Report from the International Executive Committee (IEC) meeting of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), November 2001.
2001 - A Turning Point in World Events
The Committee for a Workers’ International is a socialist international organisation with sections and groups in over 35 countries. The CWI is a democratic socialist organisation. Its bodies are elected by the membership at a national and international level. The International Executive Committee, made up of members from the sections, is elected by the world congress. The main role of the IEC is to provide political guidance in between world congresses.
A meeting of the IEC body took place from 19-24 November 2001, in Belgium. There were representatives from Austria, Belgium, the CIS, England and Wales, France, Germany, India, Ireland (North and South), Israel, Nigeria, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, Australia and the US. Apologies were given from comrades from different areas of the world, where often CWI sections are fully involved in campaigns. These included Sri Lanka, where the CWI section, the United Socialist Party, was busy fighting elections. A visitor from the ‘Socialism’ Turkish Trotskyist group was also present at the meeting.
The IEC meeting was held less than a week after the Northern Alliance had conquered Kabul, a decisive turning point in the US-led war in Afghanistan. European IEC members had met in the beginning of October, but this was the first full IEC meeting since the September 11 events in the US. These major world events, including the global economic crisis, put their mark on the discussions on perspectives, tasks and the need for a socialist programme.
Most CWI sections reported important progress in the recent period, most notably Nigeria, South Africa and Belgium. The November meeting agreed to organise a world congress next year and to fully back the launching of a new youth movement, International Socialist Resistance.
The following is a summary of the main discussions held at the IEC meeting. It has been written by Per-Åke, a Swedish IEC member.
The present international situation
"Nobody could have predicted the speed of events in the war in Afghanistan", was how Peter Taaffe from the International Secretariat (IS) of the CWI began his introduction to the major discussion on the present world crisis. After the relatively quiet political period of the 1990s, extreme speed and sharp turns are back as main factors in world development, particularly since September 11th.
Peter Taaffe, and others speakers, showed the contrast between the ideas of the CWI and others during the war. Some Left groups claimed that the Taliban "represented progress", others gave them "critical support", and others again refused to condemn the terror attack in New York. The CWI took a clear position against the US war, at the same time showing the completely reactionary nature of the terror attacks and their consequences. "The rise of right-wing fundamentalist Islam is a reaction to the failure of Stalinism and Arab nationalism", said Peter Taaffe. "Those who seek united work with the fundamentalists repeat the mistakes of the Tudeh party (communist party of Iran) during the Iranian revolution 1979.Their support for Khomeini ended in them being slaughtered".
During the meeting we received reports that the Taliban were fighting their final battles in Kunduz and that the endgame for Kandahar had begun. "The US will come out of the war as the winner", concluded Peter Taaffe, but that will also increase the already strong anti-American feelings, particularly in the ‘Third World’. "US imperialism will be strengthened by these events, but for how long and which character this will take it is to soon to say". Bush will soar to highs in the opinion polls, but there is no "peace dividend" to bring home. There is the "shadow of war" in Palestine-Israel. Fundamentalist opposition threatens weak Arabic regimes.
On the world economy, there was general agreement that the world recession is only in its early stages. The International Labour Organisation forecasts that 24 million workers will lose their jobs next year. The social crisis and pauperisation in Argentina and Turkey are pointers to developments in other countries that are entering the early stages of economic and social crisis.
The spectacular election results for revolutionary Left parties in Argentina are an indication of future events. They won more than one million votes and three seats in parliament. The traditional parties collapsed and "vote blanca" received 30% of the votes.
The new global movement of anti-capitalists and critics of neo-liberalism, by and large, became an anti-war movement during the autumn. The exception was some of its leaders, who supported the US war. This movement, mainly made up of youth who have won the sympathy of many workers, shook the establishment and the ruling classes with its mass demonstrations from Seattle to Genoa. With the end of this phase of the war, attention will again turn to the economic and social issues: the role of US imperialism and its agencies – the IMF, World Bank etc. - in exploiting and oppressing. Alongside this we will see new battles of the working class. This will form fertile ground for genuine revolutionary socialist ideas to get a wider echo.
