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left unity

The crisis of the left in contemporary South Africa

Shack dwellers protest in Durban.

By Dale T. McKinley

The ideological, political, organisational and socioeconomic realities of contemporary South Africa do not paint a flattering picture for the left:

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #12 -- Don’t confuse desires with reality

Marta Harnecker.

[This is the final article in a 12-part series of articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. Unfortunately, there tends to be a lot of subjectivism in our analysis of the political situation. What tends to occur is that leaders, driven by their revolutionary passion, tend to confuse desires with reality. An objective evaluation of the situation is not carried out, the enemy tends to be underestimated and, on the other hand, one’s own potential is overestimated

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #11 -- Popular consultations: spaces that allow for the convergence of different forces

Supporters of Uruguay's left coalition Frente Amplio.

[This is the eleventh in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. I have previously argued the case for the need to create a large social bloc against neoliberalism that can unite all those affected by the system. To achieve this, it is fundamental that we create spaces that allow for the convergence of specific anti-neoliberal struggles where, safeguarding the specific characteristics of each political or social actor, common tasks can be taken up that aid in strengthening the struggle.

Marta Harnecker: Ideas for the struggle #10 -- A strategy for building unity

[This is the tenth in a series of regular articles. Click HERE for other articles in the series. Please return to Links regularly read the next articles in the series.]

By Marta Harnecker, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

1. I have previously referred to the necessity of building unity among all left forces and actors in order to be able to group a broad anti-neoliberal bloc around them. Nevertheless, I do not think that this objective can be achieved in a voluntarist manner, creating coordinating bodies from above that end up as simple sums of acronyms.

2. I believe that this unity can emerge through concrete struggles for common objectives. And that is why I think that we can help create better conditions for this unity if we put into practice a new strategy of anti-capitalist struggle.

European election: `An alarm is ringing' -- time `to build the broadest possible left unity'

Statement by Socialist Resistance (Britain)

June 14, 2009 -- The European election results are not good reading for the workers’ movement. Across Europe the turnout was only 43.2% and the main winner was the centre right. Centre-right governments in France, Italy, Germany and Poland all made gains to one degree or another as they did in Austria and Hungary.

On the other hand social-democratic parties, particularly those in government in Britain, Spain and Portugal were in full retreat.

In Britain — where there was toxic mix of economic crisis and political crisis around MPs’ expenses corruption — the turnout was even lower at 34.4%, and the results were disastrous for the Labour Party. Its share of the poll collapsed to 15.8%, its worst result for 99 years. It came third after the UK Independence Party (UKIP) — which stood on a dangerous nationalist and anti-migrant ticket — and was beaten by the Tories in Wales.

The implications of this for new Labour can hardly be exaggerated, and it now faces near inevitable defeat at the hands of the Tories in a general election.

New Zealand: Responding to the crisis -- Broad left unity to mobilise masses of people

By Vaughan Gunson

Unity, May 2009 -- Facing the left today are incredible challenges. The global economic meltdown, combined with the nightmare scenarios of runaway climate change and resource depletion, looms as a human disaster of an unimaginable scale.

The question we are all asking ourselves: is how can we organise ourselves and grassroots people into a movement that has the strength and vision to set the world on a different course?

Over the last decade Socialist Worker-New Zealand, a small Marxist organisation, has moved towards the realisation that we need to be building alongside other activists a broad left party which has the breadth and reach to give leadership to masses of people. And that we need to begin now, not later.

Ireland: Socialist Workers Party calls for a `broad radical left party'

Joe Higgins.

By the Socialist Workers Party (Ireland)

June 11, 2009 -- The election of Joe Higgins as MEP and the defeat of Fianna Fail in Dublin indicates that the political landscape is changing. The recent elections represent a seismic shift in Irish politics. Ever since 1927, Fianna Fail has dominated the working-class vote but this has now changed -- most probably forever.

