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Pages tagged "socialism"


Strange bedfellows: Julian Assange and Ecuador

by Erin Fitz-Henry

Julian Assange’s appearance on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London to hold forth on his current situation, and President Obama, added a bizarre new chapter to the long-running Wikileaks saga.

It remains to be seen whether Assange will indeed be able to take up asylum in Ecuador as British police maintain they will arrest him as soon as he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy, and may even move to seize him inside the building.

But how is it that Assange has come to see a small South American country as his saviour? And what does Ecuador have to gain from confronting the UK, and by extension the US, over Assange?

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The Precariat – The new dangerous class

by Guy Standing

For the first time in history, the mainstream left has no progressive agenda. It has forgotten a basic principle. Every progressive political movement has been built on the anger, needs and aspirations of the emerging major class. Today that class is the precariat.

So far, the precariat in Europe has been mostly engaged in EuroMayDay parades and loosely organised protests. But this is changing rapidly, as events in Spain and Greece are showing, following on the precariat-led uprisings in the middle-east. Remember that welfare states were built only when the working class mobilised through collective action to demand the relevant policies and institutions. The precariat is busy defining its demands.

The precariat has emerged from the liberalisation that underpinned globalisation. Politicians should beware. It is a new dangerous class, not yet what Karl Marx would have described as a class-for-itself, but a class-in-the-making, internally divided into angry and bitter factions.

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A Year of Revolution

by Thomas McDermott In a year of revolution, causes have been easier to identify than consequences. In 1989, following the end of the Cold War, the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama wrote in The End of History? of the “unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism”, marking “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government”. In the decades since Fukuyama’s landmark essay, the very concept of revolution – at least in the context of the rich, Western world – had itself come to be seen as an almost anachronistic idea. That is, until this year. In 2011, revolution has returned to the center of global geo-political discourse.

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The rise and fall of the 'free market'

by David Hetherington

Ideas, like fashion, move in waves. A big idea will form, expand, dominate, and fade. Along the way it will accrue adherents and opponents, leaving a trailing wake of subsidiary ideas.

The last century has seen the rise and fall of communism, fascism, and socialism. Democracy has proven more enduring, still expanding if not dominating.

Yet the idea closest to the inflection point between domination and fade is the ‘free market’, the most influential concept in political economy over the past 40 years. Outlined in its modern form by the Austrian school of economists and expanded by Milton Friedman, the free market was the bedrock of the Thatcher/Reagan reforms. It defined the political orthodoxy for both right and left until the financial crash of 2008.

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Chomsky and conflicting elements of US foreign policy

by John August

I’ve long been interested in Chomsky’s writings, but I could always see good and bad in them. I’ve struggled to understand foreign policy and how the US fits in. It’s different to the picture painted by both Chomsky and his opponents.

After Chomsky won the Sydney Peace Prize, people railed against the Sydney Centre for Peace And Conflict Studies (SPAC) – again. Keith Windshuttle came to the fore, joined by Ted Lapkin – with lots more material out there. But, even if the SPAC are wrong, however heated his opponents get, it’s not illegal to be wrong - at least not yet, anyway.

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Europe's democracy shock

by Olaf Cramme 

The outcry over EU legitimacy only diverts attention away from the real challenges to democracy and sovereignty in our capitalist system. We deserve a better debate.

The seismic social and economic aftershocks of the global financial crisis have raised a new awareness among citizens: democracy is in a pretty bad shape and national sovereignty is under siege. It is not so much the widely-reported violent demonstrations in Greece which embody this growing unease, but rather hardening cynicism and wide scale disenchantment with politics in the liberal West. We are in a situation where representational power looks worryingly distorted, the most basic demands and concerns of citizens are often ignored and the emotional gap between the elite and the population at large seems to be growing. At the same time, questions of belonging, identity and nationalism have re-emerged on the agenda – and with it a new surge in populist rhetoric.

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Reconstructing the Left

by Shayn McCallum

A striking dilemma facing the Left almost everywhere outside Latin America is that, despite a massive crisis of globalised capitalism and the nakedly ideological bloody-mindedness of neo-liberalism, the Left is largely failing to rise to the occasion.  How is it that, in a time of economic meltdown brought on by rampant, neo-liberal (il)logic concerning the desirability of untrammeled free-markets, there has not been a sharp turn to the Left and a call to reassert popular sovereignty once more over the market?  Why is the cry of “people before profits” limited to the activists of the street?

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Centennial celebrations of the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 across the Taiwan Straits

by Chin Jin

On the Double Ten Day (i.e. 10th October) in 1911, which was the 19th day of the 8th lunar month of the Year of Xinhai, a gunshot in Wuchang heralded the demise of thousands of years of history of Chinese absolute monarchy.

The Revolutionaries who were led by Dr Sun Yat-sen triggered the Revolution of 1911; while the powerful Beiyang Faction, headed by Yuan Shikai, followed the historic trend and forced the emperor to abdicate, creating a Chinese version of the Glorious Revolution. Those on the inside and the outside of the Qing Dynasty establishment collaborated and united to establish the first democratic republic in Asia.

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The Australian and the Prime Minister

by John Passant

The News Ltd paper The Australian has been on a vendetta against Labor and Julia Gillard for some time now. There is nothing surprising in this.

Rupert Murdoch uses his newspapers to try and influence the outcome of government decisions and election results and, he hopes, to suit his business interests. He has done so since time immemorial.

He also is an astute capitalist who knows his major market-  the US – is built on the bones of conquered and subjugated peoples around the globe.

Hence Murdoch is an avid supporter of American imperialism even when it may not appear his direct material interests are involved. So it was that 174 of his 175 media outlets supported the invasion of Iraq.

But sometimes the hubris of unelected power overreaches the mark

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Turn Left for Growth

by Joseph Stiglitz

Both the left and the right say they stand for economic growth. So should voters trying to decide between the two simply look at it as a matter of choosing alternative management teams?

If only matters were so easy! Part of the problem concerns the role of luck. America’s economy was blessed in the 1990s with low energy prices, a high pace of innovation, and a China increasingly offering high-quality goods at decreasing prices, all of which combined to produce low inflation and rapid growth.

President Clinton and then-Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan deserve little credit for this – though, to be sure, bad policies could have messed things up. By contrast, the problems faced today – high energy and food prices and a crumbling financial system – have, to a large extent, been brought about by bad policies.

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