Links 10: Editor's introduction

‘All that is solid melts into air’: The ‘Communist Manifesto’ and the Asian economic crisis

The 150th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto, falling this year, will doubtless call forth torrents of comment from the entire intellectual and political spectrum. This “dated over-reaction to capitalism’s phase of early industrialisation” will have its pointlessness proved for the millionth time. And this, no doubt, while special editions are already in preparation to meet the inexplicably persistent demand for the irrelevant treatise!
In this Links we print an extensive assessment of the ongoing timeliness of the Manifesto, an edited version of a presentation by the National Secretary of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia, John Percy, to the DSP’s educational conference of the Manifesto, held in January.
Percy tests the Manifesto against the economic crisis in Asia, a theme also taken up by Chow Wei Cheng, whose analysis in particular aims to demystify those analyses which focus almost exclusively on the monetary and banking aspects of the almighty simultaneous crash of the economies of East Asia.
Following on the debate between Phil Hearse and Irwin Silber in the last Links (No. 9, November 1997–February 1998) over Silber’s book Socialism: What Went Wrong?, we reprint a selection from a monograph by Indian Marxist Randhir Singh called Crisis of Socialism: Notes in Defence of a Commitment. Singh’s particular theme is the genuinely popular and historically just nature of the October Revolution.
The unbridgeable antagonism between capitalism and the environment is the theme of an essay by Allen Myers, former editor of Australia’s Green Left Weekly. In particular Myers analyses the impossibility of market-based nostrums (green taxes and incentives) providing a solution to the accelerating crisis of the environment. For Myers, capitalism, as generalised commodity economy, simply precludes such a solution: “The environmentalists who put forward or support such schemes imagine that the problem is that our society puts too low a dollar value on the environment…but the real problem is that money is made the measure of non-economic phenomena, such as the environment…by further legitimating the primacy of profits, they actually worsen the environmental crisis.”
Our South African discussion continues with an interchange between the SACP’s Dale McKinley and Fourth Internationalist Carl Brecker over the dynamics of the South African revolution, focussing on what stance to take towards the post-apartheid Mandela government. In Latin America one of the most dynamic movements, the Rural Landless Workers’ campaign of land occupations, is analysed by James Petras.
Two separate pieces contribute to Links’ ongoing analysis of contemporary capitalism and the pathways for the socialist alternative: an interview with well-known Japanese political economist Makoto Itoh focussing on the economic lessons of the collapse of “really existing socialism” and a diagnosis of the role of the World Trade Organisation by Alan Freeman.
We conclude with a speech from Andre Brie, of the German Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), on those fundamentals about capitalism that make socialism more necessary than ever, along with a short background piece by Sabin del Bado to the arrest and sentencing of the entire leadership (including seven parliamentarians) of Herri Batasuna, the Basque nationalist party.
Finally, the range of parties interested in contributing to the Links project continues to grow. With this issue it’s a great pleasure to welcome on board Manuel Monereo Pérez, of the Federal Presidency of Spain’s United Left (IU—Izquieda Unida) as well as Jaime Pastor, leader of Alternative Space (Espacio Alternativa), a major left current within IU.