Venezuela, between reform and revolution

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By Steve Ellner, NACLA, April 17, 2014 — The violent anti-government protests that shook Venezuela in February have once again thrust the issue of the pace of change into the broader debate over socialist transformation. Radical Chavistas, reflecting the zeal of the movement’s rank and file, call for a deepening of the “revolutionary process,” while moderate Chavistas favor concessions to avoid an escalation of the violence. The same dilemma confronted the socialist government of Salvador Allende in the early 1970s, but under different political circumstances. Unlike in Chile, Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro have won nearly all national elections over a period of 15 years by absolute majorities. In addition, Chavistas, since the early years, have maintained firm control of the two most important institutions in the country: the armed forces and the state oil company PDVSA.

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Round table: Organizing against the point of no return

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April 16, Socialist Worker — Can we stop the tipping point? Every week seems to bring new and frightening evidence that what scientists call the “tipping point”–when greenhouse gas emissions cause irreversible and disastrous climate change–is fast approaching, if not already here. Yet the multinational energy giants in the U.S. and beyond, aided and abetted by political leaders, are continuing their mad drive to drill, mine and frack.

But the polluters and the politicians are facing growing discontent and a grassroots challenge to their policies from activism emerging in every corner of the U.S. and around the globe. Ahead of the upcoming Global Climate Convergence–10 days of action at the end of April between Earth Day on April 22 and May Day–SocialistWorker.org talked to some of the activists and writers involved in the environmental justice movement today–to ask about the tipping point and what we can do about it. Dr. Jill SteinChris Williams and Joel Kovel give their answers below.

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Noam Chomsky: liberation ecology

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By Javier Sethness, Truthout, April 15, 2014 – There can be little doubt about the centrality and severity of the environmental crisis in the present day. Driven by the mindless “grow-or-die” imperative of capitalism, humanity’s destruction of the biosphere has reached and even surpassed various critical thresholds, whether in terms of carbon emissions, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, freshwater depletion, or chemical pollution. Extreme weather events can be seen pummeling the globe, from the Philippines – devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in November of last year – to California, which is presently suffering from the worst drought in centuries. As Nafeez Ahmed has shown, a recently published study funded in part by NASA warns of impending civilizational collapse without radical changes to address social inequality and overconsumption. Truthout‘s own Dahr Jamail has written a number of critical pieces lately that have documented the profundity of the current trajectory toward anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) and global ecocide: In a telling metaphor, he likens the increasingly mad weather patterns brought about by ACD to an electrocardiogram of a “heart in defibrillation.” Continue reading

The Tax Dodgers; how our government goes to bat for big oil

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April 14, 2014 — Just ahead of tax day, April 15, Mother Jones has published a brief history of oil companies getting a pass from the Internal Revenue Service:

Over the past century, the federal government has pumped more than $470 billion into the oil and gas industry in the form of generous, never-expiring tax breaks. How it all got started. . . 

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Resisting climate debt, an operations manual

By Strike Debt, April 14, 2014 – Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. At their core, monetary debts are extremely narrow and simplified ways of representing what are often very complicated relationships between creditors and debtors. If we can zoom out from the simple calculation of money owed and look at the broader histories, human relationships, and power dynamics that lie behind a debt, it quickly becomes clear that there are countless ways to imagine who owes what to whom. Seen in this expanded context, a claim that repayment of a debt is morally just can begin to seem absurd. (And yet, despite the often-questionable moral legitimacy of their claims, the harsh truth is that it’s usually the ones with the most powers of economic coercion and brute force at their disposal that get to decide which debts are legitimate in the end.)

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