In Defence of Marxism at the European Social Forum 2004

This year’s European Social Forum is taking place from 15-17 October in London. The same as last year, In Defence of Marxism will be there putting the socialist case. This we will do by having several stalls with Marxist publications and books. However, we are also participating in the debates themselves.  

This year’s European Social Forum is taking place from 15-17 October in London. The same as last year, In Defence of Marxism will be there putting the socialist case. This we will do by having several stalls with Marxist publications and books. However, we will also be participating in the debates themselves. These are the details of the meetings:

The trade union situation in Venezuela and Colombia (jointly with the Colombian Solidarity Campaign)
Saturday 16 October 11.30 am-1.30 pm,
Bloomsbury, NATFHE, 27 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JN (nearest tube is Kings Cross)

Speakers: a Colombian trade unionist, Jorge Martin (Hands off Venezuela Campaign), Jeremy Dear (National Union of Journalists gen sec)

Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution
Sunday 17 October 9 am-12 pm,
Bloomsbury, Birkbeck 541, University of London, Malet Street, WC1E 7HX London

Speakers: Alan Woods (In Defence of Marxism), Gonzalo Gomez (editor of the Venezuelan revolutionary website Aporrea)

The events take place in the Bloomsbury area of London. A map showing the location of Birkbeck University can be found here. A map showing the location of the NATFHE building can be found here.

This is the text of the pamphlet we will be distributing:

Another world is possible – a socialist one

We live in turbulent times. The world economic, political and military situation is characterized by extreme instability. We have had the “regime change” in Haiti (in reality a coup), we have the revolution in Venezuela. US ambitions for world hegemony are leading to one war after another. Gone are the old certainties, the “American dream”, the conviction that tomorrow will be better than today, just as today was better than yesterday. In the advanced capitalist countries the present generation will be the first generation since 1945 whose living standards and working conditions will be worse than those of their parents. Instead of boom, full employment and prosperity, there is crisis, growing unemployment and cuts in living standards, even in the most prosperous countries. The gap between rich and poor is constantly increasing and economic power is concentrated into fewer and fewer hands. At the same time, in Iraq a cruel war is being waged in the name of freedom and democracy.

All these are symptoms of an illness – it’s called capitalism. The world economy is in crisis because there are too many cars, too much steel, too many shoes, too many computers. In a world where 35 million people are starving, farmers in Europe and the USA are being paid not to produce food, because for the capitalist system there is too much grain, meat and milk. So much for the benefits of the “free market” economy.

The wars that constantly devastate one country after another are a symptom that the whole system is in a deep crisis and is rent by insoluble contradictions. Fault lines and cracks are appearing everywhere in the capitalist world order. But the Bushes and Blairs of this world are not capable of recognising that they have become a reactionary barrier to human progress. They are clinging to power like a dying man clinging to life.

And yet, there are enough examples of how to struggle against this state of affairs. Take Latin America. There is not a single stable bourgeois regime in the whole continent. For the last five years the continent has experienced a growing economic, social and political crisis that has resulted in revolutionary events in several countries. Mass strikes and movements, general strikes, the election of left governments, and in some cases insurrections and the beginning of revolutionary processes, have shaken all Latin American countries without exception. This is especially the case in Venezuela, where the revolution is the most developed.

In Venezuela, imperialism and the local ruling elite cannot tolerate the situation as it is any longer. They cannot tolerate the Chavez government that increases investment in health and education, refuses to privatise publicly-owned companies and utilities, opposes the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement, reasserts the nationalised character of the oil industry, etc. Above all they cannot tolerate the process of mass organisation and politicisation that has taken place in the country.

This shows what is possible, not only in Venezuela, but on a world scale. The essence of a revolution is the direct intervention of the masses in the political life of the nation. It represents a radical break with the normal routine of existence, where the masses leave the key decisions affecting their lives in the hands of the powers that be. Such a break only occurs at a point when the majority draw the conclusion that the existing order is incompatible with their very existence.

That is precisely what we are witnessing before our very eyes in Venezuela, Bolivia and the whole of Latin America. The terrible poverty of the masses is the mainspring of a revolutionary ferment that is gripping the entire region. It is the most fundamental reason for the present wave of social and political strife. This cannot be eliminated while the economies of these countries remain in the hands of parasitic oligarchies subordinated to the tender mercies of US imperialism. That is why we struggle for a socialist world that can only be built on the basis of a radical change in the capitalist property relations. In other words, a genuine socialist world!

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