cwi international conference.
This report is taken from written contributions from cwi sections that were presented to the 21-26 November meeting of the International Executive Committee (IEC) of the cwi, held in Belgium. cwi online
Anti-war and anti-capitalism
Building the cwi in 2003 in Greece
The beginning of the year for the cwi in Greece, Xekinima, was marked by two important events: the start of the Greek presidency of the EU (and with it the founding of the Greek Social Forum) and the possibility of the US attacking Iraq (from an early stage it was clear that Greek society would not let this pass by and there would be massive anti-war protests).
These events resulted in the section emerging stronger and richer in experience. In retrospect it was probably as one of the best periods the Greek section has been through in recent years.
The first big event of the year was the demonstration against the Ministers of Labour Summit in Nafplio. It gave us the opportunity to express our differences with various other organisations that also participate in the Social Forum.
February 15th followed and, besides being a landmark for the anti-war movement in Greece and worldwide, was also of great significance for the growth of the CWI in Greece, confirmed by the following antiwar rallies, which involved well-organised, mass, militant contingents that brought us close to a large layer of youth, mainly school students. They quickly became interested in the ideas of the organisation and wanted to get actively involved.
At the same time as the anti-war rallies, the demonstrations against the Greek EU Presidency summits continued with the Ministers of Education Summit in Athens, where the general participation was poor mainly due to the place where it was held, far away from populated areas but also because of left forces failing to agree on the organisation of a single, united demonstration.
The demonstrations during the first days of the war (especially the first day, the only day the entire left wing participated in one demonstration) were of paramount importance to the organisation, with an impressive presence and the participation of new comrades, school and university students, and youth in general. This allowed us to come into contact with new people, helped the growth of the organisation, and won high regard from left-wing activists but more importantly from independent militants.
June – Thessalonika
Another important chapter, the last concerning the presidency of the EU (not as significant as the anti-war movement both in size and importance of course) were the demonstrations in Thessaloniki during the EU summit.
The first demonstration concerned racism and immigrants, and was the biggest anti-racist demonstration ever held in Greece. Our presence was unquestionably the best in the demonstration mainly due to the significance of our activities and work with immigrants. We had up to 700 at our contingent, exceeding by far all other political forces present.
The main demo organised against the EU presidency was not as large as initially expected. It could have been much bigger if it was not for two reasons. Firstly, the ridiculous split of the left (6 anti-EU “initiatives” in total, all refusing to collaborate). Secondly, the attitude of anarchists and sectarians who provoked clashes with the police the day before and had fly-posted the whole of Salonica, during the previous two weeks, warning that they would “burn the city”. The mass of the population in Salonica “locked themselves up” in their homes and took a negative attitude to the demonstrators arriving from other towns.
Despite all these problems the CWI made the best out of these June demonstrations. Our contingent of around 500 was quite good.
The presence of Joe Higgins TD (Socialist Party member of parliament in Ireland), and his excellent speech at the central session of the GSF counter summit, gave a boost to our comrades, as well as the presence of a number of comrades from the CWI, mainly from Belgium but also from England, Wales and Sweden.
Following this we held the Youth Against Racism (YRE) summer camp with the largest participation so far. There were very good discussions. Nearly 300 people attended the camp.
Anti-racist demo, October
The next important demonstration was the anti-racist demonstration held in October in Athens. It clarified for yet another time, our superiority concerning anti-racist action (we had the best contingent with 400) but also the anger of the immigrants concerning government policy on the legalisation issue.
At the present time we have a number of strikes taking place. We cannot really speak of a strike wave. Participation is low, compared to previous strike movements. Our intervention is mainly in the health sector.
Polytechnic, 17 November
We held a 3-day festivities and demonstration for the 30th anniversary of the Polytechnic Uprising.
Two of our branches are immigrant branches – one African, one Asian. There are also a small number of immigrants who speak Greek and take part in Greek.
We have expanded to Patras, the most important town of Southern Greece, and have a new branch there.
We have two small caucuses of health workers and are discussing the production of a small 4-6 page paper for health workers, on a 6-8 week basis.
Our youth work has developed significantly and on stronger foundations. School Student Xekinima, has now developed into an 8 page, double colour, regularly produced every 6 weeks, youth paper, with a target of regular sales of 300 (excluding big events). ‘Machete’, the photocopied university student journal, produced irregularly previously, is to be produced on a city-basis (that means a total of 5 different Matchetes) to take account of the specific situation in different towns and universities.