Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Joan Hinton: ‘How Can Socialism Ensure the Full Liberation of Women?’

Anakbayan Online
July 9, 2010

Joan Hinton
Academy of Agricultural Mechanization Science, Beijing
(revised 1 January 1997)

I’m really excited to be able to attend this meeting, and especially to be able to come to the top of the world, Nepal, to discuss problems facing women all over the world.

First a little about myself. I’m an American citizen. I’m 75 years old. I spent the first 27 years of my life in the U.S. where, as a young nuclear physicist, I did my part in the creation of the atom bomb. I spent the next 48 years working in agriculture as a participant in the Chinese revolution.

My topic here is “How can socialism ensure the full liberation of women?” I feel so strongly about the positive experience of socialism as practiced over 30 years in China, that I’m particularly happy to have this opportunity to speak. Today with the collapse of the whole socialist camp, which comprised 1/3 of all humankind, there is a great disillusionment with socialism. People everywhere are confused. They are looking for another way out.

Joan Hinton
Was it the economic system of socialism that failed? I say no. Definitely not. Socialism — the elimination of labor as a commodity, that is the elimination of buying and selling labor power for the purpose of profit, combined with a planned economy — is the only way out. There is no other way that can solve the problems of the people of the world including the problems faced by women everywhere.

What benefits did 30 years of socialism under Mao bring to the people, specially the women of China?

Read more HERE.

Nepal: Maoists back at the helm

August 29, 2011

The Maoists are leading government again, but will have to choose between the interests of the ruling establishment, of which they are now a part, and the millions whom they have inspired.

Nepal’s Constituent Assembly elected Baburam Bhattarai, vice-chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), as prime minister yesterday. He is the country’s fourth prime minister since it was declared a republic in 2008.

In a straight majority, Bhattarai secured 340 votes out of 575 MPs who voted, while his only rival, Nepali Congress vice-president and parliamentary party leader, Ram Chandra Poudel, won 235 votes. Crucially, Bhattarai’s victory was assured when the UDMF (United Democratic Madhesi Front), a coalition of five parties with ethnic roots in the southern plains bordering India, announced its support for the Maoists.

The parties that make up the UDMF have been involved in their own movement against the discrimination of Madhesi people within Nepal. Their politics are mixed but in general are more akin to the mainstream neoliberal parties than to the Maoists’ vision of socialism. By leading government in an alliance with the mainstream UDMF, the Maoists can hardly escape accepting mainstream economic priorities.

What does “Socialism” Mean Anyway? Voices from Central America

By Siobhan B. Lozada
Upside Down World
August 28, 2011   

Batahole community organizer recounting women's roles in social resistence movements that continue to empower the youth in Nicaragua.
This summer I participated in a travel seminar with University of Montana students to learn about the dynamics of sustainable development in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Coming from the United States, these two countries were often portrayed as dangerous in the 1980’s, as guerrilla groups gained popular support for radical social change in an effort that was considered by Washington both subversive and communist in nature. I wondered about the origins of this Central American “socialism,” as much of its communitarian style of societal development still exists at the local level. Were these political and economic developments rooted in soviet-style communism as professed by the United States? Or was there something more to it, something uniquely Central American at its heart? Visiting with urban and rural community members affected by the civil wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador proved to be an enlightening experience that widened my scope of what sustainable economic development can actually encompass within developing, as well as the developed countries.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Phoenix: The Life of Norman Bethune

Phoenix - The Life of Norman Bethune: The Ego and the Scalpel

Reviewed by Michael Carbert
Montreal Review of Books

Norman Bethune remains one of the most famous Canadians in history, a man whose life and achievements inspire both veneration (especially in China), and resentment (from those who view his adherence to communism as un-Canadian). Following his death in China in 1939, Mao himself wrote a commemorative essay, and a special tomb was built for Bethune by his grieving supporters. He was proclaimed a hero of the Chinese revolution, and his fame spread from that point onward. A unique and engaging personality, Bethune was subsequently the subject of numerous books and films, including a recent biography by Adrienne Clarkson. The obvious question then is: does anyone really need a new 400-plus-page biography?

The answer to that question has much to do with the authors of Phoenix: The Life of Norman Bethune. Roderick Stewart, a leading authority on Bethune, is the author of two previous biographies and the editor of a collection of the famous surgeon’s writings. In 1999, he and his wife Sharon Stewart, also a published author, embarked on years of extensive travel and investigation into Bethune’s activities. They uncovered new information on every phase of Bethune’s life, including undocumented writings by Bethune and new interviews with friends, colleagues, and confidantes. With almost a hundred pages of detailed annotations and source notes, Phoenix is obviously intended to be the authoritative volume on Bethune and the primary source for future scholars.

Moving Saskatchewan Forward…To a Toxic Economy

By Jim Harding
For September 2, 2011
R-Town papers

The Wall government is ramping up for the fall election with the slogan “Moving Saskatchewan Forward!” But is the direction it is taking us really forward at all? The recent announcement of a $10 million deal with GE-Hitachi to research “small” nuclear reactors and nuclear wastes won’t take Saskatchewan towards sustainability. Rather it will ensure a toxic future for our children’s, children’s, children.