Even before the current economic crisis, the Fianna Fail vote had entered a long slow decline. At the height of the Celtic Tiger, for example, Bertie Ahern scored less votes than Charlie Haughey. When the crash hit, Fianna Fail dropped all pretence of populism and launched an aggressive attack on working-class conditions.They have now paid dearly for this.

The electoral base of the Greens has also been decimated. The Greens claimed that they are in government to help save the planet from environmental decay. But they have stood over decisions which have cut the public bus service. They have also voted for cuts in education spending, even while defending the absurd bail out of the banks. Their removal from local authority councils is therefore well deserved.

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.

European election: 60% abstain; gains for the right; revolutionary left wins seats in Portugal and Ireland

[See also ``European election: British left discusses urgent need for left unity'' and ``Ireland: Socialist Workers Party calls for a `broad radical left party'''.]

June 9, 2009 -- Socialist Resistance/International Viewpoint -- There was a broad popular abstention in the European elections. Nearly 60% of voters did not vote. Because of this, only a deformed vision of the real relationship of forces in Europe is possible. But it confirms the crisis of legitimacy of the European Union and of the governing parties that implement their policies within this framework, writes François Sabado. Other tendencies emerge, initially a rise of the right across Europe.

The right won in the big countries where it governs: in Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Poland, Austria and Hungary. In Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia and Cyprus, the parties of the right also came first.

Zimbabwe: The struggle enters a new stage

Munyaradzi Gwisai of the ISOZ at the World at a Crossroads conference. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

By Munyaradzi Gwisai

[Read or download the May 2009 issue of the ISOZ's newspaper, Socialist Worker, at the end of this article.]

May 6, 2009 -- The formation of the government of national unity (GNU) in Zimbabwe between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) in February 2009 was the logical outcome of the agreement made between them in the middle of last year. The final negotiations had stalled as Mugabe tried to manipulate the details to exact maximum concessions from the MDC.

Anti-capitalist European Left: capitalists not workers must pay for the crisis

May 6, 2009 -- British left groupings Socialist Resistance and the International Socialist Group have joined the Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party, Scottish Socialist Party and others of the European anti-capitalist left in endorsing this statement for the European elections. The statement was agreed at a conference in Strasbourg on April 3, 2009.

* * *

It's not for people and workers to pay for the crisis, the capitalists should pay!

The next European elections will be held during the worst crisis capitalism has known since 1929. Economic, social, financial, banking, food, climatic, it is a global, general crisis.

Once again, the ruling classes want to make workers and peoples pay for the crisis. Governments have given hundreds of billions to banks but at the same time millions of layoffs fall on employees. Unemployment is going through the roof. The purchasing power of wages is falling. The destruction of public services continues.

It's not for people and workers to pay for the crisis, the capitalists should pay!

This policy of European Union institutions has been rejected by the "No" votes in France, the Netherlands and Ireland.

We reject the plans of EU governments that save banks and not people.

We put forward an emergency social and democratic plan:

Left activists discuss solutions at World at a Crossroads international socialism conference

Photos by Alex Bainbridge. Individual pictures can be viewed here.

By Simon Butler

Sydney -- April 18, 2009 -- Green Left Weekly -- Several participants at the World at a Crossroads conference, held in Sydney on April 10-12, remarked that the conference could not have been better named.

As the world economy lurches into a deep recession, and the looming climate emergency reaches a crisis point, the world truly is at a crossroads. The future will be decided in the conflict between the greedy capitalist elites and those around the world fighting for a far better world — a world free of racism, war and environmental plunder.

Canadian socialists: `The goals that unite us are vastly more important than our differences'

Ian Angus addresses the World at a Crossroads conference. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

By Ian Angus

[Ian Angus is an associate editor of Socialist Voice (Canada). He was a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Resistance, and held in Sydney, Australia, April 10-12, 2009. Below is Ian Angus' speech to the final session of the conference: ``World at a Crossroads -- Fighting for our future''.]

Malaysian socialists: `Unite to turn workers’ frustration into a political struggle for socialism’

M. Saraswathy. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

By M. Saraswathy

[M. Saraswathy is deputy chairperson of the Socialist Party of Malaysia. She was a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Resistance, and held in Sydney, Australia, April 10-12, 2009. Below is M. Saraswathy's speech to the final session of the conference: ``World at a Crossroads -- Fighting for our future''.]