Other important items discussed in this session were the new "anti-terrorist" laws proposed by rulers all over the globe; the change in relations between the powers, and an analysis of workers’ struggles in Italy (against Berlusconi), Belgium (over the Sabena bankruptcy) and other countries.
It is not possible to fully describe the week long IEC discussions in the space given here. This report should be read alongside the latest CWI statements on the war and world events (on the CWI web site). Here follows brief extracts from contributions in this session. In total, 24 comrades made in-depth contributions.
Alan (US) relayed that unemployment had reached several millions in the US, with an additional 4.2 million people declared part time unemployed.
Rob (CIS) reported on the big effects of September 11 in Russia and other parts of former Soviet Union. "The most important factor for Putin’s actions has been the fear of the war spreading and causing new mass waves of refugees. Putin supported the US war when he was given a free hand to support the Northern Alliance and to attack Chechnya. A further condition was a promise that Russia can enter the World Trade Organisation, WTO". Capital outflow continues to be around $1.5 billion a year. The power of the president is increasing, and all three major opposition parties are supporting him. The fall in the oil price will undermine the state budget.
Kevin (IS) raised the prospect of the return of hundreds or thousands of Islamic fighters from Afghanistan to Kashmir and the western states of Pakistan. The result of this war in Afghanistan constitutes a defeat for the Pakistan army, which will have far-reaching consequences.
After Bangladesh separated from Pakistan in 1971, the military in Pakistan took a more nationalistic and Islamic outlook. The military consists of different ethnic and tribal groups with the common interest of holding on to power. There could be a move by some in the military to replace Musharraf, who has no real base in any ethnic group within the army. The main figure in the army is Aziz Khan, who was responsible for the Kargil affair 1999, and who is in charge of the extreme Muslim organisation LET.
Kevin also stressed that Islamic fundamentalism is rooted in the desperation of big layers of society who have nothing and are without alternatives. So, despite the defeat of the Taliban, there can still be a tendency in the direction of increased support for fundamentalism. These movements can overthrow old regimes but the Islamic fundamentalist governments will not be stable or sustainable.
Judy (England and Wales) pointed to the fact that world trade growth was 12% last year. The WTO prognosis for 2001 is 2%, with the UN estimating zero growth.
Arne (Sweden) underlined the complexities of globalisation. On the one hand there is a growing interventionist approach, including neo-Keynesian tax cuts, by a number of governments. On the other hand, further steps towards new international relations between the US, Russia and China are taking place. Also, we will soon see the introduction of the euro currency and a possible "big bang" EU enlargement of member states.
Per (IS) concluded that the Afghan conflict would reinforce the US military doctrine that air strikes are sufficient to win a war. The US accounts for 36% of the world’s military spending. US ruling class triumphalism threatens the real possibility of new attacks on Iraq to "finish the war of 1991" and to overthrow Saddam.
Rotimi (Nigeria) stressed that it is wrong to believe in a decline of Islamic fundamentalism on the basis of a defeat of the Taliban. Their rising support is rooted in the worsening economic conditions. In Nigeria, the fundamentalists get support as a reaction against unemployment, corruption, violence, alcohol consumption, prostitution and so on. These are problems the fundamentalists promise to abolish. Those who have never lived in an Islamic state still have illusions in one. Whether the Islamic fundamentalists are able to take power or not depends on several factors, especially the ability of the working class to offer an alternative.
Jagadish (India) noted the high number of visits to India and Pakistan by Blair, Powell, Rumsfeld etc, who all "said what Musharraf and Vajpayee wanted to hear". With these ongoing contradictory promises, the time bomb is still ticking. The Indian government has used the US attack on Afghanistan to say that "we could do the same in crossing the line of control" in Kashmir (defence minister Fernandez). A new military conflict with Pakistan is not ruled out. The BJP government is preparing for draconian laws "against terrorism", including six months’ arrest of suspects without trial. The law is used to ban an Islamic students’ organisation, whose chairperson was arrested in mid-October. The anti-Islamic rhetoric has been used to block workers protests that were developing in the autumn.
