By Ellie Costain, Socialist Alternative Merseyside
Members of Socialist Alternative were extremely proud to take part in the International Socialist Alternative World Cadre School in Belgium at the end of July. This is the second consecutive year that ISA members from 30 different countries met in Leuven, for a week of discussions, debates, learning and organising.
As socialists we know that capitalism is a global system, so the fight against it must be international. The discussion from activists on how they are opposing this rotten system within their own country was invaluable. We began the week by looking at the state of global capitalism as it is today. It is a system in permanent crisis, the working-class face increasing living costs caused by inflation, in some areas war and militarisation, and of course the existential threat of the climate crisis. We heard from activists around the world about what these crises look like in their respective countries and the work they are doing to fight back.
The revolutionary ideas of Marx
In the middle of the week, we held an international rally with speakers active in the strike movement in France where huge protests and strikes have shocked the system, in Ireland where our members are leading the fight back against the rise of the far right, and in Brazil where members are active in the environmental and indigenous rights movements: all under the header: ‘The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx’. Marx was not just a thinker but actively a revolutionary. Even today, his ideas offer us the most comprehensive analysis of how capitalism really works and how to fight it.
2023 marks 100 years since the formation of the Left Opposition, led by the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, which was a major theme of the school. Leon Trotsky was not only a leader in the world’s first successful workers’ revolution in 1917, he also led the fight against the degeneration of the Soviet Union under Stalin. He was ultimately assassinated for his ideas and his opposition. During the week we discussed this history, Trotsky’s writings and ideas as well as the fundamentals of Marxist philosophy. Marxism is a living philosophy, one that allows us to be active in the labour, environmental, anti-racist, LGBTQ+ and feminist movements. It provides the tools to help us fight for every gain that can be made under capitalism while also pointing the path towards socialism.
The challenges arising in this ‘age of disorder’ also lead to fruitful debates and discussions that help in sharpening our analysis and understanding. Elements of debate were present within smaller discussions but also bigger sessions that involved all the members who attended. As revolutionary socialists we need to consider how we take up mainstream ideas on the left, particularly in the feminist movement and when it comes to our position and analysis of the war in Ukraine. The important thing was that these debates were welcomed, encouraged and are the sign of a healthy organisation. These debates will continue as events develop and all our members in all sections will take these ideas and discussions to their branches as well as within movements themselves.
Building International Socialist Alternative
Perhaps most importantly we discussed through various workshops the practical steps of building a revolutionary party. These discussions were not divorced from the theoretical discussions or the more overarching ones about world capitalism, but instead very much linked. The opportunity to share knowledge and experience with our members from across the world was incredibly useful and exciting. As is the global nature of capitalism, the parallels in situations across the world meant that there were many learning opportunities. Members were very interested in what lessons can be taken from the UK where workers have been engaged in the biggest wave of industrial struggle in four decades.
The 2020s will certainly be a decade of instability and disorder with ‘once in a lifetime’ crises (like financial crashes, pandemics, environmental disasters, etc) becoming more and more frequent. In this context we can grow a revolutionary socialist organisation like SA, but it will require a tremendous amount of coordination. The World Cadre School is a key part of developing our perspectives on struggle and, ultimately, for the socialist transformation of society! Join us.