I was one of around 350 members of the CWI who met in Belgium this week for our annual European school. Despite having been a member for a while now I’ve never managed to get along to one of them before. And I have to say I feel really stupid for not doing so because if it has been anything near as good as it has been this year then I have really being missing out.
The school was split up into several discussions with big plenary sessions on the situation in the world, one focussing in more detail on the situation in Europe and one on building the Committee for a Workers’ International. There were also several sets of commissions on various topics and for the contents of all of these sessions I would direct people to the excellent report on the CWI website http://www.socialistworld.net/.
I went along to the commissions on Africa, Marxism & Science and Racism & the far-right and I have to say the debates in these were excellent. The one thing that really stood out in all of them was how many really capable young members we have in all the various sections, for example:
In the Africa commission there were several contributions on the finer points of countries that I’ve never discussed before such as Algeria as well as some really interesting points made on the role of China in Africa. In the Marxism and Science discussion some important points about dialectics were discussed and in the Racism and the Far-Right session the bravery of the comrades in Northern Ireland in defending Roma families in Belfast was discussed as well as the equal bravery of the Swedish section in defending our members against around 11 attacks in the last year and a half.
But the week was also an opportunity to relax and I’m proud to say I was on the winning team of the yearly football match, with England & Wales & Irish sections beating the rest of the CWI 5-1. And most of the school had a good laugh when a senior member of the CWI managed to lock themselves in the lavatory.
On a more serious note the school showed the tremendous progress being made by the CWI, obviously one of the main highlights was the election of Joe Higgins to the European Parliament which is already leading to the further development of the Irish section of the CWI as well as allowing us the ability to work more closely with other left groups in Europe. The growth in the England and Wales section also shone through, particularly as a result of our recent leadership of several important industrial disputes, with the recruitment of important layers of workers and trade unionists. The fusion between the former CWI section and another group in Brazil to form the new CWI section Liberdade, Socialismo, Revolucao. The growth of the CWI in new areas, especially Malaysia was also discussed. Even where we are experiencing a really difficult objective situation at the present time in Sri Lanka due to the civil war, we are still managing to function despite state harassment and death threats against our members.
If this sounds like I’m mostly going on about how great the CWI is then you are right. One of the points raised in the discussion was how quite a lot of the times we are too modest about the work we do around the world, of course we publicise what we do, but there’s also a lot more that goes unreported. I have to agree, I think I have underestimated how important the CWI is until this week. Due to the history of our organisation in Britain and with England & Wales being the largest section to a certain extent I think I thought of the International as sort of tagged on to our section. But this week has shown me that we make a serious difference to the lives of ordinary working class people in many areas of the world and it has made me really want to commit myself to living up to example that members of the CWI are setting around the world.