Philip (US) spoke on some of the class questions that have arisen in the US following September 11. "The Congress was closed following suspected anthrax, but not the post offices". This meant postal workers died as a result of contamination. Bush’s packages to stimulate the economy give most to big corporations and the rich.
A. (Israel) reported on Hamas winning the student elections at the university in Nablus, with 60% of the votes.
Weizmann (South Africa), was one of several comrades who referred to discussions with youth who were in favour of the terror attacks on September 11. Similar reports came from Greece, India, and Nigeria and among Muslims in different countries. The reply from comrades was to show the reactionary results of the attack in strengthening US imperialism and the Bush administration. The fundamentalists are also a threat to workers and youth fighting for their future.
The discussion on the international situation was closed by Lynn Walsh from the IS, who summarised the main trends. "The Taliban is finished as a ruling power in Afghanistan". We should not rule out further fighting, but the Taliban was a product of a certain conjuncture in Afghanistan". There could be a temporary stabilisation in Afghanistan, but in the long run the war has created an unstable world. The US will now proceed to increase pressure on Iraq.
Lynn stressed that the economic crisis is already the most serious since 1945. The US response could be an attempt to protect the national interests of the ruling class, with, for example, measures against the outflow of capital. This would increase contradictions between trading blocs and trading groups.
The anti-capitalist and anti-war movement
This session, introduced by Kevin (IS), included reports and analysis of the global movement against capitalism since the WTO meeting in Seattle 1999, and up to the recent mobilisations against the US-led war in Afghanistan.
This movement has grown and shaken governments as well as the capitalist class. This reflects a questioning of the economic and political system by broad sections of society today. There is openness for explanations and answers. While some other Left forces just tail ended the leaders of this movement, the CWI has fully participated in protests and demonstrations and also put forward a socialist alternative.
CWI sections have played an important role in the anti-globalisation protests in Seattle, Washington, Melbourne, Prague, Nice, London, Gothenburg and others places. In the campaign against the war, the sections in Germany and Belgium have organised school strikes. The Swedish section played a leading role in the coalition against the war in Stockholm.
The next international days of protest are during the EU summit in Brussels 13-15 December. LSP/MAS, the CWI section in Belgium, has already been involved in demos against EU meetings in Gent, Leuven and other cities this autumn. LSP initiated Internationaal Verzet as a youth campaign. This new organisation organised the school strikes on 19 October. 7,000 school students in 13 cities participated, despite an intensive campaign from headmasters against the protests.
Comrade Niall summed up the discussion on the anti-capitalist and anti-war movement. He pointed out that following the collapse of Stalinism and the shift to the right of the social democracies in the 1990s, the CWI had kept its head, and, in fact, had foreseen the development of a radical anti-capitalist consciousness amongst youth.
The IEC meeting decided to back the launch of International Socialist Resistance, which links youth movements in different countries, such as the Belgian Internationaal Verzet, the ISR in Britain, Elevkampanjen in Sweden, and Widerstand International in Germany.
André from the Brazilian section, SR, was the main speaker in this session, giving an extensive picture and analysis of recent developments on the continent.
He reminded the meeting of the spectacular movement in Ecuador in the beginning of 2000. A "peoples’ parliament" was created, which included the indigenous peasants, and public sector and oil workers. The mass revolt toppled the country’s president. But without clear political leadership for the working class, the ruling class was able to hold onto power through the vice president and have since forced through a dollarisation of the economy. However, the mass resistance has continued. A general strike in February 2001 forced the government to make concessions.
A similar process has taken place in Bolivia, with a recent rebellion against water privatisation in Cochacamba. This was led by the ‘Coordination for Water and Life’ and it used methods of mass revolts. Finally, the government had to put the privatisation plans on hold.
The key country in Latin America today is Argentina. André gave a number of economic statistics: unemployment and part time unemployment is 50%, every hour another 30 people fall below the poverty line, and every 4 minutes someone becomes unemployed.
