From Wednesday February 1st until Sunday February 5th, the fifth Latin American School of the Committee for a Workers International took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, involving over 120 comrades from Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, USA, France, Britain, and France.
These were 5 days of intense debate about the extraordinary processes of mass struggle taking place internationally, in the context of the biggest global capitalist crisis since the 1930’s which as the discussions revealed will be of a prolonged character.
The school operated on the basis of group discussions and plenary sessions which addressed, among others, important issues such as: ‘Socialism in the twenty-first century’ ‘Capitalism: what has gone wrong?’; ‘The history of the CWI and its struggles today’; ‘Experience and lessons from the new left parties’; ‘Races and Classes in Latin America’; ‘May 1968 and the lessons for today’; ‘Revolutions and counterrevolutions in North Africa and the Middle East’; ‘Where is Chavez going?’; ‘Argentina: 10 years after the crisis’; ‘Lessons from the Chilean student movement’; ‘The Tipnis conflict and the government of Evo Morales’; ‘Perspectives for the international crisis: Europe, USA and China’; and ‘Perspectives for Latin America’.
The school had a large participation of young people and workers, which allowed comrades to share valuable experiences and to discuss specific tactical aspects for the development of the forces of Marxism in the midst of a world in turmoil.
Period of revolution and counter-revolution
As noted in many of the debates, the year 2011 marked, in a sense, a turning point in the situation for international capitalism. We pointed out that the current protracted world capitalist crisis has entered a new phase, opening an era of revolution and counterrevolution.
2011 began with revolutions in North African and Middle Eastern countries, with mass movements that swept away decades of dictatorial regimes. Then we saw the mass movements of workers and youth on the European continent, against the brutal attacks of the capitalist governments on their livelihoods, as a result of the deepening crisis. We witnessed a series of mass general strikes in Greece, Portugal, Spain and even in Britain, the first in over 80 years. And we have also seen the development of mass movements of young people in Spain (The ‘Indignados’) as well as in Greece. Europe is now, without doubt, the epicenter of the crisis.
But we have also observed, with the deepening crisis, the beginning of a revolt of the youth and the working class in the United States, reflected in the ‘Occupy’ movement. The crisis is destroying the idea of the ‘American dream’, opening a completely new stage for the struggles in the US.
In this context, Latin America does not escape the effects of the global economic crisis which is unfolding. The relative economic stability of some countries in the region has been at the expense of deepening their role as subsidiary producers of raw materials for more developed economies, and of deepening their reliance on the Chinese economy, which amid the crisis, has become the locomotive of the world economy.
However, the governments of the region will be forced to implement adjustment programs, as the economic crisis is becoming more acute and China’s economy is slowing down. Evidence of this can already be seen in Brazil and Argentina. In Brazil, the Dilma Rousseff’s government is making major cuts in public spending and has strangled the minimum wage, while in Argentina, Cristina Fernandez’s government is putting cap on wage increases and implementing rises in the prices of gas, electricity and water. It is noticeable that in many countries which have experienced economic growth in the recent period there has been an up turn in workers struggles as workers confidence has been boosted and they demand “their share of the growth”.
Moreover, the processes in Venezuela and Bolivia are clearly showing their limits, due to the inability of the governments of Chavez and Morales to break with capitalism and to solve the urgent problems of poverty and oppression of the masses. In Bolivia especially, we observe the development of a new political situation, with growing opposition from the working class to the policies of Evo Morales and the MAS and growing support for the idea of a new workers party.
The relative economic stability in the region has allowed the consolidation of governments promoting neoliberal policies combined with some social reforms. But this will not be maintained in a context of a deepening crisis. The massive mobilizations witnessed in Chile in 2011, against the neoliberal policies implemented for decades, represent an anticipation of the ‘music of the future’ for the entire region.
The necessity of a socialist alternative to the crisis
The inevitable deepening of the crisis in the coming period will open up huge opportunities for the genuine ideas of socialism and of a planned economy, as the only alternative to the chaos and misery offered by capitalism. But it is also going to be an extremely complex period, because as never before in history, the level of consciousness of the masses is far behind the objective requirements arising from the crisis of society. Decades of neoliberal policies and ideological offensive by the ruling classes to discredit the ideas of socialism after the collapse of Stalinism have led to a state of important confusion, on what socialism really means and how to build a revolutionary alternative to end the capitalist system.
Ultimately, the lack of a mass revolutionary party on an international level, armed with a socialist program to transform society, is the main factor which explains the catastrophic prolongation of the crisis and why the capitalist class has so far been able to save its system.
So the task of Marxists today is to help workers and youth to draw the revolutionary conclusions from their concrete experiences, in the heat of the fight against the crisis. To help to accelerate the realization of the working masses and the youth that it is impossible to reform capitalism, hence it is necessary to bring it down to build a new society: a society based on an economy planned according to the needs of the population and not the greed of a few, where control and management is exercised by the workers themselves in a conscious and democratic way; that is, a socialist society.
This is the great and challenging task that is being taken up by the CWI, through its organizations in over 45 countries and 5 continents. Join us to end this system based on oppression, war and misery for millions, to throw it where it deserves to be: in the dustbin of history.