In a cabinet meeting with his top ministers on Saturday, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez strongly criticised his political team for failing to show commitment to the participatory democratic model currently being proposed by his government and urged them to undertake serious “self-criticism”.
Chavez at the cabinet meeting on Saturday
The meeting was the first cabinet meeting to have taken place since the Venezuelan national elections were held on 7 October, in which Chavez won a third presidential term with over 54% of the vote.
During the televised meeting, Chavez made many criticisms of his party, especially with regards to the construction of the country’s communes, which group together communal councils in a given region. Continue reading →
Twenty+ years after the Soviet Union’s implosion under Gorbachev’s disastrous policies, Russians, Ukrainians, and Lithuanians are disgusted with the direction of their countries and disillusioned with multi-party politics and “the free market”. The Pew Research Centre Poll tells the story of radical disillusionment:
Russians, Ukrainians, and Lithuanians indicate they want a deepened, real democracy, with a fair judiciary and free media. However, they do not believe their post-socialist countries have delivered these institutions.
(And since the beginning of the Global Economic Crisis the disquiet with the global financial system has gone viral. According to the result of a 27-nation survey published in the German magazine Der Spiegel 2 years ago, only 11 percent reported being content with the capitalist system’s functioning. Further, 23 percent believe the free market economy is inherently flawed: Only in the US and in Pakistan were at least one in five happy with the current economic system.)
Recently re-elected Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, stated that his next 6 year term would mark a period of “greater advance” towards the construction of socialism as well as “greater achievements and greater efficiency in this transition from capitalism”.
President Hugo Chavez at the voting booth on election day
The Venezuelan president made the comments on Wednesday night during a ceremony with the country’s National Electoral Council (CNE), who named him the official winner of last week’s presidential election after Chavez beat right-wing candidate Capriles Radonski by 11.11% and took over 55% of the vote last Sunday.
In his speech, Chavez argued that the project of 21st century socialism in Venezuela was something that must be constructed “in the long term,” and promised that his government would try to respond to citizen’s concerns over the next 6 years.
Occupy Wall Street has renewed hope for a left political renaissance by challenging economic inequality and the neoliberal discourse that legitimated it, and reintroducing the word capitalism to political debate. The “greed” of the “1%,” counterpoised to the hardworking, rule-abiding 99%, has emerged as the dominant political frame of OWS. Rhetorically powerful, the slogan’s elegant simplicity conceals as much as it reveals. The language of “corruption,” the betrayal of Main Street by parasitic Wall Street bankers, and nationalist appeals to “take America back” all express a deep confusion as to the nature of the current crisis. This often results in a highly personalized moral critique of capitalism rather than a systemic one.
The crisis wracking capitalism today cannot be understood as simply the evil actions of greedy bankers and the 1%. In fact, as Max Weber pointed out, unlike the ostentatious opulence of earlier economic forms like feudalism, capitalism actually has tendencies which check greed – for example how intra-capitalist competition forces firms to save and reinvest. Thus the logic of states wielding coercive external power in human form as armies and police is quite different from that of capitalism, wherein power is more difficult to pinpoint or assign personal agency to. Conflating these two modes of power leads to very different political demands and outcomes. Capitalist power acts not only or even primarily on us from outside, but through us, as worker and capitalist alike are caught up in an impersonal competitive imperative that would quickly bankrupt any turncoat bankers or CEOs who might suddenly take Occupy’s message to heart. Continue reading →
Southeast Asian nations could offer a way for countries like ours to become more democratic and prosperous.
Vietnam is mentioned in the news quite often these days. But the references are almost always in relation to Iraq. What’s not being covered is what’s going on in Vietnam itself — which is unfortunate, because economically, politically and socially, it might just be the most interesting and inspiring nation on the planet.
Socialist art in Vietnam
In the interest of full disclosure, my affection for Vietnam goes way back. As an anti-war activist I met with Vietnamese liaisons to the anti-war movement on several occasions. In 1970 I visited Hanoi and was profoundly impressed with the character and resolve of the people, not to mention the beauty of the country itself. Even then, during wartime, the food was terrific, too. Continue reading →
The tremendous strides made by the Chinese economy during the last two decades have been recognised, even by its worst critics, as being incomparable in the 20th century. The average annual rate of growth during the last two decades registered an amazing 9.8%. The Chinese economy continues to grow over and above this record at roughly 8% in the current year. The IMF has predicted that by the year 2007, People’s Republic of China will surpass the United States of America as the largest economy in the world (World Economic Outlook, IMF, 1997).
Pictures of Chinese leaders Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Hu Jintao on parade to celebrate the 60th anniversary of socialism in China.
How was such a remarkable development possible? Particularly, in a period when the mighty Socialist Soviet Union was dismantled? When all pen-pushers of imperialism and the bourgeoisie were busy seeking to nail the coffin of socialism and claiming that “capitalism is eternal”, socialist China continued to register such impressive economic successes. In a period when imperialist ideologues are churning out theories such as the `end of ideology’, socialist China continues to speak of upholding Marxism-Leninism. While the right-wing intellectuals and academicians are in a haste to state that China’s successes have nothing to do with either Marxism or socialism, some amongst the Left are also concerned whether these successes in China represent the restoration of capitalism? Has Mao’s China been abandoned? Have `capitalist roarders’ taken over China? What are the consequences of the current economic reforms for the future of socialism in China? These are some of such questions that we seek to explore. Continue reading →
Statement of the Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada, August, 2012
The crisis in Syria continues to deepen with every passing day. Thousands have been killed or injured, including countless civilians caught in the crossfire between armed opposition groups and government forces. Thousands more have been displaced from their towns and villages and forced into internal or foreign exile by the fighting. In this very real sense, the situation has become a human and social tragedy of the first order.
But what is actually taking place in Syria? Who is really provoking the violence and prolonging the agony of the Syrian people?
The Western corporate‑controlled media would have us believe that the root cause of the conflict is the “tyrannical” government of President Bashar El‑Assad which clings to power at any price, willing to sacrifice the health and security of its own people. This “big lie” is central to the intensifying propaganda campaign to vilify El‑Assad in order to conceal the role of reactionary and clerical forces bent on destabilizing and ultimately overthrowing the current government and seizing power for themselves. And if necessary, this demonization campaign will be used as a pretext for imperialist military intervention and occupation to directly impose “regime change”, as was done in Iraq and most recently in Libya. Continue reading →