Links 27: Editor's introduction

Changes of economic policies in China and Vietnam did not begin with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but they are inevitably viewed in a post-Soviet context. Are both countries going through a capitalist restoration that is in some sense "inevitable" in the current world situation? In our lead article, Michael Karadjis examines the evidence. A careful reading of the changes introduced since the late 1970s leads to the conclusion that capitalist restoration in China is more a matter of deliberate choice than of irresistible external pressures.

In Vietnam, meanwhile, Karadjis finds an ongoing political struggle between those who seek to hold forced retreats to a minimum and maintain a socialist orientation, and those who would prefer to follow the Chinese course. While noting the problems confronting Vietnamese socialism, he concludes: "The party that led the victory in 50 years of conflict with imperialism is now trying to steer through [an] extraordinary situation. Any criticisms need as their starting point a mixture of solidarity and deep respect for the great achievements this party has made in war and peace."

Two other articles provide additional background and information. Nguyen The Phiet, the Vietnamese consul general in Sydney, outlines Vietnam's long history of struggle for national independence and unity, particularly against French and US imperialism. Its dedicated leadership of that struggle is of course a major cause of the Communist Party's support from the Vietnamese people. Secondly, Eva Cheng introduces "Our views and opinions of the current political landscape". This is a letter from veteran Chinese Communist Party members, cadres, military personnel and intellectuals sent to Hu Jintao, the party general secretary, in October 2004. It sharply confronts the party's procapitalist course and argues for major changes.

Next, S. Kumarswamy studies the changes in the Indian economy brought about by imperialist globalisation and their effects on the working class. Behind the talk of modernisation and information technology, he points out, 75 per cent of the work force is still rural, and India has the world's largest number of child labourers. At the same time, employers and their governments are on the offensive with privatisations, layoffs and antiworker legislation and court rulings. He goes on to argue that the proletarian vanguard should reject the view of some, that greater openness to imperialist capital will help to undermine feudal remnants. Instead, it should "emphasise the model of `backward integration' with unorganised workers and the rural poor to carry the democratic revolution through to the end and thus strike at the root of the unequal exchange and pillage of the Third World that is going on in the name of globalisation".

Recent issues of Links have focused attention on the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela. This issue continues that emphasis. From Australia, Stuart Munckton outlines the background and recent developments of the revolutionary process that is unfolding under the leadership of President Hugo Chávez. He explains why Venezuela is increasingly a target of the United States and points out the need for solidarity from socialists all over the world.

As well, Cleto A. Sojo reports on Hugo Chávez's appearance at the 2005 World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Many observers noted the radically antiimperialist tone of Chávez's speech there, and particularly his call to "transcend capitalism" through a socialism of equality and justice.

In this issue we also reprint two documents from important gatherings that took place in Venezuela in December: the World Forum of Intellectuals and Artists in Defence of Humanity and the Second Bolivarian Congress of the Peoples.

The union movement in the United States, dominated by the AFL-CIO, has long been a by-word for conservatism and inability to defend working-class interests. Malik Miah and Caroline Lund argue that it is time to recognise that this body cannot be reformed and transformed into an instrument of labour struggle. Socialists therefore need to have a strategy of building independent unions that are not part of the aflcio structure.

From Kiev, Aleksandr Buzgalin describes the mass protests in December that led to the holding of new elections and the election of a new president of the Ukraine. He analyses the forces involved in the contending camps, the divisions within the Ukrainian ruling class and the openings that have been or may be created for workingclass action.

The issue concludes with a short statement from the European Anti-Capitalist Left on the proposed new constitution of the European Union. It calls for rejection of the constitution because it "means more attacks against social rights, more privatisations and destruction of public services, more legislation in favour of the rich and the powerful, more military expenses and less democracy".