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Australia: The movement for reconciliation in the Uniting Church -- lessons for revolutionary struggle

“Never let us be blind to developments within the masses as we were to the rise of Liberation Theology.” – Barry Healy, “Who’s Afraid of Liberation Theology”, Marxism Summer School 2005

“Christ who suffered on the cross continues to suffer with the land and the people of the land. In the suffering of the land and the people of the land, we see Christ suffering and we hear Christ crying out.” Rainbow Spirit Elders, Rainbow Spirit Theology, p. 79, as quoted by Chris Budden in Following Jesus in Invaded Space, p. 70

Discovering the radical vision of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

By Billy Wharton

January 17, 2011 (MLK Day) -- Bronx County Independent Examiner -- Discovering the radical message in the writings of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. is no easy task for secular leftists. It requires a leap into the world of black Christian theology, a long tradition that has inspired multiple attempts at emancipation – from the slave revolt of Nat Turner to the modern civil rights movement. However, the terms of discussion inside of this tradition require secular readers to think through categories firmly rooted in Christian teachings. Some patience and a willingness to deal with what might be unfamiliar examples can yield new perspectives on an American tradition dedicated to service in the call of human freedom.

Most commentators on left have no time for such exercises. They automatically gravitate toward instances when King engages with mainly secular audiences. They take inspiration from King’s overt admission of his socialist leanings, “There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a Democratic Socialism.”  Focus is placed on his brave stand against the war in Vietnam and his militant insistence on the need for racial integration. 

Women and revolutionary transformation in Venezuela

Yoly Fernandez (left) during her 2009 Australian tour, organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network.

By Coral Wynter

Yoly Fernandez lives in a barrio in the city of Valencia in Venezuela. She has been involved in community politics all her life and is a member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), headed by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. Fernandez works in Mission MERCAL, the government agency that sells subsidised food to the population. I interviewed her in May 2010.

* * *

How has the life of women improved over the last 10 years of the Chavez government?

Our lives have improved enormously, mainly in the area of humane values; not so much at the level of work or even at the political level. I say humane because now the role of women is valued, not as an object but as a subject, as mother, wife, daughter and sister.

Dlaczego żądanie zakazu noszenia burki sprzyja rasistom

[2010-12-17 -- Lewica.pl/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Poniższe wystąpienie zostało wygłoszone na pełnym ludzi zebraniu w centrum Sydney 24 listopada 2010r. Pip Hinman była jedną z dwóch mieszkańców, którzy zorganizowali zebranie na wzór rady miasta w odpowiedzi na niepokój w lokalnej społeczności spowodowany projektem ustawy prawicowego parlamentarzysty z Partii Chrześcijańsko-Demokratycznej Freda Nile'a o zakazie zakrywania twarzy i napisami na sklepie w Newtown "Powiedz burkom nie". Zebrani wysłuchali muzułmańskiego działacza studenckiego, lidera związku zawodowego oraz chrześcijańskiego pastora, którzy byli przeciwni wprowadzeniu zakazu. Wysłuchali oni także jego zwolenników. Rezolucja sprzeciwiająca się zakazowi przeszła większością dwóch trzecich głosów. Kliknij: http://links.org.au/node/2012 aby przeczytać więcej o zebraniu i dyskusji. Zobacz także: Australia – debata o zakazie noszenia burki: czy jeśli nie mogę nosić burki, to nie

Australia: A community says no to racist burqa bans

The audience was diverse, with a range of ages and ethnic backgrounds represented. Photo by Robert Alcock.

By Peter Boyle, Sydney

November 26, 2010 -- All around the Western world, far-right groups (some with neo-Nazi orgins and links) are gaining political ground through an orchestrated campaign against Muslim communities. By spreading fear and hatred against recent immigrant communities from Muslim countries these groups have tapped into well-resourced post-9/11 war propaganda campaigns initiated by rulers of the world’s richest and most powerful states.

