socialism

The Socialist Ideas Conference, organised by the Socialist Alliance in Perth, is shaping up to be the biggest and most interesting socialist event in Perth for some time.

Alongside international guests such as Malaysian socialist parliamentarian Jeyakumar Devaraj and Green Left Weekly Caracas bureau journalist Kiraz Janicke, a number of respected speakers have confirmed their attendance in recent weeks.

Sanna Andrew is the Socialist Alliance candidate for Fremantle, Western Australia, in the coming federal elections.

She joined the Socialist Alliance in 2007. She is a qualified social worker and has worked in community-based mental health service provision for more than a decade.

Andrew is also an active member of the Australian Services Union (ASU) and sits on the executive council as a representative of the Social and Community Services Sector division.

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One sentence in the final declaration of the Search Foundation’s Left Renewal Conference (From Global Crisis to Green Future) captured the key issue: “Capitalism has been unable to address inequality, war and ecological degradation, and must be replaced by a democratic system that puts human need before greed, and socialises wealth instead of debt.”

Venezuelan trade unionist and community educator Alexis Adarfio Marin visited Australia last month, informing many audiences of the radical changes being carried out by Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution.

Adarfio was a guest of the Search Foundation, which hosted a range of international guest speakers at its Australian Left Renewal Conference in Sydney over May 29-30.

The Idea of Communism
By Tariq Ali
Seagull Press 2009, 126 pages

This short book is the first in a series called “What Was Communism”, which aims to explore the practice of Communism in the 20th century.

Tariq Ali’s main thesis is that “The failure of official Communism in the 20th century and the restoration of capitalism in Russia and China … far from negating some of the premises that underlined the project in the first place, emphasises their continuing importance”.

The struggle against inflation, corruption, and destabilisation in Venezuela’s economy is continuing.

In the last week of May, workers from nationalised companies marched to protest hoarding and price speculation and call for worker-run management, while national investigators arrested the former president of the state-run food company PDVAL for alleged involvement in the diversion of food from the market.

This must be a momentous occasion. According to the May 22 Sydney Morning Herald, the Dalai Lama — a major leader of a major religion — has declared himself “half Marxist half Buddhist”.

First we must ask questions about Buddhism itself. Is Buddhism a single religion, or even a religion? Would the two main streams constitute a schism? The Dalai Lama is the largely undisputed global figurehead of Mahayana Buddhism. There is no equivalent figurehead in the other dominant stream, Theravada, which stretches from South Asia to South-East Asia.

To guarantee access to essential foods amid price inflation and supply shortages in some items, the Venezuelan government recently nationalised a major flour producer, granted low-interest credits to small and medium-sized producers, opened new subsidised food markets, sanctioned price speculators and hoarders, and is in the process of reforming its land reform law.

Ten activists from Thai Red Australia, plus Guatemalan and El Salvadoran activists from the Latin American Social Forum, were part of the 80-strong Socialist Alliance NSW state conference on May 22 in Sydney.

The conference launched Socialist Alliance’s federal election campaign. In the opening session, Senate candidate Rachel Evans outlined a “people’s budget” that puts the environment and people’s wellbeing over militarism and profiteering.

This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly
By Carmen Reinhart & KennethRogoff
Rrinceton University Press, 2009, 496 pages

Review by Barry Healy

Australia has had a lucky escape from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) our noble leaders and economic pundits tell us.

Not so, says 800 years of economic experience assembled in This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly.

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