Judith Orr, the new editor of Socialist Worker, introduced a session on imperialism.
She described a world where instability and war threaten the lives of millions.
But the leading imperial power, the US, faces troubled times. The economic crisis has raised the stakes and the US is losing the war in Afghanistan, she said.
So why does it stay, and even send more troops to the country? Because the alternative of appearing to be defeated is worse.
The catastrophe of Iraq casts a long shadow. There is no way it can be sold as a great victory.
But president Barack Obama’s “good” war is becoming known for drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan and their toll on civilians.
And 50 percent of redevelopment money is spent on the Afghan army, which is proving an unreliable ally for the West, she added
In Britain the biggest impact has been on civil liberties, like the racist stop-and-search laws that have seen 100,000 Asians stopped and not one convicted of a terrorism related offence.
Some 70 percent of the British public want the troops to come home.
People will still come onto the streets when they think their action will have an effect—as in the protests over Israel’s attack on the Gaza flotilla.
The SWP remains committed to organising in Stop the War Coalition groups across the country.
In the debate that followed, Mirfat from Birmingham talked about the campaign to stop her deportation to Yemen.
Geoff from Bury was angry at the media making the imperial crisis in Pakistan seem like an issue of “liberals saving us from mullahs”.
Judith argued that imperialism and war are central to capitalism.
We can win a new generation to socialist ideas by opposing the priorities of our rulers, which mean spending money on destruction while slashing public services.