Canada) co-editor Roger Annis.

 * * *

Socialist Voice: The Australian left founded a project of left unity and activism in 2001. Can you describe the early years of that project and what it achieved?

Peter Boyle: The Socialist Alliance was formed in 2001 on the back of great optimism about the prospects for left revival in the wake of the rise of a movement at that time against capitalist globalisation. Some 20,000 people had participated in a three-day long blockade of a summit of the World Economic Forum in Melbourne the previous year. That was Australia’s “Seattle” [1] and it was followed up on May 1, 2001 with mass blockades of the stock exchanges in all the capital cities of the country.

World farmers’ alliance Vía Campesina challenges food profiteers (excerpt from new pamphlet)

The following review is an excerpt from a new pamphlet, La Vía Campesina: Farmers North and South Confront Agribusiness, by John Riddell and Adriana Paz, published by Socialist Voice in Canada. To download the pamphlet, please click HERE.

More on Via Campasina.

* * *

Review by John Riddell

La Vía Campesina: Globalization and the Power of Peasants by Annette Aurélie Desmarais. Fernwood Publishing, 2007.

May 31, 2009 -- The neoliberal assault that has driven labour into retreat over the last two decades has also sparked the emergence of a peasants’ international, La Vía Campesina. Based in 56 countries across five continents, this alliance has mounted a sustained and spirited defence of peasant cultivation, community and control of food production.

Annette Desmarais’s book on La Vía Campesina has given us a probing and perceptive account of the world peasant movement’s origins, outlook and activities. (”La Vía Campesina” means “Peasant Path” or “Peasant Way”. See “Peasants or Farmers?” at the end of this article.)

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