It was impossible not to be moved by the CWI rally on Saturday after the main demo. I heard the comment, "That was fantastic" again and again afterwards.
A great sea of red filled the hall – about 160 had packed in, and easily half that number again were listening outside, nearly all wearing the brilliant red CWI / ISR T-shirts.
As Philip Stott of the CWI in Scotland reminded us as he opened the rally, on the demo earlier our energy, our visibility and profile put everyone else in the shade. We were the most disciplined and coherent organisation on the demo.
The ideas expressed in the rally showed why.
Sinead Daly, from the CWI in Scotland, pointed out the hypocrisy of the capitalist leaders on this day. The leader of the Scottish parliament appealed to the G8 to alleviate poverty in the developing world, and yet a quarter of children in Scotland live in poverty. These leaders cry crocodile tears about the poor in Africa when they carry out massive attacks on public sector workers and public services at home.
The next speaker was Titi from the Democratic Socialist Movement, the CWI in Nigeria. She asked the question – how can you make poverty history under this rotten capitalist system? In contrast to all the bleeding-hearted politicians and hand-wringing rock stars emoting about the poor of Africa, Titi powerfully pointed out that Nigeria today is impoverished by of the deregulation, privatisation and commercialisation of the global capitalist economy.
Joe Higgins, Socialist Party TD (MP) in Ireland, pointed out that while today’s demonstrators were not the most organised layers of the working class, the mobilisation of 100s of 1000s of people around the world is hugely significant. He refered to Trotsky’s expression "the tops of the trees" – the involvement of many middle class and some quite privileged people is a sign of the coming movement of millions of workers and poor masses. And among those who marched today are many young people open to socialist ideas.
The leaders of the Irish right-wing coalition government are attempting to pose as champions of the poor, but they have put in place the legislative structure to allow the increased exploitation of the working class within their own country. And now they are expanding their calculated exploitation of immigrant workers.
Joe explained about the battle of the Turkish Gamma workers, assisted by the Socialist Party in Ireland. This was not an exception but the real face of capitalism in Europe. The bosses are bringing in Eastern European workers to undercut the wages of workers in Western Europe. It is vital that we stand shoulder to shoulder and fight to win these workers into the unions, or wages will be driven down and ethnic tensions could break out.
Peter Taaffe, of the CWI International Secretariat and general secretary of the Socialist Party in England and Wales, said that today’s demonstration was the biggest in Scottish history, in a year that has seen a million French workers on the streets, and a million Chileans marching in Santiago.
Unlike the anti-capitalist demonstrations in Genoa etc in recent years, this time the church hierarchies and individuals like Geldolf have intervened to blunt the natural tendency to ask questions – why is there this poverty and what can be done?
But Peter warned that there is a danger for the capitalists once people are set in motion fighting against poverty. There will be disappointment and anger when the G8 don’t deliver. Some will fall into despondency but others will have no choice but to fight.
Asking the rich and powerful is not the way to end poverty. As he said when he met socialists and fighters in Pakistan, Peter promised "We will help our brothers and sisters across the world, not with a few pennies but with solidarity to organise and mobilise against the system. We will help you to destroy this system that keeps you in these conditions."
538 people control 70% of the world’s resources. 500 companies control the majority of the means of production (the factories, land, banks etc). We can resolve this only by mobilising the power of the working class.
If the CWI gave all our resources to poor people in Asia or Africa, we would only alleviate the conditions of a few people for a short while. But we have a programme, the ideas, that can mobilise the force that can alleviate poverty for good.
Events in Latin America are the first opening lines of a new chapter for the working class. A few years ago the people in Bolivia marched for peace and justice. Today they are prepared to bring down any government that will not nationalise oil and gas. Working class and young people are moving into action, but they need an idea – why is the system the way it is, how can we plan the resources of the planet.
Peter concluded by explaining that the CWI is a small force but within the germs of this organisation is the solution to the problems of the working class. Combined with events, our work will bring a new generation to socialism and Marxism. We’ll create a mighty movement against capitalism and new parties of the working class, linked together on a world scale with a new international. No power on this planet will be able to stop a movement of this kind once it is conscious of itself.
One young member from Ireland commented, "I’ve seen his name on books but I’ve never heard him speak before – that was brilliant"
Tens of new people were brought closer to joining by this rally. At least one person that I was speaking to afterwards, who has worked alongside us for a while at university, decided that he should join the CWI.