The opening night panel of the Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance conference discussed the recent invasion of Iraq, the rise of Islamic State and the Kurdish struggle in Kobane.
Filling out the hall at Geelong Trades Hall on December 5, about 50 people heard from speakers Farooq Tariq from the Awami Workers Party in Pakistan, Dilek Geyik from the Australian Kurdish Association and Jemma Nott from Resistance.
Tariq compared the recent examples in the US, where white cops have gotten away with killing Black people, with how the American military is acting with impunity throughout the rest of the world.
He said: “While opposing fundamentalism we can’t support American imperialism, by opposing imperialism we have to oppose religious fundamentalists, we must oppose them both.”
He argued that religious fundamentalists are the new counter-revolutionaries, often pretending to be revolutionaries.
“For us religious fundamentalists are the new fascists. They are attacking the weakest sections of our society, like women, they are promoting sectarian violence. Some of them are openly campaigning against democracy.”
Geyik spoke about the Kurdish struggle, from its history of violent oppression in countries such as Turkey to its struggle to build an independent state with “ecology and feminism as its central pillars”.
In Rojava, people are learning to “make decisions from the bottom to the top … based on freedoms of political, social, economic, cultural, sexual and ethnic rights”
She called for support from the wider left and said: “Rojava can be viewed as a unique experiment which has progressed further than any Middle Eastern community and raises hope for a democratic system that could transcend Kurdistan and spread across the globe”
Nott spoke about the situation in Syria. She argued that the sectarian tensions have been largely driven by foreign intervention and are counter to achieving democracy. But she said there is hope of unity between various socio-ethnic groups and democracy being achieved from grassroots struggle.
Over the weekend the conference continued its theme of “Another world is possible: lets build it now” with discussions on solutions to the crisis the world faces.
Workshops were held on several topics, including the struggle of communities against gas mining, how to rebuild the radical university and how gender and racial oppression can be fought.
Other international speakers at the conference were Shamikh Badra from Gaza, Heleyni Pratley from the Unite union in New Zealand and Kesavan Vijayan from the Socialist Party of Malaysia.