By Chris Spindler
MELBOURNE — More than 200 young activists attended the 20th national conference of Resistance, held here over the weekend of July 13-15. The theme of the conference was "Against their order — A new world for all!"
Some of the highlights included feature talks from Jim Percy, the national secretary of the Democratic Socialist Party, on "The role of a revolutionary organisation" and Peter Camejo, a well-known environmental campaigner and socialist from the US on "US politics today".
Camejo outlined the centrality of environmental campaigns in the struggle for social change. He said that ecological devastation is moving people throughout the world into political action.
Jorge Jorquera, Resistance organiser in Melbourne, outlined the international political situation. Bush's "New World Order" is nothing new, he said, just the old imperialist order dressed up in new garb. Jorquera talked about the crisis in the Gulf and the deepening international economic crisis. He outlined how First world continues to increase its wealth while Third World countries get poorer. Jorquera went on to describe some of the struggles of those who are fighting back, as in South Africa and Indonesia.
Tracy Sorensen, who spent a year in Prague as a journalist, described the current situation in Eastern Europe. Following the massive movement against the bureaucratic Stalinist regimes, there were widespread illusions in capitalist solutions to the problems of shortages and inefficiency. However, the restoration of capitalism will not be an easy task. Huge social problems, such as mass unemployment and the dismantling of the welfare system, are shattering many of the illusions in capitalism.
As the international economic situation worsens, Australia too is gripped in an economic crisis. Australian capitalism has attempted to restructure — driving down wages, privatising, introducing user pays systems, wreaking havoc on the environment, cutting spending in education and health care and increasing restrictions on Austudy recipients, the unemployed and those dependent on welfare in general. The impact has been massive social dislocation.
Anne O'Callaghan, Sydney Resistance organiser, discussed Resistance's response to these attacks, in particular its attempts to reach out with radical and socialist ideas to in any movement or campaign that attempts to stop the attacks and build solidarity with others. She also stressed the ongoing support for movements working toward building an alternative to the Labor/Liberal game.
Resistance will be present on campuses, in secondary schools and amongst the unemployed and young workers through a range of campaigns and publications. It will also continue campaigning for the environment, particularly through supporting the Environmental Youth Alliance.
The conference reaffirmed Resistance's commitment to supporting and strengthening Green Left Weekly. Resistance will continue to push distribution and support for Green Left Weekly as one of its central priorities.
Another conference highlight was the NOTE-a-RIOT\ee evening on Saturday night. From African drums to performance poetry, the evening was packed with lively progressive artists from around the country — a good sign for a vibrant, talented and progressive alternative culture of the future.