About 55 comrades came together on Tuesday, March 29, at the Cooperation Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, to attend the meeting with Alan Woods. He was speaking on the current world situation and the prospects for the struggle for socialism internationally.
As the event organizers, we are very satisfied with the attendance, as it coincided with the sudden visit to our country by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. Various activities and meetings were organized in Buenos Aires and the nearby city of La Plata in connection with Chavez’s visit. In La Plata the Journalism Faculty gave him the Rodolfo Walsh Prize for his promotion of popular communication in a rally that attracted thousands of people, mostly young. An event in Buenos Aires was also advertised to have Chavez present. Unfortunately the activists who gathered there saw their hopes of seeing and hearing Venezuelan President dashed.
In contrast, at our meeting with Alan Woods the atmosphere was vibrant and inspired confidence among the participants. They included veterans of the class struggle and the labour movement, as well as young students who have recently entered into political activity.
Alan focused his speech on laying bare the acute crisis of the capitalist system throughout the world, a crisis of economy, society, bourgeois politics, and the dominant ideology. The prospect of peace, stability and general welfare which bourgeois statesmen promised us two decades ago has been shattered in recent years.
Alan quoted official statistics that showed a general increase in inequality and poverty, where the most dramatic example is the death of 8 million people every year from malnutrition, contaminated water and lack of basic facilities. This is the equivalent of a Holocaust every year, a crime against humanity, as he defined it.
Alan explained that the economic and financial crisis in Europe, USA and Japan represented the most serious crisis in the history of capitalism. What started as a bank failure, resulted in the bankruptcy of national governments, as was the case in Iceland, Greece, Ireland, and most likely will be the case in Portugal soon. The threat of default on the debts of Spain and Italy puts a huge question mark over the future of the euro and European monetary union, a collapse of which would have unpredictable economic and social consequences. But the prospect of a collapse of the U.S. itself is also not a remote hypothesis, as it faces the largest public debt in U.S. history.
It was made clear that China cannot save capitalism, because it depends critically on the export of her goods to markets that are shrinking every day, so that the prospect of a crisis of overproduction in the Asian giant is also on the agenda. And that will drag down dependent economies of Latin America and elsewhere, which are welded tightly to the economies of the imperialist powers.
Most importantly, the attempt of the capitalists to pass the bill of their crisis to the workers is fuelling the class struggle everywhere. Where some see only gloom and demoralization, Marxists are optimistic. The working class is stretching its muscles and the atmosphere of rebellion is spreading like wildfire. In almost all European countries we are seeing general strikes and mass mobilizations of a magnitude not seen in 35 years. In the USA itself, there is a focus of working class rebellion in the State of Wisconsin where more than 100,000 people took to the streets and occupied government buildings to protest against the cuts, a movement which has attracted extraordinary solidarity throughout the country.
The events are hammering on the consciousness of the working class of leading Capitalist countries and its revolutionary struggles will not lag behind what we have seen in Latin America in recent years. We are also on the eve of the powerful Chinese proletariat coming onto the scene of history, concentrated as they are in huge factories and suffering enormous exploitation. But even here, we are already seeing the first signs of the volcanic pressure which is accumulating, and the countless social conflicts where the regime's repressive response arresting hundreds of union activists and youth.
The other issue that Alan developed on was the Arab revolution which, in his words, represents not only a turning point in world affairs, but in history. Do not forget that the Middle East has been the most important strategic area for imperialism for 65 years. It is a true inspiration, a revolutionary process where the masses have risen up against the dictatorships of the region, for social and democratic demands, against oppression, corruption, unemployment and lack of jobs, for bread and justice. The working class is playing a leading role in all these movements, as we have seen in Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain. Without a party and without a leadership, the working masses and the revolutionary youth have worked miracles and have gotten rid of autocrats who had been in power for over 30 years.
At a stroke, the Arab working masses have swept Islamic fundamentalism and religious sectarianism into a corner and have put the methods of mass revolutionary struggle to the top of the agenda, and are learning fast from their experience.
Alan denounced the imperialist intervention in Libya and discredited the current leaders of the opposition to Gaddafi who have gone over to the camp of imperialism, but he defended the initial genuine revolutionary movement which took place in Libya against the dictator Gaddafi, who since 2003 has reconciled with imperialism and surrendered part of the country's wealth to the predatory greed of multinational oil companies.
Alan explained how, on the basis of their experience, the masses will conclude that to achieve their democratic and social demands, they should undertake socialist measures of expropriation of the ruling cliques, landowners and foreign monopolies.
In his closing remarks Alan stressed that the most urgent task, as developments in North Africa and the Middle East show, is to develop and strengthen an international Marxist tendency to provide a solid organizational base to the advanced layers of the working class and the revolutionary youth. There is a great need for a scientific socialist programme to consciously fight for the transformation of society everywhere. The International Marxist Tendency is promoting this work and he invited those present to join it. Those present greeted Alan's speech with a big round of applause.
The round of interventions and questions that followed the presentation of comrade Alan was very wide ranging and covered a variety of subjects. Many comrades took the floor to ask for the opinion of Alan on topics such as Libya, the future of the Venezuelan revolution, 21st century socialism, the experience of the Soviet Union and the problem of building the revolutionary party. Other questions included the situation in Argentina and the environmental catastrophe that has unfolded in Japan. Two comrades representing the independent building workers’ union, Sitraic, from the south of Buenos Aires, took the floor to explain the repression they have suffered at the hands of employers and hired thugs of the official trade union bureaucracy of UOCRA, and passed around a collection tin to raise funds for their struggle.
Comrade Alan replied point by point to the issues raised, stressing the idea that worldwide the working class is stronger than ever in history and rejected the idea of “a low level of consciousness” of workers, citing the example of recent events in the Arab world. He joked about the theories of Socialism of 21st Century, which conceal revisionist and Social Democratic positions of class conciliation under a new label. Socialism means the expropriation of the capitalists, bankers, landlords and monopolies and democratic workers' control of the economy and society at all levels. Beyond that, talk of socialism is a scam. He noted that the ideas of Marxism are as valid as they were when established 160 years ago, enriched with historical development and the contributions of Lenin, Trotsky and other Marxist theorists. He pointed to the relevance of the Communist Manifesto, written in 1848, which masterfully describes the world, not as it was in 1848, but as it is today.
Responding to the situation in Japan, Alan said that the old slogan "Socialism or Barbarism" is obsolete today, and it would be more correct to replace it for "Socialism or the end of life on Earth" as a result of capitalist greed for profit.
Comrade Alan Woods concluded his remarks by stating his full confidence in the revolutionary capacity of workers to fight for a socialist world. As after his opening statement, those present gave Alan a new round of applause, and many of them visited the bookstall with our books, brochures and newspaper, El Militante.
In summary, it was a pleasure to have comrade Alan Woods with us the and hopefully it will not be too long before he returns to our country.
Source: El Militante (Argentina)