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 →
Racialised and gendered work is a common feature of the development of capitalism. The need for a super-exploitable vulnerable group of workers is beneficial to the big business community as it helps bring about a much lower floor of wages and working conditions.
The historic 1945 Ford Strike in Windsor
In the post-war era, the overt racism and overt gender discrimination of workers was still around, although less prevalent. Institutionalized racism and sexism, however, was still very widely practised. Racialised and gendered labour therefore represented a super-exploited strata of the working class in the post-war era. Continue reading →
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 →
Editor’s note: The author is teaching English in China.
BEIJING – I arrived in Beijing on June 25. My first time in Asia. My first time outside of the Western hemisphere. Though I had studied some Chinese, I was a bit overwhelmed at the communication barrier as I walked into a restaurant to order my first meal here. The menu was all in Chinese, with no pictures, and no pinyin. (Pinyin is the transcription of Chinese to the Latin alphabet, with accent marks denoting the tones). Nevertheless, after being here for two and a half months, my Chinese is slowly improving.
My initial impressions of Beijing and China were, and still are, complex. China has surpassed Japan and Germany to become the second largest economy in the world, and China’s GDP will likely pass that of the U.S. in a few years. China’s economy is a mixed economy, with the state controlling much of what Lenin called the “commanding heights” of the economy, but with a large capitalist sector, and with an enormous number of small businesses. While the state permits capitalist enterprises, including foreign companies, to operate here, the state retains the ownership of the land, and essentially is granting the company the privilege of using the land in the interest of development. Continue reading →
It has been over ten months since the extra-judicial execution of Muammar Gaddafi by a gang of NATO-serving thugs as he lay in a drainage ditch. The video was broadcast for the world to see, a macabre and grotesque, albeit fitting, tribute to Western society’s culture of violence.
The mass corporate media in the Western world universally lined up behind the efforts to destroy the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. To this end, a great campaign of demonization and disinformation was waged against Libya, and against Gaddafi in particular. Continue reading →