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Vol. 73/No. 8      March 2, 2009

 
‘Working people need to see our self-worth’
UK conference discusses impact of capitalist
crisis, transformation of working class
 
BY ÖGMUNDUR JÓNSSON  
LONDON—“For people in this room, born and bred in the UK, we are, for the first time, living through years when building toward proletarian revolution is a question of practical politics,” said Jonathan Silberman, the main speaker at a January 31 meeting here entitled “World Capitalist Crisis Has Barely Begun! … and Workers’ Fight to End the Wages System Is Posed.”

Speaking on behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist League (CL) in the United Kingdom, Silberman explained, “Proletarian revolution is about the political conditions and struggles that lead toward the revolutionary transformation of the proletariat… . Today the biggest obstacle working people have is not recognizing our own self-worth—understanding that we’re capable of taking political power and organizing society anew.”

Fifty-five people attended the meeting, sponsored by the CL and the Young Socialists. It was the centerpiece of a weekend of political activity drawing participants from London, Edinburgh, and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, as well as from Belgium, Canada, France, Greece, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States.

The following day, young socialists and contacts of the communist movement here met to continue the political discussion.

Organized supporters of the communist movement also reviewed their recent accomplishments in helping step up production of Pathfinder books as part of their work in the Printing Project. These supporters also discussed their work to place Pathfinder books in shops and libraries and to help finance the communist movement.

In the afternoon, communist workers attended two workshops to enhance the skills they need to hold jobs in the meat and garment industries and be part of developing working-class resistance.  
 
Communist response to crisis
“Communist propaganda is extremely important today. We can be more bold in presenting a revolutionary perspective than has been open to us for decades,” said Norton Sandler, a member of the Socialist Workers Party National Committee in the United States, at the meeting.

Commenting on the inauguration of Barack Obama as U.S. president, Sandler said, “There will be no equality of sacrifice,” as Obama claimed in his inauguration speech. “Those who are today bearing the brunt of the crisis in the U.S. will continue to do so, except our conditions will worsen,” he said.

The rulers will eventually attempt to resolve this crisis the way they always have in the imperialist epoch,” Sandler said, “through massive military spending.”

The meeting celebrated the publication of two new Pathfinder titles: an expanded edition of Is Socialist Revolution in the U.S. Possible? by Mary-Alice Waters and Capitalism and the Transformation of Africa: Reports from Equatorial Guinea by Waters and Martín Koppel. It was also a send-off for volunteers in the Pathfinder team at the Havana International Book Fair February 12-22. One of those is Andrés Mendoza, a meat worker and member of the Young Socialists in London.

Mendoza reported that Pathfinder would be presenting a broad range of titles, both at the book fair and other events, working with Cuban trade unionists, academics, and youth leaders.  
 
Oppose reactionary strikes
“Communist workers oppose the reactionary, anti-foreign worker strikes and protests that have been taking place in the UK in recent days,” Silberman said. He was referring to actions calling for “British Jobs for British Workers” which began January 28 at the Total oil refinery in Lindsey, Lincolnshire, in northern England.

Even as the “union bureaucracy is doing its best to dampen mass resistance,” Silberman said, “struggles will break out.” The more than 200 workers occupying Waterford Crystal’s factory in Ireland after 480 job cuts were announced “is a glimpse of the future in the present,” he said.

“The working class here—as it is throughout the world—is being strengthened by mass immigration,” Silberman stressed. Given the international character of both the working class and the capitalist crisis, Silberman pointed out, there is a “convergence of experience which lays the foundation for proletarian internationalism practiced by millions. Isn’t it easier after the collapse in Iceland for workers in the Philippines and Thailand—where many of the immigrant workers in Iceland come from—to see workers there as their brothers?”  
 
Democratic, secular Palestine
The CL leader explained how the perspective of struggle for a democratic and secular Palestine, uniting workers and other toilers, both Jewish and Arab, in a common revolutionary struggle—within Israel as well as the Palestinian territories and across the region—is more decisive and gains more of a hearing today.

“Class-conscious workers should drop the term Zionism,” in the current context, Sandler added. “There is no Zionist movement today. The reality is, it has become an epithet, not a scientific description; a synonym for ‘Jew’ that helps fuel Jew-hatred, which will rise as the capitalist crisis deepens.”

The meeting was held in a bright attractive hall, a short walk from the Communist League and Young Socialists headquarters in London. Participants enjoyed a fine catered dinner where the political discussion was continued in a relaxed atmosphere.

A fund appeal netted a total of 1,160 ($1,680) in donations and pledges, which will be added to some 4,000 ($5,800) already raised for a Party Building Fund. This fund will help the CL respond to political openings and developments in the world.  
 
 
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