Report of 2013 CWI Summer School:
Report of 2013 CWI Summer School:
Building Marxist forces In an Era of Global Capitalist Decay
By Kola Ibrahim
This year’s CWI Summer School has come and gone, but the tremendous effects it has on the consciousness, understanding and comradely feeling of participants will stay for a very long time. Just like others before it, the 2013 Summer School offered members and supporters of the CWI organized in all the continents of the world, to have and develop new strategies in the struggle to make democratic and revolutionary socialism the battle cry of millions of workers and young people in battle against capitalism globally.
The School: Sharing Socialist Ideas in the Spirit of Comradeship
Three hundred and seventy five comrades and supporters from thirty five countries attended this year’s Summer School, with a sizable proportion of the delegates being young people. The political development in South Africa, especially as relating to the growth of our forces and the building of a workers’ party from the crucible of mass workers’ struggles formed one of the cardinal discussions at the School. In all, fourteen commissions â€“ which are special meetings to address political developments in some countries and other topics that cannot be covered at the plenary, due to time and resources factors â€“ were held. Aside the Nigerian commission, there were commissions on US, Latin America, China, Middle East, Youths, Paper and Social Media, Women and Feminism, Nationalism, Trade Union, Spain and Portugal, South Asia, Global Warming, and LGBT. Aside from discussions on South Africa and World Relations, the plenary sessions also covered Europe. The meetings, holding from morning down to the evening, were rich.
One of the uncommon attributes of the CWI is the great regard for comradely discussion and appreciation of differences, without undermining the necessity for critical appraisal of ideas, programmes, policies and slogans. It is this attribute that will continue to attract many comrades, supporters and serious socialist activists, both young and old, to the banner of the International. This spirit was clearly displayed at the School, where comrades â€“ unhindered by racial, gender and cultural factors â€“ interacted freely. There was common and general thirst for ideas and knowledge from other sections. This quest for interaction and comradely discussions did not however prevent critical comments on ideas and activities of sections in such discussions. Rather, such critical comments are conducted not to score any cheap point or denigrate comrades and sections â€“ which would be childish and pointless anyway â€“ but to contribute to the development of our forces everywhere. This allowed comrades to be able to express the weaknesses and strengths of comrades and sections of the CWI.
Added to this is the ‘deliberate’ attempt of the older comrades to interact and relate with the younger generations. This is itself mutual. While the older generation shared experience with the younger generations, the older generations were also able to understand the thinking, consciousness and visions of new generations. This kind of interaction is vital for organizational growth and succession.
Belgium: An experience
Europe is undergoing great changes in terms of increasing attacks on social welfare and public service with as much as 20 percent unemployment. The idea of privatization is being ingrained into the programmes of every pro-capitalist party in Europe today. This has been going on for a while, but is being institutionalized with the current global economic crisis. This means that social welfare in terms of education, healthcare, job security, social security, etc. bitterly fought for and won by the working people since the post-1945 period are being eroded away by pro-capitalist parties â€“ including the ex-social democratic parties and former workers’ parties â€“ under the Washington Consensus.
However, despite the erosion of these social services, Europe is still far ahead in terms of social protection, and developed and organized public services and infrastructures. While what obtains in Europe and other advanced capitalist economies are still far from what humanity need for full human advancement â€“ which can only be achieved by establishing socialism on the world scale â€“ the level of development in Europe, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, cannot be compared to the backwardness of Africa. This is clearly visible in Belgium, where the School was held.
The most ironic part of it is that Nigeria, just like many African countries, has enough resources to provide all of these basic services and facilities to its citizens, with the enormous natural, mineral and human resources the country is endowed with. Unfortunately, the bankrupt, neo-liberal, neo-colonial and pro-imperialist capitalist ruling class in Nigeria, with their rabid quest for primitive accumulation, coupled with their subjugation to the whims of global imperialist capitalism, cannot ensure this. Nigeria, just like most third world countries, is a latecomer to the orbit of global capitalism, and cannot even develop the basic necessities of capitalism. Only the working class, leading other oppressed strata, can accomplish the unfinished task of capitalism and move therefrom to building a socialist society. It is thus the task of genuine socialists to build the political and ideological platform needed for such task. Moreover, there is need to build a political voice of the working class, via a mass working people’s party, as a first step towards the overthrow of capitalism, and enthronement of socialist system. This task is very much important for third world as for the advanced capitalist countries.
Global Capitalist Crisis: The Potential for the Left and the Emerging Threats to Working Class
This year’s School was held at a time when global capitalism is in its worst crisis since the 1930s with every nook and cranny â€“ on the basis of the greater integration of the world into capitalist orbit than the 1930s â€“ feeling the pinch of the crisis. Growing with the global penury this crisis has engendered is also mass struggles of workers and young people who are refusing to be made scapegoats for the crisis caused by capitalist fat cats and bosses.
