Since its landmark publication in 1980, A People’s History of the United States has had six new editions, sold more than 1.7 million copies and been turned into an acclaimed play. More than a successful book, A People’s History triggered a revolution in the way history is told, displacing the official versions with their emphasis on great men in high places to chronicle events as they were lived, from the bottom up.
June 21, 2008 -- The National Front (BN) government led by PM Abdullah Badawi has been shaky since the March general election that returned a much stronger parliamentary opposition — now largely united in a new People’s Front (Pakatan Rakyat).
However, the BN’s recent decision to lift petrol prices by 41% (and diesel by 63%) has galvanised a new round of mass protests. Thousands took to the streets in Kuala Lumpur after prayers at the mosque on June 13 demanding that prices be lowered and a much larger rally is being planned for July 6.
Link’s Peter Boyle spoke on June 19 with S.Arutchelvan, the secretary-general of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), about the recent developments. After a 10-year battle for registration as a legal party, the PSM has just been promised recognition by the embattled government. This follows the PSM winning two seats in the March elections.
By Álvaro García Linera, vice-president of Bolivia
Translation, notes and introduction by Richard Fidler
By Barry Healy
June 14, 2008 -- This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, a heroic struggle in which, between October 1987 and June 1988, in some of the fiercest fighting in Africa since the Second World War, the South African Defence Force (SADF) were humiliatingly defeated by liberation forces in Angola.
Cuban assistance to Angolan resistance to the SADF invasion was vital. Defeat at Cuito Cuanavale spelled the doom of apartheid and the victory of the South African liberation movement.
Former Cuban president Fidel Castro famously observed that “the history of Africa will be written as before and after Cuito Cuanavale”. In South Africa’s Freedom Park, outside Pretoria, 2070 names of Cubans who fell in Angola are inscribed alongside those of South Africans who died during the anti-apartheid struggle.
By Felipe Stuart Cournoyer
By Stephen O’Brien
Towards the end of 1975 a movement of young radicals organised in the Zimbabwe People’s Army (ZIPA) took charge of Zimbabwe’s liberation war. ZIPA’s fusion of inclusive politics, transformational vision and military aggression dealt crippling blows to the white supremacist regime of Ian Smith. However, it’s success also paved the way for a faction of conservative nationalists led by Robert Mugabe to wrest control of the liberation movement for themselves.
By Dick Nichols
June 17, 2008 -- The latest surge in the spot price of crude oil (to US$139 a barrel—87.4 cents a litre) dramatises the urgent need for society to wean itself off “black gold”. The longer we remain hooked the greater the devastation both to our environment and to the living standards of billions, especially the poorest peoples of the planet.
The challenge is huge. The response must combine defence against the threat to livelihoods from price rises with a plan to restructure economies and ways of living so that oil-intensive production and transport becomes a thing of the past.
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.
By Patrick Bond and Richard Kamidza
ADDIS ABABA, June 11, 2008 -- In even the most exploitative African sites of repression and capital accumulation, sometimes corporations take a hit, and victims sometimes unite on continental lines instead of being divided and conquered. Turns in the class struggle might have surprised Walter Rodney, the political economist whose 1972 classic How Europe Underdeveloped Africa provided detailed critiques of corporate looting.
In early June, the British-Dutch firm Shell Oil –- one of Rodney's targets -- was instructed to depart the Ogoniland region within the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria, where in 1995 Shell officials were responsible for the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa by Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha. After decades of abuse, women protesters, local NGOs and the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) gave Shell the shove. France's Total appears to be the next in line to go, in part because of additional pressure from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
By Data Brainanta
June 13, 2008 -- Fuel price hikes have always sparked widespread mass protests in Indonesia since the overthrow of the dictator Suharto in a popular uprising in 1998. However, the timing this year was special. The hike occurred near the time of the 10-year anniversary Suharto’s fall on May 21 and the National Awakening Day on the 20th, which commemorates the birth of Indonesia’s first nationalist organisation. Three leftist fronts, each representing different tactics, took to the streets to reject the policy.
The Scottish Socialist Party’s campaign for free public transport is an ``audacious, eye-catching idea'' according to Douglas Fraser, political editor of The Herald newspaper.
In the Belgian city of Hasselt, which covers an area double the size of Dundee, congestion was eliminated in the late 1980s after the introduction of a totally free public transport system.
Free public transport would be the biggest single pro-environment policy enacted by any national government anywhere on the planet, dramatically slashing car use and CO2 emissions.
Free fares would represent a major shift of wealth in favour of the many thousands of people who currently pay sky-high fares to subsidise the transport companies.