Even the manageress of the meeting hall was so enthused by the SAV (Sozialistische Alternative) conference that she made a €50 donation and wished the conference’s 130 participants, from 22 parts of the country, much success and energy. Between 22 and 24 January, branch delegates and members discussed the significance of the world economic crisis, its effects and the politics and perspectives to build the SAV.
Five resolutions were adopted unanimously after lively debates. At the same time a new national committee and other bodies were elected. The target for the financial appeal was exceeded, with €11,100 collected and the SAV bookstall reaching record sales of €1,265. In many ways, this was undoubtedly the most successful SAV national conference for some time.
Successful SAV conference
The conference began with an introduction by Robert Bechert, a representative of the International Secretariat of the CWI, to a discussion on the world economic crisis and its effects on the international situation. Bechert emphasised that this crisis has opened a new period for capitalism, which will be characterised by sharp class polarisation and struggles. In the discussion, different speakers supplemented his remarks with contributions on different countries. Nihat Boyraz from Bremen spoke about the strike of the TEKEL workers in Turkey and Lucy Redler on the revolutionary events in Iran.
Sascha Stanicic, national spokesperson of SAV, then introduced the discussion on the situation in Germany, in which the development of consciousness among the working class and youth, as well as the outlook for Die Linke, was focused upon. Stanicic predicted strong radicalisation among working people. He based this on surveys, showing that currently 25% of the population can be classified as critics of the system and 20% are prepared to become active to change something. According to Stanicic, this represents potential to build a socialist workers’ movement and the SAV.
Part of the discussion was a controversial debate on the question of how to intervene in the debate in Die Linke, the Left party, over participating in government. While a resolution from a Berlin branch proposed participation in this debate by fighting for the sharpest possible minimum conditions for participation, the Conference decided by a large majority that government coalitions with pro-capitalist parties implementing social cuts should be rejected on principle, because they cannot lead to the application of any policies in the interests of the working class. That’s why the SAV itself is not arguing for its own set of minimum conditions for government participation to be accepted by Die Linke, as many other left forces in Die Linke do. This method would imply that a coalition with the SPD (Social Democratic Party) and the Greens is a possibility. Die Linke must stand on the side of social resistance, and not rely on administering capitalist misery. This is what SAV members in the Die Linke argue for.
Workplaces, trade unions and youth
Special attention was given to the importance of the work of SAV members in workplaces and trade unions at the conference. Ursel Beck, industrial organiser of SAV, living in Stuttgart, introduced the debate. In this discussion, Daimler Works Council member, Mustafa Efe, from Berlin, reported about the building of an alternative opposition members’ group in IG Metall, Germany’s metal workers’ union. Carsten Becker, chair of the Works Council at the Charité in Berlin, Germany’s largest hospital, spoke, as did a number of other active trade union activists from hospitals, the telecoms industry, the GEW (teachers’ union) and IG Bau, the construction workers’ union.
However, the highlight of the conference was certainly the discussion about the SAV’s campaign work amongst youth. The youngest present SAV member was thirteen years old and the high number of young members present was generally striking. They reported, among other things, about their activities in Linksjugend [’solid], the youth organisation of Die Linke. Ongoo, from Berlin Neukölln, reported on the campaign “Youth for jobs, education, and apprenticeships”, which was launched, together with the youth of DIDF, an organisation of migrant workers, and the youth organisation of the GEW (teachers’ union) in Berlin.
Also, the mobilisation for the anti-fascist demonstration and blockade against the 13 February Nazi march in Dresden, played an important role in the discussions.
Messages of greetings were given to the conference from the Bildungsgemeinschaft SALZ (a left wing educational project), and the SAV’s CWI sister organisations in Italy, Ireland, France, Sweden and Kashmir.
The conference was concluded with a report on the work of the Committee for a Workers’ International, which - among other things – pointed to the many new countries, in which the CWI - in the last one or two years – has established new groups and begun organised activities. These included Argentina, Malaysia, Iceland, Lebanon, Malaysia and Quebec.
All in all, it was a very successful conference. All participants went back home with a firm will to intensify the struggle for workers’ rights, against capitalism and for socialism, in Germany and internationally.