Venezuela’s Chavez to Ministers: Now is the Time for Self-Criticism

by Rachael Boothroyd, Venezuela Analysis

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

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Students-Labour-Environmentalists Unite for “Quebec Spring”

by Marianne Breton Fontaine and Johan Boyden, based on a presentation given by Marianne, leader of the YCL in Quebec, to YCL student activists

After almost eighty days of protest, the Québec student strike is entering a record 11 weeks. After 250,000 students and their allies from community and labour groups flooded downtown Montreal with a river of people on March 22, another enormous demonstration was held on Earth Day, April 22.

Close to 300,000 people were in the street ‑ students, environmentalists, labour activists and others from diverse backgrounds. The rally, linked explicitly with the student struggle, showed the unprecedented mounting public anger against with the Charest Liberals and strong support for pro‑people and pro‑nature policies and a “Québec spring.”

Making History

The Québec student strike is one of the longest student protests in North American history and has seen some of the biggest mobilizations in Canadian history. Continue reading

The Vulgarisation of Marxism by the Opportunists: The State and Revolution

by Vladimir Lenin

The question of the relation of the state to the social revolution, and of the social revolution to the state, like the question of revolution generally, was given very little attention by the leading theoreticians and publicists of the Second International (1889-1914). But the most characteristic thing about the process of the gradual growth of opportunism that led to the collapse of the Second International in 1914 is the fact that even when these people were squarely faced with this question they tried to evade it or ignored it.

In general, it may be said that evasiveness over the question of the relation of the proletarian revolution to the state–an evasiveness which benefited and fostered opportunism–resulted in the distortion of Marxism and in its complete vulgarization.

To characterize this lamentable process, if only briefly, we shall take the most prominent theoreticians of Marxism: Plekhanov and Kautsky.

1. Plekhanov’ s Controversy with the Anarchists

Plekhanov wrote a special pamphlet on the relation of anarchism to socialism, entitled Anarchism and Socialism, which was published in German in 1894.

Georgi Plekhanov

In treating this subject, Plekhanov contrived completely to evade the most urgent, burning, and most politically essential issue in the struggle against anarchism, namely, the relation of the revolution to the state, and the question of the state in general! Continue reading

Cuban sugar sweetens education for children throughout Laos

Lao News Agency

More than 150,000 pre-primary and primary school students will get a boost of energy every day to help them concentrate better on their studies, thanks to a contribution from Cuba of more than 180 metric tons of sugar to the United Nations World Food Programme.

The sugar will be mixed in to a nutritious daily mid-morning snack dumplings made from a blend of corn and soy – for school students in rural areas throughout six provinces in the far north and south of Laos, according to yesterday press release of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The Cuban donation was made possible thanks to a private citizen of Japan, who funded the shipment from Cuba to Laos. In a statement, he expressed his hope that his contribution will play a small part in making the world a better place. Continue reading

Sample Resolutions from the XXI Congress of the Communist Party of India

Resolution on Agriculture and Farmers’ Plight  

The 21st Congress of the CPI expresses its anguish and deep concern over the anti-people measures pursued by the Government in the centre and the states as well across the country with regards to agriculture sector and farmers community.

While Indian agriculture scenario is becoming gloomy day by day and around 70% of the population engaged in this sector are facing severe economic crisis resulting in the incidents of suicides committed by more than 2.5 lakh farmers, the governments are mostly reluctant to address the genuine problem rather becoming rhetoric and mostly undertaking the measures which lead to more pauperization. Continue reading

Dogmatism And “Freedom of Criticism”: What Does “Freedom of Criticism” Mean?

by Vladimir Lenin

“Freedom of criticism” is undoubtedly the most fashionable slogan at the present time, and the one most frequently employed in the controversies between socialists and democrats in all countries.

At first sight, nothing would appear to be more strange than the solemn appeals to freedom of criticism made by one of the parties to the dispute. Have voices been raised in the advanced parties against the constitutional law of the majority of European countries which guarantees freedom to science and scientific investigation?

