Category Archives: Socialism

Russian communists win support as Putin party fades

“I am a Communist, a convinced Communist! For some that may be a fantasy. But to me it is my main goal.”

-Mikhail Gorbachev New York Times 1989

“Those who hope that we shall move away from the socialist path will be greatly disappointed. Every part of our program of perestroika…is fully based on the principle of more socialism and more democracy.”

– Mikhail Gorbachev Perestroika – New Thinking for Our Country and the World 1988

“In October, 1917 we parted with the Old World, rejecting it once and for all. We are moving toward a New World, a world of Communism. We shall NEVER turn off that road.”

–  Mikhail Gorbachev at the Kremlin in Moscow, Nov. 2, 1987


Russian Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov and the image of Josef Stalin at a 2011 May Day parade. Associated Press

Reuters | Dec 4, 2011

By Alissa de Carbonnel

(Reuters) – Just 20 years ago, they seemed consigned to the dustbin of history. At Sunday’s parliamentary polls, Russia’s communists drew students, intellectuals, even some businessmen in forging an opposition to Vladimir Putin’s wounded United Russia party.

The Communist Party (CPRF) for most Russians evokes images of bemedaled war veterans and the elderly poor deprived of pensions and left behind in a “New Russia” of glitzy indulgence. Large swathes of society have appeared beyond the reach of the red flag and hammer and sickle.

Until Sunday.

Not that the Communist Party’s doubling of its vote to about 20 percent presages any imminent assault on power. The memories of repression in the old communist Soviet Union, the labor camps and the “Red Terror” are still too fresh for many. But vote they did, if perhaps with gritted teeth.

“With sadness I remember how I passionately vowed to my grandfather I would never vote for the Communists,” Yulia Serpikova, 27, a freelance location manager in the film industry, told Reuters. “It’s sad that with the ballot in hand I had to tick the box for them to vote against it all.”

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For many Russians disillusioned by rampant corruption and a widening gap between rich and poor, the communists represented the only credible opposition to Putin’s United Russia.

Through all the turmoil of the early 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed, the party retained a strong national organization based on regions and workplace.

With access to official media limited for the opposition, this has been a huge advantage.

“The Communists are the only real party out there,” said one Western banker in Moscow. “United Russia is a joke, Just Russia is a joke and the LDPR is a joke and many people know it. So they vote communist because they realize it is a real vote for the opposition and against United Russia.

“This is as ironic as you get.”

Russian Communists’ new young voters

ANGER AT THE RULING PARTY

United Russia was founded largely as a vehicle for Putin, whose authority suffered a blow with the party’s fall in support from 64 percent in 2007 around 50 percent, according to exit polls and early official results.

The nationalist LDPR is built around one man, the colorful and somewhat eccentric Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Other parties lack national structure.

“United Russia has angered everybody, so people are looking for an alternative,” said Alexander Kurov, 19, one of a long line of students in slippers and T-shirts queuing to vote inside the marble halls of Moscow’s mammoth Soviet-built state university dormitory.

“I don’t particularly like the communists but there is no one else (to vote for) and I don’t want my vote to be stolen,” Kurov, a student of physics, told Reuters.

At the Communist Party headquarters hung with portraits of Lenin and heavy gold-on-red velvet hammer-and-sickle banners, party leader Gennady Zyuganov complained of fraud and described the election as “theft on an especially grand scale”.

“Despite their efforts to break public opinion, the country has refused to support United Russia,” he said.

He said police had barred Communist monitors from several polling stations across the country, adding that “some ended up in hospital with broken bones”. Some ballot boxes, he said, had been stuffed with ballots before voting began.

In a bizarre flip, today’s communists have benefited from satire on Russia’s vibrant blogosphere comparing Putin’s party to the all powerful Communist Party of Soviet times.

One popular image shows Putin’s face aged and superimposed on a portrait of doddering Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, mocking the prime minister’s plan to return to the presidency in March for two possible terms until 2024.

Voters wary of United Russia said their decision was purely a matter of cold electoral arithmetic, backing the party most likely to cross a seven percent threshold and win enough seats to act as a counterweight to Putin’s party.

“I am voting against Putin, to weaken his party, so it makes sense to vote for a party that will make it in,” Sergei Yemilianov, 46, a mathematics professor, said.

Analyst Masha Lipman of the Moscow Carnegie Center described votes gained by the Communist Party as “similar to writing a four letter word on the ballot.”

