Last year marked an important turning point in the struggle of Aboriginal people for justice and sovereignty.The 40th anniversary commemoration of the Tent Embassy in Canberra, culminating in the January 26 Invasion Day protest, sparked a renewed fight by activists young and old against the ongoing and institutionalised racism endured by Aboriginal people.
Issue 41 - February-March 2013
The following is the editorial from the November issue of Socialist Alternative magazine.
The current discussion about unity on the left in Australia is an important one. It opens up the possibility of the socialist left making significant gains and being reforged on a new basis that transcends some of the historic differences that have divided the revolutionary left for decades.
[The following is a slightly expanded version of a speech given at the launch of the new Socialist Alternative office in Brisbane on December 1.]
Barcelona – Five hundred participants, representing more than 50 solidarity organisations from across the Spanish state, attended the conference, “Yesterday South Africa, Today Palestine”, held here October 19-21.The conference, the first of its kind in the Spanish state, was organised with the aim of raising awareness about the Israeli occupation of Palestine and strengthening the
The punitive conditions of the Australian government’s mandatory detention of refugees are well known around the country and even internationally. However, despite all the cruelty that the system imposes, it has not deterred refugees.
The reason for this is quite simple.
Since Wednesday Israel has carried out a massive bombing campaign against two million people trapped in the Gaza Strip. At the time of writing, 33 Palestinians, including six children, are reported killed. In addition, at least 250 civilians have been wounded.
[The following article was first published on the Socialist Alternative website on 10 December 2012.]
[Following the brutal sexual attack on the 23-year-old paramedical student, mass protests erupted in Delhi and cities across India. On December 19, students and protesters marched on the house of the Delhi chief minister.
If your only recent source of information about the Greens was media releases coming from acting leader Adam Bandt’s office, you could be forgiven for thinking the party was suddenly moving to the left.
[Tithi Bhattacharya recently returned from India, and wrote in the US Socialist Worker on January 10 on the protests against rape and sexism that are shaking the country. This reprint is slightly abridged.]
Rosa Luxemburg wrote the booklet Social Reform or Revolution in response to the writings of Eduard Bernstein. Bernstein was advocating an “evolutionary” path to socialism, counter-posed to revolution. “Reform or revolution?” became a fundamental question for the socialist and labour movements at the beginning of the 20th century.
Socialist Alternative’s 2012 National Conference voted to adopt a new Statement of Principles. The Principles will provide the foundation for the organisation’s broader political positions and analyses, and will guide the organisation’s political practice.
[The following is part of a report issued by the editors of Socialist Alternative during their December conference.]
A “white tide” swept through central Madrid on December 9, in protest at health sector budget cuts and hospital privatisation plans announced by the right-wing Popular Party (PP) regional government.
One aspect of the recent presidential elections in the United States was the sharp racial divide. Nearly 60% of whites voted for Romney, and the number was higher among white men.Well over 90% of African Americans voted for Obama, and over 70% of Latinos and Asians did likewise.
The process of merger between Socialist Alternative and the Revolutionary Socialist Party has attracted no little interest on the Australian left. A number of activists around both organisations have joined or are considering joining in order to be part of the merged revolutionary organisation.
On September 21, ABC employee Jill Meagher was abducted as she walked home along Sydney Road in Melbourne after a night out with friends. Meagher was brutally raped and murdered, and her body was dumped in a shallow grave.
Jakarta – Ignoring outrage and mockery at home and overseas, a town in Indonesia’s northernmost province of Aceh is pressing ahead with a by-law banning female passengers from straddling motorcycles on the grounds that doing so reveals a woman’s “curves”.
Issue 40 - November-December 2012
The Agent Orange Justice art exhibition held in Sydney August 7-11 has been hugely successful, contributing significantly to raising consciousness about this important but all too neglected issue.
One of the main barriers for refugees seeking asylum and residency in Australia is ASIO’s security assessments. These are conducted on an arbitrary basis, with very little recourse for refugees to challenge decisions against them.Typically, the assessments take many months or even years, and refugees have no access to their findings.
Jakarta – The killing of a leading pro-independence activist in West Papua during a raid reportedly led by members of the Australian-funded and -trained counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88 (Densus 88) raises serious questions about how Australian workers’ tax money is being used in Indonesia.
Between 6000 and 7000 people, an unprecedented number for Melbourne, took to the streets on October 20 for Reclaim the Night 2012.Since its inception, Reclaim the Night has been a staple of feminist activism.
Santiago – Overthrowing the Chilean government, in the manner of the Egyptian or Tunisian uprisings, is not the immediate aim of Chile’s massive student movement, but that is what large sections of it would like to do.The powerful and sustained mass student movement grows out of the impact on education of capitalist economic policies pursued under both the 17-year military dictator
The tragic and unacceptable abduction, rape and murder of young Irish woman and ABC radio staffer Jill Meagher in Melbourne on the night of September 21 has justifiably sparked a public outcry in the social media and also on the streets. All instances of violence against women deserve the outcry that the Jill Meagher case attracted.
Today the global capitalist economy faces its greatest crisis in 80 years. First there was the credit crunch beginning in August 2007, when governments around the world stepped in to bail out the banks. Then, in September 2008, there was the collapse of Lehman Brothers, precipitating the greatest financial crash since 1929.
In June and July in the Netherlands, almost all polls were showing a strong surge in support for the Socialist Party (SP). The polls predicted that the SP would increase its seats from 15 to 35 in the 150-seat parliament.The SP was polling as the largest party with about 20% support, ahead of the historical party of social democracy, the Labor Party (PvdA).
Jakarta – After a three-year investigation and testimonies from 349 witnesses, Indonesia’s National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has declared that the systematic prosecution of alleged members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) when former president Suharto and the military seized power in 1965 constituted gross human rights violations.It urged that the military office
Jim Percy, the founder of the Democratic Socialist Party and for two decades its national secretary, died from cancer on October 12, 1992, 20 years ago, at the age of 43.
Movies, musicals, bush meetings and speaking tours continue to characterise the campaign against coal seam gas (CSG).
In a press statement on October 3, the Indonesian Workers and Labourers Assembly (MPBI) said that 2 million workers mobilised for the national strike it called for that date, in industrial areas or outside government offices in 21 cities and towns.Press and blog reports separately estimate that hundreds of thousands of workers mobilised in Jakarta’s industrial estates, gathering at
Under the Hammer, a new activist space, has been operating in Coburg, on the edges of inner Melbourne, since July.The centre was established on the initiative of activists James Crafti and Melanie Mayze, both members of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, which produces the newspaper and website Direct Action. While Direct Action holds activities in the space, it has b
More than 10,000 public sector workers’ jobs have been cut across NSW. Those workers remaining are having their wages and conditions further attacked.
Soria, Spain – On September 25, tens of thousands of activists from all over Spain heeded a call to “encircle” the Spanish parliament demanding the resignation of the Popular Party (PP) government, headed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, and a constitutional reform process.
It has been almost five years since I was expelled in 2008 with 35 others from the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) or “Perspective”, as it had become by then.(And I think there were another dozen or so who had to leave in other ways.) It was a sad, angry and frustrating moment. I joined the DSP in 1981.
The presidential election victory of Hugo Chavez is a vital component in the continuation of the Bolivarian revolution, which has now been under way for 13 years.A defeat would have resulted in a massive attack on the working class of Venezuela.
In a very positive development for the revolutionary left in Australia, Socialist Alternative is engaged in unity discussions with the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP). The initial discussions have been highly productive and have been conducted in a comradely and constructive manner.
Jakarta – A suicide in Indonesia’s northernmost province of Aceh by a teenager who was publicly humiliated by the province’s abusive sharia police has again put the spotlight on laws that discriminate against women.
A common perception of the Salvation Army is that it is a well-meaning charity spreading Christianity through its care for the down and out – those who have fallen through the cracks of society’s welfare net.Apart from its quasi-military structure of volunteers, door-knock appeals and sporadic invasions of pubs rattling tins of loose change, it would seem an unremarkable charity.
Timor Leste’s third parliamentary election since the restoration of independence in 2002 was held on July 7.
San Francisco – When Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate, Romney introduced him “as the next President of the United States”. This was of course a slip of the tongue, which Romney corrected. But it was the kind of slip that Freud analysed, one pregnant with meaning.
“You’ll notice in the last couple of months, the [Syrian] opposition has been strengthened.
A 2011 Roy Morgan Poll found that 68% of Australians support same-sex marriage, up 6% from a Galaxy Poll taken the previous year.
Jakarta – Reneging on a pledge to apologise and make reparations for the victims of the 1965 anti-communist purge, when Suharto and the military seized power, the government of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is now parroting the New Order regime’s myth that the killings were justified to save the country from communism.
Issue 39 - May-July 2012
Dear Your Holiness,
I was most interested in your recent visit to Cuba and your comments, quoted by Reuters, that the Cuban system “no longer works” and that the Catholic Church was eager to help Cubans find a “new model” because – and this is the line that really floored me – “Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality”.
The ALP government’s fifth budget, handed down by treasurer Wayne Swan with much fanfare, is a continuation of neoliberal polices, relying much more on stick than on carrot. It headlined in many newspapers as a Labor budget with Labor values, but there was little to differentiate it from any of the budgets of the Coalition when it was in power.
Australian and Vietnamese artists are contributing works to an art exhibition in Sydney August 7-11 to expose the ongoing horror of the Agent Orange chemical warfare inflicted on the Vietnamese people by the US war in the 1960s and ’70s. August 10 is the 51st anniversary of the beginning of spraying Agent Orange in Vietnam.
Jakarta – Riots erupted in the West Papuan provincial capital of Jayapura on June 14 after a leading pro-independence activist was shot dead during an arrest reportedly led by members of the Australian-funded counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88.
[This is the text of a talk to a forum organised by the People’s Liberation Party in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, on April 7.]
The central feature of the international political situation today is the extremely stark contradictions of capitalism internationally, combined with the severe limitations of working class leadership in nearly every country.
Between March 24 and 30, a wave of quite militant demonstrations against the coalition government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono spread throughout Indonesia. For the first time, some of the major trade union confederations joined the actions.
For a second time, Greek working people on June 17 voted against the austerity measures imposed on them by the Greek bankers, the International Monetary Fund and the European capitalist establishment.While the corporate media presented the election result as a “victory for the euro”, that is, for the pro-austerity parties, a clear majority of voters, 53%, voted for candidates oppos
A fascinating article appeared in Rolling Stone magazine in March. Titled “Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail”, Matt Taibbi’s article cuts through the mystification of official economics and explains a major factor in the 2008 financial crisis. That central cause was fraud, corruption, theft: in short, crime.
Since the outbreak of the international financial and economic crisis, “austerity” has become the proclaimed goal of governments over most of the developed capitalist world. Governments have been sticking to this goal even when it leads to their own demise, as in Greece and France.
The La Trobe University Management Council on June 20 announced a proposed major “restructure” of the university’s Humanities and Social Sciences (HUSS) Faculty.The proposed changes, announced in an “Organisational Change Impact Statement” (OCIS), would cut up to 45 full-time staff from the faculty, slash the available courses from 1230 subjects (available on rotation) to fewer tha
“Final results released Tuesday placed a liberal alliance ahead of other parties in Libya’s first free nationwide vote in half a century, leaving Islamists far behind, but each side is already trying to build a coalition with independents.
The political party Greater Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) recently announced its 314-strong leadership structure.Gerindra is headed by Suharto era general and son-in-law Prabowo Subianto.
Increasing unemployment, soaring living costs and the environmental and social impacts of unexpected severe rains and flooding in parts of NSW are impacting on more poor and working-class people and extending into sections of the middle class.
Not a murmur of protest has come from the NSW Labor Opposition over the O’Farrell government’s political use of the state’s police in Operation Goulding against Occupy Sydney.
Both Greens City of Sydney councillor Irene Doutney and NSW MP David Shoebridge have supported Occupy Sydney’s right to protest.
One hundred and fifty thousand people poured onto the streets of Madrid on the evening of July 11 to greet tens of thousands of Spanish miners, who had participated in an 18-day marcha negra (black march) from Spain’s northern coal mining regions of Asturias, Leon, Palencia and Aragon.
Jakarta – In some of the largest demonstrations seen in recent years, tens of thousands took part in May Day rallies across Indonesia calling for higher wages and an end to contract labour and opposing fuel price increases.
The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, volume I: The Sixties, A Political Memoir, by Barry Sheppard, Sydney: Resistance Books, 2005, 354 pages including index, with a rich collection of photographs.
Deeply angered by moves by the resources and mining industry to replace union labour with super-exploited workers from overseas and the employers’ blatant disregard for necessary skills training among unemployed youth, thousands marched in Perth on July 4 to demand that the industry giants negotiate with their employees about who is to share in the massive profits they have generat
Port Louis – Victories, even partial, are rare in these times. The Mauritian political party LALIT would like to share an important new development in the class struggle and struggle for women’s emancipation in Mauritius.
Issue 38 - February-April 2012
Two important conferences were held in March for waterside workers in Australia and their comrades internationally.
Phnom Penh – The Cuban embassy in Cambodia marked International Women’s Day with a gathering that also focused on the Cuban Five, the anti-terrorist fighters unjustly imprisoned in the United States.
Phnom Penh – An important meeting in solidarity with revolutionary Cuba will be held in the Cambodian capital near the end of March. The Sixth Asia-Pacific Regional Conference of Solidarity with Cuba will take place here from March 22 to 25.
Two deportations of Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers have been averted at least temporarily, pending a High Court challenge to be heard in the new year. These were to be the first deportations of people who arrived by boat under the current Labor government.
According to UNESCO, nearly 1 billion people – 26% of the world's adult population – can't read or write.
The December 8-9 European Union summit meeting did little to end the continuing eurozone debt crisis.
The French multinational Veolia will be “the major target for its boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign work in 2012”, Friends of Palestine WA resolved at its annual general meeting on February 4.
Jakarta – A civil servant who posted “God does not exist” on his Facebook page has been arrested and charged under Indonesia’s draconian anti-blasphemy law. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in jail if found guilty.
Jakarta – This year's International Women's Day in Indonesia marks an increase in attacks on women. The upsurge in violence against women, particularly sexual violence, and recent government plans to raise fuel prices, threatens to burden all women, especially poor women.
A common argument in the Occupy movement is that it is not about left or right politics, but about addressing inequality and corruption, giving a voice to the majority who are excluded from all the important decisions that affect our lives.
Jakarta – A group of music lovers organising a charity concert in Indonesia’s northernmost province of Aceh are the latest victims of the province’s discriminatory and abusive sharia laws. The 64 youths were released on December 23 after undergoing 10 days of “moral rehabilitation” in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh.
Setting out on Australia Day, the Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN) travelled to Leonora, a remote town in the Goldfields of Western Australia. The tour, entitled “Boundless Plains to Share”, spent three days in Leonora seeking to expose the conditions of mandatory detention and included protests in solidarity and visits with refugees locked up in the detention centre.
Jakarta – Commemorating International Women’s Day, activists and workers took to the streets across Indonesia on March 8 to demand equality and an end of sexual violence against women. Sexual harassment in the workplace and discriminatory laws were also a major theme at many rallies.
For a year, the Syrian government of President Bashir Assad has led a bloody crackdown on protests calling for democracy and freedom. Assad and his father Hefaz al-Assad have headed a repressive regime for four decades.The death toll continues to rise as troops loyal to Bashir use heavy weaponry against the opposition.
Tunisian President Ben Ali’s ignominious flight into exile in Saudi Arabia on January 14, 2011, after a month of strikes and street protests throughout Tunisia, set in motion a cascade of popular anti-despotic revolts across the Arab world that culminated in the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011.
Immediately after the outbreak of the financial-economic crisis in 2008, there was a flurry of speculation in the media (and even in the ALP) that governments (that is, the ruling class) were going to junk neoliberalism and revert to some form of the Keynesian economics that was fairly standard from the end of World War II until the early 1970s.
As predicted, the ALP national conference was another low point for the neoliberal pro-capitalist party, which adopted offshore processing as part of its platform. It was a win for Chris Bowen, the immigration minister, who gained support for putting the weight of the party behind the government’s proposed Malaysia solution.
In a recent issue of Green Left Weekly, Peter Boyle published an article titled “An age of revolution: organise, don’t agonise”.
It has been more than two months since the Occupy Wall Street actions began in New York. The occupation in Zuccotti Park ended after the New York City government mobilised the police for a middle of the night raid. However, the political activity that it set in motion in the United States has not stopped.
Issue 37 - December-January 2012
The ALP national conference in Sydney on December 3 and 4 should present an opportunity for the ALP to reassess its policy of mandatory detention and an opportunity to adopt a more humane approach towards refugees. But no one is waiting with bated breath.
After 11 hours of talks in Brussels throughout the night of October 27, the 17 leaders of the states that share the euro as their currency announced a package of measures they hoped would be regarded by international financial markets as a “comprehensive” solution to the eurozone debt crisis.
Discussions in several Occupy Sydney general assemblies have included debates about the nature and role of the police and whether to support the police union’s disputes and their November 22 rally (over injury compensation) with the NSW O’Farrell Coalition government.
One thousand people marched through Perth’s CBD on October 28, the first day of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), despite a massive security presence. The protest, organised by the CHOGM Action Network (CAN), united activists from numerous campaigns behind the slogan “Justice and Climate Action, Not Racism and War”.
The grassroots campaign against coal seam gas mining appears to have won important ground, making it onto the popular ABC program Gruen Transfer and as a dedicated feature launched on the ABC News website on November 24.
Two deportations of Sri Lankan Tamils have been averted, pending a High Court challenge to be heard in the new year giving the asylum seekers a temporary reprieve. These were to be the first deportations of people who arrived by boat under the current Labor government.
More than 100,000 Egyptians packed Tahrir (Liberation) Square on Friday, November 27 for the ninth consecutive day since new protests began on November 18, calling for democracy, social justice and an end to the military’s control of the country.
It was 10 o’clock in the evening on September 11. Sudiro, the chief negotiator in West Papua’s ongoing Freeport strikes, was sitting alone on the veranda of his house. He had spent all day with Freeport Indonesia management, bargaining for a wage rise for the members of his union – the All Indonesia Workers Union (SPSI) Freeport division.
The Occupy Melbourne Protest was brutally attacked on October 21 by Victorian Police, who used extreme force... Having set up an occupation site at City Square on Swanston St in the Melbourne CBD on Saturday October 15 as part of the global Occupy Together movement, the Occupy Melbourne protests were starting to consolidate.
An idea that has been raised and argued for at the Occupy Sydney general assemblies was that “you leave your affiliations at the door when you participate in Occupy”, as a motion put it.
The simmering discontent throughout Indonesia regularly overflowed throughout October and November. There were student protests against the Yudhoyono government, attacking corruption, economic injustice and political manipulation of local government, in cities including Jakarta, Jogjakarta, Cirebon, Samarinda (in Borneo), Makassar, Surabaya and Kediri.
Allen Myers, in his article “What are we waiting for?”, (Direct Action no. 36) says:
“The Russian Bolsheviks did not become a real mass party until after the February 1917 revolution”.
The many crimes of the rapacious global corporation Monsanto were exposed at a public forum in Sydney November 23, organised by Agent Orange Justice – Australia Vietnam Solidarity Network.
Occupy Sydney has mobilised more than 3000 people in two rallies and smaller actions, gathered together a diverse range of people engaging in many hours of discussions and debate, within general assemblies, working groups, creative art groups, on social networking media and on the occupysydney.org.au website.
Despite constant harassment from Brisbane City Council and the Queensland government and despite slander and misinformation from the corporate media, Occupy Brisbane has maintained a constant presence in Brisbane’s public spaces since October 15.
[Speech delivered to the Defend the Occupy Movement Unity rally, November 5, King George Square, Brisbane.]
“Two nations; between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by a different breeding, are fed by a different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws.” “You speak of – ” said
Paris – Palestine achieved a significant breakthrough in its bid for recognition as a state on October 31. In a landslide vote of 107 in favour and 14 against, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) admitted Palestine as its 195th member.
The Qantas lockout of its workers in Australia is not unique. More than 2000 workers were locked out by Philippine Airlines (PALEA) since October 1. The Philippine Airline Employee’s Association has maintained a growing campaign for their re-instatement that is gaining international support.
Accepting Australian political rock band Midnight Oil’s induction into the ARIA hall of fame, the band’s drummer, Rob Hirst, commented: “Bush finally admitted that Iraq may prove to be his Vietnam. But Vietnam inspired some of the greatest protest songs ever written.
Partners in war crime:
Prime Minister Gillard and US President Obama leaving a press conference in Canberra. For the sake of world domination by US capitalists these two have supported and implemented plans that have cost the lives of millions of people.
On November 20, the governing Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), led by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of voters angered by the harsh austerity measures imposed upon them.
Cuba is ranked as a Third World country, but the education and health systems are equivalent to or better than those of all First World countries.
Across the developed capitalist world, the Occupy Wall Street movement has inspired similar protests by thousands of people angered at the government bailouts of the banks and big corporations while the rest of us are forced to endure attacks on our living standards through government-imposed austerity. It has also attracted some weird hangers-on.
San Francisco – No one predicted the phenomenon that has become known as Occupy Wall Street (OWS), nor could it have been predicted.
Issue 36 - October-November 2011
Mahmoud Abbas surprised even his critics on September 23 by giving a stirring and emotional speech to the UN General Assembly as part of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s highly publicised bid for UN recognition of Palestinian statehood.
After the High Court ruling it illegal to send asylum seekers to Malaysia, the Gillard government could have used the opportunity to take a new approach in how it treats refugees. Instead, the ALP kept to its usual script of trying to outdo the Coalition in attacking refugees and decided to redraft legislation to resume offshore processing.
The Australia Cuba Friendship Society (Brisbane) held a screening of the film Will the real terrorist please stand up? in solidarity with the Cuban 5 on September 7. The film was introduced by the Cuban ambassador to Australia, Pedro Monzon, who was in Brisbane as part of an official visit to Queensland.
In an attempt to “create our own moment and message” internet-based environment coalition Moving Planet declared September 24 a “day to move beyond fossil fuels – to demand solutions to the environment crisis”.
On September 5, the Cuban Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Libya affirming, among other things, that “the Republic of Cuba does not recognize the National Transition Council or any other provisional authority and will only give its recognition to a government legitimately constituted in that country without foreign intervention and through the free, sovereign and sole will of
On September 29 the European Financial Stability Facility cleared a major hurdle when German MPs voted to ratify an increase in its size and scope, including enabling it to buy government bonds from eurozone nations facing bankruptcy. The expansion of the bailout fund from 440 billion to 780 billion euros almost doubles Germany’s contribution – to €211 billion.
On September 20, the State Electricity Company Trade Union of Indonesia issued a call for support for a campaign against the privatisation of the state-owned company, and against the liberalisation of the electricity market in general.
