In this time of monsters: why international organising is crucial

Felicity Dowling writes: Workers of the world unite; we have nothing to lose but our chains! Left Unity is a small organisation, yet all work to build and strengthen international links between socialists and workers’ organisations across the globe counts towards building a better world.

Countless millions across the world are living and dying in terrible conditions, often in war-zones and conflicts, or as a result of the climate emergency, or health crises, even before before the Gaza war added its brutal death toll and genocidal acts. As International Crisis Group wrote about the global situation last year,

.. it was an unsettling year, all the more so given that it’s the latest in a string of them. The pandemic upended much of the globe. An angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. Temperatures in parts of the world threaten human survival. Now, a major war rages in Europe, its architect invokes nuclear escalation, and several poor countries face debt crises, hunger and extreme weather. None of these events arrived without warning, and yet a few years ago they would have boggled the mind. They also come as the number of people killed in conflicts is ticking up and more people are displaced or hungry, many due to war, than at any time since World War II.”

Although we are rightly focusing our energies on calling for a ceasefire and a just political settlement in Gaza, there are many wars and conflicts in the world; nuclear conflict remains a possibility in the Ukraine/Russia war and the fact that it has largely dropped out of the news doesn’t mean the conflict has gone away or that people aren’t being killed.

The climate crisis calls for huge international effort yet COP28 gave us slim pickings, slim hope for effective action. We have published and will publish more details on this crucial issue.

As socialists we see the working class as the major agent for changing society.

The working class globally has never been larger, never been as well-educated, never had greater potential power, yet is less well-organised globally than it has been for many decades.

By November of this year, there were estimated to be approximately 3.4 billion people employed word-wide compared with 2.28 billion people in 1991 – an increase of around 1.1 billion people. And at the global level, there are currently some 1.2 billion peasants who together with their families represent one third of humanity. In absolute terms, there are more peasants today than ever before in history.

The working class, according to official figures, represents 56% of the earth’s population but this does not include their families and crucially ignores the women who work at home, or outside of the recorded systems. This enormous scale is sometimes matched by the scale of industrial action internationally: 250 million people took part in India’s general strike in 2020.

Yet in spite of the scale and potential power of the working class and its allies, its failure to take action to change the balance of political and economic power means that economic inequality is becoming more extreme than ever. As Oxfam pointed out in a report earlier this year, “Richest 1% grab nearly twice as much new wealth as the rest of the world put together.

The same inequalities apply when it comes to food too. As Action against Hunger points out, “We have enough food to feed everyone on earth. So why are over 800 million people at risk from life-threatening hunger?”

The answer to that question is capitalism, of course. The system has to change if we want a society that is structured to meet people’s needs; where people control the economy, not a tiny minority who exploit others for their own gain. It’s a long standing problem and it hasn’t gone away.

As socialists we want to change the system and part of getting there is to be involved in organising locally and globally against hunger, poor housing, poor air, poor conditions of employment, discrimination, and racism. We want to organise for climate action, good working conditions and good wages, health care, housing, education, social care, accessible and affordable public transport and good social security.

We want to organise against war, displacement, and destruction. We want to organise for the free movement of people, and for the rights of minorities within states.

Every effort to organise internationally, however small it seems, matters in building the power of the working class to change society, to organise it and run it in the interests of all of humanity. That is our end goal and all our work to improve our current situation is understood as part of that process. Let’s work together in 2024 to shift the balance and bring political change, here and internationally.


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