The Fourteenth National Convention has been convened by the Solidarity National Committee to take place in Chicago from Friday, July 26 through Sunday, July 28, 2013. The convention will open at 2:00 PM on Friday, July 26 and will be preceded by a Solidarity summer school from Wednesday, July 24 through Friday morning, July 26.
This convention takes place five years into the greatest capitalist offensive and restructuring in decades. But it is also a time of renewed, if sporadic, fight back, a time that offers opportunities and potential of new directions for the left.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund imposed a neoliberal agenda and rising debt on Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia throughout the 1980s; today those policies have been extended to the advanced industrialized countries. This is a program of aggressive austerity–shredding social programs and cutting public sector jobs, dismantling labor rights and standards, privatizing public infrastructure, and generally shifting the cost of the crisis onto the working class. Public education programs (from nursery school to college) have been one prominent target.
In some cases, notably the Chicago Teachers Union fight, the potential of working class coalitions based on anti- racist unity, democracy, and militancy have managed to partially hold the line against austerity and to dig in for a long term fight. For the most part, however, the responses to these attacks have been short-lived and unstable, but inspiring, upsurges like Occupy or the fight in Wisconsin. On the whole, the initiative remains firmly in the hands of
the capitalist class.
A range of social and political attacks are integrated within the austerity agenda. Restriction of women’s access to reproductive health care and a beefed up police state centering on political repression of African Americans, Latinos, and Arab Americans are especially important elements. Declining white birthrates, combined with immigration patterns that forecast a reconfiguration of the US racial order within a generation, feed a strain of racist paranoia in contemporary politics. Despite these repressive attacks, the economic, demographic, and geographic remaking of the US working class also suggests the potential of new, unpredictable political alignments and movements.
At the same time, a global ecological crisis rooted in capitalism’s endless profit-driven expansion threatens the survival of humanity and Earth’s ecosystem. Entire countries of the Global South, indigenous peoples, and racially and nationally oppressed “surplus populations” face the brunt of the danger from climate change, extractive industries, and despoiling of the air, water, and land. In North America, struggles against the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking, mountaintop removal, and local fights against toxic waste have gained traction and have increasingly taken on a perspective that links them together as part of one broader struggle against climate change. Ecosocialist currents in the environmental movement raise vital theoretical and strategic questions for the revolutionary left and point to the need for integration of an ecological analysis into our longer term vision and into the struggles of today.
These developments and possibilities have yet to be properly understood. The organized left, including Solidarity, is fragmented and poorly positioned to respond. We need a renewed understanding of and strategic orientation toward the changing struggles of the working class, including the evolving fights against ecological destruction, national oppression, and austerity.
In light of this situation, the organizing committee for this convention has identified four general priority areas to initiate discussion and debate:
- Assessing the state of the movements and our orientation and work within them
- Refitting our own organization’s structure and processes
- Communication and publications
- Regroupment & refoundation
All members are encouraged to submit documents and proposals to deepen our understanding of the period, evaluate our successes and failures, and chart out directions for Solidarity in the years following the convention.