Russia

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.

August 16, 2008, Radio New Internationalist

The new superpowers

Commentators claim that as a superpower, the US is in decline. Is this the case?

By Tony Iltis

August 16, 2008 -- On August 7, after a week of border clashes, Georgia's pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili launched a military attack against South Ossetia.

South Ossetia, while internationally recognised as part of Georgia, has been predominantly under the control of a pro-independence administration since Georgia separated from the former Soviet Union in 1991. Since a 1992 ceasefire, the South Ossetian statelet has been protected by Russian peacekeepers.

Within 24 hours, Georgian troops had taken the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, after destroying much of it with artillary. More than 30,000 refugees (out of a population of 70,000) fled across the border to the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, which is part of the Russian Federation.

Using this, and the killing of 20 Russian peacekeepers, as pretexts, Russia intervened in full force: bombing targets throughout Georgia, driving the Georgians out of South Ossetia (including territory not previously held by the South Ossetian administration) and crossing into Georgia-proper to take the town of Gori.

Bad habits are contagious

By Boris Kagarlitsky

August 14, 2008 -- Georgia has resolutely condemned Russia's actions in Chechnya. Russia has severely criticised NATO actions towards Serbia. Later on the Georgian authorities tried to do the same thing in South Ossetia as the Russian authorities had done in Chechnya. Moscow decided to treat Georgia in the same way as NATO had treated Serbia. Bad habits are contagious.

A report of the Institute of Globalisation and Social Movements, Moscow

By Vasily Koltashov

Translated by Renfrey Clarke, Links – International Journal of Socialist Renewal (http://links.org.au)

Moscow, June 9, 2008 -- In the early weeks of 2008 virtually all Russian and foreign experts viewed the situation in the world economy favourably. Warnings from a few analysts that a major economic crisis lay ahead were not taken especially seriously by optimistic-minded populations.

On January 22 the stock exchanges were shaken by the first slump, followed by a series of new collapses. The world’s share markets were destabilised. Inflation accelerated, with food prices beginning to rise sharply. A number of American and European banks announced colossal losses in their results for 2007. The scale of the economic problems in the US became evident. A new world crisis had begun. The emergence of its first symptoms provoked numerous questions concerning the nature of the crisis, the reasons behind it, and the logic shaping its probable development.

With Boris Kagarlitsky, Institute For Globalization and Social Movements, Moscow.

Since the collapse of the old Soviet Union in the 1990s and the end of the politically bankrupt regime of Boris Yeltsin in 2000, Vladimir Putin has consolidated power in Russia. He has ruled over an economy growing at about 7% per year, and, in Kagarlitsky's view, establishing Russia as an 'empire of the periphery'. The left and workers have faced enormous challenges in the new (and not so new) Russia in the face of massive economic restructuring and major political obstacles. This discussion will address how the left, workers and unions are attempting to re-group and respond to these challenges.

This resolution was adopted by the 18th Congress of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia, held in Sydney, January 5-10, 1999.

I. Theoretical framework

1. For orthodox Marxists, as Lenin explained in his 1917 book The State and Revolution, the state is a centralised organisation of force separated from the community as a whole which enforces, through special bodies of armed people and other institutions of coercion, the will of one class, or an alliance of classes, upon the rest of society.

By Boris Kagarlitsky

Not long before the European elections, in which the social democratic vote collapsed, two of the most authoritative social democratic leaders, Tony Blair and Gerhard Schröder, published a letter in which they formulated the principles of the so-called "new centre" (neue Mitte). These principles could be summed up as arguing that the traditional ideas of social democracy (redistribution, a mixed economy and state regulation in the spirit of Keynes) needed to be replaced by new approaches in the spirit of neo-liberalism.

True, the authors of the letter took their distance from neo-liberalism itself, stating that they did not share its illusions that all problems could be solved through market methods. At the same time, they proposed to solve the problems of world trade by liberalising it further. Instead of solidarity, they called for increased competition, and instead of job creation, for preparing young people better for life under the conditions of a constantly changing market conjuncture.

By Boris Kagarlitsky

By Boris Kagarlitsky