Fighting for our future


The article below is abridged from the speech delivered by M. Saraswathy, deputy chairperson of the Socialist Party of Malaysia, to the final plenary of the World at a Crossroads conference. The conference, hosted by Green Left Weekly, was held in Sydney over April 10-12.

One of the most widely known truths today is that capitalism is in a deep crisis of its own making. The endless search for greater and greater profits, with complete disregard for people and the planet, has created a crisis that capitalism cannot solve.

The clock cannot be turned back on global warming, which has resulted in major changes to temperatures and natural phenomena. This poses a serious threat to life on Earth.

Capitalism has also resulted in a crisis of resources. The resources of the world have been exhausted and depleted by unplanned production and wasteful exploitation. We face the prospects of a world that is short of energy resources.

Currently, we are all in the midst of a worldwide economic recession that is entirely created by the capitalist system (which allows the economy to be owned and run by a tiny elite that are after nothing but more profits). Thanks to global capitalism, no country in the world is spared.

Workers are losing jobs in the millions. There is already widespread homelessness and misery. The recession will increase poverty.

Of course, the capitalist-run media doesn't mourn for the huge suffering of the people, but for the collapse of financial institutions, such as Lehman Brothers, and the drop in wealth of billionaires. Billions are pumped into the economy by pro-capitalist governments to save the capitalist system.

The constant warning is that this is going to be the worst crisis in 80 years. This means a long period of suffering and deprivation for ordinary people, brought about by this ruthless profits-first, greed-driven system.

Widespread unemployment and poverty also means widespread disenchantment and anger. We must expose capitalism as a system that rides on the super-exploitation and repression of workers. We have the opportunity to empower workers.

I think we will all agree that the objective conditions are ready for change. But are we ready to use this opportunity to fight for a socialist future?

I would like to propose some actions we should take in order to be able to respond to the crisis of capitalism.

1. Sinking our differences.

One of the biggest obstacles in the way to a concerted fight against capitalism is the factionalism among the left. Many groups seem to be more concerned about the correctness of their ideology than the onslaught of capitalism and the need for a joint response.

There is a need to unite around our common positions as socialists — opposition to an inhumane system that oppresses the majority. There is a need for ongoing dialogue over our differences as we work together.

There is an urgent need to think about what kind of socialism is needed for the 21st century, and how to arrive at it. Also, to realise that capitalism is still strong and can survive the recession — if socialists waste the opportunity.

History will never forgive us if we continue to divide ourselves!

2. Venezuela and Latin America.

We need to look at Venezuela and Latin America. Socialism is being introduced in ways never imagined before. What lessons can we learn from Latin America that we can apply in the struggle in our own countries?

3. We have to work.

We have to go to the ground level and agitate, as [Argentinean-born leader of the Cuban revolution] Che Guevara said. Engage the working class in struggles, empower them. We have to write pamphlets that workers can understand, have discussions, create awareness and urge them into action.

We have to harness the anger and frustration of the workers and make people aware that humankind is not doomed to suffer under the capitalism system forever. Socialism doesn't drop from the sky!

As Rosa Luxemberg [the Polish-born revolutionary killed for leading the 1919 German revolution] said, the choice facing humankind is socialism or barbarism. There is great anger and dissatisfaction with the existing economic system. Our role is to turn this frustration into a political struggle for a socialist society.

Long live socialism!