13 January 2007
The 2007 Socialist Summer School was a great success. Sponsored by Resistance and the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), both affiliates of the Socialist Alliance, the event was held at Sydney University's Women's College from January 4-7. Some 210 people attended the four days of talks, workshops, meetings and social events.
Conference participants heard plenary talks given by leaders of the DSP and Resistance on a number of key problems of the struggle for socialism. "What is Marxism?"; "War, revolution and imperialism"; "Popular power"; "Marxism and women's liberation"; "Marxism and the environment"; "Class in an imperialist country"; "Youth, students and revolution"; and "The socialist revolution and the revolutionary party" — such were the titles of these instructive and thought-provoking presentations.
Filmmaker Jill Hickson from Actively Radical TV presented a compilation "2006 in review", highlighting the big class struggle events and the involvement of members of the DSP, Resistance and Socialist Alliance. A special emphasis was given to the struggle by Indigenous people and their supporters to win justice for the 2004 death of Palm Island resident Mulrunji at the hands of Queensland police. Indigenous activist and Socialist Alliance member Sam Watson is playing a leading role in this struggle.
Trent Hawkins, a participant in the recent Australian solidarity brigade to Venezuela and Perth Resistance organiser, gave a vivid presentation on the December presidential elections there. Hugo Chavez won a historic victory, attracting some 63% of the votes cast. From this platform Chavez has gone on to outline a series of dramatic new moves to take the struggle to create a new socialism of the 21st century to a qualitatively new stage.
Venezuelan charge d'affaires to Australia Nelson Davila took up these themes in his address to the conference. This year is shaping up to be a major turning point in the revolutionary process in Venezuela. US aggression will likewise be ramped up and the solidarity movement in Australia will have to increase its efforts to get out the message and build support.
A highlight of the conference was the very enthusiastic Saturday evening rally that launched the 2007 fund appeal for Green Left Weekly. Last year some $231,000 was raised — 93% of the $250,000 target — to enable Australia's leading radical newspaper to keep on coming out. This year GLW is again aiming to raise a quarter of a million dollars. Rally participants gave the fund appeal a big kickstart with pledges of $97,000.
Summer school participants attended a range of workshops and educationals on various topics. A number of national fractions to help coordinate the work of the DSP and Resistance were also organised.
2007 promises to be an extremely hectic year. The capitalist neoliberal, anti-worker offensive is continuing on all fronts, and the climate change crisis will only intensify. On the other hand, the inspiring revolutionary advances in Venezuela show what can be done. The Socialist Summer School left participants feeling energised and enthused for the struggles ahead.
To view talks from the conference click here.