It is a crisis of a neo-liberal "economic model" and part of the crisis of the whole neo-colonial world. Mass uprisings and general strikes have taken place in response. Due to the deepening crisis the general strikes have become less peaceful in character, with mass pickets and blockades of highways. The government and establishment are in severe difficulties. Government ministers have come and gone, the vice president has resigned and other crises have shaken the main parties. The trade union tops have tried to hold back struggle and to go for negotiations. This has led to new explosions from below, with people taking to the streets.
The most important new feature is "the picketers’ organisation", an organisation of unemployed, who have organised mass pickets, including against the police. The most advanced struggle took place in the Salta region when a 36-hour general strike was called in November 2000. The police station was occupied after the death of a worker, and others symbols of power were attacked.
The ‘Committees of Picketers’ have now started to include those who have work. A national ‘Assembly of Pickets’ included representatives from the national trade union federation, the CGT, which is on its way to merging with the other federation, the CTA. At the conference there was a great deal of criticism of the unions.
The Argentinean election results reflected the general turmoil. The government alliance received only 22%, losing 5.5 million votes. The main bourgeoisie opposition, the Peronists, lost 1.2 million votes but gained in percentage because of the increase in blank votes. In fact, the blank votes were the "winners" in the capital, Buenos Aires. A new party, ‘Action for Republic of Equals’, which is close to the CTA, won 7.7%. The revolutionary Left, divided into four different lists, got over one million votes and three representatives into parliament. In Buenos Aires, they received over 20%. In provincial elections in Cordoba in September, the Left won 90, 000 votes and 9 regional deputies.
The ruling class in Argentina face a very fragile situation. They will not be able to pay 2 billion dollars on interest rates that are due in December, which in practise means a default. The government has failed in implementing cuts in the regions and new state deficits are therefore most likely. The IMF and the US now only try to avoid total collapse. Any "controlled restructuring" of the debts would mean non-payment. A former adviser to Finance Minister Cavalho advocates a "3-D" policy: default, devaluation and dollarisation. The crisis may lead to a new government of "national unity" being created, including the Peronists, to implement drastic measures.
In Brazil, the bourgeoisie are warning of a possible PT (workers’ party) victory in the presidential elections next year, meaning PT leader and former metal worker Lula becoming president. Brazil is totally dependent on foreign capital (the debt share of GDP is higher than in Argentina). The crisis has already started to hit, and has led to struggle. When Volkswagen announced that 3,000 out of 16,000 workers in Sao Paolo would be sacked, it was immediately answered with a strike and the proposals were withdrawn. There is also a four months’ strike movement among civil servants whose wages have been frozen for seven years. The central and regional governments are restricted by a new "budget responsibility" law, which means they can be arrested for budget deficits. The PT mayors have collapsed under this law and accepted cuts. The PT holds mayors in six regional capitals. The CWI section, SR, advocates a socialist alternative to Lula within the PT. Lula himself has promised the ruling class that he will not threaten their interests. Still, a victory for Lula would be turning point in Brazil and the whole of Latin America.
The discussion included a very interesting contribution from Andres from Chile on the latest developments there.
Arne and Per-Åke from Sweden both spoke on the Argentinean peg that connects the peso to the US dollar, and the trend towards devaluation. They said the main question is why the peg is still there. One reason is that most debts in Argentina (70%) are in dollar values. A devaluation leading to bankruptcies and a bank collapse could trigger social upheavals. It would also mean an extremely humiliating loss of prestige - and possible power - for the government. At the same time, the Brazilian example shows that devaluation is no way out.
Tony Saunois from the IS said that the Argentinean example carries important lessons for the euro. It shows the possibility of the break up of that currency in the long term.
The Nigerian CWI section has grown rapidly over the last few years and is now the second biggest in the CWI, after England and Wales. The print run of the party paper has doubled and a number of party branches have been formed in new regions.
Three Nigerian speakers gave reports in this session. There was also a contribution on South Africa.
