Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/358/5898
CWI European school 2004
Building A Party Of World Socialism
THE CRISIS in the world economy, the imperialist war and occupation of Iraq, the political upheavals in Latin America, the bosses' neo-liberal offensive against workers jobs and conditions...
This was the political situation discussed by 350 members of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI) who gathered for a week long school in Belgium last week.
The European summer school (which celebrated the 30th anniversary of the founding of the CWI) was the best attended for more than a decade. It brought together members not only from western Europe but also from the Czech republic, Russia, Kazakhstan and, significantly, a new group of the CWI from Poland.
In addition, the school benefited from the attendance of CWI members from even further afield - Brazil, Pakistan, Israel, the USA, and Malaysia - as well as comrade Yasmin from a socialist group in Venezuela.
And despite the travel and accommodation costs involved, the financial appeal to build the CWI raised over ¢16,500, with the Belgium comrades (who, along with the Greek section, have doubled their membership in the last two years) donating one-third of the total. And over ¢3,000-worth of books were sold on the main bookstall.
Building the CWI
The intense discussions from the plenary sessions and the two days' of commissions culminated in the final session on building the CWI and its sections.
The main report by Clare Doyle followed by the various sections' reports and the summing-up from Simon Kaplan were inspiring. Despite our numerically small forces compared to the task of the socialist transforming of the world, already in some arenas of struggle we are acting as an important lever for change.
The meeting also passed resolutions supporting the struggles of the Israel dockers against privatisation by Sharon's government and support for the leaders of a landless peasant movement jailed in Pakistan.
The irrepressibly enthusiastic Belgian comrades, who must be congratulated for their superb organisation of the event, ended proceedings by leading the singing of the Internationale and Bandiera Rossa.
Make sure your Socialist Party branch gets a report back. Contact your regional secretary or the national office for speakers.
Wars And Economic Chaos
LYNN WALSH introduced the plenary session on "Imperialist relations, the Iraq crisis and the class struggle and the USA" - no mean feat in only 60 minutes! However, the day-long discussion - summed up by Robert Bechert - and the commissions which followed, led to a thorough debate and a clarification of the main processes shaping world relations.
Starting with Iraq, Lynn explained how the war and occupation has turned into a political quagmire for US imperialism - and in some aspects, even worse than it experienced in the Vietnam war.
The fake handover of power on 28 June to former CIA stooge Iyad Allawi has not stopped the growing armed resistance against the occupation nor the development of a strong Iraqi nationalist movement.
The CWI defends the right to resist imperialism but warns of the danger of right-wing political Islamists taking power. A clerical dictatorship resting on capitalism, like Iran, would be a disaster. And despite the current weakness of working-class forces to change society, socialism nonetheless is the only viable alternative for Iraq and the Middle East.
In "the belly of the beast" (the USA) the Iraq war, tax cuts for the rich and the 'job-loss recovery' are fuelling working-class anger. Bush's popularity has slumped and anti-war activists and trade unionists are to picket the heavily policed forthcoming Republican Party national convention in New York. The Longshoremen (dockers' union) are calling for a "one million workers' march" in the capital, Washington DC.
But the millionaire Democrat challenger John Kerry offers no real alternative and instead, he could even intensify the occupation of Iraq.
Socialist Alternative (CWI, USA) has been actively assisting the presidential campaign of left-populist Ralph Nader. Although not a socialist, Nader puts forward a progressive anti-corporate, pro-worker agenda. Socialist Alternative recently organised a large support rally of over 800 people in Boston where it had two speakers on the platform.
The fragility of capitalism worldwide has resulted in a decline in the living standards of hundreds of millions of people. Only the US economy, driven by an unsustainable consumer and credit boom, has prevented a slump in the world but this cannot be maintained in the medium term, let alone the long-term. And given the economic interdependence between the US and China, even the latter's economic boom will not prevent a looming meltdown.
In Europe, the crisis in the bosses' profit system has resulted in a 'neo-liberal' offensive against working class jobs and living standards.
This has provoked an upsurge in class conflict and were it not for the baleful role of the leaders of the workers' organisations, Europe's ruling classes would be facing a struggle for survival.
The failure of traditional workers' organisations and social democracy has led to political disillusionment. Dangerously, this has been exploited by far right racist and nationalist parties.
But it has created the possibilities for developing new left-wing political formations, a process now unfolding in Germany. However, in France an opportunity to create a new workers' party based on the continuing struggles of workers - most recently against the privatisation of the energy utilities - has been squandered by the so-called Trotskyist parties, LO and LCR. In Britain the 'awkward squad' of trade union leaders continue to cling to the political corpse of New Labour despite the expulsion of the railworkers' union and the exiting of the firefighters' union.
Revolution And Counter-Revolution
THE SECOND plenary session was on Latin America a continent which, as the main speakers Peter Taaffe and Tony Saunois explained, is being convulsed by social and political turmoil because of the failure of capitalism.
There is hardly a stable country from the Rio Grande in the north to Tierra del Fuego in the south.
Neo-liberal policies of privatisation and social cuts have reduced the continent's previously prosperous economies to imperialist dominated, class-divided, poverty-stricken countries. But this has provoked big social movements of the workers and peasants. In the Andean countries the fightback has achieved insurrectionary proportions with a series of general strikes.
In Brazil, as comrades Marcus and Miguel explained, the pressing social crisis - where 130,000 people applied for just 1,500 refuse workers jobs! - has quickly evaporated support for president Lula.
His Workers' Party's capitulation to imperialism together with the impasse of capitalism, has given rise to a new left-wing formation - the party of socialism and Justice (PSOL).
The forces of the CWI are playing a major role in building PSOL while arguing for their Marxist programme.
In Venezuela the class struggle is at its sharpest, with features of revolution and counter-revolution. The country's populist president, Hugo Chavez, is balancing between the pressure of the poor masses demanding social reform and a counter offensive by the ruling class and imperialism.
As comrade Yasmin from Venezuela explained, the social forces radicalised by Chavez's populism are seen as a threat by the oligarchy and US imperialism.
But the existing stalemate between the main classes cannot last. A new phase of struggle is beginning over a referendum campaign to oust Chavez. The task of the CWI is to assist those revolutionary workers in taking struggle forward and a need for a socialist programme for the revolution.
In The Socialist 7 August 2004:
Socialist Party news and analysis