The companies that build nuclear reactors continue to decline. France’s Areva is still in the business but its huge cost-overruns and cumulating debt make it vulnerable. And Canada’s AECL, now privatized by Harper, will have increasing trouble justifying multi-billion taxpayer subsidies to build Candus. To try to enhance their competitiveness, the U.S.’s General Electric (GE) and Japan’s Hitachi formed a global nuclear alliance in June 2007. However this was premised on Japan and the U.S. continuing to build large nuclear plants, which is highly unlikely after the Fukushima catastrophe. So GE-Hitachi is now desperate for new markets to survive. Enter Saskatchewan, stage right!

A Rude Awakening

By Jim Harding
No Nukes

On August 16th several hundred people walked the green mile along Regina’s Albert Street, taking their call for a provincial nuclear waste ban to the government. They want an end to the industry group, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), negotiating with northern communities to “host” a nuclear dump without the people of Saskatchewan having any say.

This was the completion of a 20-day, 820 km walk started July 27th from Pinehouse. Along the way walkers made new friendships and networks that bring the north and south closer together. At the front of the colourful parade was a big, blue balloon “earth” encircled by cutouts of the world’s children holding hands. There was much magic as I watched, over the heads of the block-long string of people in front of me, as “the earth” bobbed up and down as its carriers led the way.

“For the past twenty-five years, governments have been putting their heads into the noose of finance”

Translated  by Gene Zbikowski
Monday 29 August 2011

Economist Jean-Christophe Le Duigou points to the underlying causes of sovereign debt and calls for a policy to confront the financial markets.

The government deficit and sovereign debt have been raised by the government to the rank of worry number one. Is this really the problem, in your opinion?

Jean-Christophe Le Duigou: Control of government debt is a legitimate objective. But how are we to accomplish it? This is the real issue. What do we find? For the past twenty-five years, successive governments have put their heads into the noose of finance. This situation dates back to the bank reforms of 1984-1986, to the internationalization of sovereign debt decided by Pierre Bérégovoy in the late 1980s, to the privatization of the banks decided by Edouard Balladur. France is bound to the financial markets.

As a consequence, to meet the first phase of the crisis, private debt (companies, households, banks) was massively transformed into government debt, the government having had to either take over a certain number of debts or increase the deficit to prevent a collapse of economic activity. The response made to the first phase of the crisis wasn’t a real answer, and it only chained us a little more to the financial markets.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Maoist elected Prime Minister of Nepal

Nepal Everest News

Kathmandu, Aug.28: Vice-chairman of the UCPN (Maoist), Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has been elected the Prime Minister of Nepal. In the elections held today at the meeting of the Legislature-Parliament, Dr. Bhattarai won with 340 votes. His only contender, Nepali Congress Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel garnered 235 votes. A total of 575 votes were cast today out of the total 594 members present in the Legislature-Parliament.

The United Democratic Madhesi Front’s support played a decisive role in Dr. Bhattarai’s win, based on a four-point agreement reached earlier today between the UCPN (Maoist) and the Front on matters relating to peace, constitution and a coalition government.

Improve health and health care in Saskatchewan

Aug 15, 2011

Target: Leaders of Saskatchewan's Provincial Parties (Saskatchewan, NDP, Liberal, PC, Green)

Click image above
In 2014, during the term of the next Government of Saskatchewan, the current 2004 Health Accord – the deal that sets funding and healthcare service delivery agreements between the federal, provincial and territorial governments – will expire and must be renegotiated. This is a unique opportunity to improve health and health care for all Canadians.

The renewed 2014 Health Accord must be a joint initiative between all provincial, territorial and federal governments and must include key provisions in order to improve the accessibility, equity, comprehensiveness and sustainability of our health system. Among these provisions is the need for action on primary health care across Canada, including increased access for Canadians to Community Health Centres.

Community Health Centres (CHCs), including Saskatchewan's Co-op CHCs, have been around in Canada for many years. But they’ve always been ahead of their times. CHCs are the only primary health care services that bring together family physicians, nurses and other health professionals under a single roof to provide team-based care, combined with a wide range of other health promotion and community development services.

RCMP raid mining company over activist's murder

Canadian civil society welcomes RCMP raid on Blackfire Exploration's offices

Council of Canadians
August 29, 2011

MiningWatch Canada, Common Frontiers, the United Steelworkers (USW), and Council of Canadians welcome news of an RCMP raid on the Calgary office of Blackfire Exploration, the privately-held company whose barite mine in Chiapas, Mexico has been in the news since the November 2009 murder of anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca.

The Globe and Mail reports that the RCMP raided Blackfire’s offices on July 20, 2011, alleging that Blackfire “illegally paid local mayor, Julio César Velazquez Calderón about $19,300 (CDN) ‘to keep the peace and prevent local members of the community from taking up arms against the mine.’”

