As the participants in the December meeting of the CWI’s International Executive made their way home, an intensification of the class struggle in the coming year seemed more and more certain. Newspapers and TV news commentaries spoke more and more of the prospects of a downturn in economic growth and actual recession (the ’R’ word!)..
At the IEC meeting itself, speakers from every continent confirmed the perspective of a worsening economic situation for capitalism and the heightened prospect of struggle by workers and poor people. The huge debt bubbles, that have kept the world afloat, are reaching bursting point. Tens of billions of dollars are being pumped in to save banks and big companies while millions of the poorest people, even in the richest countries, face eviction and homelessness.
The International Executive Committee first discussed Latin America - the continent that has seen some of the most inspiring struggles in the recent period. Most encouraging for the CWI has been the response in Brazil to the work of Socialismo Revolucionario in relation to pushing for P-Sol, the new workers’ party, to develop as a campaigning socialist force. Important issues such as the referendum in Venezuela and the constituent assembly in Bolivia came under discussion. Chile has seen a volatile situation that has thrown up some new forces looking for socialist ideas.
Discussion on how the world economy has developed and how relations between the big powers have been affected went on for two days of the IEC meeting. It took in the crises developing in Asia touching on the recent uprising in Burma. There were contributions on Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia, where the biggest opposition movement for ten years has begun.
The elections in Australia and, earlier in the year, in Nigeria, came under scrutiny in the ’world’ session as did the vicious battle at the top of the ANC revealing all that is rotten in capitalist South Africa.
IEC comrades from the USA described the growing mood of opposition to capitalist parties developing there, as Bush gets mired in unpopularity over the Iraq war and CWI members from countries in the Middle East and Russia made important contributions to this discussion.
An important question taxing the minds of capitalist economists as well as Marxists is whether China’s ’turbo-charged’ economy can weather the downturn in the world economy or even prevent it. Both scenarios were pretty well ruled out. Furthermore, internal contradictions, especially the huge gap between rich and poor, could result in big clashes and changes in consciousness of what needs to be done.
In Asia and Africa, super-exploitation is accompanied by corruption on a vast scale and dictatorship of a more or less open nature. The IEC meeting took cognisance of the fact that a down-turn in the world economy will not automatically mean an explosion of class struggle in the workplces. But there is huge anger and discontent - against governments, employers and against politicians and politics in many countries.
Europe and new workers’ parties
Trade union leaders have so often blocked action on the part of workers that there is a mood to develop organisation from below. Initiatives being taken to set up new mass workers’ parties have fared differently in different countries. The experience with P-Sol in Brazil surfaced in the major discussion at the CWI’s IEC meeting on Europe.
Across the continent, hardly any challenge is being made to the prevailing neo-liberal policies pursued by all major parties. But this period is coming to an end.
Developments in the ’Left’ party in Germany, the Prc in Italy, the Socialist Party in the Netherlands and the SSP in Scotland were examined along with recent initiatives in Britain, France, Belgium and Greece that involve the CWI sections in those countries. Contributions from Austria, Sweden, Poland, Ireland (North and South), the Czech Republic and Russia all contributed to deepening the understanding of the whole international on where we are going.
The rail-workers’ strikes in France and Germany were symptomatic of the mood developing amongst workers across Europe. Anger over environmental issues was probably most developed in Greece, where the CWI had been initiated the setting up of ’Green Attack’ in the aftermath of the disastrous fires this Summer. Hatred of racists and fascists has been channelled into effective protest by CWI comrades in Austria and elsewhere.
Building the CWI
One day in the week-long meeting of the IEC was barely long enough to hear the detail of all the other very rewarding work being done by CWI members across the world. Trotsky expressed the idea that revolutionaries grow as their tasks grow greater. Even in a relatively difficult period to convince workers and young people that a struggle for socialism is the only way to go, socialist fighters in the CWI have shown that they have the ability to give a lead and to win battles. At this stage relatively small successes have been notched up and even the failures have provided rich lessons, if carefully analysed.
Shining through all the reports was a real confidence and a feeling that events will turn in our direction, filling our ranks with some of the best class fighters yet. Understanding history, including celebrating anniversaries of revolutions and other historical events is one way to prepare for the future. Another is to strive to build the resources, the newspapers and the web-sites of the CWI.
Short separate sessions on the last day of the IEC meeting - on Nigeria, South Africa and Pakistan - were extremely illuminating. They alone were enough to revive every class-fighters determination to step up the struggle for socialism!
Taking a break
Even as we ease up for a few days holiday in many countries - Eid, Christmas, New Year - there are solidarity campaigns going on. Two CWI comrades are in prison cells in Nigeria, a young union activist in Sweden is facing disciplinary action on 28 December, socialists are amongst the oppositionists in Malaysia due court on 26 December and solidarity is being organised for students persecuted in Iran.
Details of these campaigns and much, much more can be seen on this web-site. There will be a few more articles appearing up until 24 December. Then, unless there are any major political developments, there will be no new material until 2 January.
We at the headquarters of the Committee for a Workers’ International wish all our members, supporters and well-wishers a good rest and a fruitful new year in terms of advancing the cause of socialism. Comradely greetings to all for 2008!