In January, the week-long 12th World Congress of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) was held in Belgium, with representatives from 27 countries in attendance. The Congress changed the name of the international from the CWI to the International Socialist Alternative (ISA). Several members of Socialist Alternative in the U.S. attended the Congress.

This meeting could not have occurred at a more crucial time, as 2019 proved to be a year of global upheaval and profound crisis for the ruling elite. After decades of growing inequality, the suppression of workers’ rights, and a growing understanding that this system is endangering all life on this planet, the working class and young people have begun to assert themselves. In 2019, working people in countries across the globe carried out massive struggles, overthrew dictatorships, forced concessions from the establishment, won historic electoral victories, and initiated political earthquakes.

But what is also striking is the lack of effective leadership from existing unions and most “left” parties, including new left parties created in the past period. These themes dominated the congress, pointing to the crucial role revolutionary socialists will have to play in the process of creating organizations and a leadership which are able to rise to the challenges posed by this period.

The congress featured discussions on the broader political situation around the world as well as specific regional discussions on developments in Latin America, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, China-Hong Kong-Taiwan, the United States, and both Eastern and Western Europe. We had separate sessions on the environment and socialist feminism, reflecting the political importance of these issues.

On the final two days, we had dynamic discussions on our approach and tactics in this rapidly shifting political climate. This included the urgent tasks for building our own forces including turning to the new generation.

Global Upheaval

The struggles and revolutionary explosions of 2019 and already in 2020 take place alongside a deep crisis of confidence in capitalism and its institutions. Meanwhile, the global economy is on the verge of downturn and the question of global recession is not “if” but “when.”

A significant section of the world’s population lives under right-populist regimes which have a hardened social base, including in the U.S., India, Brazil, Russia, the Philippines, Hungary and Poland. But these regimes are marked by instability. For example, in India, as we describe on p. 4 there have been historic general strikes against the reactionary Modi regime as well as mass youth struggles. Right wing governments in Latin America including in Argentina, Chile and Brazil have all faced mass resistance.

Meanwhile the electric rise of the Bernie Sanders campaign in the U.S. has both inspired working-class people around the world and ignited terror in entire sections of the global elite.

International Socialist Alternative

This congress followed a period of debate within the CWI during which the majority of sections and members identified the risk of sectarian, dogmatic, and bureaucratic degeneration among the CWI’s former leadership. Rejecting this path has opened up a new era for our own organization.

Delegates to the World Congress voted to elect a new leadership, alter our structures, and change our name to International Socialist Alternative. These decisions reflect an intent to build an international that is more cohesive, democratic, and politically clear.

We Have a World to Win

We are heading into an explosive period, where further countries and regions of the world will feature mass movements as more and more people see struggle as the only way to achieve change. Recently we have seen the heroic resistance of the French working class to neoliberal “pension reform” with the biggest strike wave since 1968.

Alongside this, the incapacity of capitalism to solve climate catastrophe will be on full display and will lead more and more people to seek out and demand an alternative. The only way to secure a future worth fighting for is through a working class-led, revolutionary transformation of the world, which demands the building of a world revolutionary party linking all struggles. While this will be a process which includes both leaps forward as well as setbacks, in this new era the role of socialists is more important than ever.

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