Europe is in the grip of a new wave of Covid, with the World Health Organisation predicting that, by next spring, two million will have died from the disease continent-wide. Whereas in the first wave of the pandemic, governments were generally able to temporarily increase their support under the banner of ‘national unity’ against the virus, this has now turned into its opposite.
In 2020 the Eurozone contracted by a massive 6.3%. This was not spread evenly. Spain’s economy shrunk by 10.8%, compared to 4.6% for Germany. Outside of the Eurozone and the EU, Britain was among the worst hit of the economically-developed countries, contracting by 9.8%. In 2021 the recovery was slower in the Eurozone than the unstable growth in the US or China, reflecting the particular weaknesses of European capitalism. Now the latest wave of the pandemic, and some other factors, is threatening even that limited recovery. It is not yet clear how prolonged the latest wave will be, or whether it will be followed by another severe spike in the virus as a result of the Omicron or another variant. If this takes place it would have significant economic and political effects. But even without that, it is clear that the continent is facing a phase of increased economic, health and environmental crises. This will lead to instability and mass struggle, fuelled by what the working class has experienced over the last eighteen months, as well as by what is to come.
Across Europe, the general picture is of unpopular, and increasingly unstable, governments. The new ‘traffic light’ coalition in Germany, the strongest European power, is inherently fragile. The undermining of the social base of German capitalism is clearly indicated by both major parties – the CDU and the SPD – winning less than 50% of the vote combined (compared to over 90% in the 1970s). It is not possible to list every weak European government but, to give examples, after eight months of haggling a coalition government is still to be formed in the Netherlands. Portugal is facing a snap general election after the collapse of the government. In Sweden, the government led by the first-ever female prime minister, Magdalena Andersson of the SAP, lasted just seven hours before it collapsed, before now being shakily reformed. Austria’s chancellor had to resign facing corruption charges in October 2021, government crises are not new there, the country has had six administrations since May 2016. Ireland, like Germany, has an unstable coalition government. The outcome of the French Presidential election is uncertain. Britain’s Tory prime minister Boris Johnson is increasingly under attack from the capitalist press, and within his own party, both because of the deep divisions in the Tories, and because he is such a ‘Trumpian’ unreliable representative of the interests of the British capitalist class.
Continent-wide, the underlying rage against all that the working class has suffered, which has been accumulating particularly since the Great Recession, is beginning to resurge. However, the generally woeful role of the leadership of the trade union movement, and the absence of mass workers’ parties, means that anger can erupt in unexpected, confused and episodic ways. The involvement of sections of the working class in the yellow vest movement in France has been an example of such a phenomenon. The substantial demonstrations against government Covid restrictions which have swept large parts of Europe partially reflect this and the complete lack of trust in all the institutions of capitalism, above all capitalist politicians. This and the complete failure of the trade union leaderships and left parties to pose an alternative Corona policy and mobilise for it gave room for these protests to appear as the only option to express anger, while at the same time providing a breeding ground for right-wing forces to make gains. The class composition, the degree to which far-right forces dominate these movements, and the size of the protests, vary considerably from country to country.
At this stage, however, in every country, only a very small minority of the working class are expressing their anger by participating in the ‘anti-vax’ protests. Particularly in countries where new lockdown measures against the whole population are blamed on the unvaccinated, we can see increased divisions within the working class on this issue. As we have done up until now, we have to continue to put forward a skilful programme, tailored to the specific situation, but always pointing towards capitalism’s responsibility for the crises caused by the pandemic, and raising demands that point towards the need for workers’ control.
We have had to continuously develop our programme based on the pandemic situation and the consciousness of the masses. We put forward a programme for an effective struggle against the pandemic in the interests of the working class which includes demands for the nationalisation of the pharmaceutical industry, free patents for vaccines, a public health system, more staff and higher wages for hospital workers etc.
