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Post-Socialism, the European Union, and a New Left in the Balkans

The world’s attention has been on the political transformations in the Middle East, the wave of protests from Tel Aviv to Madrid to Wall Street, and the ongoing Greek crisis. But in the shadow of this unrest, the post-socialist Balkans have been boiling. Protests displaying for the most part social demands broke out throughout 2011 in Romania, Albania, Serbia, Macedonia and, most notably, Croatia. Post-socialist citizens today feel largely excluded from the decision-making process. Most elections have turned out to be little more than a reshuffling of the same political oligarchy with no serious differences in political programs or rhetoric. During the privatization campaigns many lost their jobs, or had labor conditions worsen and pensions evaporate, and most of the guaranteed social benefits (such as free education and health care) have progressively disappeared as well. Neoliberal reforms were portrayed as a necessary part of the EU integration process.

Genocidal Cynicism (Part 1)

No sane person, especially someone who has had access to the elementary knowledge acquired in primary school, would agree that our species, especially those who are children, teenagers or youth, should be deprived of the right to live, today, tomorrow and forever. Never have human beings, throughout their eventful history, as persons endowed with intelligence, ever heard of an experience like that.

I feel the duty to convey to those taking the trouble to read these Reflections the opinion that all of us, with no exception, are obliged to create awareness about the risks that humankind are running in an inexorable manner, towards a final and total catastrophe as the consequence of irresponsible decisions made by politicians who fate, rather than talent or merit, has placed the destiny of humankind in their hands.

Whether they are citizens of their country or not, whether they are followers of some religious belief or unbelievers, no human being in their right mind would agree that their children or closest kin should perish precipitously or as victims of atrocious and torturous misery.

On the heels of the repugnant crimes that are being increasingly committed by NATO under the aegis of the United States and the wealthiest countries in Europe, the gaze of the world focused on the G-20 meeting where the profound economic crisis affecting every nation today should have been analyzed. International opinion, especially in Europe, was awaiting an answer for the profound economic crisis that, with its serious social and even climatic implications, is threatening every inhabitant on the planet. At that meeting, it was being decided whether the Euro would be able to be kept as the common currency for most of Europe and even whether some of the countries would be able to remain in the community.

There was no answer or solution of any kind for the most serious problems of the world economy despite the efforts of China, Russia, Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina and other emerging economies, anxious to cooperate with the rest of the world in the search for solutions for the serious economic problems affecting them.

What was unusual was that just when NATO concluded the Libyan operation – after the air attack that injured the constitutional head of that country, destroyed the vehicle carrying him and leaving him at the mercy of the empire´s mercenaries who murdered him and exhibited his body as a war trophy, violating Muslim customs and traditions – the IAEA, a UN body and an institution that ought to stand for world peace, released the political, money-driven and sectarian report putting the world on the brink of war with the use of nuclear weapons that the Yankee empire, in alliance with Great Britain and Israel, has been meticulously preparing against Iran.

After the veni, vidi, vici of the famous Roman emperor more than two thousand years ago, translated to “I came, I saw and he died” broadcast for public opinion by an important television network as soon as the death of Gaddafi had been learned of, there are more than enough words to describe US policy.

Now what is important is the need to create clear awareness in the peoples about the abyss towards which humankind is being led. Twice our Revolution lived through dramatic dangers: in October of 1962, the most critical of all where humankind was on the brink of nuclear holocaust; and in mid-1987 when our forces were facing racist South African troops armed with nuclear weapons that the Israelis had helped them create.

The Shah of Iran also collaborated, along with Israel, with the racist and fascist South African regime.

What is the UN? An organization driven by the United States before the end of World War II. That nation, whose territory was considerably far away from the theatre of war, had incredibly increased its wealth; it accumulated 80% of the world´s gold and under the leadership of Roosevelt, a sincere anti-fascist, it promoted the development of the nuclear weapon that Truman, his successor, a mediocre oligarch, did not hesitate in using against the defenseless cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

The world´s gold monopoly in United States´ power and the prestige of Roosevelt handed the US the Bretton Woods agreement, assigning it the role of issuing the dollar as the only currency to be used for decades in world trade, with no limiting factor other that it´s being backed by the gold metal.

