Theory & History

Venezuela and Chile: A contrast in strategies

By Jorge Jorquera

[The following article is based upon a Direct Action forum held in Melbourne on September 26.]

There is one song in my life that invariably draws tears: Inti Illimani’s “Cancion del Poder Popular”. This song was one of the hymns of the 1970-73 Popular Unity (UP) government of “Marxist” President Salvador Allende. More than any other song, it symbolised the hopes of the Chilean workers and the political illusions their leadership had sown. The tragedy these illusions led to brings back much anger and the hope that such a path will not be walked again.

Venezuela's revolution: Western media lies exposed

By Shua Garfield

“Chavez makes a new power grab” screamed an August 6 Wall Street Journal headline. The following day, in an article titled “The autocrat of Caracas”, the London Economist claimed that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was “violat[ing] the constitution”. An editorial in the August 9 Los Angeles Times described Chavez’s “latest power grab” as an “attack on democracy”. On August 14, Miami Herald syndicated columnist Andres Oppenheimer opined that Chavez was “violating the most basic democratic rules”.

Venezuela: From 'third way' to socialist revolution

By Marcus Pabian

“I naively took as a reference point Tony Blair’s proposal for a ‘third way’ between capitalism and socialism — capitalism with a human face”, Hugo Chavez, told Time magazine in 2006, reflecting on his own views before he was elected Venezuela’s president in 1998. Since then, Chavez’s views have dramatically changed. During a visit to Havana this June, he declared that his country and socialist Cuba were undergoing “one and the same revolution” aimed at replacing capitalism with socialism.

Cuba: Police state or democracy?

By Marce Cameron

It’s not surprising that we tend to associate Cuba with the word “dictatorship” rather than, say, “democracy”. This is not because Cuba really is a dictatorship, but because most Australians form an opinion of socialist Cuba based on how Cuba is portrayed in the corporate media.

Forty years of feminism

By Helen Jarvis

September 7 marks the 40th anniversary of the event that put on the front pages of the world’s press the feminist movement, or more precisely its “second wave” (following the long lapse since the strong campaigns of the early 20th century for women’s suffrage and emancipation). The newsletter Voices from the Women’s Liberation Movement reported at the time that “nearly 150 women committed to women’s liberation from New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Florida, Boston and Detroit, converged on Atlantic City to protest the degrading image of women perpetuated by the Miss America Pageant.”

Rwandan genocide: made in Paris

By Shua Garfield

In the months preceding the March 2003 US-British-Australian invasion of Iraq, the French government’s opposition received a great deal of publicity. This led to illusions among some anti-war activists that the French rulers represented a progressive alternative to the “Anglo-Saxon” imperialists. However, any illusion that French capitalism has a more humane, sophisticated approach to foreign policy than the US, British and Australian rulers was exposed by the August 5 release, by the Rwandan justice ministry, of a report on French involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Issy Wyner (1916-2008)

By John Percy

Issy Wyner, one of the pioneers of revolutionary socialism in Australia, died in Sydney in August, aged 92. Issy was an early member of the Workers Party, the first Trotskyist group in Australia, formed in May 1933. Those early Trotskyists were mostly former members of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA), maintaining their original support for the communist ideal as exemplified in the Bolshevik Revolution, and rebelling against the political degeneration of the Communist Party taken over by Joseph Stalin, and the subsequent political and organisational degeneration of communist parties around the world.

What is class struggle?

By Allen Myers

Exploitation, as I wrote in the previous issue of Direct Action, is an unequal economic relationship, in which one party to a transaction gains something at the expense of the other. That is a very broad definition; it would include being short-changed by a shopkeeper and other fairly trivial inequalities. The exploitation that is essential to capitalism is not so minor or occasional, but is built into the system. It is there all the time, and people’s roles as exploited or exploiters are essentially fixed. (By contrast, you don’t get short-changed every time you go to the shop, and customers might exploit the shopkeeper by paying with a counterfeit note.)

The history of a US war crime

By Allen Myers

Here’s a non-trivial question for trivia night organisers: In the late 1960s, what was the world’s busiest airport? Stumped? Here’s a hint: What was the most bombed country, per capita, in the history of warfare? If you answered “Vietnam”, you’re getting close, but not quite there. Until 1975, the CIA ran the world’s busiest airport at Long Cheng, on the edge of the Plain of Jars in Laos. More than 400 flights a day took off to bomb communist Pathet Lao troops — and just about anything else that moved.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: could it happen again?

By Kerry Vernon

An estimated 80,000 were killed in a few seconds on August 6, 1945, when the first atom bomb, “Little Boy”, was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima from a US Army Air Force B-29 Superfortress bomber, the Enola Gay. About 13 square kilometres of the city were obliterated. Two days later, the second nuclear bomb, “Fat Man”, was detonated over the Japanese city of Nagasaki.