"Nothing has fundamentally changed with the civilian rule which was introduced in Nigeria 1999", said comrade Segun in his introduction. The IMF has put its mark on the economic policies of this government, with privatisations of electricity, telecom and oil. The government has gained from a higher oil price, but this will now change. State income will drop by one-third next year.
The country lacks necessary infrastructure. That restricts foreign investment to a low level despite the cheap labour. A protectionist mood is now building up, not only from unions but from companies as well. But the economy is more controlled from abroad than ever before. Corruption is just as endemic as before.
This has escalated the political, religious and national crises. The country has more than 200 national ethnical groups. The present conflicts are a result of the economic crisis and conflicts between different groups in the ruling elite. A British BBC reporter concluded that the fighting is not primarily about religion but a "conflict about agriculture, electricity and assets when resources are too few". This has resulted in the introduction of Sharia laws in two Northern regions, as well as a growth in Christian fundamentalism amongst the middle classes. The fundamentalists tell people "you can become rich if you believe".
The two and a half years of civilian rule has been met with one general strike so far. Last year workers struck against rising petroleum prices. The strike had widespread support in almost all layers in society. The government was forced to retreat on this issue.
The CWI in Nigeria, the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), is involved in both union struggles and working in the student field. The DSM is the only Left wing organisation that stands for the right of self-determination for all oppressed nations, while at the same time advocating a united socialist Nigeria. DSM has members from both Christian and Muslim backgrounds.
One Nigerian speaker explained that only three parties are allowed to contest the elections. All three were established by the military. The trade union federation, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), is now discussing forming a social democratic party. The NLC showed its strength in the general strike but is generally blocking further struggles of workers.
Some questions were raised on the programme of the DSM regarding a ‘socialist confederation’ and what position to take in the next election.
In his sum up of the discussion, comrade Rotimi said that the DSM uses the slogan ‘for a socialist confederation’ in the last elections, he said that the DSM advocated a boycott. The DSM’s attitude towards the next election depends upon a number of concrete factors, including whether any new parties will be allowed to stand, and also their social composition and programmes.
On South Africa, comrade Weizmann explained that the ANC-led government is following a crude neo-liberal policy. Public education is being privatised and the government is driving through a savage programme of cuts. Big corruption scandals have been exposed in the government. The Triple Alliance, made up of the ANC, Cosatu trade union federation, and the Communist party, the SACP, is shaken by tensions that could lead to Cosatu departing the Alliance. SACP ministers are in charge of, for example, the privatisation programme and the adoption of WTO rules.
The AIDS crisis is devastating. The HIV/AIDS virus infects around 20% of the population. President Mbeki is still denying the link between HIV and AIDS, thereby alienating himself from the masses. There is also a serious problem with widespread rape and child abuse.
The general strike in August mobilised 5.5 million workers and was a serious blow to the Triple Alliance. The political vacuum on the Left allows fertile ground for the growth of the idea of a new mass workers’ party. The CWI in South Africa, the Democratic Socialist Movement, calls for the creation of such a party.
Per Olsson (IS), in his introduction to the discussion on Europe, compared today’s economic crisis with the claims by many pundits at the beginning of this year that the US economic crisis would not affect Europe. He examined the special crisis of European capitalism, which is now coming to the fore.
This year saw a massive general strike against "pension reform" in Greece. But the situation in Europe is also marked by the lack of a leadership for workers and independent organisations of the working class. In France there has been localised, advanced strikes and struggles. In many countries, local transport and education has been fields of struggle. This reflects the existing mood against privatisation and neo-liberal policies.
With the deepening of the crisis, we can expect rapid changes. This has been the case in Italy and in Spain. Anger has led to strikes that have been directed against union leaders as well. In Italy the Left within the trade unions has called for national strike action. A similar development took place during this year’s rail strike in the Netherlands.
Jobs are now lost with extreme speed all over Europe. Even in Ireland, which has experienced a prolonged boom over the last ten years, 10 000 workers have been sacked so far this year.