“Something must be wrong here,” will be the comment of the onlooker who has heard this fashionable slogan repeated at every turn but has not yet penetrated the essence of the disagreement among the disputants; evidently this slogan is one of the conventional phrases which, like nicknames, become legitimised by use, and become almost generic terms.

In fact, it is no secret for anyone that two trends have taken form in present-day international Social-Democracy. The conflict between these trends now flares up in a bright flame and now dies down and smoulders under the ashes of imposing “truce resolutions”. The essence of the “new” trend, which adopts a “critical” attitude towards “obsolete dogmatic” Marxism, has been clearly enough presented by Bernstein and demonstrated by Millerand.

Social-Democracy must change from a party of social revolution into a democratic party of social reforms. Bernstein has surrounded this political demand with a whole battery of well-attuned “new” arguments and reasonings.

Denied was the possibility of putting socialism on a scientific basis and of demonstrating its necessity and inevitability from the point of view of the materialist conception of history. Denied was the fact of growing impoverishment, the process of proletarisation, and the intensification of capitalist contradictions; the very concept, “ultimate aim”, was declared to be unsound, and the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat was completely rejected. Denied was the antithesis in principle between liberalism and socialism. Denied was the theory of the class struggle, on the alleged grounds that it could not be applied to a strictly democratic society governed according to the will of the majority, etc.

Thus, the demand for a decisive turn from revolutionary Social-Democracy to bourgeois social-reformism was accompanied by a no less decisive turn towards bourgeois criticism of all the fundamental ideas of Marxism. In view of the fact that this criticism of Marxism has long been directed from the political platform, from university chairs, in numerous pamphlets and in a series of learned treatises, in view of the fact that the entire younger generation of the educated classes has been systematically reared for decades on this criticism, it is not surprising that the “new critical” trend in Social-Democracy should spring up, all complete, like Minerva from the head of Jove. The content of this new trend did not have to grow and take shape, it was transferred bodily from bourgeois to socialist literature.

To proceed. If Bernstein’s theoretical criticism and political yearnings were still unclear to anyone, the French took the trouble strikingly to demonstrate the “new method”. In this instance, too, France has justified its old reputation of being “the land where, more than anywhere else, the historical class struggles were each time fought out to a decision…” (Engels, Introduction to Marx’s Der 18 Brumaire).

The French socialists have begun, not to theorise, but to act. The democratically more highly developed political conditions in France have permitted them to put “Bernsteinism into practice” immediately, with all its consequences.

Millerand has furnished an excellent example of practical Bernsteinism; not without reason did Bernstein and Vollmar rush so zealously to defend and laud him. Indeed, if Social-Democracy, in essence, is merely a party of reform and must be bold enough to admit this openly, then not only has a socialist the right to join a bourgeois cabinet, but he must always strive to do so.

If democracy, in essence, means the abolition of class domination, then why should not a socialist minister charm the whole bourgeois world by orations on class collaboration? Why should he not remain in the cabinet even after the shooting-down of workers by gendarmes has exposed, for the hundredth and thousandth time, the real nature of the democratic collaboration of classes? Why should he not personally take part in greeting the tsar, for whom the French socialists now have no other name than hero of the gallows, knout, and exile (knouteur, pendeur et deportateur)?

And the reward for this utter humiliation and self-degradation of socialism in the face of the whole world, for the corruption of the socialist consciousness of the working masses – the only basis that can guarantee our victory – the reward for this is pompous projects for miserable reforms, so miserable in fact that much more has been obtained from bourgeois governments!

He who does not deliberately close his eyes cannot fail to see that the new “critical” trend in socialism is nothing more nor less than a new variety of opportunism. And if we judge people, not by the glittering uniforms they don or by the highsounding appellations they give themselves, but by their actions and by what they actually advocate, it will be clear that “freedom of criticism” means’ freedom for an opportunist trend in Social-Democracy, freedom to convert Social-Democracy into a democratic party of reform, freedom to introduce bourgeois ideas and bourgeois elements into socialism.

