Welcome Links: The International Green Left Conference by Malik Miah
Welcome Links

Malik Miah reports on the International Green Left
Conference and the launching of a new international magazine
of socialist renewal.

     The International Green Left Conference, held in
Sydney, Australia, March 31-April 4, brought together a wide
range of activists and concerned individuals to discuss and
debate the ecological and social problems currently facing
the world. During the meeting, a new international
discussion journal, Links, a quarterly magazine for
socialist renewal, was launched.
     The highly successful conference grew out of an
initiative of the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) of
Australia, the main left formation in that country. Carl
Bloice, national co-chair of the Committees of
Correspondence, Mike Wyman, editor of CrossRoads' recent El
Salvador ­Presente! issue, Peter Camejo, a member of
Committees of Correspondence national executive and the
board of the Environmental Federation of America, and I were
among over 800 participants from all over Australia and
around the world.
     Panels, workshops and plenary sessions explored new
approaches to increasingly complex challenges. Major themes
included socialism, feminism, environmental politics, labor
struggles and international solidarity.
     International guests spoke of political developments in
their countries and how they are organizing in new parties
and formations. Jeanette Fitzsimons, Green Party member and
deputy co-leader of the New Zealand Alliance, described the
Alliance's improved electoral chances under the new, more
democratic, proportional representation system in that
     Black activist, feminist and alternate senator for the
Workers Party (PT), Dulce Maria Pereira, described the
history and development of the PT, and discussed the
potential for an electoral victory in Brazil's presidential
election later this year.
     Hassan, from the People's Committee of Indonesia,
outlined the growing links between workers, peasants and
students in the democratic movement, despite the brutal
repression of the Suharto regime.
     Tony Carbado and Sonny Melencio from SANLAKAS and
MAKABAYAN, respectively, spoke of the new mass-based groups
that have broken away from the Maoist Communist Party of the
Philippines. (Carbado will be touring the U.S. this summer
to discuss the situation in the Philippines.) The debate of
the Philippines left is of interests to socialists and
progressives internationally. The issues include party
democracy, democratic centralism, the role of the trade
unions and mass organizations in a semi-colonial country,
and questions of strategy where democratic openings exist.
     Ideas for dealing with the international environmental
crisis were put forward by a diverse range of speakers. A
lively discussion occurred on the different paths towards
sustainable development and environmental justice. The
panel, "How can we build a sustainable society," was one of
the best attended and included Peter Camejo, Jeanette
Fitzsimons, Graham Mathews from the Australian Democratic
Socialist Party, and Dr. Nguyen Khac Kinh, deputy director
of Vietnam's National Environment Agency. The broad and open
views discussed highlighted the importance of linking green
and socialist perspectives in reaching common strategies and
     The conference's opening public meeting was addressed
by author Susan George. George is a researcher for the
Transnational Institute, a green think-tank in Amsterdam,
and a member of the international board of Greenpeace.
Speaking on the global economy and the concentration of
power and capital by transnational corporations, George
described the situation as a globalized system of apartheid.
She outlined the further impoverishment of poor nations
resulting from the structural adjustment programs imposed by
the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. George noted
that "the global market is rapidly becoming an excuse for
attempting to remove a great many of the gains of workers,
farmers and women."
     World Bank programs have also increased destruction of
the environment. "Although the market can do many things
extremely well," George said, "it is absolutely incapable of
telling us the costs of anything in either ecological or
social terms. To rely on the market in a globalized world is
     A highlight of the conference was the launching of
Links, a new international journal of socialist renewal and
discussion. Among the speakers at the kick-off dinner on
April 2 were Dulce Maria Pereira, Carl Bloice, Peter Camejo,
and Sonny Melencio.
     The magazine is aimed at promoting discussion and
greater understanding between the forces for socialism that
are actively involved in building parties and organizations.
     An exclusive interview with Sandinista leader and
former Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is the lead
article in the first issue. Also in the first issue are an
article on Russia's trade union movement by Renfrey Clarke
and prominent dissident (under both the previous and current
regimes) Boris Kagarlitsky; two articles on socialist
renewal in the Communist Party of the Philippines; a report
on left unity in South Africa; an article on left
regroupment in the U.S.; and an evaluation of current
politics in Australia. There are also two important
documents: one on the Brazilian Workers Party election
strategy and a call for left regroupment by the Committees
of Correspondence.
     In addition to the groups represented on the speaking
platform at the launch, the editorial board includes Jeremy
Cronin, a leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP)
and editor of The African Communist; Langa Zita from the
SACP and the South African metalworkers union; Dr. Francisco
Nemenzo from the Philippines; Baddegama Samitha from the New
Socialist Party of Sri Lanka; and leading members from the
New Zealand Alliance, the Sandinista National Liberation
Front (FSLN), the Farabundo MartĄ National Liberation Front
(FMLN) and the Fourth International.
     "The range of groups involved in Links is proof of a
new climate of collaboration in the international left,"
explained Links managing editor Peter Boyle. "This is a
project involving the left from the Communist Party, the
Trotskyist, Maoist, ex-Social Democratic, independent left
and liberation theology traditions. We all have in common a
desire for socialist renewal based on support for democracy,
feminism, ecological sustainability and internationalism."
     The magazine was initiated by the Democratic Socialist
Party of Australia but has become an international project.
As the introduction to the inaugural issue explains, Links
is a magazine for the post-Cold War left. It is not a
project for those who want to moan about the collapse of the
Stalinized regimes in eastern and central Europe or to drown
in demoralization.
     It is also not just another magazine for academics. It
is a magazine for those building parties and organizations
seeking to bring about fundamental change in their
countries. "The magazine," the opening statement explains,
"will not present a single line. It will be pluralist, open,
and very much a discussion forum. There will not be a
regular editorial, but there will be certain parameters.
Links will be developing and marking out the space for
genuine socialism."
     A meeting of the editorial committee and other
supporters occurred after the conference. It discussed
promotion and distribution, and the need to expand the
editorial body to include representatives of more groups as
well as to bring onto the editorial board more women
leaders. (See accompanying ad to subscribe.)
     The first project of  U.S. supporters of Links is to
help organize a tour for Tony Cabardo of the Philippines in
July and August. Cabardo is Vice-President for External
Affairs of SANLAKAS, a federation of mass organizations with
a membership of 250,000 in the Philippines' National Capital
Region. Affiliates of SANLAKAS come from organizations of
labor, urban poor, women, transport workers, youth and
students, consumers, municipal alliances for promotion of
people's welfare and protection of environment, and from
religious and non-governmental groups. Cabardo is one of the
convenors of the "Rollback Movement" (KRB), a broad
coalition which forced the Ramos government to rollback the
price increases it had announced in January of this year on
oil, electricity and transport. He is also a member of the
convenor group of the Asia Pacific Conference on East Timor
to be held in Manila in May-June.
     The aim of the tour is to allow Cabardo to meet with
activists in the Filipino community and U.S. progressives,
and to give forums to the America public on the socio-
political crisis of Philippine society and the activity of
the trade unions and mass organizations in response to that
crisis. Those interested in working on the tour should
contact Links at P.O. Box 8402, Berkeley, CA 94707 or call