Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Delegates From 15 Countries Say: Capitalism Endangers Human Civilization

Delegates from 15 countries say: Capitalism endangers human civilization

Published Nov 14, 2010 8:54 PM
By John Catalinotto
Serpa, Portugal

Now a laid-back town of 5,000 in Portugal’s Alentejo agricultural region, Serpa was established by the Roman Empire. Later it was ruled by the Moors as part of the Islamic civilization before it became part of the Portuguese nation. In Portugal’s fascist period Serpa, as well as the entire Alentejo, was a center of resistance led by the underground Portuguese Communist Party and a stronghold of the agricultural working class. Since Portugal’s 1974 democratic revolution, Serpa and the surrounding municipality have been administered by a PCP-led coalition.

This history made Serpa an excellent location for an international conference of communist militants and Marxist thinkers. They met the last weekend of October to discuss the dangers that imperialism holds for human civilization — and the possible means to counteract this threat.

It was the third in a series of international meetings in Serpa entitled “Civilization or Barbarism: Challenges of Today’s World.” Others were held in 2004 and 2007. It was the first since much of the world’s capitalist economy went into a downward spiral in 2008. Its organizers were Vertice magazine and the website odiario.info, whose editors include Filipe Diniz, José Paulo Gascão, Miguel Urbano Rodrigues and Rui Namorado Rosa.

One vital invitee was forced to cancel, but her letter underlining the sometimes tragic choices one must make moved the audience to an ovation. Heroic Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba, currently under attack by the repressive regime there, was attending the funeral of former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner in Buenos Aires.

Many participants believed the real choice humanity faces is between increased misery and wars on one side and the struggle for a socialist future on the other. The capitalist collapse and persistent decline for the working class make this choice ever more urgent.

Contributing to the conference were dozens of Marxists, journalists and militants from 15 countries, mostly from Europe and Latin America, with some representatives from North America and the Middle East. The largest group of contributors was from Portugal itself. The participants included those more oriented toward an academic examination of historical data and contemporary society, along with communist activists on the front lines of the class struggle.

Despite the breadth of opinion, participants agreed in a final declaration that this is not just a cyclical capitalist crisis, but it is “social, financial, economic, military, energy, cultural and environmental;” that “capitalism, with its precipitous increase in aggression, has become an absolutely regressive factor for human civilization;” and that “Marxism-Leninism remains the most precious intellectual weapon in the hands of the workers and peoples who resist and advance the struggle.”

The declaration also expressed solidarity with Cuba and Venezuela and with “the progressive governments of Evo Morales in Bolivia and Rafael Correa in Ecuador;” saluted the resistance struggles in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as that of the Palestinians; and warned of the threats against Iran as well as from the U.S. Fourth Fleet in Latin America. It also hailed the workers’ struggles in Europe and the anti-war activities of people in the U.S.

Impact of current class struggle

Though the conference didn’t aim to evaluate the most current events, these had an impact. In Portugal an upcoming NATO summit on Nov. 19-21 brought home the increased militarization of the imperialist world — and will be the target of a demonstration set for Nov. 20. Then on Nov. 24 the Portuguese workers will hold yet another general strike, in an attempt to stop the onslaught of the European capitalists to slash every gain workers have made since the 1974 revolution overthrew fascism.

The splendid struggle of the French workers to defend their retirement rights, the election in Brazil, the imminent electoral setback for the Democratic Party in the U.S., the recent attempted coup in Ecuador, the ongoing wars in the Middle East and Central Asia, along with the rampant unemployment in Europe and the U.S., were part of many private discussions as well as those at the podium.

Cape-Verde-born historian Carlos Lopes Pereira raised once more an appreciation of African Marxist Amilcar Cabral and the oppressive role of Portuguese colonialism in Africa.

Leila Ghanem, a key organizer of the January 2009 Beirut conference, made the important point that the role of the mass organizations Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine is not necessarily determined by their religious ideology, but develops under the influence of the mass social struggle in those regions as they resist the Israeli settler-state and imperialism.

This is a small sample of the many contributions available in Portuguese and in their original language at odiario.info. The final declaration is available in English.

Catalinotto, a managing editor of Workers World newspaper, presented a paper entitled “Amid capitalist collapse and imperialist war: The challenge of reviving Marxism in the center of the empire.”
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