Links 22: Editor's introduction
Many of the articles in this issue relate to the US war drive and the changing politics of the post-September 11 world; two address the topic very directly. "A war to defeat, a world to win" was the first keynote speech at the second Asia Pacific International Solidarity Conference held in Sydney at the end of March and beginning of April. Dipankar Bhattacharya is the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), and the text of his speech has also been carried in the CPI(ML)'s journal Liberation (to subscribe, visit the website <http://cpiml.org/>).
Bhattacharya concludes that "the world since Seattle and September 11 is an immensely exciting and challenging" one for revolutionaries. "The times are testing but full of promise. With imperialism on the offensive and the war machine rolling on with all its force, many a former voice in the left and liberal camp has fallen silent... But for every voice that is falling silent, there are dozens more that are turning vocal. And there are millions more waiting to be heard."
In "The Bush Doctrine", Malik Miah, Barry Sheppard and Caroline Lund examine the ways in which the failure of the US labour movement leadership to resist the neo-liberal economic offensive has left the working class prey to the propaganda that justifies the "war on terror". But they point out that the US ruling class does not have the economic room for manoeuvre that it enjoyed at the height of the Cold War. This suggests that involvement in a long-term conflict will cause a more rapid collapse of support for military adventures than occurred at the time of the Vietnam War.
It is, of course, in the underdeveloped countries that the imperialist system remains most fragile. In Indonesia, the legitimacy of the Megawati Sukarnoputri government is being rapidly eroded by declining living standards, corruption and attacks on democratic rights. From Pembebasan, the magazine of the People's Democratic Party, we publish its analysis of the political situation and its proposals for a way out of the crisis.
For at least a decade, the US and the international financial institutions that serve it have been seeking to roll back the social and economic gains of the Vietnamese revolution. How to maintain a socialist orientation in the face of this economic offensive is an ongoing debate within Vietnam. In an article first presented as a paper ot the second Asia Pacific Solidarity Conference, Michael Alexandros outlines the history of this debate and corrects some common misconceptions spread by the capitalist media.
in a chapter from a new book on the class struggle in Africa, Munyaradzi Gwisai, a leader of the Insternational Socialist Organisation of Zimbabwe, provides the background to recent developments there, including the reelection of Robert Mugabe as president. Of particular interest is his analysis of the labour movement and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, and his description of how a small revolutionary organisation has been able to interven in and influence national politics. Around the world, the neo-liberal offensive has been characterised by a concerted drive to privatise public services, from medicine to education to water supplies—in short, to convert into commodities the satisfaction of the most basic human necessities. From South Africa, Patrick Bond writes of a growing movement to "decommodify" these necessities. Winning the battle against privatisation, Bond points out, points the way to transforming the state into "serving the democratically determined needs and aspirations of that huge majority for whom the power of capital has become a profound threat to social and environmental well-being".
"What remains of Soviet culture?" is an intriguing and thought-provoking investigation of a topic that has received little attention outside the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The question, as Boris Kagarlitsky points out, is far from purely academic: "Present-day Russian life is full of a sense of incompeteness, and even a decade after the fall of the USSR, society continues to describe itself as post-Soviet or post-Communist... the Soviet experience also remains a crucial factor in mass consciousness because teh new reality does not provide its own solid and socially acceptable everyday experience, menaingful enough to force out the past."
We conclude with reports of two important international gatherings that have occurred since our last issue: the second Asia Pacific international Solidarity Conference and the Conference of the European Anti-Capitalist Left, held in Madrid in June. Because of a lack of space, we have omitted our usual International Workers Movement News, but we have included a list of upcoming actions and conferences.