One of the favourite tactics of these anti-Muslim hate campaigners is to push laws banning the burqa, the fully veiled dress style used by a tiny minority of Muslim women. In Australia, the ultra-conservative Reverend Fred Nile, leader of the Christian Democratic Party and a member of the NSW Legislative Council, and Liberal senator Cori Bernardi from South Australia, have unsuccessfully tried to move private member's bills to ban the burqa.

Australia -- burqa ban debate: If I can't wear a burqa it's not my revolution?

Kiraz Janicke's "Burqa Revolution".

Green Left Weekly -- On September 23, the Daily Telegraph reported on a wall mural in the Sydney inner-west suburb of Newtown by artist Sergio Redegalli with the slogan “Say no to burqas”. Redegalli’s mural has sparked protests by local residents who have condemned it as racist. Sydney Socialist Alliance activist Kiraz Janicke says Redegalli’s piece “has no other value than to promote racism”. She has responded with an artwork of her own — a submission to the Live Red Art Awards, titled “Burqa revolution”.

Below, Janicke argues that banning the burqa (a veil covering the entire body, with a mesh over the eyes), or other forms of Islamic dress worn by some Muslim women that cover the face, will hinder true women’s liberation.

* * *

Stephen Hawking Ο «Grand Design»: «εκδίωξη από την επιστήμη του Θεού»

The Grand Design
Stephen Hawking (& Leonard Mlodinow)
Random House, 2010

του Χρήστου Κεφαλή

[Αγγλική εκδοχή σε http://links.org.au/node/1978]

Stephen Hawking's `The Grand Design': `Ousting God from science'

Stephen Hawking.

The Grand Design
By Stephen Hawking (& Leonard Mlodinow)
Random House, 2010

Review by Christos Kefalis

Stephen Hawking has frequently been called the most eminent natural scientist of our age. Justifiably so, since the renovation of all natural science by someone stuck in a wheelchair, his brain being the only remaining functional part of his body, is something we do not see every day. Besides showing the limitless horizons of the human mind, Hawking offers precious proof of the strength of the will and of the creative potential of humanity, which will fully blossom only in a different society, free from exploitation, vulgarity and the mean motives borne of the pursuit of profit.

Was Karl Marx `Eurocentric'?

Marx at the Margins: On Nationalism, Ethnicity and Non-Western Societies
By Kevin B. Anderson
University of Chicago Press, 2010, 336  pages

Eurocentrism
By Samir Amin
Monthly Review Press, 1988 (second edition 2009), 288 pages

Reviews by Barry Healy

October 22, 2010 -- In the foundational text of the Marxist movement, the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels paint a vivid word picture of the awesome, world-shaking advance of capitalism.

The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.

Netherlands: Today Islamophobia is the main form taken by racism

Young Dutch Muslims.

By Peter Drucker

August 29, 2010 -- Since the rise of Pim Fortuyn in 2002, Islamophobia has played a central role in Dutch politics. Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party have now emerged as a threat to all progressive forces. There is no point in trying to change the subject and hoping the danger will pass; Islamophobia has to be confronted head on. But intelligently – knee-jerk defences of anything a Muslim says or does will definitely not help.

To be clear: in the Netherlands today Islamophobia is the main form taken by racism. It has nothing to do with criticism of Islam as a religion. If Wilders and his followers say that not one more Muslim should be allowed into the country, they don’t mean that Moroccan and Turkish Christians and atheists are welcome. "Muslim" is for them simply a convenient epithet for "those other people".

Pakistan: Farooq Tariq on religious fundamentalism

August 11, 2010 -- NewsClick (India) via Real News Network -- Farooq Tariq from the Labour Party Pakistan talks about the changing relationship between the Islamic fundamentalists and the state of Pakistan.

Socialist Resistance statement on the banning of the veil

By Socialist Resistance (Britain)

July 26, 2010 -- Throughout Europe there is a growing movement that seeks to ban Muslim women who chose to do so from wearing the veil. In Britain today this demand comes mainly from the far-right British National Party (BNP), UK Independence Party (UKIP) and some individuals on the Conservative Party (Tory) right. Things though may change for the worse, already the Tory tabloids are stirring on this question.