“It’s a sign of defiance,” she told Reuters. “The government has turned this election into a farce and in response people are turning their electoral choice into a travesty.”

A NEW REALITY

Perceptions among some Russians that the nationalist LDPR party and Just Russia are in the Kremlin’s pocket and will vote with United Russia in parliament also helped the communists.

“We are losing votes to the Communist Party, who people think of as more of an opposition party because it doesn’t have a history of cooperation with the authorities like we sadly do,” Gennady Gudkov, a senior lawmaker with Just Russia, said.

Russia’s lower house is largely considered a rubber stamp body for the Kremlin, but if United Russia loses its majority experts say the new balance of power may see the return of some real political debate.

One communist lawmaker hailed the victory as “a new political reality” on Sunday evening.

“They are a different party than in Soviet times,” Anna, 21, a student of mechanics at the Moscow State University, said. “I have a lot of friends who are activists for the Communists Party. It’s become popular.”

Young Communist Party deputy Yuri Afonov, 34, told Reuters by telephone from Tambov that people were upset with the political order and many saw the Internet as the only place in which real opinions were voiced.

The Communist Party may be a long way from fundamentally changing its image. Its success may reflect disenchantment with Putin and his party far more than a new yen for communist order.

But one contributor to the Communist Party’s chat forum offered a new genre of ‘communist cool’ with a rap composition.

“Want to get back what they took from me

Free schooling ain’t no free lunch

Free medicine is my right, you see

What matters to you? Whose side you on?

Want to help your country

So it’s our choice and it’s our rap

So we go vote for the CPRF”

The Perestroika Deception – 2003 – 1 of 6

Hugo Chavez’s supporters shave heads in religious ferment


Dominican Republic citizens who have shaved their heads in a show of solidarity with Venezuelan President Chavez  Photo: REUTERS

Supporters of President Hugo Chavez shaved their heads in solidarity with their leader’s struggle against cancer.

Young men with close-cropped hair stood in the crowd as shouts of “Hallelujah!” and “Amen!”

Telegraph | Aug 24, 2011

Barbers shaved off the hair of several men and at least one woman while the crowd swayed to a religious song on Sunday as hundreds prayed and sang at a televised event.

Mr Chavez, bald from chemotherapy, smiled, clapped with the music and waved to the crowd.

Those attending included a group of six from the Dominican Republic who shaved their heads outside the Venezuelan Embassy in their country on Friday. Mr Chavez greeted the Dominicans with hugs, and stood arm-in-arm with them.

Pro-Chavez lawmaker Robert Serra said in a message on Twitter that “Venezuelan young people and priests cut their hair … in solidarity”.

Young men with close-cropped hair stood in the crowd as shouts of “Hallelujah!” and “Amen!” rose at the end of a song.

Leidy Jimenez, one of the Dominicans, told state television that their decision to shave their heads was “a gesture of love and of strength for the president.”

Mr Chavez blew a kiss to the crowd, and listened as a priest, a minister and others spoke. “Long live Hugo Chavez!,” one Dominican man told the crowd.

Mr Chavez praised the Christian group from the Dominican Republic in a newspaper column on Saturday, saying “may God bless you.” The Dominicans arrived in Venezuela on Saturday night to meet with the president.

Mr Chavez also said in his column that tests show his body has been responding well to chemotherapy. He said he was preparing for a “possible” new round of chemotherapy and that all of his hair has fallen out as a result of the treatment.

Mr Chavez returned from his latest round of chemotherapy in Cuba on Aug 13.

He underwent surgery in Cuba in June that removed a cancerous tumour from his pelvic region. He has not specified where the tumour was located. He has said the chemotherapy aims to ensure no malignant cells reappear.

Hugo Chavez compared to Hitler after vow to rule until 2031


Hugo Chavez (right) with Fidel Castro in Cuba during his treatment there last month Photo: AP

President Hugo Chavez has been compared to Adolf Hitler by political opponents after dismissing continuing questions about his health by pledging to rule Venezuela for another two decades.

Telegraph | Jul 26, 2011

By Robin Yapp, Sao Paulo

In an interview with the government-backed newspaper Correo del Orinoco, he said that stepping down from the presidency had never crossed his mind despite his ongoing battle to overcome cancer.

Mr Chavez, who has already been in power since 1999, spoke of his ambition to complete three decades in power and predicted that the 2020s would be a “golden decade” for his country.

