Category Archives: Socialism

Abby Martin’s swan song: An insightful look at Cuba

Abby Martin’s final week at the helm of RT America’s Breaking the Set with an insightful look at Cuba, offering a rare, and comprehensive, look at the people and its political, economic, and agricultural systems.

In the face of overwhelming opposition and subversion from Washington, fueled by the Cuban exile dominance of the electoral votes of Florida, the small island nation 90 miles from U.S. shores, and the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union, its main base of support, Cuba faced enduring struggles, yet endured.

In the process, it has created revolutions in healthcare and agriculture, becoming the only nation in which cities provide most of their own food from intensive and organic neighborhood gardens and educating a cadre of physicians who have provided much, often most, of the total global response to medical emergencies around the world.

The outstanding examples set by Cuba in these fields have made a mockery of the enduring U.S. embargo against the island nation, leaving Israel Washington’s only ally in opposition to full normalization of relations.

In these three segments, Abby Martin demonstrates the skills she has honed during, first, her years as an unsalaried journalist at Berkeley Community Television, then during the three years at the helm of her RT America news magazine.

So sit back and enjoy a remarkable work of journalism.

From Breaking the Set:

Cuba Part I: Revolution, Sabotage & Un-Normal Relations

Program notes:

On this special episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin highlights BTS’ eight day trip to Havana, Cuba, starting with a historical look at the tensions between the US and Cuba that have led the two countries to the negotiating table to normalize relations. Abby then discusses the major areas of contention when it comes to these negotiations and where they currently stand. BTS producer, Cody Snell, then speaks with members of the largest delegation of peace activists to visit Cuba since the normalized relations announcement, highlighting the role of grassroots diplomacy. BTS than talks to average Cubans both in Havana and in Miami about their views on the state of US-Cuban relations. BTS wraps up the show with an interview with Kenia Serrano, a high ranking Cuban parliament member and President of The Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, about everything from internet access to the crackdown on free speech in the country.

Cuba Part II: Ebola Solidarity & Castro’s Daughter on Gay Rights

Program notes:

On this special episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin highlights part II of BTS’ eight day trip to Havana, Cuba, starting with an interview with Cuban doctor, Katiel Llorente Izabelez, who explains how Cuba has managed to maintain such a high life expectancy rate, despite the lack of access to up to date medical supplies. BTS producer, Cody Snell, then speaks with students at the Latin American School of Medicine, an international medical school set up by the Cuban government that provides free tuition to low income individuals that want to become doctors. Abby then discusses how Cuba managed to send the largest contingent of doctors to fight the ebola crisis in West Africa, and how this is just the latest example of the country’s medical internationalism. Abby then goes over the US programs meant to encourage Cuban doctors to defect and how this undermines international health efforts. BTS wraps up the show with an exclusive interview with Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President, Raul Castro, and director of Cuba’s sexual education program CENESEX, about the biggest challenges facing Cuba’s gay community.

Cuba Part III: The Evolution of Revolution

Program notes:

On this special episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin features the third installment of BTS’ trip to Cuba, focusing on reforms to the country’s economic and agricultural models. Abby first gives an overview of how Cuba’s organic movement evolved and the challenges of the country’s food subsidy system. Abby then speaks with agricultural co-op founder, Miguel Angel Salcines Lopez, about how Cuba’s cooperative and food system works. Abby then talks to Ernesto Blanco, owner of La Fontana restaurant in Havana, about the difficulties of operating a private business in Cuba and how entrepreneurs are being impacted by recent economic reforms. Abby then speaks with Ricardo Alarcón, Cuba’s former minister of foreign affairs and president of the People’s National Assembly of Power, about the normalization process with the US and the biggest hurdles still remaining in the negotiations.

Sen. Bernie Sanders at the Brookings Institution

The s only democratic socialist in the U.S. Congress, Sen. Bernie Sanders has also been the only voice consistently calling out for a toppling of the system of tax loopholes, international trade agreements, and financial deregulation which has looted the wealth of the nation and is systematically endeavoring to impoverish the elderly and weaken the working class.

In this address to the Brooking Institution, Sanders begins with the story of his own political rise, the systematically rips into the corruption which has enabled a handful of families to amass as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

Sanders has tapped into a vein of outrage which flows beneath the rotten surface of American politics, and his voice deserves to be heard.

And while we disagree with him on a number of issues, starting with Israel, we can see no other figure on the political horizon who is so relentlessly on target, including Elizabeth Warren.

He’s worth a listen.

From his YouTube channel:

Sen. Bernie Sanders at The Brookings Institution

Greece: A make-or-break election looms

More than any other nation in the European Monetary Union, Greece has been forced to sacrifice its citizens on the altar of the euro, relentlessly cutting salaries and benefits while adding regressive consumption taxes to meet the demands of the Troika.

If the Greek government sinned, it did so at the encouragement and often direction of the north, as in the case of bribes from German corporations to land fat contracts that drove Greece deeper into debt.

Greeks developed a schizophrenic attitude towards Germany in particular, with the left demanding reparations for the Wehrmacht’s World War II looting and its massacres of Greek resistants and the far right, in the form of the Golden Dawn party. embracing the Nazi ethos, right down to the salute and fondness for such old standards as the Horst Wessel Song.