Around 100 women and men took part in a rally, Miniskirt Protest – Women against Rape, at the Bundaran Hotel Indonesia in Thamrin, Jakarta, on Sunday, September 18. Dozens of women, including several activists from Perempuan Mahardhika (Free Women), wore miniskirts, as a statement that rape has nothing to do with the way women dress.
In early August Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nominated four new ministers to the 290-member Majlis, the Iranian parliament. Among the four was a new oil minister, Rostam Ghasemi.
At least 35,000 NSW public sector workers rallied in the Sydney Domain and then marched past the NSW parliament in Macquarie Street on September 8 to protest against the attacks on public sector jobs, wages and conditions announced by state Coalition government of Premier Barry O’Farrell, which includes a decision to axe at least 5000 public sector jobs.
“If we focus on the possibilities and shed our despair, our hesitancy and our cynicism, and if we collectively come to Wall Street with critical thinking, ideas and solidarity, we can change the world.” – Occupied Wall Street Journal.
It is very possible that in late September or early October, the United Nations Security Council will vote on whether to recognise Palestine as a state and accept it as a member of the United Nations. The president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mohammed Abbas, will address the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 23.
In a major attack on workers’ rights, Philippine Airlines moved to retrench and lock out some 2600 workers and members of the Philippine Airline Employees Association (PALEA) between September 26 and October 1. PALEA has responded with a campaign of actions and the establishment of a protest camp at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
A day after BlueScope Steel Ltd. announced on August 22 that it planned to close a blast furnace at Port Kembla (in the Illawarra region of NSW) and its Western Port (Victoria) hot strip mill, shedding 1000 jobs, the Socialist Alliance issued a public statement on its website and publishing it in the August 24 edition of the SA’s paper Green Left Weekly.
San Francisco – On September 21, shortly before 11 pm, the state government of Georgia injected poison into the veins of an African American, Troy Davis. The murder was completed at 11:08 pm.
As the corporate media and pro-war politicians launch an intensified propaganda campaign around the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to sell the war in Afghanistan it is important to examine the US response to these terrible events and the impact this has had on working class people in Australia and around the world.
Yes, eventually, we need a Leninist party, members of the Revolutionary Socialist Party are often told. But it’s just not possible to do it now. Later on, maybe, but right now we have to be more realistic. For now, all we can do is build a left wing in the ALP or a “broad” left party.
From the very beginning, students and educators were an important target for the Pinochet dictatorship. Thousands were killed and disappeared. Education was considered or at least treated as an enemy of neoliberalism. Why not? After all capitalism has always had an uncomfortable relationship with universal quality education.
More than 6000 workers at the petrochemical complex in Mahshahr City in Khuzestan province struck for 10 days from September 25, demanding an end to individual contracts and abolition of all subcontracts at the complex.
Issue 35 - September 2011
[This is the speech delivered at the Second International Conference on the Victims of Agent Orange in Hanoi, August 8-9, by AOJ-AVSN representative Allen Myers. Myers was a US GI active in resisting against the US war on Vietnam in the 1960s and was court-martialled twice for his activism.
A 100 strong anti-racist rally was held in Brisbane on August 6. The rally was called in response to a protest organised by the far-right racist group, Australian Patriots Defence Movement (APDM). The APDM takes its inspiration from the racist English Defence League – the same group that inspired the gunman who slaughtered nearly 100 people last month in Norway.
In the largest show of support for the Palestinian-initiated boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign so far in Australia, more than 350 persons marched on 29 July in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle – and in opposition to an attempt by Victorian Police to criminalize Palestine solidarity activism in Melbourne.
For a lot of people who have spent much time in Britain, the widespread riots were not a big surprise. Rather the response has been “What took you so long?”
Justice for Palestine, Brisbane media statement, August 29.
Brisbane BDS supporters have pledged to intensify their campaign following a successful protest on August 27. Despite the rain, fifty protestors took to the streets to highlight the links between the Max Brenner chocolate store and the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.
“Protesters vow to break CHOGM security lines” is how the August 23 issue of the Perth daily West Australian headlined an article accusing CHOGM protesters of being “on course for a confrontation with police at key CHOGM events”.
It is 13 years since the Indonesian dictator Suharto was forced to resign by a student-led mass protest movement. The current president, Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono, will complete his second five-year term in 2014. At the level of the state and government, Indonesia has experienced another extended period of “stability”.
The Gillard government announced details of its latest attack on welfare rights on July 30. This will put restrictions on new applicants for the disability support pension (DSP).
In September 2010 the UN General Assembly was devoted to a discussion on ending global poverty, to the fulfilment of the so-called Millennium Goals first adopted in 2000.
Jakarta – On August 2, Kholis Annasir, from the student group Centre for Student Struggle for National Liberation (Pembebasan – Liberation) and I attended an action called by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB). We were invited to attend by Okto, the coordinator of the planned action. I was representing the People’s Liberation Party (PPR).
Anger against coal seam gas (CSG) mining, which has erupted into significant street protests over the past six months, has now spilled into parliament.
Hanoi – The Vietnamese Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) hosted the Second International Conference of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin in Hanoi August 8-9. Attending the conference were participants from more than 20 countries and 30 organisations, including Agent Orange victims, victims of other toxic chemicals, scientists, lawyers and social activists.
In the lead-up to the introduction of the carbon tax legislation into federal parliament, the federal opposition and other opponents of the tax have intensified their campaign against it.
The six-months-long military stalemate between the 42-year regime of Libyan despot Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and the imperialist-backed forces of the Benghazi-based National Transition Council was broken by the rapid advance of the NTC forces into Tripoli last month.
Warren Buffett, listed by Forbes magazine as the world’s third wealthiest person, created a minor stir in early August by writing an op-ed piece in the New York Times calling for himself and other US millionaires and billionaires to be taxed at a higher rate.
The two largest organisations of the British radical left – the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and the UK Socialist Party – have responded inconsistently to the wave of rioting, looting and arson that swept across English cities for four days in the wake of the police killing of Tottenham (London) resident Mark Duggan on August 4.
[This is the speech delivered at the Second International Conference on the Victims of Agent Orange in Hanoi, August 8-9, by Agent Orange Justice – Australia Vietnam Solidarity Network (AOJ-AVSN) representative Hamish Chitts. Chitts was an infantry soldier with the Australian military and served in East Timor in the late 1990s.
I was very active between 1991 and 1999 in the international solidarity movement for Timorese independence. During that time, I worked with a variety of Timorese individuals and political groups.
San Francisco – In last month’s article, I wrote about how the Congressional stand-off about raising the US government’s debt ceiling obscured the drive by both Democrats and Republicans to cut drastically the social wage, especially Social Security and Medicare, as well as education and other social programs.
August 9, 2011 – The Second International Conference of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin, held in Hanoi from August 8 to 9, 2011, included participants from around the world: Agent Orange victims, victims of other toxic chemicals, scientists, lawyers and social activists.
People need to know the truth: that the reality of Western Australia is very different from what community organisations, legal organisations and government bodies wish members of the community to believe.
[Ezequiel Morales from the Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos (ICAP – the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples) spoke with Hamish Chitts from Direct Action in Brisbane on May 9.
Issue 34 - August 2011
San Francisco – The US mass media are awash with the Congressional wrangle over the “debt crisis”. The Republican Party in the House of Representatives is threatening to refuse to raise the ceiling on how much the government can borrow. The deadline for raising the ceiling is August 2.
The world economy is gradually recovering from the crisis that hit in 2007-08, and things will soon be back to normal, right? Wrong. The recovery from the international recession has so far applied mainly to the biggest capitalists and the highly paid executives who manage their businesses.
Sometimes small events can reveal a great deal. A case in point was the opening of an exhibition of political cartoons in Los Angeles in June.
Fifty years ago this month, the US began its spraying of Agent Orange and similar chemicals containing large amounts of deadly cancer-causing dioxin over southern Vietnam. This murderous campaign lasted 10 years, poisoning uncounted Vietnamese civilians and liberation fighters and members of the US military and its allies.
On July 5, the Senate passed a motion that condemned the Marrickville Council for its vote last December in favour of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against apartheid Israel. This was the latest in a growing attack against the BDS movement by the Zionists and their supporters in the government and corporate media in this country.
“If we don’t make this the biggest social movement this county has ever seen, it will be the biggest social disaster this country has ever seen”, exclaimed former tunnel driller Dayne Pratsky on July 5, speaking in Byron Bay to a packed public meeting against coal seam gas.
In January 1992, Deng Xiaoping, the then “paramount leader” of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) made a tour of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in China’s southern Guangdong province, situated immediately north of Hong Kong. During his tour, Deng praised Guangdong as a model to be emulated by the rest of China.
In just five months, Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has used up the good will it generated in January and February when the army high command did not attempt to crush the protest movement that forced Hosni Mubarak from power.
On July 19, three Israeli missile ships and seven commando boats intercepted the French boat Dignite-Al Karama in international waters as it attempted to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza.
It was not just for the sake of democracy that the Indonesian people overthrew Suharto’s New Order dictatorship in May 1998, but also for justice and prosperity.
An Indonesian youth, Hadi Kurniawan, imprisoned on charges of people-smuggling, has drawn attention to the Australian government and legal system’s brazen disregard for human rights. Kurniawan’s case came to light almost by accident. Two refugee rights activists, Gerry Georgatos and Victoria Martin-Iverson, met Kurniawan at the Perth Immigration Detention Centre in January.
Signing the refugee swap deal with the Malaysian government on July 25, the Gillard Labor government has confirmed again that it is a world leader in dealing misery to refugees. The arrangement between Australia and Malaysia will exchange 800 asylum seekers who have sought asylum in Australia for 4000 refugees living in Malaysia.
On July 29, six leaders of the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) were released from prison, 34 days after their arrest on June 25. Their release was a result of the tremendous sustained and energetic campaign that received broad support, especially in Malaysia.
Rupert Murdoch is a union-bashing, racist, warmongering thief, hypocrite, liar and all round crook. That’s not news to anyone, nor are these characteristics unusual for his class of people – the capitalist class. In fact, they are prerequisites. What is unusual is that some of the crimes of his empire are being brought into the light of day.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s Liberal-National Coalition government has launched a major attack on public sector workers. The government’s planned $2 billion in savings over the next four years is to come from cutbacks in public sector workers’ wages and conditions.
Zack Furness is the author of One Less Car: Bicycling and the politics of automobility (Temple University Press, 2010). He was interviewed via email by Jon Lamb.
In recent months a simmering power struggle has erupted within the ruling circles of the Islamic Republic of Iran, between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Every two years, parts of northern Australia are invaded by the joint Australian-US war rehearsals known as Exercise Talisman Sabre.
A week before Four Corners aired its horrific footage of the fate of Australian cattle in Indonesia, Dateline on SBS featured terrifying and disturbing images of canings, detention and brutal treatment of asylum seekers at a Malaysian detention centre.
Direct Action on May 9 after Morales had spoken to a workplace meeting of Brisbane bus drivers organised by the Rail, Tram, Bus Union and the Australia Cuba Friendship Society.][ezequiel>
A spectre is haunting Europe: the spectre of bankruptcy. At the centre of the European debt crisis is Greece, whose government and investors owe US$130 billion to European banks. Ireland, Portugal and Spain have public and private loans of US$463 billion, US$194 billion and US$642 billion respectively to European banks.
“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” If Gandhi was right about this progression of a non-violent movement, then the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel is well on the road to victory.
The fight to stop a gas hub at James Price Point in the Kimberley is stepping up despite police attacking protesters. The $30 billion project by Woodside would destroy Aboriginal sacred sites including ancient burial grounds. Traditional owners of the land have blockaded the site along with environmentalists, leading to a seven-week stand-off with police.
As the details of its long-awaited “carbon tax” package were announced, Julia Gillard’s Labor government plummeted in popularity. Australia faces the real possibility of a landslide victory at the next election for the conservative Coalition under the leadership of the notorious reactionary Tony Abbott.
Issue 33 - June-July 2011
[This is the speech delivered to the launch meeting of Agent Orange Justice-Australia Vietnam Solidarity Network, held in Sydney on June 1, by the Vietnamese consul general in Sydney, Mai Phuoc Dung.]
Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues and friends:
Agent Orange Justice-Australia-Vietnam Solidarity Network, has now been established in Australia. A very successful inaugural meeting was held in Sydney on June 1, attended by more than 40 people, with 20 new members joining AOJ.
An awakening is occurring across the Arab world – a mass uprising in political activity and consciousness, already resulting in revolutionary mobilisations overthrowing dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt and threatening others.
The campaign against coal seam gas (CSG) mining has taken to the streets over the past month with big turnouts at rallies in northern NSW and the spawning of “No CSG” groups all over social media sites, attracting thousands of supporters.
Two South-east Asian neighbours, Thailand and Cambodia, with similar cultures and religion, have come to blows, apparently over a temple on their border. Since July 2008, serious fighting has broken out five times.
Bob Gould, long-time Sydney political activist, Trotskyist and ALP member, and notorious bookshop owner, died on May 22 aged 74. More than 300 people from many areas of Bob’s political life attended his funeral and the following wake at Newtown’s Courthouse Hotel.
Around 350 people attended the Feminist Futures Conference, held in Melbourne on May 28-29. Before the conference, there was heated debate on the conference Facebook page about the panellists for the conference, much of the focus being on the inclusion of Melbourne academic Sheila Jeffreys in the program.
San Francisco – The assassination of Osama bin Laden by US Special Forces in a unilateral raid into Pakistan is being trumpeted by President Obama and the media. Raucous celebrations of the killing occurred in many cities, and Obama’s poll numbers went up among right-wing Tea Party types.
“There’s no such thing as a free lunch” is a phrase that became popular with economists many years ago. The conservative economist Milton Friedman even used it as the title of a book he published in 1975. It’s shorthand for the idea that you can’t really get something for nothing: even if something seems free, you pay for it in one way or another. Is that true?
Malcolm Fraser, the Liberal politician who played a key role in the dismissal of the Whitlam government, is today often credited as a humanitarian by many on the left. They specifically point to the way he handled the influx of Vietnamese refugees in the late 1970s. Many of these refugees arrived by boat, and it was the time when the term “boat people” was first popularised.
We regret that comrade Gerry Rivera was unable to attend the Revolution and Internationalism in the 21st century Conference. We note the recent attempt by the management of Philippine Airlines to escalate its dispute with the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA).
Melbourne visual artist Van Thanh Rudd’s art work titled Pop Goes the System, which depicts Justin Bieber supporting Palestinian human rights, was banned from the 2011 Human Rights Arts and Film Festival by festival organisers.
The Queensland state budget delivered on June 14 has confirmed again the state Labor government’s willingness to pander to the needs of big business, while workers pick up the tab for the sell-off of large chunks of the state’s infrastructure. In a post-budget media event, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh beamed as she announced: “The sun has come back to the sunshine state”.
In April, refugee rights activists from Perth and other parts of Australia attempted to visit asylum seekers held in the Curtin detention centre. Leading the protest action were the asylum seekers themselves, who went on hunger strike. Why is there so much underlying tension within the system of mandatory detention?
May 7 was a turning point in Singapore’s political history. Singaporeans went to the polls that day in the country’s 16th parliamentary elections, and by the next morning it had become clear that the political mood has shifted in this island nation.
Angered by rising unemployment and a deepening social crisis, and inspired by the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, tens of thousands of Spanish youth have taken to the streets, occupying city squares throughout Spain. Solidarity protests have taken place throughout Europe.
Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effects on Our lives
By Catherine Lutz and Anne Lutz Fernandez
Palgrave Macmillan, 272 pages
Jakarta – May Day was commemorated across Indonesia by thousands of workers, students, women activists and NGOs. Despite large turnouts in most cities, this year’s demands were less militant, with a major focus on the Social Insurance Management Agency (BPJS) law being deliberated by the House of Representatives (DPR).
The international capitalist media have largely ignored the tumultuous developments in Egypt unfolding under the pressure of a massive movement for change. Most coverage since the resignation of former president Hosni Mubarak on February 11 has been uncritical reportage of “sectarian” violence.
On April 19, the same day that Marrickville Council met to reconsider its vote in support of the Palestinian-initiated boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian human rights and against Israel, the Socialist Party of Australia issued a statement opposing the BDS campaign.
Ezequiel Morales from the Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos (ICAP) (the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples) spoke with Hamish Chitts from Direct Action on May 9 after Morales had spoken to a workplace meeting of Brisbane bus drivers organised by the Rail, Tram, Bus Union and the Australia Cuba Friendship Society.
Issue 32 - May 2011
British government memos obtained under freedom of information requests by oil industry researcher Greg Muttitt have revealed the oil profits were a key motivator of the UK’s participation in the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. On April 19, the British Independent daily published a major story about these disclosures.
On the morning of March 20, waves of NATO jet fighters and bombers launched an air attack against Libya’s air force, air defence systems, airports, roads, ports and ground forces with hundreds of cruise missiles, under cover of UN Resolution 1973, pushed through the Security Council on March 17.
[This is an edited text of the speech by RAC activist Nicole Mousley to the April 2 Broadmeadows rally.]
For the past 80 years, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) has led the country to historic victories that showed not only Vietnam’s spirit of national unity and self-determination but also the CPV’s political strength, its ability to mobilise the people and its ongoing commitment to building socialism.
More than a million people filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square on April 8 in the biggest show of strength from the Egyptian mass movement since February 18, when a similar number celebrated the fall of dictator Hosni Mubarak.
“Europe's debt crisis returned to haunt markets Monday as investors fretted over a possible Greek default”, Associated Press reported April 23.
Western Australia’s small mining town of Roebourne became a centre of attention following a native title meeting that was taken over by outsiders and turned into a sham on March 16.
San Francisco – April 20 was the first anniversary of the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico of a deep ocean oil rig owned by British Petroleum. Eleven workers were killed, and the ensuing massive oil leak over the next months became the greatest ecological disaster in US history.
It created a small stir in late March when British journalist and columnist George Monbiot wrote in the Guardian that the ongoing nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan had convinced him that the use of nuclear power needs to be expanded in order to counter global warming.
Writing in the Washington Post on April 1, Richard Goldstone, who headed the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict in the wake of Israel’s 2008-09 Operation Cast Lead, which killed 1400 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, announced he was “reconsidering” some of the findings of the report that bears his name.
One of the most common arguments encountered when making the case for revolutionary change is that working people in Australia are too comfortable to fight against capitalism. The other, related, argument is that people are too selfish – that a socialist society won’t work because it’s human nature to be greedy and individualistic.
Shock is the first word that comes to mind. When I first read about the murder of Juliano Mer-Khamis just hours after he was killed on April 4, like so many others, I reeled in shock. Then I burst into tears for a man I had never met. I cried for him, for his family and for the Palestinian people.
After a rowdy three-hour meeting attended by about 70 banner-wielding observers, the 12-member Marrickville municipal council in Sydney’s inner-west voted on April 19 to rescind a motion originally adopted by 10-2 on December 14 to support the international campaign to boycott, sanctions and disinvestment (BDS) of Israel.
On April 16-17, more than 60 members and supporters of the Australia Cuba Friendship Societies (ACFS) from across Australia gathered in Sydney for the annual national consultation. The consultation coincided with historic events, as the Cuban Communist Party met for its Sixth Congress to decide on long-debated adjustments to Cuba’s planned socialist economy.
The immigration detention centre at Curtin airbase has again erupted in protests as hundreds of asylum seekers engage in a hunger strike. The centre, located 2500km from Perth in the remote west Kimberley region, was shut down in 2002 following a series of riots and incidents of self-harm by detainees. The federal government reopened it in June 2010.
More than 200 people marched to Villawood Detention Centre from Chester Hill station in Sydney’s west on April 25 to protest the treatment of refugees and call for an end to Labor’s mandatory detention, deportations and offshore processing regime.
About 300 pro-refugee activists converged upon the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) centre in the outer-Melbourne northern suburb of Broadmeadows on Saturday, April 2. The protest was organised by the Refugee Action Collective and was intended to raise awareness about children in detention.
Last month occurred the ninth anniversary of the coup against President Hugo Chavez. This event was a major turning point in the Bolivarian revolution that began with the election of Hugo Chavez to the presidency in 1998. Within 48 hours of the coup, people’s power was able to mobilise and, in alliance with sections of the army, to force the reinstatement of Chavez.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) has criticised the Labor government for failing to invest in manufacturing. It claims that Labor is ignoring its “base” in the blue-collar unions and is likely to lose thousands of votes unless it invests heavily in manufacturing.
“Restiamo humani” – “Stay human” was the life motto of Vittorio (Vik) Arrigoni. He should have left Gaza for Italy some weeks ago, but he decided to stay a bit longer because he feared another Israeli “Cast Lead” being unleashed on Gaza and he wanted to be there. On April 14, he was kidnapped and murdered, reportedly by a radical Islamist group.
Heat is building on the waterfront as the stevedoring industry and a number of port authorities are digging in their heels against attempts by the Maritime Union to address safety concerns and improve wages and conditions on the wharves.
Issue 31 - April 2011
Dramatic scenes unfolded as at least 150 asylum seekers, believed to be mostly Iranians, broke out of the Christmas Island detention centre on Saturday, March 12. After pushing down a fence, a number of detainees fled to the north-west tip of the island, which is covered in jungle. Almost 20 men are still at large, but are being hunted down by Australian Federal Police.
The campaign against coal seam gas (CSG) mining has accelerated across small towns and rural areas in NSW and Queensland. An investigative documentary, The Gas Rush, aired on February 21 by ABC TV, has spurred anger at mining companies, revealing an industry that is fully backed by state and federal Labor governments.
Recriminations are continuing over the management of the Wivenhoe dam and its contribution to the devastating February floods in Brisbane. Few, however, are looking at the evidence that is mounting of the considerable costs involved in the construction and failure of large dams.
The so-called humanitarian intervention in Libya is nothing of the kind. It is a war in which the US-led imperialist forces have used the widespread sympathy for the Libyan people’s uprising to justify the latest chapter in their war for empire.
San Francisco – The largest demonstration against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s drive to smash public workers’ unions happened soon after he and Republican legislators illegally pushed through legislation that virtually outlaws collective bargaining by these unions.
Jakarta – The gruesome murder of three members of the Ahmadiyah religious sect by an Islamist mob has left Indonesia’s image of pluralism and religious tolerance in tatters. On February 6, a mob of 1500 people attacked 21 Ahmadiyah members in Cikeusik, a village in Banten province in Java, killing three and seriously wounding five others.
Jakarta – International Women’s Day is still much less known among Indonesian women than May Day is among Indonesian workers. This is not surprising because the struggle for the liberation of women developed only several years after reformasi – the movement that toppled the Suharto dictatorship in 1998.
