OVER 1,000 people attended the Socialist Workers Party convention in London on Sunday. It took place the day after the magnificent demonstration in London in solidarity with the Palestinians. That march underlined the central message from the convention-that the political situation has been radically transformed. Speakers who became active socialists in the late 1960s, when the last worldwide upsurge against capitalism took place, described how a similar international revolt was unfolding today.
'We are living through the most exciting time for revolutionaries for 30 years,' said Socialist Workers Party national organiser Chris Bambery. Since the anti-capitalist protests in Seattle in November 1999 it's like we have been on an escalator of protests. Britain is in the frontline of these developments. That's because Tony Blair is the main supporter of Bush's war drive, and also has formed an alliance with the most right wing leaders in Europe, Berlusconi and Aznar, to push neo-liberal policies.'
John Molyneux from Portsmouth was one of a number of speakers who emphasised how events across the globe had an impact in Britain.
He said, 'Look at Palestine. It led to the huge demonstration in London yesterday. But not only that. We had a demonstration in Portsmouth of about 150 people the day before. The demonstration in Barcelona was not only about Barcelona. It leads people in every town, workplace and college in Britain to discuss and debate.'
The new radicalisation is taking place on a number of fronts-the anti-war movement, solidarity with the Palestinians, the deepening anti-capitalist movement, the Socialist Alliance challenge to New Labour, opposition to the Nazi BNP, and the stirrings of industrial action. Speakers stressed the centrality of socialists throwing themselves into these battles in united action with others.
Much of the discussion centred on how socialists can do that, and also win support for socialist ideas and methods of taking these movements forward. 'There is a pressing need for clarity of ideas,' said Joe Cardwell, who helps organise the Marxist forums which take place fortnightly in towns, cities and localities. There is a thirst for political ideas and discussion. And the new movement means that those discussions are fresh. The discussions about Palestine, women's oppression and every other topic are not simply repeats of previous meetings people may have gone to. They throw up new angles, new examples, new ways of explaining Marxist ideas because the movement itself is posing those questions in a new way,' she said.
A key theme of the convention was that strengthening the number of socialists and their ability to put forward their ideas goes hand in hand with building the movements. The Marxist forums and a wider circulation for Socialist Worker were identified as the main ways of doing this.