Behind the communal flare-up in Jammu and Kashmir

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

August 18, 2008 -- The communally and politically motivated May 26 decision of the Congress Party-People's Democratic Party (PDP) government of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to transfer forest land [in Muslim-majority Kashmir] to the Hindu Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) [for use as a pilgrimage site near a sacred Hindu cave] is having costly repercussions, with the added danger that it may emerge as a communal [flashpoint] nationally.

The land transfer, taken in the context of irresponsible official remarks recommending changes in the demography and “culture” of the region as a “solution” to the Kashmir “problem”, was like a spark to the tinderbox of pent-up resentment in the Kashmir Valley. Lives were lost when police opened fire on protesters; the PDP tried to distance itself from its ministers’ decision in favour of the land transfer by pulling out of the government; and the government on July 1 was belatedly forced to roll back the land transfer decision.

Nationalism, revolution and war in the Caucasus

By Tony Iltis

August 27, 2008 -- Since the European Union-brokered ceasefire brought the shooting war between Georgia and Russia to an end on August 12, there has been a war of words between Russia and the West. One point of contention is the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia-proper (that is, Georgia excluding the de facto independent territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia), in particular the towns of Gori, Zugdidi and Senaki and the port of Poti.

The war began with Georgia’s August 7 attack on the territory of South Ossetia. Russia responded with a military assault that first drove Georgian troops out of South Ossetia, then continued to advance within Georgia-proper.

Russia agreed to withdraw when it signed the ceasefire and has since indicated that it is doing so — but slowly, and not before systematically destroying Georgia’s military capacity.

A bigger difference, based on competing interpretations of what is and isn’t Georgian territory, is Russia’s stated intention to maintain a beefed-up peacekeeping presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Cuban trade unionist: `Workers are key participants in the Cuban revolution'

August 27, 2008 -- Gilda Chacon is the Asia, Oceania, Africa and Middle East representative of the Cuban Confederation of Trade Unions (CTC) and an elected delegate of the People’s Power Municipal Assembly. Annolies Truman interviewed her during her August 17–20 visit to Perth, Australia, to liaise with Western Australian trade unions.

How would you describe the different role of unions in Australia and Cuba?

The fundamental difference is that we operate under two different economic systems. Australia is a capitalist country and Cuba is a socialist country. While we both have union confederations — in Australia the ACTU and in Cuba the CTC — the orientation of the unions is essentially different.

In Cuba, unions basically support the government’s economic agenda because it benefits workers. The highest budget priorities are education, health (both free at all levels) and social security. Public transport is cheap and there is little or no disparity in wages between workers and managers.

Federico Fuentes on latest developments in Bolivia

August 27, 2008 -- Federico Fuentes, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal's and Green Left Weekly's Latin America correspondent based in Venez

Malaysian socialists say Anwar Ibrahim by-election victory a 'marker of massive change'

The landslide victory by Justice Party leader Anwar Ibrahim in the August 26 Permatang Pauh by-election is welcomed in this commentary by Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, the first federal parliamentarian of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), as a "marker of the massive change" and another development that will open up democratic space in Malaysia.

By Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj
Dr JeyakumarThe by-election results in Permatang Pauh, a semi-rural constituency in the northern state of Penang, is yet another marker of the massive change that is taking place in Malaysian politics. Usually by-elections are won handsomely by the Barisan National (BN) government because the BN will approve millions of ringgit in development projects, deploy all its main leaders in the campaign and use the subservient media to the fullest. This was attempted in Permatang Pauh this time around.

Capitalism and social classes in Venezuela: The historic mission of the working class

By Jesús Germán Faría,  Venezuela’ vice-minister for social security, ministry of popular power for labour and social security translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socia

Bolivia: Two years of `post-neoliberal’ Indigenous nationalism -- a balance sheet

By the Bolpress editorial board, translated by Sean Seymour Jones for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

State intervention in economic activity -- the nationalisation of businesses, restrictions on exports and price controls, among other measures -- doesn’t appear to be contributing to the materialisation of the structural changes postulated by the National Development Plan (PND) of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). This is the evaluation of business leaders, analysts and political leaders from the right-wing opposition in Bolivia. However, according to the government of President Evo Morales, the brutal and desperate reaction of the dominant classes "in relegation" proves that something is changing.

Debunking the `Tragedy of the Commons'

By Ian Angus

August 24, 2008 -- Will shared resources always be misused and overused? Is community ownership of land, forests and fisheries a guaranteed road to ecological disaster? Is privatisation the only way to protect the environment and end Third World poverty? Most economists and development planners will answer “yes” — and for proof they will point to the most influential article ever written on those important questions.

Since its publication in Science in December 1968, “The Tragedy of the Commons” has been anthologised in at least 111 books, making it one of the most-reprinted articles ever to appear in any scientific journal. It is also one of the most quoted: a recent Google search found “about 302,000” results for the phrase “tragedy of the commons”.

For 40 years it has been, in the words of a World Bank discussion paper, “the dominant paradigm within which social scientists assess natural resource issues” (Bromley and Cernea 1989: 6). It has been used time and again to justify stealing indigenous peoples’ lands, privatising health care and other social services, giving corporations ``tradable permits'' to pollute the air and water, and much more.

Venezuela: Solidarity needed for trade unionists under attack; please sign protest letter

By Federico Fuentes and Kiraz Janicke

August 23, 2008 -- The owner of Fundimeca, an air-conditioning factory in Valencia, Carabobo, is waging an intense campaign of terror and intimidation against the factory's workers. Fundimeca's workers has been fighting to ensure that the company complies with Venezuela's constitution and labour laws, in particular an order by the labour inspectorate to rehire nine workers. Fundimeca employs 360 workers, 80% of whom are women.

One worker has been shot in the leg by armed thugs and 18 workers and three union leaders are currently facing trial in Carabobo courts, accused of various charges including criminal gang activity with the threat of jail terms looming over their heads.

Among those standing trial is Stalin Perez Borges, a national coordinator of the National Union of Workers (UNT) and Venezuela's principal delegate to this year's International Labor Organisation convention — where after seven years, the delegation successfully removed Venezuela from the list of countries that supposedly violate union freedom.

Secret CIA prison on Diego Garcia confirmed

By Andy Worthington

August 2008 -- The existence of a secret, CIA-run prison on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean has long been a leaky secret in the “War on Terror” and recent revelations in TIME — based on disclosures by a “senior American official” (now retired), who was “a frequent participant in White House Situation Room meetings” after the 9/11 attacks, and who reported that “a CIA counter-terrorism official twice said that a high-value prisoner or prisoners were being interrogated on the island” — will come as no surprise to those who have been studying the story closely.

Argentina: Winners and losers of the agricultural conflict

Continuing Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal’s presentation of various positions in the debate within Argentina’s left around the rural crisis, we publish an exclusive translation of a recent article by Claudio Katz, an economist, researcher, professor and member of Economista de Izquierda (EDI -- Left Economists). Translated by Janet Duckworth. For previous articles on Argentina, go to http://links.org.au/taxonomy/term/147

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