“It’s encouraging that Blackfire’s operations are being investigated under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act,” says Jamie Kneen, Communications Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada. “It’s really the only law that holds Canadian companies accountable for their activities outside the country. We hope that it will bring about some justice in this case.

“If a case this egregious can’t be successfully prosecuted there’s little hope for accountability in the myriad of other cases we are hearing complaints about.”

Following Abarca’s murder, and at the request of the Mexican Network of Communities Affected by Mining, MiningWatch, Common Frontiers, and USW organized a fact-finding delegation to Chiapas. The delegation’s findings brought serious social and environmental impacts of the mine to public attention and led to the request for a bribery investigation, sponsored by nine organizations including the Council of Canadians.

“The RCMP investigation is a positive development, but it’s also just the tip of the iceberg,” says Rick Arnold, former coordinator of Common Frontiers, who accompanied the delegation. “Local residents with whom we spoke held Blackfire responsible for the murder of Mariano Abarca, which also has yet to be fully investigated."

Following the shooting of Abarca in front of his home on November 27, 2009, three past company employees were jailed, but they still await court appearance relating to this murder.

Despite company claims that it practices environmentally responsible mining, the delegation also found no indication of any environmental mitigation at the mine site, which remains suspended since December 2009. The company initiated legal action in the Chiapas court system to try to overturn the decision of the Chiapas Ministry of Environment and Housing (SEMAVI) to suspend the mine.

“Blackfire should leave Chiapas, once and for all, and issue a public apology to local communities,” said Mark Rowlinson, Legal Counsel for the United Steelworkers who also participated in the delegation. “We saw first hand the human and environmental impact of the company's presence in Chicomuselo. The costs to the community have already been too great.”

José Luis Abarca Montejo, son of Mariano Abarca, who has taken a leadership role in his community since his father was killed, made a visit to Canada in September 2010, when he supported calls for stronger legislation to regulate Canadian mining companies overseas. “ I think the government of Canada should be more careful with these companies who come to Mexico and treat us badly,” Abarca said to Embassy Magazine in Ottawa. “I call on the Canadian government to do something because we’re the same as any other citizens. We have rights too.”

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Left blocked

An interview with Portugese Left Bloc activist Ricardo Sá Ferreira

Red Pepper Blog
August 28, 2011

What will the ‘bailout’ mean for ordinary people in Portugal?
The ‘bailout’ is not financial help, it is extortion – it is going to give them a €520 million profit after they intervene in the Portuguese economy. The Portuguese people know this, but the hegemonic discourse dictates that it is ‘inevitable’ and without this package, the economy will go under. However, people know that the ‘bailout’ also means more austerity, compression of the workers’ wages, less public services, more VAT and the progressive destruction of the welfare state.

How has the Left Bloc responded to the financial crisis, and to the austerity that has already been imposed?
We have responded through social mobilisation and by presenting concrete legislative proposals that would be able to cut superfluous spending, while at the same time raise enough revenue for the state to pay off the deficit, without sacrificing the economy and the workers. This could be done by taxing fortunes and financial transactions to off-shore banks, the implementation of a new tax bracket where the rich are taxed more, and renegotiating the public debt in order for the economy to breathe. However, the real response must come from the streets. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

MI5 files reveal details of 1953 coup that overthrew British Guiana's leaders

Documents released by National Archives show prime minister Winston Churchill feared the colony would turn communist

Associated Press
Friday 26 August 2011

Cheddi Jagan with wife Janet and their two children in 1957
Secret documents declassified on Friday by MI5 reveal in detail how in 1953 the UK under prime minister Winston Churchill overthrew the elected government of British Guiana – now Guyana – because he feared its leftwing leader and his American wife would lead the British colony into the arms of the Soviet Union.

The documents reveal how British spies kept up intense scrutiny on Cheddi Jagan and his wife Janet, who together founded the People's Progressive party (PPP) to campaign for workers' rights and independence from British rule for the sugar-producing colony in northern South America.

Stephen Lewis's eulogy to Jack Layton

The Canadian Press

Never in our collective lifetime have we seen such an outpouring, so much emotional intensity, from every corner of this country. There have been occasions, historically, when we've seen respect and admiration but never so much love, never such a shocked sense of personal loss.

Jack was so alive, so much fun, so engaged in daily life with so much gusto, so unpretentious, that it was hard while he lived to focus on how incredibly important that was to us, he was to us. Until he was so suddenly gone, cruelly gone, at the pinnacle of his career.

To hear so many Canadians speak so open-heartedly of love, to see young and old take chalk in hand to write without embarrassment of hope, or hang banners from overpasses to express their grief and loss. It's astonishing.

Al Quds Day Rally 2011: Regina Saskatchwan

Regina Solidarity Group

It was 32 years ago on 16th August 1979, on the first Ramadan after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, that Imam Khomeini inaugurated Al-Quds day as a day for solidarity with the oppressed, in particular the oppressed of Palestine. Every year from that day, without exception, we have seen Al Quds Day demonstrations around the world. Al Quds Day is the oldest annual international protest in support of Palestine.