The fires of the Arab uprising have spread to US-occupied Iraq. Sectarian divisions fostered by the US and its puppet Iraqi government, through death squads, sermons and propaganda, have been swept aside as Iraq’s working class unites to demand jobs, basic services and an end to corruption.
The federal Labor government and the Greens announced on February 24 that they had agreed to sell carbon pollution permits at a fixed price from July 1, 2012, as an interim measure. After that, a carbon emissions permit trading scheme will be introduced within three to five years.
The March 23 Sydney Morning Herald reported that two Sri Lankan men who were originally rejected asylum seekers and were taken to the Australian mainland to alleviate overcrowding at the Christmas Island immigration detention centre in March 2010 have now been granted refugee visas after a High Court challenge determined that they were denied procedural fairness according to
As was predicted by opinion polls, the Labor Party was routed in the March 26 NSW state elections, garnering only 34% of the popular vote on a two-party preferred basis to the Liberal-National Coalition’s 66%. Labor is likely to retain at most 21 out of the 93 seats in the NSW lower house of parliament.
[This article is based on a speech delivered to the International Women’s Day protest in Brisbane Square held on March 5. The rally of around 100 people marked the 100th year of IWD.]
The nuclear accident in Japan caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami has affirmed many of the concerns that anti-nuclear campaigners have been warning of for decades. Above all else, nuclear power is a deadly form of energy production. At every point of the nuclear energy cycle, there is a risk of a major environmental and social catastrophe.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians rallied for national unity across the occupied West Bank and Gaza on March 15. The rallies, led by Palestinian youth and inspired by the recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, sought to bring to an end three and a half years of bitter division and rivalry between Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas.
If “Labor Party” makes you think of right-wing parties like the ALP or the British Labour Party, the Labor Party in the Philippines (PM from its name in Tagalog) will be a refreshing surprise. Unlike those parties, the PM is a home for revolutionaries and trade union leaders who put up a fight against their bosses.
Anzac Day has long been less about remembrance of the people slaughtered in wars for Australia’s capitalist class and their foreign friends and more about creating a culture of blind nationalism and militarism.
More than 140 unaccompanied minors from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan are currently crowded into a centre originally built to house 40-50 asylum seekers, the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation centre (MITA), located in the suburb of Broadmeadows.
On March 22 the federal government finally passed the flood and cyclone levy, a one-off tax to help with the reconstruction of parts of Australia affected by recent natural disasters. The Julia Gillard Labor government expects the levy (formally known as the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangement – NDRRA) to raise $1.8 billion.
If someone approached you and offered you $1 million to let him kill you, would you accept? What if the price was $2 million? $5 million?
Most people would probably say that there is no price at which they would sell their life. But that doesn’t prevent businesses and governments from setting a dollar value on our lives.
The Sixth Cuban Communist Party (PCC) Congress will be held in the second half of April. The congress will have two agenda items: the economy and the election of a new Central Committee and other leadership bodies. Other decisions will be deferred to a conference later in the year.
Issue 30 - March 2011
British Judge Howard Riddle ruled on February 24 that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden to be questioned about allegations of sexual assault. This is despite the fact that Assange has not been charged with any criminal act.
I’ve never understood how people could sit up at night watching TV sport on the other side of the world. But I sat for hour after hour watching live coverage of the Egyptian revolution unfolding.
It took 18 days, from the January 25 “Day of Rage” demonstrations in Egypt to the victory of the movement on February 11, when Mubarak was forced to resign. They were 18 days that shook the world and continue to do so. Just as the victory of the people of Tunisia inspired the uprising in Egypt, the victory in Egypt is inspiring revolutionary movements throughout the Arab world.
The events of the last weeks are one of those historical moments when the lessons of many decades can be telescoped into a few brief moments and seemingly minor occurrences can take on immense significance. The entry of millions of Egyptians onto the political stage has graphically illuminated the real processes that underlie the politics of the Middle East.
The story of women in Indonesia is inseparable from the development of the Indonesian nation itself. Indonesia was swept up in the global wave of anti-colonial national liberation movements in the mid-20th century, declaring its independence in 1945 after almost 350 years of Dutch colonial rule.
San Francisco – The Arab upsurge has left Washington reeling, scrambling to maintain its control of the region as best it can. The contradictory statements coming out of the White House, State Department and the US military as the events in Egypt unfolded illustrate the imperialists’ dilemma.
It was almost unheard of. Last month, a Fairfax business writer hinted that capitalism – at least, the Australian capitalism that we all know and love – might be not quite perfect. Something, Stuart Washington wrote on February 7, is “broken” in Australia’s “pricing system”, and “I believe failures in pricing are posing grave dangers to what we know as capitalism”.
Perempuan Mahardhika (Free Women) National Network Statement – March 8, 2010
With hundreds of members rolling in for the opening of its third biennial state conference in Fremantle February 21-25, the Western Australian branch of the Maritime Union has declared, to the enthusiastic and unanimous endorsement of its members, that 2011 is the “Year of the Wharfie”.
The fortunes of Western Australia’s billionaires have surged, unabated by the global economic crisis. Gina Rinehart is the first woman to top Forbes Asia’s list of the wealthiest Australians, with an estimated fortune of $9 billion. Her wealth grew by $7 billion in one year. Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest came in at No 2 as his wealth surged 68%, thanks to soaring iron ore prices.
Faced with opinion polls showing that the 16-year-old NSW Labor government is facing electoral wipe-out in the March 26 state election, Premier Kristina Keneally unveiled a phoney “fairness for families” package as her main campaign platform at a gathering of 400 party supporters and candidates in Sydney’s western suburbs on February 6.
Melbourne police have dropped charges against two Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) activists involved in a dramatic protest against Australian racism on January 26 last year. The protest received extensive media coverage in Australia and around the world, especially in India.
As Colonel Muammar Gaddafi desperately clung to power and the people of Libya faced the most brutal battle yet in the wave of uprisings spreading through the Arab world, there were suddenly calls from the West for some form of intervention to “protect” the Libyan people – who had already demonstrated their ability to protect themselves.
San Francisco – Contagion has spread not only in the Arab world. It has even been seen in the United States, specifically in Wisconsin. The background is the assault by the federal and state governments against public worker unions, part of the ruling class’s drive against the social wage, including cuts in education and other social services.
Only a month after a university-educated street vendor burned himself to death, a mass movement forced dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee Tunisia on January 14. Tunisia’s upheaval sparked massive demonstrations in Algeria against rising food prices, forcing the country’s military regime to reintroduce food subsidies.
Ramallah, occupied Palestine – More than 1000 people, predominately Palestinian youth, rallied in Ramallah on February 17 to call for unity between Fatah and Hamas, the two main Palestinian factions.
The 11th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) concluded on January 19. Over eight days, the congress reviewed its past decisions and performance and set the course to lead the people in building Vietnam into an industrialised nation.
Issue 29 - February 2011
[These are extracts from the international situation and international work report presented to the Revolutionary Socialist Party Congress, December 18-20, 2010.]
Thirty activists from the Perth-based Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN) visited the remote mining town of Leonora in late January to protest against the mandatory detention of asylum seekers and to provide solidarity to those detained there.
The dangers refugees face trying to reach the shores of Australia were briefly brought to attention on December 15, when 28 refugees, mostly from Iran and Iraq, lost their lives after the small wooden fishing boat they were on was smashed against rocks off the coast of Christmas Island.
Thousands of Tamils around the world commemorated the massacre at the Nagerkovil school that occurred 16 years ago near Jaffna, in the north-east of Sri Lanka. Many of the Tamils who commemorated the bombing of the school are facing deportation back to Sri Lanka where the Tamil people face systematic persecution.
After assessing 2010’s political activities, members of the Revolutionary Socialist Party at its December congress adopted an outlook for this year emphasising consolidation and building across the range of those activities.
On January 27, the lower house of the Irish Parliament approved by a vote of 81 to 76 legislation imposing savage austerity measures on working people.
In November, Venezuela’s revolutionary socialist President Hugo Chavez visited the Cuban capital, Havana, to mark the 10th anniversary of the signing of the historic cooperation pact between Cuba and Venezuela, core of the pro-socialist Bolivarian Alliance for Our America, known by its Spanish acronym ALBA, and to review and strengthen economic and social cooperation between the tw
The ongoing socialist revolution in Cuba is an inspiring example of what can be achieved for women’s rights when the capitalist agenda no longer dictates.
There is much that could be said about the furore surrounding PM Julia Gillard’s proposal for a flood levy to assist with the reconstruction process. One thing patently clear is that most of the outcry – whether in support or against the levy – is that it is shrouded in political opportunism and manoeuvring.
[Below is an abridged version of a speech delivered at the December 9-10 rallies in Brisbane to defend WikiLeaks and for freedom for Julian Assange.]
There was an overwhelming response from working people to the flood preparation and recovery efforts in Queensland. On the weekend after the waters receded in Brisbane, tens of thousands of people took to the streets, getting knee deep in the mud to assist friends and strangers alike.
In the weeks at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, tens of thousands of homes were flooded across Queensland’s metropolitan and regional centres. In the days following the flood, the corporate media and ABC local radio provided lots of information, coverage and sympathy for home owners, but little was said about those who have to rent the place they live in.
G’day Direct Action – RSP, a friend sent me a copy of DA some time ago now. My name is Jock Palfreeman, an Australian currently enjoying Sofia Central Prison’s hospitality. See freejock.com for further details, or Google. I know that money is a rare commodity.
San Francisco – The US capitalist media are going all out to portray the political assassination of six people in Tucson, Arizona, and the attempted assassination and wounding of 13 others, on January 8, as merely the action of a psychotic individual. But the facts speak otherwise. The assassin, Jared Loughner, planned his attack well in advance.
Gasland, an explosive documentary exposing the dangers of coal seam gas mining in the United States, has shocked audiences as it toured film festivals and country towns facing the same “hit-and-run” industry in Australia.
Sydney: More than 400 residents crowded the four corners surrounding the Glebe Post Office on January 20 to demand that Australia Post abandon its plan to close the facility.
In hindsight, there was a great deal of beauty in the scene. There was a kaleidoscope of colours: dark blues and greens, the red and white of the national soccer team, as well as fading browns and greys and dirty whites. T-shirts and dresses, trousers and singlets, chequered green and brown sarongs, black pecis on black hair, all coloured the scene.
For more than 50 years, the Cuban revolution has been an inspiration to millions around the world. Since the successful 1959 revolution led by Fidel Castro with his younger brother Raul and Ernesto Che Guevara, many have studied, commented and debated its significance in the struggle for socialism.
NSW Labor is on the nose with voters, like never before. In October, according to Newspoll, it became the most unpopular ALP government there has ever been in Australia, with only 23% support. When Labor lost government in Victoria last year, it suffered a uniform swing of about 6%. In NSW, election analysts are predicting double that, or more.
Brigade dates: April 25-May 4, 2011
Registration deadline: February 28, 2011
Ramallah, occupied Palestine – In 2005, more than 170 Palestinian civil society organisations issued an international call for the boycott of Israel. Inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign is conducted in the framework of international solidarity and resistance to injustice and oppression.
If anyone is not convinced of the utter rottenness of ALP politics in Australia, they need to look no further than the NSW state electricity privatisation. Premier Kristina Keneally’s moribund state government is set virtually to give away prime public assets to the private sector and in the process even further alienate its working-class constituency.
The devastating floods across Queensland and Victoria have killed dozens of people, displaced thousands and wreaked billions of dollars in damage to infrastructure and industry, leaving scores of shattered towns and cities.
The Revolutionary Socialist Party held its second national congress in December. The congress, held in Sydney, mapped out ambitious plans for the party’s campaign work and work to popularise the ideas of socialism and Marxism.
The apathy and racism inherent to most mainstream “Australia Day” (Invasion Day) events was dealt a blow by activists from the Revolutionary Socialist Party on January 26 in Melbourne.
The attacks on Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange, are a response to an information revolution that threatens old power orders in politics and journalism.
Following the hasty departure of Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, Tunisia’s uprising has continued to mobilise across the country against the fake “national unity” government imposed upon it by the dictator’s cronies, desperate to cling to power.
The North Korean military’s artillery-fire upon the disputed territory of Yeonpyeong Island last November was the latest response to an unceasing campaign of provocations by the US military and its South Korean ally. The Yeonpyeong incident resulted in at least four fatalities.
The Australian anti-war veteran group Stand Fast will be touring Michael Prysner in June. Prysner is a co-founder of the US anti-war veteran group March Forward!, an affiliate of the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition, which organises against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars while fighting for social and economic justice in the US. March Forward!
Issue 28 - November-December 2010
Official interest rates in the United States have been held almost to zero for nearly two years. In mainstream economic theory, low interest is a “stimulus” measure. The idea is that businesses are more willing to borrow and expand their operations when interest rates are low.
The People’s Train
By Tom Keneally
[This is the text of a speech given by Reinaldo Garcia Perera, consul-general to Australia for the Republic of Cuba, to a meeting in Sydney on October 10 protesting against the US blockade of Cuba.]
Dear friends: Thank you all for being here today. Your presence confirms the power of mobilisation of the Cuban Revolution and your lasting and strong support for it.
On October 20, Gurindji workers in the remote Aboriginal communities of Kalkaringi and Dagaragu stopped work in protest against the NT intervention. This protest revives the memory of the Gurindji walk-off in 1966, which was central in sparking a wave of protest and solidarity that led to the land rights victories of the 1980s.
Agent Orange is the code name of the dioxin-laced chemical used by the United States to defoliate huge areas of Vietnam and destroy food crops during its devastating war against the people of Vietnam. Between 1962 and 1971, the US military machine sprayed 80 million litres of chemical herbicides and defoliants in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Cuba’s trade union confederation announced in September that half a million state-employed workers are to be laid off by May 1. Over the next five years, Cuba’s socialist government plans to shift a further half million workers from the state-owned economy to the self-employed, small business and cooperative sectors.
More than 150 Palestine solidarity activists and supporters of human rights from around Australia gathered in Melbourne October 29-31 for Australia’s first national boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) conference in support of Palestine.
The Burmese military regime, officially called the State Peace and Development Council, organised a general election on November 7 – the first in two decades. The SPDC’s Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) claimed a landslide victory, declaring that it had won 86% of seats in the lower house of parliament and 88% in the upper house.
John Cleary was an active member of the Builders Labourers Federation in the 1970s before becoming an electrician, delegate and member of the Electrical Trades Union. He was an ETU organiser for 12 years until 2001. Since then he has been active in solidarity with Venezuela and Colombia, including organising and participating in seven solidarity brigades to Venezuela.
When President Obama dumped his emissions trading policy after the trouncing of the Democrats in the recent US mid-term elections, he received cheers from his carbon-rich polluting allies here in Australia. The Julia Gillard Labor government, not to be outdone by Tony Abbot’s “direct action” nonsense, has promised much and delivered nothing.
Peter Garrett, the 1980s rock star in a band noted for its anti-nuclear, anti-mining, anti-military stance, is living proof that parliamentarism will never serve the campaigns for social, environmental and economic justice.
San Francisco – The US government has announced that the Great Recession ended in the northern summer of 2009. What it means is that the contraction of gross domestic product that began in late 2007 stopped, and GDP began to increase slowly.
Three years after the federal government first announced a proposed internet filter, the twists and turns of the various versions of the policy and conflicting statements about it have been challenging to keep track of. One certainty is that the proposal as it stands after the 2010 election has almost nothing in common with the original.
Yogyakarta – Thousands of mainly student protesters took to the streets in cities across Indonesia – including Jakarta, Palu, Makassar, Medan, Ternate, Samarinda, Bandung, Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Madura – on October 20 to protest the first year of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s second term as president.
Yogyakarta – A labour dispute is unfolding in this Central Java city that highlights many of the intransigent problems Indonesian workers face under the neoliberal government of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).
Mauritius – An International Conference on Diego Garcia and Chagos, organised by the socialist group Lalit, was held here October 30-November 2.
Israeli lawmakers are seeking to further extend state apartheid during the 2010-11 winter session of the Knesset (parliament). Key in the new legislation is a series of laws on a loyalty pledge that includes acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state.
Write of life / the pious said
forget the past / the past is dead.
But all I see / in front of me
is a concrete floor / a cell door / and John Pat.
– by Jack Davis
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s government plans to establish a regional processing centre to stem the very small numbers of asylum seekers and refugees who attempt to arrive unauthorised by boat to Australia. With a nod to the Coalition’s racist “turn back the boats” policy, Labor plans to shift its current offshore processing of asylum seekers to a poorer regional country.
The federal Labor Party government formally agreed in early November to create an even tighter linking of Australian foreign policy and military forces with the policy and forces of the US government.
The Alliance of People’s Struggle (ARM), a coalition of women’s, students, labour and peasant organisations, based in Yogyakarta, is appealing for emergency aid to help people affected by the Mount Merapi volcano, which is having its most violent eruptions in more than a century.
More than 50 Perth train drivers took unprotected industrial action on September 24, taking leave or phoning in sick in the morning. More reported sick in the afternoon. It was the second time in a month that the train drivers initiated a “blue flu”.
In an unprecedented display of unity, 16 of the main trade union organisations in the Philippines met on November 8 to oppose the impending lay-off of almost 3000 workers by Philippine Airlines (PAL), the nation’s main airline.
The sinking of RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912 was one of the worst maritime disasters of all time. 1517 people died. Those killed were disproportionately poorer working class passengers and crew. While more than 60% of first class passengers survived, fewer than 25% of third class passengers did, and fewer than 24% of the crew.
On November 10, French President Nicolas Sarkozy signed into law his conservative government’s pension reform plan, under which the minimum age of retirement will be increased from 60 to 62 years, but those retired workers who wish to claim full pension benefits will be forced to wait until they reach the age of 67 instead of the present age of 65.
[The following is an abridged version of a talk presented to a Sydney Direct Action forum on November 6. Doug Lorimer is a member of the national executive of the Revolutionary Socialist Party.]
The lesson of the French anti-government protests is that “normal” politics exists only to promote corporate interests. Britain must prepare for a rebirth of the only thing that works – direct action.
[This is an abridged and edited version of a talk to the International Conference on Diego Garcia organised by the Mauritian socialist group Lalit October 30-November 2. See the report on the conference].
My Name is Rachel Corrie
Performed by Hannah Norris
Produced and directed by Daniel Clarke
Designed by Cassandra Backler
FortyFive Downstairs, Melbourne, November 8-14
Queensland’s anti-abortion laws were dealt a sharp blow on October 14 when a Cairns couple were acquitted on charges brought under those laws. For almost two years, the political and legal establishment had tried to have the couple condemned, yet it took the 12 working people on the jury less than an hour to conclude they had no case to answer.
Issue 27 - October 2010
In his 11th appearance before the courts on a charge of refusing to cooperate with the Australian Building and Construction Commission, Adelaide rigger Ark Tribe has had his trial adjourned yet again until November 3. The adjournment was made on September 13 to allow both prosecution and defence counsels to present arguments on the legalities of the charge against Tribe.
In the Indonesia News Digest 31, August 16-23 there are more than 70 news items covering a wide range of issues relating to struggles for social justice and full democracy in Indonesia.
Australian artists from disciplines including music, visual arts, poetry and film-making, with the common goal of ending Israel’s apartheid system, will come together at Australia’s first Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) conference, which is being held in Melbourne from October 29 to 31.
Hundreds of Muslim women and children rallied in Punchbowl, Sydney, on September 19 to protest a burqa ban soon to be debated in the NSW parliament. The bill, introduced by Christian fundamentalist MLC Fred Nile, criminalises wearing a “face covering while in a public place” except as part of a job, entertainment, recreation or sport.
More than 40 climate change activists on September 26 occupied the Newcastle Coal Terminal – the world’s largest coal export facility – in protest over the failure of state and federal governments to halt Australia’s contribution to the climate change crisis. Organised by Rising Tide, the protesters demanded an immediate moratorium on the expansion of the coal industry.
Cuba’s trade union confederation, the CTC, announced in the September 13 edition of the Communist Party (PCC) daily Granma that half a million workers, one in 10 state employees, will be dismissed by May 1. This is downsizing on a vast scale: in Cuba’s post-capitalist, centrally planned economy, the socialist state currently employs 85% the workforce of 5.2 million.
The owners of corporations, their media and their parliamentary stooges have deliberately created many myths over many years in order to justify their wars for profit. A vile mix of racism, xenophobia and nationalism is added to an almost religious awe surrounding the military and war.
The hysteria about refugees and asylum seekers has not skipped a beat since the racism-driven election campaign. Nearly 5000 refugees are being held in detention centres in deplorably inhumane conditions. Many have to wait 10 months or more before their claims are even assessed.
French trade unions estimated that 2.9 million people participated in strikes and protest marches across France on September 23 in opposition to a push by centre-right President Nicholas Sarkozy to impose cuts to the country’s pension system. The government claimed that just under 1 million participated in the protests.
San Francisco – In a qualitative escalation, the Obama administration has for the first time used the “war on terror” against socialists in the United States. On September 24, the FBI conducted a series of coordinated early-morning raids at homes and offices in Minneapolis, Chicago, Michigan and North Carolina.
In the negotiations between the two major parties and the Greens and independents over who would form the new federal government, “transparency” was a frequently mentioned issue. Tony Abbott and the Coalition were criticised, legitimately, for their effort to hide the real cost of their election promises.
On October 12 a couple in Cairns will face trial under Queensland’s anti-abortions laws, with the prospect of years in prison if the charges are upheld. The case represents one of the most severe attacks on abortion rights in this country for decades.
Four fighting organisations of the Indian left – Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, Communist Party Marxist (Punjab), Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) of Maharashtra and Left Coordination Committee (Kerala) – formed an All-India Left Coordination (AILC) through a joint convention held in New Delhi on August 11.
We undertake united front work because it is a principal tactic with which to bring broader layers of the poor majority into the movement challenging the power of the ruling class. It is a tool to bring together and mobilise different forces and build consciousness on a common platform of struggle.
The Political Committee of the Poor-People’s Democratic Party (KPRM-PRD) recently revamped its English language website, making it more possible for people outside Indonesia to follow developments on the Indonesian left. There are already almost 100 items posted on the site, including both party statements and reports and articles on different developments.
[The following is a slightly abridged version of a statement issued by the Perempuan Mahardhika (Free Women) National Network on September 28.]
The attacks by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) against the two-week International Q! Film Festival which opened in Jakarta on September 24 is a violation of basic human rights and threatens democracy in Indonesia.
Jakarta – In November 2004, Indonesia’s newly elected president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, pledged to bring to justice the murderers of Indonesia’s most prominent human rights activist, Munir Said Thalib. Yudhoyono called the killing a “test case for the nation” on “how much Indonesia has changed”.
