[06/04/09] MST Informa #166: The MST Review has reached 50 editions!

Dear Friends of the MST,

Including the 2009 May/June bimonthly, the Sem Terra Review has published 50 editions. For this reason, we would like to thank each and every reader for their support of the MST. This publication is an achievement, not only in the struggle for agrarian reform and for rural landless workers, but for the working class. For over 12 years we have challenged society to become aware of our struggles and successes. Each of these 50 editions are a confrontation with our country's monopoly control of information.

The MST today has two periodicals committed to democratizing communication, presenting voices not accustomed to speak in the “conventional” media, and publishing news and issues from a perspective that deviates from the way of thinking imposed by the communication media of the business elite. The Sem Terra Journal (JST) is a monthly publication that has been in circulation for 27 years, beginning before the official foundation of the MST, and the Sem Terra Review (RST), a bimonthly publication, has been in existence for 12 years.

These Sem Terra publications are instruments with the goal of establishing dialogue not only with readers within the Landless Movement, but also outside supporters who seek information on questions concerned with the struggle for land and agrarian reform. These publications also highlight news on the achievements of organized workers, omitted by the press, such as those dealing with land, alternative viable forms of production, cooperation, education and health, among others.

In order for society to defend agrarian reform and support mobilizations and actions against the existence and perpetuation of a concentrated land ownership system that benefits the few, it is essential that citizens in the cities understand the problems of this system and join together with those that live in the country in the search for just and legitimate solutions. In this respect, these MST publications are effective instruments that reach professors, government representatives, leaders, professionals, urban unions, churches, non-governmental organizations, political parties, international supports and others.

Only ideas for the construction of a socialist society give us the force to overcome the difficulties we face in continuing and securing the struggle. Long live the 50 editions of the Sem Terra Review! Long live the struggle for land!

Join this struggle. Get a subscription. Yearly R$ 50 (6 editions), bi yearly R$ 80 (12 editions). Subscribe also to the Sem Terra Journal for R$25 (12 editions) or R$45 (24 editions). Or subscribe to both publications and get a discount: yearly R$ 73 or biyearly R$ 123. For more information, you can access the Review at www.mst.org.br, call 0xx11-21310840 or send an email to assinaturas@mst.org.br

In this edition, we present an exclusive interview with the historian, Eric Hobsbawm. Below is an excerpt from this interview.

Happy Reading,

-National Secretariat of the MST.

Hobsbawm: The Era of Uncertainties In this exclusive interview with Sem Terra Review, historian Eric Hobsbawm presents his evaluation of the origins, effects, and unfolding of the world crisis. Given how its magnitude has impacted the environment, climate, energy, food and lastly, economics, various academics, sociologists, economists, politicians and social leaders are trying to understand and explain its causes while analyzing and forecasting its consequences. Many have searched for answers and solutions only in the economic realm. Others have reached the conclusion that the crisis is at the level of our civilization, and that capitalism imploded due to its own excesses. Amidst these various interpretations, no one seems to have definitive answers that will prepare us for the future. Even Hobsbawm, one of the currently most famous Marxist historians, who is 92, the author of some of the most important works dealing with recent human history, such as “The Age of Revolution “(concerned with the period from 1789-1848), “The Age of Capital” (1848-1875), “The Age of Empire” (1875-1914) and “The Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century,” released in 1994, does not risk predictions on how the post-crisis world will be.

In this interview, given by email from Paris, Hobsbawm contributes to the debate. Certainly, if humanity does not change its way in order to live interdependently with the planet, bad omens are in store for us in the future. Skeptical while at the same time hopeful, he does not believe that a new world order will arise from the ashes of the crisis, yet believes that there still exist forces capable to propose new forms of organization with different cultural and social politics, like the MST.

Revista Sem Terra: The planet today is in a crisis that has shaken capitalism’s world structure, indiscriminately reaching individuals that are in no way responsible for its explosion, which is perhaps one of the more impressive “feats” of modern globalization. In your evaluation, what were the factors and mechanisms that brought about this situation?

Eric Hobsbawm: Over the last forty years, globalization, made viable by the extraordinary revolution in transportation and above all, communication, was combined with the political hegemony of neoliberal states, that favored an unrestricted global market for capital in its search for profit. In the financial sector, this occurred in an absolute way, which explains why the crisis of capitalist development happened there [The Neoliberal States]. Despite the fact that capitalism always-and by its nature- operates by means of a succession of expansions generated through crises, this last crisis was major and potentially threatening to the entire system, comparable to the Great Depression, that occurred after 1929, but that is blind to evaluating the reach of its impact. A bigger problem is the tendency for the rate of profit to fall, typical of capitalism, which has been particularly dramatic because financial investors, accustomed to enormous earnings from speculative investments during the era of economic growth, have sought to maintain their earnings at unsustainable levels, through making insecure and high risk investments. The clearest example is the sub-prime mortgage loans in the United States. An enormous debt, at least forty times larger than the actual economic base was thus created. The fate of all this was collapse.

Revista Sem Terra: As a response to the economic crisis, governments and financial institutions are working to save the banking and financial system, an option that has been considered to rescue the very system that caused the crisis in the first place. What should result from this movement?

Eric Hobsbawm: A functional credit system is essential for every developed country and the current crisis demonstrates that this is not possible if the banking system stops working. In a sense, the national measures that have been made to restructure the system are necessary. Yet what is needed also is a restructuring of the state, for example, by means of nationalizations, a “definancializing” of the system, and a restoration of a realistic relation between economic assets and liabilities. This can not be done simply by combining vast subsides for banks with future regulations that will be more restrictive. Anyway you look at it, the economic depression cannot be resolved via credit restructuring. What is necessary are concrete measures to generate employment and income for the population, on which depends, in the last instance, the prosperity of the global economy.