Al Quds Day is held in the last week of Ramadan each year. Its a day when people around the world, Muslims and non-Muslims come together to demonstrate their support for the oppressed in the world, in particular the oppressed Palestinians who have been living under zionist occupation for over 60 years.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wasn't That A Time

Klbrisby's Channel

Isn't this a time!
A time to free the soul of man!
Isn't this a wonderful time!

Two founding members of The Weavers singing quartet, specifically Lee Hays and Pete Seeger, were interviewed by the Senate committee investigating potential Communists in this country.

In this scene, actual testimony is intercut with a performance of a song "Wasn't That a Time" which the investigators (ridiculously) thought demonstrated anti-American sentiments. Shawn P. Rohlf, Kat Fitzpatrick, Kent Brisby, and Steve Denyes (left-to-right) perform excerpt from a workshop staging of THE WEAVERS SONG, adapted by KL Brisby.

Mr. Brisby has authored more than a dozen produced plays and musicals, including the musical THE WEAVERS SONG, about blacklisted musical superstars of America in the 1940’s and 50’s.

The Blacklisting of The Weavers

A Stork vs. the Neo-Nazis

Satire Campaign Targets NPD Election Efforts

By Johannes Korge
Speigel OnLine
August 26, 2011
More photos HERE.

The German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is set to hold elections -- and the far-right NPD party has been hard at work with a poster campaign. But one hotelier from Rostock has had enough, and has joined forces with Storch Heinar, a satirical stork and staunch opponent of neo-Nazis, to fight back.

It's been a great summer for Storch Heinar , the satirical stork. In June, the hardworking mascot of neo-Nazi opponents went on a book tour for its recently published biography. It tirelessly rampaged on concert stages across northern Germany while on tour with its band "Storchkraft" ("Stork Power"). And even the T-shirts bearing the image of the cartoonish character with the Hitler-esque moustache have unexpectedly been runaway best-sellers.

Time for a break, one might think. But not for Storch Heinar. On Sept. 4, the northeastern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania will hold parliamentary elections. And Heinar has some hard campaigning to do before he can take a well-deserved rest.

Wayne and Shuster's cultural nation-building

August 26, 2011

As part of its 75th anniversary, the CBC is showing an hour this Sunday of old Wayne and Shuster comedy material. They appeared for almost 50 years, first on radio; then they made the perilous leap to the new medium, TV.

They were a comedy duo in an era of teams: Abbot and Costello, Martin and Lewis -- the form reached back to vaudeville. There was the funny guy (Wayne) and his straight man (Shuster), who fed him lines. They did "skits," which sounds quaint and unprofessional now. Those too began in vaudeville, when you could live forever off a decent routine like Dr. Krankheit. They became hometown heroes by appearing often on Ed Sullivan's TV show in the U.S., but choosing to live in Toronto rather than move there.

Chilean Student Movement Leads Uprising For Transformation of the Country

By Roger Burbach
New America Media
August 13, 2011

Students in "Pillow fight for a best education"
Chile is becoming a part of the global movement of youth that is transforming the world bit by bit—the Arab Spring, the sit-ins and demonstrations in the Spanish plazas, and the rebellion of youth in London.

Weeks of demonstrations and strikes by Chilean students came to a head August 9, as an estimated 100,000 people poured into the streets of Santiago. Joined by professors and educators, they were demanding a free education for all, from the primary school level to the university.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Truth About My Trip To Hanoi

By Jane Fonda
July 22, 2011

I grew up during World War II. My childhood was influenced by the roles my father played in his movies. Whether Abraham Lincoln or Tom Joad in the Grapes of Wrath, his characters communicated certain values which I try to carry with me to this day. I remember saying goodbye to my father the night he left to join the Navy. He didn’t have to. He was older than other servicemen and had a family to support but he wanted to be a part of the fight against fascism, not just make movies about it. I admired this about him. I grew up with a deep belief that wherever our troops fought, they were on the side of the angels.

For the first 8 years of the Vietnam War I lived in France. I was married to the French film director, Roger Vadim and had my first child. The French had been defeated in their own war against Vietnam a decade before our country went to war there, so when I heard, over and over, French people criticizing our country for our Vietnam War I hated it. I viewed it as sour grapes. I refused to believe we could be doing anything wrong there.

Read more HERE.

Mark Twain and Imperialism


Mark Twain is known the world over for his books and humor, but less well known is that he was an active anti-imperialist. After his death, his executors suppressed some of his more political writings and only in recent history have these opinions become more widely known.

He lived during a time when the nations of Europe had possessions all over the world, particularly Asia and Africa. Imperialism was the norm and generally people in the imperialist nations accepted it not just as an economic bonanza but as a responsibility to "civilize" the world.
"The condition of things in the Congo is atrocious, as shown by the photographs of children whose hands have been cut off." 
 When horrible abuses of imperialism in the Belgian Congo came to light, he worked for an international investigation. He brought the issue to the public and eventually the outcry brought about reforms. He also expressed his views in the way he preferred - the satire. In King Leopold's Soliloquy, he lambasted the Belgian King's policies.
"I am an anti-imperialist. I oppose putting the eagle's talons on any other land"
He became outraged when the United States became involved in imperialism. In 1898 the United States fought the Spanish-American war. It began with intervention on behalf of the Cubans, but the American victory in Cuba led to the Spanish surrender of all their possessions in the Pacific. The United States had to decide what to do with them. This began the American experience with imperialism.

