CWI rally in Berlin. Photo: Scott Jones
CWI rally in Berlin. Photo: Scott Jones

Scott Jones

Internationalism in the 21st century and why only the working class can defeat the capitalist system and its wars, exploitation and other horrors, was the theme of a public rally hosted by the Committee for a Workers’ International in Berlin on 31 July.

Opening the rally, Sascha Staničić, Sol (CWI Germany) spokesperson, pointed out that the “working class has not disappeared and when we stand together we are strong.”

This was a thread that ran throughout the rally, as speaker after speaker described the historic strike waves sweeping across Britain, France and Germany. Anja Voigt, a Berlin nurse and one of the organisers of a 30-day strike for more staff in 2022, said: “The strike is one of the most successful struggles of working-class people in Germany. It was started by five colleagues sat at a kitchen table, but from there we went to all hospital departments and elected strike delegates, and built from there.”

Ending her rousing speech, Anja told the hundreds in attendance: “The conclusion is you have to fight.” And workers and young people are fighting all over the world.

Leila Messaoudi, a socialist councillor from France, and a member of Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI), described the explosive events there where mass strikes have taken place against the government, and a huge youth revolt has erupted against police repression and austerity.

Prasad Welikumbura, a socialist activist from the USP in Sri Lanka (CWI), thrilled the attendees with his eyewitness account of the revolutionary movement that overthrew “the most powerful president we’ve ever seen” in Rajapaksa when a million people descended on the capital, confronting armed guards and barricades, sweeping them aside to storm the presidential palace.

In other fields too, the working class has challenged the system. Rouzbeh Taheri, a Berlin tenant activist, told the rally about the campaign for the expropriation of housing companies which won a referendum. However, the fight is now on to force the Berlin city government to implement the result of the referendum.

But it was the strike wave that the rally returned to again and again.

Another Berlin activist, Chiara Stenger, from Jugend für Sozialismus (Youth for Socialism), said: “Crisis is part of our everyday lives”. As a research assistant at a university, Chiara said she was looking forward to going on strike for the first time in the Autumn, and described how students will taking action alongside them.

Hannah Sell, the general secretary of the Socialist Party in England and Wales, described the strike wave in Britain: “Working-class power seemed more distant than ever, but that is changing, and the working class is back. We’ve had the highest level of strikes for decades. Most of those striking have never done so before but by winning higher offers than initially offered, they have shown that striking works, and they are supported by the majority watching on.”

“The working class is the force capable of ending all the horrors of capitalism,” as Hannah said. But she also pointed out that the workers’ movement needs to step into the political arena. And this was the other key theme of the rally.

Leila described how “the battle for a workers’ party is the main question” for the movement in France. Prasad explained the need for a leadership of the movement in Sri Lanka. And Hannah reported on our call for a workers’ list in the upcoming general election in Britain. The rally also heard video message by Ferat Koçak, a member of the city parliament for Die Linke (Left Party) in Berlin. He explained how he is using the platform to support workers’ struggles.

The central and crucial role that the Committee for a Workers’ International can and will play in these events shone through, and the battle for socialism is more important than ever. Tony Saunois, secretary of the Committee for a Workers’ International, closed the rally laying bare the situation: “Unparalleled inequality and war.” Tony explained how an independent class position is vital on these issues, particularly war. As Hannah said: “We fight for every step forward for our class but know that we have to overthrow the rotten capitalist system and fight for socialism.”

And we want to build our forces to do that. Prasad ended his contribution by saying: “Join the CWI and let’s fight this battle together.”