A new Greek coalition party, Syriza, rose as the corrupt social democrats of PASOK collapsed, and has regularly run a neck and neck race for first place in the hearts of voters with the New Democracy conservatives of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras — but Samaras’s party has always been able to form governing coalitions, leaving Syriza in opposition.

Now the government’s failure to name a new president has triggered another election just as Syriza has been consistently placing first in public opinion polls.

But Syriza can’t form a government until it can establish a governing coalition, and today comes news that one of Syriza’s partners has decided to seek elsewhere for an alliance.

From To Vima:

SYRIZA-Democratic Left alliance comes to an abrupt end

  • DIMAR’s executive committee and parliamentary group decided to seek out alternative alliances

The alliance between SYRIZA and the Democratic Left has come to an abrupt end, after the two parties were unable to overcome a deadlock that emerged during their negotiations.

The Democratic Left’s executive committee and parliamentary group convened on Wednesday morning and decided to suspend talks with SYRIZA, while examining alliances with environmental movements.

Further decisions and developments regarding DIMAR’s strategy and tactics in the upcoming electoral battle are expected after the party conference over the weekend.

Their departure probably doesn’t mean much, though. A poll earlier this week found that DIMAR only attracted one percent of prospective voters.

And with that by way of a preface, here’s an analysis of the forces at play from economist Richard D. Wolff [previously] in conversation with Thom Hartmann on RT’s The Big Picture:

The War on Austerity in Greece is Raging

Program notes:

Dr. Richard Wolff, Economist/Democracy At Work joins Thom Hartmann. With new elections just weeks away – anti-austerity parties are poised to take over the Greek government. Could this mark a turning point in Europe’s slow lurch towards economic depression?

Michael Hudson dissects the European vote

And he gets right to the heart of it in this Anon Waronczuk interview for The Real News Network.

The most dramatic results of the European parliamentary elections consisted of the repudiation of the the austerian policies imposed by the neoliberalist of Brussels and national governments — including those dominated by socialist-in-name only parties.

Votes for outsiders and massive refusal to vote were the chief characteristics of the election, says University of Missouri-Kansas City economist Michael Hudson [previously], who notes that Europeans have abandoned “socialist parties” because they have swap their nominal socialism for the austerian imperatives pushed by corporateers and banksters.

We doubt you’ll find a better analysis of the elections anywhere else.

From The Real News Network:

Voters Reject Traditional Left Parties In EU Parliament Elections

Note: There’s no transcript posted yet, but when there is, we’ll update with the link.

Video report: Chinese ‘reforms’ as neoliberal looting

In an interview with Paul Jay of The Real News Network, Minqi Li, assocate professor of economics at University of Utah, rases most of the points we’ve been raising about the just-announced Chinese reforms, namely that they are manifestations of a neoliberal economic structure designed by and for the benefit of the rich.

Chinese Reforms Make Rich Even Richer

From the transcript:

LI: And there is nothing in the decision that would suggest the Party cares very much about a possible income redistribution that is in the favor of labor. Instead, it appears most of the decisions are targeted towards raising the income for the capitalist. And so that would be against the possible macroeconomic and the social rebalancing of the Chinese economy.

JAY: By reducing the role of the state, and particularly in the banking sector, they seem to be going more and more to essentially and actually an American model of capitalism, which is not some great success here.

LI: Yes. And one of the surprising thing is that there’s no reflection of the failure of global neoliberalism in this Party decision at all.

And, of course, in one of the decision, it does say it’s going to raise the dividend payment by the state-owned enterprise to the government, which is supposed to be used for social welfare. But that is actually going to be quite insignificant. The overall Chinese economy right now is between 50 trillion to 60 trillion yuan. And then the total before-tax profits from the state-owned sector right now is only about 1 trillion yuan. So it’s only about 2 percent of China’s GDP. And then the state-owned enterprises already pay about one-third income tax on their profits. So if you just take about 30 percent from the after-tax profits, that may be just 0.5 percent of China’s overall GDP. So that’s not going to really increase the social welfare a lot.

Quote of the day: Asking the right questions

From economist Richard D. Wolff, writing in The Guardian:

Capitalists know their system is unstable. They have never yet prevented recurring crises. They rely instead on policies to “manage” them. The two-step hustle – borrowing for stimulus and bailouts and then austerity – usually does the job. Keynesians promote the borrowing and then seem surprised, even outraged, when austerity follows.

Corporations and the rich should not have escaped taxation in the first place because they helped to cause the crisis; they enriched themselves the most in the decades before the crisis; and they can best afford to pay to overcome the crisis. Had they been taxed to pay for stimulus and bailout, no need would have arisen for borrowing or austerity.

Taxing corporations and the rich would have consequences too, but they would generate far fewer social costs and fall mostly on those best able to cope with them.

But any organized opposition strong enough to make corporations and the rich pay for capitalism’s crises would likely also question capitalism itself. Emerging from nearly six years of crisis, the question “can’t we do better than capitalism?” pushes forward, demanding discussion, debate, and democratic decision.

Read the rest.

Chart of the day: GOP cold shoulders Canada

Should Canada and the U.S. merge.? Democrats say yep, but not the GOP. Probably that socialized medicine, eh? Although like a certain conservative Canadian mayor, a lot of GOPers sound like they’ve been smokin’ crack. [But unlike the GOP, he mayor has apologized.]

From YouGov:

BLOG O Canada