Filipino war dead
An English author and poet, Rudyard Kipling urged America to play the imperialism game. His famous "The White Man's Burden," often called the "Anthem of Imperialism," appeared in McClure's Magazine in 1899, and was written to appeal to America keep the Philippines.

President McKinley decided to keep most of the possessions. Most controversial was the Philippines. The Filipinos resisted American rule and the Philippine American War was the result. Forcing the Philippines to accept American rule outraged Twain. He wrote the satire To the Person Sitting in Darkness and commented often to express his Views on Imperialism. SeeThe Philippine Mess and The Belgian Congo.

How Labour Saves The World

It’s time to put organized workers to work on the planet’s problems

Planet S
Thursday August 25

Photo Credit: Illustration by Dakota McFadzean
Despite everything you read about how bad things have gotten with the world economy, geopolitics and the environment, the news hasn’t been all crap — not if you’re a corporation, that is. Government bailouts, tax cuts, deregulation — at the end of the day, it seems they have their protectors and guardians.

But what about the rest of us? You know, the people.

Where are we supposed to turn when those we’ve left in power are nothing but killers, thieves and lawyers? We need a champion — now. A Superman from that other Great Depression who can leap tall buildings, smash through walls and punch crooked politicians on the chin. A hero to knock out greedy landlords, war profiteers and wife beaters.

We don’t even require a red cape and blue tights.

Get Thee Behind Me, Satan

The Almanac Singers

Don Kossick Interviews Jack Layton

Making the Links

On August 22, 2011, Jack Layton tragically died of cancer. His friends, family, and compatriots remember his courage. In his final words released in a letter penned two days before his death, he reminded us all of the values he held dear. He wrote, "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world."

Making the Links' Don Kossick did this interview with Jack Layton many years ago when he first took over the leadership of the NDP. The interview demonstrates Jack's clarity of purpose, vision, and hope in fighting for a better Canada.

Listen HERE.

About Making the Links

Billy Bragg: Why Music Needs To Get Political Again

By Billy Bragg
The New Significance
August 25th, 2011

How ironic that The Clash should be on the cover of the NME in the week that London was burning, that their faces should be staring out from the shelves as newsagents were ransacked and robbed by looters intent on anarchy in the UK. Touching too, that the picture should be from very early in their career – Joe with curly blond hair – for The Clash were formed in the wake of a London riot: the disturbances that broke out at the end of the Notting Hill Carnival of 1976.

At the time, the press reported it as the mindless violence of black youth intent on causing trouble; now we look back and recognise that it was the stirrings of what became our multicultural society – the moment when the first generation of black Britons declared that these streets belonged to them too.

The ideological map of the revolution

By Neftali Reyes
Debate Socialista
Translated by Owen Richards
Translating the Revolution
Thursday, 25 August 2011

These last twelve years have been in preparation for the “critical point” that inevitably approaches. It is a time that defines society’s direction. Everything done up to this point has been building towards this historic moment.

The Revolution, thanks to the guiding and unifying thread of its comandante, has continued to advance successfully through these turbulent years of ferocious struggle against the empire and its lackeys, and also of violent internal struggles amongst the currents that fight to lead the Revolution. The battle has raged endlessly on both fronts.

That’s how revolutions go – moments of euphoric advance along with tough, dispiriting and confusing moments. That’s why a leader is indispensable to a revolution, to give it the coherence it needs to avoid falling off the rails. And that task is complete. To have arrived at this stage is a feat in itself.

European and US Working Class Politics: Right, Left and Neutered

By James Petras
Canadian Dimension Blog
August 24th 2011

The deepening economic crises in Europe and the United States are provoking contrasting socio-political responses from the working and middle classes. In Europe, especially among the Mediterranean countries (Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy) unemployed youth, workers and lower middle class public employees have organized a series of general strikes, occupations of public plazas and other forms of direct action.

At the same time, the middle class, private-sector employees and small business people have turned to the “hard right” and elected, or are on the verge of electing, reactionary prime ministers in Portugal, Spain, Greece and perhaps even in Italy. In other words, the deepening crises have polarized Southern Europe: strengthening the institutional power of the hard right while increasing the strength of the extra-parliamentary left in mobilizing ‘street power’.

Libya’s Post Gaddafi Future: Who gets the Oil?

By John Daly
Foreign Policy Journal
August 25, 2011

Libya – Muammar Gaddafi’s 42 year-old regime is in its death rattle—maybe today, maybe tomorrow, his administration that has ruled Libya with a quixotic and brutal hand is about to pass, in Trotsky’s piquant phrase, “into the dustbin of history”, prompting the question, “What next?”