At the end of that war, the US was also the only country possessing the nuclear weapon, a privilege it did not hesitate in transmitting to its allies and members in the Security Council: Great Britain and France, the two most important colonial powers in the world at that time.

Truman had not even informed the USSR one single word about the atomic weapon before using it. China, at that time governed by Nationalist General Chiang Kai-shek, a pro-Yankee oligarch, could not be excluded from that Security Council.

The USSR, seriously stricken by the war, destruction and the loss of more than 20 million of its sons and daughters in the Nazi invasion, dedicated considerable economic, scientific and human resources to bring its nuclear capacity up to par with that of the United States. Four years later, in 1949, it tested its first nuclear weapon: the H-bomb in 1953; and in 1955 its first megaton bomb. France had its first nuclear weapon in 1960.

There were only three countries that had the nuclear bomb in 1957 when the UN, under the aegis of the Yankees, created the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA). Does anybody think that US instrument did anything to warn the world about the terrible dangers to which it would expose human society when Israel, unconditional US and NATO ally, located in the very heartland of the world´s most important oil and gas reserves, would become a dangerous and aggressive nuclear power?

Its forces, cooperating with colonial British and French troops, attacked Port Said when Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, French property; this forced the Soviet premier to send an ultimatum demanding the ceasing of that aggression that the European allies of the US had no alternative other than to attack.

To be continued tomorrow.

castro signature

Fidel Castro Ruz

November 12, 2011

8:15 p.m.

Cluster Munitions and State Terrorism

For decades, major global and regional powers have waged war against those they accuse of fighting immorally—that is, those who use terrorism to harm civilians at home and abroad. Paradoxically, these righteous “wars on terror” are being fought in an era in which the distinction between war waged only against soldiers, and war against soldiers as well as civilians has virtually collapsed. The technological development, stemming from the Industrial Revolution, of aerial bombardment and weapons of mass destruction has made it more difficult to separate citizen from soldier.… [but] it is imperative that this distinction hold. In waging wars on terror, [upholding the soldier/citizen distinction] permits globally powerful nations to rally public opinion under the assertion that what separates us (self) from them (other) is that civilian life is paramount for us and not for “the terrorists.”

Mortgaging Irish Independence

From Financial Crisis to Socialist Resistance

A specter is haunting Ireland—the specter of James Connolly.… Connolly was shot to death by a British firing squad for his role in Ireland’s 1916 rising for home rule. Celebrated as a hero of Irish independence by Irish political parties of both left and right, his socialism is all too conveniently overlooked. The Irish struggle is one that speaks to the challenges of independence, sovereignty, and democratic freedom, both then and now, for people of all countries. What value is formal political independence if it is not backed up by economic control; if the real decisions of public policy are made in boardrooms and backrooms rather than main streets and parliaments?

Water—On Women’s Burdens, Humans’ Rights, and Companies’ Profits

How is it possible that a person living in a water-rich region uses more water by flushing the toilet than a person in a water-scarce region has available for drinking, food-preparation, hygiene, and cleaning—for a whole day? How is it possible that a woman living in a water-rich region only needs to open the tap to get enough water for herself and her family, while a woman in a water-scarce region has to…walk for miles and miles to get far less water of much worse quality? Why is that so? Is it bad fortune? Unfair? Destiny? Undeserved? Is it unjust? It is all these, but also much more. Water is the essence of life. It is the precondition of life.… This article has two parts. The first deals with dominant positions concerning water: the neoliberal agenda, consequences of water privatization, and the UN stance. The second part looks at what is missing in this picture and ignored by the dominant perspectives—namely, global inequalities and gender discrimination.

