Down from the Mountain



President Hugo Chávez with residents of the Caracas barrio of Antímano. (Archive)

President Hugo Chávez with residents of the Caracas barrio of Antímano. (Archive)

By the end of the last century, Venezuela’s old constitutional order, which for four decades had rotated power between two ideologically indistinguishable parties, was close to collapse. The crisis had started decades earlier, in 1983, when the bottom fell out of the world oil market. Then, as now, Venezuela derived most of its state revenue from the export of petroleum. By that point, the country had become heavily urban: 16 of its 19 million people lived in cities, a significant majority below the poverty line, with many in extreme poverty. Most of these urban poor resided in shanty towns sprawling up along the mountain walls that encircle Caracas, where the better-off live. In 1989, the government tried to solve the crisis of cheap oil with IMF-brokered austerity, which drove the poor down into the city, where they rioted and looted for three days. According to some observers, the military killed more than a thousand people, though the number is disputed and there has never been an official tally. The Caracazo, as the uprising became known, marked the beginning of increasingly focused opposition throughout most of Latin America to post-1970s economic orthodoxy, which held that high interest rates, balanced budgets, low tariffs, privatised industries, weakened labour laws and reduced social spending were the keys to development. Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile and El Salvador would all eventually come to elect governments trying to find a way out of the neoliberal straitjacket.

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Science, ecology and socialism must intersect

Green Left Weekly | June 23, 2017

The Peoples Climate March in New York, on September 21, 2014.

In his new book A Redder Shade of Green, Canadian ecosocialist activist and Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus says ecosocialism must be based on a careful and deliberate synthesis of Marxist social science and Earth system science — a 21st century rebirth of scientific socialism.

A Redder Shade of Green was published this month by Monthly Review Press. It can be purchased directly from the publisher, or from most online booksellers. Its introduction is abridged below.

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Countercurrents Connecting the Dots An Anthology

by Binu Mathew



We are all star dust. From the searing hot liquid magma inside the earth to the dying polar bears in the Arctic, from the rainbow in the sky to the enigmatic Mona Lisa, from the first microbe to the most powerful man on earth are made up of stardust. We are all connected. Human beings in their unbridled hubris forget this basic fact. Human beings in their insatiable greed, devastate and destroy our only living home, our mother earth. This volume is an effort to connect the dotsRead More »

What is to constitute the new “yes” is the problem

MR Online | June 13, 2017

Capitalism or Socialism

Review of Naomi Klein, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need (Chicago: Haymarket, 2017).

A new book by Naomi Klein, one of the leading left journalists and critics in North America, and the author of such important treatises as No Logo, The Shock Doctrine, and This Changes Everything is not something one wants to miss, especially when it is on the 2016 election and the rise of Donald Trump. This book, though, written over a few months rather than years, is meant to play a different role than her major treatises. No Is Not Enough is a conversational book aimed at a liberal audience perplexed by the whole Trump phenomenon and wanting to know what to do. Klein’s answer is to resist, but to resist with a purpose.

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Exposing the profiteers of globalisation, disaster, conflict and detention

Book: Disaster capitalism: Making a killing out of catastrophe

Author: Antony Loewenstein

ISBN: 978-1784781156

Publisher: Verso, 2015, AUD 26.95*

*Book price at time of review

Review Title: Exposing the profiteers of globalisation, disaster, conflict and detention

Reviewer: Jason K. von Meding

Affiliation: School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Newcastle, Australia

In Disaster capitalism: Making a killing out of catastrophe, acclaimed Australian journalist Antony Loewenstein turns his passion for justice to deliver a stunning critique of the thriving disaster capitalism industry, in its many forms; the profiteers of privatised detention, militarised security, the aid industry and multinational mining are relentlessly skewered with style and poise, and their predatory tactics exposed.Read More »

Ernesto Che Guevara: His path to making history in the Americas

A necessary historical, biographical, military atlas

The Atlas histórico, biogra?fico y militar Ernesto Guevara, by authors Reinaldo Espinosa Goitizolo and Guillermo Grau Guardarrama.

THE figure of Ernesto Che Guevara awakens great passions and has become a symbol of universal appeal. One of his portraits, from the lens of Alberto Korda, is one the world’s most reproduced images.

This year, the tragic date of October 9 seems even more piercing: 50 years since his assassination in La Higuera, Bolivia. Despite the dozens of books written about Che, the search for information leads inevitably to the Atlas histórico, biográfico y militar Ernesto Guevara, by authors Reinaldo Espinosa Goitizolo and Guillermo Grau Guardarrama, published in Havana, in 1990, by the Pueblo y Educación house, with the support of the Cuban Institute of Geodesy and Cartography.Read More »

The Class War’s Ultimate Weapon

Governing From The Skies: A Global History of Aerial Bombing

by Thomas Hippler (Verso, £14.99)

by Gordon Parsons

Morning Star | 20 February, 2017

IN THIS global history of aerial bombing, philosopher and historian Thomas Hippler traces the development of air power in warfare from the “police-bombing,” by which imperialist powers controlled colonial peoples in the early years of the last century, to the present daily use of drones by the US to assert its declining influence.

It is doubtful whether Donald Trump will cancel Barack Obama’s weekly “bloody Thursday” White House briefings approving the list of people to be killed in the next seven days.Read More »

Myth-Busting Revelations Of US War On Vietnam

The American War in Vietnam: Crime or Commemoration?
by John Marciano
(Monthly Review Press, £14.65)

by Steven Andrew

Morning Star | 06 February, 2017

FOR the past few decades, an unholy alliance of politicians, generals, journalists and academics have spent unlimited time and resources trying to convince the world that the US invasion of Vietnam was done with the best of intentions, the general narrative being that it was an idealistic crusade centred on the defence of democracy.

If crimes did occur, these were very much exceptional mistakes and, if they weren’t, actions do have to be contextualised. After all, wasn’t the communist enemy 10 times worse?

It’s an unremitting campaign and one which has returned with a vengeance as the empire continues to justify ongoing warfare against all those not willing to play ball.Read More »

Highways To Hope


Morning Star | 23 January, 2017

Four Futures: Life
After Capitalism
by Peter Frase
(Verso, £8.99)

ACCORDING to Peter Frase, the historical fork in the road facing humanity is not the two-pronged life-or-death choice declared by Rosa Luxemburg a century ago. It’s more of a four- lane superhighway.

Frase’s short and very readable Four Futures: Life After Capitalism includes the two routes identified by Luxemburg and throws in two more — communism, of the post-scarcity, non-statist variety, and “rentism.”Read More »

Revelatory Eyewitness Account Of Post-1917 Russia

By Alan Lloyd

Morning Star | 09 January, 2017

Lenin’s Moscow by Alfred Rosmer (Haymarket Books, £16.99)

WRITTEN by French revolutionary syndicalist Alfred Rosmer, this is a fascinating first-hand account of the immediate aftermath of the Russian Revolution.

Rosmer became a communist after the success of the Bolsheviks and was on the executive of the Communist International and the political bureau of the French Communist Party.

He spent much of the years from 1920 to 1924 in Soviet Russia, where he helped found and develop the Red International of Labour Unions.

Invited by Lenin, Rosmer’s journey to Russia was a feat of endurance which, due to the upheavals, chaos and poverty resulting from the war, took six weeks.Read More »