Building the cwi in 2003 in India and Israel
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. socialistworld.net
Anti-war and anti-capitalism
With the general political situation still mainly in the grip of communal and ‘casteist’ politics, it has not been an easy period for the cwi.
Though a tremendous enthusiasm was created after the historic general strike on 21 May, the leadership of the trade unions squandered the opportunity. They behaved as if the ‘business was as usual’ after the strike.
Our organisation made a spirited intervention in the strike, through two bilingual (Kannada & English) leaflets, one in preparation to the strike and the other in the last two days before the strike. We have been able to get a wide number of contacts of young casual workers.
The introduction of petitions in our day to day activity of the organisation has given us a new periphery that includes some of the IT workers as well as English educated university students.
We take up the issues of communalism and the way to fight it on a class basis, as opposed to the ideas of social democracy (Stalinists and Maoists) which harps on with empty secularism jargon. The recent anti-working class court judgement to ban the strikes in the government employees’ sector has galvanised activity once again in the trade unions. We are intervening in this with a three language leaflet, which includes Tamil.
We are involved in South India Coalition of organisations fighting for the rights of Garment workers, and we are on the organisational committee of this coalition.
We have sold more than the 60% of the papers produced, and in total 22,000 leaflets have been distributed.
We have comrades in Bangalore and surrounding areas, and other areas of the country, including, Tiruppur (Tamilnadu), Andipatti (Tamilnadu), and Hyderabad
The last year has seen no letup in the severe crisis affecting Israeli society since October 2000. The bloody asymmetric war against the Palestinians continues, with no side being able to achieve a decisive advantage. At the beginning of summer, Chief of Staff Ye’elon, declared victory over the Intifada, but that has proved to be a premature boast. The Roadmap for Peace and the Hudna (cease-fire) rose and fell, and the region is no closer to peace and prosperity.
Combined with this is the severe economic recession, unprecedented in its depth and duration. While economic activity as a whole seems to have stabilised, after two years of contraction and negative growth, on a low level – growth is predicted to be between 0.5 and 1 percent for 2003 – per capita GDP, private consumption and living standards are still falling. Official, that is underestimated, unemployment stands at 11%, and deflation is clearly developing, with both wages and prices falling at an annual rate of 4-5%.
The social effects of the recession are compounded by the brutal and prolonged neo-liberal assault, aimed at keeping the budget deficit in check by destroying what’s left of the Israeli welfare state and crushing organised labour in the public sector.
The interplay of the war and the recession produces an extremely turbulent and highly unpredictable political situation, with rapid and contradictory changes in the consciousness of the masses. Added to this, are the weekly corruption and bribery scandals and the continued erosion of trust in all bourgeois institutions.
The most glaring contradictions in this situation are those between the depth of the recession and social collapse (every third child living in poverty according to the National Insurance Institute report for the end of 2002, and hundreds of thousands experiencing malnutrition) and the consciousness of the working class, still lagging behind, and between the tasks posed and the absence of a genuine, fighting leadership, both industrial and political.
These contradictions are to a great extent accounted for by the effect of the national question, but major struggles have also erupted this year, with a short public sector general strike in April/May, another one only narrowly avoided through the Labour Court, at the time of writing. We have also seen tens of single parents marching from their homes to the Finance Ministry, camping and demonstrating for months at the heart of the government compound in Jerusalem.
In this situation CWI members have been actively intervening, trying to widen our influence and offering the strategy and tactics lacking in most struggles.
The paper now comes our regularly every 2 months, has gone up from 12 to 16 pages on the last issue, and we are now considering moving to a monthly paper. Most are still sold at larger demos, but a lot are sold on regular paper sales, and we sell subscriptions. The last issue has practically sold out in less than 2 months, and so we produced a special 4-page supplement for interventions in the (still delayed) general strike.
Our website not only looks great but also produces requests to join at least once a week.
We are present in Tel Aviv, in Rehovot , in Haifa , in Jerusalem and in Be’er Sheva in the south.
We held two very successful cadre schools this year, and are in the process of implementing other methods of political education, including one-on-one meetings and a reading group.