Some 6,000 people gathered at the Marxism 2000 event in central London this week to discuss resistance to global capitalism. The week of exhilarating debate threw Guardian writer Mark Perryman into confusion. How could it be that 6,000 people were "lapping it up in central London all week long?" asked a bemused Perryman in an article which took up the best part of a page.
It is no surprise that Perryman did not have a clue why people from across Britain, and internationally, could "lap up" 250 political meetings and debates on every subject imaginable. Perryman, as part of the misnamed Marxism Today crew, spent the 1980s and 1990s attempting to dissolve any left wing opposition to capitalism. In contrast, all those who attended Marxism 2000 had no problem working out why they were there.
The event brought together people who were sickened at the betrayals of this New Labour government with those thrown into political activity by the anti-capitalist protests such as Seattle. Over 1,500 activists heard No Logo author Naomi Klein, left wing comic and campaigner Mark Thomas and Socialist Worker editor Chris Harman attack global capitalism.
The speakers then hurried from the platform to a hastily organised hundreds-strong overflow meeting. At meetings through the week firefighters grappled with Marxist economics and car workers sat alongside school students to learn about Third World debt. Labour Party and Socialist Workers Party members debated how to fight back against Blair.
Marxism 2000 proved that there is a growing number of people who want to fight for a better world.
Build the fight on two fronts
The coming weeks provide opportunities for people to translate the mood shown by Marxism 2000 into action that counts. More and more people share the immense anger of those at the event at the continued witch-hunt of asylum seekers by the press and politicians.
The Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and the Sun went back on the attack this week, manufacturing two anti-refugee stories. They claimed refugees were "jumping the queue" to get fertility treatment, quoting fat cat consultant Ian Craft.
The Mail then printed a diatribe by another consultant saying that refugees were "inventing bogus injuries" and "clogging up" health clinics. But who is more to blame for "clogging up" waiting lists-a tortured refugee or someone like Ian Craft, who got trained in the NHS but who now only does private work, raking in hundreds of thousands of pounds?
Resistance to the anti-refugee tide is growing. The Oxfam charity has launched a campaign against New Labour's humiliating voucher system for asylum seekers. It is asking people to hand in protest cards to supermarkets. It has printed 50,000 cards and is approaching trade unions to get them distributed. This excellent initiative fits with the day of action against vouchers that campaigners have called on Saturday 29 July (see below). The chance to take part in a Europe-wide anti-capitalist protest also created a buzz at Marxism 2000.
Coaches will be going from Britain, Germany, France, Greece and other countries to Prague on 26 September to disrupt a key IMF and World Bank meeting. Every reader of Socialist Worker should be publicising "S26" and raising money for transport.
Two days before Prague, on 24 September, protesters will also be outside the Labour Party conference in Brighton. People will be uniting in outrage at a government that breaks every promise to its supporters and persecutes refugees, while praising the free market policies that create war, poverty and devastation.