Per stressed that the euro is a political and economic project, originating from the political balance of forces between the European states, and also a result of the pressure from multinationals to form a more competitive block. The project goes ahead despite popular resistance and a worsening crisis.
Per quoted the London ‘Independent’ newspaper, which stated that the euro is launched at the worse possible time. The question now is whether the euro will survive, and Per’s conclusion was that it would not last for a long time. It will reinforce the divergences within the euro zone and will function as a straightjacket during economic crisis. He did not exclude enlargement of the EU, but underlined the complications, particularly the question of who is going to pay for it.
The political situation in Europe is extremely fluid, with sharp swings in the polls. In France, Arlette, the Lutte Ovriere candidate for Presidential elections, has more than 6% in opinion polls, which is ahead of the Communist Party. In Norway, the richest country of all in Europe, the ruling social democrats were recently voted out of office, in their worst result for 80 years. In the Danish elections, which took place during the IEC meeting, the social democrats lost their position as the biggest party for the first time since 1920. In that election campaign, all main parties conducted a racist campaign, attacking immigrants and refugees. Still, the Left wing Red Green Alliance got 6.6% in the capital, Copenhagen, and maintained four of its five MPs.
In this discussion, 15 comrades contributed. Els (Belgium) spoke about the lessons of the bankruptcy of Sabena, where the struggle ended after initial militant protests. The government is offering no "social plan" as they did when Renault closed their factory in 1997.
Elin (Sweden) dealt with the total support of the EU states for the Afghan war and the creation of the ‘Rapid Reaction Force’. She also reported on the state’s judicial follow-up of the anti-capitalist protests in Gothenburg. Prison sentences of up to 4 years for activists have been meted out.
Kevin (Ireland) said the end of the incredible economic growth in Ireland, peaking at 10.5% at the end of 2000, is finally finished. This is best symbolised by the crisis at Aer Lingus. "People are absolutely stunned by the crisis, and it could take some time until bigger struggle breaks out". Despite no major struggles yet, consciousness is rapidly changing. All establishment parties are in decline and the Socialist Party (CWI section in Ireland) is in a good position to make gains in next year’s general elections. The party already has one Member of Parliament, Joe Higgins, and will be fighting hard to get a big vote in other constituencies, especially for Clare Daly in Dublin North.
Philip (Scotland) reported on the arrival of the economic downturn in Scotland, combined with further proposed privatisations of for example council flats in Glasgow.
Judy (England and Wales) told the meeting about Railtrack being taken into government hands. This ended a spectacular privatisation failure that led to both accidents and chaos on the railways throughout Britain. Despite this, the proposal of privatisation of the London underground has so far not withdrawn by Downing Street.
Alex (France) stressed that there are struggles taking place in France at present, but that they are isolated and that the union leaderships never back such struggles. The political vacuum was made obvious in an opinion poll which found that 36% of respondents answered that neither the Left nor the Right could solve social problems. During the war against Afghanistan, both the communist party and the "anti-globalisation" movement in France were paralysed and have organised no real opposition.
Petr (Czech Republic) dealt with the phenomena in East European politics of short-lived populism. The ‘Freedom Coalition’ in the Czech Republic received 30% in the elections four years ago, but did not achieve parliamentary representation this year.
Arne (Sweden) stated that he did not believe the break-up of the euro zone is likely in the near future. He quoted Tony Blair commenting that Britain needs to join the euro. Arne pointed to the prospect of ongoing globalisation, despite a reversal of trends regarding trade and FDI. He pointed to the possibility of a "big bang" of 10 East European countries joining the EU and the Russia’s preparations for WTO-entry and further expansion of NATO.
Peter Hadden (Ireland) reported on the dramatic recent developments in Northern Ireland, including the reasons behind IRA decommissioning and the widening sectarian gulf on the ground.
Clare Doyle (IS) gave a picture of growing class struggle in Italy and the role of the new right wing government.
Per-Åke (Sweden) said the fact that the euro had been working since 1999 meant that it would require a crisis of Argentinean proportions to cause it to break-up.