“I have medical reasons, scientific reasons, human reasons, reasons of love, political reasons to stay at the front of the Government and with that my candidature becomes stronger than before,” he said. “I’m determined to get to 2031.”

But his comments are likely to increase concerns for Venezuelan democracy after his brother Adan Chavez, a provincial governor, said recently that a return to “armed struggle” should not be ruled out by supporters of the radical left-wing regime.

Milos Alcalay, a former Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations, told The Daily Telegraph: “It’s not the first time that he says the only successor to Hugo Chavez is Hugo Chavez.

“History shows that dicatators who think they are going to last forever will only end up in the cemetery as nobody can rule eternally.

“Chavez, Hitler or Mao would not nominate their successor. Hitler also had votes but he didn’t have legitimacy.”

Experts in Latin American politics have already warned that if questions over Mr Chavez’s ability to govern continue to linger, Venezuela could be plunged into a potentially volatile political crisis.

Under Venezuela’s current constitution, Mr Chavez would have to win three more elections in 2012, 2018 and 2024 in order to retain power for another 20 years through democratic means.

He insisted in the interview that he would stand down if there was a reason to but continues to confidently state that he is on the road to a full recovery despite refusing to even say which kind of cancer he was diagnosed with.

“Personally, I can say that I never thought for an instant of stepping down from the presidency,” said Mr Chavez. “If there were reasons to do so, I would; especially if there were physical or mental reasons, I would be the first to do so in a responsible manner.”

Mr Chavez returned to Venezuela on Saturday night after a week in Cuba where he underwent a first round of chemotherapy following surgery to remove a “baseball-sized” tumour last month.

He said that tests have found no “malignant cells” remaining in his body but acknowledged that he faces extensive further treatment to guard against a potential relapse.

Mr Chavez will turn 57 on Thursday and pledged to celebrate “with my people like never before” without giving further details for security reasons.

£1,000 fine if you’re slow bringing your emptied rubbish bins in


Threat: Householders must not leave their bins out or face a fine of £1,000

Daily Mail | Jul 19, 2011

By Steve Doughty

Householders have been threatened with £1,000 fines if they leave their wheelie bins out for too long.

The penalty would be the largest ever imposed on those who fail to remove their empty bins from the pavement after they have been emptied.

Letters warning of the £1,000  fine have been sent out in Bedford, where council chiefs say bins on the pavement are a hazard to blind people.

The local authority has issued its threat just a month after the  Government condemned such draconian punishments as ‘clearly disproportionate’. Ministers have promised a new law to strip councils of the right to levy large fines.

The Bedford fines are more than 12 times greater than the on-the-spot penalties routinely handed out to shoplifters.

The letters distributed among the 65,000 homes in the borough say that anyone who fails to take their bin back in within 24 hours of their rubbish collection will be liable for the fine. The threat provoked a furious response in the town.

Matthew Hipkin, 37, said: ‘It’s an absolute waste of council money and time to have people walking the streets checking if someone has put their bin away.

‘I understand the principle of keeping the streets clean but the council has put across its point in the wrong way. It is being way too heavy-handed.’

A father of two who did not want to be named added: ‘I’ve had these threatening letters when I left my bin out on the pavement because the binmen hadn’t turned up.

‘Other times I’ve had to walk ten doors away to pick up my bin because they’ve been left scattered in the road after collection. It’s a ridiculous waste of our council tax. Why don’t they just make sure the bins are collected on time?’

There was exasperation from national campaigners against council taxes and inefficiencies.

Christine Melsom, of the Is It Fair? group, said: ‘I suppose they have to try to make money somehow but this is nonsense.

‘This is taking bin fines far too far. In most parts of the country you find very few bins left out for long anyway.’

Bedford is run by elected Liberal Democrat Mayor Dave Hodgson, and the three major parties each have 12 elected councillors.

A spokesman for the authority said: ‘We’ve been working with Sight Concern Bedford and the Royal National Institute of Blind People to encourage households to put their wheelie bins away, to help make pavements safer for blind and partially sighted people.

‘Where we receive reports of households repeatedly leaving out bins which can cause problems to such people, the council will write to the households concerned and advise that this is an offence for which they may ultimately be fined.’

Some councils have threatened £1,000 fines as their ultimate sanction for people who fail to follow recycling rules and put the wrong material in the wrong bins.

A £1,000 fine is the largest possible under the 1990 Environmental Protection Act.

