On a Socialist Camping Trip

G. A. Cohen
Why Not Socialism?
Princeton, 2009
92 Pages
£10.95
ISBN 978-0691143613

As a teenager, Jerry Cohen was a counsellor in the Montreal Jewish socialist summer camp Kinderland, where, in the words of one of his young charges, “the sons and daughters of 1950s leftists spent July and August waging class struggle against mosquitoes and boredom”. These summer expeditions left a lasting impression: decades later, Cohen fondly recalled campfire songs from Kinderland at his inauguration as Chichele Professor in All Souls college chapel; and a camping trip serves as the prime illustration of the virtues of socialism in his latest and last work, a lively discussion of political morality.

While Jerry Cohen made a career out of intellectualising his personal journey from pro-Soviet schoolboy to doyen of Oxford political theory, it is in Why Not Socialism?—more than any other text—that we see as a whole his considered stance on justice. For this life-long socialist, socialism’s infeasibility does not entail its irrelevance, for its most basic merit lies in its encapsulation of an ethic of care for other human life. In a period when we are re-evaluating our economic priorities, this is a timely call for personal integrity—and a reminder that in necessarily compromising with self-interest, we must not lose sight of our ideals. Continue reading

Why Ecological Revolution?

It is now universally recognized within science that humanity is confronting the prospect — if we do not soon change course — of a planetary ecological collapse. Not only is the global ecological crisis becoming more and more severe, with the time in which to address it fast running out, but the dominant environmental strategies are also forms of denial, demonstrably doomed to fail, judging by their own limited objectives. This tragic failure, I will argue, can be attributed to the refusal of the powers that be to address the roots of the ecological problem in capitalist production and the resulting necessity of ecological and social revolution.

The term “crisis,” attached to the global ecological problem, although unavoidable, is somewhat misleading, given its dominant economic associations. Since 2008, we have been living through a world economic crisis — the worst economic downturn since the 1930s. This has been a source of untold suffering for hundreds of millions, indeed billions, of people. But insofar as it is related to the business cycle and not to long-term factors, expectations are that it is temporary and will end, to be followed by a period of economic recovery and growth — until the advent of the next crisis. Capitalism is, in this sense, a crisis-ridden, cyclical economic system. Even if we were to go further, to conclude that the present crisis of accumulation is part of a long-term economic stagnation of the system — that is, a slowdown of the trend-rate of growth beyond the mere business cycle — we would still see this as a partial, historically limited calamity, raising, at most, the question of the future of the present system of production.1

When we speak today of the world ecological crisis, however, we are referring to something that could turn out to be final, i.e., there is a high probability, if we do not quickly change course, of a terminal crisis — a death of the whole anthropocene, the period of human dominance of the planet. Human actions are generating environmental changes that threaten the extermination of most species on the planet, along with civilization, and conceivably our own species as well.

What makes the current ecological situation so serious is that climate change, arising from human-generated increases in greenhouse gas emissions, is not occurring gradually and in a linear process, but is undergoing a dangerous acceleration, pointing to sudden shifts in the state of the earth system. We can therefore speak, to quote James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and the world’s most famous climate scientist, of “tipping points…fed by amplifying feedbacks.”2 Four amplifying feedbacks are significant at present: (1) rapid melting of arctic sea ice, with the resulting reduction of the earth’s albedo (reflection of solar radiation) due to the replacement of bright, reflective ice with darker blue sea water, leading to greater absorption of solar energy and increasing global average temperatures; (2) melting of the frozen tundra in northern regions, releasing methane (a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) trapped beneath the surface, causing accelerated warming; (3) recent indications that there has been a drop in the efficiency of the carbon absorption of the world’s oceans since the 1980s, and particularly since 2000, due to growing ocean acidification (from past carbon absorption), resulting in faster carbon build-up in the atmosphere and enhanced warming; (4) extinction of species due to changing climate zones, leading to the collapse of ecosystems dependent on these species, and the death of still more species.3 Continue reading

Hugo Chávez Writes on “The Battle of Copenhagen”

December 22nd 2009, by Hugo Chávez Frías, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Copenhagen was the scene of a historic battle in the framework of the 15th Conference of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP15). Better said, in the beautiful, snowy capital of Denmark, a battle began that did not end on Friday, December 18, 2009. I reiterate: Copenhagen was only the beginning of a decisive battle for the salvation of the planet. It was a battle in the realm of ideas and in praxis.

