By Lisa Macdonald
Activists from the environment, women's, solidarity and workers' rights movements will be gathering at a Marxist Education Conference in Perth over the Easter weekend, April 15-17.
This conference, the first of its kind in Western Australia in over a decade, is an opportunity for both experienced campaigners and those interested in getting active in green and left politics to discuss strategies for developing progressive, democratic alternatives to the Liberal and Labor parties and their economic rationalist agendas.
The conference will feature a number of international guest speakers, including Russian author and dissident socialist activist Boris Kagarlitsky, who will discuss the political situation in Yeltsin's Russia and prospects for the future in his devastated country.
With the socialist movement worldwide challenged to reassert its revolutionary democratic goals and strategies following the collapse of Stalinism, a range of other speakers will take up the theme of the future of socialism. Workshop and panel presentations cover such topics as "Alternative Economic Strategies", "Women, Race and Class", "The Relevance of Marxism" and "The Socialism we are Fighting For".
Concrete presentations on directions for the left in Latin America, South Africa and the Philippines, for example, contribute to an agenda for discussion which no socialist should miss.
A visiting Indonesian activist and representative of the newly formed Indonesian People's Solidarity with Maubere, Edwin, will speak about the developing movement in support of East Timorese independence inside Indonesia. A leader in the Indonesian democratic movement, including the People's Democratic Union, Edwin will also report on the latest developments in the Indonesian human rights, democracy and labour movements.
The struggle for East Timorese self-determination and the closely related movement against the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia will be a major theme at this conference. In a panel discussion on Saturday, for example, speakers from Fretilin, the UDT, Aksi and the Friends of East Timor will join Indonesian academic Dr George Aditjondro to review the state of this struggle and prospects for peace and justice in East Timor.
Unceasing attacks on our natural environment and living conditions make it critical that we find the ways to build and promote a green, left alternative to the mainstream political parties in this country. By offering an opportunity to share experiences, engage in dialogue and debate strategies, this conference aims to contribute to that end.
With workshop topics such as "The Labor Party and Social Democracy", "Tactics for the anti-fees campaign", Yaluritja (Clarrie Isaacs) on "We expect Native Title but we get Native Welfare" and panels including local trade unionists on "Rebuilding the Labour Movement", speakers from the conservation and trade union movements on "What is a Sustainable Forestry Industry?", participants at the conference can expect no shortage of debate about how to build the movements.