Divisions on Covid are only one aspect of the growing tensions across Europe, between and within both classes and nations. All of these will intensify further in the coming period. In an increasingly conflict-ridden multipolar world, the pressure is immense on the capitalist classes of Europe to draw closer together in order to act as an effective common block. Simultaneously, however, the increasingly conflicting interests of the different national capitalist classes are also ramping up centrifugal forces. These will tend to come to the fore as the EU struggles to find a common response to the multiple crises it is going to face. The end of the ‘Merkel era’, at an economically and politically very uncertain conjuncture, marks the start of new more fractious relations between the different powers of the EU, with future ‘Brexits’, a break up of the Eurozone, or even a fracturing and reconfiguration of the EU being a real possibility. Johnson’s Brexit, and the resulting endlessly ongoing negotiations with the EU, is further weakening British capitalism. This can act as a certain ‘cautionary tale’, but ultimately will not negate the conflicting interests of the different capitalist classes of Europe or growing distrust towards the EU among populations.
Facing crises at home, capitalist politicians are increasingly relying on nationalism to try and shore up their social base. This is clearly demonstrated on both sides in the repugnant spat between Johnson and Macron over the drowning of 27 refugees in the Channel, as well as by the cynical use of refugees by Lukashenko to put pressure on the EU. Growing climate crisis, war and impoverishment will inevitably create new waves of mass migration. The horror of growing numbers drowning in the Channel because the fences around the Port of Calais have been built high enough to block off other, slightly safer, methods of getting to Britain, is another demonstration that no amount of repression will prevent migration. The current political tensions over refugees are not triggered, however, by a new wave of migration. Asylum seekers arriving in Britain, for example, are currently at half the level of the 2000s. The conflict is a reflection of the nationalist posturing of the British and French governments. As in the standoff over fishing rights, the objective interests of British and French capitalism might be to quietly resolve the issues behind the scenes, but events are not entirely under their control.
The ongoing conflict over the Northern Irish protocol remains potentially the most dangerous consequence of Brexit. For both the EU and the British government, the risk of escalating sectarian conflict has come second to defending their own narrow interests. However, the Johnson government fears the damaging economic and political consequences of triggering Article 16 and is under considerable pressure from Biden not to go down that road. It could also be the tipping point for Johnson’s removal as prime minister, and he seems to be considering trying to reach a ‘compromise’ deal. Doing so remains, however, extremely difficult given the EU’s need to defend the single market, the objections of Northern Ireland’s protestants to any border in the Irish Sea, and Johnson’s fear of attacks from the right of his party if he is seen to make concessions to the EU.
Clearly, relations are particularly fractious with Britain, but similar conflicts will increasingly also develop within the EU. The growing centrifugal tensions are East/West as well as North/South. For example, payment of the first tranche of Poland’s €36 billion shares of the Covid recovery package has been delayed by the ongoing row over the Polish government’s Bonapartist incursions into the ‘independence’ of the Polish judiciary. This does not seem, in the short term, to be likely to lead to ‘Polexit’, although that can change in the future. Currently, over 80% of Poles wish to remain in the EU, still seeing it as a route to greater prosperity, and Poland is a net recipient of EU funds, giving the government a significant incentive for staying in. At the same time, for the EU, Poland is important in the growing conflicts with Russia and Eastern Europe states that oriented towards Moscow. However, this will not prevent growing tensions between Poland and the dominant EU powers.
Conflict can also develop on how to deal with aspects of foreign policy. Different EU powers are still adopting varying approaches to the Chinese tech company Huawei, reflecting divisions on how far to go in joining Biden’s attempted block against China. China is Germany’s biggest export market, making Berlin particularly hesitant. Nor is there any likelihood of the European Commission managing to turn its proposal into reality to mobilise €300 billion for a European attempt to rival China’s Belt & Road Initiative. Closer to home, Russian troop build-ups on the border of Ukraine, together with NATO’s increased supply of weapons to Ukraine, raise the threat of a new war. At the same time the divisions within the EU over the new Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, reflected splits on how to deal with the Russian regime in general.
In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the threatened secession of the Serbian area brings a renewed military conflict closer than at any time since 1995. Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of the ‘tripartite leadership’, is refusing to recognise the European ‘high representative’ who, under the Dayton Accord, has dictatorial powers to govern. Dodik has declared that if the EU withdraws funds, they will just get resources from Russia or China instead. The restoration of capitalism in the area led in the 1990s to bloody civil wars, and then a quarter of a century of ethnic division overseen by the imperialist powers. Now, as the tension between those major powers is ratcheted up globally, a new Balkans war cannot be ruled out. On all of these issues, divisions exist within the EU on how best to respond.