Brazilian Leonardo Boff, a great liberation theologian and one of the most authoritative voices on environmental issues, in a key article, entitled What is at stake in Copenhagen?, wrote these words full of insight and courage: What can we expect from Copenhagen? At least this simple confession: We cannot continue like this. And a simple proposition: Let’s change course.

And for that reason, precisely, we went to Copenhagen to battle for a change of course on behalf of Venezuela, on behalf of the Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA), and moreover, in defence of the cause of humanity and to speak, with President Evo Morales, in defence of the rights of Pachamama, of Mother Earth.

Evo, who together with yours truly, had the responsibility to be a spokesperson for the Bolivarian Alliance, wisely said: What this debate is about, is whether we are going to live or we are going to die.

All eyes of the world were concentrated on Copenhagen: the 15th Conference on Climate Change allowed us to gauge the fibre we are made of, where hope lies and what can we do to establish what the Liberator Simón Bolívar defined as the equilibrium of the universe, an equilibrium that can never be achieved within the capitalist world system. Continue reading

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on How to Tackle Climate Change: “We Must Go from Capitalism to Socialism”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on How to Tackle Climate Change: “We Must Go From Capitalism to Socialism”

Democracy Now speak with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez about climate change, the Copenhagen summit and President Obama. Chavez accuses calls the COP15 summit undemocratic and accuses world leaders of only seeking a face-saving agreement. We must reduce all the emissions that are destroying the planet, Chavez says. That requires a change in the economic model: we must go from capitalism to socialism.

See also:

Fidel Castro: The Truth of What Happened at the Summit

Venezuelan President’s Speech on Climate Change in Copenhagen

Venezuelan President’s Speech on Climate Change in Copenhagen

December 17th 2009, by Hugo Chavez

President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez:

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, Excellencies, friends, I promise that I will not talk more than most have spoken this afternoon. Allow me an initial comment which I would have liked to make as part of the previous point which was expressed by the delegations of Brazil, China, India, and Bolivia. We were there asking to speak but it was not possible. Bolivia’s representative said, my salute of course to Comrade President Evo Morales, who is there, President of the Republic of Bolivia.

[Audience applause]

She said among other things the following, I noted it here, she said the text presented is not democratic, it is not inclusive.

I had hardly arrived and we were just sitting down when we heard the president of the previous session, the minister, saying that a document came about, but nobody knows, I’ve asked for the document, but we still don’t have it, I think nobody knows of that top secret document.

Now certainly, as the Bolivian comrade said, that is not democratic, it is not inclusive. Now, ladies and gentlemen, isn’t that just the reality of the world?

Are we in a democratic world? Is the global system inclusive? Can we hope for something democratic, inclusive from the current global system?

What we are experiencing on this planet is an imperial dictatorship, and from here we continue denouncing it. Down with imperial dictatorship! And long live the people and democracy and equality on this planet!

[Audience applause]

And what we see here is a reflection of this: Exclusion.

There is a group of countries that consider themselves superior to us in the South, to us in the Third World, to us, the underdeveloped countries, or as a great friend Eduardo Galeano says, we, the crushed countries, as if a train ran over us in history.

In light of this, it’s no surprise that there is no democracy in the world and here we are again faced with powerful evidence of global imperial dictatorship. Then two youths got up here, fortunately the enforcement officials were decent, some push around, and they collaborated right? There are many people outside, you know? Of course, they do not fit in this room, they are too many people. I’ve read in the news that there were some arrests, some intense protests, there in the streets of Copenhagen, and I salute all those people out there, most of them youth.

[Audience applause]

Of course young people are concerned, I think rightly much more than we are, for the future of the world. We have – most of us here – the sun on our backs, and they have to face the sun and are very worried.

One could say, Mr. President, that a spectre is haunting Copenhagen, to paraphrase Karl Marx, the great Karl Marx, a spectre is haunting the streets of Copenhagen, and I think that spectre walks silently through this room, walking around among us, through the halls, out below, it rises, this spectre is a terrible spectre almost nobody wants to mention it: Capitalism is the spectre, almost nobody wants to mention it. Continue reading

Cuba’s other revolution is green, not red

In Copenhagen they are debating how to end deforestation, but in Cuba’s Pinar del Río they were replanting 50 years ago, creating lush, unspoilt valleys

Cuban hills ... typical bungalows in Las Terrazas, Sierra del Rosario Nature and Biosphere Reserve, Pinar del Rio. Photograph: John Harden/Robert Harding/Rex Features

Birds and butterflies are swooping above us and, as our taxi reaches the summit of this forest road just 40 minutes from the heat and noise of Havana, the view opens to an undulating landscape painted every shade of green. Before Castro these hills were dusty yellow and brown scrub.

