Discussions on capitalist oppression and the socialist alternative
The fourth day of the Latin American CWI School began with a debate between Marcus Kollbrunner and Roberio Paulino. Roberio is a leading member of the CLS group, with which the SR (Brazilian section of the CWI) is currently in discussion. These discussions have the aim of fusion in the next period. Roberio has written and published a book on socialism in the last decade, which was the basis of the discussion.
Socialism in the 20th century: what went wrong?
The debate began with both speakers accepting that there is agreement on fundamental points of programme and on the outline of the way forward for the left in the next period. The debate was very friendly and was conducted in a respectful comradely.
Roberio started the discussion explaining some of the basic ideas of his book. He said from the beginning that it is a book written for the movement’s activists and not theoreticians. With this work, he tries to address the question what went wrong with ‘socialism’, both in the “eastern block” countries where it was implemented, but also in all the countries where it played a role in shaping the left movement.
The discussion involved issues such as the role of the state in underdeveloped capitalist countries, the prospects for the state in a socialist and a communist society, the relationship between the working class, the movement and the revolutionary party, the environment and its’ role in the Marxist analysis today, the substitutionalism of the left and the role of worker’s councils after a revolution.
There were many contributions by both SR and CLS members explaining their views on these issues and exchanging ideas.
Of course there was not full agreement in all these issues. The points of disagreement were clearly stated and debated. It was a generally agreed that the friendly fraternal discussion will go on and that in the process of the fusion, it is not expected that the two organisations will have a common view on every issue.
In the afternoon there was a joint discussion about different forms of oppression. There were three introductions about women’s issues, racism and LGBT rights. The discussion afterwards was lively, with wide participation, especially by the younger comrades.
Jane gave the introduction on women. She analysed the position of women in Latin American countries and the double oppression that they are under. She raised the idea of producing a Latin American bulletin for 8 March. The bulletin will give a picture of the situation of women in different countries, our proposals and ideas, but also try to explain the even worse position that women will find themselves in with the onset of the economic crisis of capitalism.
Luciano introduced a discussion on racism in Brazil. He referred to the history of slavery in Brazil and said that it has left its mark on the situation today. “Blacks were the workers then, and they are still now” he said. He went on to say that of every 4 reais income produced in Brazil today, only one goes to black people. You won’t see a black doctor, but the shanty towns and the jails are full of black people. He emphasised the need to fight against racism, for black people’s rights and for an end to the capitalist system that perpetuates these inequalities.
Wallace gave the introduction on LGBT rights. He painted a picture of the problems faced by people with a sexual orientation that is not considered “normal” by capitalist stereotypes. Different forms of sexual oppression were mentioned. It was explained that this is done to preserve the patriarchal model, on which the current society is based. The socialist character that the LGBTT movement has to take on was stressed in his introduction. This must be done in order to give the movement a way forward, and to prevent it from being commoditised.
The day ended with a financial appeal. It was explained that our organisations always pay much attention to finances. Our financial independence is the basis for our political independence. We want to be based on the financial support of workers and the oppressed. The need for the self sacrificing spirit of revolutionaries was stressed and comrades were called on to do their best, even in the bad economic conditions of “developing” countries.