The glittering prize is Libya’s 1.6 million barrels per day output of high quality crude, which accounted for about 2 percent of global oil output drawn from Africa’s largest oil reserves, whose exports have been stymied since the NATO-led campaign began six months ago. Projecting into the future, analysts believe that Libya has reserves to sustain its previous level of production for 80 years.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Riots, demonstrations and new agencies of change

By Saul Landau
Progreso Weekly
Wednesday, 24 August 2011

An angry demonstration virus spreads to country after country in response to negligent and callous political leaders who have ignored the basic needs of their citizens. Instead, they have bowed or eagerly catered to demands of multinational corporations and banks, thus deepening the already profound world’s income gap. In 2011, billions face hunger, or even starvation. A smaller elite has accumulated even more wealth.

In 2011, the shit hit the proverbial fan. The “Arab Streets” revolted. In Greece, Spain and England the socialists had already assumed the politics of the capitalists. The banks became the means and ends for policy.

Millions of Greeks took to the streets to protest cuts in basic rights their ancestors had won in struggle; not gifts from benevolent governments. Citizens in the streets, where they belong, beget police brutality.

Norway: Right-wing parties lose support after massacre

Interest among people to organize has increased
Trond Sverre Kolltveit and Elise Kolltveit

Norway politics tilt left
On 22 July, the extreme right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people, 10 of them with a huge bomb in Oslo city and 67 young political activists in a massacre at the summer camp of the Labour party’s (Arbeiderpartiet, Ap) youth league, AUF. 

Behring Breivik’s motive was his hatred of the labour movement, Marxism and Islam. He was active for many years in the racist Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet), holding positions in the party in Oslo and being on its election slate. In recent opinion polls before local elections on 12 September, the Progress Party is losing support and so is the Conservative Party (Høyre), which before the terror attack was preparing an alliance with the Progress Party.

The Greater Toronto Workers Assembly: A Hopeful Experiment

Summer 2011

Toronto Councillor Mamoliti contemplates communists in his back yard

Read Toronto Councillor Mamoliti is out to get the reds

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tribune for the powerless

By Rick Salutin
Toronto Star
August 22, 2011

The event that caused Jack Layton to join the NDP despite his family’s deep Liberal-Conservative roots, was the party’s opposition, under Tommy Douglas’s leadership, to the imposition of military law in Quebec in 1970. Jack was 20. A small group of radicals had kidnapped two people in the name of a “free” Quebec. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau declared martial law and tossed hundreds of people, almost none of them connected with the kidnappings, in jail. To many onlookers it seemed like a brazen attempt to intimidate and stifle the rising, and in itself quite legitimate, movement for Quebec independence.

Jack Layton by Tak Bui
Jack Layton by Tak Bui
Tak Bui/Artattack Studio
This wasn’t a socialist issue, or even left-wing. It was a matter of civil rights. Some members in all parties were appalled. But only the NDP, under Douglas, stood up publicly. It was unpopular. They did it, knowing the consequences.

Bill Gilbey: Saskatchewan working class hero

By Barrie Anderson 
Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan

Bill Gilbey
Bill Gilbey (1911-1990) was born in Winnipeg to middle-class, conservative parents who taught him from an early age that hard work, honesty and perseverance were the means to success. However, the family was hit hard by the coming of the Great Depression, and a search for answers led to Bill becoming a lifelong Communist. He was later to comment, “I knew that all the things happening to people during the thirties, the hunger, the unemployment, the arrests and deportations were not an accident of history; they were the consequence of the deliberate actions of a small group of people.”

Bill’s first union-related job was also during the early Depression years. He worked with the Workers’ Unity League organizing a number of trade unions, and was also instrumental in the formation of the Relief Camp Workers’ Union (RCWU). The relief camps had been created by the Bennett government as a means of controlling an estimated 70,000 young unemployed men in Canada. Conditions within the camps were very bad, and it was the intent of the RCWU to improve them.

For 20 cents a day

By Working TV

For Twenty Cents A Day from working TV on Vimeo.

For Twenty Cents a Day ( Video )
Colleen Fuller, Director: Produced by the BCTF Labour History Association ( 1979 )

This is a 25 minute video transferred from the original film version. It has footage of the relief camps and unemployed demonstrations in the 1930s, and tells the story of the establishment of the relief camps, the trek, the defeat of R.B. Bennett in 1935, and the renewed unemployment problems leading to the Vancouver Post Office sit-in and its repression on Bloody Sunday 1937. It features interviews with poet Dorothy Livesay ( who was active in support of the unemployed in the depression ), Syd Thompson ( a Trek veteran, later leader of the IWA Vancouver local ) and Steve Brodie, who was on the Trek, and a central leader in the 1937 sit-in. Copies are available from BCTF Lesson Aids, #100 - 550 West 6th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V5Z 4P2, or by email:

The Student Leader Who Put Chile’s Government Against the Ropes

By Mikhail 
August 23, 2011

Post image for The Student Leader Who Put Chile’s Government Against the Ropes
Camila Vallejo Dowling
Camila Vallejo Dowling, 23, a geography student at the University of Chile and president of the Student Federation of the same university (FECH), has become the most popular and inspiring leader of the current and massive student movement that have brought to its knees, for the last 3 months, Sebastián Piñera’s right wing government. Even opinion polls carried out by media supporters of the current government can’t ignore the truth; Camilla is the most popular activist/politician in Chile with nearly 70% approval. Clearly she is not the only leader that fights for the cause of education in Chile, as it is really a whole generation of eloquent, savvy and dedicated youth, but Camila has become the most visible face of this, thus far, peaceful rebellion.