If Copenhagen needs a model, this is the most eloquent I know, a visionary example of reforestation and the long term benefits it brings. While the rest of the world is ripping up forests in the name of minerals and wood, Cuba has been replanting its tropical forests in the name of jobs, the environment and a lush holiday destination for decades. This policy has worked so well that in 1984 Unesco gave biosphere status to 26,686 hectares of forest in the western region of Pinar del Río, where I am heading to stay at Las Terrazas, 50km from Havana. Continue reading

Fidelity

This is a ten minute excerpt from the Cuban documentary ‘Fidelity’. The film offers an  insight into Cuban life from the perspective of the people. A fascinating portrait of a complicated society, balanced precariously between past and future, revolution and capitalist penetration.

Whilst the international press speculates on the imminent death of Fidel Castro and the Cuban community of Miami is already celebrating his funeral, on the island the condition of his health is a state secret.

As the umbilical cord that ties every Cuban to the revolution is beginning to be severed, a new energy is emerging in the country. An ex-fighter of the Sierra, a television actress, a gigolo, a young ballet dancer, the custodian of a church and many other Cubans give voice to the moods, aspirations and fears of the islands people – the old warn against the risks of the penetration of imperialism, whilst the young dream of a freer society, economically efficient and open.

The film will be showing next Wednesday 15th July at the Barbican in the City of London as part of the Cine Cuba film festival.

For more information see

http://barbican.org.uk/film/event-detail.asp?ID=9374

Marxism 2009

Here is the final timetable for Marxism 2009 with full details of speakers and meetings.

If you are looking to attend some of these workshops and meetings here is some useful information. Continue reading

Britain Today: A Look At The Recent Factory Occupations in London

April 2009

Hundreds of workers occupy three Visteon car manufacturing factories in Britain after the management closed them down, laying off the entire workforce with no notice, violating their contracts. This is reminiscent of the factory occupations of the 1970s.

Read full article here:
http://www.socialist.net/visteon-work…

The above is a lesson in the importance of organisation in the workplace and worker solidarity. See Organising at Work: How Activists can build a Union from scratch

Chavez may end patents on medicine in Venezuela

CARACAS, June 21 (Reuters) – President Hugo Chavez has vowed to shake up the rules governing intellectual property rights on medicines and other products in Venezuela, the socialist’s latest move against the private sector.

“A song is intellectual property, but an invention or a scientific discovery should be knowledge for the world, especially medicine,” Chavez said late on Saturday.

“That a laboratory does not allow us to make a medicine because they have the patent, no, no, no,” Chavez said.

Chavez, who has nationalized many Venezuela industries and is critical of the private sector, ordered his trade minister to analyze the patent rules in the OPEC nation.

“Patents have become a barrier to production, and we cannot allow them to be barriers to medicine, to life, to agriculture,” said the minister, Eduardo Saman, who previously headed Venezuela’s patent agency.

“We are revising all the doctrines and laws related to patents, which should be compatible with the international treaties that we have signed and respect and honor.”

Chavez recently criticized Swedish packaging maker Tetra Pak, saying its patents on cartons were limiting production in Venezuela.

(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel, editing by Vicki Allen)

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/bondsNews/idUSN2148323120090621?rpc=401&

21st Century Socialism: What If Workers Managed Themselves?

“Initially we never had in mind workers control, we were just struggling for our jobs. We spent two years picketing at the gates before we decided to take it over. Through this process we developed political maturity very fast, not just through our own personal struggle, but the broader political struggles of the constituent assembly and the recall referendum” – Marino Mora, worker at self managed Venezuelan Factory

Worker self-management (or autogestion) is a form of workplace decision-making in which the workers themselves agree on choices (for issues like customer care, general production methods, scheduling, division of labour etc.) instead of an owner or traditional supervisor telling workers what to do, how to do it and where to do it. Examples of such self-management include the Spanish Revolution during the Spanish Civil War, Titoist Yugoslavia, the “recovered factories” movement in Argentina (in Spanish, fábrica recuperada), the LIP factory in France in the 1970s, the Mondragón Cooperative Corporation which is the Basque Country‘s largest corporation, AK Press in the United States, etc.