In June 2008 the federal Labor government said its changes to refugee policy had removed the “worst excesses” of the previous Howard Coalition government’s racist refugee policies. Two years later, it’s clear that the Labor government has not only retained the core elements of these policies, but has actually expanded them.
A range of interesting topics was discussed in the Second Asian Global Justice School, organised by International Institute for Research and Education in Manila for three weeks in August.
“A Victory for all humanity” was how the cover of Direct Action welcomed the liberation of Saigon and final unification of Vietnam on April 30, 1975, and that was the theme of a series of seminars in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane organised in September by Direct Action and the Revolutionary Socialist Party.
Madrid – Ten million workers – more than half of Spain’s workforce – joined a general strike on September 29, and around 1.5 million participated in street demonstrations, according to the Union Confederation of Workers’ Commissions (CCOO) and General Union of Workers (UGT), Spain’s two major trade union federations.
Stand Fast, a group of veterans and former service people opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, had two more successful barracks gate speak-outs against the war in Afghanistan: on September 9, outside of Brisbane’s Gallipoli Barracks, home of the Australian Army’s 7th Brigade, including the 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment currently deployed in Afghanistan; and on Sep
On September 23, Samir Shirhan, a 34-year-old Palestinian father of five, was shot dead by an Israeli private security guard paid by the Israeli government to protect illegal settlers attempting to colonise the Silwan neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem.
The Revolutionary Socialist Party has announced it will stand Van Thanh Rudd in the seat of Derrimut in Melbourne’s western suburbs. The seat is home to large working class and migrant communities. In 2006, Jorge Jorquera stood in the same seat as a candidate for Direct Action, a socialist group that has since merged with the Revolutionary Socialist Party.
“It is very clear: Venezuela said no to Cuban-like communism”, declared Maria Corina Machado, the main spokesperson for Venezuela’s opposition Democratic Unity Alliance (MUD), shortly after the September 26 nation-wide elections to the country’s 165-seat national parliament.
[This article is based on talks presented to Brisbane and Sydney seminars on Vietnam on September 18 and 25. Chitts is a member of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and a founder of Stand Fast, the organisation of military veterans campaigning against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.]
Compulsory acquisition provides state and local governments with the power to acquire land with or without the owners’ agreement, provided they are compensated. It is supposed to be the claiming of land owned by an individual to be used for the benefit of the public. In other words, it is the need of an individual versus the need of the community.
Issue 26 - September 2010
The 30 Year War: Memoirs of War
The Gioi Publishers, Hanoi, 2009. 709pp.
Available from all Direct Action offices for $20.
Spending well over $2 million on election advertising, the ACTU and many affiliates again raised the spectre of an Abbott-run industrial relations agenda in the event of a Coalition victory. And despite all the denials, there is every reason to believe that a Liberal federal government would seek harsher penalties for unions and their members.
The federal election result tells two important stories, and also includes a critical subtext for the left. The first is growing insecurity among the working class in Australia and the decreasing legitimacy of neoliberal politics.
Burma’s military dictatorship is preparing so-called elections on November 7, based on the sham 2008 constitution, which was crafted to further strengthen and legitimise permanent military power. Under that constitution, the military is guaranteed at least 25% of the seats.
The Revolutionary Socialist Party candidate for the Queensland seat of Griffith, Hamish Chitts, believes that the campaign was highly successful in raising the banner of revolutionary socialism. The campaign almost doubled the socialist vote in the seat itself and spread the word about the socialist solutions to the crises of capitalism far and wide beyond the seat.
Whether it is the global financial crisis, endless wars, runaway climate change or the millions of people starving in the Third World, the symptoms of an international capitalist system in deep crisis are all around us. This crisis threatens the very existence of humanity, and peoples around the world are responding with resistance, rebellions and revolutions.
Figures released on August 24 on the housing market in the United States reveal that further tough times lie ahead for the ailing US economy. Existing home sales in the US fell 27.2% in July – the biggest drop in one month in the home sales market in the last four decades and the lowest number of sales since 1999.
Socialism, someone said to me recently, may be a fine idea, but unfortunately human nature would prevent it from operating as intended; by nature, people are too individualistic or competitive or greedy to live in a system of planned cooperation and solidarity. Is this the case?
Jakarta – Around 800 demonstrators from the National Movement for the Cancellation of Basic Electricity Rate Hikes and the Reduction of Prices held a protest action at the State Palace in central Jakarta on August 7. The movement is a broad alliance involving more than 45 organisations.
Fears that the US economy is sliding into a new recession or into a period of protracted near stagnation have been heightened by new data released at the end of August. Real US gross domestic product (GDP) increased at a sluggish annualised 1.6% rate in the April-June quarter of 2010 after increasing by 3.7% in the first quarter, the US Commerce Department announced on August 27.
A call for Pakistan to stop foreign debt repayments and use the money for flood relief was launched at a press conference at the Lahore Press Club on August 13.
Sixty years ago, on September 1, 1950, Frank Hardy published Power Without Glory, one of the most influential and provocative pieces of working-class literature ever written in Australia. It met with wide acclaim and respect from workers through to intellectuals, while being ridiculed and condemned by conservativesand reactionaries of the day.
San Francisco – Plans by a mainstream Islamic group to build a cultural centre a few blocks from where the former Twin Towers of the World Trade Center stood in New York have suddenly been seized on by right-wing media and politicians to whip up a storm of Islamophobia.
Israeli military and police razed the Bedouin village of al-Arakib in the Negev desert for a fourth time on August 17, leaving homeless more than 300 Palestinian Bedouin from the al-Turi tribe, the majority of them children.
Rafeef Ziadah, a Palestinian activist, unionist, academic and spoken word artist will be the keynote speaker at the Building Solidarity, Combating Occupation and Apartheid conference, which is being held in Melbourne from October 29 to 31. This will be the first Australian national conference in support of the Palestinian-initiated boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.
On June 20, 2009, in Melbourne, Sam King was riding home on his bicycle. When trying to pass the Retro Cafe in Fitzroy, he was pulled off his bike, bashed, handcuffed and jailed. Two of the 25 witnesses to the assault were themselves bashed for questioning the police perpetrators. One was also jailed. The other, an 18-year-old woman, was hospitalised with face wounds.
The situation of women in Latin America today seems both encouraging and disgraceful. In different spheres women have achieved both professional and political recognition. Many top professionals are women, and we even have female presidents, like Michelle Bachelet, Cristina Kirchner or the recently elected president of Costa Rica.
At the Byron Bay Writers Festival in August, a popular ideologue of the environment movement, Ian Lowe, told a packed-out marquee, to a round of applause “and someone is shovelling coal into the steamer to get us there faster ...”: “The only responsible thing for citizens to do is organise a mutiny”.
The Revolutionary Socialist Party’s campaign to run Van Rudd against Julia Gillard and Hamish Chitts against Kevin Rudd was a clear step forward for the profile of revolutionary socialist ideas among working people in Australia.
In their 1977 book The Emergence of American Political Issues, Maxwell E. McCombs and Donald L. Shaw argued that the “the most important effect of mass communication”, i.e. the media, is its ability to “mentally order and organise our world for us.
Jakarta – On July 5-8, activists from Southern countries gathered for the South-South People’s Solidarity Network (SSPSN) in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Yogyakarta – The beach-side town of Parangtritis, on the southern coast of Yogyakarta, is currently the site of a protracted and bitter struggle over land between the local government and people.
Zionism, the belief that all Jews throughout the world constitute a nation that requires its own homeland, is a relatively recent ideology.
Binghamton, New York State – The following is an abridged version of an article first published on August 8 (on James Petras’ website). Since then, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and newly-inaugurated right-wing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos have restored diplomatic relations between their two countries.
“The Department of Defense already occupies one third of our lands and has harmed so much of our ocean. We cannot allow them to take more from our island and people. These projects will devastate our ecosystems, change our ways of life, and disregard our Chamorro culture. United we can stop this. Let’s stand together to protect our lands, ocean, and culture!”
Jakarta – Human rights groups have reacted angrily to an announcement by Washington that it will restore military ties with Indonesia’s abusive special forces Kopassus, accused of perpetrating some of the worst crimes against the people of East Timor, Indonesia and West Papua.
Complete with flight suit, then US President George W. Bush flew by fighter jet to the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln in May 2003. In a performance staged for the cameras before a huge banner reading “Mission Accomplished”, with thousands of troops cheering him on, Bush declared the “end of major combat operations” in Iraq.
Vietnam won its independence 65 years ago. On September 2, 1945, in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh Square, hundreds of thousands of people heard President Ho Chi Minh, on behalf of the provisional government, read out the Declaration of Independence.
Election statement by Hamish Chitts, Revolutionary Socialist Party candidate for Griffith.
Regardless of which party gains government from Saturday’s Federal Election the majority of people in this country, the working class, will be worse off. Whoever wins will continue to oversee measures that will profit a tiny minority of super rich, the capitalist class.
“I’ve been waiting for [this] for a long time”, tweeted Daniel Ellsberg, in reference to the release of more than 92,000 pages of classified US military documents by the whistle-blower website Wikileaks, on July 25.
A dozen youth and students from Australia, England and South Africa and two members from Lalit in Mauritius have concluded a revolutionary youth and student tour of the revolutions of Cuba and Venezuela. This fantastic experience was an initiative of the Sydney University Cuba-Venezuela Solidarity Club (CVSC).
Issue 25 - August 2010
Racism is at the forefront of the 2010 Australian election.
Five decades ago, on August 10, 1961, U.S. forces conducted the first spraying mission of so-called “herbicides” or “defoliants,” beginning the chemical warfare which lasted for almost 10 years (1961-71). The use of Agent Orange brought about untold human death and suffering, as well as environmental destruction to South Vietnam and surrounding areas.
Despite the Vietnam War ending 35 years ago the US chemical bombardment of Vietnam is still claiming victims. More than 3 million Vietnamese have suffered the effects of Agent Orange – the nickname given to dioxin rich herbicides sprayed by the US military over large parts of central and southern Vietnam.
Statement from Hamish Chitts, Revolutionary Socialist Party candidate for Griffith:
Thousands of waterside workers across Australia mourned the death of yet another workmate and comrade on July 23, walking off the job to attend memorial services and shutting all ports for nearly 24 hours.
The increasing isolation of the Israeli state as a result of its assault on Palestinians in Gaza in late 2008 and the slaying of nine solidarity activists on the MV Mavi Marmara aid ship in June has given rise to a qualitative change in support to the rights of Palestinians within the Australian union movement.
The continuing trial of construction union (CFMEU) member Ark Tribe before Adelaide’s Magistrate Court has again led to big rallies across Australia, with about 10,000 unionists marching on July 20 in all capital cities and in a number of regional centres.
The Northern Territory Emergency Response legislation, commonly referred to as the NT Intervention, is a prime example of the ALP’s and Coalition’s bipartisan approach to racism. Initiated by the Howard government months before it lost the 2007 election, the intervention was readily continued by the Labor government.
While the ALP and the Liberal-National Coalition put on grand theatrics on how different they are from each other (usually with no actual basis) when it comes to foreign policy neither party seems willing to display any difference.
A north Queensland couple will face court in Cairns on October 12 on charges brought under the state’s anti-abortion laws. A woman is facing charges for intent to procure a miscarriage, which carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison. Her partner is facing charges for assisting her, which carries a penalty of up to three years in prison.
The current federal election campaign is proceeding and will proceed until August 21 without the issue of climate change being seriously discussed. Neither the Labor Party nor the Liberal-National Coalition wants a serious discussion of the issue. Julia Gillard announced a “new” policy of doing nothing, except for a Rudd-style talk-fest to be called a “Citizens’ Assembly”.
“I’d do it exactly the same all over again”, Fidel Castro insisted on July 24, making one of his first public appearances since a devastating intestinal illness in 2006 forced him from the public eye. The former president was referring to the failed 1953 attack he led against the Moncada Barracks in Oriente province, which proved to be the opening salvo in the Cuban Revolution.
Without a doubt, the biggest winners of the 2010 federal election will be the huge corporations that run Australia.
On August 14, thousands of people will rally around Australia for equal marriage rights regardless of sex, sexuality, or gender identity. This will be the 7th annual national August mobilisation protesting the Marriage Amendment Bill, passed by the federal parliament on August 13, 2004, which banned the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Australia.
San Francisco – The firing of African American Shirley Sherrod from her job with the Department of Agriculture, where she worked to help the rural poor for decades, has again brought to the fore the oppression of black people.
On June 24, Julia Gillard was sworn in as Australia’s first woman prime minister after the right-wing faction withdrew its support for Kevin Rudd. Rudd’s support had evaporated so quickly that he didn’t even contest the leadership ballot. This made Rudd one of the shortest serving prime ministers, the shortest being Frank Forde who held the office for eight days in 1945.
Jakarta – Under the theme “Unite against capitalism and the regime that supports it, build a united national labour movement that is progressive, militant, democratic and independent”, on July 9, 76 labour union representatives from around the country gathered in the Jakarta satellite city of Bogor for a three-day congress to establish a new union federation, the Indonesian Labour
Jakarta – At around 2.30am on June 28, a group of men arrived at a major news distribution outlet in Central Jakarta. “We want to buy all copies of this magazine”, said one, pointing to Tempo, hot off the press with a cover story titled “Police officers’ fat bank accounts”.
As news filtered through within minutes of the latest death on the waterfront that Thursday morning, every wharfie froze. Who? Where? And more pertinently, why ... yet again?
Julia Gillard’s successful challenge to Kevin Rudd for leadership of the federal ALP on June 24 delivered Australia its first female prime minister. Sydney Morning Herald journalist Josephine Tovey wrote the next day that, “While her role as the first female Prime Minister will make her a hero to many women, it is her actions that will keep her being one ...
Haneen Zoabi, a member of the Israeli Knesset, was stripped of her parliamentary privileges on July 13 following her participation in the Gaza flotilla, which was attacked by Israeli commandos who murdered nine human rights activists.
Australian Palestine solidarity activists and supporters of human rights will gather in Melbourne in October for the first national conference in support of the Palestinian-initiated boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.
North Star – A Memoir
By Peter Camejo
Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2010
On July 1, US President Barack Obama signed into law a new bill that imposes unilateral US sanctions targeting foreign companies that sell petroleum products to Iran. On July 26, the European Union followed suit. New EU sanctions include a ban on the sale of equipment and services to Iran’s energy sector.
Like in the rest of the world, workers in Australia have suffered almost three decades of what has been described here as “economic rationalism” and in the rest of the world as “neoliberal reforms”. These “reforms” have entailed massive privatisation of government-owned business and utilities such as banks, airlines, power stations, urban public transport, etc.
“The ultimate reason for all real crises”, Karl Marx argued in Capital, his seminal work on the laws of motion of the capitalist system, “always remains the poverty and restricted consumption of the masses as opposed to the drive of capitalist production to develop the productive forces as though only the absolute consuming power of society constituted their outer limit”.
On September 26 the people of Venezuela will again head to the polls, to vote for the 165-member National Assembly.
It’s easy enough to see that there are many things in this world that need changing. Figuring out how to change them is a bit more complicated.
US military authorities announced the laying of charges against Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old military intelligence analyst, on July 6. Manning was accused of leaking classified US military information through the whistle-blower web site Wikileaks.
Issue 24 - July 2010
Less than a week after the UN Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran on June 9, the Australia government is planning its own unilateral punitive measures.
I’ll begin with two preliminary remarks. First, football here refers to the sport played with your feet, not those codes where the primary limbs used are the hands. Some of these hand-codes are known in a handful of the 195 nations of the world as football. Australia is one of these, where the term soccer is used instead for football.
As all Cuban schoolchildren know, July 26 is the anniversary of the 1953 attack on the Moncada military garrison in Santiago de Cuba that launched the Cuban Revolution. The young rebels, led Fidel Castro, had hoped to seize the garrison, liberate its weapons and call upon the Cuban people to rise up against the US-backed Batista dictatorship.
In a surprising turn of affairs, the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) confirmed on June 18 that it was commencing two separate investigations in relation to the death in custody in 2004 of Palm Island man Mulrunji Doomadgee. A report released by the CMC noted that it will investigate compensation claims made by previously exonerated officer Senior Sergeant Ch
San Francisco – Two months after the April 20 explosion on a BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico triggered the greatest environment disaster from a single incident in US history, the oil keeps gushing. Along the shoreline encompassing the US Gulf states, oil creeps up further and further from the gusher itself.
Israel announced on June 17 that it would “liberalise” its three-year siege of Gaza, allowing more categories of goods to enter the blockaded territory. Non-essential items such as tomato sauce, snacks, mayonnaise and cosmetics will now be allowed in.
About 200 male Afghan asylum seekers who have had their asylum claims suspended were taken to the re-opened Curtin air base detention centre in Australia’s remote north-west on June 19-20, ABC News reported. Over a 1000 asylum seekers were once held in this remote location by the previous Howard government.
The federal Labor government is increasingly rejecting Afghan refugees – at a rate of more than 40%, compared with only 5% a year ago, according to a report in the June 17 Australian. More than 220 Afghans had been denied “in the last month or two”, said immigration minister Chris Evans.
To the surprise of many, in April the Australian Education Union took an apparently firm and principled stand against the use of school test data, namely the federal National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests, for ranking schools on the My School government website.
Australia’s population, currently 22.4 million, is predicted to rise to 35.9 million by 2050, according to the Australian Treasury Department’s Intergenerational Report 2010, released by federal treasurer Wayne Swan on February 1.
Hundreds of rail workers in Townsville and Redbank struck on June 8 against the Queensland government’s plans to privatise the rail network. The strike involved workshop staff of both regions and freight train drivers in Townsville.
From the amount of fuss being made about it, some people might conclude that the Labor government’s Resource Super Profits Tax proposes important changes in the tax system. Such a conclusion would, however, be a mistake. The RSPT has more to do with the approaching federal election than it does with taxation.
“Socialism sounds like a great idea, but it’s not really feasible. At least in the developed countries, workers are too brainwashed by the system, and the ruling class is just too powerful to be overthrown.” That is not a precise quotation from any specific person, but socialists frequently encounter arguments to this effect.
On May 29 around 150 people took to the streets of Sydney as part of the campaign against the abortion charges brought against a couple in Cairns. The rally was organised by the Women’s Abortion Action Campaign (WAAC) and was chaired by WAAC activist Margaret Kirkby. There were contingents at the rally from Melbourne, Brisbane and participants from Adelaide and New Zealand.
London – How do wars begin? With a “master illusion”, according to Ralph McGehee, one of the CIA’s pioneers in “black propaganda”, known today as “news management”. In 1983, he described to me how the CIA had faked an “incident” that became the “conclusive proof of North Vietnam’s aggression”.
Caracas – A revealing report published in May 2010 by the FRIDE Institute, a Spanish think tank, prepared with funding from the World Movement for Democracy (a project of the US-based National Endowment for Democracy, NED), has disclosed that international agencies are funding the Venezuelan opposition with a whopping US$40-50 million annually.
June has been the deadliest month ever for Australian troops occupying Afghanistan. On June 7, Sapper Jacob Moerland, 21, and Sapper Darren Smith, 25, from Brisbane-based 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment, were killed by an improvised explosive device and another soldier was shot and wounded in the arm on June 16.
Thirty-five years ago the monstrous US (and Australian) war against the people of Vietnam finally came to an end. On April 30, 1975, Vietnamese forces entered Saigon.
Issue 23 - June 2010
The Rudd Labor government is supporting US President Obama’s intensification of the war in Afghanistan, which can only increase the number of Afghan refugees. Yet at the same time, Labor is preparing to deport en masse Afghan asylum seekers, who have had their claims for protection visas frozen.
The East Timorese government is refusing to accept a proposal by Australian-based exploration company Woodside Petroleum to develop the Greater Sunrise gas deposit in the Timor Sea with a huge floating processing plant. Despite heavy pressure from Woodside, with the backing of the Australian government, East Timor is adamant that the gas should be processed in East Timor.
[The following is an abridged version of the declaration issued by the April 20-22 World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, held on April 22 in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The conference, convened by the government of Bolivian President Evo Morales, was attended by at least 15,000 people, including official delegates from 47 countries.]
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has once again focussed attention on the environmentally disastrous petroleum fuel industry. The devastating impact on the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico – along with the impact upon the livelihoods of hundreds of communities reliant on the waters of the Gulf – is far from a unique event.
San Francisco – May 25 – The Obama administration, British Petroleum and the corporate media have worked overtime to minimise information and outright lie about the catastrophic impact of the explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20.
With a general strike on May 20 and large demonstrations in Athens and other cities, the workers of Greece continued their struggle to overturn an austerity program imposed by the Greek government, European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Jakarta – Worker, student and non-government organisations commemorated May Day across Indonesia, taking up a range of themes. The rallies proceeded peacefully in most cities, but clashes and arrests were reported in Jakarta.
On February 8, Australian immigration minister Senator Chris Evans announced a review of the skilled migration program. The skilled migration program is aimed at attracting workers from abroad who hold skills that Australia’s capitalists especially need.
On May 7, US-backed “proximity talks” began two months after US special Mideast envoy George Mitchel, announced that the Fatah-led Palestine Authority (PA) and Israel had agreed to resume “indirect” negotiations. The “proximity talks” have been hailed by the Obama administration as a way of supposedly kick-starting the failed Arab-Israeli “peace process”.
In April and May, Cubans went to the polls in local government elections across the island. These were elections with a difference. Imagine if neighbours got together in open meetings in your street to nominate, by show of hands, between two and eight candidates for each electoral district. That’s what happened in each of Cuba’s 169 municipalities.
On May 19, the government of Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva finally launched an assault on the Red Shirt camp in the Bangkok neighbourhood of Rachaprasong. Television stations from around the world broadcast brutal images of assault tanks destroying the bamboo and tyre barricades and soldiers armed with rifles firing live ammunition at demonstrators.
Ark Tribe, a rank-and-file member of the construction division of the South Australian branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) is facing six months in prison for refusing to attend an interview with the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
In the midst of the highest inflation in seven years, on May 7 Venezuela’s revolutionary working people’s government escalated a campaign against price and currency speculators. President Hugo Chavez declared that his government would create an “export-import corporation to take over middle-class management of the people’s resources”.
During the July campus holidays, a dozen youth and students from Australia, England, South Africa and Mauritius will participate in the first Australian Youth and Student Revolutionary Tour of Venezuela and Cuba.
The West Australian public sector is under attack. Under Liberal Premier Colin Barnett’s privatisation plans, public sector agencies delivering services in industries such as forestry, health, education, and electricity and water supply are being asked to identify activities that may be sold off to private businesses.
[The following article is based on a presentation at the Direct Action Centre in Sydney on May 15 before the screening of a film on the role of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in the country’s political life.]
Barely a ripple of interest surfaced with the announcement by the Australian Council of Trade Unions on April 20 of a new president-elect for Australia’s peak union body.
