The Rocky Mountain Socialist Conference

by Adam Koritz & Alejandro Giron / March 2006 issue of Socialist Action newspaper

SALT LAKE CITY—The Rocky Mountain Winter Socialist Conference, initiated and organized jointly between Utah Socialists and Socialist Action, Feb. 16-19, was an inspiring success. The conference consisted of three public talks and several educational sessions, drawing on topics such as the revolutionary upsurge in Latin America, socialists in the trade unions, and the antiwar movement.

Socialist Action National Secretary Jeff Mackler gave several classes, including, “Strategy and Tactics in the U.S. Antiwar Movement,” “The History Of Iraq, 1914 to the Present,” and “From Hurricane Katrina to Global Warming: Socialists in the Fight to Save the Environment.”

Mackler kicked things off with a speech on the growing radicalization in Latin America—including Bolivia, where Evo Morales of the Movement Toward Socialism was recently voted into office. Mackler pointed out that, although his victory had caused some fear in
imperialist circles, Morales was quick to reassure business leaders that he will basically respect the rights of private property.

In Venezuela, said Mackler, President Hugo Chavez is now talking more openly about socialism and even making favorable references to Leon Trotsky. But there is of yet no mass Leninist party in Venezuela. Many things, of course, are possible; including the following: Chavez and the MVR will finish the job and expropriate the landed oligarchy, nationalize the
banks, and encourage direct worker control of industry; or he may be swept away by more radical currents flowing beneath him. An even ghastlier prospect would be that he and the movement are caught in the jaws of reaction and swallowed by a counterrevolution. This must not happen. Forward movement is a necessity.

Mackler told an inspiring tale of Cuba and her revolution—describing a revolution strangled by
sanctions and struggling to survive. An encouraging development is that of Celia Hart. Hart, the daughter of revolutionists (Armando Hart and Haydee Santamaria, who both fought with Fidel in the Cuban Revolution of the 1950s), has written a number of articles about the
relevance of Trotsky’s ideas today.

David Jones, a Socialist Action member from the Twin Cities area, gave a public forum on “The Crisis in the U.S. Labor Movement: What Can We Do?” The talk was attended by about 30 people. He commented on the formation of the CIO in the 1930s and the reasons for
the decline of the labor movement since the 1950s. Jones also spoke on the need for independent working-class politics, completely separate from that of the capitalist parties.

On Sunday morning, Jones gave an educational about the role of socialists in the trade unions and how to build a revolutionary workers’ movement. He referred to the work of James P. Cannon and other historic leaders of the socialist movement.

We also talked about Marxists in the environmental movement and worked out some basic ideas on what is to be done. The bankruptcy of the mainstream eco groups was emphasized, and the idea that ultimately only the working class and its oppressed allies emerging from a
victorious revolution will be able to make production safe, clean, and healthy for the world and its inhabitants.

Later, we drove by the birthplace of Big Bill Haywood and the execution site of Wobbly leader Joe Hill, which is now ironically a park.

In short, ideas were exchanged, revolutionary literature was sold, and new friends were made. In a word—progress.

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