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Committee for a Workers' International refounded with determination and confidence at historic conference
Hannah Sell, Socialist Party deputy general secretary
On Sunday 21 July over 200 delegates at a special conference of the Socialist Party in England and Wales voted overwhelmingly, 83.2% to 16.8%, (173 - 35 with 0 abstentions), to sponsor an international conference to reconstitute the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI - the international organisation of which the Socialist Party is part).
The international conference which followed over the next four days was attended by delegates and visitors from England and Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, France, Austria, Finland, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Chile, South Africa and the USA.
Unfortunately, comrades from South Africa and Nigeria who had planned to attend could not due to visa problems.
The international conference's decision to reconstitute the CWI followed an intense debate and political struggle in the CWI over the last seven months.
This political struggle has been fought between those represented at this meeting, who defend the Trotskyist method and programme the CWI was founded on in 1974, and an opposition moving away from this position.
This opposition has taken a right-ward opportunist turn, buckled to the pressures of identity politics, turned away from conducting a systematic and consistent struggle in the trade unions, and blunted the socialist programme that the CWI and its sections have fought to defend.
The international conference in London had lively discussions on the world situation and the tasks facing the working class and socialists, the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary upheavals taking place in the neocolonial world, and also a balance sheet of the recent debate in the CWI and tasks for building the refounded CWI in the coming period.
The refounded CWI was constituted on the basis of the political and organisational principles adopted by the first four congresses of the Third International, the founding documents of the Fourth International in 1938 and the congresses of the CWI.
The determination and confidence of those present and represented at this conference was reflected in the collection which raised over £25,000.
The conference agreed that the International Secretariat will seek to convene a world congress in 2020 of CWI sections and groups that defend the programme of the CWI. The Congress will also invite revolutionary socialist organisations which are committed to building revolutionary socialist parties based on the working class and which are prepared to discuss and collaborate on an honest and principled basis.
Following the decision of the Socialist Party conference, a small number of our members have announced they have left our party. They have tried to disguise their decision by claiming they were expelled. This is not the case.
The resolution that was overwhelmingly passed by the Socialist Party conference called on all members, regardless of their position in the debate, "to continue to help build the Socialist Party as part of a healthy Trotskyist international organisation in order to prepare for the mighty class battles ahead."
The resolution agreed was "confident that the overwhelming majority of Socialist Party members will wish to participate in this historic task."
However, it went to on to explain that, "if a small minority decides instead to build an alternative organisation" based on opportunist policies, they "will have to do so outside of the Socialist Party where they will have the opportunity to test their ideas against the reality of the class struggle."
Even before the Socialist Party conference had taken any decision, a small number of members had clearly made plans to launch a new, rightward-moving organisation, the launch rally of which was held an hour after our conference had finished.
The vast majority of members, however, have come out of the recent debate with a renewed confidence in our party.
We defend the programme and approach of the Socialist Party, which historically, in an era of heightened working-class struggle, enabled us to lead the struggles of Liverpool City Council and the battle against the Poll Tax, the latter bringing down Maggie Thatcher. We were also central to numerous struggles against racism and the far right.
At the present time our methods have allowed us to orientate effectively to those mobilised in support of Jeremy Corbyn, campaigning for the removal of the Blairites and the transformation of Labour into a workers' party with a socialist programme.
We are pioneers of the fight against council cuts. We play a vital role in the trade union movement, including our members playing a leading role in the rank-and-file National Shop Stewards Network.
At the same time, we have built a significant base on the university campuses. Most importantly, we are building a party based on a clear socialist programme, currently over 2,000 members strong, which will be able to play a vital role in the mighty struggles of the working class which are ahead.
We will publish further material on the issues in the debate, and the key documents from it, on our websites in the coming weeks.
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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.
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- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 31 July 2019:
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