The crisis of European capitalism is also reflected in the resurgence of national questions inside existing nation-states. In May 2021, in Scotland, a majority of the MSPs elected were committed to supporting a second referendum on independence. At this stage, the leadership of the SNP do not want to bring the issue to a head, so it may not be posed sharply for a year or two, but regardless of the intentions of the SNP, this will be a central arena of struggle for the Scottish working class in the next period. The same is true in Catalonia, where the pro-independence parties won an absolute majority of the vote (52%) in the 2021 elections to the Catalan parliament. At the same time, Spanish nationalist opposition to independence for Catalonia has been used as a mobilising force by the right. The national question can also come to the fore in other places and will be an important test for left forces. One element in the failure of the post-2007 ‘new left formations’ has been their mistaken approach to the national question, particularly Corbynism and Podemos.
Economically, however, back in 2020, in response to the first phase of the pandemic, the EU took what appeared on the surface to be steps towards integration. The €750 billion stimulus, the Recovery Package, was for the first time borrowed collectively via selling European Commission bonds, and with a majority of it to be distributed as grants rather than loans. This deal came, however, from weakness, not strength. The summit was the longest ever, lasting three days longer than scheduled. The deal was eventually agreed upon because failing to do so would have left the EU facing a catastrophe. However, it did not mark a qualitative step towards EU integration. All existing debt remains the responsibility of individual nation-states, and the debt is not fully in common because it is not ‘joint and severally’ guaranteed. In reality, the problem of how to repay it and who would be responsible for doing so has been kicked ‘down the road’.
The first tranche of this money, just 13%, was only released to national governments (but not Poland!) in the summer of 2021. This slow pace compared to the stimulus packages of nation-states has inevitably intensified the suffering of the weaker economies of the EU. Spain’s economy is still 6.6% smaller than before the pandemic, while inflation, at 5.5%, is above the Eurozone average. Nor, even now the stimulus is starting to come on stream, does it bear the slightest resemblance to the Marshall Plan to which it has been compared. Spain will receive the most in 2021-22, equivalent to around 3% of GDP. While this can have a certain limited effect, these payments have been tied to the PSOE-led government leaving the central elements of the PP’s vicious anti-union laws on the statute books, and to privatisation and ‘efficiency measures’. Future payments are to be dependent on implementing the necessary ‘reforms’, with the right of not just the European Commission but any member state to call a halt if a government does not implement the required privatisation or attacks on the working class. In fact, almost the only certainty for the EU’s policies in the next period is the continuation of attempts to make the working class pay for the crisis, with the stimulus packages’ strings being used as a battering ram against the rights of the working class, particularly of the ‘periphery’ countries. Already the European Commission has issued warnings to Italy for not “sufficiently limiting” the growth of its “nationally financed current expenditure” and urged it to take immediate measures to lower its debt levels.
No clear way forward
Having been forced to implement massive stimulus packages at the peak of the pandemic, globally the major capitalist powers are now feeling their way about what approach to take in the coming period. In the EU the ‘hawks’ only reluctantly agreed to the Recovery Package on the basis that it would be a one-off. Of course, a new stage of catastrophic crisis can result in them retreating from this. Regardless of this, however, it is clear that it is going to be extremely difficult for the different capitalist classes of the EU to negotiate a way forward when none of them has the faintest idea about what they are facing or the best policies to adopt to combat the crisis.
Draghi, former president of the ECB and now prime minister of Italy, has publicly made clear that he thinks the vicious neo-liberal Stability and Growth Pact rules he presided over, suspended until 2023 during the pandemic, are outmoded and should be rewritten. Given that thirteen states’ national debts exceed the 60% limit prescribed by the SGP, he is stating the obvious. However, the appointment as German finance minister of Christian Lindner, the leader of the neo-liberal Free Democrats and opponent of the Covid recovery package, indicates that the German government will want to limit how far the rules are loosened.
At the same time, inflation in the EU has reached 4.1%, and there are clearly divisions on when to raise interest rates. The former would increase the cost of debt for businesses and the population, and worsen the economic crisis, particularly in the weaker countries of the Eurozone. Inflation, however, has reached almost 6% in Germany, increasing the pressure to take action.
