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Marxism 2012: a report from an interested party

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Marxism 2012: revolution in the air was a great Conference both quantitatively and qualitatively.

John, En Passant, April 9, 2012

Joya speaking on lateline program of ABC - Australia
Malalai Joya in Lateline of ABC

It was three days of political discussion and debate. 925 people attended. Malalai Joya, John Pilger, Mamdouh Habib, Gary Foley, and comrades from across the globe (eg New Zealand, the US, the Philippines, Japan, Palestine, Bangladesh, Thailand, Egypt, Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Chile and elsewhere) spoke and participated. There were over 70 sessions on a range of topics that could whet most radical appetites.

And the debates were great, from socialists to reformists, populationists, liquidationists, to anarchists and Greens and people interested in the ideas but not yet committed or convinced, all contributing or questioning. This was the Conference of the Left in Australia.

Personally Malalai Joya on Thursday night and Saturday afternoon was the highlight. Both her incredible bravery in opposing both the US Occupation and the Taliban, and her deep understanding of the international situation and Afghanistan’s position within it, for example the global reach and brutality of US imperialism and the need for American workers to overthrow the dictatorship of capital, made her talks the most moving of the Conference and perhaps in all of my political life.

I cried as she rebutted strongly again and again the hoary old white man’s burden argument that the West can bring liberation to Afghanistan. Foreign occupation cannot bring liberation. Only the people of Afghanistan can liberate themselves.

And she had us silent as she said chillingly but quietly and resolutely in response to the six assassination attempts on her life: ‘They can cut down the flower but they cannot stop the spring.’ What a brave woman fighting for a new Afghanistan free of the occupiers and their twin, the fundamentalists.

Malalai was scathing of Chavez, Castro and Morales and others for their support of the dictatorships in Iran, Libya, Syria and so on, arguing that the left must support the revolutionary upsurge of the people against these criminal regimes.

The Conference showed me yet again that Socialist Alternative is an organisation serious about understanding the world around it, engaging with it and changing it where possible and debating ideas and developing its own in the context of Marxist thought. It is serious about turning the world upside down to rid it of poverty, war, exploitation, oppression and the real threat of environmental catastrophe.

We have the capacity to do all that now with the level of the productive forces already developed but a system designed for profit cannot and will not address in any meaningful way these issues. Capitalism chains us to the past. However it has created the majority class, the working class, with the power to do liberate humanity through setting up its own organs of rule and determining democratically what is to be produced. That is socialism.