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THE Executive Committee of the CWI (Committee for a Workers' International - the international socialist organisation to which the Socialist Party is affiliated) recently met in Belgium. Representatives from 21 sections discussed world economic and political developments and the work of building the CWI in each country. EC member JUDY BEISHON gives some examples of how the CWI is growing.
Building The Forces Of International Socialism
CWI MEMBERS in the US, organised in Socialist Alternative, responded rapidly to the new situation following 11 September. A full statement on the terrorist attacks was printed and sold as a pamphlet. Public meetings were organised in eight cities.
In Seattle, San Francisco, Oberlin, Boston, New York, Minneapolis, Amherst and Chicago, CWI members helped with the formation of anti-war coalitions.
The New York branch of Socialist Alternative also organised workplace meetings to discuss the events, and intervened in colleges. In Oberlin and Seattle, comrades organised student walkouts of classes. Over 200 copies were sold of the party's political statement and paper on the 10,000-strong anti-war demonstration in Washington DC on 29 September.
Most anti-war coalitions around the country adopted three slogans proposed by Socialist Alternative: 'stop the war', 'no to racist scapegoating' and 'defend civil liberties'
TWO AND a half years after the end of military rule in Nigeria, the hope held by the mass of people that civilian rule would bring improved living standards, freedom and peace has turned into disappointment.
All the three registered political parties only agree on one thing, the need for neo-liberal capitalist policies - which means attacks on the living standards of ordinary people.
Political violence and ethnic and religious clashes rooted in the acute failings of capitalism are once again on the increase.
The CWI-affiliated party - the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) - is establishing itself as a serious Left force in the trade unions and student movement, fighting against attacks by the employers and government and presenting a socialist alternative.
A trend in the recent period has been for groups of workers and students to approach the DSM comrades for help with their problems rather than their unions. In one case, the DSM organised a picket of a small factory in Lagos whose owners are notorious for depriving workers of their wages. As a result of this intervention, the workers received most of their outstanding wages, they gave a donation to the DSM and four joined the DSM.
The DSM has increased its membership by 27% over the last year, has set up five new branches and has doubled the print run of its paper.
IN BRAZIL, as well as working in key trade unions in Sao Paulo, members of the CWI-affiliated organisation Revolutionary Socialists (RS) initiated the MSE ('movement for those without education'), an organisation of youth who are campaigning against university tuition fees and for the right of all young people to higher education.
MSE has organised two university occupations this year in the largest university in Brazil and has managed to prevent the university management on two separate occasions from carrying through privatisation plans. The RS also participate in the Union of Secondary School Students and was involved in forcing the government to concede an extra 55,000 university places.
WE HAVE already reported in The Socialist that CWI members in Germany were involved in setting up a school students committee against the war, which organised a 5,000-strong school students strike in October. As a result of their anti-war work, comrades in SAV, the CWI-affiliated organisation, more than trebled the sales of their paper in October, and have increased their membership. They reported that there are good opportunities in eight cities for setting up new SAV branches in the coming months.
(Commonwealth of Independent States - countries of the former Soviet Union.)
THE CWI has had particularly rapid growth in the Ukraine, with members now in 15 cities. At the end of October, 60 members took part in a CWI conference and made plans to launch a new party. While we are growing, the other left parties in the Ukraine, all of which have their roots in the former Communist Party, are in crisis.
It was reported that members in Russia are involved in "an incredible amount of public work", opposing the government's new anti-labour law and fighting the introduction of local telephone charges, amongst other work. They reported that they are presently discussing with a number of people who are interested in joining the CWI.
MEMBERSHIP OF the CWI in South Africa has doubled over the last year. The members report that the anti-privatisation general strike in September has altered the political landscape.
With a background of the government pursuing blatantly capitalist policies and attacking the trade union federation Cosatu, there is increasing interest by workers and young people in the campaigning work of CWI members.
CWI members were involved in the founding of the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) 18 months ago and have played a key role in developing its work. Community structures such as the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee resulted from the work of the APF.
CWI members have called for mass non-payment of electricity, and this has been taken up in local communities. The CWI comrades in South Africa are highly respected for the work they are doing and are poised to grow significantly.
YOUNG CWI members in 'Socialist Youth', have played an important role in fighting against sectarianism. Recent surveys amongst youth have shown sectarianism to be on the increase. Socialist Youth has organised a campaign against sectarian attacks and killings, and courageously campaigned on the streets against the recent sectarian protest outside the Holy Cross primary school.
Every week, new enquiries are received from young people interested in joining Socialist Youth. The Socialist Party (affiliated to the CWI) has been doing very successful campaigning work against low pay, with their stalls selling on average 100 papers.
They have also done successful work in the Northern Ireland Public Service Association (NIPSA), with four members being elected onto the leading body of the union.
THE SOCIALIST Party in Southern Ireland held one of its most successful conferences ever during the last weekend of October. The mood was reflected in the collection which raised Ir£13,500.
The recent dramatic worsening of the economic situation in that country will inevitably lead to increased questioning of the capitalist system, and searching for an alternative. CWI members are well placed to explain the need for socialism, with a growing membership in their youth organisation, and with CWI member Joe Higgins in the Dail (parliament).
Dublin airport shop steward and Socialist Party member, Clare Daly, is presently at the forefront of a battle against 2,000 Aer Lingus redundancies, and has gained a huge amount of publicity for her stand and approach.
THE HOSTING of European Union meetings over the last six months by the Belgian government has provided plenty of opportunity for CWI members (Left Socialist Party) to intervene in demonstrations and to recruit new people.
They formed the biggest political contingents on the demonstrations against the bosses' EU in Brugge and Leuven in September and organised a anti-EU / Afghan war demonstration in Gent, in October, of 2,500 school students.
They have recruited members in six new areas and have formed three new branches of their party.
In The Socialist 7 December 2001: