Eighth CWI World Congress
Increased membership | Australia Austria | Belgium Brazil | Canada CIS Czech Republic | England Wales Finland Germany | Greece India Ireland Israel | France Kashmir Netherlands Nigeria | South Africa Sri Lanka Sweden | United States | Building the CWI
Building the socialist alternative around the world
The Eighth World Congress of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) took place in Belgium during the last week of November. Delegates from 25 countries came together for political discussion and analysis of the processes taking place in the world today. The main discussions were: Post September 11 - Can US Imperialism be Challenged?, World Economy and Globalisation, Latin America, New Features of the Crisis in the Neo-Colonial World, Europe, Building the CWI, Elections for CWI leadership bodies.
The CWI is a democratic socialist international organisation. A number of documents and resolutions were discussed, amended where necessary and then voted on. A new CWI Executive Committee was elected and two new sections recognised. Maavak Sozialisti has been working as a fully functioning CWI group in Israel for a number of years and as a result was recognised as a full section of the CWI. A small group of CWI sympathisers has been working in Kashmir for the last two years and in recognition of their work and political agreement with the ideas and methods of the CWI, they were recognised as a sympathising section of the CWI.
Over the coming weeks, CWI Online will publish all the main political Congress documents. First, we will publish a longer report of the Congress proceedings and reports from the CWI sections on their campaigning and party building work.
To begin with, Judy Beishon, a Congress delegate from the England and Wales Socialist Party, gives a brief summary of some of the highlights of the reports from CWI affiliated parties and groups.
CWI Online, 10 December 2002
CWI increases in membership and influence
This initial article contains examples of the work being done in some of the CWI sections as reported in the session ’Building the CWI’. Unfortunately many inspiring examples have had to be omitted due to lack of space.
The Melbourne branch of the Socialist Party (SP) in Australia has gained 22 new members so far this year, most of them young. A majority of them joined following a party campaign in support of the rights of refugees incarcerated in the isolated Woomera Detention Centre. SP comrades raised money from trade unions to finance a 16-hour, 1,200 kilometre journey to the camp, to join a 1000-strong protest, taking with them tents, water and even toilets! They then proved in practise how our method of organising - having full democratic discussion and debate and then acting efficiently on decisions made - was able to provide help for a number of refugees directly and in highlighting their plight in the media.
Sectarian tension has increased amongst youth in Northern Ireland, but a significant number are rejecting sectarianism and are open to alternative ideas. Socialist Party members have assisted in building four branches of the organisation Socialist Youth in the North and most of the young people involved support the ideas of the CWI.
Socialist Party member Carmel Gates gained 38% of the vote in the recent election for the post of General Secretary of the public sector union NIPSA, the largest union in Northern Ireland. The SP has party members on the executive committees of a number of trade unions, including NIPSA, the Fire Brigades Union and the CWU (communication workers).
In Southern Ireland, the re-election of Joe Higgins to parliament last May and the near-election of Clare Daly (with an 85% increase in vote compared with the previous general election) show the support that the Socialist Party is gaining.
The CWI is now organised in four countries: Russia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Moldova, with an overall increase of 130% in membership since the last world congress. In Russia, there are CWI members in nine cities. They have been active in many campaigns, including anti-globalisation work, on the environment, against government rent reforms and on trade union issues. Comrades in the Ukraine are present in over 15 cities. In Kazakhstan, CWI members held a successful launch conference in May. As well as doing independent work, they are also participants in the ’Committee for a Workers’ Party’.
Socialist Alternative (SAV) has set up seven new branches since the last world congress and political activity started in ten other new areas. Attendance at their annual national education school has doubled over the last two years and the number of papers sold each month has doubled over the course of this year.
Revolutionary Socialists (SR) has been very active in building the ’Movement for those excluded from Education’ (MSE). MSE has organised debates, rallies and actions in a campaign to improve access to university by the poorest in society. Following consistent work, including at the second World Social Forum in Porto Alegre at the start of this year, MSE is now widely recognised by many social organisations, the media and government and academic bodies. At a recent 1,500-strong youth meeting in Sao Paulo state, organised by the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST), the call of MSE for university occupations at the start of 2003 was enthusiastically agreed.
SR has members in leading positions in the Sao Paulo state teachers’ union and recently was involved in leading an important strike in the Cotia area. They also have members and supporters working in the largest hospital in Sao Paulo.
In the recent Brazilian elections, SR stood a candidate, gaining 1,150 votes. 60 activists participated in the campaign, giving out 50,000 leaflets and selling 400 papers.
With the Israeli economy in an unprecedented crisis and the continuing onslaught on Palestinians in the occupied territories, members of Maavak Socialisti in Israel face a particularly difficult challenge in building the forces of the CWI. They are rising to this challenge by carrying out consistent party building work, with a membership figure and level of activity higher than ever before. They are regularly the largest, most youthful and dynamic political contingent on left demonstrations. Party branches have been established in several of the most important Israeli cities and a successful founding conference was held in October.
Since the last world congress, the United Socialist Party (USP) has been recognised as a party by the Sri Lankan electoral commission and has been able to build its influence through election work as well as through other campaigns. It is the only party with a membership consisting of a real mix of Tamil and Sinhala workers and a paper that has articles in the two languages.
In September and October Socialist Alternative (SA) organised a speaking tour of eight cities for Nigerian CWI member Segun, which attracted 1,200 people. This tour, combined with campaigning against war on Iraq, enabled SA to sell a record number of copies of their paper Justice and to recruit many new members.
LSP/MAS has grown by 30% in the last 18 months. A large part of the growth has come from the work party members have put into building the youth organisation International Resistance, and in taking many of these new young people to the international anti-capitalist demonstrations in Gothenburg, Genoa, Brussels, Barcelona and Seville.
Party membership has recently increased in the French speaking areas, particularly following public meetings organised by LSP/MAS during the French Presidential elections. The party held its largest ever national conference last month, with 103 attending discussions over the course of a weekend.
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) held a re-foundation conference in Durban in October, with 45 delegates present. Working in four key provinces of the country, the members are mainly young and already have a formidable record of struggle in fighting against the exclusion of university students who cannot pay their tuition fees and of supporting workers unable to pay water and electricity charges following recent privatisations. DSM has had a four-fold increase in members since the last world congress.
In recent elections, Raattvisepartiet Socialisterna (RS) increased its number of councillors from two to five in the two most important cities in the north of the country. They recruited 42 new members during the election campaign and have recruited a further 17 since then. RS is a leading force in protests against war on Iraq and took the initiative to set up a network against the war in Stockholm that involves 40 organisations. RS is involved in all major anti-racist campaigns and has a record as a fighting party for women’s rights.