In the Government’s Waste Review last month – which failed to bring back weekly bin collections – ministers said punishments for erring householders should not be higher than fines for criminals.

The review said of £1,000 fines: ‘It cannot be right for this kind of threat to be hanging over householders.’

Chavez, like Castro, has his brother ready for the position of next President


Adán Chávez, left, the older brother of the ailing President Hugo Chávez, right, has stepped in to fill the void. Thomas Coex/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Adán Chávez, a physicist whose radical thinking has often been to the left of the president’s.

NY Times | Jun 28, 2011

By SIMON ROMERO

CARACAS, Venezuela — To the many comparisons that can been made between Venezuela and Cuba — two close allies, both infused with revolutionary zeal, driven by movements that revere their leaders — consider one more: the presidential brother, stepping in during a time of illness.

As President Hugo Chávez quietly recovers in Cuba after undergoing emergency surgery there more than two weeks ago, no government figure has occupied the political void created by his absence more assertively than his older brother, Adán Chávez, a physicist whose radical thinking has often been to the left of the president’s.

He serves a role similar to that of Raúl Castro, who took over as Cuba’s president after illness removed Fidel Castro from the political scene in 2006. And like Raúl Castro, while Adán Chávez may lack his brother’s charisma, he remains a loyalist who has assisted his brother throughout the consolidation of power.

A former Venezuelan ambassador to Cuba and long a member of Hugo Chávez’s inner circle of advisers, Adán Chávez has taken on the role of providing public updates on his brother’s convalescence, shuttling between Caracas and Havana in recent weeks. It was his disclosure last Wednesday that the president would not return to Venezuela for another 10 to 12 days that offered the most serious assessment yet of the president’s slow recovery.

Adán Chávez, 58, now governor of Barinas, a state of cattle ranches in western Venezuela that is a bastion of the Chávez family, has also led efforts to reassure and energize the president’s supporters as rumors swirl about his condition. Citing Che Guevara at a prayer meeting in Barinas over the weekend, he rallied the president’s followers and called on them to remember the armed struggle as a method of “applying and developing the revolutionary program.”

“It would be unforgivable to limit ourselves to only electoral or other methods of struggle,” said Adán Chávez, a former university professor involved in political activity long before his brother, who is less than two years his junior, formed a nationalist cell of young army officers in the late 1970s.

The prominence of Adán Chávez reflects his brother’s dominance of Venezuelan politics since he was first elected president in 1998. Over the years, Hugo Chávez has consistently winnowed other top advisers and potential rivals who rose from his own political movement. Some who remain, like Vice President Elías Jaua, a former director of land expropriations, exhibit total loyalty. (Last week, Mr. Jaua read verbatim on state television the handful of Twitter messages Hugo Chávez wrote to followers.)

Still, no one in the government, including Adán Chávez, has displayed the president’s visceral ability to connect with poor Venezuelans. That may not have mattered too much in Cuba, where the Communist Party holds unrivaled authority over the nation’s political system. But if Hugo Chávez is unable to quickly return to power in Venezuela, it remains to be seen how effectively his brother can hold off the spirited, if divided, opposition here and build support in a governing movement so centered around the president himself.

Adán Chávez did not respond to interview requests. But biographers of Hugo Chávez attribute the president’s political evolution, if not his bruising political style, in part to Adán’s influence and ties in the 1970s with guerrilla leaders like Douglas Bravo, who advocated using Venezuela’s petroleum reserves as a tool for radical change.

While Hugo Chávez grew close to Mr. Bravo and then broke with him, as he has done repeatedly with other mentors, the president still incorporated such thinking into his own ideology, using oil revenues as the driving force in his socialist-inspired revolution.

Now, Mr. Bravo, 79, who is a critic of what he describes as Venezuela’s new dependence on countries like China and Russia, said Adán Chávez was clearly “in the line of succession.” Referring to Adán’s statement about using arms to defend his brother’s revolution, Mr. Bravo noted that neither the vice president nor any other prominent pro-Chávez political leader had said anything so provocative.

“He must be receiving orientation from his brother to say such a thing, because I don’t think he would make such a declaration on his own,” said Mr. Bravo, who has known both men for decades.

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Canada’s “New Democrats” debate dropping tricky word “socialist” from their constitution


Jack Layton, the NDP leader speaks at the NDP convention in Vancouver on Sunday, June 19, 2011.

The preamble to the current constitution says social, economic and political progress is possible “only by the application of socialist principles” such as state control over the production and distribution of goods and services.