In Europe, in order to return to pre-recession real growth on the basis of capitalism, wages have to be cut deeply and mass retrenchment will have to be carried out. However, this will be met with mass revolt of workers. On the other hand, the failure to return to growth will mean a kind of institutionalization of current cuts/austerity. In any case, the mass of workers and youths will react politically and in struggles. Of course, where there are no preparations by workers, in terms of building their platforms, deep austerity can bring shock initially to workers, which can retard growth of mass struggles immediately. This does not mean that workers have become reactionary. It can only be a temporary setback. Working people, through bitter experiences, will come to the conclusion of struggle. The failure of labour movement leadership to create political alternative is creating a big vacuum politically that can be exploited by the far right and fascist tendencies such as the BNP and Golden Dawn in Britain and Greece respectively. Also, this vacuum can be filled by the development of left and, already in some cases, a revolutionary consciousness that can aid the emergence of mass platforms from existing small platforms, as seen with the rise of Syriza in Greece during the last elections; plus the enormous impact of the launch of the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) in South Africa. Such changes in consciousness can also force trade unions to the left. However, all this will require the active role of socialists.
In other countries where mass movements have also emerged like in Brazil, our forces have also grown significantly on the basis of our intervention. Also in the US, there has been significant development of our forces on the basis of patient, skillful but consistent campaign in communities and workplaces. Currently, there are possibilities that our US comrades in Seattle, Minneapolis and elsewhere will gain significant votes and even win council seats. The socialist campaign of Kshawa Sawant for a city council seat in Seattle has popularized socialist programmes and profile, which is unprecedented in Seattle for a long time. All of this shows the gain that can come to socialist forces, when we maintain consistent but uncompromising socialist position; combined with flexible and friendly work within workers’ and community movements. In Nigeria too, on the basis of clear analysis, we have also launched Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) since mid-2012 to provide a working class and socialist political voice to millions of workers and young people, who are searching for political alternative to the rotten politics of the main parties of the bourgeois.
Growing along with the crisis in global capitalism is also the revolutions and counter-revolution in the North Africa and Middle East. Though not initially caused by current global economic downturn, the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt â€“ and other places in the region â€“ have been exacerbated by the current global capitalist crisis. The bankruptcy and failure of various pro-capitalist regimes and political forces that have emerged to replace the ousted regimes, have been sharply and quickly shown by the economic downturn, as reflected in the overthrow â€“ on the back of mass revolt â€“ by the corrupt military hierarchy of Morsi/Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt; and the current mass movement of workers and youths to oust the pro-capitalist, authoritarian regime of Ennahda in Tunisia, especially since the assassination of a leading left-wing parliamentarian. While the Egyptian military ruling clique is trying to roll back course of history by drowning the revolution in blood, working and poor masses are going to return to the revolutionary arena, as the economy and political contradictions become too glaring to contain.
China and the World Economy
Indeed, the Chinese economic growth, which has saved many economies, including the US and European economies, and third world economies, has been based on fictitious investments. Already, the economy is mired in serious debt crisis, while the ruling party CCP is trying to turn towards private investment to reduce the growing interest in shadow banking and debts. Indeed, the Chinese economy is unraveling with growth rate expected to fall to 7 percent in this year from 10% two years ago. While, this may sound plausible in Europe and elsewhere, where there have been consistent recession for years now, this is terrible news for the world economy that relies on Chinese import and export. Already, the Brazilian economy, which has China as a major trade partner, is growing at less than 2 percent as against 4.6 percent last year. This is having serious social and political repercussion as witnessed in the recent national mass protests.
For many third world economies, especially in Africa, where China has played the role of last savior since the beginning of world economic meltdown, the economic crisis in China will surely lead to serious economic and political maelstrom. With most African political and economic elites being parasitically dependent on primitive accumulation, the economic crises that will accompany the Chinese economic debacle will surely be far more serious. Already, many Chinese companies and employers are hated by workers in Africa, especially in Nigeria, where the Chinese capitalists are using the backwardness of African economies and huge unemployment to undertake terrible anti-worker policies. This in itself may develop into serious industrial struggles in the coming period.
The School has shown that, while there may be differences in history, culture and development, working people and the oppressed strata the world over are united in their suffering under capitalism â€“ and are united in the struggle for a better society, represented by revolutionary, democratic socialist world. More than this, it also shows that building genuine revolutionary Marxist force, on the basis of objective reality, has shown that sharing of idea and building international platform is much vital now than ever.