In Argentina’s recovered factories movement, workers took over control of the factories in which they had worked, commonly after bankruptcy, or after a factory occupation to circumvent a lock out. The Spanish verb recuperar means not only “to get back”, “to take back” or “to reclaim” but also “to put back into good condition”. Although initially referring to industrial facilities, the term may also apply to businesses other than factories (i.e. Hotel Bauen in Buenos Aires).

English-language discussions of this phenomenon may employ several different translations of the original Spanish expression other than recovered factory. For example, recuperated factory/business, reclaimed factory, and worker-run factory have been noted. The phenomenon is also known as “autogestion,” which comes from the French word for self-management (applied to factories, popular education systems, and other uses).

Workers’ self-management is often the decision-making model used in co-operative economic arrangements such as worker cooperatives, workers’ councils, in participatory economics, and similar arrangements where the workplace operates without a boss.

Critics argue that this would necessitate consulting all employees for every tiny issue and so be time-consuming, inefficient and thus ineffective. However, as seen in real world examples, only large-scale decisions are made by all employees during council meetings and small decisions are made by those implementing them while coordinating with the rest and following more general agreements.

Theory

Autogestion was first theorized by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon during the first part of the 19th century. It then became a primary component of some trade union organizations, in particular revolutionary syndicalism which was introduced in late 19th century France and guild socialism in early 20th century Britain, although both movements collapsed in the early 1920s. French trade-union CFDT (“Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail”) included worker self-management in its 1970 program, before later abandoning it. The philosophy of workers’ self-management has been promoted by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) since its founding in the United States in 1905.

History

One significant experiment with workers’ self-management took place during the Spanish Revolution (1936-1939).

In the 1950s, at the height of the Cold War, Titoist Yugoslavia advocated a socialist version of autogestion, leading to a break with Moscow, which practiced central planning and state ownership of industry. The economy of Yugoslavia was organized according to the theories of Tito and – more directly – Edvard Kardelj. Croatian scientist Branko Horvat also made a significant contribution to the theory of socialism (radničko samoupravljanje) as practiced in Yugoslavia. With the exception of a recession in the mid-1960s, the country’s economy prospered under Titoist Socialism. Unemployment was low, the education level of the work force steadily increased. The life expectancy (which was about 72 years) and living standards of Yugoslav citizens was nearly equal to the life expectancy and living standards of citizens of “western” capitalist countries such as the United States. Due to Yugoslavia’s neutrality and its leading role in the Non-Aligned Movement, Yugoslav companies exported to both Western and Eastern markets. Yugoslav companies carried out construction of numerous major infrastructural and industrial projects in Africa, Europe and Asia.

After May 68 in France, Lip factory, a clockwork factory based in Besançon, became self-managed starting in 1973, after the management’s decision to liquidate it. The LIP experience was an emblematic social conflict of post-68 in France. CFDT (the CCT as it was referred to in Northern Spain), trade-unionist Charles Piaget led the strike in which workers claimed the means of production. The Unified Socialist Party (PSU), which included former Radical Pierre Mendès-France, was in favour of autogestion or self-management.

In the 1970s, the Spanish Legitimist Carlist movement split among the supporters of Don Carlos Hugo‘s new Carlist Party, confederalist and autogestionary, and his brother Sixto Enrique de Borbón‘s Traditionalist Communion, extreme-right.

South America

In October 2005 the first Encuentro Latinoamericano de Empresas Recuperadas (“Latin American Encounter of Recovered Companies”) took place in Caracas, Venezuela, with representatives of 263 such companies from different countries living through similar economical and social situations. The meeting had, as its main outcome, the Compromiso de Caracas (Caracas’ Commitment); a vindicating text of the movement.

Throughout the 1990s in Argentina‘s southern province of Neuquén, drastic economic and political events occurred where the citizens ultimately rose up. Although the first shift occurred in a single factory, bosses were progressively fired throughout the province so that by 2005 the workers of the province controlled most of the factories.

