history

Of the many world-shaking events that took place in 1968, high on the list was the movement for reform in Czechoslovakia to create a democratic socialist alternative to the Stalinist bureaucratic dictatorships that ruled the Soviet bloc. Chris Slee takes a look at the movement, which was dramatically ended by a Soviet Union-led invasion.

On the night of August 20/21, 1968, tanks from the armies of the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria rolled into Czechoslovakia. The aim of the invaders was to crush a movement for reform.

Like all colonial societies, Australia has secrets. The way we treat Indigenous people is still mostly a secret. For a long time, the fact that many Australians came from what was called "bad stock" was a secret.

"Bad stock" meant convict forebears: those like my great-great grandmother, Mary Palmer, who was incarcerated at the Female Factory in Parramatta, near Sydney, in 1823.

A protest at the University of Sydney on June 27 demanded the University Senate drop its talks with the multibillion dollar Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, which had offered millions to the university to offer a “Western Civilisation” degree.

The Killing Season: A History of the Indonesian Massacres, 1965-66
By Geoffrey B Robinson
Princeton University Press, 2018
429 pages

From October 1965 to mid-1966, one of the worst mass killings of the 20th century took place in Indonesia. Anywhere between 500,000 and more than 1 million people associated with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) were estimated to have been killed and more than 1 million others jailed, some for more than 3 decades, in an anti-leftist purge led by the Indonesian military.

Donald Trump has partly backed down on the most extreme aspects of his cruel policy towards migrants seeking safety — but Shaun King writes that separating migrant families is something the US has been doing for centuries.

The recently re-published classic history of radical politics in Queensland, The Red North: The Popular Front in North Queensland, was launched at a series of forums in Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns over the past month, Jim McIlroy reports.

John McDonnell, Labour's shadow chancellor of the Exchequer, declared Marxism a “force for change today” as he addressed the closing session of a conference in London marking Karl Marx’s 200th birthday on May 5.

McDonnell, a close comrade of Labour's socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn, received stormy applause for a speech in which he paid tribute to the revolutionary thinker and noted that public interest in his ideas had soared since the bankers’ crash of 2008.

Reconstructing Karl Polanyi: Excavation & Critique
By Gareth Dale
Pluto, 2016
246 pp., $33.88

As a well-known British socialist activist and an academic political economist, Gareth Dale is thus ideally placed to write about Karl Polanyi, writes Derek Wall.

Polanyi was a leading 20th century critic of the free market economics that crystallised into the neoliberal system that is now threatening our planet.

The intra-Korea summit on April 27 may well be recorded as historic, writes Youngsu Won from Seoul, but questions remain about how stable any peace that emerges will be.

The Panmunjeom Declaration signed by Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in clearly signifies Korea’s transition to peaceful coexistence. This development is welcomed by all except for anti-communist hysterical lunatics, nationally and internationally.

Fifty years ago, on March 16, 1968, US soldiers attacked the Vietnamese village of My Lai. Even though the soldiers met no resistance, they slaughtered more than 500 Vietnamese women, children and old men over the next four hours, in what became known as the My Lai massacre.

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