More than 1,200 people attend the public meetings of Alan Woods in Brazil

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We publish here a final roundup of Alan Woods’ recent tour of Brazil written by the comrades of Esquerda Marxista. The tour was part of a wider speaking tour taking in Bolivia and Argentina. A total of over 2000 people attended the meetings in the three countries, which bodes well for the development of the forces of the IMT on the South American continent.

University of Sao PauloUniversity of Sao Paulo Alan Woods concluded his recent tour of three South American countries in Brazil, where seven meetings were attended by more than 1,200 people, who listened to and discussed his analysis of the global crisis of capitalism and the revolution of the Arab peoples.

Alan Woods has been active in the Marxist movement for over fifty years. The British writer and Marxist theoretician graduated from Sussex University and then studied in Moscow State University. He participated in the struggle against the Franco dictatorship in Spain in the 1970s and was in Portugal during the Revolution. Today he is the main leader of the International Marxist Tendency, of which the Marxist Left (Esquerda Marxista) is the Brazilian section.

Alan Woods is well known in Venezuela, where his books are read and commented on in TV programs and recommended by President Hugo Chavez. His work has also been cited by the press in countries in Europe and the Middle East. In Brazil he is best known among left-wing activists and in academia. However, only a few of his books have been published in Portuguese.

Of the more than 20 books he has written, and which have been published in over 10 languages, only two have so far been published in Portuguese: "Reason in Revolt: Marxist philosophy and modern science" (in 2007 by Luta de Clases Publishers) and more recently "Reformism or Revolution - Marxism and Socialism of the XXI Century: a reply to Heinz Dieterich ", published by the Editora Marxista publishing house. Even so, the interest in this tour was very high. After holding two public meetings in Bolivia, which attracted over 800 people, and two in Argentina, which about 150 people attended, Alan arrived in southern Brazil, in the state of Santa Catarina, on March 31.

In his meetings, Alan set out his analysis of the Revolution of the Arab peoples and of the world Capitalist Crisis, first at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) in Florianopolis, which was attended by more than 150 people - mostly young students. Then on April 2 it was the turn of Joinville, the main industrial centre in the state, where more than 200 people packed the amphitheatre of IELUSC to listen to Marxist ideas. In this activity, as well as students, there were also trade unionists, workers, representatives of residents’ associations and the PT (Workers’ Party).

In the activity held at UFSC, Alan Woods was joined by Khader Othoman of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, who opened the debate, giving a warm welcome to Alan Woods and expressing his enthusiasm for the developments in the Arab world. When he arrived in Joinville, as well as meeting representatives of the UJES (Joinville Union of Secondary Students) and the Union of Municipal Workers of Joinville, Alan also gave an interview to the local media. The newspaper Primeira Pauta (First Schedule) published a story taking up an entire page on the visit of Alan Woods to the city.

After this, Alan went to Rio de Janeiro where he first visited the headquarters of the PCB (Brazilian Communist Party) and had a long meeting with leaders of this party, including Ivan Pinheiro, its Secretary General. Ivan spoke of the struggle that his group had conducted within the party since the end of the dictatorship to correct previous mistakes and build a truly communist party. He also criticized the old theory of "stages" as a symptom of reformism and explained that the party now stood for socialist revolution, uniting workers of the cities and the countryside and drawing in the other oppressed classes.

In turn, Alan explained the struggle of the International Marxist Tendency and the Marxist Left (Brazilian section of the IMT) against reformism within the PT. He recalled that the first task of every Communist, of every revolutionary is to develop clear ideas and programmatic demands. However, the second task is to find a road to the workers wherever they are, and this generally means the reformist mass organizations, and we need to work out our orientation in relation to these organizations, including participation in these parties in order to help workers adopt a communist point of view. He praised the PCB for its quest for political clarity and recognized the positive results achieved so far.

Later in the day (April 4) a public meeting was held in the headquarters of the oil workers’ union, Sindipetro, which brought together about 80 people. The debate was opened by the leader of the oil workers, Cancela. He explained the struggle of Sindipetro for 100% state ownership of Petrobras and how it would benefit the Brazilian people. Cancela produced data proving that the money taken in profits could be used to solve a good part of the deficiencies in education and health that afflict the people and spoke of the need for everybody to unite around this struggle.

Before the meeting there was an assembly of the Left Slate that is standing in the elections of the union (the slate which in which the Marxist Left participates). Several members of the slate, despite being tired from work and the meeting, remained behind to listen to comrade Alan Woods. There was also a large presence of young people, teachers and other categories as well as national leaders of the Communist Party (PCB), including its Secretary General, Ivan Pinheiro.

Unfortunately it was not possible to hold the meeting that was scheduled between Alan Woods and the Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff – whose cartoons are often posted on the Marxist.com website, of which Alan is an editor – because of the tight schedule of comrade Alan Woods, who had to travel early next morning to Recife, where he gave another lecture.