In the wake of the 2001 economic crisis, about 200 Argentine companies were “recovered” by their workers and turned into co-operatives. Prominent examples include the Brukman factory, the Hotel Bauen and FaSinPat (formerly known as Zanon). As of 2005, about 15,000 Argentine workers run recovered factories[1].

The phenomenon of fabricas recuperadas (“recovered factories”) is not new in Argentina. Rather, such social movements were completely dismantled during the so-called “Dirty War” in the 1970s. Thus, during Héctor Cámpora‘s first months of government (May-July 1973), a rather moderate and left-wing Peronist, approximately 600 social conflicts, strikes and factory occupations had taken place.[2]

Many recovered factories are run co-operatively and all workers receive the same wage. Important management decisions are taken democratically by an assembly of all workers, rather than by professional managers.

The proliferation of these “recoveries” has led to the formation of a recovered factory movement, which has ties to a diverse political network including Peronists, anarchists and communists. Organizationally, this includes two major federations of recovered factories, the larger Movimiento Nacional de Empresas Recuperadas (or National Movement of Recuperated Businesses, or MNER) on the left and the smaller Movimiento Nacional de Fabricas Recuperadas (National Movement of Recuperated Factories or MNFR) on the right[3]. Some labor unions, unemployed protestors (known as piqueteros), traditional worker cooperatives and a range of political groups have also provided support for these take-overs. In March 2003, with the help of the MNER, former employees of the luxury Hotel Bauen occupied the building and took control of it.

One of the highest difficulties such a movement faces is its relation towards the classic economic system, as most classically managed firms refused, for various reasons (among which ideological hostility to the very principle of autogestion) to work and deal with recovered factories. Thus, isolated recovered factories find it easier to work together in building an alternative economic system and thus manage to reach a critical size and power which enables it to negotiate with the ordinary capitalistic firms.

Source: Wikipedia

See also Socialism in a nutshell

What is Exploitation?

For examples of self managed factories watch the following documentary

https://balafria.wordpress.com/2009/06/20/what-would-a-socialist-alternative-to-capitalism-look-like/

See also http://www.handsoffvenezuela.org/solidarity_sanitarios_maracay.htm

It’s Time To Create A Socialist Alternative

An open letter to the left from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP)

Dear comrade,

Labour’s vote collapsed to a historic low in last week’s elections as the right made gains. The Tories under David Cameron are now set to win the next general election.

The British National Party (BNP) secured two seats in the European parliament. Never before have fascists achieved such a success in Britain.

The result has sent a shockwave across the labour and anti-fascist movements, and the left.

The meltdown of the Labour vote and the civil war engulfing the party poses a question – where do we go from here?

The fascists pose a threat to working class organisations, black, Asian and other residents of this country – who BNP führer Nick Griffin dubs “alien” – our civil liberties and much else.

History teaches us that fascism can be fought and stopped, but only if we unite to resist it.

The SWP firmly believes that the first priority is to build even greater unity and resistance to the fascists over the coming months and years.

The BNP believes it has created the momentum for it to achieve a breakthrough. We have to break its momentum.

The success of the anti-Nazi festival in Stoke and the numbers of people who joined in anti-fascist campaigning shows the basis is there for a powerful movement against the Nazis.

The Nazis’ success will encourage those within the BNP urging a “return to the streets”.

This would mean marches targeting multiracial areas and increased racist attacks. We need to be ready to mobilise to stop that occurring.

Griffin predicted a “perfect storm” would secure the BNP’s success. The first part of that storm he identified was the impact of the recession.

The BNP’s policies of scapegoating migrants, black and Asian people will divide working people and make it easier to drive through sackings, and attacks on services and pensions.

Unity is not a luxury. It is a necessity. If we do not stand together we will pay the price for a crisis we did not cause.

The second lesson from the European elections is that we need a united fightback to save jobs and services.

If Cameron is elected he will attempt to drive through policies of austerity at the expense of the vast majority of the British people.

But the Tories’ vote fell last week and they are nervous about pushing through attacks.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne told business leaders, “After three months in power we will be the most unpopular government since the war.”

We need to prepare for battle.

But there is a third and vital issue facing the left and the wider working class. The crisis that has engulfed Westminster benefited the BNP.

The revelations of corruption, which cabinet members were involved in, were too much for many Labour voters, who could not bring themselves to vote for the party.

One answer to the problem is to say that we should swallow everything New Labour has done and back it to keep David Cameron, and the BNP, out.