The EU also faces a dilemma on when to stop the ECB’s current government bond-buying programme. It is scheduled to end in the spring of 2022, but this could trigger a gulf opening up between German and riskier Italian and Spanish bonds. This is one of the numerous future events that could trigger a new sovereign debt crisis, possibly involving Italy and/or Spain. As the third and fifth biggest economies in the EU, this would dwarf the Greek sovereign debt crisis. The sums agreed in the Recovery Package would be totally inadequate to deal with such a scenario. While it would clearly be in the interests of German imperialism to maintain the Eurozone, against the background of a new stage of continent-wide economic crisis, this would not necessarily be possible. A German government that defended spending huge sums to bail out the Eurozone while German workers faced mass unemployment, for example, would face massive revolt and eviction from office. The same would be true in France.
Outlining the dangers facing the Eurozone, the ECB has echoed Greenspan’s infamous “irrational exuberance” comment, pointing to the dangers of the huge level of corporate and state debt, but also to bubbles in large parts of the housing, debt and cryptocurrency markets making them “increasingly susceptible to corrections”, which could be triggered by a “weaker than expected market recovery”, or a “a re-intensification of stress in the non-financial corporate sector”. All of those dangers are increased by the current surge of the virus, but will not disappear when the pandemic recedes.
An upturn in the class struggle
Even prior to a new phase of economic crisis, however, the recovery is joyless for the majority of the working class. Anger accumulated during the pandemic, as did a certain increased awareness of the collective power of the working class, as the people who are ‘essential’ to running society. This underlying mood is now fuelled by inflation surging ahead of wages and is leading to an increase in militant trade union struggles in a number of countries. In some countries, pandemic support packages are still partially in place, and their withdrawal could also fuel struggle. Capitalist governments can, at least partially, sense the storms of class struggle that are coming continent-wide. Many are attempting to prepare for this with new repressive legislation, for example, trying to limit the right to protest.
In Italy, last October, a 24-hour general strike took place against the government’s wage and pensions policies, and the lifting of the ban on redundancies that existed during the pandemic. The occupation of the GKN plant in Florence in response to the threat of closure, with tens of thousands demonstrating in support of the occupiers, is another indication of a new phase of struggle in Italy. At this stage in other countries, strikes are generally of a local and/or sectoral character, primarily as a result of the complete lack of leadership from the right-wing trade union leaders, but are nonetheless significant. In Spain, the nine-day strike of Cadiz metalworkers faced vicious police brutality, including the government authorising the use of decommissioned tanks against the strikers. In almost every country, sections of workers, often spearheaded by transport workers, are acting to demand wage increases. These include teachers in Hungary, nursery staff in Austria, rail workers in France and many more. In Belgium, even the police force has been organising mass protests over wages and pensions. In Britain, the election of Sharon Graham as general secretary of Unite is a reflection of an increase in militancy at the workplace level, which her election has fuelled further. The union is currently involved in more than fifty live disputes. This mood is also a factor in the election of CWI member, Carmel Gates, as the general secretary of the largest public sector trade union in Northern Ireland, NIPSA.
Failed ‘new’ formations
These steps towards a more generalised fightback in the workplaces are taking place, however, against the background of the extreme weakness, or complete absence of, mass left formations. The ‘new formations’ of the post-2007 era have been found utterly wanting. Generally speaking their very limited programmes and lack of active involvement of the working class has led to them quickly retreating or betraying in the face of the attacks of the capitalists. In some countries, this can lead to a temporary turning away from the political arena as seemingly ‘too difficult’, by some important combative sections of the working class.
In Britain, Corbynism has been decisively defeated within the Labour Party, and the leadership of the Blairite right consolidated under Keir Starmer. Left activists are being expelled from Labour in their thousands, and Corbyn himself is not allowed to sit as a Labour MP. Under the impact of these events one smaller trade union, the Bakers’ Union, has disaffiliated from Labour. Unite, the largest Labour affiliated union has passed a motion demanding councillors support ‘no cuts needs budgets’, and Sharon Graham is raising the need for ‘workers’ politics’. Potentially this opens the road to Unite and other trade union activists contesting elections on an anti-cuts programme, which we are campaigning for. Right now, however, beyond ourselves and others in TUSC, no serious force in the workers’ movement is stepping onto the electoral plane.
