Internationalism was a strong theme of the 36th Resistance conference held in Sydney over July 5-8. Apart from hearing from Julia Espinoza from Socialist Worker in New Zealand and Gusti Galuh Ratna Sari from the Indonesian National Student League for Democracy, the whole conference took part in a separate one-day forum on July 7 organised by the Venezuelan Embassy.
Conference organiser Simon Cunich told Green Left Weekly that it was important for Resistance to host activists from Indonesia and New Zealand to "share and strengthen our collective experiences".
Some 108 people, mostly youth and students, from all over the country, took part in plenaries and workshop discussions, making plans to counter the US-led "war of terror" in the Middle East and its impact at home, for solidarity with the socialist revolution in Venezuela, for the campaign to save the planet from corporate greed and opposing the Howard government's Aboriginal land grab. Other panels discussed the campaign against Work Choices, the global warming crisis and the campaign for queer rights.
Espinoza, who is also an environmental organiser with ClimAction, described the climate change campaigns they are building in New Zealand and the solidarity actions with Indigenous Australians they helped organise in New Zealand.
Sari discussed the challenges faced by radical students in Indonesia. She also outlined the formation of Papernas (National Liberation Party of Unity), the new united left party, and how its anti-neoliberal platform has given it a hearing among workers, farmers, students and the urban poor. Resistance is planning a brigade to Indonesia to strengthen ties between progressive activists of both countries.
Mel Barnes from Hobart presented a feature talk on socialist solutions to the global environmental crisis, prompting much discussion. Delegates voted unanimously to support and publicise the national Walk Against Warming protests planned for two weeks before the federal election.
Tim Dobson from Wollongong outlined the quagmire of US imperialism in the Middle East and motivated that Resistance continue to prioritise building the anti-war movement across Australia with a special focus on building support for the convergence in Sydney at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to protest US President George Bush and his ally PM John Howard.
The wars and occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, and building solidarity with Venezuela and other revolutionary movements in Latin America were also emphasised. "The failure of the US empire in the Middle East is not limited to Iraq, however. The occupation of Afghanistan by NATO forces and its allies is ensuring that the country is completely destroyed", said Dobson. The failure of the US occupations has had significant ramifications, he continued, particularly in the US where anti-war sentiment has never been higher. Some 77% of Americans said that the war in Iraq was going badly, according to a CBS news poll in late June.
Ewan Saunders from Brisbane outlined plans to help build the anti-war movement, with a special focus on the national convergence at the APEC summit and the federal elections. After discussing how to build the anti-Bush protest the majority of delegates supported the call for a national day of student action with a focus on reactivating anti-war action on high schools and to help organise a walk-out.
Trent Hawkins from Perth elaborated on the Venezuelan revolution, "socialism in the 21st century", saying that "to build a world based upon solidarity, we must practise solidarity, and in that way transform both circumstances and ourselves. If we know where we want to go and we know what is necessary to get there, we have begun the battle to defend humanity against barbarism."
Delegates discussed building solidarity actions with Indigenous communities under attack from the Howard government's land grab, with a focus on building NAIDOC week activities; affirmed a message to be sent to the Mutitjulu community; and pledged to continue to campaign for justice for Mulrunji and against the the Howard government;s attempt to destroy native title and Indigenous land rights.
Solidarity greetings were presented by Paul Benedek from the Democratic Socialist Perspective and youth representatives from the Campaign for Tamil Rights.
Emma Clancy, one of the outgoing national co-organisers, talked about Resistance's commitment to the struggle for a socialist world. "Our understanding of how social progress has been made comes from our understanding of the class struggle throughout history, an understanding that we're part of a much broader movement. This vision of a socialist future is so powerful that it has withstood the challenges of the 20th century failures of Stalinism and social democracy, and is again gaining the attention of many around the world who think people deserve better than this."
Clancy said that the while the goal of changing the world is "massive", there is no alternative but to step up to it "or watch the planet be destroyed by a tiny greedy minority".
"The ideas of socialism and the strategy of revolution have a long history, with many experiences and lessons. No individual can embody all this experience, let alone use it. Only a consciously constructed socialist organisation, or party, can hope to bring such lessons to bear on making history", Clancy concluded.