Jack Whitman reports from a recent educational event organised by the Fourth International.
Revolving around three thematic modules – The Global Crisis, The Ecological Crisis and Strategy, Programme and the Building of Parties – the Global Justice School, held every year at the International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE) in Amsterdam, is an experience that every budding Marxist would benefit from. The participants from Asia, Latin and North America, Africa and Europe, are taken through a series of lectures by comrades specialising in the overarching themes; there is simultaneous translation; accompanying reading lists; discussion groups; closing plenaries; and the all important rota which organises working groups into their allotted task for the day, cleaning or cooking – to say that this was an intensive programme of integration, organisation and education would almost give the school its justice.
The first module on the global economic crisis was kicked off by the French economist Stéphanie Treillet who provided an in depth Marxist analysis of the global crisis, its rate of profit nature and the accompanying conceptual elements – organic composition of capital, for example. The rest of the week was dedicated to the empirical instances of economic repression – class, gender, race, sexuality, etc.; the tendency towards migration; imperialist drives; and the context of neoliberalism. The second module, focused upon ecological crises, was a learning experience for all sections. Not only were we taken through a theoretical drilling on ecosocialism by the likes of Daniel Tanuro and Laurent Garrouste, but the climate science was an eye opener for many comrades who, I’m glad to say, came away with a greater understanding of the immediacy of the ecological crisis facing us and the need for an ‘eco’-socialist approach. The third and final module dealt with strategy, programme and party building, it consisted of 8 consecutive lectures ranging from Leninist conceptions of the party, through the struggles in the different continents, to the need for an internationalist approach to our activism. I personally got a lot out of Myriam Bourgy, a comrade at the CADTM in Belgium, and her presentation on the debt issue – a new front in our resistance and one which has the potential to unite us across borders.
Towards the end of the 3 weeks, however, the mood lightened and the Brazilian comrades put on a ‘Sarau’ – a night of cultural exchange where we all shared poetry, music, dance and alcohol from our respective cultures – definitely one of the highlights of the school and one which gained me an old Aztec coin from a Mexican comrade merely for reciting a few poems by the ‘Bard of Barnsley’, Ian McMillan. By the end, then, it is safe to say that you come away from the Global Justice School not only carrying a larger arsenal of analytical tools for the dismantling of capitalism, but that you also have a better understanding of how comrades lead the fight in their own countries and, what is more, of the solidarity needed to build an internationalist socialist revolution.