Socialist Action’s Ninth Annual Convention

Delegates and members across the country assembled at Socialist Action’s Ninth National Convention to discuss and debate the major national and world political issues confronting revolutionary socialists today.

The March 23-26 convention was preceded by a four-month written pre-convention discussion that included 23 bulletins with some 70 separate contributions from party members.

The major convention agenda items were a World Political Resolution, including a balance sheet of the Yugoslav War, and a discussion of Socialist Action’s fraternal relations with the Fourth International, the world party founded by Leon Trotsky that today includes affiliate sections in some 35 counties.

The convention approved a common balance sheet on the worldwide crises facing humanity today. The section of the 56-page adopted World Political Resolution titled, “Which way for the human race?” read:

We live at a moment in world history in which the continued existence of our species lies in the balance. Doubts about the survival of the human race have spread from a relatively small but significant number of the world’s most serious intellectuals to ever wider layers of thinking people.

Never in the history of the world has the very existence of the human race been threatened on so many fronts at one time. We are faced with the accelerating process of pollution of the oceans, rivers, lakes, and the very air we breathe. Pandemics like AIDS and asthma-accelerated by deteriorating sanitary conditions and health systems-spread across the planet from continent to continent and nation to nation…

The people of the poorest countries, already ill-housed, ill-clothed, and ill-fed must also endure the absence of such elementary human needs as clean water for drinking and bathing…

In the imperialist countries, in anticipation of a coming working-class fightback, the capitalists have engineered a series of repressive laws aimed at limiting the exercise of basic rights that were won decades ago and longer. Reactionary legislation has eroded labor’s right to organize while at the same time tying the unions closer than ever to the capitalist state.

Attacks on free speech, assembly, etc. have become routine. At the same time scapegoating legislation designed to divide workers by race, sex, nationality, and “legal” status, have been put into place and utilized to fan the flames of chauvinism of every variety.

The emerging economic crisis is reflected in the rise of neo-fascist groups across the globe, capitalism’s future shock troops when the official apparatus of repression proves insufficient to thwart the inevitable anti-capitalist mass organizations and movements.

The need of the ruling rich to move into place and deepen the apparatus of repression is but another indication of their understanding of the limits of bourgeois democratic rule. The fundamental struggle for democratic rights therefore, plays a key role in assembling the forces to challenge capitalist rule.

And then, of course, there are the arsenals of nuclear-tipped missiles whose destructive powers are steadily multiplied as the world descends into a new period of permanent warfare. Local wars between and within nations erupt with increasing frequency and scope-often threatening to become conflagrations-any one of which, moreover, can trigger even wider conflicts involving the world’s massively armed nuclear powers.

Yugoslav War

The convention reaffirmed Socialist Action’s past resolutions on the fundamental contradictions inherent in the world capitalist economy. It also approved a balance sheet on the U.S./NATO imperialist war against Yugoslavia.

The central responsibility of American revolutionaries during the war was to mobilize the broadest forces possible against the U.S./NATO intervention. This could most effectively be accomplished, the adopted resolution noted, through the construction of united front mass mobilizations around three demands: U.S./NATO Out of Yugoslavia, Stop the Bombing, and Self-determination for Kosovo.

The latter demand was seen by Socialist Action as both a rejection of any right of the U.S./NATO armies to intervene in Yugoslavia and as an expression of solidarity with the beleaguered Kosovar people.

Despite criticisms of political positions taken by leaders of the Kosovar Liberation Army (KLA), the convention nevertheless solidarized with the heroic struggle of the KLA and the Kosovar people for self-determination.

Within Kosovo, the adopted Yugoslavia resolution stood in solidarity with the Kosovar people’s struggle for self-determination against the intervention of the ethnic cleansing, neo-Stalinist and capitalist restorationist regime of Slobodan Milosevic.

Within Yugoslavia, Socialist Action stood in solidarity with those Yugoslav workers, farmers, and soldiers who in varying degrees defied Milosevic’s murderous war against the Kosovars and mobilized against it, while at the same time opposing the imperialist bombing that destroyed vast portions of Yugoslavia’s infrastructure.

Fourth International

The convention adopted a resolution reaffirming Socialist Action defense of the historic program of the Fourth International (FI). With a World Congress of the FI scheduled for late 2001, Socialist Action approved a program for stepped-up activity aimed at challenging the current FI leadership’s move toward abandoning the Trotskyist heritage and revolutionary program of the FI.

As part of the U.S. Political Report, National Youth Organizer Adam Ritscher reported that 63 youth had joined Youth for Socialist Action, SA’s fraternal youth group.

The convention reaffirmed the party’s major commitment to the struggle for the life and freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal, America’s most well-known political prisoner and death row inmate. SA has played a major role in building the national and international mass mobilizations demanding a new trial for Abu-Jamal.

Delegates discussed the broad range of party political work undertaken in the past two years including trade-union activity, antiwar efforts, the recruitment of a new layer of revolutionary youth, and Socialist Action’s enthusiastic commitment to defense of the Cuban Revolution.

A 17-member National Committee was elected to lead the party for the next two years. Two national officers, Jeff Mackler and Nat Weinstein, were elected National Secretary and National Labor Secretary respectively.

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