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left unity

Between Caracas and Delhi -- two important conferences of the international left

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez addresses the conference of left parties in Caracas.

By Reuven Kaminer

December 7, 2009 -- Venezuelanalysis.com -- It seems more than a coincidence that two important conferences of the international left took place in November 2009. One, the 11th International Meeting of the Communist and Workers’ Parties, was held in Delhi, India, on November 20-22 and issued the “Delhi Declaration” (DD) and the other, a World Meeting of Left Parties, met in Caracas, Venezuela, on November 19-21 and issued a document entitled the “Caracas Commitment” (CC). There were approximately 50 organisations at each conference. I will try to relate here to some of the main issues raised by these two meetings and the calls that they issued.

Recent experiences in left regroupment and reconstruction

By Jim McIlroy

November 23, 2009 -- How do you build socialism in the First World countries right now? Of course, we are part of a world movement for socialism, including the Third World. We can learn a lot from recent and current experiences in left regroupment and party building that are happening around the world at present -- with all proportions guarded, and realising that there is no direct transposition of one historical, national experience onto another.

When we talk about left regroupment and reconstruction, unlike some of the other overseas examples that I will refer to, Socialist Alliance in Australia is not at this stage a broad left party or a regroupment organisation in quite the same way as some of the other international experiences. But it is a vehicle for constructing one and it is a nucleus for building a broad-based socialist party in the future.

Australian and New Zealand socialists support Chavez's call for a new international organisation of the left

Socialist Alliance members in Caracas.

Dear comrades,

December 3, 2009 -- On behalf of the Socialist Alliance of Australia, we would like to send warm, socialist greetings to the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), thanking you once again for the invitation to participate in the International Meeting of Left Parties held in Caracas, November 19-21, 2009.

The outcomes of this event are already having an important impact on the world, particularly among left and progressive forces, and we are grateful that we could be part of it and contribute to its success in our own modest way.

Similarly, we believe that the PSUV’s Extraordinary Congress, which began on November 21, is of great significance, not just for revolutionary forces in Venezuela, but for the left internationally. We hope to follow the proceedings of the congress, particularly through the reports and articles that our members Kiraz Janicke and Federico Fuentes will be sending us from Venezuela, where they are currently based.

L’appel historique de Chavez pour une 5eme Internationale

par Federico Fuentes

2 décembre 2009 -- CADTM/Green Left Weekly -- S’adressant aux délégués de la Rencontre Internationale des Partis de Gauche qui s’est tenue à Caracas du 19 au 21 novembre (2009), le président vénézuélien Hugo Chavez a déclaré : « il est temps de constituer la 5ème Internationale. » Face à la crise capitaliste et la menace d’une guerre qui représente un danger pour l’avenir de l’humanité, « les peuples réclament » une unité plus forte des partis de gauche et révolutionnaires qui sont prêts à lutter pour le socialisme, a-t-il dit.

A l’instar de son appel de 2005 pour la construction « d’un socialisme du 21ème siècle » et son appel de 2006 pour la création au Venezuela d’un nouveau parti de masse révolutionnaire – le Parti Socialiste Unifié du Venezuela – l’appel de Chavez à l’unité de la gauche et pour une nouvelle internationale est un événement historique.

El llamado histórico de Hugo Chávez para conformar una V Internacional Socialista

por Federico Fuentes

2 de diciembre de 2009 -- CADTM/Green Left Weekly -- Hablando a los delegados del Encuentro International de Partidos de Izquierda realizado en Caracas, el presidente venezolano, Hugo Chávez señalo “que llegó la hora de que convoquemos a la Quinta Internacional. Frente la crisis capitalista y la amenaza de guerra que poner en peligro el futuro de la humanidad, la unidad de partidos de izquierda y revolucionario dispuesto a luchar para el socialismo “es un clamor del pueblo,” dijo Chávez.

Como su llamado en 2005 a construir el “Socialismo de Siglo XXI” y su anuncio de la construcción de un partido de la revolución al final del 2006, el llamado de Chávez a unificar la izquierda en torno a la Quinta Internacional representa en hecho histórico.

Venezuela: Hugo Chavez calls for international socialist unity

[Read the conference declaration HERE.]

By Federico Fuentes, Caracas

November 27, 2009 -- Addressing delegates at the International Encounter of Left Parties held in Caracas, November 19-21, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said that with the capitalist crisis and threat of war risking the future of humanity, “the people are clamoring” for greater unity of those willing to fight for socialism.

Chavez used his November 20 speech to the conference, which involved delegates from 55 left groups from 31 countries, to call for a new international socialist organisation to unite left groups and social movements: “The time has come for us to organise the Fifth International.”

Historic

Fourth International leader on Chavez's call for a new international

The meeting of left parties held in Caracas, November 19-21, 2009. Photo by ABN.