Cuba si! Yankee no! Uh! Ah! Chavez no se va!

Red salute from Malaysia to all friends and comrades!

The Socialist Party of Malaysia thanks the Democratic Socialist Persective, Socialist Alliance and Resistance for inviting us to this valuable World at a Crossroads conference.

Britain: New left alliance for EU elections

Bob Crow.

March 24, 2009 -- Spectrezine -- Last week saw the launch of the ``No2EU -- Yes to Democracy'' electoral front, which is critical of the European Union and opposed to the Lisbon Treaty. The alliance is an initiative of Bob Crow, head of Britian's biggest transport union, the RMT. Below, Crow explains why activists have taken the decision to challenge British Labour Party complaceny on this viciously anti-working class treaty.

* * *

It's not every day I agree to head up a new left-wing EU-critical electoral alliance to stand in the European elections, but it wasn't a decision taken lightly. My union has been following developments in the European Union for many years and has debated the impact of EU treaties and various directives each year at its annual general meetings. Many RMT members have suffered as the result of EU diktats such as the one which led to the privatisation of our rail network.

Another left is possible: The protests in France and the New Anti-Capitalist Party

Workers protest in Marseille during France's second national strike in two months, on March 19, 2009, to demand a boost to wages and greater protection form the crisis. Photo: AFP.

By Nathan Rao

March 23, 2009 -- It would be wrong to see the massively successful protest actions in France on March 19 as distant and exotic, of no particular relevance to us here in Canada. With the economic meltdown heralding a new political era, and with most of the country's left and social movements still stunned and disoriented following their embrace of the misguided and failed Liberal Party-led coalition plan, the French experience is instructive and inspiring.

India needs a genuine Third Front, not an opportunist alliance

CPI (ML) Liberation activists. Photo by Satya.

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

[CPI (ML) Liberation representative Kavita Krishnan will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Visit http://www.worldATACrossroads.org for full agenda and to book your tickets.]

March 17, 2009 -- On the eve of the Lok Sabha (national lower house of parliament) polls, which will be held in five phases between April 16 and May 13, the launch of a ``Third Front'' spearheaded by the efforts of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and CPI (M) (the Communist Party of India-Marxist) has been announced. The front, it is claimed, is a non-Congress party, non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) front committed to ``alternate policies''.

Birth of the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France: a reportback from participants

Toronto, February 18, 2009 -- Left Streamed -- The founding conference of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA, New Anti-Capitalist Party) was held just outside Paris over the weekend of February 6-8, 2009.

[For more analysis of the NPA, click HERE.]

The conference marks the conclusion of a process initiated following the encouraging election results (1.5 million votes) of the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire's (LCR, Revolutionary Communist League) candidate in the 2007 presidential elections, 34-year-old postal worker Olivier Besancenot.

This process has involved thousands of activists and interested individuals organised in hundreds of committees across France. The new party begins its life with some 10,000 members and in a context of deepening economic crisis and a big wave of strikes and protests against the hard-right government of president Nicolas Sarkozy.

France: New Anti-Capitalist Party launched; Responses to French Socialist Party's shift to the right

The question in the graphic for a poll published by Le Figaro asks: “over the last month which of the following personalities was the best opponent to Nicolas Sarkozy?”. The New Anti-Capitalist Party's Olivier Besancenot came out on top for the fifth month in a row. From Liam Macuaid's blog.

By Sam Wainwright

Paris, February 14, 2009 -- On the weekend of February 7-8, more than 600 delegates and as many observers attended the founding conference of France’s New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), held at la Plaine-Saint-Denis in the working class suburbs to the north of Paris.

Less than a week before, on January 29, around 2.5 million people took to the streets across the country in a nationwide strike against the efforts of the President Nicolas Sarkozy's government to foist the burden of the capitalist economic crisis onto working people.

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