Yet it would take a miracle for Gordon Brown to be elected back into Downing Street.

The danger is that by simply clinging on we would be pulled down with the wreckage of New Labour.

Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the PCS civil service workers’ union, has asked how, come the general election, can we ask working people to cast a ballot for ministers like Pat McFadden.

McFadden is pushing through the privatisation of the post office.

Serwotka proposes that trade unions should stand candidates.

Those who campaigned against the BNP in the elections know that when they said to people, “Don’t vote Nazi” they were often then asked who people should vote for.

The fact that there is no single, united left alternative to Labour means there was no clear answer available.

The European election results demonstrate that the left of Labour vote was small, fragmented and dispersed.

The Greens did not make significant gains either. The mass of Labour voters simply did not vote. We cannot afford a repeat of that.

The SWP is all too aware of the differences and difficulties involved in constructing such an alternative.

We do not believe we have all the answers or a perfect prescription for a left wing alternative.

But we do believe we have to urgently start a debate and begin planning to come together to offer such an alternative at the next election, with the awareness that Gordon Brown might not survive his full term.

One simple step would be to convene a conference of all those committed to presenting candidates representing working class interests at the next election.

The SWP is prepared to help initiate such a gathering and to commit its forces to such a project.

We look forward to your response.

Yours fraternally.

Socialist Workers Party

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The following should be read alongside this article:

» Time to fight back together

For more information or to show your support email openletter@swp.org.uk

See also:

Open Letter to the left responses: How we can join together

What Would A Socialist Alternative To Capitalism Look Like?

What would a socialist alternative to capitalism be like?

The following documentary on the social change taking place in Venezuela gives us an insight into the type of changes that would follow if a socialist government were ever to be elected.

Venezuelan News Round Up

Chavez: Venezuela progressing towards food independence

CARACAS, June 14 (Xinhua) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday that the government has set targets for exporting food to neighbor countries and is progressing towards food independence.

During his weekly radio and television broadcast “Alo Presidente,” Chavez said Venezuela’s cattle herd now topped 12 million heads and is estimated to rise to 14 million by 2012.

Chavez hosted Sunday’s show from the La Bandera farm in southwestern state Tachira, a model socialist dairy farm set up on land seized from drug traffickers.

The Venezuelan government has seized 50 farms from traffickers, equivalent to 12,000 hectares suitable for livestock.

La Bandera now has 1,985 heads of cattle, up from 1,300 18 months ago; and produces 38 percent more milk, the Venezuelan president said.

Source: http://www.chinaview.cn

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Venezuela takes on Tetra Pak

Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez has threatened to ignore international patents and manufacture Tetra Paks to help reduce the need for imports.

Chávez told the audience of his weekly Aló Presidente show that patents were “universal knowledge” and Venezuela had the materials to produce the cartons itself. “We don’t have to be subject to capitalist laws,” he said.

Importing Tetra Pak materials is said to have cost the South American country $63m (£38.5m) in May alone. Tetra Pak was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

Chávez targeted overseas packaging in March when he seized 1,500 hectares of eucalyptus forest belonging to Irish packaging giant Smurfit Kappa that he said should be destined for food rather than cardboard.

In yesterday’s broadcast, Chávez said the government would have to seize packaging firms that did not deal with national food companies, although did not provide further information.

Aló Presidente is now in its tenth year and runs on Sundays on state TV. It starts at 11am and has been known to run for five hours.

The segment of the show on Tetra Pak and patents can be viewed in Spanish via the YouTube website by clicking here.

Source: http://www.packagingnews.co.uk/RSS/News/913111/Venezuela-takes-Tetra-Pak/

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Wrong type of passenger prompts Venezuela to redirect metro line

Plan for two stations in Caracas put on hold because it would have benefited ‘oligarchs’

Venezuela has redirected a new metro line away from a chic part of Caracas, one of Latin America’s most congested capitals, because it would have benefited “oligarchs”.

Authorities cancelled plans for two metro stations at Las Mercedes, a district of malls and restaurants, because it would serve the wrong type of passenger in a country undergoing a socialist revolution.

“That is a line which benefits the oligarchy,” said Claudio Farias, president of the state-owned company Metro Caracas. “We are redesigning it because we think this line makes no sense. Everybody goes to restaurants in Las Mercedes in their cars.”

