Saturday 20 October 2007

Vaughan Gunson: a new socialist international

A new socialist international & a global programme for a living world by Vaughan Gunson, Representative of the central committee of Socialist Worker-New Zealand. Address to Latin America & Asia Pacific International Solidarity Forum in Melbourne, 13 October 2007. Delivered at the plenary session: 'The Venezuelan revolution and its global impact'. It’s an honour to be up here and have this opportunity to speak to everyone who’s come together at this forum. As we all know the revolution in Venezuela is extremely exciting, even for us so far away in Aotearoa New Zealand. After a long day yesterday, it was wonderful to listen to the inspiring words of Nelson Davila (Venezuela's Charge d'Affairs in Australia) as he spoke of the history of rebellion in Latin America. He told us how rebellion was in the blood of Latin Americans. And again today he’s got the blood pumping. I think that passion for rebellion is everywhere in the world today — we are all Latin Americans. The revolt against capitalist barbarity in Latin America is igniting the spirit of rebellion and hope in grassroots people all over the world. The Bolivarian Revolution, if it continues to move in its current direction, will reshape the socialist and labour movements in every country, on every continent. Socialism is being seriously talked about and acted upon by millions of people inspired by Chavez and “Socialism of the 21st century”. Personally, over the last 18 months of looking closely at events in Venezuela, I’ve learnt so much about socialism, about socialist leadership, strategies and tactics — and of the sacrifice and discipline of the comrades in Venezuela. You are part of a heroic struggle. This year, Socialist Worker-New Zealand wrote two statements on the international significance of the Venezuelan revolution. We entered into a debate with other socialists about what the revolutionary struggle in Venezuela meant for the global movement. One of the questions we were looking to ask was raised by the comrade from Columbia in the final plenary session yesterday: “How can international solidarity become more effective?” Socialist Worker-New Zealand believes the answer to that question is before us: In the form of the Venezuelan revolution and the emergence of the multi-million strong United Socialist Party of Venezuela, the PSUV. We believe the revolution in Venezuela and the wider Latin American uprisings are providing the essential material foundations for a positive regroupment of the international socialist and radical left. Recently, Chavez himself proposed a new International of socialist parties and the left for Latin America and the Caribbean. An international forum is being planned for 2008. What could a new socialist international, of the type that Chavez is proposing, achieve? A new socialist international that links the inspiring example of the Venezuelan revolution with socialists in other countries would have moral and political authority in the eyes of millions. It could give real leadership and coordination to the global struggle against poverty, eco-destruction and war. Listening to some of the comrades talking about the struggles in their countries during this forum, some common strategies have emerged. Groups are putting forward broad programmes that include concrete demands, like free healthcare, free education, the nationalisation of wealth for the people, rights for workers, rights for indigenous people. We in New Zealand are doing this through broad left initiatives like the Workers Charter. These demands for our human rights are mobilising people in the struggle, uniting them into a potentially powerful force for social change. What if a new socialist international, in conjunction with other grassroots forces, launched a global programme for a living world? A global programme which reached out to all movements, bringing them together in a truly international movement, would be powerful thing. A global programme for a living world, founded on the rights of humans to dignity, prosperity and peace — if promoted by a new socialist international — would electrify and unite the global struggle, in a way that up until this point has not been possible. It’s now possible. This could be the answer to the question: “How can international solidarity become more effective?” A proposal that Socialist Worker-New Zealand would like to put forward at this forum is the urgent formation of an International Editorial Committee, to facilitate a multi-language international discussion on the global significance of the Venezuelan revolution. This could take multiple forms: an international website, an international activist’s journal, and other mass outreach publications. The task of the International Editorial Committee would be to analyze, inspire and activise. An International Editorial Committee, which would have to include comrades from the PSUV, would be a step towards greater international discussion and co-operation between socialists. It could be one element that helps bring about the creation of new socialist international: A socialist international that unites millions of people in the epochal fight to rid the world of capitalist barbarity, so that grassroots people all over the world can gain their human dignity. Thank you.

New Zealand's 10-point Workers Charter has been endorsed by the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and is included in the manifesto of RAM (Residents Action Movement), a broad left coalition that recently contested the local body elections in Auckland, New Zealand's biggest industrial city (see
The 10 points of the Workers Charter are:
1. The right to a job that pays a living wage and gives us time with our families and communities. 2. The right to pay equity for women, youth and casual workers. 3. The right to free public healthcare and education, and to liveable superannuation and welfare. 4. The right to decent housing without crippling mortgages and rents. 5. The right to public control of assets vital to community well-being. 6. The right to protect our environment from corporate greed. 7. The right to express our personal identity free from discrimination. 8. The right to strike in defence of our interests. 9. The right to organise for the transfer of wealth and power from the haves to the have-nots. 10. The right to unite with workers in other lands against corporate globalisation and war.

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