China’s ‘New Left’ Grows Louder

Posted by admin on October 7, 2012 under China, Marxism, Socialism | Be the First to Comment

Followers of Bo Xilai Criticize Direction of Communist Party, Exposing Leaders to Sensitive Questions Over Mao’s Legacy

By BRIAN SPEGELE
SolidarityEconomy.net via Wall Street Journal

BEIJING Oct 6, 2012—Supporters of ousted political leader Bo Xilai are turning up the note of political discord in China with increasingly loud criticism that the policies of current Communist Party leaders are widening inequality and breeding social unrest.

The movement, known as the new left, remains relatively small and obscure, and is unlikely to have a major impact on the coming shuffle of party leadership positions. But criticism from Communist hard-liners in the era of online social media places China’s leaders in a tricky position as a debate over the direction of the party and China’s economic model is quickly spreading from universities and closed-door sessions into public view.

Calls from what’s known as China’s new left are growing in volume, laying bare divisions around Mao’s legacy and the role of the state in China’s economy, placing leaders in a tricky position. Anti-Japan protesters hold portraits of Mao outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing last month.

The new left—a loose collection of academics, lower-ranking government officials, writers and overseas activists—advocates a stronger hand for the state in economic planning as well as a return to the values put forth by the late Chairman Mao Zedong. The new left argues that China’s economic reforms over more than 30 years have led to wide income disparity, and the movement has criticized the takedown of Mr. Bo, once its most visible leader.

Dealing with the new left requires some balancing for the party. Unlike the political activists who often oppose the party on democratic or human-rights grounds, the new leftists act as defenders of the vision Mao once laid out for China: Rejecting them outright would risk exposing party leaders to sensitive questions around the very foundation the party is built on.

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Introducing the Online University of the Left

Posted by admin on May 24, 2012 under CCDS Today, Marxism, Socialism | Be the First to Comment

Univ of left poster copy Check Out This Project And Prepare To Be Amazed!

By Carl Davidson
Keep On Keepin’ On

Many people know the internet is full of instructional treasures for educating activists new to the left–and for the ongoing education of elder comrades as well.

One problem, however, is that these little gems are scattered far and wide, often in obscure places. It’s a tedious task, even with Google and other research tools, to find and sort through them, making them handy and useful to key audiences.

Enter the `Online University of the Left,’ a new `Left Unity’ project initiated by the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. It’s core orientation is Marxist, but it contains teaching resources reflecting the full range of views on the wider left. About 50 left academics are involved in the core group so far-Richard Wolff, David Schweickart, Rose Brewer, Tim Johnson, Gregory Morales, William Tabb, Ellen Schwartz, Jerry Harris, Linda Alcoff, Dana Cloud, Gar Alperovitz, to name a few.

One of the OUL’s key aims is to solve this problem of scattered resources, creating a web portal that will bring much of this valuable material together in one spot in cyberspace. The link is http://ouleft.org, and you can also search for its Facebook page by name-and be sure to `like’ it on Facebook, if you do. More `likes’ expand the features available to it.

oul-home

The core idea is that anyone with a smartphone, a laptop, a large computer screen or, best of all, a digital projector connected to any of these, can now run any mixture of hundreds of video lectures and documentary films on a wide range of topics. Whether for individuals, small groups or large classes, it offers a multimedia dimension to revolutionary education at no cost.

That’s only the beginning. One marvelous feature will be the ability to hold lectures, classes and discussion groups in real time. The participants will be able to hear and see each other via video-conferencing, permitting back-and-forth dialogue. These can also be recorded, edited for improvement and added detailed, then preserved as on-line `webinars’ for future repeated use. The OUL will likely charge a small fee, or require a low-cost subscription, however, for access to this particular feature.

This raises an important question: how will the OUL be sustained financially? For the moment, it’s being supported by a small grant that will launch it and keep it going for a year or so. After, that, it will have to find or create a number of revenue streams to keep it rolls. One example is the subscriptions and fees for real-time events mentioned above. Another is the `Bookstore’ tab, which connects the viewer to our `shelf’ at Powell’s, one of the country’s major unionized booksellers. If you go to Powell’s through this OUL link and purchase anything there, a small percentage in commission for the sale goes to the OUL.

The site is organized into academic departments-each with dozens of video lecture and documentaries, achieves with the entire range of theory and analysis of hundred of writers, and study guides and course outlines.

Make use of it! In the future, we will also pursue the usual package of fundraising efforts-donations, small and large, grant writing, public events, benefit dinners and so on. In the meantime, lend a hand by using the `Donate’ button at http://cc-ds.org.  Once again, check out the site itself at http://ouleft.org. If you want to link your own materials to it or make suggestions, contact Carl Davidson at carld717@gmail.com

21st Century Socialism and Cooperatives

Posted by admin on March 11, 2012 under Cuba, Marxism, Socialism | Be the First to Comment

Cuba’s Alternative to Privatization

By Marce Cameron
SolidarityEconomy.net via GreenLeft Weekly

March 11, 2012 – Cuban President Raul Castro has urged the Caribbean nation’s citizens to contribute to a free and frank debate on the future of Cuba’s socialist project.