This is but one part of a growing Islamophobic trend which has seen Muslim minorities become even more marginalised and demonised in Western Europe than they were previously. Though this demand originated on the far right it is now increasingly taken up by the mainstream bourgeois parties culminating in the recent decision of the French parliament to make wearing the veil a criminal offence. In France what is equally shameful is the failure of most of the French left to oppose it in any meaningful way, members of the Greens, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party having abstained on this law in the French parliament.

Banning the veil: Rights of women or anti-Islamic racism and communalism?

July 21, 2010 -- On July 13, the parliament of France, on the eve of Bastille Day, voted 335 to one in favour of preventing Muslim women wearing a full face-covering veil in public. The July 13 Le Monde said the new law was strongly supported by the right. The Socialist Party, Communist Party (PCF) and Green Party abstained. Anyone who chooses to wear a face covering on religious grounds now faces a fine of 150 euros or a “citizenship course”. The law does not come into effect until spring 2011 to allow a period of “education”. There is also a year in prison and a fine of 30,000 euros for anyone found guilty of forcing a woman to wear a veil, a penalty which is doubled if the “victim is a minor”.

Earlier this year, the Indian organisation Radical Socialist issued a statement taking up this wave of Islamophobic legislation in Europe.

* * *

Statement by the Radical Socialist organisation, India

Behind Bangkok's war in southern Thailand

Thai police arrest a Thai Muslim.

Below is an excerpt from Thai socialist Giles Ji Ungpakorn's latest book, Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy. It provides an historical background to Thai politics from the pre-capitalist era, through the turmoil of the 1930s and 1970s, up to the present day. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Giles Ji Ungpakorn's permission.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a political commentator and dissident. In February 2009 he had to leave Thailand for exile in Britain because he was charged with lèse majesté for writing a book criticising the 2006 military coup. His latest book will be of interest to activists, academics and journalists who have an interest in Thai politics, democratisation and NGOs.

Marxism, socialism & religion

By Dave Holmes

Despite the apparently secular nature of so much of modern life, religion is a long way from being a spent force. For revolutionary socialists aiming to mobilise the masses for a fundamental transformation of society, religion is a question which cannot be ignored.

1. While each country has its specific situation, in the West it is undeniable that the traditional religions are considerably diminished compared to even a few decades ago, with church attendances down and religious identification increasingly nominal for wide layers of the population. Moreover, the churches are being shaken by multiple and ongoing controversies and crises — over the role of women and gays, especially as priests; over revelations of past and present sexual abuse of women and children in their institutions; over financial scandals; in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, over damaging exposures of leading clergy flouting their own code of celibacy; over clashes between their conservative and more liberal wings; and over their increased integration into the activities of the state through government funding for charitable and welfare work.

France: New Anti-Capitalist Party defends democratic right to wear hijab

NPA candidate Ilham Moussaïd.

By Olivier Besancenot, translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (MRZine)

February 3, 2010 -- Le Figaro caricatured my words regarding the candidacy of Ilham Moussaïd, who is on our list in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur regional elections. After a serious and complex debate, the Vaucluse chapter of the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) made a choice to include on its feminist, anti-capitalist and internationalist lists an NPA member who believes in wearing a headscarf on account of her religious convictions.

[See French capitalist press report below.]

Ecuador: Interview -- President Rafael Correa discusses `Citizens' Revolution', socialism for the 21st century

rafael_correa_in_london rafael_correa_in_london_2 rafael_correa_in_london_3

In April 2009, Rafael Correa was elected to his second term as president of Ecuador with 51% of the vote. This gave him a mandate to continue and deepen the program of reforms and structural changes initiated since he first became president in November 2006. In three years Correa’s government has introduced unprecedented social and economic reforms – known as the Citizens’ Revolution – to reverse the poverty and exploitation suffered by the majority of the population in a country which has been ravaged by neoliberalism.

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