Links 09: Editor's introduction

'Democracy or death': Organising the Indonesian mass struggle

Following on from the theme of the last Links (“Class struggle in South- East Asia”) this issue begins by featuring an inside and in-depth look at the conditions for struggle of the Indonesian opposition to the Suharto dictatorship.
Our interview with one of the long-term central leaders of the movement, Marlin, discusses the nature of the current mass discontent, the relationship between the urban poor and the working class, the possibilities for building a mass anti-Suharto movement over the next few months and the strategic line of march of the Indonesian revolution.
With this issue we also look to strengthen further Links’ role as a vehicle for left and socialist polemic and debate.
The immediate issue is Phil Hearse’s review of Irwin Silber’s book, Socialism: What Went Wrong?, which appeared in our last issue and has spurred Irwin Silber to reply. In reaffirming his judgement that Lenin seriously misestimated both the potential for revolution in post-World War I Europe as well as capitalisms potential for “awesome revolutions in the productive forces”, Silber criticises Hearse for conducting “the discussion through the sectarian prism of yesteryear”.
Hearse replies that “Silber’s whole theoretical approach is one of mind-numbing economic reductionism” yielding the determinist judgement that “socialist revolution was defeated because the twentieth century was too early for socialism”. Hearse also engages Silber on the issue of social democracy and socialist strategy today. This is a critically important debate, and we invite Links readers to contribute.
Our ongoing coverage of the various aspects of the globalisation debate is contained in two pieces—an article by Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) leader Dipankar Bhattacharya on economic nationalism and the Indian left, and a selection from the Portuguese Communist Party’s theses for its 1996 congress.
The challenges of defending the gains of socialist revolution in a world where capital can appear all-powerful is taken up in a contribution by Cuban economist Carlos Tablada. Tablada looks to the work of Che Guevara as a source of inspiration in the struggle to find a non-capitalist development path that avoids the bureaucratic deformation, alienation and inefficiency inherent in Soviet-style “real socialism”.
The Augean stable of "post- Marxism" is the target of James Petras’ latest polemic. In particular Petras targets post-Marxism as the ideology of many Non-Government Organisations and comments: “In practice, ‘non-governmental translates into anti-public spending activities, freeing the bulk of funds for neo-liberals to subsidise export capitalists while small sums trickle from the government to NGOs.”
Renfrey Clarke, Moscow correspondent of Australia’s Green Left Weekly, summarises the experience of six years in “post- Communist” Russia under the heading “Why Russia Needs Another Revolution”. After reading Clarke’s account of that country’s mafia- driven economy it is hard to disagree.
Finally, we feature an interview with Peter Taaffe, the central leader of England’s Socialist Party. Although done before the electoral victory of Tony Blair’s “New Labour”, Taaffe’s comments provide useful insights into the social roots of Blairism.
With this issue we relaunch links on a thrice-yearly schedule. We will appear in the first week of March, July and November.