Easter 2002, March 29 - April 1, Sydney, Australia

Call for the 2nd Asia Pacific International Solidarity Conference

“Building Links for Global Resistance”

Radical socialists in Australia succeeded, three years ago, in organising a conference bringing together anti-capitalist forces from across the Asia-Pacific region. Now they want to do it again.

A new spirit of resistance, renewal and cooperation is alive among the left around the world.

Certainly the capitalist neoliberal offensive of the last 25 years has inflicted heavy defeats on the working class internationally; certainly the social and political universe has changed a lot during the course of the 20th century; and certainly many who used to be on the left have given up the struggle.

But after the wave of confusion and despair following the collapse of the Soviet Union,  popular movements have been fighting back, reflecting the stubborn reality that the diseases of capitalism are more alive than ever, as is the need for a fundamentally different way of organising society: socialism.

North and South, people continue to rise up-against Third World debt, against the devastation of our environment, against the deepening exploitation of women, against the denial of national rights and the marginalisation of indigenous peoples, against rural poverty and landlessness.

From Seattle to Washington, Bangkok to Melbourne, Prague to Nice the explosive protest movement against neo-liberal globalisation has shaken the confidence of the world's rulers.

Here in Australia, the  blockade of the World Economic Forum in Melbourne sparked a new mood of hope and enthusiasm on the left. The May 1 blockades of stock exchanges in eight Australian cities followed it up.

Against this promising background new left parties and alliances are developing and new links- national and international- are being developed between parties with very different traditions. The radical left is rebuilding on new foundations.

These trends have been strongly felt in the Asia Pacific region. New parties have been formed, such as the People’s Democratic Party in Indonesia, the Power of the Working Class in South Korea, and the Socialist Party of East Timor. The left in the Philippines continues a process of clarification and recomposition. The Labour Party of Pakistan grows and draws working class leaders together in its ranks.

In India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Japan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Australia and other countries, parties coming from different traditions -Maoist, Trotskyist, traditional Communist- have developed collaboration and discussion.

These processes became regional with the successful first Asia Pacific Solidarity Conference (Sydney, April 1998), which was attended by more than 750 people, including 67 representatives from non-Australian left parties and organisations. The Marxism 2000 Conference (Sydney, January 2000), the Socialism 21 Conference (Kathmandu, November 2000) continued the trend. And the first left conference in Indonesia for more than 35 years-the Asia Pacific Peoples' Solidarity Conference in Jakarta, in June -made a valuable contribution to regional collaboration in spite of its disruption by police and right-wing militia..

A similar spirit of searching for new ways of working together exists in Europe and Latin America. In Europe, left alliances and new parties have grown in Portugal, Denmark, France, Italy and Turkey. The militant alternative being built by the Scottish Socialist Party and the British Socialist Alliance marks the strongest effort by the left there since 1945. Anti-capitalist left parties from many different traditions are starting to meet on a Europe-wide basis.

The ten-year experience of the São Paulo Forum, the insurgent Zapatista movement and Porto Alegre's 15,000-strong World Social Forum (January 2001) all indicate the strong desire for new forms of resistance. They also underscore the ever-urgent need for a resolute fight against imperialism and its international institutions, and for a revolutionary transformation of society.

At the same time, despite Washington's increasingly desperate efforts to discredit and crush it, revolutionary Cuba still stands as an inspiration for all peoples' struggles. The victory in the Elian González case and the Cuban people's ongoing mobilisations against the US blockade, the Free Trade Area of the Americas and Third World debt have strengthened the position of all of us who are resisting the system.

The 2nd Asia Pacific International Solidarity Conference at Easter 2002 in Sydney (March 29-April 1) aims to provide a meeting place for many of these experiences and to draw together the continent-wide discussions that have been taking place in Asia, Latin America, Europe and Africa. You are warmly invited to participate.

We have already had encouraging acceptances from parties and activists who have been invited to provide keynote speakers.

* Alain Krivine, a leader of the French Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) and a member of the European parliament;

* Alex Callinicos, British Marxist intellectual, from the Socialist Workers Party of Britain;

* Boris Kagarlitsky, Russian Marxist writer and political commentator;

* Farooq Tariq, General Secretary of the Labour Party of Pakistan;

* Sonny Melencio, chairperson of the Socialist Party of Labor of the Philippines;

* Ram Seegobin, leader of Lalit, the principal revolutionary socialist organisation in Mauritius;

* Dale McKinley, South African Marxist and activist.

* The Seraiki National Party president Abdul Majeed Kanjoo, from Pakistan.

* Malik Miah, Barry Sheppard and Caroline Lund from Solidarity in the US.

* Ahmed Shawki and Paul D'Amato, leaders of the US International Socialist Organisation.

* Luis Balbao, from Union de Militantes por el Socialismo in Argentina.

* The Portuguese Left Bloc, with two members of parliament, has confirmed that it will attend;

* Conference organisers are confident of being able to host a leader of the Scottish Socialist Party.

* The Peoples Democratic Party in Indonesia, the Socialist Party of Timor, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) and the Power of the Working Class in South Korea will all be attending.;

* We are also confident that a Cuban Communist Party delegation will attend and many other delegations from all continents.

The conference agenda will be wide-ranging.

At its centre will be discussion of what political demands to press in the developing movement against neo-liberal globalisation. How to maintain the momentum?

For example, the demand to abolish the WTO, World Bank and IMF has greater support than ever, even among many previously reticent NGOs. More people demand unconditional cancellation of the Third World debt. And how exactly can preferential trade treatment for the Third World be won? Such are the core issues.

Another theme will be internationalist solidarity versus narrow nationalism. Fighting the dead-end of chauvinist protectionism has been a hard battle in Australia, where, as in all privileged imperialist countries, it's been the scourge of the trade unions and labour movement politics.

Another unavoidable question for the movement -which so far has been rather ignored- is how to go beyond capitalism. The thorny question of socialism.

At times this issue appears disguised as a debate over the very right of socialist parties to be part of the united front of resistance and to put their viewpoint within the movement.

However, if left parties are excluded, it's practically impossible to lift the movement's field of vision beyond demands on, and reforms to, capitalist states and institutions.

The conference will devote many plenaries and workshops to aspects of building socialist parties in today's conditions. What sort of socialist renewal, regroupment and alliances are possible and desirable? What sort of party is needed? Should it be on a broadly anti-capitalist basis or do we need revolutionary Marxist parties right away? How should parties relate to the different networks and spheres of struggle? What sort of relations should exist between different national parties? How structured an international network should we aim for? How can contact and collaboration between parties coming from different traditions and different continents be improved?

We are calling for international sponsors and partners in this important conference. If your party, union, social movement or community organisation can attend, contact us as soon as possible so your input can be added in.

If you would like to present a paper or workshop, let us know now so we can plan and advertise the agenda well in advance. Organised discussions will help prepare the conference, with views exchanged through written documents and internet discussion groups.

If you look to build a more powerful and effective movement against the scourge of neo-liberal globalisation, if you look to strengthen the struggle for the anti-capitalist and socialist cause, you should not miss the second Asia-Pacific International Solidarity Conference.

The conference is being organised by the Asia Pacific Institute for Democratisation and Development. Write to: PO Box 515, Broadway 2007, Australia. Email: <apisc2002@greenleft.org.au>.