The Crisis of Capitalism in Europe, West and East

There are three dimensions to the current, unprecedented global crisis of capitalism: economic, ecological, and political.

Let us look first at the economic dimension, which will be our main concern in this article. Capitalism is facing a major realization crisis—an inability to sell the output produced, i.e., to realize, in the form of profits, the surplus value extracted from workers’ labor. Neoliberalism can be viewed as an attempt initially to solve the stagflation crisis of the 1970s by abandoning the “Keynesian consensus” of the “golden age” of capitalism (relatively high social welfare spending, strong unions, and labor-management cooperation), via an attack on labor. It succeeded, in that profit rates eventually recovered in the major capitalist economies by the 1990s

The Infinite Hypocrisy of the West

ALTHOUGH several articles on this subject were published before and after September 1st, 2010, on that day the Mexican daily La Jornada published one of great impact entitled “El holocausto gitano: ayer y hoy” (The Gypsy Holocaust: yesterday and today) which reminds us of a truly dramatic history. Without adding or removing a single word from the information contained in the article, I have selected some lines referring to certain events that are really moving. Neither the West nor -most of all- its colossal media apparatus have said a single word about them. (more…)

Monthly Review Volume 62, Number 4 (September 2010)

September 2010 (Volume 62, Number 4)

» Notes from the Editors

During the period stretching from the 1970s through the 1990s, Monthly Review, under the editorship of Harry Magdoff and Paul Sweezy, stood apart in its analysis of the tendency to economic stagnation in advanced capitalism and its view that the economic slowdown beginning in the 1970s was a manifestation of this secular tendency. The financial explosion that also emerged in these years was seen as an attempt by the system to stave off stagnation by means of credit-debt expansion, but at the cost of increasing financial fragility

The Nuclear Winter

I feel embarrassed to be unaware of the subject, one that I have not even heard mentioned before. On the contrary, I would have understood much earlier that the risks of a nuclear war were far more serious than I imagined. I assumed that the planet would be able to withstand the explosion of hundreds of nuclear bombs calculating that, in both the United States and the USSR, countless tests have been carried out over the years. I had not taken into account a very simple reality: it is not the same thing to explode 500 nuclear bombs over 1,000 days as it is to do the same thing in one day. (more…)

I am an optimist on rational grounds

THE days are passing by. One after another, they are going by rapidly. Some people are getting anxious. I, on the other hand, am calm.

I share with our workers the results they are achieving in their work, in the midst of the blockade and other accumulated necessities. (more…)

Magnus Hirschfeld: The Origins of the Gay Liberation Movement

Magnus Hirschfeld: The Origins of the Gay Liberation Movement

Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) was one of the first great pioneers of the gay liberation movement. This biography, first published to acclaim in Germany, follows Hirschfeld from his birth in the Prussian province of Pomerania to the heights of his career during the Weimar Republic and the rise of German fascism. Ralf Dose illuminates Hirschfeld’s ground-breaking role in the gay liberation movement and explains some of his major theoretical concepts, which continue to influence our understanding of human sexuality and social justice today.

Silvertown: The Lost Story of a Strike that Shook London and Helped Launch the Modern Labor Movement

Silvertown: The Lost Story of a Strike that Shook London and Helped Launch the Modern Labor Movement

In 1889, Samuel Winkworth Silver's rubber and electrical factory was the site of a massive worker revolt that upended the London industrial district which bore his name: Silvertown. Once referred to as the “Abyss” by Jack London, Silvertown was notorious for oppressive working conditions and the relentless grind of production suffered by its largely unorganized, unskilled workers. These workers, fed-up with their lot and long ignored by traditional craft unions, aligned themselves with the socialist-led “New Unionism” movement. Their ensuing strike paralyzed Silvertown for three months. Historian and novelist John Tully tells the story of the Silvertown strike in vivid prose. He rescues the uprising—overshadowed by other strikes during this period—from relative obscurity and argues for its significance to both the labor and socialist movements.

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