Under redesigned plans five stations will be dropped from line five, which is intended to carry about 300,000 passengers daily from the central Zona Rental to low-income areas in the south-east.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/15/venezuela-metro-redirected

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Venezuela Orders End to Coca-Cola Zero Production

On Wednesday the Venezuelan Ministry for Health ordered the Coca-Cola Company to remove its product Coca-Cola Zero from sale for containing a cancerous ingredient, sodium cyclamate, an ingredient not included in the US version of the drink.

Jesus Mantilla, the health minister, said, “The product should stop circulating in order to protect the health of Venezuelans.” He said the product contains sodium cyclamate, which in large amounts can be harmful, and then announced that the product should be recalled, destroyed, and not produced anymore.

Divis Antunez, director of sanitary control for the Health Ministry, said the ingredient wasn’t in the company’s application that it made in 2007 and that was approved by the Ministry. Later, in a random test conducted by the National Institute for Hygiene Rafael Rangel, sodium cyclamate was found and the Health Ministry started a legal process for non-compliance with the Health Registry.

Antunez said that the recommended amount of sodium cyclamate for human consumption is 11 mg per kilo, whereas the new Coca-Cola Zero has 18-22mg per 10 mils, exceeding the amount approved by the Venezuelan Commission of Industrial Norms (COVENIN).

Yesterday Coca-Cola said in a press release, “The Coca-Cola Company and its bottler Coca-Cola Femsa Venezuela responsibly declare that Coca-Cola Zero doesn’t contain any ingredient that could be harmful to the health.” However, Coca-Cola said that until the government concludes its administrative proceedings it will suspend production in Venezuela and recall the drink.

Coca-Cola Zero is a drink without any calories (or an amount small enough to be rounded down to zero) and is marketed to young males who are self conscious of their weight but see Diet Coke as being for women. The diet and zero versions in the US, England, and Canada both contain non-calorie sweeteners aspartame (E951) and acesulfame K (E950), but in slightly different proportions and they therefore have slightly different tastes.

However the versions produced in Venezuela (as well as in Chile and some other Central American countries) have sodium cyclamate (E952) in larger proportions than aspartame. Whilst aspartame is cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), sodium cyclamate has been prohibited since 1969 when it was proved to cause cancerous tumours and congenital malformations.

Sodium cyclamate, when combined with other chemicals, has the capacity to sweeten up to 600 times more than sugar. According to Aporrea.org, it is also much cheaper than aspartame at $10/kilo compared to $152/kilo for aspartame.

In Mexico in August 2007, El Universal-Mexico reported that Coca-Cola was also putting sodium cyclamate in the coca-cola zero drink there. The article said that the drink contained 25mg of the ingredient for every 100g in a can of 355ml. Pro-U.S president Vicente Fox authorized the ingredient for the government’s list of permitted food additives in July 2006.

In February 2008 Mexican feminist news Cimanoticias reported that consumers had “triumphed” and that the ingredient had been removed from the drink.

Source: http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4516

What Would Socialist Democracy Look Like?

by Ian Birchall

Most politicians and journalists talk as though the only possible sort of democracy is parliament, so all we can do is patch up a decrepit system. The history of the socialist movement shows that there is a different tradition of democracy. Continue reading

Is It Time To Turn Our Backs On Capitalism and Give Socialism A Chance?

Capitalism is greed.

Capitalism is theft.

Capitalism is alienation and anti-sociality.

Capitalism is authoritarian.

Capitalism isn’t working.

Capitalism is violent.

Capitalism is unsustainable.

Capitalism is destroying us.

It is not a success. It is not intelligent, it is not beautiful, it is not just, it is not virtuous — and it doesn’t deliver the goods. In short, we dislike it, and we are beginning to despise it. But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are extremely perplexed. What do we want instead?

It is time to take the power back? To do this we need a system where the workers are in control and the means of production are owned by the workers not by a rich minority of capitalists…

In a socialist society the means of production [1] are owned by the workers rather than by a rich minority of capitalists or functionaries. Such a system of ownership is both collective and individual in nature.

It is collective because society can control production unlike the economic anarchy of capitalism and because production is for the common good rather than for individual profit.

