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Aside from the main rallies, Socialism 2004 comprises many other political sessions grouped into themed courses.
Among this year's courses is one with the broad theme of 'Marxism and Globalisation'.
MICHAEL CALDERBANK describes what the course will cover.
On all five continents, the living conditions of the working class and rural poor are coming under intense attack from the profit-driven capitalist system.
In the West, the neo-liberal agenda of cutbacks and privatisation is wreaking havoc on public services, whilst the job security of millions of workers is being undermined by the growth of casualised labour, 'outsourcing' and poverty pay.
In the session on "Workers' struggles in Europe" a German activist will speak about Gerhard Schroeder's savage programme of welfare 'reforms', and discuss how the fight-back is taking shape.
The impact of global capitalism is particularly severe in the neo-colonial world, where the World Bank and IMF dictate that impoverished countries open up their markets to huge profiteering multinationals, and impose programmes of sell-offs designed to enrich wealthy western shareholders.
This agenda is often carried out by corrupt local elites, which allow a tiny minority to benefit, whilst the vast majority of the population are forced to suffer. Hunger, disease and poverty continue to blight the lives of millions as huge profits continue to mount.
Nowhere is this obscene situation more evident than in Africa. Another session on this course will discuss the situation facing workers in Nigeria where ethnic and religious tensions are being used to spread division amongst oppressed layers in society and prevent a mass movement from challenging the interests of the rich. Despite this, an inspiring series of general strikes has rocked Nigerian society in recent months.
The last session on the course will focus on developments in Latin America, where new left populist leaders have been brought to power on the back of the intense anger of the dispossessed.
The session will assess the extent of the gains made under figures such as Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and ask what measures would be necessary to protect and extend what has been won from the dangers of counter-revolution.
Crucially, the course will discuss whether it is sufficient to try to reform capitalism to eliminate its worst excesses and if this will be enough to curb the bosses' thirst for profit. Can individual states liberate themselves through protectionist or isolationist measures?
Is it possible to fight for a socialist world, in which the economy is democratically owned and controlled by the working class? Can we build a lasting future without the miseries of capitalism?
In The Socialist 29 May 2004:
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