The Socialist Network last week concluded its 2014 Conference. The Conference was held from 3-5th of October in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia in Eastern Europe. Participating in the conference were comrades from Slovakia, Germany, Sweden, Cyprus, Pakistan, Turkey, Britain and Ireland. Thanks to all who organised the conference and contributed to its proceedings. Below is a brief summary of the Conference by our Web Editor. Video and audio recordings and photos will be made available shortly.
Friday 11.00am – The World Economy
Speaker: Mick Brooks (online)
Friday 14.00 pm – The Developing World
Speakers: Manzoor from Revolutionary Struggle in Pakistan (in person)
Noor Nieftagodien from Democratic Left Front South Africa (online)
Possibly Heiko Khoo from the UK speaking on China (online)
Saturday 10am – ‘Socialists and the Mass Organisations’
with a special Focus on the European Left
Speakers: Pat Byrne The Socialist Network Web Editor from Turkey (in person)
C. Panos from the Kokkino (Red) group in Greece (online)
This year marks the most poignant of all historical anniversaries, 1914. That year the modern world was born. A long period of gradual development, of rising living standards, increasing knowledge, culture, progress, science and hope, vanished overnight. In the bright European summer of 1914 humanity stumbled into a nightmare from which it has never escaped. Like some inexplicable childhood trauma, the events of that year continue to haunt our waking dreams and shape our worst fears. Through this descent into a world ruled by an automatic, unconscious, machinery of barbarism — reason appeared to drown, in oceans of gas, mud, barbed wire, missiles and machine gun fire.
The strongest man was reduced to a creature weaker than a squealing rat. His greatest quality measured by his ability to drive bayonets into the bellies of his unknown brother, whose guts would feed a hundred rats and ten thousand maggots. These creatures were the real victors of the titanic battles for an inch of mud fought in Europe during the four years 1914-1918.
Nelson Mandela’s death aroused a global chorus of praise for the man and his work. At the premiere of his biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, wept when news of Mandela’s death reached her and Prince William. Bill Gates, who, with $67 billion, is the second richest man on earth, expressed profound admiration for Mandela’s struggle against apartheid and his campaigning on HIV/AIDS issues.
For the wretched of the earth – its 2.4 billion people living on less than $2 a day – Mandela was also their hero. This global carnival of tears; this celebration of his life and struggle, this festival of memories of revolutionary dreams is classless. Mandela’s death signals a momentary lapse into a universal emotional state that commemorates the colossal revolt of the masses against oppression. By unifying the psychic state of the princess and the pauper, the billionaire and the beggar, Mandela, in death, has awakened a moment of global mental unity, in which the idea of communism – of a society where there are no classes – temporarily penetrates the universal mind.
The repression of a small protest against the commercial transformation of Istanbul’s Gezi Park in Taksim Square unleashed unrest which has shaken Turkish society to its core and posed a revolutionary challenge to the political leadership of the country.
The Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdoğan, and his Justice and Development (AK) Party have a large electoral mandate. He once appealed to the people with the following words: “I am not a king. I am your prime minister elected by my nation’s votes. I am your servant, not your master.” His utterances have now returned to haunt him from the streets. This self-proclaimed humble servant of the people now smears protestors as extremists and terrorists. They are sprayed with tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray, like insects facing the exterminator. At least three people have died so far, hundreds have been injured and more than a thousand have been arrested. How can this happen in a democratic state, a candidate to join the European Union and a staunch ally of the United States?