No return to low level of struggle

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Report from international socialist meeting

The Committee for a Workers International (CWI) is the international organisation to which the Socialist Party (SP) is affiliated. The CWI is organised in over 40 countries across the world and aims to unite the working class and oppressed peoples against global capitalism, and to fight for a socialist world.

In late November of 2003 the International Executive Committee (IEC) of the CWI met in Belgium for its annual week-long meeting. Its members discussed the events of the year just gone and the perspectives for the year 2004.

The first session focused on the world after the Iraq war, and the fact that Iraq is still ‘the centre of world politics’. US imperialism certainly isn’t in the position it wanted to be at this stage, with the price of oil far from coming down and in fact increasing significantly.

The cost of reconstruction in Iraq has gone from $1.7 Billion before the war to $86 Billion now. This has certainly been a blow for Bush and Blair and coupled with the high fatality and casualty rates of coalition troops and the mass demonstrations both on home soil and abroad, Bush is now being forced to talk about a rapid exit strategy.

Whilst any attempt to withdraw from direct military occupation would be humiliating and a blow to imperialism, it is more likely that the troops will stay on in the name of ‘UN peace keepers’ after July.

One thing that is certain is that US imperialism has created a new centre of instability in a region that has for a long time been far from stable. The world economy after the war in general is stagnant and it was agreed that despite some short term periods of growth the long term cycle for world capitalism will be one of depression. The three main trading blocks of Japan, Europe, and the US are all in serious trouble.

Japan remains in ongoing recession, the entire European Union (EU) is stagnant, with main player Germany entering its second recession in two years. Whilst the US is claiming significant growth, it is largely due to an increase in consumer spending. Household debt is at an all time high. This will not be sustainable in the medium term.

One of the main tasks for the next period will be to link up the growing anti-occupation movement with the workers movement especially in the US where the levels of strikes are slowly increasing. But also in Europe where it seems that after a lull in the level of strikes in the 90?s the working class have now awakened.

Strike waves have hit Germany, Italy, France, Poland and Austria. Workers are fighting back against neo-liberal cuts and attacks on living standards. The institution of the EU itself has also taken blows, with the defeat of the Swedish referendum on the Euro and the failure of member states to agree on a constitution.

Over the past year the CWI has played a key role in some very important struggles.

In Nigeria for example where there was two general strikes over increased fuel prices our members were elected onto both national and regional bodies to co-ordinate the strike.In Ireland our party led a battle against the introduction of bin taxes in Dublin, were many of our members served time in jail for the role they played in the fight.

In Germany it was our party that first called for a national demonstration inside the trade unions to counter the government attacks on social services. Such was the response from the rank and file that the tame union leadership was forced to follow suit. This turned into a demonstration of over 100,000.

The work that has been done in Australia was also reported on. In fact the report on the setting up of the UNITE campaign to fight casualisation, inspired other sections of the CWI to take up similar campaigns against low pay.

In countries like Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, and India our sections are doing very important work under difficult circumstances and right around the globe the CWI is playing its role in the anti-occupation movements.

The IEC was in general agreement that there would be no return to the low levels of class struggle that we saw in the 1990s. It is clear that at this stage most working people that have participated in the recent mass strikes and demonstrations have not seen them as a challenge to the capitalist system.

It will take both time and experience for major sections of the working class to develop this consciousness. Once this occurs workers around the world will see the need to build their own mass parties.

This article can obviously only provide a taste of the discussions of that took place at the IEC meeting. For full reports as well as up to date news and analysis of world events please visit the CWI web site:

By Anthony Main