Sascha (Germany) reported that despite the serious German economic slowdown, the social democracy sticks to neo-liberal policies. There is a strong mood for wage rises and this will come up in negotiations in early 2002. There is growing alienation and polarisation within the trade unions. "One union struggle, one spark, could lead to a bigger movement in Germany", Sascha said. He warned that the new right wing party in Hamburg, the ‘Party in Defence of the Constitution’, and its leader, Schiller, could become a federal force. The party has reached 19% in opinion polls in the state of Sachsen-Anhalt.
The discussion on Europe was summarised by Tony Saunois (IS). He highlighted the important defensive workers’ struggles that have broken out recently. Some of these struggles have also shown the depth of anger from workers towards the ineffective, right wing trade union leaders. For example, during the Autumn a march by workers’ facing job losses in Seville, in Spain, ended up with some of them attacking trade union leaders with placards!
Referring to Swedish comrades saying that globalisation is not about to end, Tony replied that no one believed in an abrupt end. He asked: will globalisation be checked and reversed? Even now, certain aspects of the trends of the 90s have been weakened. The direction is towards protectionism and the break-up of the euro.
The building of the CWI
Clare Doyle (IS) reported on the progress of a number of sections. There is a growing request for the CWI to mobilise for events, including for demos and campaigns. We are getting many more requests for information via the Internet. New CWI groups are being established in various parts of the world, including Italy, Finland and Kashmir. Substantial growth in membership continues in Nigeria, Ukraine and Israel. Key European sections have moved into new offices in Berlin, Brussels and Athens, and also in Santiago, Chile. Paper sales have increased in most CWI sections, with record sales in India and Nigeria. Impressive financial collections at national congresses have been recorded in 2001, including at the Socialist Alternative congress in the US and during the Irish Socialist Party congress.
The discussion on building the CWI included a number of reports from the sections. CWI sections have played an important role in a number of struggles: the EU-protests in Sweden and Belgium; against privatisation and tuition fees in Britain; anti-privatisation campaigning in South Africa; ‘Students without Education’ (MSE), which is a new movement in Brazil; university occupation in Thessaloniki in Greece; intervention in a textile strike in Bangalore, India, to mention some of them.
Impressive reports were given of work in the unions in Brazil, Ireland, England and Wales, and other countries. The same was the case with youth work in Belgium, Greece, Germany, Australia and Sweden. The CWI work in Scotland, France and South Africa has been re-organised over the last few years and is now moving ahead on a clear political basis. In Sri Lanka, the main emphasis now is the election campaign with the CWI section United Socialist Party (USP) running 130 candidates.
This session also discussed themes such as youth work, the need to make professional the work of the sections, and political education. In a number of cases the lack of resources - meaning both experienced members and money - is blocking the possibilities for growth. These challenges were debated fully, with experiences given from different sections. The need to break with routines and seize opportunities in the new period was stressed. That goes for targets, recruitment and methods, campaign initiatives. A new generation of working class cadres will be formed in struggle. The parties of the CWI have to use new methods to combine mass work with political education and party building.
To ensure more resources for the international work, a special appeal fund was agreed. That will be used for visits, including to Brazil, Asia and African countries.
The number of people interested in the CWI is growing in most sections. In Germany alone, there are new members in eight cities. New party branches can be built in these areas. In Belgium, the section has grown by 50% this year. Oleg (CIS) reported that the CIS section has also grown, and particularly in the Ukraine.
"It is years since this spread of growth has been reported", concluded Tony Saunois (IS) in closing the meeting.
The IEC meeting unanimously agreed to organise the next world congress of the CWI in the autumn of 2002.
Two new members - one each from France and South Africa - were co-opted to the IEC. The re-organised French section was accepted as a full CWI section.
This meeting was extremely fruitful, emphasising the new turning point in the world situation since September 11, including the global economic crisis.
Finally, soberly optimistic reports and targets showed that the CWI is well prepared, politically and organisationally for the challenges and opportunities of the next year.