Australia has been much luckier than most countries in the current international recession. While unemployment has certainly increased, it has not risen as much as in most of the world and, at 5.4%, it is still lower than it was throughout the 1990s.
Issue 22 - May 2010
The US military has retreated from a base in Afghanistan’s remote Korengal Valley after spending over four years trying to hold the area.
In early March the ACTU announced that pay equity between male and female workers would be “the major union campaign priority for 2010, outside of the federal election”. According to ACTU reports, full-time women workers in 2009, on average, received 82.5% of men’s pay.
Revolutionary Cuba is a leader in Latin America in the battle against homophobia and is taking steps to become a world leader. Since 1994 the age of consent for gay and lesbian sex in Cuba has been 16 years, the same as for heterosexual sex – unlike Australia. Since the 1980s Cubans have been able to access sex reassignment surgery (SRS) as part of Cuba’s free healthcare system.
The Rudd Labor government has dubbed its health and hospital reform package a “health revolution”, but it is a con. It will shuffle around working people’s taxes but will not make any fundamental difference to combating the escalating health problems in Australian society.
Directed by Robert Kenner
Written by Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
Runtime: 94 minutes
DVD available for order online
On April 10-11, the first feminist conference to be held in Sydney in more than 10 years attracted more than 500 people. The “F” Conference was organised to re-ignite feminist organising in Sydney, though there were many participants from other cities also.
San Francisco – The “Tea Party” has had a big play in the capitalist media recently, as rallies were held across the country leading up to April 15, the day when income taxes are due. The rallies were organised by a section of the Republican Party establishment, and featured Sarah Palin, the former candidate for vice president.
“Business is bustling at the lavish boutiques, restaurants and nightclubs that have reopened in the breezy hills above the [Haitian] capital [of Port-au-Prince], while thousands of homeless and hungry people camp in the streets around them, sometimes literally on their doorstep”, the March 27 New York Times reported.
On April 13, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stood before hundreds of thousands of supporters on Bolivar Avenue in Caracas and declared that this date would be commemorated each year as the “Day of the Bolivarian National Militia, the People in Arms and the April Revolution”.
The Good Soldiers
By David Finkel
Scribe Publications (2009),
287 pages (pb), $35.00
A new Israeli military order will enable the deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank or their imprisonment for up to seven years. Military order No. 1650, which was enacted on April 13, amends a 1969 military order known as the Order Regarding Prevention of Infiltration.
[This is an abridged version of Cuban President Raul Castro’s speech to the closing session of the Ninth Congress of Cuba’s Union of Young Communists (UJC) held in Havana, Cuba, April 3-4. The complete text can be read at Agencia Cubana de Noticias].
The decision last month by the Rudd Labor government to suspend the processing of new asylum claims by Tamils from Sri Lanka for a period of three months and the processing of new asylum claims by Afghans for a period of six months is a clear and racist violation of Australia’s obligations under the 1951 UN refugee convention, which prohibits governments from deciding refugee claim
The Revolutionary Socialist Party will stand two candidates in the coming federal elections, expected to be held in the second half this year. In Brisbane, Hamish Chitts will stand in the seat of Griffith, currently held by Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. In Melbourne, Van Rudd will stand in the seat of Lalor, currently held by Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The Council of Single Mothers and their Children’s (CSMC) Action Group will stage a rally at 11 am on Thursday May 6 in Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall to highlight single-mother poverty during the Mother’s Day shopping madness.
“Why can’t the left get together? Why are there so many different socialist groups?” Sometimes these questions are just an attempt to belittle the socialist left by right-wingers (who nevertheless think it perfectly normal that there should be many pro-capitalist parties). But it is also a serious question from unaffiliated leftists.
Issue 21 - April 2010
On March 14 another Aboriginal person died in custody, this time in a Perth police watchhouse. He was 33 years old. His completely preventable death is one of over 300 that have occurred since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody issued its final report, with 339 recommendations, in April 1991.
Women could be charged with murder in the US state of Utah if they have a miscarriage caused by an “intentional or knowing act”. On March 8, the state’s governor signed into law a bill to that effect.
A lively protest was held in Brisbane on March 13 against a rally organised by a coalition of anti-abortion groups. There were about 70 people over the four-hour protest – holding a speak-out and chanting for the duration of the protest, even as the massive PA at the anti-abortion rally tried to drown out the chants with a Christian rock band.
Vientiane – “Defending Cuba today is the only way to keep alive the hopes and dreams of social justice”, states the final declaration of the Fifth Asia-Pacific Regional Conference for Solidarity with Cuba. A stepped-up campaign of support for revolutionary Cuba against imperialism was the central decision of the conference, held in the capital of Laos on March 19-20.
Since becoming Cuba’s president (initially acting president) in August 2007, when Fidel Castro became gravely ill and had to step down, Raul Castro has called for a nationwide debate on the future of Cuba’s socialist revolution. The debate is aimed at consensus on what must be done to revitalise Cuba’s socialist project.
The March 28 Miami Herald, mouthpiece of wealthy Cuban-Americans opposed to Cuba’s socialist revolution, reported that 3000 to 5000 protesters “formed a river of white as they marched around a lake in a Los Angeles park Sunday, joining other marchers around the world to expose the plight of political dissidents in Cuba and support the wives, mothers, and other women who defe
“Aboriginal people are treated worse than second class citizens”, Paul Haywood told a rally in Perth on March 17. Haywood, whose brother Deon Woods died in the Perth watch-house on March 14, told protesters, “Deon’s son is here today. Now he hasn’t got a father. I haven’t got a brother. My mother has lost her son and my sister in law has lost her man.”
Solidarity activists and supporters of the Cuban Revolution will gather this month at the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society National Consultation, where one item of discussion will undoubtedly be how to defeat the stifling economic blockade imposed on Cuba by the US government since 1962.
Last month, I was fortunate to hear Phillip Adams’ ABC Radio interview with Dr James Hansen, the US scientist who has done so much to awaken the world to the fact that our climate is already changing and that it will change catastrophically if we don’t very quickly stop dumping carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
San Francisco – A March 4 “day of action” brought out tens of thousands against cuts to education in California schools, from kindergarten through to university postgraduate studies.
If one were to believe the almost breathless reports coming from the Israeli, US and other corporate media, a major ruction in US-Israeli dealings had occurred and the demise of their “special relationship” was imminent.
Indigenous communities, environmentalists and human rights activists are gearing up for a fight against the federal government’s push to create a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory. Traditional owners in the area of the proposed waste dump at Muckaty Station, located around 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek, are strongly opposed to it.
When US President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, he said: “Today after over a year, today after all the votes have been tallied health reform has become the law of the land in America … Our presence today is remarkable and improbable with all the punditry, all the game playing in Washington … We are a nation that faces its c
It is with great respect that I must disagree with part of the article by John Pilger in DA#20, “Why the Oscars are a con”, in particular his dismissive critiques of Invictus, Avatar and The Hurt Locker.
Like many people the world over I am deeply distressed with the continual, tragic conflict and carnage in Palestine. It is therefore disheartening to read about more Israeli settlement building, the suppression of protests, arrests, beatings, detentions, killings and curfews and total lack of progress towards a just resolution.
While the wars of occupation against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, like most wars, are being fought for big-business profits, they cannot be waged without the assistance of racism.
Directed by Paul Greengrass
Written by Brian Helgeland
(based on the book by Rajiv Chandrasekaran)
Starring Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, and Brendan Gleeson
Runtime: 115 minutes
On March 11 a Reuters article headlined “Venezuela Murder-rate Quadrupled Under Chavez: NGO” was carried by major corporate media outfits including Yahoo!7 News, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the New York Times and the Washington Post.
In a March 19 article on the website of the Socialist Alternative (SAlt) group, the largest Australian organisation claiming to be Marxist, titled “Why men don’t benefit from women’s oppression”, SAlt member Kate Jeffreys repeats a gross distortion of the Marxist analysis of the oppression of women under capitalism.
Issue 20 - March 2010
The first issue of the Socialist Alliance’s Green Left Weekly for this year, dated January 20, carried an article headlined “New period of left unity and struggle launched”.
On January 28, 2010, singer, songwriter and socialist Alistair Hulett died from cancer at just 58 years old. I recall first seeing Hulett perform at the Sandringham Hotel, in Newtown, Sydney, in 1989.
Hundreds of people gathered on February 14 for the launch of a “protest house” established by the Alyawarr people at the protest camp at Honeymoon Bore – 350 kilometres north east of Alice Springs. The camp was set up in July 2009 when Alyawarr elders led a walk-off from the Ampilatwatja community in protest against the federal government’s racist treatment of the community.
On January 26 (“Australia Day”), two members of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Sam King and Van Rudd, demonstrated outside of the Australian Open Tennis Championships at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena to highlight Australia’s racism.
An Australian company has a significant but little-known role in the creation of the world’s largest mud volcano, located in the densely populated Sidoarjo district of Indonesia’s East Java province.
Before representatives of the grassroots communal councils from across Venezuela assembled in Ezequiel Zamora Park in the capital Caracas, President Hugo Chavez enacted the Organic Law on the Federal Government Council on February 20, which he said will “further open the door to advancing in the distribution of power in the hands of the people, and to achieving a more efficient and
The East Timorese government is standing firm against pressure to sign a natural gas downstream processing deal for the Greater Sunrise field in the Timor Sea.
Few events in world politics in recent times could be considered more perverse or absurd than the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama. Just prior to the award presentation, his administration announced it would undertake a new military offensive in Afghanistan with a “surge” of an additional 30,000 troops.
San Francisco – During the 1980-82 recession, US car corporations were closing factories, reflecting growing international competition and overproduction. One of the plants closed was a large General Motors facility in the city of Fremont, California, part of the San Francisco Bay Area. This factory was reopened in 1984, in a deal between Toyota and GM.
From March 23 until May 3, Zely Ariane will be touring Australia, speaking at Direct Action forums, at universities, to trade union meetings and at other venues. Ariane is the National Spokesperson of the Committee for the Politics of the Poor-Peoples Democratic Party (KPRM-PRD), one of Indonesia’s left-wing political parties.
In the wake of the failure of last December’s UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen to reach even a token legally binding agreement for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction, and with the Rudd Labor government’s patently inadequate emissions trading scam blocked by the Senate, reformist environmentalists have been casting around for an alternative way to try to address the c
Last November, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that his government would be implementing a 10 month “settlement freeze” as a supposed concession to calls by US President Barack Obama for a halt to the construction of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) so as to clear the way for a resumption of “peace” talks with the Palestinian Aut
A January 25 Darwin inquest into the deaths of five asylum seekers – after an April 16 explosion last year on a boat (Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel 36) carrying 49 asylum seekers and two Indonesian crew near Ashmore Reef and under the control of the Australian naval vessel HMAS Childers – was adjourned on February 19 until March 17, when Northern Territory coroner Greg Cava
[For five months, 254 Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers have refused to disembark the rickety cargo boat Jaya Lestari 5 which was towed into the Indonesian port Merak, after being intercepted by the Indonesian navy at the request of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. One pregnant woman onboard is due in early March.
Amid howls of protests by employers, their representatives, the media and politicians, Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members employed in the offshore gas and oil industry are concluding protracted negotiations for an enterprise agreement that will substantially improve wages and conditions.
Amsterdam – There is growing tension between Venezuela and the Netherlands over the US use of airfields on the Dutch Caribbean islands Curacao and Aruba for aggression against Venezuela. These small islands, some 80km off the Venezuelan coast, are part of the Caribbean segment of the former Dutch colonial empire and still part of the Netherlands.
Going Rouge: An American Nightmare
Edited by Richard Kim & Betsy Reed
OR Books (2009)
335 pages (pb)
Rallies will be held across the country this month for same sex marriage rights – the first in a series of protests being organised by the Equal Love campaign as part of a national year of action for the campaign, now in its sixth year. The campaign has been growing since the federal government introduced a ban on same-sex marriage in 2004.
The Revolutionary Socialist Party will be running Van Rudd against Julia Gillard in the Melbourne seat of Lalor for the next federal election. Van Rudd’s campaign will take a stand against the failure of both state and federal governments to defend Indian students against racist attacks.
A significant blow against the Australian public school system was delivered on January 29 when the Rudd Labor government launched a website providing data on the performance of schools across the country – the much heralded “MySchool” website, hosted by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority.
A photo exhibition and songs of struggle night will be held in Brisbane on March 27 to raise funds for Direct Action. The “Struggle, Solidarity, Socialism” evening will feature local performers Phil Monsour, Jumping Fences, Ovideo Orellana and Mark Cronin.
An Sydney Morning Herald report a few months ago unintentionally pointed out one of the absurdities of modern capitalism. This is that a good part of the so-called wealth of capitalist societies doesn’t really exist.
International Women’s Day began at a time of political and social upheaval more than 100 years ago, on February 28, 1908, when socialist women in the US organised demonstrations and meetings all over the country demanding women workers’ political and economic rights and called it “Women’s Day”. In 1909, 2000 people attended a Women’s Day rally in Manhattan.
When the visit of US President Barack Obama was announced last month, an official White House statement said he “is looking forward to commemorating the 70th anniversary of Australia-US relations”.
Inside the revolution: a journey into the heart of Venezuela
Directed by Pablo Navarrete
Alborado Films 2009
Available at http://alborada.net/
“Penny Wong jeered, Hugo Chavez cheered” was the headline of an article in the Australian newspaper during the final days of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen last December. Wong, the Australian Minister for Climate Change, was there to “seal a deal” which favoured business-as-usual for the world’s biggest carbon dioxide polluters.
When running for the US presidency in 2008, Barack Obama promised “change you can believe in”. As president, he has failed to live up to the hopes and expectations of his supporters for progressive change.
Why are so many films so bad? This year’s Oscar nominations are a parade of propaganda, stereotypes and downright dishonesty. The dominant theme is as old as Hollywood: America’s divine right to invade other societies, steal their history and occupy our memory. When will directors and writers behave like artists and not pimps for a world view devoted to control and destruction?
Issue 19 - February 2010
Abdurrahman Wahid, the president of Indonesia between 1999 and 2001, died on December 30, aged 69. His death was met by a wave of commentary and discussion praising his contribution to Indonesian society, especially from the humanitarian and liberal democratic sectors: intellectuals, NGOS and human rights advocates.
The following statement was issued by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) late on December 18 in response to the results of the UN Copenhagen Climate Summit.
We, the countries that make up ALBA, denounce before the world the threat that the results of the United Nations Conference in Copenhagen pose for the destiny of humanity.
Written & directed by James Cameron
Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana & Stephen Lang
Runtime: 162 minutes
In cinemas now
Demonstrations were held in Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth, Auckland, Toronto and London and email/postcard campaigns in the US and Malaysia on January 18 to mark 100 days since 254, mostly Tamil asylum seekers, left on a boat heading for Australia were intercepted by the Indonesian navy.
On December 23, the Indonesian Attorney General’s Department announced the banning of five books. Soon afterwards, it became known that the attorney general is looking at possibly banning another 20 titles. This follows the banning of the film Balibo, which tells the story of Suharto’s invasion of East Timor and the suppression of history textbooks in 2007.
Burma’s military government, the so-called State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), is planning to hold elections some time in 2010, on yet-to-be-announced date. This follows approval of a new constitution amid chaos following the deadly Nargis cyclone in 2008.
The defining feature of Australian politics today is the ongoing retreat of the organised working class. In the face of the serious economic crisis, there is no mass expression of a working-class alternative.
Since becoming Cuba’s acting president in August 2007, Raul Castro has called for a nationwide debate on the future of Cuba’s socialist revolution. This debate has been taking place in workplaces, neighbourhoods, Cuban Communist Party (PCC) base committees and informally in bars, cafes and on the streets.
The horrendous January 12 earthquake in Haiti has attracted a world-wide response to deal with one of the worst disasters in modern times. In addition to the catastrophic loss-of-life, the impact of the earthquake has literally re-shaped many of Haiti’s cities and towns, uprooting hundreds of thousands who may never return to the places where they once lived.
London – The farce of the climate-change summit in Copenhagen affirmed a world war waged by the rich against most of humanity. It also illuminated a resistance growing perhaps as never before: an internationalism linking justice for the planet Earth with universal human rights, and criminal justice for those who invade and dispossess with impunity.
San Francisco – Less than two weeks before the first anniversary of US President Barack Obama’s inauguration, when the catastrophic earthquake hit Haiti, Robert Gates, the US secretary of defence, immediately announced that no food, water or medicines would be delivered until “security” was established. The first order of business was to send in 10,000 US troops.
At a December 13-14 summit in Havana of the representatives of the nine countries that make up the Bolivarian Alliance For the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), Cuban President Raul Castro correctly predicted that the UN-organised climate change conference in Copenhagen would be a failure.
On January 19, one week after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, Agence France Presse reported that hundreds of Haitians looked stunned as several helicopters landed 100 US soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division in the grounds of the Presidential Palace.
Written by Anthony Peckman
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman
Runtime: 133 minutes
In cinemas now
With all attention on Afghanistan as violence and US troop commitment there surges, the occupation in Iraq has received less attention in recent months than it has since the invasion of Iraq took place in March 2003.
The Revolutionary Socialist Party gained a good start to the year with its Marxist Education conference in Sydney on January 2-5. In addition to the high quality talks on Marxist theory, history and politics today, the conference provided a boost to RSP members’ morale.
On January 26 two members of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, Van Rudd and Sam King received international notoriety for a stunt highlighting Australian racism where they wore Ku Klux Klan (KKK) costumes with “racism made in Australia” written on them.
At least 164,000 Tamil men, women and children were being held in military internment camps – without access to humanitarian agencies, independent monitors, media or local civil authorities – when Stephen Smith, Australia’s foreign minister, visited Sri Lanka on November 9, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
“How much longer are we going to allow transnational companies to come here to speculate with our prices?” asked Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on January 17, announcing the expropriation of the large Exitos department store chain–three-quarters owned by the French company Casino Guichard Perrachon, with a minority share owned by the Colombian company Exito SA – on his weekly TV
Marx and Engels’ establishment of the scientific basis of socialism was indispensable to the struggle for a better world because the fight against capitalism must be a conscious one in a way that capitalism’s fight against feudalism was not.
Issue 18 - December 2009
Cape Town – From a rumour, to a rising murmur, the proposal floated by the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Ramallah leadership to declare Palestinian statehood unilaterally has suddenly hit centre stage.
During an International Meeting of Left-wing Political Parties, attended by members of 55 political organisations from 31 countries held in Caracas on November 19-21, 2009, Hugo Chavez, the central leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and president of the country’s revolutionary working people’s government, proposed the formation of a new, fifth international as
“Up to $63 billion of existing residential buildings” in Australia “are potentially at risk of inundation” from rising sea levels by 2100, according to Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coasts, a report released on November 14 by the CSIRO and the federal government’s Department of Climate Change.
As reported in the November issue of Direct Action (“Cuba debates the future of socialism”), millions of Cubans have been participating in grassroots debates in neighbourhoods, workplaces and Cuban Communist Party (PCC) base committees since September.
As leaders of the Western world finger-point and pontificate on this or that way forward to deal with the global climate change crisis, one proposal that keeps rearing its ugly head is the push for more nuclear power generation. With around 40% of the world’s uranium deposits, Australia is a strategic player in the international nuclear industry.
I was disappointed to see that your centre spread entitled “Charles Darwin: the Reluctant Revolutionary” (November 2009 edition) was a relatively biased presentation of Darwin and the relevance of his revolutionary ideas.
Twenty years ago, on December 11, 1989, the Australian and Indonesian governments signed the Timor Gap Treaty (TGT), giving the go-ahead to energy corporations to exploit the large natural gas and petroleum reserves located in East Timor’s territorial waters.
San Francisco – A militant struggle has erupted in the University of California, which comprises 10 public sector universities located in different cities across the state, with a total of 220,000 students and 170,000 faculty members and general staff. UC students have been hit by a sudden rise in tuition fees of over 30%.
“Volveran!” (They will return) appears nearly everywhere you look in Cuba: on official billboards, painted on the walls of shops and factories, scrawled on people’s houses. “They” are five heroic Cubans – Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez – unjustly imprisoned in the US.
Roberto Micheletti, nominal head of the Honduran military-backed coup regime that overthrew the country’s elected president, Manual Zelaya, in June, has instructed the public prosecutor and the Supreme Court to apply the law “ruthlessly” against anyone publicly advocating a boycott of the regime’s November 29 sham presidential election.
From its very beginning, capitalism has always created resistance in those it exploits and oppresses. Well before capitalism had overrun the rest of the world, in Western Europe, where it originated, it was engendering opposition, at times quite fierce: sabotage of capitalist property, illegal workers’ associations, local rebellions.
The Real Venezuela: Making Socialism in the 21st Century
By Iain Bruce
Pluto Books (2008), 240 pages (pb), $52
The Rudd Labor government’s refugee “Indian Ocean” solution to “unauthorised” asylum seekers arriving by boat has led to growing tensions among detainees in the Christmas Island detention centre. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has threatened those involved in the November 21 detention centre brawl with deportation.
A crackdown on a liquor-licensing law that requires two security guards to be present anywhere live music is provided could lead to a drop in the number of music venues in Melbourne. The 10-year-old law under the Liquor Control Reform Act requires all venues that host live music to hire licensed security guards after 9 p.m.
Capitalism: A Love Story
Written & directed by Michael Moore
Runtime: 127 minutes
In cinemas now
The November issue of the Maritime Workers Journal (MWJ), published by the Maritime Union of Australia, records a 25% growth in the union’s membership over the past six years. Nationally there are just under 12,000 MUA members. Most of the growth has been provided by the WA branch of the union, which is now the largest MUA branch in the country with 3000 members.
in Jayapura – On November 3, a small group of left-wing activists met in Jayapura, capital of Indonesia’s Papua province, to form the Papuan Democratic Peoples’ Movement (Garda-P).
[On November 21, a 100-strong abortion rights rally was held in Brisbane. The rally demanded the dropping of the abortion charges brought against a young Cairns couple, the repeal of all anti-abortion laws and free, safe and accessible abortion on demand.
“Don’t make the mistake, President Obama, of ordering an overt aggression against Venezuela utilising Colombia … We are ready for anything, and Venezuela will never, never be a Yankee colony again”, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stated on November 8, in the wake of the Obama administration’s signing on October 30 of a 10-year accord with Colombia for a joint military build-up.
For the past few years, private military contractors have out numbered US troops in Afghanistan despite a doubling in the size of the US occupation under the Obama administration. There were more contractors than US troops in Iraq a year ago, but the number of contractors dropped slightly this year to 120,000 – equal to the number of US troops.
