A busy start to 2009 for socialists

DSP members had a very busy start to 2009.

Gaza solidarity

Even while most Australians were on their Xmas-New Year holidays, our comrades were scrambled to help build a mass response to the latest Israeli assault on Gaza. We helped organise mass protests all around the country, including one of the early biggest protests in the Western world, the 5,000-strong protest in Sydney on December 29. A second round of demonstrations drew 10,000 in Sydney, 8,000 in Melbourne.

Green Left Weekly editorial staff cut short their break and put out a special issue in English and Arabic.

DSP national committee

The DSP's national committee (which includes comrades from all around the country) met in Sydney over the weekend of January 10-11 and discussed and adopted reports on the international situation, the Australian political situation and movements, our perspectives in the Socialist Alliance, Resistance and our party-building tasks. These reports are available here.

World At A Crossroads conference

A major priority of the DSP in the first half of the year is to build the World At A Crossroads conference in Sydney over the Easter Weekend, April 10-13. This will be immediately followed by a Resistance national conference in the same venue on April 14.

The World At A Crossroads conference will feature a broad and exciting array of international speakers from the left around the world, including; PSUV advisor Luis Bilbao; leading ecosocialist Ian Angus; writer on socialism of the 21st century Michael Lebowitz; Indian Marxist Kavitha Krishnan; Socialist Party of Malaysia Deputy Chairperson M.Saraswathy (Saras); Reihana Mohideen from the new Filipino left party, Partido Lakas ng Masa; Salim Vally, chair of South African Palestine Solidarity Committee & founding member of COSATU; Roger Annis from Socialist Voice Canada; Venezuelan charge d'affaires to Australia Nelson Davila; new Cuban ambassador to Australia, Abelardo Curbelo; Tomas Freitas from Luta Hamutuk in Timor Leste; Daphne Gollan and Vaughan Gunston from Socialist Worker New Zealand; Youngsu Won and others from Power of the Working Class in Korea; a representative from the Labour Party Pakistan; plus others still confirming. Check the World At A Crossroads website for the latest list of confirmed speakers.

Climate Action Summit

Other major political interventions by DSP members in January-February 2009 included the 500-strong Climate Action Summit in Canberra and a round of protests organised by the Tamil community against the genocidal war being waged by the Sri Lankan government against the Tamil national minority.

The Climate Action Summit adopted three unifying objectives:

1) To prevent the Rudd government's proposed carbon pollution trading scheme (the so-called "Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme" - CPRS) from becoming law.

2) To launch a campaign for 100% renewable energy in Australia within 10 years — drawing upon the example of Al Gore's Repowering America campaign, which is backed by research from renewable energy experts from Stanford University among others.

3) To campaign for a long-term target of stabilising atmospheric CO2 at 300ppm. This corresponds with the most recent research conducted by the world's leading climate scientist, James Hansen, and his team.

Future actions proposed by this historic movement summit were:

• actions outside MPs offices or corporations to coincide with the parliamentary vote on the CPRS White Paper in March;

• nationally coordinated mass World Environment Day rallies on June 6 with the explicit purpose of publicly launching the campaign for 100% renewable energy in 10 years;

• climate camp/s in September, inspired by the successful camp held in Newcastle in August 2008. Scientists predict Arctic melt will reach its maximum in September; and

• actions around the Copenhagen Summit in December.

Venezuela and Cuba solidarity

McIlroy & Wynter with Venezuelan ambassador Nelson DavilaDSP members are playing a major role in organising the next Australian solidarity brigade to Venezuela. DSP president Jim McIlroy and Comrade Coral Wynter, the authors of Voices From Venezuela, are staying on in Caracas to organise this brigade which will be mainly composed of trade unionists.

McIlroy and Wynter also visited Cuba in January for meetings and other programs with the Cuban Communist Party.

Other activities

Amidst all this campaign activity, DSP and Resistance had successful cadre education camps in Victoria and NSW, and the DSP sent national committee member Sam Wainwright as observer/reporter to the launch of the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France and national secretary Peter Boyle to attend the launch of the Partido Lakas ng Masa in the Philippines. Reports on these visits are available in Links here and here.

Since Links was converted to an online magazine format in April 2008, it has had211, 500 (as of February 13, 2009). The total number of Links articles visited was 290,700 and international partners in the Links project have found the new format more useful, especially because of the quicker response to issues and broader range of contributions from around the world.

To get weekly updates of articles posted on Links click here.

Capitalist crises

All this takes place against the framework of an unprecedented global economic-ecological crisis and associated political repercussions brought on by the capitalist system itself.

Tens of millions of workers have already been thrown out of work around the world (at least 20 million in China alone) and entire countries are going bankrupt. Although the economic crisis has yet to seriously hit most of the Australian working class, the Australian ruling class is already desperately throwing billions at the economic crisis.

Further, the terrible bush fires in Victoria this month were a terrifying warning to what is to come on the climate change front.

It is in this context, that the preparation and positioning socialists have done in the trade union and other social movements will be tested.