A week-end of discussion on perspectives for the left – in Italy and in Europe – against the background of international capitalist crisis.
Socialistworld.net is very pleased to carry a translation of the report carried on the web-site of Controcorrente this Monday. The comrades of ControCorrente have been active inside the Prc (Party of Communist Refoundation) and the Cgil and are facing the challenge of what needs to be done now. They have been discussing many issues with the Committee for a Workers’ International for some time. At its conference last Saturday the Controcorrente Association decided unanimously to express its political solidarity with the CWI.
The visit to Liguria of Peter Taaffe, secretary of the Socialist Party, England and Wales and Clare Doyle, from the International Secretariat of the CWI (Committee for a Workers’ International) was divided into different events. On Friday 14th May and Sunday the 16th there were two public meetings under the title: ‘For a left of position-holders or a workers’ left? An international problem’. Around 50 people were at the first one, held in Genoa and 20 at the second one in Savona.
The audience was limited (by timing) but a good selection. Amongst those attending were workers and shop stewards from the Ericsson factory, from Fincantieri (the shipyards), from Navalimpianti, Datasiel, Eurocontrol, Bombardier (engineering), from AMT, AMIU, ASTER e ASEF (ex municipal), from education and university, CGIL, RDB and COBAS leaders and some representatives of other organisations of the left.
“In Italy,” said Marco Veruggio, national spokesperson for ControCorrente, “There is a massive vacuum in the political representation of the world of work and it is into this that the Northern League and also the far right are pushing themselves. But this is not only an Italian problem.”
“At the recent congress of the CGIL, in fact, anyone who supported the alternative document (to that of the leadership) found themselves without any political backing,” added Antongiulio Mannoni, Genoa CGIL secretary and spokesperson for the (opposition) Moccia-Rinaldini motion.
New mass workers’ parties
Peter Taaffe explained how in Britain, the Socialist Party (in the CWI) sought to fill this vacuum by collaborating with the RMT (Railway and Maritime Transport – a union, with 80,000 members), the Prison Officers’ Association and other trade union organisations in the civil service, local government, fire service and political organisations like the Communist Party (at first) and other socialists, to launch first the ‘NO2EU’ list and then ‘TUSC’ (the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) as two alliances, to the left of the Labour Party, standing in the European election of 2009 and the recent general election respectively.
“Many workers in England feel that New Labour’s defeat will push it to the left,” explained Peter. “But this will not happen.” It is not an accident that the main candidate to succeed Gordon Brown is David Milliband, one of the closest collaborators of Tony Blair.
“Therefore,” he proceeded, “It is necessary to continue to work for a new mass party which represents for workers an alternative to the Labour Party”.
“The question of an alternative to the parties of the ‘centre left’ (who have gone even further to the right!)”, said Clare Doyle, “also exists in other countries. There are formations in which the CWI intervenes like the New Anticapitalist Party in France, Die Linke in Germany and Syriza, the left federation in Greece, to which Xekinima, the Greek section of the CWI, belongs.
“At this time of big class battles,” she said, “if Syriza adopted a socialist programme to fight the effects of the crisis and the austerity measures of Papandreou, it could grow rapidly and have a big effect in the battle to transform society in Greece.”
Another issue raised was that of coordinating the struggles of workers in Europe. Joe Higgins, European MP for the Socialist Party of Ireland, is playing a crucial role in pushing the Left Parliamentary Group (GUE) to promote solidarity action amongst European workers hit by the crisis. In June there will be another, bigger, initiative to organise solidarity with the movement in Greece. In Spain, the leader of the UGT, the trade union federation traditionally allied with the socialists, is talking of breaking with the 9governing) party, PSOE, after Zapatero announced a reduction of 5% in public sector wages. On the 2nd of June, together with the Workers’ Commissions (close to the ‘Communists’), a public sector general strike is being called. The CWI is working to try and get the same day also to be declared for a big mobilisation of strike action in Greece and in Portugal.
ControCorrente and the CWI
On Saturday 15 May, the national assembly of the Association ControCorrente took place with the participation of around 25 comrades. The meeting expressed full agreement with the the analysis and work of the CWI and the intention to consolidate the relationship between the two organisations. At the end of the meeting a new national committee of the Association was elected composed of: M. Armellin (Veneto), A. Ghaderi (Abruzzo), P. Granchelli (Lombardia), L. Minghetti (Piemonte), C. Dicembre e C. Thomas (Emilia), M. Veruggio (Liguria) and F. Nigro (national treasurer).