Refugees and Rebels: Indonesian Exiles in Wartime Australia
By Jan Lingard
Australian Scholarly Publishing (2008), 312 pages, $39.95 (pb)
Pro-war, pro-coal spinmeister Kevin Rudd has done at least one useful thing in his appalling two years as PM – he has introduced the term “scum” into the language of public debate. Rudd has described “people smugglers” as “the scum of the Earth ... the vilest form of human life ... the lowest form of human life”.
“Socialist Alliance structures remain too loose and weak to win, educate and train new socialist activists and the Socialist Alliance caucuses and working groups have only partially begun to organise united interventions into the movements.” This statement was made in a resolution adopted by the 22nd congress of Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), held in January 2006.
Issue 17 - November 2009
On October 24, about 5200 actions occurred worldwide as part of a campaign organised by 350.org to demand that political leaders agree to aim to stabilise atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations below 350 parts per million (ppm). I attended the event at the Sydney Opera House, along with what I would estimate to be around 700 others.
Philadelphia – The October 13 the New York Times ran a news story headlined “Door Opens to Health Claims Tied to Agent Orange”, which was sure to be good news to many American veterans of the Indochina War.
Environment and social justice campaigners will be confronting top executives of BHP Billiton, the largest mining conglomerate in the world, at their AGM scheduled to occur in Brisbane on November 26. The campaigners will be focussing on BHP Billiton’s abysmal record in the areas of Indigenous rights, environmental sustainability and climate change.
When industrial capitalism developed in Western Europe in the 19th century, the great majority of businesses were privately owned. That is, they were the property of a single individual, or sometimes a family, or sometimes two or three partners with defined shares. There was no normal mechanism by which some outsider could become a part owner of the business.
A century and a half has passed since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, yet this book is still surrounded with controversy. It would not be an overstatement to say that the ideas of Charles Darwin on evolution sparked a revolution in human thought. But like most revolutionary ideas, Darwinism was, and still is, contested.
In workplace and neighbourhood assemblies across Cuba and in the base committees of the Communist Party (PCC), millions of Cubans are responding to the call by President Raul Castro for a nationwide debate on the future of the country’s socialist revolution.
Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches From America’s Class War
By Joe Bageant
Scribe Publications (2009), 288 pages (pb), $24.95
Earlier this year I criticised the decreasingly radical Green Left Weekly for echoing the conservatives’ claims about the “underlying causes of domestic violence” (see Letters, DA #8).
At the centre and south of Europe – in Germany and Portugal – parliamentary elections on September 27 marked a historic electoral setback for social democracy. In Germany, the SPD lost a third of its electorate, or more than 4.5 million votes, in five years, and with 23% of those voting, obtained its lowest score since 1949.
“We are destroying our planet. We need to realise that and we need to act”, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations in his September 24 speech. “The effects of this climate change are now visible … These are scientific facts. There are … studies by NASA [showing] a 0.8 degree increase in temperature in the last 30 years.
As workers filed out from their shift at the Buana factory in western Jakarta, they were greeted by members of the Solidarity Alliance for Workers Struggle (GSPB) who handed them leaflets demanding wage rises and improvements to working conditions. Very few of Indonesia’s mostly women industrial workers are unionised.
Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, diverted from entering Australia and put on the Australian Customs ship Oceanic Viking, had been refusing food for two days and refusing to leave the ship at Kijang for the Indonesian immigration detention prison, Tanjung Pinang, on Bintan Island on October 26.
Auburndale, Massachusetts – I was dismayed when I heard Barack Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize. A shock, really, to think that a president carrying on wars in two countries and launching military action in a third country (Pakistan), would be given a peace prize.
A special session of the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on October 16 voted for a resolution calling for the adoption of the “Goldstone report” on Israel’s December-January war on Gaza.
On October 2, Marek Edelman died in Warsaw at the age of 90. He had been the last surviving commander of the resistance forces during the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising against the Nazi occupation. Born in Poland, Edelman became a member of the youth organisation of the socialist General Jewish Labour Union, commonly known as the “Bund”, in the late 1930s.
Sam Wainwright, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the Fremantle City Council (FCC) ward of Hilton, was elected to the FCC on October 17 with 33.4% of the vote. Wainwright received 438 out of 1310 valid votes, 100 more than his nearest competitor, Dave Hume, a member of the Australian Labor Party. (The election was first past the post, not preferential.)
During October, Richard Downs, an elder of the Alyawarra-speaking community from the Northern Territory township of Ampilatwatja (300km north-east of Alice Springs) toured major eastern Australian cities to raise support for a protest camp established 3km from the township.
Ramallah Underground is using music to spread the message that Palestinians have the strength to challenge Israel’s continuing brutal occupation of Palestine. Its members are Stormtrap (producer/MC), Boikutt (producer/MC) and Aswatt (producer/DJ), and the style is a fusion of Hip Hop with electronica and traditional Arab music.
Jakarta – Street protests across Indonesia greeted the inauguration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Budiono on October 20. Yudhoyono was re-elected president on July 8 with 60.8% of the 121 million votes cast. A former army general, he had served as president since winning the 2004 presidential election.
On November 28, rallies will take place across Australia to demand same-sex marriage rights. Organised by the Equal Love Coalition, the national day of action will demand the passing of the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009 – legislation put to the Senate by the Australian Greens to remove discrimination in the Marriage Act on the basis of sexual orientation.
Issue 16 - October 2009
On September 23, Venezuelan revolutionary socialist youth leader Heryck Rangel spoke via telephone to Direct Action. In August, Rangel made a speaking tour of Australia at the invitation of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and the university-based Cuba-Venezuela Solidarity Clubs.
Among the heads of government gathered at the September 25 G20 summit held in Pittsburgh, Australian PM Kevin Rudd didn’t particularly stand out much in the hoopla surrounding US President Barack Obama’s self-congratulatory speech claiming that action by his and the other governments of the world’s 20 largest national economies had “brought the global economy back from the brink” o
A Cairns couple were committed to trial on June 11 on charges brought under the anti-abortion laws in the Queensland criminal code. The charges carry sentences of seven years’ prison for the woman for having an abortion and three years for her male partner for assisting her. The case against the couple rests upon their admission to having used an abortion drug.
October 7 marks eight years since the US-led coalition of imperialist powers and their client states invaded Afghanistan.
As a longtime anti-nuclear and anti-uranium campaigner, former member of MAUM, former state coordinator of the Nuclear Disarmament Party (Tasmania) and other organisations, I write to publicly express my utter disgust with Peter Garrett’s and the Australian government’s decision to open a new uranium mine in South Australia.
During August and September, Australian and international media outlets ran numerous articles, opinion pieces and commentaries marking the 10 years since the people of East Timor voted for an end to the 24-year-long Indonesian military occupation. On August 30, 1999, 98% of registered voters participated in a United Nations-sponsored referendum.
The spectre of one of the worst ever drought situations looms large over India. Central India suffered a massive 93% deficiency in rainfall in the first week of August, while the north-west of the country remained at 76% below the long-term average. This monsoon, the rainfall deficit in Punjab, the granary of India, varies from 35% to as high as 87% depending on location.
Jakarta – In the immediate aftermath of the July 8 Indonesian presidential election, the two losing sets of candidates alleged that there was widespread ballot fraud.
“If there is one principle that governs the export of Australian education, it is now simply money”. This was the introduction to a Four Corners program titled “Holy Cash Cows” aired on ABC television at the end of July.
San Francisco – Cuban revolutionary hero Juan Almeida Bosque died late on September 11 in Havana, Cuba. An official period of mourning for this beloved Cuban leader was immediately declared; numerous statements in homage to Almeida have poured in, and 2 million people visited memorial sites across Cuba on September 13 during a 12-hour period.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed victory in the wake of US President Barak Obama’s first speech to the United Nations General Assembly and the September 22 meeting in New York between Netanyahu, Obama and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“We do not want war, we hate it. But we must prepare for it”, explained Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez on August 16 in response to plans to increase numbers of US bases around his country, which has confirmed the continuation of US threats of aggression from the Bush to the Obama administrations.
[The following is the text of a July 4 address to the Socialism 2009 conference held in San Francisco. It is reprinted from johnpilger.com.]
This year’s winner of Cuba’s National Award for Journalism is veteran journalist Luis Sexto. Little known outside Cuba, Sexto is a professor of journalism at the Faculty of Social Communication at the University of Havana.
District 9by Neill BlomkampWritten by Neill Blomkamp and Terri TatchellStarring Shralto Copley, Jason Cope and Robert Hobbs111 minutes; in cinemas nationally
Australia has just experienced its hottest August on record. During that month, some parts of New South Wales experienced fierce bushfires over a month before the “normal” start of the bushfire season. In the face of this climate chaos, it might be hoped that there would be some good news about Australian government action to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution.
One aspect of the Democratic Socialist Perspective’s course of dissolution into the Socialist Alliance, analysed by John Percy in Direct Action #15, is the DSP’s increasing unwillingness to discuss politics, particularly with others on the left.
On September 15, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) released a report it commissioned into Israel’s war on Gaza in December-January, during which some 1400 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli military. Thirteen Israelis also died, including four civilians.
On September 16, members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) took to the picket lines for a 24-hour strike to protest conditions and secure new collective agreements at 16 universities across the country.
The big US banks that had to be saved with government money a year ago after they gambled too freely with “mortgage-backed securities” have learned their lesson. The lesson is that they can gamble as wildly as they like, keep the profits if they win and count on government paying for them if they lose.
A revolution is needed in order to overcome the evils that capitalist society is subject to. But that doesn’t mean that nothing can be improved in the meantime. Quite the contrary: struggles for improvements – reforms – can be successful to one degree or another, depending on many different factors.
Issue 15 - September 2009
[The following is an abridged version of a speech given on August 1 to Cuba’s national legislature, the National Assembly of People’s Power, by Cuban President Raul Castro.]
Heryck Rangel, president of the Youth Institute in Venezuelan capital of Caracas and an activist in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), spoke at evening public meetings and lunch-time campus meetings in Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney last month at the invitation of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and the university-based Cuba-Venezuela Solidarity club
Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
By Eduardo GalleanoScribe Publications (2009), 336 pp
A 300 strong protest was held in Brisbane on August 29 to demand the dropping of the abortion charges against a Cairns couple. The rally also demanded the immediate repeal of the anti-abortion laws under which the couple have been charged.
According to data published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on August 20, the H1N1 influenza strain, commonly known as swine flu, has killed at least 1799 people and infected 182,166.
“If we continue at this rate, we’re not going to make it.” That was the verdict of Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), at the end of “informal consultations” held last month in the German city of Bonn to try to resolve issues complicating agreement on a new international treaty to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissio
The Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) has decided to press ahead with the final stage of liquidating itself into the Socialist Alliance (SA), which claims to be the largest socialist organisation in Australia.
San Francisco – People around the world have seen images on TV of seemingly berserk crowds shouting down Democratic Party members of Congress at “town meetings” called to supposedly discuss health-care insurance reform.
On August 26, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu offered to freeze the building of new Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank for nine months.
Jakarta – Watching Jusuf Isak’s body wrapped in white linen being passed down to his sons, standing deep in the grave dug in Java’s rich, red muddy soil, was like watching life itself being buried, for Jusuf was somebody who never stopped living life to the full, to the very last moment. He died on August 15, aged 81.
There is perhaps no better reflection of the health of a society than the way it treats those who have no or limited access to power or control over decisions that affect their daily lives. This is especially so for the rights of indigenous people, women, migrants and young people.
BaliboDirected by Robert ConnollyScreenplay by David WilliamsonStarring Anthony LaPaglia & Oscar Isaac111 minutes
BaliboBy Jill JolliffeScribe Publications, 396pp
The inauguration of re-elected Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa in the nation’s capital Quito on August 10 became a focal point for a discussion about the rising tensions in South America between the growing number of elected left-wing governments on the continent and moves by Washington to increase the number of its military bases in Colombia, which is ruled by the right-wing gov
Members of the Venezuelan parliament passed the Organic Education Law on August 14.
In the current international economic crisis, we can expect both attacks on the living standards of workers in the imperialist West and increased economic exploitation of the countries of the Third World by the imperialist powers, as the richest of the capitalists try to solve their problems at working peoples’ expense. A fight-back needs to be waged in both areas.
On August 6, Wahyu Sulaiman Rendra, Indonesia’s greatest dramatist and most influential poet, died in Jakarta, aged 74. More than a thousand people, mostly villagers but also intellectuals, attended his funeral on August 7 at his home and theatre group centre, Bengkel Teater, outside Jakarta.
Capitalism is a system based on exploitation. For Marxists, this has a precise scientific meaning. Capitalists take for themselves the monetary values created by or belonging to other people – usually workers, but also small farmers and, to varying degrees, small shop owners and nominally independent tradespeople. This value is what their capital consists of.
In August 2008, the NSW Labor government announced plans to privatise both the Parklea and Cessnock prisons in the wake of a budgetary blowout of $23 million in overtime payments to prison guards.
The National Network for Women’s Liberation (Jaringan Nasional Perempuan Mahardika – JNPM) is an Indonesian women’s liberation organisation consisting of local women’s committees, coordinating bodies and women’s sections of labour, student, peasant and urban poor organisations committed to the liberation of women.
Issue 14 - August 2009
Port Louis – Thirty years ago this Indian Ocean island nation of 1 million people experienced the most massive upsurge of working-class struggle in its history. Today Mauritius is known as a “paradise”, especially for honeymooners. There are apparently no working people here other than those serving the needs of foreign tourists.
Recent reports and revelations have conclusively shown that the Rudd Labor government is using the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) policy to dispossess Aboriginal people. Under the Australian government’s “emergency protection measures”, the situation for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory has become worse.
When Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal (widely known as “Prachandra”) became Nepal’s prime minister last August, his party – the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), UCPN (M) – pronounced it a “golden dawn” for Nepal after 10 years of civil war.
Since its inception, Direct Action has been proudly internationalist. DA draws upon the rich socialist tradition that upholds working-class international solidarity as a cornerstone of the fight for social justice for all oppressed peoples.
San Francisco – The stock market has rebounded from its March lows, back up to where it was in January. Goldman Sachs reports big profits, as do a few other big banks. “Leading indicators” are up. The danger of a financial collapse appears to be behind us. Some pundits are predicting the end of the recession in the next few months, or early next year.
In a major policy speech on June 25, Khaled Meshal, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, tried to do what may be impossible – present the Islamist Palestinian resistance organisation as a willing partner in a US-led peace process, while holding on to his movement’s political principles and base.
In the early hours of June 28, a coup d’etat was instigated against the popularly elected Honduran government of President Manuel Zelaya. The coup was organised by an alliance of congressional leaders and the military high command.
The corporate media’s recent focus on the global economic crisis has all but eclipsed a much greater crisis – global climate change and the general destruction of the world’s environment. But if the environment “goes bust”, the implications for humanity and millions of plant and animal species are well known and horrifying.
Kill Khalid: Mossad’s failed hit ... and the rise of Hamas
By Paul McGeough
Allen and Unwin (2009) 440 pp $35
The first major political incident after the July 8 Indonesian presidential election were two co-ordinated suicide bomb attacks on Jakarta’s Marriot and Ritz Carlton luxury hotels on July 17, which killed seven people, including six foreigners. These were the first suicide bomb attacks in almost five years.
There has been a renewed campaign of anti-Iran propaganda and threats of more severe economic sanctions by the US and its imperialist allies, including Australia, following the mass protests in Iran triggered by the June 12 presidential election and the charges by defeated candidates of electoral fraud.
[The following article is based on a speech given on behalf of the war veterans group Stand Fast at a public meeting in Rockhampton on July 10 as part of the Peace Convergence protests against the bi-annual joint Australian and US Talisman Sabre war rehearsals that occur in and around environmentally and culturally sensitive Shoalwater Bay.
August 30 marks 10 years since the UN-sponsored referendum on Indonesian-occupied East Timor’s political status.
For 17 years, from 1990 through to 2007, I regularly contributed articles on Indonesian politics to Green Left Weekly, a newspaper published by the Democratic Socialist Party (Democratic Socialist Perspective since 2005).
On July 14, federal environment minister Peter Garrett approved the construction of the Four Mile uranium mine, 550 km north of Adelaide.
A few years ago it might have appeared that the process of radical social change underway in Venezuela had little in common with the socialist revolutions of the 20th century, including that paradigm of Latin American people’s power revolutions, the Cuban Revolution.
The revolutionary socialist government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on July 9 proposed a reform to democratise the media and stop the corporate media endlessly campaigning to violently overthrow the elected government.
Only a few years ago, the economic “experts” quoted in the commercial media were assuring us that major recessions were a thing of the past. The economists had figured out how to manage the economy, and as long as governments followed their advice, there would be nothing more serious than the occasional statistical blip. Then the real world intruded.
Issue 13 - July 2009
On August 20, Afghanistan will conduct its second presidential election under the US-led occupation. Current Afghan President Hamid Karzai is the clear frontrunner in the election, despite a December Gallup poll having found that only 10% of Afghans supported Karzai’s government.
While the UN was busy promoting its latest carbon trading scams and encouraging people to attend “celebrations” for World Environment Day, the people in the town of Bagua in northern Peru were fighting a life-and-death struggle to save their environment from corporate plunder – a struggle that achieved a partial victory.
Rallies and other public shows of support have remained weak for the three candidates and their running mates in the weeks leading up to the July 8 Indonesian presidential election. Two of the rival candidates head the current government – incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his vice-president, Jusuf Kalla.
[The following article is based on a report on the Australian political situation presented to the first congress of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, held over the June 6-8 weekend.]
Once again Iran has captured world attention. The 10th presidential election period has presented a new element in Iran’s politics not seen in the previous exercise of universal suffrage in the country: massive mobilisation of the people.
San Francisco – “What’s good for General Motors is good for America” became a catch phrase in the 1950s. GM was a symbol of US industrial might. Workers at GM, Ford and Chrysler enjoyed some of the best wages and working conditions in the country, and the United Auto Workers was the flagship of the union movement. Now GM is in bankruptcy and the UAW is a shell of its former self.
If you’ve picked-up this paper for the first time, you’ll appreciate it’s not the same as the capitalist press and street mags filled with lies, half-truths and distortions peddled as ‘news’.
Sravan Kumar Theerthala, a 25-year-old Indian student studying in Melbourne, was stabbed through the head with a screwdriver on May 23 leaving him comatose and in intensive care. The day after Theerthala was attacked, Indian student Rajesh Kumar, also 25, received burns to a third of his body after a petrol bomb attack in Sydney.
[The consul-general of the Republic of Cuba in Australia, Nelida Hernandez Carmona, presented the following greetings to the first congress of the RSP]
Some revolutionary socialists remain convinced that no revolution has taken place and that the government of President Hugo Chavez is substituting ‘socialism from above’ in place of grassroots working-class struggle.
A black president in the White House has changed nothing for five Cuban men imprisoned in the US for the “crime” of defending Cuba from terrorist attacks planned and organised in the US. On June 15, the US Supreme Court upheld the convictions of Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino and Fernando Gonzalez, known internationally as the “Cuban Five”.
On May 15, Ark Tribe, a rank-and-file member of the South Australia branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) construction division, became the second person to be charged by the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) for refusing to attend an interview.
Seventy million cubic metres – equivalent to at least one quarter of the UK’s natural gas consumption – is burnt every day in gas flaring in the oil wells of the Niger River delta. Gas flaring in Nigeria accounts for roughly half of sub-Saharan Africa’s industrial greenhouse gas emissions.
The much anticipated speeches on the Middle East “peace process” by US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month have been touted by the international corporate media as significant steps toward resolving conflict in the region. However, neither speech was a step forward.
Early in April, a Cairns couple was charged under the anti-abortion provisions in the Queensland criminal code. A 19-year-old woman faces seven years imprisonment for allegedly illegally terminating a pregnancy while her 21-year-old partner faces three years imprisonment for providing the abortion drug allegedly used for the termination.
The Queensland ALP government, re-elected in March, has put forward legislation to sell off the port of Brisbane, Queensland Motorways, Forestry Plantations Queensland, Queensland Rail’s coal business and the Abbot Point coal terminal in the state’s north. All of these government-owned corporations (GOCs) provide significant income for Premier Anna Bligh’s government.
The above letter from Brisbane Socialist Alliance member Adam Baker is an affront to a woman’s right to struggle for abortion rights. Baker fails to comprehend the significance of the seriousness of the attacks on women’s rights.
The first congress of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) was held in Sydney over the June 6-8 long weekend. Sixty-two delegates and observers came from Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Geelong, Adelaide and Perth, and from several overseas locations, for three days of analysis, discussion and planning of future activities.
Che Guevara: The Economics of Revolution
By Helen Yaffe
Palgrave Macmillan, 354 pp. $59.95
Last month was the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in Greenwich Village, New York City, when, for the first time in US history, gay men and lesbians fought back against government-sponsored persecution.
One of the few remaining US clinics that provided late-term abortions will close in the wake of its owner’s murder, the slain doctor’s family said on June 9. Dr George Tiller was shot dead in his church in Wichita, Kansas, on May 31. His clinic, Women’s Health Care Services, was one of only three remaining clinics in the US to provide abortion services in the third trimester.
A “disgrace” and custody conditions “not fit for humans” were among the June 12 findings of Western Australian state coroner Alistair Hope on the January 27, 2008, death of 46-year-old Warburton Aboriginal elder Ian Ward.
Marxists believe that a revolution is necessary to open the road to socialism. But what does a revolution actually consist of? Advertisers and capitalist politicians would have us think a revolution is a pretty ordinary event, with their talk of “a revolutionary new soap powder” or an “education revolution”. The reality is quite different.
A significant victory in the international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel was registered on June 8. It was reported in the Israeli Haaretz newspaper that the French-owned Veolia company plans to abandon its involvement in the light rail project being built to connect Jerusalem to illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Issue 12 - June 2009
On April 23, the Senate select committee on climate policy heard what should have been taken as a striking ultimatum: To avoid catastrophic climate change, there must be an immediate moratorium on the construction of coal-fired power plants, and existing coal-fired plants need to be shut within 20 years.
Since Barack Obama’s swearing in as US president, both the Israeli and US media have peddled the idea his administration would take a strong stand with the newly-elected Israeli hard-right government of PM Benjamin Netanyahu and foreign minister Avigador Lieberman.
Last month the Melbourne Age revealed that members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) had covered up the killing and wounding of civilians in Afghanistan by Australian Special Air Service (SAS) troops. In the same month, The Australian newspaper proudly reported the use of SAS patrols as death squads carrying out assassinations in Afghanistan.
A protest campaign has been launched in Brisbane against the charges bought against a young couple in Cairns under the anti-abortion provisions in the Queensland Criminal Code. The campaign was launched on May 9 when 80 people protested against an anti-abortion demonstration, blocking the anti-abortionists’ way to the state parliament building.
It is meaningful to modify the word “democracy” with a word such as “capitalist” or “workers” because democracy always has a social content, specifically a class content. Democracy is a system of class rule, in which one class advances its own interests at the expense of another class.
