Worldwide meeting decides: Only future is with socialism
Published Nov 8, 2008 12:20 AM
John Catalinotto, a spokesperson for the International Action Center
and a managing editor of Workers World newspaper since 1982, participated in
discussions in Caracas, Venezuela, in mid-October of two groups: the VIII
Meeting of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity, based in
Venezuela, and the Assembly of the World Forum of Alternatives, which has
members around the world, mainly in Asia, Africa and Latin America, including
all the Middle East. Of the 170 participants, Catalinotto was one of only two
from the United States. He was interviewed by WW Editor Deirdre
Photo: Jean Salem
WW: What was the main accomplishment of this weeklong
JC: The large majority of participants came from the former
colonial countries, what today is called “the South.” About an
equal number were from Asia and Africa; more came from Latin America, since
there was a large Cuban and Venezuelan participation. There were both East and
What made the meeting additionally important was that it took place in the
midst of a financial crisis in world capitalism. That meant that the first
point in almost every discussion was the impact of this crisis on the world
struggle. Whether the report came from a workshop on the working class, the
world political order, the question of land reform or the world economy itself,
it began by referring to the economic crisis.
What came out of these discussions was a general consensus that, far from
history being over and socialism buried, as capitalist ideologues claimed after
the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is capitalism that is in a severe
structural crisis that goes far beyond being a financial crisis caused by
The final statement concluded by saying that “the participants in this
meeting ratify its conviction that socialism is the only alternative that could
resolve the collection of economic, social, political, cultural, environmental
and governmental problems of humanity and make the hopes of the peoples into a
WW: How were the discussions organized?
Dr. Carmen Bohórquez (Venezuela) and
Langa Zita (South Africa) at Africa
WW photo: John Catalinotto
JC: We each could participate in two of the eight workshops
that discussed a program for different aspects of the world struggle. I was in
a workshop on Unity on the Labor Front and another on the International World
Order—Political. Instead of presenting papers, as is done at many
international conferences, we held more informal meetings over two
days—four sessions of about three hours each, first to share ideas and
then to try to hammer out a coherent analysis.
Naturally, there was not complete agreement. Some of us, for example,
considered the collapse of the USSR to be among the greatest tragedies of the
20th century. Others didn’t consider this a tragedy.
Among the economists, while all saw the crisis as severe, some saw preparation
for a struggle for socialism as the only road while others proposed reforms of
a Keynesian type, sort of a “New Deal” on a worldwide scale.
In the labor workshop, there was agreement that what we consider the working
class today goes far beyond the old industrial proletariat and includes all
people who sell their labor, plus their families, the unemployed and
“precarious” workers who now seem to be a large number, especially
in the global South. There was unanimous sentiment that the interests of
immigrant workers had to be put at the top of the list for all workers.
A few participants shared the experience that the current labor leadership in
their countries is inadequate to the demands of the new situation. I was hoping
there would be greater experience of cross-border cooperation among unions,
something that the new organization of global production calls out for. There
was some, but it was still limited.
In the International World Order—Political workshop, there was a general
consensus that “Capitalism has shown itself to be an unsustainable and
predatory system” and that the U.S. is “the principal promoter of
The workshop decided to promote participation in ongoing struggles and
concluded: “We have agreed to join the anti-militarist struggle begun by
the Campaign for the Demilitarization of the Americas and by the Coalition No
U.S. Bases. Also to promote a boycott of the states of Israel and Colombia. And
to oppose free trade agreements with Israel. We denounce this apartheid state
that now exists in Israel. We will participate in the anti-militarist campaign
on the 60th anniversary of NATO in April of 2009.”
WW: Were there activities beyond the workshop discussions?
JC: In the evenings and on the final day there was an exchange
with the Venezuelans. A few participants from each of the different world
regions presented talks on the political situation in their area to an audience
mainly from the Venezuelan public. At the same time in another venue,
Venezuelan speakers described aspects of the ongoing changes in their country
to the international participants. One day we visited a center in one of the
Caracas communities. Another day President Hugo Chávez spoke to us and
answered questions for four hours.
One evening it was the turn of Europe and North America to present. I was
chosen to speak regarding the U.S. To illustrate U.S. intervention, I used a
PowerPoint slide show to show some of the protests we held in the U.S. opposing
imperialist intervention. Since the International Action Center has opposed
nearly every U.S. aggressive move, it was simple to put the slide show
This included mass protests against the war on Iraq and symbolic protests, for
example, against the U.S. role in the country of Georgia last summer. People
really appreciated seeing that right in the heart of the U.S. there was an
active political opposition to the aggressive policies of the government.
They also saw the leaflet calling for a demonstration on Wall Street and
pictures of workers’ protests in the U.S. They could see something new
was happening, right in the center of world imperialism.
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