At the same time it is individual because workers are no longer a ‘collective’ mob of alienated non-owners employed by a minority of owners. Work becomes a free and self-affirming activity for each worker and they receive the full fruits of their labor. The capitalists and their servants no longer control production nor grow rich from other’s toil. Everybody is an owner. Socialism is genuine free enterprise.

The personally empowering and cooperative nature of socialist ownership underpins similar changes in other aspects of life. Socialism means far healthier individuals and human relationships. It means full participation by each individual in the intellectual, cultural and political life of society.

Socialism requires a revolution with three main stages: firstly the emergence of a workers’ movement committed to socialist revolution, secondly the achievement of political power and the expropriation of the capitalists and thirdly a period during which workers learn how to be owners and rulers and cast off the psychological and ideological dross of the past.

Socialism will not be an utopia simply created in people’s minds. It will be the product of economic and social development. In developed countries it is now possible for everyone to live a reasonably affluent life and be free of long hours of routine toil. This creates a better basis for cooperation and mutual regard. Historically, where equality would have meant shared poverty, it was inevitable that a minority would plunder, enslave and exploit the majority. At the same time rank and file workers are progressively acquiring through their experiences, the abilities to do without an elite. Their general level of education and training has advanced significantly over the last couple of generations. The work they do, while still totally oppressive, has an increasingly mental and conceptual content. And they now have extensive access to cultural and intellectual resources and the diverse experiences of living in a modern society. So while socialism was impossible in the past, these emerging conditions make it inevitable in the future.

Footnote [1]. The means of production comprise everything, except labor, that is used in production, namely, factories, plant, equipment, offices, shops, raw materials, fuel and components.

It is time for the public to wake up. Time to open our eyes. The expenses scandal. The killing of Ian Tomlinson. Heavy handed police aggression during recent legitimate protests. The banking crisis. The Credit Crunch. The huge debts that have been put on future generations shoulders.

Enough is enough.

It is time for real change and to put people first. The only system that will truly do this is socialism.

Find out more. Visit the Socialist Worker.

[VIDEO] Immortal Technique On Bolivarian Revolution

Immortal Technique comments on the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, Socialism and other subjects. This interview was made by activists from the Hands of Venezuela campaign in Copenhagen, Denmark.

See also Immortal Technique

Source: Hands Off Venezuela Denmark

Venezuela Prioritises Cultural Revolution

A queue of children wait to exchange their toy guns for non-weapon-like toys as part of a government project to reduce violence in the area, in the Petare district of Caracas, Venezuela, August 20, 2008.

Caracas, Aug 21 (Prensa Latina) Aware of the transforming role of culture in society, the Venezuelan government is carrying out a revolution in that sphere in all states of the country. Continue reading

Which Way Venezuela?

By Michael Albert

The diverse factual reports and other data included in this article are culled from documents made available by the Venezuelan Embassy in the U.S.

Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution is exciting and exemplary, yet few people know much about where Venezuela is headed.

Misrepresentations abound. Data is limited and people interpret it in quite contrary ways. Information deficit plus skewed interpretations cause many people who ought to support the Bolivarian Revolution to instead doubt or even reject it. Useful lessons from Venezuela go largely unreported and thus have less than their widest possible effect.

Overview

Hugo Chavez became President in 1999 and in that year, largely due to the ravages of neoliberal reforms in the 80s and 90s, the Venezuelan poverty rate had reached 50%. The aim and promise of Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution was to not only eliminate rampant, raging, poverty, but to attain a new economic and social system consistent with the highest standards of human fulfillment and development.

In the 1999 constitution, Article 299, for example, emphasizes “human development” as the cornerstone of social judgements and Article 70 states that the “involvement of people in the exercise of their social and economic affairs should be manifest through citizen service organs, self-management, co-management, cooperatives in all forms, community enterprises, as well as other kinds of associations guided by the values of mutual cooperation and solidarity.”

But, as many skeptics would point out, words are not deeds, and you can find nice words everywhere – including, say, in the constitutions of countries suffering dictatorship and economic and social injustice, as but one example, in the constitution and other literary organs of the the Soviet Union under Stalin.

Words matter some, but they become infinitely more important and reliable as evidence if there are deeds in their support and particularly if institutional relations breathe life into the words every day.

So what about deeds? Continue reading

Socialism in a nutshell

In a socialist society the means of production [1] are owned by the workers rather than by a rich minority of capitalists or functionaries. Such a system of ownership is both collective and individual in nature. Continue reading