CWI Summer School: Building the socialist alternative worldwide

Tremendous potential for the CWI to grow

The discussion on ‘party building’ at this year’s Summer School, in Belgium, showed that there is tremendous potential for the CWI to grow. Introducing the session, Hannah Sell, from the England and Wales section (Socialist Party), pointed out that in the past few years the CWI has already made significant additions to its membership in some countries, including in Brazil, Greece and Pakistan. Hannah said that every other CWI section could follow, if our socialist ideas are raised and tested on every paper sale, picket line, demonstration and in every political discussion.

The role of individuals with public profiles was commented upon. In Sri Lanka, after Siritunga Jayasuriya finished third in the presidential election, as the only candidate who stood to unite Sinhala and Tamil workers, there are now 360 people in East Sri Lanka who have joined or are discussing joining the United Socialist Party (CWI Sri Lanka).

In Ireland, the EU Lisbon treaty may not have been defeated without the role played by former TD (member of Irish parliament) Joe Higgins. The media coverage given to Joe and the Socialist Party’s (CWI – Ireland) class-based arguments and campaigning against the bosses’ EU, meant that the ‘no’ vote in the referendum was strongest in working-class areas. From Joe’s public profile, which includes TV appearances and a weekly national newspaper column, the Socialist Party could get more councillors elected in 2009, followed by regaining Joe’s position in the Dáil (parliament).

Hannah said that attracting young people to the CWI is a priority. Anti-racist work is an important area for mobilising young people, including stepping up our campaigning with Youth against Racism in Europe (YRE). In some countries, racist right-wing organisations could grow further. The CWI, however, has been shown as having the best methods in cutting across this. For example, CWI groups in Cyprus and Italy worked together to prevent a fascist camp taking place in Cyprus. In this campaign 1,000 signatures were collected in Cyprus and an internet group of over 1,000 members built. A new CWI group is being built in the second largest Cypriot city, Limassol.

In the USA, the work of Socialist Alternative (CWI – US), including with Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR), has resulted in schools in Minneapolis and Seattle having the harshest restrictions on US army recruiters.

In Greece, work with the left alliance, Syriza, continuing YRE work (including getting immigrant workers to join trade unions), building the environmental group, Green Attack, and campaigning among low paid health workers, have all helped to build CWI section, Xekinima.

Young SAV (Socialist Alternative, CWI Germany) members helped lead school student strikes on 22 May, which forced the German government to state that education is a “key issue”. There will be a school student conference next October, which could be followed by a second strike day, in November, possibly involving over 100,000 participants. SAV are helping to build ‘Solid’, the youth organisation of the Left Party (Die Linke), to attract youth to it and to make it a fighting organisation with socialist policies.

The Brazilian section of the CWI, Socialismo Revolucionário (SR), is growing partly from its input into the broad left party PSOL (Party for Socialism and Liberty) along with work in the trade union alliance, Conlutas, and school/college campaigning. SR expects to soon double in size. The first Latin America CWI School was held last February. There is a growing CWI group in Bolivia, after a US CWI member went there in 2006, and the possibility of a new group in Peru, after two Swedish CWI members recently held a meeting there attended by 100 people, with 90 joining a CWI email list.

New CWI groups are present in Lebanon and Malaysia, while the CWI in Portugal is making new gains, following the CWI’s participation in strikes and mass protests, during the first half of 2008.

In summing up the discussion, CWI secretary, Tony Saunois, said that Socialist Movement Pakistan leadership of two recent big strikes of textile and telecom workers was a sign of what could soon develop for other CWI sections. CWI members should be prepared for mass struggles and be armed with socialist demands. It is important that the CWI draws together these types of experiences, from different countries, in the fight for worldwide socialism.

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August 2008