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Another world is possible
Socialism 2002...Fight for socialism!

June 28, 2002 | Page 8

As the Bush gang wages war abroad and attacks workers' living standards at home, activists need to arm ourselves with the tools to carry forward our struggle for a better world. That's why more than 750 people attended Socialism 2002, a conference cosponsored by Socialist Worker in Chicago on June 13-16.

From discussions about organizing in Latin America to learning the Marxist method, about rebuilding the labor movement to why we are Trotskyists, people came wanting to know more--not just about how to move our movements forward but about why socialist politics are more relevant now than ever.

Here, Socialist Worker prints excerpts of a few of the dozens of sessions at Socialism 2002.

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KEN RILEY, president, International Longshoremen's Association Local 1422, and a leader of the struggle to free the Charleston Five, on "Opposing Bush's War at Home"

WE CAN sum up this whole struggle by saying: We were attacked. We stood up. We fought back.

And with your support, we kicked their butts. And I can certainly tell you tonight that South Carolina will never be the same. I can tell you, yes, it is important that we support one another in solidarity.

As you know, this is going to be a very long, hot summer for working people in this country. Right now, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union--one of the most progressive labor unions in this country, and indeed the world--is facing a very difficult contract negotiation. It's important for all of us to be there to support them.

And we are going to watch what happens to UPS this July, even though you're not hearing much about it. We're going to be there watching, because whenever there are workers in struggle anywhere, we're going to be there showing our solidarity and support.

That's the only way we're going to win.

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SHARON SMITH, national organizer, International Socialist Organization, on "Why the Working Class Can Change Society"

IN THE late 1960s and early 1970s, this was the home of the wildcat strike wave that built rank-and-file movements like the Miners for Democracy, the Teamsters for a Decent Contract and the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement. This is our tradition. They can hide it from us, but they can't take it away from us.

We must not mistake the silence that exists today for complacency. The working class in this country is no different in this respect than workers from anywhere else in the world. The same forces that have created unprecedented inequality on a world scale have also created unprecedented inequality at home. The working class in this country has everything to gain and nothing to lose in fighting for an alternative.

Globalization has produced not only immiseration, but also the possibility for cooperation and solidarity between workers in different countries who live thousands and thousands of miles from each other and speak different languages, but who are all employed by the same firm, producing different pieces of the same product.

Far from being part of the problem of global inequality, the U.S. working class represents a powerful component of the solution to global inequality, when the need for change cries out everywhere we look.

Marx's phrase "Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains," is more true today than it has ever been.

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SHAUN HARKIN, member, ISO, on "Thinking Like a Marxist: Marx's Method"

FREDERICK ENGELS once said that socialism would be the beginning of real human history, because it would be the beginning of real conscious human planning of society, of their relations with each other, and also with the environment.

It's possible for human society to make the transition from capitalism to socialism. But it's not inevitable. It depends on the outcome of the class struggle.

[In a period of revolutionary struggle], consciousness takes a huge leap forward. But it doesn't come out of the blue. It's been growing and changing unnoticeably beneath the surface until it bursts its old shell and changes qualitatively.

That's Trotsky's description of how the working class develops the kind of consciousness necessary for a revolution. The Marxist method allows us to see how the future can develop, how consciousness and organization can actually develop over the life of a revolution.

But the development of this struggle is a subjective one, one that depends on the conscious intervention of revolutionary socialists--driving the struggle forward, and preparing the class organizationally and politically for future tasks.

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RANIA MASRI, national board member, Peace Action, on "The Struggle for Palestine"

THE DIVESTMENT movement is here and we will continue to grow and make the linkages between Israel's apartheid and occupation, and militarization in this country. We will make the linkages between racism at home and the way we as taxpayers are funding racism abroad.

We will fight until every school, every city council, every university divests--not only from companies investing in Israel, but divests from every single military company. If they did it with the apartheid movement against South Africa, we can do it. If they did it in Bolivia to stop the privatization of water, we can do it. If they did it in Venezuela to stop the CIA-led coup of the Venezuelan president, we can do it.

Let us also continue to build solidarity with each other and with other organizers. Let us continue to build solidarity with the Jewish Voices Against the Occupation, Jews Against the Occupation and Not in My Name. Let us continue to build solidarity with fights at home, where we have African Americans struggling against racism at Lockheed Martin.

Let us continue to build solidarity across every single issue. We need to remember the words of civil rights activist Ella Baker: "We who believe in freedom will not rest until it comes."

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KIRSTIN ROBERTS, member, ISO, on "Is the U.S. Too Powerful to Be Beaten?"

A MOVEMENT must be built that sees its role as countering U.S. lies, myths, patriotism and racism, giving courage to others to speak out. That movement from below needs the kind of politics that understands that U.S. aggression and terror abroad are not aberrations, but that they are the rule.

Empires are defended through brute force, and they are defended in the interests of a tiny few who run society at everybody else's expense. We need an antiwar movement that consistently and clearly exposes their real war aims--and opposes all attempts by our rulers to play the world's cop.

The U.S. defeat in Vietnam provided the inspiration for a generation of fighters, not just against war in one country, but for a world that would not longer create imperialism and war--a world where ordinary people could live without domination and exploitation.

I think today we could do no greater honor to that generation's aspirations than to build an organization and a movement today that could make good on that hope and that could transform those aspirations into a reality.

This, of course, really is an argument to become a socialist--and to help us turn the "Vietnam syndrome" into a terminal disease which will put an end to U.S. imperialism and capitalism for good.

Listen to sessions of Socialism 2002 on tape! To view a complete listing of the talks--and to order--visit

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