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“No soul and no penny for this system” 100th ann iversary of the Basel Congress

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  • Cort Greene
    http://www.marxist.com/no-soul-and-no-penny-for-this-system-swiss-gegenkrieg-conference.htm “No soul and no penny for this system” - Successful campaign of
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 24, 2012

      �No soul and no penny for this system� - Successful campaign of Swiss
      Marixsts around the question of
      Written by Der Funke (Switzerland)Friday, 23 November 2012
      [image: Print]<http://www.marxist.com/no-soul-and-no-penny-for-this-system-swiss-gegenkrieg-conference/print.htm#>

      One hundred years ago 555 delegates of the European social democratic
      parties met in the city of Basel in Switzerland for an extraordinary
      congress. Under the slogan �War against War� the decision was made to
      prevent an imminent war through the joint action of the working class. The
      Marxist tendency in Switzerland organized a weeklong campaign around this

      The socialist congress of 1912 in Basel was an event of historic
      importance. On November 24 and 25 workers and their delegates from all over
      Europe discussed on how to prevent the impending danger of an imperialist
      war. The delegates reaffirmed their position from the congress of Stuttgart
      1907 to take all measures necessary to stop an imperialist war and use the
      economic and political shocks of the war to accelerate the elimination of
      capitalist class rule.

      The danger of war was felt well before the actual outbreak of the First
      World War. Tensions between the different imperialist camps had been
      mounting over the question of who controls the world markets, in particular
      the colonies. The contradictions between the different imperialist camps
      were heightened by the emerging crisis of capitalism. They were being
      pushed in the direction of an all-out war.

      However, sending millions of workers to the trenches, whilst keeping a war
      economy running, is a difficult task. It was an urgent necessity for the
      bourgeoisies of the imperialist countries to get the support of the
      leaderships of the workers parties (i.e. Social-Democratic parties) and
      trade unions. This was achieved in August 1914 when the leadership of the
      Social-democratic parties and especially the parliamentary groups gave
      their support to the war efforts. The reasons for this sudden capitulation
      are multiple and complex. One major reason was the bureaucratisation of the
      workers organisations and the integration of the workers leaders into the
      state apparatus. In this decisive moment in history, the internationalist
      orientation of the workers movement turned out to be no more than a hollow
      phrase to the leadership. The powerful weapon of class struggle was
      abandoned just when it was the most urgently needed and the leaders of the
      Second International aligned themselves to the bourgeois logic of �national
      Anniversary conference

      For this year�s 100th anniversary, leftwing activists from all over
      Switzerland gathered in Basel on Saturday November 17. Several left
      organisations, amongst which was the Swiss section of the IMT,*der Funke*,
      hosted an afternoon entitled �GegenKrieg� (*Counter-War*). Around 100
      people participated in the workshops with several international speakers.
      In total four workshops were held on diverse subjects: �social war�, the
      youth uprisings in England, the Arab revolution, different faces and phases
      of the development of imperialism, etc.

      [image: ha-speaking-basel]<http://www.marxist.com/images/stories/switzerland/ha-speaking-zurich.jpg>Hamid
      Alizadeh, editor of �Mobareze Tabaghati�, the Iranian Marxist journal, had
      also been invited. In his workshop on the situation in Iran and the Middle
      East, Hamid gave a comprehensive overview of the different revolutionary
      movements that have shaken all the countries in the region. He emphasized
      the similarities of the uprisings and their common roots, as well as their
      different speeds and phases. He explained that, even where regimes had been
      toppled, the living conditions of the working class haven't fundamentally
      changed, because none of the revolutions has gone beyond the limits of the
      capitalism. Only by overthrowing capitalism, Hamid insisted, could the
      living conditions of the Arab masses be substantially improved. This should
      therefore be the logical aim of the revolutionary forces in the popular
      movements. The working class must take up an independent stand and have no
      illusions in reactionary institutions such as the army or the Islamic
      parties. These organizations, unlike the workers, defend the status quo and
      aren�t interested in solving the needs of the masses. They are only
      interested in their profits.

