Saturday, December 31, 2005

Abramoff scandal

Today we feature a Washington Post article on the scandal surrounding political lobbyist Jack Abramoff, which centrally features his connections with former House majority leader Tom DeLay. It's a fascinating story, but the evidently unhappy Abramoff, pictured right, has reason to feel agrrieved. Where exactly does 'normal' lobbying by big business stop and corruption begin?
The whole system is corrupt, and shines a spotlight on the close interconnections bewteen American politicians and big business - indeed key figures in the present administration have moved seamlessly back and forth between them. The United States is the world's most perfected business state. But Europeans shouldn't feel smug. Recent events have revealed huge lobbying operations at the European parliament, particularly by big drug and chemical companies. And of course the public relations/lobbying industry has grown massively in the UK under the previous Tory and now Blair administrations. Only occasionally with major scandals is the world of bribes, free holidays and gifts, political favours and sordid deals - the lubricants of modern capitalist enterprise - revealed in public.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Cold Type postings

Today we've put up on Marxsite a couple of things from Cold Type, a site which publishes extracts from radical books as 'tasters'. First is a 54-page extract from Loretta Napoleoni's fascinating book 'Insurgent Iraq', which shows how the US created (or massively helped to create) the Al Zarqawi myth. Napoleoni (pictured right) is far from being a Marxist or socialist, but she explains in detail many of the realities of Iraqi resistance, and she must be one of the Bush administration's least favourite authors.
In addition is a shorter extract from Mike Davis's latest book 'Monster at the Door' - all about Avian Flu'. This has now been published in English by Verso. If Avian flu doesn't come to Western Europe or North America this winter, everyone will say that Mike is being typically alarmist. But even the British government's cautious scientific advisors say that sooner or later, probably in the next five years, Avian flu will arrive - with alarming rates of mortality as a result. Mike Davis is one of today's most consistently insightful Marxist authors, and as a result he has been a victim of savage attack and character assassination from the right. His writing is always worth reading. Check out Monster at the Door.
Tomorrow we'll post a series of articles about the election of Evo Morales as president of Bolivia - sent by one of the site's most loyal supporters, Ernest Tate in Toronto.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Latest postings

Today we've posted a link to an an interesting piece by Richard Drayton, a history don at Cambridge University, explaining the limitations of the US neocons' attempts to use surveillence and military muscle to dominate the world.
Although many people don't see it this way, there is growing evidence of unease - to put it mildly - among opinion formers in the different US political and business elites, not to mention the population more generally, at where the militarist turn and the disastrous Iraq adventure are leading the US. The cracks may appear small at the surface, but the debates are deepgoing and widespread when you look a little closer. It would be an illusion to imagine to imagine that the only way modern US capitalism can function is by following the Cheney-Rumsfeld way of doing things. When decisive sections of the US capitalist class and political elite decide that the game is not worth the candle, the Rumsfelds, Cheneys and Condoleeza Rices of this world can be put back in cold storage with some despatch.
Also worth a glance are some interesting new pieces on the documents page.

Francisco Presidente!!

Next month the people of Portugal elect a new president. Francisco Louca is the candidate of the Left Bloc, and his campaign team has created an excellent website - Francisco Presidente - which is linked to in the links list on the right. Even if you don't understand much Portuguese this site is interesting because of the videos of meetings and TV appearances which it contains. These give an impression of the broad range of people attending the Bloco campaign meetings and the kind of political thesemes addressed. Take a look.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Ernest Mandel site

Readers who have not yet done so should take the opportunity to visit the Ernest Mandel archive site, created on the 10th anniversary of his death by comrades in Belgium. The site (see link right) contains a growing number of Mandel's articles, documents and pamphlets, as well as biographical information and photographs.

New at International Viewpoint: Venezuela

International Viewpoint responds to the election of Evo Morales in Bolivia with a rash of articles and interviews which give the essential background to this dramatic turn of events - an unexpected win for Morales on the first ballot with 51% of the vote. IV's correspndent in Bolivia, Herve do Alto, has secured an interview with the new vice-president Alavaro Garcia Linera, who says with disarming frankness "The MAS (Evo Morales' party) is of the centre left", that socialism is "impossible" in Bolivia and that the goal of the MAS leadership is to create "Andean capitalism". See link to International Viewpoint at right. In above picture are Evo Morales (left) and Alvaro Garcia (right).

Also in the December issue of International Viewpoint is an interesting review by Daniel Bensaid of the contemporary relevance (or otherwise) of Trotsky's 1937 pamphlet "Stalinism and Bolshevism".