Socialist Worker

Change is in the air

Issue No. 1717


Change is in the air

I WAS in Prague for the week and it was a wake up call. We have a world to win and today it is up for grabs.

Yet as we sat at the airport to fly home, we flicked though some British newspapers. As ever, in the name of "objective" reporting came the usual distortions and omissions.

Nothing about the ideas involved, nothing about why we were there, the murderous policies of the IMF, or our solidarity with those who are suffering at their hands.

The Independent had a ludicrous sidebar headlined "Challenging The World Order", directing readers to play an online fantasy game-"Why not try to create a new world yourself without taking to the streets?"

But there is so much more to be said about Prague.

A group of us were staying in an apartment together. Every day we could come back and discuss ideas. We were just buzzing from the discussions we had all day long.

At the convergence centre for the protesters we set up a stall on an old door we had found. We started out with publications we had brought with us such as Socialist Worker, International Socialism, Socialist Review-and we had some of our German and Czech sister papers.

Then as time went on we expanded and had French, Spanish and Finnish publications too.

There were queues of people waiting to speak to us. It was so cool. On the second day people from various countries would come up and speak to us, and we could direct them to comrades from socialist organisations in those countries. We met a group of people from Minsk in Belarus. They had been organising against fascism in their area.

We could cut to the quick in our arguments immediately. Capitalism is a system that cannot be reformed. We need a revolution. Then the question that was asked was, "How?"

It came to us that people were so hungry for ideas we had to hold a meeting. We organised it in just over four hours. We went round with a megaphone announcing it in different languages.

We hand wrote leaflets and posters in different languages and plastered the place with them. We organised different areas of the meeting so that simultaneous translations could go on.

An old lorry became a stage decorated with banners, posters and slogans. Three hundred people turned up. We collected names and addresses from people interested in socialist ideas from 12 countries.

People were so hungry for ideas. They were completely open to what we had to say. Three of us who were hanging out together decided that a working title for an article should be "Seven Days That Shook The Girls." There is no going back. None of us who were there will be the same again.

None of us stopped talking except when we were asleep. And we didn't sleep much-we were too excited. And it was such fun. We laughed all the time. It was a glimpse of the way things could be and it was totally international.

On our marches we all learned to shout slogans of solidarity in different languages. We all linked arms-we were one.

I really felt the truth that in the act of transforming the world we transform ourselves. You could see that process happening in so many ways. One of the slogans on a T-shirt I saw was, "There's something in the air." That sums it up. That something is change. Things are changing.

Those of us who left our own countries for Prague are not the same people who have returned. It seems so clear now that individuals can make a difference. But also it seems clear that our job is so much easier now. Globally the working class is bigger and more organised than ever.

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Article information

Sat 7 Oct 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1717
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