Arriving in Recife, on April 5, he was received by Comrade Faustão (of the national leadership of the CUT) and the consul of Venezuela, Coromoto Godoy. During lunch, the consul invited comrade Alan to return to Recife on another occasion and speak at meetings organized by the Venezuelan Consulate on the situation in Venezuela and the world and offered to assist the Campaign of Hands off Venezuela, of which Alan Woods is co-founder. The Recife meeting took place in the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE), with the active participation of more than 300 people.

Then on April 6, Alan went to Sao Paulo to continue the tour. As soon as he arrived he was driven to the University of São Paulo (USP), where about 200 people showed up to discuss with Alan. Although the majority were young undergraduates and graduate students in various courses at the USP (history, geography, literature, philosophy, social sciences, sociology, mathematics, arts, architecture, etc.), there were also teachers, trade unionists and activists from various political parties and organizations.

Alan was greeted by a union leader of Sintusp (USP Workers Union) and also received greetings from Adusp (Teachers’ Union), which could not be present. Also present in the debate was comrade Maged El Gebaly, an Egyptian teacher who has been living in Brazil for two years, doing his doctorate at USP. He is a member of the January 25 Front and returned to Egypt on  January 23 this year to participate actively in the movement that toppled Mubarak. At the end of his speech, Comrade Mageb publicly invited Alan Woods to go to Egypt to explain his ideas.

The next morning, Alan was at the occupied Flaskô factory in Sumaré (in the interior of Sao Paolo State, Campinas). Warmly received by factory workers and the residents of the Vila Operária e Popular (the Workers’ and People’s Village), Alan spoke to an audience of just over 60 people, among whom there were about 30 workers from the plant who had stopped production for three hours to hear him.

The debate was broadcast live in its entirety on the Internet by "TV Fight" (and it may be seen at any time here.) A pleasant surprise was the participation of 12 children, pupils of the "Factory of Culture" – a school of children's art school for children organized by the workers of Flaskô for their children and those of the nearby Workers’ Village.

Before beginning the lecture, Alan made an inspiring tribute to the workers of Flaskô:

"Firstly, it is an honor to be here at this plant, which is so important to the class struggle in Brazil. I know you have had a tough fight, and have passed through very difficult moments. And I also know that the hardest thing is a sense of isolation. Often we feel alone in the fight. So my first message to you is: You are not alone, comrades! I am here to convey a message of fraternal solidarity from the working class, youth, and trade unions of Europe, who have been following with great interest and enthusiasm the struggle of the workers of Flaskô which is a wonderful example for the working class around the world. And I want to convey with all my heart, the firm solidarity of the European and world labour movement with your fight, the fight of the Flaskô workers to achieve their just demands, and we commit ourselves to do whatever we can to help, and to provide you with whatever you need to win your fight.

Finally, Alan held his last meeting in Brazil before more than 130 people in the building of the Chemical Workers Union of São Paulo. Here the majority consisted of unionists, but in the hall there were also students, artists and members of the PT (Workers’ Party) from São Paulo, São Bernardo, Guarulhos, Caieiras, Bauru and other cities. In this activity Alan was joined on the platform by the leaders of the Chemical and Glassworkers’ unions. After the discussion, Alan was interviewed by the union’s TV channel. And the next day, before returning to London, Alan gave another interview to the magazine Caros Amigos (to be published in the May issue).

In all these activities Alan explained how the global capitalist crisis and the Arab revolution are parts of the overall process of change throughout the world. Alan recalled the words of Lenin, when he noted that in Russia the chain of capitalism had broken at its weakest link. Now history is repeating itself in the Arab Revolution. "The Arab Revolution has begun, but it is not yet finished," he said. "The masses are not fighting for democracy in the abstract, but for jobs, housing and a decent standard of living. But no bourgeois government can give them those things. They cannot give them in Europe or the USA, so how can they give them in Egypt? Therefore the revolution will continue, with highs and lows over a long period. Sooner or later the working class will conclude that the only way out is to take power."

In all the discussions Alan had predicted that, after Ireland and Greece, Portugal would be the next country to break in the Euro zone. And then, on the day of his last meeting in Brazil came the headline news that Portugal was asking for financial help to pay its debts. Alan had not had time to read the newspapers that day because he had gone to Flaskô in a very busy morning, but he said he was not surprised. He added: the next one is Spain!

On the issue of Libya, Alan said it had begun as a genuine popular uprising, but degenerated into a civil war in which some very questionable elements had pushed themselves to the fore. These included several former ministers of Gaddafi, who were demanding the intervention of the imperialists. This was a reactionary position which we reject totally.

"Revolutions do not respect borders, much less the artificial borders that were imposed by colonialism in North Africa and the Middle East that divide the living body of the great Arab Nation. The main task of the Arab revolution is the abolition of these borders and the establishment of a Socialist Federation which will extend from the Atlantic to the Euphrates," he said.

Alan also spoke of the labour movement in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, where the workers occupied the state legislature for three weeks and are still there today, saying they should fight like the Egyptian workers!

In all the discussions Alan stressed the urgent need for a revolutionary party and a revolutionary leadership in all countries, without which the victory of the revolution will not occur. And he invited everyone to help build the forces of the International Marxist Tendency in Brazil.

(12/04/2011)

Source: Esquerda Marxista (Brazil)

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