Camila Vallejo, a card carrying member of the Young Communist League of Chile (J.J.C.C), daughter of Communist Party members who fought against the repressive regime of Augusto Pinochet, has attracted international media attention for her youth, her beauty and eloquence, but more importantly for the clarity and accessibility of her policy proposals and the strong resistance to the counter proposals driven by the government that have failed to illicit support from the public.

Recession Ahead?

By Andrew Jackson
Progressive Economics Forum
August 23rd, 2011
TD Economics yesterday released a rather gloomy report, putting the odds of a US recession at 40%, and arguing that that Canadian economy is more vulnerable to recession than it was in 2008.  It highlights reduced capacity for governments to respond given that interest rates are already very low, and given that household and government debt are significantly higher than in 2008

I would go one step further and argue that the odds of a Canadian double-dip recession are quite high. I agree with TD that our capacity to respond through easier monetary policy is weak, but would argue that we can and should respond through fiscal policy.

Argentina president Fernandez does well in primary elections

By Emile Schepers
People's World
August 22 2011

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
The incumbent president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, confounded skeptics and hostile media by doing extremely well in primary elections on August 14. However, supporters warn that the right wing opposition still may have tricks up its sleeve.

Fernandez is the widow of former President Nestor Kirchner, who ruled Argentina from 2003 to 2007. Mr. Kirchner is credited by many for having pulled Argentina out of a terrible economic crisis including a default on international debts, through the "unorthodox" approach of turning away from the "Washington Consensus" neoliberal policies of free trade, privatization and austerity. Instead, he turned his government's financial resources toward raising the living standard of the Argentine people, to restore internal markets. In spite of doomsayers, Kirchner's policy was mostly a success, and eventually Argentina was able to renegotiate its debts and restore its relationship to lenders.

The Public Insurance Advantage - MGEU


“Is auto insurance a service government needs to provide? Iʼd be more interested in fostering… the private sector.” - Provincial PC candidate, Gord Steeves

Gord Steeves believes that private corporations should take over auto insurance here in Manitoba. But for the average driver, privatizing our insurance just doesn’t add up. In most cases, private insurance would cost Manitobans more and provide less coverage.

Since Gord asked the question “is auto insurance a service government needs to provide?” we thought we’d answer it for him. Click on the links below to find out more about the advantages of a public insurance system and remember to ask your candidate during this fall’s election where they stand on privatizing MPI.

Better Coverage
Lower Rates
Responding to our Needs
Better for our Communities Background: Why Manitobans have a Public Insurance System

Monday, August 22, 2011

Simon de Jong, former Regina NDP MP, dies at 69

By Tim Switzer
August 22, 2011

REGINA — As New Democrats across the country mourned the passing of federal leader Jack Layton on Monday, many too were remembering longtime Regina NDP MP Simon de Jong.

de Jong died in his Vancouver home at the age of 69 on Thursday following a yearlong battle with leukemia.

Though born in Indonesia, where he spent some of his earliest years in a Second World War concentration camp, de Jong would immigrate with his family to Canada at nine years old and grow to represent the federal ridings of Regina-East and Regina-Qu’Appelle from 1979 to 1997, winning five successive elections before retiring.

SFL Statement on the passing of Jack Layton

Saskatchewan Federation Labour
Monday, August 22, 2011

It is with great sadness that many members of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour learn of the passing of NDP Leader Jack Layton. A dedicated family man, a committed activist for social change, and a proud political figure never too busy for a smile and a conversation, Jack will be missed by family, friends, and colleagues across the nation.

"Jack Layton was a tireless advocate for the betterment of our way of life in Canada, a passionate leader, and a good person," said Larry Hubich, President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. "Our nation is a better place for his efforts and he will be sorely missed."

Under Jack’s leadership, the Federal New Democratic Party reached levels of success that were unprecedented in our nation. Year after year, and election after election, Mr. Layton continued to put the concerns of working families in Canada on the national agenda.

"On behalf of the members of the SFL, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Jack’s family during this very difficult time. His contributions to the way of life that we enjoy in Canada will not be forgotten, and his legacy will live on."

Jack Layton's last letter to Canadians

CBC News
Aug 22, 2011

August 20, 2011, Toronto, Ontario

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

Into Eternity - Nuclear Waste

Documentary 2009, 75 min, HD 16:9
More info HERE.

The world's nuclear power plants have generated an estimated 300,000 tons of high-level radioactive waste that must be safely stored for 100,000 years or more. Every year, they generate another 12,000 metric tons of high-level waste.

INTO ETERNITY is the first feature documentary to explore the mind-boggling scientific and philosophical questions long-term nuclear waste storage poses.