In Spain, the entry of Podemos into government as a junior partner to PSOE, rather than allowing them to come to power as a minority government, marked a crossing of the Rubicon. It has resulted in huge electoral setbacks for the party, which is no longer seen by the masses as being in opposition to ‘the establishment’ but rather as part of it. In Portugal, the Left Bloc (BE) and the Communist Party (PCP) made similar mistakes, again, not because they allowed the Socialist Party (PSP) to come to power but because – while they did not formally join the government – they formed a pact which gave the government stability, without winning commitments to stopping attacks on the living standards of the working class. They then continued to prop up the government while it used anti-trade union laws against a series of strikes. As a result, both parties have been punished by those who previously voted for them. In response to pressure from below and a strike wave sweeping Portugal, the BE and PCP then did not vote for the PSP budget, leading to the fall of the government. Had they then formed a united front, with a socialist programme, linked to the need for mass trade union action against austerity, they could still have taken important steps forward. This is not, however, the approach they have taken, and they have suffered further electoral losses in the general election.
In France, Mélenchon has not developed La France Insoumise into a democratically-structured party linked to mass struggles and based on the working class. Instead, it remains a top-down organisation, overwhelmingly focused on Mélenchon’s role as an individual. He is standing in the Presidential elections under the name of a new vehicle, L’Union Populaire. Nonetheless, Mélenchon is currently on around 10% in opinion polls for the Presidential election and, if he carries out a fighting campaign aimed at the working class, it is possible that his vote could exceed the seven million he received in 2017, mainly from working-class communities. This could even succeed in cutting across the currently dominant right-wing candidates and getting Mélenchon through to the second round. This, in turn, would pose the need for a workers’ party among an important layer of the working class. The potential for the left to make electoral breakthroughs is also shown by the success in Croatia of a ‘Podemos-type’ formation, Mozemo, which was founded in 2019. Their candidate won the Mayor of Zagreb in May 2021, but the character of their social base is not clear, nor if they have learned any lessons from the Podemos leadership’s fundamental mistakes.
Die Linke completely failed to take advantage of the growing anger with the capitalist establishment in Germany; it lost almost half its vote in the general election, and barely scraped into parliament despite falling below the 5% barrier. Splits in Die Linke may be posed in the next period. Generally, these formations are unlikely to act as direct precursors to the development of new mass workers’ parties. Fresh forces, arising from the massive class battles ahead, will be the main driving force for these formations. While we cannot predict how quickly new formations will develop, we have to be prepared for the process to be very rapid once the working class sees a viable means to fight for its interests on the political plane. Just as Syriza went from 4.6% of the vote to win a general election in six years, new parties can make very rapid breakthroughs. Learning the lessons of the last decade, some will tend to have a higher starting point than the first wave of ‘new formations’. It is of course possible that some of those involved in the first wave will play a role in the development of new formations. Nor is it wrong for us to intervene in existing formations in some cases while maintaining our own independent programme and profile. Even if an existing formation was clearly in terminal decline this might be tactically correct in some instances, if it helped to raise our profile and reach a broader section of workers and young people.
Picking up old weapons
One of the features of this period is that looking for means to express their anger at the existing order, the working class can temporarily pick up all kinds of electoral weapons. This means that, if they manage to cling to existence despite their shallow roots, it can’t be ruled out that different new ‘left’ formations have a new lease of electoral life in the future, even where they have betrayed the working class in government. This is not the same, however, as developing mass struggle parties of the working class.
It is noticeable that, in a few countries, communist parties, with generally a stronger working-class base than the ‘new left formations’ have experienced some electoral growth. In Greece, the KKE, which has maintained a certain base in the working class but has had a highly sectarian attitude, now appears to be becoming more open to cooperating with others in the workers’ movement.
In Belgium, the Workers’ Party (the PTB), with Maoist origins, in 2019 won 8.6% of the vote nationally, and 13.8% in the Walloon. It now has more than 150 elected representatives, including 12 in the federal parliament. Despite its political limitations, including an undemocratic, top-down structure, the PTB could take further steps forward, as a result of its pro-working class rhetoric, being the only bilingual party in the parliament, and also, along with the far-right, being one of the few parties not part of the current coalition government. The Economist commented that “disaffected voters in depressed regions have been fodder for the radical right across Europe” but that “canny politics” from the PTB has “flipped that trend, dragging voters to the other side.” For any serious Trotskyist force trying to build in Belgium, it would be necessary to put demands on the PTB. Those who parted ways with us in the 2019 split, however, appear to have adopted a ‘strategy’ of trying to pretend the PTB do not exist, with no systematic approach to those attracted to it. Additionally, the Communist Party in Austria came first in the 2021 local elections in the second city of Austria, Graz, with 29% of the vote. They appear to have built up to support via some local community campaigning and their councillors only taking a workers’ wage. It is also a change for this era that almost a third of voters were willing to vote for candidates standing as communists.