Havana – On May 1, international workers’ day, at least half a million Cubans marched cheerfully and defiantly through Havana from the Plaza of the Revolution to the US Interests Section. Hundreds of thousands more rallied in other cities throughout the Caribbean island.
Since late April, more than 15,000 Pakistani troops have engaged militarily with 3000-4000 Taliban fighters in Pakistan’s Swat valley in North-West Frontier Province. The fighting has displaced more than 1 million civilians, driving the total number of internal refugees from Swat to more than 2 million.
[This declaration was unanimously approved by the International Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba, held at the Convention Centre in Havana on May 2.]
San Francisco – After releasing memos from lawyers for the Bush administration advocating torture of prisoners swept up in the US wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, US President Barack Obama has ruled out prosecuting the war criminals who ordered the use of torture.
Three tickets have been nominated for the Indonesian presidential elections on July 9. The official campaign period for the presidential elections starts in the first week of June.
Whenever Australian capitalist politicians have talked about protection, welfare and reconciliation in relation to Aboriginal people they have actually meant dispossession, forced cultural assimilation and racial oppression. The capitalist class knows that much of its wealth has been gained at the expense of Aboriginal people through the takeover of their lands.
[On May 16 the first-ever gay pride march took place in the Cuban capital, Havana. The Associated Press news agency reported that Mariela Castro, Cuban President Raul Castro’s daughter, an outspoken supporter of the Cuban Revolution and a gay rights advocate who directs Cuba’s government-funded Sex Education Centre, led the march.
The Australian government is playing “Russian roulette with the climate system, with most of the chambers loaded”, according to CSIRO climatologist James Risbey.
In a statement released on May 24, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, the head of international relations for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), announced that Velupillai Prabhakaran, LTTE founder and leader of the movement for a Tamil nation-state in northern Sri Lanka had been killed by the Sri Lankan troops the previous week..
The people of Indonesia will go to the polls to elect a new president on July 8. The current president, former general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, will face competition from two tickets in which both vice-presidential candidates – Prabowo Subianto and Wiranto – are former generals.
Under the impact of the global and domestic recession, Australia’s manufacturing sector is facing its worst downturn since the early 1990s. Manufacturing output contracted 4.8% in the last quarter of 2008. More than 50,600 jobs in the sector were lost during the last nine months of 2008.
At a May 21 mass meeting of more than 400 trade union leaders in Bolivar City, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and labour minister Maria Cristina Iglesias resolved to nationalise six strategic industrial companies.
Issue 11 - May 2009
Forty years ago, on May 19, 1969, Victorian tramway workers union secretary Clarrie O’Shea was jailed for refusing to obey a court order that his union pay $8100 in fines under the penal sections of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
[The following article by Cuba’s retired president is reprinted from the May 2 edition of Granma, the daily paper of the Communist Party of Cuba.]
On April 16, a young couple faced court in Cairns on charges brought against them under the anti-abortion provisions in the Queensland Criminal Code (sections 224, 225 and 226).
On April 26, left-wing Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa was re-elected with the support of 52% of the country’s 10.5 million voters, under a new constitution approved last September by 65% of voters. Correa easily trounced his closest rival, former president Lucio Gutierrez, who scored only 28.4%.
[The following is an abridged version of an article that first appeared in the April edition of International Viewpoint, the monthly English-language journal of the Fourth International (FI), the largest international association of Trotskyist parties.
US and Mexican authorities claim that neither knew about the “swine flu” outbreak until April 24. But after hundreds of residents of a town in Veracruz, Mexico, came down with its symptoms, the story had already hit the Mexican national press by April 5.
The Indonesian General Elections Commission has not yet completed counting all the votes in the April 9 elections to the national parliament and scores of local assemblies. However, some things have become clear. There was a very high level of voter abstention, a phenomenon already evident in many elections for provincial governors during 2007-08.
“A top Venezuelan opposition leader is seeking political asylum in Peru … after fleeing his country to avoid what he calls a politically motivated witch hunt directed by the government of President Hugo Chavez”, the April 22 Washington Post reported.
US President Barack Obama faces growing pressure to end the US economic blockade of socialist Cuba, imposed in 1962. On April 13, prior to attending the Organization of American States (OAS) heads of government meeting in Trinidad, Obama eased restrictions on Cuban-Americans visiting and sending money to family members in Cuba.
“It’s time to bite the bullet on paid maternity leave” after “12 years of neglect”, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stated in September. But the Rudd Labor government is now trying to renege on a national parental leave scheme in the forthcoming federal budget – citing the global financial crisis as the prime excuse.
The tragic April 16 explosion on a boat carrying Afghan asylum seekers from Indonesia has refocused public attention on the Australian government’s refugee and “border protection” policies. The explosion – which killed 5 of the 47 asylum seekers on the boat – occurred while an Australian navy vessel was taking the boat to Christmas Island.
The global crisis of capitalism is being used by the ALP as an excuse to water down workers’ rights and measures to tackle climate change as well as for a general “belt tightening” of public services. But the Rudd government is keeping its commitment to maintain the Howard government’s annual 3% real increase in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) budget.
Government troops were still advancing into the so-called no-fire zone in the north-east of Sri Lanka on April 29, adding to what the Australian Tamil Information Service calls “an unprecedented humanitarian crisis”.
If you conducted a random survey asking people what “democracy” means, probably the most frequent answer you would receive would be “government by the people” or “the people rule”. That’s not a bad answer; it’s the meaning of the Greek words from which “democracy” comes. Ancient Greece, particularly Athens, offers the best-known examples of early democracy.
The Australian Labor government joined the all-white boycott of the UN’s Durban Review Conference held in Geneva on April 20-24.
Issue 10 - April 2009
2009 started off badly. The international economic crisis is top priority of governments, companies, international organisations and individuals whose worries have become having a roof to sleep under and food on the table. The situation has taken many nations by surprise, but not so much Cuba.
TV entertainment that focuses on the lives of prostitutes has not, until recently, been an evening viewing option, in Australia or many other countries.
By the end of March, 10 Australian soldiers had been killed in the US-led occupation of Afghanistan, including nine in the past 18 months. Last month alone, there were two Australian Defence Force deaths in separate incidents as the Rudd government endorsed Washington’s decision to escalate the occupation forces’ war in Afghanistan.
On March 29, the Israeli Manufacturers Association (IMA) reported that Israeli exporters are losing markets because of the boycott campaign that has been gathering momentum internationally since Israel’s 22-day assault on Gaza.
The museum-style artwork called Economy of Movement – A Piece of Palestine that was located in a subway under Melbourne’s Flinders Street train station contained two framed explanations of its centre piece – a stone, resting on a glass pedestal. The first frame explained: “The stone exhibited is from East Jerusalem, Israel (occupied Palestinian Territory).
Compact fluorescent light globes are as bright as incandescent globes but consume 75-80% less energy and last 5-10 years.
What nation is the most sustainable in the world? If you guessed Sweden or Denmark, you would be wrong. Instead, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has declared Cuba as the only country on the planet that is approaching sustainable development. Key to this designation is the island’s “energy revolution”, an energy conservation effort launched only two years ago.
Runtime: 129 minutes
Directed by Oliver Stone
Written by Stanley Weiser
Starring Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell and Richard Dreyfuss
In theatres now
The draft legislation for the government’s planned greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions trading scheme (ETS), released on March 10, contained no real answers to the problem.
The official election campaigning period for the Indonesian national, provincial and district legislatures started on March 1 and will last until April 5. There is supposed to be a three-day period of non-campaigning immediately before the April 9 elections. Some 100,000 candidates from 44 parties are standing for seats in national, provincial and district legislatures.
The chief minister of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, on February 16 announced a new peace deal between Islamabad and the Taliban-endorsed Movement for Enforcement of Sharia, or Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM). In return for a cease-fire, the central government has agreed to implement sharia law in the Malakand region.
The Rudd Labor government’s Fair Work Australia (FWA) bill, passed by federal parliament on March 20, was touted as finally killing off the Howard government’s deeply unpopular Work Choices laws. Work Choices dramatically reduced employment standards by replacing the comprehensive wages and conditions in awards with just five legislated standards.
San Fransciso – The huge bonuses – some US$210 million – that insurance giant American International Group (AIG) paid out to its executives from the end of last year through to March sparked a renewed explosion of anger among working people.
Both the ALP and the recently amalgamated Liberal National Party (LNP) tried to present themselves as offering “change” in the state election on March 21. But pro-capitalist politics as usual is what remains in the wash-up. With Labor retaining government despite a 4% swing against it, Labor leader Anna Bligh became the first woman in Australia to be elected a state premier.
The Rudd Labor government claims that saving workers’ jobs from the impact of the deepening global economic recession is its top priority.
Testimony given by Israeli soldiers involved in Israel’s 22-day December-January assault on Gaza to a pre-military preparatory program at the Oranim Academic College in Israel on February 13, and which the March 18 Haaretz daily began printing daily excerpts of, revealed that they repeatedly committed crimes with impunity in Gaza.
San Salvador – As voting centres across El Salvador closed at 5 pm on March 15, the streets around the San Salvador headquarters of the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) filled with supporters determined to defend and to celebrate the party’s first presidential election victory. Chants of “Si, podemos!” (Yes, we could!
In mid-March, Max Lane, a member of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and author of Unfinished Nation: Indonesia Before and After Suharto (Verso, 2008), visited Manila at the invitation of the Asian Centre at the University of the Philippines to speak on this year’s Indonesian legislative and presidential elections.
While US President Barack Obama is desperately trying to rescue the crisis-ridden capitalist system with multi-billion dollar bailouts for the financial corporations, tent cities of newly homeless people are springing up across the US as unemployment and housing foreclosures soar.
Today the state is so all-pervasive in nearly everyone’s life that it can be difficult to imagine a society in which it didn’t exist. But there have been societies without a state, and Marxists expect that there will be another in the future. The state is an organisation that seems to stand above society and regulate its operations and mutual relations.
Issue 9 - March 2009
South African dock workers on February 5 prevented the unloading of a ship carrying Israeli goods to South Africa. Upon the victory, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union stated: “The momentum against apartheid Israel has become an irresistible force. We are proud to stand with the millions around the world who say ‘Enough is enough’.
Their uniform is not the traditional white coat of the medical fraternity, but red and blue T-shirts with the slogan “For the triumph of virtue”. Their medicine is the warmth of social solidarity and the gift of friendship. Nearly all are members of Cuba’s communist youth organisation, the UJC.
Six weeks after the formal cessation on January 18 of Israel’s 22-day war on the 1.5 million Palestinians who live in Gaza, Israel continues to carry out sporadic airstrikes on the small coastal region.
Elections for the two houses of Indonesia’s national parliament and the provincial parliaments will take place on April 9, at a time of growing dissatisfaction with the parliamentary parties. These elections will be followed in July by what will likely be the first of two rounds to elect a president and vice-president.
Building the Revolutionary Party. Jim Percy Selected Writings 1980-87. Resistance Books, 2008
Traditions, Lessons and Socialist Perspectives. By Jim Percy. New Course Publications, 1994
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s lengthy essay on “The Global Financial Crisis”, in the February issue of the Monthly, blames the international economic crisis on neoliberalism.
Australian soldiers of the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) were searching through homes in southern Uruzgan province on February 12, when, they claimed, they were fired on by Afghan resistance fighters. The troops returned fire, killing five children and wounding two children and two adults.
Salvadorans will vote for a new president on March 15. For the last 12 months, former independent journalist Mauricio Funes has held a double-digit lead over his rival, Rodrigo Avila, a former chief of the national police.
In the small community of Mona Mona, just north of Cairns, some 150 people met last December 9 with Linda Aplet, the director-general of the Queensland government’s Department of Communities.
The approval by Ecuador’s parliament on January 29 of a new mining law sparked protests and civil disobedience throughout the country.
The announcement by the Melbourne-headquartered Pacific Brands clothing and footwear manufacturing company on February 25 that it would sack 1850 employees – one-fifth of its global workforce – over 18 months, including 1200 in clothing manufacturing, demonstrated the failure of the Rudd Labor government’s $10.4 billion pre-Christmas “jobs protection” economic stimulus package.
[The following article was written in response to an article by Kelik Ismunanto, a leader of Papernas (National Liberation Unity Party) titled “Indonesia: Tracing a path towards parliament” that was published in the December 3 issue of Green Left Weekly.
Runtime: 128 minutes
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Written by Dustin Lance Black
Starring Sean Penn, James Franco and Josh Brolin
On February 15 some 6.3 million Venezuelans, 54.86% of voters, approved a constitutional amendment that allows all public officials to be re-elected more than once, thus enabling Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez to stand in the next presidential election in 2012.
At the end of February, my co-workers and I head into indefinite industrial action at Melbourne’s Victoria University. VU’s management has failed to negotiate a new agreement guaranteeing job security and acceptable workloads.
The official death toll from the Victorian bushfires was 210 by February 23. At least 7500 people have been left homeless by the fires, which began on February 7, after over 2000 houses were destroyed.
Nationalism is the belief that the members of a nation share common interests that are different from the interests of other nations and different from the interests of the human race as a whole.
East Timor has passed through the first year of “stability” since the failed assassination attempts in February 2008 on East Timorese President Jose Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
Issue 8 - February 2009
Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) was introduced by the Howard Coalition government in 2006, the same year as the introduction of the Work Choices legislation, aimed at crippling trade unions. VSU made membership of a student union voluntary and due to a severe decrease in funding, the result was the closure or reduction of many essential campus services around the country.
2008 was the 9th warmest year since measurements began in 1880, according to data published by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies on January 13. At 0.44oC warmer than the 1951-1980 average, it was also warmer than any year on record prior to 1998. The 10 warmest years on record have now all occurred since 1997.
I first visited Cuba in 1996. I’d read a lot about the Cuban Revolution, but seeing it first-hand made a deep and lasting impression on me. I wrote at the time: “You know when you greet a horse on a cold winter morning – you put your hand to its nose and you feel the warmth of its breath, powerful, reassuring and full of goodness.
Havana – Many had hoped former Cuban president Fidel Castro would make a surprise public appearance at the January 1 late afternoon event in Santiago de Cuba to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. But as expected, it was Fidel’s brother, Revolutionary Armed Forces minister and current Cuban President Raul Castro, who gave the keynote speech.
“Batten the hatches. This is not just a recession. This is the sharpest deceleration Australia’s economy has ever seen”, Australian economic forecaster Access Economics warned in its latest quarterly Business Outlook report, released on January 18.
[The following are excerpts from a chapter of US socialist Barry Sheppard’s forthcoming second volume of a political memoir of his time as a central leader of the US Socialist Workers Party and earlier of its youth group, the Young Socialist Alliance. The full chapter can be read (in PDF format) at http://www.socialistvoice.ca.
Commenting on the February 15 referendum in Venezuela to decide on amending article 230 of the country’s constitution to abolish the restriction that elected officials serve two terms, the editorial in the December 19 Washington Post claimed Venezuela’s revolutionary socialist president Hugo Chavez is an “authoritarian” who will use “force or fraud” to win the referendum bec
The true face of Israel was exposed to millions of people throughout the world by the beginning of the Israeli attack on Gaza 0n December 27. The decades-long solidarity movement with Palestine mushroomed overnight, and throughout the three weeks of bombardment of Gaza, the world witnessed some of the largest demonstrations ever in support of Palestine.
On January 20, a boat carrying 20 asylum seekers was intercepted by Australian navy patrol boat HMAS Maryborough, 39 kilometres from Ashmore Island in Australia’s far north-west. The asylum seekers were taken nearly 2000 km to the immigration detention prison on Christmas Island.
Bolivian President Evo Morales delivered a blow to Israel on January 16 by cutting off diplomatic ties with the Zionist state. Roberto Nelkenbaum, the Israeli consul to Bolivia, said he was “surprised and sad” that Bolivia had taken this action after the two countries shared “good diplomatic relations for more than 50 years”.
San Fransisco – President Barack Obama has presented his plan to try to turn around the US economy in the context of a rapid and accelerating decline. Official figures for the fourth quarter of last year indicated that US gross domestic product contracted at a 3.8% annual rate.
On January 23, just days after the Israeli military finished its 22-day war against the 1.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, Israel’s military censor banned both the Israeli and international media from publishing the names of, or information about, Israeli military officers who participated in the war.
After the Waterfront – the Workers are Quiet
Published by the LeftPress
Che: Part One (The Argentine)
Runtime: 126 minutes
Che: Part Two (Guerrilla)
Runtime: 131 minutes
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Peter Buchman, based on the writings of Che Guevara
Starring Benicio del Toro, Demian Bichir and Catalina Sandino Moreno
Australian release date unknown
A Thai socialist, Giles Ji Ungpakorn, is facing up to 15 years in jail after being charged by police with lese majeste – insulting the king.
As Israel began dropping bombs on the Gaza Strip on December 27, Australian Palestine solidarity activists began organising protests. Despite occurring during the “quiet” part of the year, these protest actions snowballed in size during the weeks of Israel’s 22-day war on Gaza.
The winners of capitalist competition tend to become monopolies. Monopolies, in turn, reverse the character of capitalist investment. When there was widespread competition in an industry, there was great pressure on each company to reinvest its profits in order not to be left behind technologically and thus to lose out.
Barack Obama’s first military act as US president was to order two remote-controlled air strikes that killed 22 people, many civilians, in Waziristan, northern Pakistan. The Hellfire missile attacks on two villages were accompanied by presidential rhetoric about “smart power” and “tough love” that could easily have been spoken by his predecessor, George Bush.
Issue 7 - December 2008
Many who voted for the ALP on November 24, 2007, did so thinking that a Rudd Labor government would end Australia’s involvement in the US-led war in Iraq. One year on and the Australian military under PM Kevin Rudd is still an active cog in the US-led imperialism war machine in Iraq.
The election of Barack Obama to the US presidency has generated hope among many that not only will the US soon be out of Iraq, but there will also be a resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, a closer look at Obama’s stated views on Israel and Palestine reveals that he is unlikely to depart significantly from the pro-Israel policies of George W. Bush.
“The severity of this economic contraction is a once-in-a-hundred-year phenomenon. It really does compare in severity to the Depression of the late 1920s and through the ’30s”, Donald Brean, a professor of finance and economics at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, told the November 11 London Financial Times.
The World Energy Outlook 2008, released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on November 12, makes an alarming prediction: Without new government policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and assuming current rates of growth in energy demand continue, global GHG emissions could rise 45% by 2030.
Dallas – My first visit to Texas was in 1968, on the fifth anniversary of the assassination of president John F. Kennedy in Dallas. I drove south, following the line of telegraph poles to the small town of Midlothian, where I met Penn Jones Jr, editor of the Midlothian Mirror.
Thirty years ago, at the end of December 1978, Vietnamese troops and rebel Cambodian forces crossed into Cambodia and in a few weeks overthrew a regime whose savagery rivalled that of Nazi Germany.
San Francisco – Many people have high hopes that Barack Obama will led the US in a new direction. What can we say now about his likely course? Obama’s mantra during the election campaign was “change”. Now he is emphasising “continuity” and a seamless transition from the Bush administration. The only change from the current regime is to go back to the Clinton years.
Chicago 10: Speak Your Peace
Written and directed by Brett Morgen
Limited release as part of the Australian International Human Rights Film and Arts Festival.
Visit www.hraff.org.au for details.
On January 1 Cuba’s working people will celebrate 50 years of freedom from imperialist rule.
In June 2008, a US appeals court upheld the convictions of the Cuban Five – five Cuban nationals who were arrested and convicted of espionage, conspiracy to commit murder, and other illegal activities, in the US. The appeals court vacated the sentences of three of the five men, ordering re-sentencing trials for them.
In its earliest stages, capitalism necessarily began from what was provided by the feudal economy that preceded it. This was primarily an extremely low level of productivity, based mostly on very simple tools and producers (peasants and artisans) with few skills.
Despite Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez leading a popular socialist revolution in his country that has inspired millions beyond its borders, a range of people describing themselves as revolutionary socialists don’t accept that such a revolution is taking place and have declared Chavez incapable of leading such a revolution; that he is an obstacle to carrying through such a revolut
John McCarthy, a Brisbane doctor who in the 1970s played a significant role in the development of the revolutionary socialist movement in Australia, died on November 1 after a long battle with cancer. While in Britain in the 1960s McCarthy joined the International Marxist Group (IMG), the British group supporting the Trotskyist Fourth International (FI).
After PM Kevin Rudd’s February 13 official apology to the Stolen Generations, media outlets around the world hailed him as a great humanitarian friend of Aboriginal people.
On November 25 – a day after the first anniversary of the election of the Rudd Labor government – deputy PM and workplace relations minister Julia Gillard introduced the government’s Fair Work bill into federal parliament. She said the bill would “sweep away” the Howard government’s Work Choices laws and deliver on Labor’s election promises.
Over the weekend of November 7-9, 2008, socialists from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Australia, Britain, Sweden and Taiwan gathered near Kuala Lumpur for Socialism 2008, a conference hosted by the Parti Socialis Malaysia (Malaysian Socialist Party, PSM).
On November 7, the UN General Assembly conducted its annual vote on a range of resolutions relating to the Middle East “peace process”.
In a media release on November 20, Edmund Rice Centre director Phil Glendenning said the response to a November 19 SBS broadcast of the new documentary A Well-Founded Fear had been overwhelming. The documentary, by Anne Delaney, highlighted the centre’s research into the fate of more than 400 asylum seekers deported from Australia.
The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Sydney in July for the Catholic World Youth Day festival has focused attention on the relevance of religion in the 21st century. One of the most bizarre spectacles of the 400,000-strong event was the grisly worship of the 83-year-old corpse of Italian Catholic Pier Giorgio Frassati, flown in for the festival.
On November 6, ABC Learning, which controls nearly a quarter of Australia’s childcare centres, went into receivership owing more than $1 billion to the banks. Less than two weeks later CFK, Australia’s second biggest childcare company, also went into receivership, after revealing it was losing $400,000 per month.
Thousands of factory workers blockaded the Padalarang highway in West Java causing traffic to back up 10 kilometres along the road for four hours on November 24.
Caracas – Elections of state governors and local mayors were held across Venezuela on November 23. Candidates of President Hugo Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won 5.7 million votes, 1.4 million more votes than supported Chavez in the December 2007 constitutional referendum.
San Francisco – As has been widely noted, the election of an African-American as president of the United States is an historic event. This is true irrespective of the politics and perspectives of Barack Obama. That a black family will occupy the White House, which was built by black slaves, is a powerful symbol.
Issue 6 - November 2008
San Francisco, October 31 – In the final days of the US presidential election campaign, Republican candidate John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin have repeatedly charged that Democrat candidate Barack Obama is a “socialist”. While this assertion is ridiculous, it does bring the issue of socialism into the mainstream of US political discourse.