‘Socialist’ a tricky word at federal NDP convention

CTV.ca News | Jun 19, 2011

New Democrats have agreed to defer a vote on whether to drop the word “socialist” from its constitution, and rejected a resolution that would have banned a merger with the Liberals.

At the NDP’s 50th anniversary convention in Vancouver, the party was confronted with how to present itself as the new Official Opposition in Parliament, and how to close its 50-seat gap with the Conservatives.

The debate over the world “socialist” put the party in a tight spot between its core, pro-union supporters and the more centrist voters who fuelled its success in last month’s election.

“On one hand they want to retain their ties to labour, but on the other they’re looking for ways to expand the base, expand the appeal to include others who don’t support labour at all,” said CTV’s Richard Madan.

Proponents said the constitution, which was written half a century ago, needs to be “modernized.” Others said dropping the reference to socialism would separate the party from its roots.

The preamble to the current constitution says social, economic and political progress is possible “only by the application of socialist principles” such as state control over the production and distribution of goods and services.

Meanwhile, on the question of whether the NDP would ban a merger with the struggling Liberal party, members like Nova Scotia MP Peter Stoffer said it would be a “serious tactical mistake.”

He said if the NDP ever hopes to form a government, it will need Liberals to switch sides.

“We don’t get Liberals if we say, ‘Because you’re a Liberal, we no longer have talks with you,”‘ he told The Canadian Press.

World Bank: A New World Order emerging through global wealth redistribution

“In short, a new world order with a more diffused distribution of economic power is emerging–thus the shift toward multi- polarity.”

World Bank: A new world order emerging

freemalaysiatoday.com | May 19, 2011

MANILA:  Emerging economies in the Asia Pacific region would continue to post growth rates that would exceed those of the developed countries, making it possible for the world’s total production being equally divided among the rich and the emerging markets by 2025.

It was among the highlights of the latest report of the World Bank, entitled “Global Development Horizons 2011–Multi-polarity: The New Global Economy”, reports Yonhap news agency Thursday.

The report forecasted that emerging economies could grow by an average of 4.7 percent this year until 2025, while the industrialised nations are only projected to expand by an average of 2.3 percent. Because of this, the developing economies will eventually catch up with the rich nations in terms of contributions to global output, the report added.

“One of the most visible outcomes of this transformation is the rise of a number of dynamic emerging market countries to the helm of the global economy,” the World Bank said.

The World Bank noted that emerging markets now account for two- thirds of the world’s foreign exchange reserves–a reversal of the picture of the previous decade when industrialized countries owned the bulk of the reserves.

China has the biggest share of the global reserves among emerging markets at US$3 trillion.

“In short, a new world order with a more diffused distribution of economic power is emerging–thus the shift toward multi- polarity,” the World Bank report.

The rising role of emerging markets would eventually diminish the primacy of the US dollar in international trade and finance. Eventually, countries would keep almost equal shares of the US dollar, the euro and the renminbi in their foreign exchange reserves, the bank added.

“Over the next decade or so, China’s size and the rapid globalization of its corporations and banks will likely mean a more important role for the renminbi. The most likely global currency scenario in 2025 will be a multi-currency systm centered around the dollar, the euro, and the renminbi,” the report said.

After the worst global financial crisis, which peaked in 2009, industrialised nations like the United States and those in Europe have posted only moderate growths, some of them cannot even be sustained, according to some economic analysts.

The United States is battling with its growing debt. Some members of the European Union are also trying to cope with their debt woes.

On the other hand, emerging economies grew significantly last year and are expected this year to again outperform rich countries in terms of growth rates.

The report highlights the diversity of potential emerging economy growth poles, some of which have relied heavily on exports, such as China and South Korea, and others that put more weight on domestic consumption, such as Brazil and Mexico.

With the emergence of a substantial middle class in developing countries and demographic transitions underway in several major East Asian economies, stronger consumption trends are likely to prevail, which in turn can serve as a source of sustained global growth.

“In many big emerging economies, the growing role of domestic demand is already apparent and outsourcing is already under way.

This is important for the least developed countries, which are often reliant on foreign investors and external demand for their growth,” the bank said.

The Philippine government earlier said that the economy grew by 7.3 percent last year. But President Benigno Aquino III said last Wednesday that after all the data have been gathered by the Department of Finance, the country’s economy actually grew by 7.6 percent in 2010.