By François Sabado

November 26, 2009 -- During an international meeting of left parties held in Caracas from 19-21 November, 2009, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez launched a call for a Fifth Socialist International, which, according to him, should bring together left parties and social movements. According to Chavez, who is also president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the Fifth International must be “an instrument for the unification and the articulation of the struggle of the peoples to save this planet”. In a world political situation marked by a total crisis of the capitalist system, this is a fact important enough to be underlined.

`The Caracas Commitment' -- Declaration from World Meeting of Left Parties, November 19-21, Caracas, Venezuela

[For background information, go to ``Venezuela: Chavez calls for new international organisation of left parties''.]

Declaration from World Meeting of Left Parties, November 19-21, Caracas, Venezuela

November 21, 2009 -- Political parties and organizations from Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania commemorate and celebrate the unity and solidarity that brought us together in Caracas, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and from this libertarian city we would like to express our revolutionary rebelliousness. We are glad of and committed to the proud presence of the forces of change in a special moment of history. Likewise, we are proud to reaffirm our conviction to definitively sow, grow and win Socialism of the 21st century.

Venezuela: Chavez calls for new international organisation of left parties

By Kiraz Janicke, Caracas

[Read the conference declaration HERE.]

November 23, 2009 – Venezuelanalysis.com – Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez called for the formation of a “Fifth International” of left parties and social movements to confront the challenge posed by the global crisis of capitalism. The president made the announcement during an international conference of more than 50 left organisations from 31 countries held in Caracas over November 19-21.

“I assume responsibility before the world. I think it is time to convene the Fifth International, and I dare to make the call, which I think is a necessity. I dare to request that we create my proposal,” Chavez said.

Portugal: What's behind the success of the Left Bloc?

 

 

By Raphie de Santos

Portugal’s Left Bloc has achieved a major breakthrough in the last five months. It polled nearly 11% and 10% respectively in the recent European and parliamentary legislative elections in June and September 2009. For a party that is firmly established outside of left social democracy this is a major achievement. How did it happen?

Its success is owed to a combination of objective and subjective factors. The objective factors are rooted in Portugal’s 20th century history while the subjective factors are linked to how the Left Bloc was formed and how it operates and engages with people in Portugal. The left in Britain and particularly in England can learn from the development and practice of the Left Bloc.

Four goals for a new left party

By Duncan Chapel

November 14, 2009 -- Socialist Resistance -- The people on this platform share a lot of ideas.

  • We want a working-class party to the left of the Labour Party, with a socialist program that confronts the dual crises of the ecology and the economy, which the ruling class is struggling to contain
  • We want a party in which anti-capitalists are hegemonic, but not monolithic. We have to be open to everyone who’s for the class struggle, not just those with Marxist ideas
  • We want a party of struggle, based on the ground, that’s developing a movement of resistance as well as an electoral campaign.

That’s a lot of agreement. It’s meaningful. It’s new. We like it.

But what’s the next step? Where do we go from here? And in particular, some of us are in different places -- so that means different routes to the same destination. Socialist Resistance has four ideas we want to share with you about our idea of the route to a new party.

1. We need a party based on the struggle, not just a party for the election

In this crisis, the capitalists are starting a new offensive against social and democratic rights to increase the exploitation of labour and protect profits. Western governments are making working people pay for the crisis: “just as before, or almost and perhaps worse”.

South Africa: Time for a new democratic left party?

Mazibuko Jara.

By Mazibuko K. Jara

October 30, 2009 -- Our country is in crisis. There is deepening inequality, many people live in permanent poverty and millions are unemployed for most of their adult lives. Women continue to suffer from social oppression, violence and poverty. The very ecological and biophysical conditions for our human existence are under threat.

Retrogressive ideologies in our society are gaining ground: we are going back to ethnic identity, we have retrogressive notions of womanhood, we have seen the rise in the power of undemocratic rule of unelected chiefs. The state is dysfunctional, corrupt and fraudulent. The state seems unwilling to confront the economic system that produces all these crises. Together, none of these socioeconomic problems can be addressed by a South Africa that reproduces capitalism. These problems require solutions that go beyond capitalist accumulation.

Is it correct to regard the Jacob Zuma-led African National Congress (ANC) as left? Whilst the Zuma-led ANC is much friendlier to the left than Thabo Mbeki's, neoliberal capitalism survives in South Africa.

Paul Le Blanc -- Why I'm joining the US International Socialist Organization: Intensifying the struggle for social change

Paul Le Blanc.

By Paul Le Blanc

October 2009 -- I have decided to join the International Socialist Organization (ISO) because I believe socialists can and must, at this moment, intensify the struggle to bring about positive social change. I have been active in this struggle for most of my life -- as a member of the "new left" in the 1960s and early '70s (first in Students for a Democratic Society and briefly in the New American Movement), then in the Trotskyist movement (the Socialist Workers Party for ten years, briefly in Socialist Action, the Fourth Internationalist Tendency for another eight years). I have always considered "Trotskyism" as the same as revolutionary socialism, associated with some of the most useful ideas and most inspiring traditions that ever existed -- something I will come back to shortly.