The war in Afghanistan is not a “good war” gone bad. It’s been an unjust, imperialist war of conquest and empire from its inception. About five hours after hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001, US President George Bush’s defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld turned to an aide and told him to begin drawing up plans for war.
Violent attacks by Jewish residents in the Israeli city of Acre last month have left 14 Palestinian families, a total of 72 people, homeless. All 72 are Israeli citizens who had their homes destroyed.
Battle in Seattle
Written and directed by Stuart Townsend.
Starring Woody Harrelson, Martin Henderson, Michelle Rodriguez and Andre Benjamin.
Australian release date unknown
Since the September 15 failure of Wall Street-based Lehman Brothers, the fourth largest investment bank in the US, the world’s capitalist governments have been scrambling to keep the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s from turning into a total collapse of the global financial system.
Every year since 1992 the overwhelming majority of UN member countries have voted for Cuba’s resolution demanding an end to the US economic blockade against the Caribbean socialist state. On October 29, the UN General Assembly voted for the 17th consecutive year in favour of Cuba’s motion.
The global arms industry is a very lucrative way for businesses to profit from death, destruction and oppression. It is estimated that each year 2% of world gross domestic product (GDP), or more than US$1 trillion, is spent on the military. Part of this goes to the procurement of military hardware and services from the arms industry.
A 400-strong rally was held in Brisbane on November 1 as part of the campaign to free Lex Wotton, an Indigenous community leader from Palm Island, who was found guilty on October 24 of “rioting with destruction” by an all-white jury in Brisbane’s District Court.
Brussels – In 2007-2008, the standard of living of more than half of the world population dropped dramatically when the price of food soared. There were massive demonstrations in at least 15 countries in the first half of 2008.
On the afternoon of Friday, October 17, Victoria University vice-chancellor Elizabeth Harman sent an email to all staff describing her “unhappy” decision to proceed with 270 “voluntary and targeted” redundancies.
While capitalist governments around the world have responded to the freezing up of the capitalist financial system by turning trillions of dollars of public funds over to bankrupt bankers, the revolutionary government of Venezuelan socialist President Hugo Chavez has continued to take steps to redistribute wealth to Venezuela’s working people.
In the Indian state of Gujarat, 50 kilometres southeast of the city of Bhavnagar, lie the ship-breaking yards of Alang. What was once a pristine beach is being used as a deadly graveyard for the world’s supertankers, container ships, car ferries and naval vessels. Even aircraft carriers are dismantled at Alang.
On October 25, Major-General Tariq Khan, commander of Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC), announced that his officers had captured Loi Sam, a key Taliban stronghold in the Bajaur region, part of the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
If you listen to capitalist economists, media commentators or major party politicians, two things you will always find treated with reverence are private property and free markets. These, we are told, are essential not only to economic progress but even to “democracy” and “freedom”. US presidents have used these holy concepts as justification for threatening, or launching, wars.
The rate of growth in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – 3% between 2006 and 2007 – has exceeded the “worst-case scenario” predictions of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the September 26 Los Angeles Times reported.
Issue 5 - October 2008
Aghast at the atrocities committed by US forces invading the Philippines, and the rhetorical flights about liberation and noble intent that routinely accompany crimes of state, Mark Twain threw up his hands at his inability to wield his formidable weapon of satire. The immediate object of his frustration was the renowned General Funston.
“A nuclear strike” is how Cuban leader Fidel Castro described Hurricane Gustav, which roared across Cuba’s Isle of Youth and the western province of Pinar del Rio on August 30. A week later Cuba was hit by the even more destructive Hurricane Ike, which gouged a swathe of devastation from one end of the Caribbean island to the other.
The enthusiasm for nuclear power in sections of the ALP that was nurtured during the government of the previous prime minister, John Howard, has not been dampened.
On October 9, millions throughout the world will commemorate the 41st anniversary of the assassination of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Che was central to the victory of the Cuban revolution of January 1, 1959. Since then his role and contribution to socialism in Cuba and to socialist understanding have been reflected upon and admired by millions of revolutionaries around the world.
The Eighth Congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [CPI (ML)], held in December 2007 in Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal, was its biggest yet, registering the party’s growing support among India’s workers and peasants.
As the Sun disappeared below the horizon of the North Pole on September 22 – ending the Northern hemisphere’s summer – it left behind the second-lowest minimum level of Arctic summer ice cover since satellite records began 29 years ago.
Havana – The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States for 50 years is the main obstacle to Cuba’s development, the well-being of the Cuban people and, under the current circumstances, all the work involved in recovering from the extensive damage caused by hurricanes Gustav and Ike, stated Cuban foreign minister Felipe Perez Roque in Havana.
Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical novels Persepolis 1 and 2 have been adapted as the feature film Persepolis.
On September 29, the Rudd government announced that it would give a 2-week extension to the review board and panel of experts handpicked to look at the federal government’s intervention into remote Northern Territory Aboriginal communities.
San Francisco, September 25 – Today there are spontaneous demonstrations occurring on Wall Street and over 200 other places across the country denouncing the plan to bail out the Wall Street financiers to the tune of US$700 billion. One journalist sent out an email proposing such demonstrations and then support for it exploded on the internet.
Peter Camejo, a Venezuelan-American and life-long revolutionary, died on September 13 in the San Francisco Bay area. The cause was cancer.
Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
Starring John Cho, Kal Penn, and Neil Patrick Harris
Directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
Runtime 102 minutes
Over 80% of people in Australia support a woman’s right to choose abortion – a significant gain of the women’s liberation movement. Having lost the debate on a woman’s right to choose, the anti-abortion movement has adopted a new tactic – posing as being “pro-woman”. At the forefront of this maneuver in Australia is Women’s Forum Australia.
La Paz – On the eve of the 35th anniversary of the September 11, 1973, CIA-backed military coup that overthrew the elected social-democratic government of Chilean president Salvador Allende, Washington was again attempting to orchestrate a coup against a left-wing government in South America.
[The following is the address given by Cuban Vice-President Jose Ramon Machado to the UN General Assembly on September 24. It has been slightly abridged.]
[The following article is based upon a Direct Action forum held in Melbourne on September 26.]
On September 17, former Venezuelan vice-president Jose Vicente reported to the country’s National Assembly that the US government was at the centre of a foiled coup plot planned for October 15 to violently overthrow the elected government of President Hugo Chavez that is leading a socialist revolution in Venezuela.
On October 7, the upper house of the Victorian state parliament will vote on the Victorian Abortion Reform Bill, which was passed in the lower house on September 11 by 48 votes to 35.
Contrary to what some ideologues would like us to believe, the economic arrangements we know as capitalism are not of long standing. Capitalism arose fairly recently in history (in the late mediaeval period), in a particular place (western Europe, mainly in Flanders and England).
Issue 4 - September 2008
In December and January, the 26th annual Southern Cross Work-Study Brigade will visit Cuba and take part in celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the triumph of Cuba’s revolution against US domination. The brigade is organized by the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society.
Protest actions are being planned for Brisbane in October when Lex Wotton faces court. Wotton has been portrayed by the Queensland police, government and establishment media as the leader of the “riot” that occurred on Palm Island on November 26, 2004.
Forty-six human rights activists from 17 countries broke the Israeli siege of Gaza on August 23. The SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty, two refitted Greek boats carrying 40 people, some food and medical supplies, left Cyprus on August 21 to make the 350-kilometre, 32-hour journey to Gaza.
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.
On August 10, Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, and his vice-president, Alvaro Garcia Linera, secured a resounding victory in an opposition party-initiated recall referendum with a popular vote of 67.4%, an increase of 14 percentage points on the vote that brought Morales to office in December 2005.
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).
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.
In a July 29 speech, Labor immigration minister Chris Evans announced an end to the previous Howard Coalition government’s costly “Pacific Solution” to “illegal” asylum seekers – closing the offshore processing centres on Nauru and PNG’s Manus Island.
In 1964, a 22-year-old Palestinian poet named Mahmoud Darwish shared the struggle of his people with the world, writing: “Record!/ I am an Arab/ And my identity card is number fifty thousand/ I have eight children/ And the ninth is coming after a summer/ Will you be angry? … Record! I am an Arab/ I have a name without a title/ ...
San Francisco – The nomination of Barack Obama as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party is historic. He is the first African American presidential candidate of one of the two major capitalist parties. He may win the election and become the first black president, something inconceivable even only two years ago.
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.
“Socialists argue that, while the student union bureaucracy can’t simply be ignored, it’s far more important to involve the vast bulk of ordinary students in campaigns or demonstrations rather than concentrating on the factional manoeuvres that often take place within relatively small cliques within the student unions.” This good advice offered by Gerard Morel and Jeff Sparrow in S
This year’s May Day demonstrations in Jakarta took on a special significance because they came 10 years after General Suharto was forced by mass street protests to resign as Indonesia’s president. The May 1 marches were followed by another lively round of protests on May 21, the anniversary of the day Suharto fell.
Officially the governments that wage war on the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan acknowledge that by August 26 this year, 4460 of their troops had died in Iraq and 934 had died in Afghanistan.
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.
A number of educators here in Australia and internationally have become increasingly interested in the radical education reform taking place in Venezuela, as part the country’s march toward socialism.
“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”.
“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.
On September 6, Western Australians will be voting in a state election to determine which of the two big-business parties can best manage WA’s resources export boom for the big end of town. WA Premier Alan Carpenter called an early state election on August 7, just one day after WA Liberal Party leader Troy Buswell resigned.
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.
On August 12, ACTU president Sharan Burrow called on the federal Labor government to introduce new industrial relations laws into parliament before the end of the year.
Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?
Directed by Morgan Spurlock
Running time 93 minutes
Issue 3 - August 2008
Yogyakarta – An estimated 20,000 Indonesian farmers from 10 villages will be displaced if an Australian company proceeds with a proposed iron sand mine. The venture would span some 22km of coastline of the Kulon Progo regency in the Yogyakarta Special Region, on the south coast of Java.
This month is the 20th anniversary of Burma’s “8888 uprising”, which began on August 8, 1988, when tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Rangoon, the capital, to protest against decades of military rule and economic mismanagement.
Arriving in Havana on June 16 for a meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro and his brother, retired Cuban president Fidel Castro, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that Cuba and Venezuela were undergoing “one and the same revolution”.
On July 15, the final report from the joint Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) was officially received by the governments of Indonesia and East Timor.
“We cannot continue to pour carbon pollution into the atmosphere as if there is no cost … Climate change threatens our food production, agriculture, and water supplies.” With this dire warning, the minister for climate change and water, Senator Penny Wong, released the federal government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme green paper on July 16.
Ramallah, occupied Palestine – In April, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers became the latest union internationally to support Palestinians’ call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
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.
Ramallah, occupied Palestine – It’s a Thursday night – the beginning of the Palestinian weekend – and the Ramallah Cultural Palace is packed. There are young Palestinian men and women in their late teens and 20s, as well as parents with their pre-teen children streaming into the large auditorium.
La Paz, Bolivia – On August 10, a recall referendum will decide the fate of Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, the vice president and eight prefects (governors). The referendum campaign was launched by opponents of Morales in an attempt to oust Morales, who was elected president in December 2005 with 53.74% of the vote.
In four years of ups and downs, the Respect broad-left party has illustrated both the opportunities for and the obstacles to building a mass working-class party in Britain. Respect emerged in 2004 in opposition to the neoliberal and pro-war policies of PM Tony Blair’s Labour government.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and federal Liberal Party leader Brendan Nelson have shown their willingness to use the soldiers they claim to honour and respect to suit their own political ends, cynically using the emotions generated by the return of Australia’s Overwatch Battle Group from southern Iraq and the death in early July of the sixth Australian soldier in Afghanistan since 200
On July 1 the Rudd government’s multibillion-dollar package of tax cuts and family support came into effect. Working families, however, are financially worse off than when the ALP took office in November.
Documentary written and directed by Matt Norman
“Californian-based Australians joined the throngs of girlfriends packing US movie theatres to see their favourite heroines hit the big screen”, the Murdoch-owned News Corporation outlets reported on June 2.
Imagine if the Australian government provided all education, from pre-school to post-graduate level, and all medical care, free of charge.
Unfinished Nation: Indonesia before and after Suharto
By Max Lane
Verso 2008 312 pages
RRP (Australia) $49.95
Nearly all societies in the world today are based on a division of labour. No individual or family produces everything it needs to live. Everyone specialises in one or a few activities. At least some of that activity goes to the benefit of others, and, in return, in one way or another, we receive the things we need that we don’t produce ourselves.
Since 1996 the main Australian government overseas aid organisation, AusAID, has been prevented from funding any organisations that provide “abortion training or services, or research, trials or activities which directly involve abortion drugs” even where it could save the life of a woman.
Revolutionary socialists have a duty to support socialist revolutions in other countries. Such international solidarity is vital.
Issue 2 - July 2008
“Imagine the CEO of a national bank declaring the whole enterprise was geared to make no profit and their goal was to support the creation of a socialist society. Daily life in Venezuela is full of such rich contrasts to wealthy Australia”, Ian Jamieson explained to me when I caught up with him about his experiences on a recent fact-finding brigade there.
The Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM), which won a seat in the country’s federal as well as in one state parliament, in the March 8 elections, made another advance on June 18 when home affairs minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar gave the PSM the green light to be registered as a legal party, subject to it showing that it has a national base.
On June 14, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd complimented his predecessor, John Howard, for providing “$1 billion” in aid to Indonesia after the December 2004 tsunami.
In Ramallah, Occupied West Bank – Thirty extra truckloads of food and commercial goods were allowed into the besieged Gaza Strip on June 22, as Israel temporarily opened the Kerem Shalom crossing. Since April, Israel had been permitting only 60 truckloads of supplies per day to enter the region via the nearby Sufa crossing.
Since the final heroic victory of the Vietnamese liberation fighters on April 30, 1975, the imperialist rulers in both the US and Australis have sought to obscure the historical lessons of their defeat.
With abortion set to be decriminalised in Victoria before the end of the year, there are renewed opportunities for abortion rights supporters to retake ground that has been lost since the height of the abortion rights movement in the 1980s, when it won gains including court decisions in Queensland, Victoria and NSW that liberalised the interpretation of anti-abortion laws, enabling
On June 4, a US appeals court upheld the convictions of Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Cabanino and Fernando Gonzalez, five Cuban men who are imprisoned in the US for the “crime” of defending Cuba from terrorist attacks planned and organised in the US.
Since Raul Castro became Cuba’s president, the Cuban government has announced a range of reforms to the country’s post-capitalist economic system. This has resulted in much speculation in the Western corporate media that under Raul’s leadership Cuba is abandoning its commitment to socialism.
Protest demonstrations in Jakarta and other Indonesian cities in recent weeks marked the appearance of a new progressive alliance, the National Liberation Front (FPN). The FPN was formed in May at the initiative of the Workers Challenge Alliance (ABM), a coalition of progressive union federations.
On July 1 the US Fourth Fleet, operating in the Caribbean and off the coast of South America, was been re-activated in a desperate attempt by the US rulers to reassert control over a region in which working people in rebellion against US corporate domination.
From the start, NSW Labor Premier Morris Iemma’s attempt to privatise the state’s electricity industry – “the most important micro-economic reform in this state in decades” – has been marked by hypocrisy from all sides of official politics.
The first anniversary of the federal government’s racist “emergency” intervention into 73 remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory was marked by protests in Australia’s major cities by Aboriginal people and their supporters. The protests called attention to the real intent of the intervention, which is to continue stealing Aboriginal land.
The biggest losers from the restructuring of Queensland Rail being pushed through by the state Labor government will be QR’s employees – followed closely by commuters. The restructure will prepare QR for sell-off or closure and enable the splitting up of collective union agreements.
The Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) is a revolutionary party, founded in 1997, with a membership of around 3000. The LPP has shown inspiring leadership in the struggles against women’s oppression, dictatorship, religious fundamentalism and imperialism in Pakistan. Direct Action spoke to Farooq Tariq, LPP spokesperson, on the current situation in Pakistan.
A centralised planned economy to meet the needs of the people, essential for a socialist revolution, is taking shape in Venezuela. It began when the Chavez government, reinstated by a workers’ and soldiers’ revolution that defeated a US-backed coup in April 2002, gained control of the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA in early 2003.
Exactly 20 years after his June 23, 1988 testimony to the US Senate, which alerted the public that global warming was underway, Dr James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, offered a sobering deadline – one year – to begin deffusing the “global warming time bomb”.
It would be dishonest of me to remain silent after hearing the speech [US Senator Barack] Obama delivered on the afternoon of May 23 at the Cuban American National Foundation created by Ronald Reagan. I listened to his speech, as I did [US Senator John] McCain’s and [US President George] Bush’s.
Written and directed by Clifton Ross
PM Press 2008
Bilingual with subtitles in Spanish and English
The name of this paper refers to something that has a long tradition in movements for social change. In its most fundamental sense, direct action is the idea that, if you want something done, you should go and do it yourself, not wait for someone else to do it for you.
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan
Directed by Dennis Dugan
Screenplay by Adam Sandler, Judd Apatow and Robert Smigel
Starring Adam Sandler, John Turturro, Emmanuelle Chriqui
Issue 1 - June 2008
“Nine decades ago a revolutionary journalist from New York, John Reed, published a book of his findings of a great revolutionary upheaval, the Russian revolution, titled Ten Days That Shook the World”, Ian Jamieson, a Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) delegate who participated in the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) May Day brigade to Venezuela, told a May 28 public me
The Direct Action group was a small organisation of Melbourne- and Geelong-based activists who left the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) in June 2006, five months after its 21st Congress.
Throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, the women’s liberation movement won the public debate about abortion – in Australia today more than 80% of people support a woman’s right to choose whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. But the opponents of this right of women haven’t given up.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on April 14 show an alarming decline in union membership. In the 12 months to August 2007, unions lost 89,000 members (5% of their membership). Union density declined from 20.3% to 18.9%. Only 14% of private sector workers are union members, compared with 41% of public sector workers, according to the ABS data.
“What sort of peculiar capitalist country is this, in which the workers’ representatives predominate in the upper house, and until recently did so in the lower house as well, and yet the capitalist system is in no danger?” Lenin’s 1913 question was prompted by the pro-capitalist politics demonstrated by the 1910-13 Fisher Labor government.
Taking inspiration from US groups such as Iraq Veterans Against War, a new group of former military personnel opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – Stand Fast – was launched at the March 16 anti-war rallies across Australia, in time for the fifth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq.
The US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are in crisis. Troop morale in the US-led occupation forces in both wars is waning as the futility of trying to subdue an entire population grows clearer and the numbers of dead and wounded mount. The Iraq war in particular suffers from a growing crisis of legitimacy.
Fidel Castro is no longer Cuba’s head of state. Is this a critical moment in the life of the Cuban Revolution as it approaches its 50th anniversary in January 2009, or merely a symbolic changing of the guard?
This is the first issue of a new paper, Direct Action, but it has two proud precursors, each with an excellent tradition.
The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) is a new organisation on the Australian left, a fusion between a minority expelled from the Democratic Socialist Perspective and the Direct Action organisation, formerly the Marxist Solidarity Network, whose members, based in Melbourne and Geelong, left the DSP two years earlier.
Across the globe, working people are facing a disastrous surge in the price of food. Prices for basic staples such as maize, rice, and wheat have more than doubled over the past year.
On May 12, the American Broadcasting Corporation reported that US voters’ “disgruntlement neared a record high and George W. Bush slipped to his career low in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.
Capitalist governments can take many forms, from fascist tyranny to liberal democracy. However, the essence of capitalism is the very opposite of democracy, if democracy is understood as “the rule of the people”. Under capitalism, both wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite, the capitalist class.
In Ramallah, Occupied West Bank – On March 12, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd moved a motion calling on the House of Representatives to “celebrate and commend the achievements of the State of Israel in the 60 years since its inception” and to reconfirm Canberra’s support for “Israel’s right to exist” and a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
During the 1998 struggle against the Suharto dictatorship, there were threats that a deeper radicalisation might begin, as the most radical groups called for the establishment of “people’s councils” wherever mass protest was strong. More and more of Suharto’s elite supporters deserted him, forcing him to resign.
Directed by Jon Favreau
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges
Screenplay by Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby
“Organising Nationally is Organising Internationally” was the theme as some 300 delegates and more than 100 international guests met in quadrennial conference of the Maritime Union of Australia in Sydney in April. Delegates began to chart a course for the union industrially and politically in the climate of a newly elected neo-conservative Labor government.
By Fidel Castro.
Edited by Ignacio Ramonet.
Translated by Andrew Hurley.
Penguin (UK), 2007. 724 pp (hb). RRP (Australia) $59.95.
On May 17 the Asia Pacific Solidarity Network (APSN) launched its new website of the same name.
“While my portfolios can be a mouthful, I’ll be happy to be referred to simply as the minister for productivity”, said deputy PM Julia Gillard on December 3, explaining why she has been made minister for education and minister for employment and workplace relations, as well as minister for social inclusion in the newly elected federal Labor government.
Caracas – A sea of red stretching for miles through the streets of the Venezuelan capital. Vibrant, exciting, determined and powerful. A sea of red, the colour of President Hugo Chavez and socialism.
Thirty-three years ago – on April 17, 1975 – the people of Phnom Penh lined the streets of Cambodia’s capital to celebrate the end of civil war and welcome the victorious Khmer Rouge (KR) troops. Photographs of that day show optimism and relief on the faces of the crowd, as they waved white cloths and offered cigarettes to the incoming troops.
Melbourne-based band, The Conch, is an 11-piece outfit, formed in 2004 when US President George Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard were re-elected amid a climate of warmongering and racist xenophobia against the Muslim peoples of the Middle East.
When the Socialist Alliance was proposed by the Democratic Socialist Party (now the Democratic Socialist Perspective) in 2001, it was intended as a step forward for left unity.
The SA national website states, in part: “The Socialist Alliance was formed on February 17, 2001, by eight socialist groups and parties that saw an urgent need for greater left unity in Australia”.
Zely Ariane is a spokesperson for the Indonesian Political Committee of the Poor – People’s Democratic Party (KPRM-PRD). The following interview was conducted by Theresia Dian Septi Trisnanti and translated by James Balowski.
Question: When was the KPRM-PRD formed?
Capitalism, through its direct application of scientific knowledge to the production of goods and services, has promoted the use and control of the forces of nature far more rapidly and extensively than any previous system of production.
The latest news on climate change is not good.
Since the defeat of the constitutional reform referendum last December 3 there has been much discussion surrounding the future of the Venezuelan revolution. Commentators and activists inside Venezuela and internationally have expressed their views on this topic.
In November 2004, the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) adopted a national policy of seeking to establish clubs on university campuses to build solidarity with the socialist revolution in Venezuela.