Nearly 200 people attended the public meeting with Alan Woods in the most important university of Brazil to debate the question of the revolution in the Arab world and the crisis of capitalism
At 6pm on April 6, almost all seats were taken in the lecture hall of the Japanese Culture House, next to the History and Geography Faculty in the main university campus of the USP (University of Sao Paulo). But the meeting had been announced for 6.30 pm, and were sitting in the corridors and the steps waiting for the beginning of the meeting. Unfortunately, comrade Alan who was arriving on a flight from Recife where he had spoken at the Federal University of Pernambuco the day before, was caught in the chaotic traffic of Sao Paulo, and the meeting started more than one hour late. Alan Woods was yet another victim of the paulistano traffic chaos.
Even so, the overwhelming majority of those present waited (some up to an hour and a half) for Alan’s arrival and listened to an enthusiastic speech about the international political situation.
The audience was composed mainly by youth, PhD and undergraduate students of the USP from different courses (History, Geography, Arts, philosophy, Social Sciences, Sociology, Mathematics, Art, Architecture, etc), as well as lecturers, trade unionists and members of different political parties and organizations.
The meeting was opened by Ludmila Facella, a USP student and member of the Marxist Left (Esquerda Marxista). The presidium was also made up of a comrade from the leadership of the Sintusup union of USP workers who welcomed Alan. The Adusp union of USP lecturers sent its greetings and apologised for its absences as an emergency meeting of its leadership was taking place at the same time.
In a humorous way, Alan started his speech saying ironically that we were at a funeral: the funeral of socialism, communism, Marxism and even of history itself. Quoting from Francis Fukuyama, he asked if there were any History students present and then informed them that they could as well quit their studies as history had finished!
“What I cannot understand is why they spend so much time criticising and attacking something which is already dead!” Alan said to general laughter.
He also criticised those professors who populated the universities and say that the working class has a low level of consciousness, that it is unable to carry out a revolution, and also those who go as far as saying that the working class does not exist anymore. “Who generates surplus value in society then? Who built the buildings? Who operates the machines in the factories? Who works in the fields? The working class! These learnt professors are talking a lot of nonsense!” he said.
Alan spoke for 40 minutes explaining the process of the world crisis of capitalism – which he described as the biggest crisis in the history of capitalism – its relationship with the Arab revolution and its role in the general process of world revolution: “This is not an isolated event, but an expression of the general crisis of capitalism,” he explained. He described the growing movement in the European countries against the policies of cuts which are a way of making the working people pay for the crisis. “Last Saturday we saw the largest trade union demonstration in the history of the British working class in London. The media talk of half a million present, but there were many more,” he said.
Alan finished his speech talking of the marvellous movement of the workers in Madison, Wisconsin, in the US, who occupied the Capitol for 3 weeks and continue the struggle, saying they will fight like the Egyptian workers.
The speech was followed by a session of questions and debate, during which some unhappy sectarians attempted, without success, to provoke the speaker once again about the question of Libya, attempting to link the position of Chavez with that of the International Marxist Tendency.
Also speaking from the audience was the engineer and retired professor Dr Alessandro Contessa, who praised Alan Woods’ analysis and expressed his agreement on several points.
Another person who also spoke was comrade Maged El Gebaly, an Egyptian professor who has lived in Brazil for two years, doing his PhD at the USP. He is a member of the January 25 Front and went back to Egypt on January 23 this year to actively participate in the movement which overthrow Mubarak.
Mageb also replied to the provocations of the sectarians about Libya. The sectarians had declared that the correct position for Marxists would be to make a military united front with Gaddafi against the imperialists. Maged, who said that he was in regular contact with comrades in Benghazi, explained how Libyan women were being assaulted by Gaddafi soldiers, and that there was no way one could support either Gaddafi or the imperialists. Mageb also criticised the position of both the PSTU and the PSOL in Brazil regarding the question of Libya.
In his reply, Alan stated that he was against the regime of Gaddafi and that the uprising in Benghazi started as a genuine popular rebellion, but that the situation was extremely complex, including national and tribal factors. He said that some very dubious elements had joined the movement in Benghazi and taken its leadership, including former ministers of Gaddafi and that they asked for help from the imperialists, which changed the situation.
“I am against Gaddafi, in the same way I was also against Saddam Hussein. But when the imperialists intervened in a criminal way in order to enslave Iraq, we defended Iraq, regardless of the regime in Baghdad. Chavez makes a mistake in defending Gaddafi and we have already said so. I also said in Venezuela that Chavez is mistaken in looking for an alliance with the Iranian regime, which is an extremely reactionary regime. It is understandable that Chavez attempts to break the isolation which the imperialists are imposing on Venezuela by looking for allies, mainly amongst the oil producing countries. But to defend tyrants like Gaddafi is a very serious mistake!” he said.
At the end, comrade Mageb el Gebaly publicly invited Alan Woods to go to Egypt. A delegation of leaders of the Brazilian Communist Party gave Alan some books. Alan Woods was surrounded by many students who wanted to talk to him, and get signed copies of his books, several of which have been published in Portuguese.
Source: Esquerda Marxista (Portuguese)