Contrasting IST voices

Colin Fox, Scottish Socialist Party national convenor, opened proceedings at the July 1 G8 Alternatives opening rally in Queens Hall, and was in charming form. Commenting on that day's expulsion and suspension from the Scottish parliament of himself and three other SSP MSPs - Frances Curran, Rosie Kane and Carolyn Leckie - following their Holyrood demonstration for the right to protest outside Gleneagles, he was acerbic and humorous. He went on to talk about the following day's main event: having Gordon Brown at the head of a march against world poverty, he said, would be a bit like "putting Michael Jackson in charge of the crèche". Following a speech from a Green MSP, Rose Gentle from Military Families Against the War was both moving and sobering. "Tony Blair wants to bury Iraq as an issue," she said, "but our boys are buried under dirt and we won't let that happen. This grieving mother's not going to shut up." Both she and the speaker from the US equivalent organisation received standing ovations for their contributions. Mike Gonzales was introduced as a Glasgow University professor specialising in South America rather than as a member of the Socialist Workers platform. Comrade Gonzales referred to the period in the early 90s in which the 'end of history' was heralded by the bourgeois intellectual establishment following the Soviet Union's collapse. He went on to argue that Seattle 1999 marked "the end of the end of history". A "new rising", a "mass movement" - including, he said, the World Social Forum - was born and, thanks to this, mass action for a new world was around the corner. Whereas previously "the world was an open field where multinationals could march across boundaries and no-one would stop them", today that has changed. Comrade Gonzales argued that world power relations are enforced by a "small group of people with a deliberate plan to dominate the world". But now the G8 was being challenged by the new movement. What was notable, however, was his lack of criticism of the fallacies surrounding Make Poverty History and its christian-reformist agenda. By contrast, his International Socialist Tendency comrade from Ireland, Eamonn McCann, gave a barnstorming performance. To rapturous applause, he condemned the G8 leaders as "representatives of the rotten rich". "The reason the rich are rich", he said, referring to the notion of charity, "is that the poor are poor". We should therefore treat Africa not as an area of the world in need of charitable hand-outs, but as "an arena of intense struggle" in which the working class must overturn the relationship between employer and employee, exploiter and exploited. He was right: we have to see the people of Africa "not as recipients of charity", but as "determined fighters" who want to take their lives into their own hands. His was an unmistakable call for working class solidarity. Heidi Giuliani, mother of the protestor murdered by the Italian police at Genoa in 2001, pointed out that "Nobody's given the G8 leaders the right to meet together and decide the fate of the entire world." Highlighting the lack of democracy intrinsic to capitalism and its historical development, she observed that we did not vote for war, nor the plunder of Africa, nor a benign, patriarchal "charity show" either. South African Trevor Ngwane of the Anti-Privatisation Forum pointed out that "Africa's problems are deep-rooted in the history of capitalism". "The heads of state," he said, "dance to the music of the imperialists "¦ we are not grateful for their promise of debt relief because we don't owe them anything." He concluded: "Capitalism was built in the plunder of Africa's resources "¦ we demand our wealth back." His veteran compatriot, Dennis Brutus, stepped up following a cringingly awkward introduction from the chair, referring to the fact he was now in his 80s. Comrade Brutus's history as a determined fighter against apartheid who was imprisoned on Robben Island along with Nelson Mandela, gave more weight to his contribution than perhaps it deserved. His call for the immediate cancellation of 'third world' debt and an increase in aid did not move beyond MPH's tapered vision l Carey Davies