Since 1992 I have been a member of Solidarity, which over the years has attracted a number of fine people who have done excellent work, although it has never proved able to sustain a membership of more than 300. I feel I have done all that I can to help build Solidarity. At this point I believe I may have more to contribute to building the International Socialist Organization (ISO) and am hopeful that the ISO can play a badly needed role in the intensification of the struggle to bring fundamental social change.

Australia: Socialist Alliance celebrates its first electoral victory

October 18, 2009 -- Newly elected local municipal councillor Sam Wainwright summarised what he saw as the significance of his election to the Fremantle Council, in the state of Western Australia (WA): “It’s a victory for all those like me who believe that the council can and should play an active role in involving people in decision making, protecting the environment, campaigning for workers' rights and making a place in the community for people who are too often left out, such as Indigenous Australians and people with disabilities.”

Wainwright is a co-convenor of Socialist Alliance in Western Australia and an activist in the Maritime Union of Australia. He said, “I’m the first socialist elected to public office in WA for a long time, if not ever. Most candidates for council try to appeal to the middle ground and keep their political affiliations quiet. I don’t believe in that approach. I think it’s better to be upfront about your beliefs. Throughout the campaign I emphasised that I was a staunch socialist, unionist and environmentalist.”

He added, “I didn’t expect everyone to sign up to everything I stand for. But I did ask people to believe that I would be a hard working campaigner for their rights. I’m really grateful and humbled that so many people have shown their confidence in me and saw my background as a positive.”

Greece: Right-wing government defeated, deeper radical left unity needed

SYRIZA logo.

By Antonis Davenellos

October 14, 2009 -- Socialist Worker -- The results of the October 4 elections in Greece were a political earthquake that have created a new situation in the country.  Certainly, the top news is the electoral and political defeat of New Democracy (ND), the traditional party of the right wing, which has been in power since 2004. With only 33.4 per cent of the vote and 91 seats in parliament (down from 151 in the 2007 elections), ND had the worst showing for the right in Greece since the civil war of 1946-49. The same evening of the elections, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis resigned from the leadership of ND.

The crushing defeat of the party has opened up a period of deep political crisis for the right, a crisis that by all indicators will be long lasting. There are a least four candidates to be the new leader of the party -- and they can't even agree on the manner in which a new leader should be elected.

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

Germany: Big gains for Die Linke as Social Democrats’ support collapses

By Duroyan Fertl

October 5, 2009 – Germany’s ``centre-right’’ Chancellor Angela Merkel was returned to power in federal elections held on September 27, but with a record low voter turnout and an increased vote for the far-left party, Die Linke (The Left).

The election was a clear success for Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Her preferred coalition partner – the free-market fundamentalist Free Democratic Party (FDP) – increased its support by 4.8 per cent to an all-time high of 14.6 per cent, enough to form a CDU-FDP government. The FDP will now replace the CDU’s main rival – the ``centre-left’’ Social Democratic Party (SPD) – as coalition partner in the government of Europe’s largest economy.

At the same time, the SPD’s support collapsed by more than 6 million votes, dropping a massive11.2 per cent to only 23 per cent – its worst result since World War II. As one leading SPD member pointed out on election night, “We have been bombed back into the Weimar Republic”. SPD leader Walter Steinmeier described the result as “a bitter day” for German social democracy.

Portugal: Boost for left as Left Bloc doubles its representation

Left Bloc's symbol.

By the Left Bloc, Portugal

International Viewpoint — Portugal’s parliamentary elections, held on September 27, 2009, have changed the political landscape. The Socialist Party (SP), which had an absolute majority in 2005 with 45% of vote, lost more than half a million votes and fell to 36.56%.

Even as the winner, it is in a minority in parliament, the only political force which lost seats in relation to 2005 (96 down from 121). The result for the SP is its lowest since 1991. This is undoubtedly the result of the anti-social policies of an arrogant absolute majority who chose to save the bankers from bankruptcy instead of establishing public policies for the banks; who passed an employment law which makes dismissals easier in a country that has nearly 600,000 unemployed, with half of them not receiving unemployment benefits and makes job insecurity the rule. A government which has waged war on teachers and civil servants like none before.

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.

Canada: Statement of purpose, Vancouver Socialist Forum

Poster for a meeting sponsored by the Vancouver Socialist Forum.

Vancouver Socialist Forum

Vancouver Socialist Forum was founded in 2007 to promote the ideas of socialism and facilitate the political activity of its members. It organises educational discussions and regular public forums.

Socialism or barbarism

The economic crisis that engulfed the planet in 2008 once again illustrates the destructive and irrational nature of capitalism. To prevent worsening social and economic misery for the world’s population, capitalism must be replaced by an entirely new economic and social order, socialism.

The goal of socialism is to create societies that offer full participation to each member and are environmentally sustainable. Human needs will be fulfilled through public and democratic ownership of the means of producing social wealth.

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