Mumbai Conference Follow-up Committee has met. As our correspondents know, in 2019, activists from 52 countries called for another World Conference against War and Exploitation, for the Workers’ International.
The pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions have delayed the convening of this conference.
The Follow-up Committee to the Mumbai Conference met on 16 September to discuss the situation of the working class internationally and the perspectives of the struggle for the Workers’ International . It was an opportunity to compare the experience of workers’ struggles on different continents.
We are publishing below large extracts from the contributions made by activists from India, the United States, Azania/South Africa and France.
Finally, we will return to the decisions taken concerning the convening of the World Conference.
« The tremendous mobilisation of farmers over the past nine months”
Nambiath Vasudevan (India) stressed that « for the past year and a half the Covid19 pandemic has considerably aggravated the crisis and inequalities. This pandemic has shown the inability of the capitalist system to protect the people. All these tragedies could have been avoided if health systems had been preserved, if hospital staff had been recruited in large numbers, if life-saving oxygen had been available… It is the criminal negligence of the ruling classes that has led to the loss of millions of human lives and their suffering. In many countries for example in Asia people are still waiting for the first dose of vaccine.
In all countries, he says, « war and exploitation are closely linked. In India, 50,000 troops are stationed on the Chinese border and the government is increasing the military budget at the expense of the rest. Tense relations between India and Pakistan are likely to worsen further as India’s reactionary government moves closer to Australia in the US’s anti-China posture.”
However, in this extremely difficult context, it is important to note « the formidable mobilisation of peasants for the repeal of the three anti-farmer laws which claim to hand over agriculture to the big multinationals. But the peasants have been resisting and not giving up for nine months. On 27 September throughout India, peasant organisations are calling for the mobilisation of peasants, workers and youth against the government and all aspects of its policies: anti-peasant laws, laws against the Labour Code, the plan to privatise the railways, banks and insurance companies, etc. »
» Wresting workers from the grip of the Democratic Party”
From the U.S., Nnamdi Lumumba (of the black organisation Ujima Peoples Progress Party) and Alan Benjamin (of Socialist Organizer) endorsed the prospect of « an initiative to provide a common framework in the face of the global offensive of the capitalist class« .
Nnamdi Lumumba reminded that his organisation is « a product of the US black national liberation movement. A liberation movement that has its roots in centuries of domination of Blacks in America, from slavery to Jim Crow laws, from discrimination to the struggle for civil rights. The situation of Black people in the US has informed our understanding of the nature of capitalism and American imperialism. In recent years we have worked to unite the American working class, including fighting to wrest workers from the grip of the Democratic Party, because the political system is monopolised by two major parties, the Republican and Democratic, both representing the same capitalist system. »
“I come from Baltimore, Maryland, » Nnamdi Lumumba added. “In recent years, we have been fighting for justice for Freddie Gray (1). This fight helped radicalise a whole generation of young black people, young workers. That’s why our party wants to help the working class, to help Blacks break with the Democrats, including by running our own candidates in the elections. It is also in this perspective that we do political education for our members, to explain to them what capitalism is, what the fight for socialism is. And that’s why we support the perspective of a world conference, of which we want to be a part, to learn from what is happening in other countries.”
(1) Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, was murdered on 12 April 2015 in Baltimore by police officers who denied him medical attention after seriously injuring him. He died a week after his arrest from his injuries, which included broken neck bones and a crushed windpipe. Five years before George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, his death sparked major protests in Baltimore. The prosecutor eventually admitted that the police had committed a homicide.
« Since 2012, the widows of the murdered miners in Marikana have not given up”
For Mandlenkosi ka Phangwa (Azania/South Africa), « the international situation justifies more than ever to offer workers, youth and labour activists a common framework for struggle. The situation is extremely difficult. The pandemic has exposed the impasse of the capitalist system: in Europe, but also in Africa, where the pandemic has increased inequality. The latest government statistics themselves indicate that unemployment in South Africa has reached a record high of 80%, mainly among the youth. The ANC government has promised the unemployed a minimum income of about the equivalent of 20 euros a month, which is not enough to live on.”
Also, he drew attention to the struggle led by the widows of the Marikana miners (2) who, « since the massacre of their husbands in 2012, have never received any compensation whatsoever. A few days ago, they gathered with the AMCU union in Johannesburg to demand justice. These women have never given up since the 2012 massacre, and they need the support of the international labour movement, » he concluded. Hence the importance of the initiative launched by Rubina Jamil (All Pakistan Trade Union Federation) and Christel Keiser (POID, France), which, so far, has been supported by more than 300 activists from 32 countries, to hold an international conference of working women on the eve of the World Conference Against War and Exploitation.
(2) In Marikana (northern South Africa) in August 2012, black miners and their union AMCU were on strike for a wage of R12,500 (they earn about R4,000). On 16 August, the ANC-Communist Party government ordered the police to shoot the striking miners. Thirty-five striking miners were murdered. The current President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa (ANC), a former COSATU miner unionist, was at the time a shareholder in the multinational Lonmin and it has since been proven that the police intervened at his request.
« The pandemic is being used by all governments”
Daniel Gluckstein (France) said: « In all our countries, we have been living for two years in a situation where the pandemic is being used by all governments to take their attacks on the working class and democracy to the next level.
“So we – together on an international scale – must draw up, the indictment against the multinationals, against the capitalist class and against the governments that are using the pandemic to justify the mass destruction of large sectors of industry, the destruction of whole sections of public services in health and education, privatisations and the undermining of trade union and democratic rights.
“The pandemic is an opportunity seized by the capitalist class. The capitalists have always seized every opportunity to strike against the workers. The working class has a practical view: it knows that the pandemic exists, that it is not an invention. Millions of workers around the world have died from Covid. They didn’t just die of the pandemic. They died from the pandemic and from the lack of capacity of governments to fight the pandemic. They died from the huge delay in vaccine research, the huge delay in vaccination, the lack of vaccines in whole countries. They died from the deliberate refusal to lift patents on vaccines to allow their free distribution. They died from the lack of beds, services, staff and oxygen in hospitals. They have died from the deliberate will of governments to serve the interests of capitalists and not those of the people and the workers. Workers are not fooled, and all over the world are demanding public health services… which are denied to them. We must, together and on an international scale, draw up this balance sheet, this indictment against the capitalist system.
“This brings us back to another question raised by various comrades. The question raised by the comrades from the United States, referring to the refusal of the leaders of the trade union movement to break with the Democratic Party and, therefore, to support Biden. These problems are posed in all countries. In my country, in France, the Macron government – which is making incredible attacks on hospitals, schools, redundancies – would not be able to do so if the leaders of the labour movement did not in fact let it. It is therefore, for us, a question of both establishing what the situation to rebuild real independent workers’ the need for a Workers’ International of the workers is, and also of helping political representations and affirming to bring these struggles together. »