“Freedom” is a grand word, but under the banner of freedom for industry the most predatory wars were waged, under the banner of freedom of labour, the working people were robbed. The modern use of the term “freedom of criticism” contains the same inherent falsehood. Those who are really convinced that they have made progress in science would not demand freedom for the new views to continue side by side with the old, but the substitution of the new views for the old. The cry heard today, “Long live freedom of criticism”, is too strongly reminiscent of the fable of the empty barrel.

We are marching in a compact group along a precipitous and difficult path, firmly holding each other by the hand. We are surrounded on all sides by enemies, and we have to advance almost constantly under their fire. We have combined, by a freely adopted decision, for the purpose of fighting the enemy, and not of retreating into the neighbouring marsh, the inhabitants of which, from the very outset, have reproached us with having separated ourselves into an exclusive group and with having chosen the path of struggle instead of the path of conciliation.

And now some among us begin to cry out: Let us go into the marsh! And when we begin to shame them, they retort: What backward people you are! Are you not ashamed to deny us the liberty to invite you to take a better road!

Oh, yes, gentlemen! You are free not only to invite us, but to go yourselves wherever you will, even into the marsh. In fact, we think that the marsh is your proper place, and we are prepared to render you every assistance to get there. Only let go of our hands, don’t clutch at us and don’t besmirch the grand word freedom, for we too are “free” to go where we please, free to fight not only against the marsh, but also against those who are turning towards the marsh!

*note: Excerpted from Lenin’s classic 1902 work “What Is To Be Done?”, the entirety of which is available here.

Chinese-Vietnamese Relations at a Glance

*note: Both articles from Nhan Dan Online, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

Vice Premier Affirms China’s Strong Ties with Vietnam

 At the meeting   ( Image: chinhphu.vn )

China attaches great importance to developing the friendly and neighbourly relations and mutually beneficial co-operation with Vietnam in all fields, said Vice Premier Li Keqiang.

Li made the statement in Hainan on March 31 during a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart Hoang Trung Hai, who is there for the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2012.

Li welcomed Hai to the forum, saying this shows the Vietnamese Government’s desire to boost economic cooperation in the region, as well as economic and trade ties between the two countries.

Both host and guest acknowledged recent positive developments in bilateral relations, especially those made after the China visit by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong last October and the Vietnam visit by Vice President Xi Jinping last December.

The two countries should work closely in grasping and strictly implementing common perceptions reached by their senior leaders to foster the development of the two countries’ friendship and cooperation, they said.

They agreed that both countries should continue to maintain high-level contacts and visits, considering them a decisive element in strengthening bilateral relations.

They proposed relevant Vietnamese and Chinese agencies quickly identify and sign the list of joint cooperation projects in 2011-2015 for early and effective realisation towards two-way trade to US$60 billion by 2015.

Regarding the sea issue, Deputy PM Hoang Trung Hai emphasised that both sides need to strictly enforce the two countries’ common perceptions and the agreement on the basic principles guiding the settlement of sea issues between Vietnam and China so as to satisfactorily resolve arising sea-related disputes and issues.

Deputy PM Hai requested China to unconditionally release two fishing vessels and 21 Vietnamese fishermen aboard seized by China, and not to take action to further complicate the situation.

The same day, Deputy PM Hai met with Lou Baoming, Secretary of the Hainan provincial Party Committee, who noted that trade, investment and economic ties between Hainan and Vietnamese localities have grown rapidly, with two-way trade last year increasing by 50%.

However, Lou Baoming said that Hainan and Vietnam have great potential for stronger cooperation and that the province wants to increase friendly exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation with Vietnam.

(VNA)

Vietnam condemns China violating sovereignty

China holding a yacht race to the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, seriously violates Vietnam’s sovereignty, said Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Luong Thanh Nghi.

In response to the Hainan authorities organising a yacht race, called “the Sinan Cup” from Sanya to the archipelago on March 30, Nghi stated unequivocally that this is contrary to China’s commitment not to raise tensions in the East Sea.

“Vietnam is strongly against the race taking place and demands that China calls it off and complies with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea in order to maintain peace and stability in the area,” he said.

(VNA)