Structured as a message to future generations, the film focuses on the Onkalo waste repository now under construction in Finland, one of the first underground storage facilities. Onkalo is a gigantic network of tunnels being carved out of bedrock that will start receiving Finland's nuclear waste in 2020. Once the repository is full, in about 100 years, it will be closed and hopefully remain sealed for at least 100,000 years.

Despite the euphoria, the rebels are divided

Many militiamen are already saying they will not take orders from the Transitional National Council, writes Patrick Cockburn

The Independent
Monday, 22 August 2011

The end of Muammar Gaddafi's 41 years in power appears to be in hand as the rebels close in on Tripoli, though it is not clear if the old regime will collapse without a fight for the capital. It still has the men and the material to draw out the conflict, but its supporters may decide that there is no reason to die for a lost cause.

The circumstances in which Gaddafi's regime falls is important for the future of Libya. Will he himself flee, disappear to fight again, be arrested or die in the last ditch? Will his supporters be hunted down and killed? After a civil war lasting six months, a stable peace means that those who fought for him should not be treated as pariahs to be slaughtered, arrested, threatened with reprisals or politically marginalised.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Toronto Councillor Mamoliti is out to get the reds

Rebel Youth Magazine
August 16, 2011

The Communist Party is considering legal action, including a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal regarding Toronto City Councillor George Mamoliti’s witch-hunting at City Hall, and his attack on the public’s right to free political expression and association – rights guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Mamoliti is a member of Mayor Rob Ford’s Executive and an aggressive advocate for Ford’s agenda of privatization and confrontation with the city’s labour and democratic movements.

Monthly Review Press Catalogue- 2011

MR Press


Let Me Speak! A Bolivian Woman Miner’s Revolutionary Life

By Benjamin Dangl
Toward Freedom
Thursday, 18 August 2011 

Reviewed: Let Me Speak!: Testimony of Domitila, A Woman of the Bolivian Mines, By Domitila Barrios de Chungara, (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1978).

The life experiences of Bolivian mining activist Domitila Barrios de Chungara traverse some of the most important and tumultuous events in 20th century Bolivian history. Her account of this life in the book Let Me Speak! offers a view from the trenches of militant, leftist organizing within the country labor movements and beyond.

Chungara’s account provides insight into the National Revolution of 1952, the failed guerrilla insurgency in Bolivia led by Che Guevara, the country’s brutal experience in the Cold War, and the frequent coups, dictatorial crackdowns and popular uprisings that marked the Andean country’s rocky century.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What About Freud? Canada's New Cold War History

Love, Hate, and Fear in Canada's Cold War
Richard Cavell, ed.
Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Reviewed by Christopher Dummitt
Published on H-Canada
September, 2004

Just exactly who was Canada's "enemy" during the Cold War? Was it the Soviets? Communists more generally? Or was the category much more elusive, and broader? The consensus amongst Canadian social historians, as well as sociologists, and film and literary critics who work on this period, is increasingly forming around the latter answer. Although traditionally understood as a conflict between rival political ideologies and states, in actual practice the Cold War was as often as not a battle within western society itself.

The conflict pitted politicians, bureaucrats, judges, and police against gays, lesbians, immigrants, and left-leaning individuals and groups. The concern in high politics over communist subversion and fifth columnists spread outwards, meaning that sexual, gender, and racial differences could themselves be construed as signs of subversion. You did not need to be a communist to be considered a Cold War enemy; you could equally be a woman who wanted to work outside the home, a man who liked to visit gay bars in Ottawa, or just someone who thought that nuclear weapons were a bad idea.

Unions still relevant but face challenges

By David Camfield
Winnipeg Free Press
August 20, 2011

The Canadian Labour Congress, the main umbrella organization of unions in the country, held its triennial convention in Vancouver from May 9 to 13. As delegates met, some pundits argued unions are no longer relevant.

Plenty of evidence suggests otherwise. Much has changed in the world of work in recent decades. However, the basic realities that have led many workers to form unions haven't gone away.

One is that workers who bargain as a group with their employer about wages, benefits and rights on the job have more power than if they negotiate individually. That's why unionized workers make seven to 14 per cent more than comparable workers who aren't unionized. This advantage is greatest for those who need it most, women, visible minorities, young people and others who are more likely to be lower paid.

Book Review: From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia

Separating Fact from Fantasy in Bolivia (Book Review of From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia, by Jeffrey Webber)

By Federico Fuentes
Fri., 08/19/2011

Haymarket Books
The election of Bolivia’s first indigenous president, on the back of a mass rebellion that overthrew successive governments has stirred great interest in this small Andean nation. Given that the Evo Morales government recently celebrated its 2000th day in power – a feat in its own right for a country that has had around 180 coups since 1825 – any serious attempt to explain the underlying dynamics of this decade long political process should be welcomed.

Combining his academic research and extensive fieldwork in Bolivia, Jeffrey Webber sets out to do exactly that in From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia. Unfortunately, the end result leaves a lot to be desired.