Given the shallow base of all the establishment parties, we have to be prepared for all kinds of sudden electoral swings. Right now there is a certain electoral resurgence of social democratic parties in a number of countries. Most often, as in Germany, where the SPD got its third worst result in history despite ‘winning’ the election, this is as a result of a fall in the vote of the traditional parties of capitalism rather than any dramatic increase for the social democratic parties. Nonetheless, in the first phase of new social democratic-led governments, there are bound to be some hopes among sections of the working class that things will ‘get better’. These will be shallow and shattered relatively quickly, however. In some cases, the social democratic parties will be more reliable representatives of the interests of the capitalist class than the increasingly weakened and divided forces of the traditional capitalist parties. It is also noticeable that the Greens, again often despite having already played a rotten role in government in recent decades, are having a new electoral lease of life in a number of countries, fuelled by the desire for action on climate change. They are now part of coalition governments in Germany, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Scotland, and Luxemburg, sometimes with openly right-wing parties. The inevitable result will be a shattering of any illusions that they offer a left alternative to the establishment parties, or that they are capable of taking effective measures to deal with the climate crisis.
The other electoral channel that sections of the working and middle class are taking to express their anger is, of course, right-populist and far-right forces. The far-right Brothers of Italy, which openly celebrates Mussolini’s rule, have now overtaken the League in opinion polls, partly because of the League’s support for the Draghi government. In France, the neo-liberal ultra-racist talk show host, Zemmour, is close behind Le Pen in some polls for the presidential election, with them both on between 15-20% of the vote. While it is not the most likely, it cannot be ruled out that one or other of them could win the Presidential election. Across the continent, given the vacuum on the left and the bankruptcy of the major capitalist parties, space exists for the development of right-populist forces. In Britain, for example, one of the few countries where there is currently no significant formation of this type, it is only because it has been temporarily subsumed into supporting the Johnson wing of the Tory Party. As anger grows at Johnson’s failure to ‘level up’ working class communities, new right formations will emerge.
Generally speaking, far-right formations remain primarily electoral. Nonetheless, their growth and that of right-populism have given confidence in some countries to fascistic gangs, and to a certain increase of far-right activists within police forces and the military. We have also seen a rise in racist attacks and right-wing terror attacks, the latter usually carried about by ‘lone wolves’. At the same time the anti-racist mood of the majority, particularly of young people, has grown as was demonstrated by the mass support for the BLM movement in 2020. As mass movements of the working class develop the right populists will tend to be forced back. Nonetheless, given the absence of mass workers’ parties with fighting programmes at this stage, they can and will resurge.
In Eastern Europe, right-wing nationalist forces are in power in Poland and Hungary and are gaining support in some other countries. In Estonia, for example, the nationalist right populists are ahead in opinion polls for the first time. In Poland the Law and Justice Party (PiS) were able to win the 2020 general election partly because it had given a few crumbs to the working class during its first government, including lowering the retirement age, increasing the minimum wage and introducing a child benefit. This has been combined with whipping up nationalism, increasing repression, and attacking the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people. When in 2016 the PiS government first attempted to attack abortion rights, which were already extremely limited, it was forced to retreat by a mass movement. Now it has implemented a virtually total ban on the right to abortion.
We are entering a period with a number of complicating features, in particular the absence of mass workers’ parties and the continued space for right populism. However, it would be a serious mistake to see these complications as the most important features of the era we are going into. What will be central are the crises of capitalism and the mass struggles that will develop in response to them. Under the hammer blows of experience since 2007/8, the understanding of wide sections of the working class had already taken huge steps forward compared to the period after the collapse of Stalinism. Under the cover of the pandemic, further radicalisation has taken place, even if it is yet to be fully revealed. Coming events will see much greater leaps forward, and opportunities to build powerful sections of the CWI across the continent where we began.