For the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), the aim of this debate is twofold: to strive for consensus on a new Cuban model of socialist development and to empower Cuba’s working people to implement what has been decided.

In other words, to advance a socialist renewal process in the face of entrenched opposition from within the administrative apparatus.

It is first and foremost a debate about the economy. A draft policy document, the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines, was submitted to a national debate for three months before to its adoption by the Sixth PCC Congress in April last year.

The core principles and objectives of the draft were conserved, but the final version of the Guidelines was substantially modified on the basis of this public debate.

The PCC said total attendance at the 163,000 local debates held in workplaces, study centers and neighborhoods was about 8.9 million, with many people attending more than one.

More than three million interventions were noted and grouped into 781,000 opinions, about half of which were reflected in the final document. A summary detailing each modification and its motivation, and the number of interventions in favour, was published after the congress.

The Guidelines is not a theoretical document. The government commission responsible for overseeing its implementation has been charged with drafting, as Castro put it, “the integral theoretical conceptualization of the Cuban socialist economy”.

Rather, the Guidelines is a set of principles and objectives that point to a new Cuban socialist-oriented economic model.

Yet implicit in them is a reconception of the socialist-oriented society in Cuba’s conditions.

Transitional society

The ultimate objective of the socialist revolution is a global classless society in which technology enables minimal human labour to produce goods and services, allowing these to be freely distributed to satisfy people’s rational needs.

Socially owned, this system of production would free everyone from the compulsion to work for others. It would allow a flowering of the human personality that is stunted by capitalist exploitation and alienation, both of which are embodied in the capitalist market.

What blocks this transition is not a lack of technology, but private ownership of most productive wealth and the class rule of the corporate rich over society.

The transition from capitalism to socialism is marked by tension between planning and the market. Democratic planning to meet social needs first becomes increasingly dominant, then ultimately the sole determinant of economic activity.

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Book Review – Revolutionary Youth and the New Working Class: Lost Writings of SDS

Posted by admin on December 17, 2011 under Marxism, Political Economy, Socialism, Youth and Students | Be the First to Comment

 

cover-front-revyouth Edited by Carl Davidson,

Changemaker Publications

Pittsburgh PA, 2011

By Jerry Harris

Carl Davidson has done a tremendous service to anyone who studies the history of social movements or anyone interested in the 1960s rebellion. This "lost" collection of papers reveals the depth and richness of radical thinking coming out of the student movement as the war raged in Viet-Nam and militant protestors marched through the streets of America.

The most important document is the "Port Authority Statement," by SDS members David Gilbert, Robert Gottlieb and Gerry Tenney. Although at the time not widely circulated, it offers great insight into the thinking and analysis of SDS as it turned to revolutionary theory and debate. This is an impressive document. Detailed in statistical and economic analysis, grounded in revolutionary social theory, and innovative in its thinking and insights.

One of the most important sections of the paper was its class analysis with its focus on the new working class and the relationship of students to an economy shifting from manufacturing to services and technology. The documents notes that, "Modern American capitalism is characterized by rapid technological change with scientific knowledge growing at a logarithmic rate." This will result in the "elimination of unskilled labor (as) the blue-collar sector will decrease (and) jobs that require high degrees of education and training" will increase. (pages 88-89)

That analysis was made in 1966. Now read a recent article by Edward Luce from the Financial Times: "the middle-skilled jobs that once formed the ballast of the world’s wealthiest middle class are disappearing. They are being supplanted by relatively low-skilled (and low-paid) jobs that cannot be replaced either by new technology or by offshoring – such as home nursing and landscape gardening. Jobs are also being created for the highly skilled, notably in science, engineering and management. (12/11/11) Decades later the paper’s main thesis still holds up.

Continuing its class analysis the Port Authority document examined the capitalist class and the debate over ownership and control. The authors focused attention on the growing trend towards paying executives with large stock rewards, merging management and ownership. Again we can turn to a recent article published in the December 2011 Monthly Review that reads, "More recently, David Harvey has argued that ownership (share holders) and management (CEOs) of capitalist enterprises have fused together, as upper management is increasingly paid with stock options." (Richard Peet) This "recent" argument now being made by a leading Marxist trails Port Authority by some 45 years.

Although the authors grasped the sweeping impact that technology would have on American workers, what they could not see would be globalization and the advent of neo-liberalism as a governing ideology. As the paper notes at the time, "Corporate liberalism implies that the dominant economic institution is the corporation and that the prevailing political and social mode is liberalism." (page 68) Of course it’s understandable how such changes would be all but invisible in 1966; it’s also a good reminder why political tactics and strategy must remain flexible and activists should always be willing to reevaluate their analysis.

The above are but a few of the enticing insights that are contained in page after page of these documents. As new social movements gather force throughout the world, a look into the thinking of activists from the last great social movement can help give direction to coming future battles. I would highly recommend this book to all activists and academics interesting in building a better world.

Jerry Harris, National Secretary of the Global Studies Association and author of "The Dialectics of Globalization."