      Hamid also outlined the specific situation in Iran. He pointed out the
      fatal consequences that the absence of the subjective factor, the organised
      revolutionary party of the working class and the poor masses, had had for
      the revolution. The defeat of the �green wave� is closely linked to the
      fact that Mousavi couldn�t offer any alternative to the existing order. In
      spite of this, the protest against electoral fraud took on a revolutionary
      character and certain neighbourhoods of Teheran ended up being under the
      control of neighbourhood-committees. This mass movement in 2009 has
      suffered a setback for different reasons, in particular the massive
      repression of the reactionary regime. However, it set down a marker for the
      future revolutions in the Arab countries. Using the example of the history
      of the Iranian revolutionary movement, he also showed the treacherous roles
      the Stalinist leaderships of the communist parties in the Middle East

      [image: ha-speaking-crowd-basel]<http://www.marxist.com/images/stories/switzerland/ha-speaking-zurich.jpg>As
      this was a conference about the question of war, Hamid also commented on
      the growing tensions in the Middle East. Speaking on the present war on
      Gaza that Israel is waging and the tensions between Israel and Iran, he
      explained that ultimately the reasons behind these tensions and clashes
      lies in the crisis of the capitalist system. Hamid pointed out that all
      talk of a lasting peace would be a utopian dream as long as the system
      remained intact and that our task, just like 100 years ago, must be to wage
      a revolutionary struggle against the system that is spawning war.

      Following Hamid�s lead-off, a serious of interventions where made. They
      covered a range of questions such as the Kurdish-issue, the question of
      anti-imperialist fronts, the role of the Muslim Brotherhood, organizational
      issues of Marxists in Iran today, as-well as the role of women in the
      revolutions. This showed that there is a big interest in discussing such
      concrete questions. The workshop was consciously held from a revolutionary
      Marxist standpoint by an Iranian activist and didn�t pretend to give a
      �neutral observers view�.

      [image: Panel debate at the end of the
      debate at the end of the conferenceThe closing session of the event didn�t
      have a specific subject, but touched upon questions related to the lessons
      of the past 100 years of anti-war and anti-imperialist struggle. The
      central subject raised from the floor was the Arab Revolution. Hamid
      Alizadeh pointed out that the present �freedom� was the most that bourgeois
      democracy could offer the masses in Egypt. Democracy for the workers and
      the poor doesn�t just mean freedom of speech, but just as much the concrete
      questions of bread, jobs, housing and in general a dignified life. Only a
      democratically controlled and planned economy could fulfil these tasks.

      Hamid also emphasized how important it was to actively intervene in the
      events of today, but for that we also have to study the past history and
      learn from mistakes. *Der Funke* held a large and diverse bookstall for
      that purpose, which was much appreciated.

      �Counter-War� was an interesting event with plenty of time for comradely
      discussions between workshops. The enthusiasm of the younger comrades,
      which had mostly been mobilized by *der Funke*, confirms our confidence in
      the future. We are convinced that 100 years from now, we will no longer
      need to discuss wars and the problems of capitalist misery.
      A week of events

      [image: Hamid Speaking at event in
      Alizadeh Speaking at an event in ZurichThe event in Basel only marked the
      end of a series of evenings organized by the Marxist tendency under the
      banner of �War against War�. *Der Funke* organized evenings in 7 cities to
      discuss the issue of war with interested youth and to further educate the
      comrades. Our event of Friday 16 November �Sabre-rattling in the middle
      east � Iran and Syria� in Zurich deserves a special mention. The leadoff
      was again held by Hamid Alizadeh. In front of around forty participants he
      explained what the tasks of the Marxists were in the movements in the Arab
      world and through what stage the revolution was passing.

      [image: ha-speaking-crowd-zurich]<http://www.marxist.com/images/stories/switzerland/ha-speaking-zurich.jpg>We
      of *der Funke* draw a positive balance sheet from this campaign. Obviously,
      the question of imperialist war still needs a lot of discussions,
      especially in the light of the situation in Gaza and Syria. We would
      especially like to thank comrade Hamid for his visit. We clearly achieved
      our aim of commemorating the Peace congress of Basel but the lessons of
      1912 go far further then the issue of imperialist wars. Workers all over
      Europe today see themselves confronted with a social war. The leaderships
      of the workers organizations are again confronted with decisive questions.
      Are they capable of defending the interests of the working class
      internationally or do they align themselves with the capitalist class. *Der
      Funke *also raised this issue, emphasizing that a workers solution against
      the crisis must be international. As Rosa Luxemburg put it in her Junius
      Pamphlet: �Dearly bought is the modern working class�s understanding of its
      historical vocation. [�] But we are not lost, and we will be victorious if
      we have not unlearned how to learn. And if the present leaders of the
      proletariat, the Social Democrats, do not understand how to learn, then
      they will go under to make room for people capable of dealing with a new

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