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Letter from Johannesburg: ‘Socialism is an achievable necessity’

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Picture: Luis de Jesús / Peoples Dispatch / October 18, 2023 – Palestine was a central topic of discussion in the III International Dilemmas of Humanity Conference. Participants organised a symbolic march on the last day of the conference. The conference held from October 14 to October 18, 2023, in the South African city sparked debates on the paths to socialism and how the peoples of the world envision a socialist horizon.

By Luis De Jesus Reyes and Zoe Alexandra

US-led imperialism finds itself challenged across the world by people who are no longer willing to submit to the austerity-debt model of economic destruction and to capitulate to the economic and military war imposed by the United States on what it sees as its ‘rivals’. – III International Dilemmas of Humanity Conference

For almost two weeks now, an incessant rain of bombs has been falling on the Palestinian lands and people, who for 75 years have struggled against the Zionist settler-colonial project, under the indifferent gaze of the so-called “Western powers” and their governments.

For more than 60 years, the Cuban people have been suffering from an economic, financial, and commercial blockade that has deprived them of achieving their full development, before the impotent gaze of a large part of the world that cannot – or does not dare – to challenge those responsible for that policy.

Both realities are hard to digest, but they have similar origins: imperialism and the capitalist system.

With the idea in mind of reversing these realities and with the conviction that the construction of socialism is possible from the unity and solidarity of the peoples, the III International Conference Dilemmas of Humanity came to an end in Johannesburg, South Africa.

For five days, around 500 people representing social movements, trade unions and left-wing political parties from some 75 countries met in the South African city with the purpose of analysing, debating, and seeking solutions to the problems caused to humanity by the prevailing capitalist system.

“We are meeting today to figure out how to pursue class struggle under very difficult conditions facing the working class, facing peasant formations, facing progressive organisations all over the world. We continue to be victims of the failure of the capitalist system,” expressed Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), during the last day of the international meeting in a panel discussion Anti-imperialism and national sovereignty.

It is in this context that there is an even greater need for people’s organisations to challenge imperialism and build more equitable and truly free societies. Although so far they have been scarce and achieving them has entailed a high cost, examples of this exist.

“Our peoples have achieved victories, our peoples have given birth to revolutions even in the very noses of the empire. If we talk about anti-imperialism, sovereignty and national dignity, it is impossible not to mention the Cuban revolution and its example for all the peoples in resistance in the world”, said Manuel Bertoldi, from the Rural Federation for Production of Argentina.

With the case of Cuba, the Conference released a special declaration condemning the blockade imposed by the United States and the arbitrary inclusion of the island in the list of states that allegedly sponsor terrorism. “Neither the economic blockade nor any other measure of this type will succeed in defeating the sovereignty or self-determination of the Cuban people,” reads the communiqué. It encourages adherence to the campaign “Let Cuba Live!” which aims to collect more than one million signatures in a letter to Joe Biden calling on him to remove Cuba from said list.

A declaration was also released regarding the political imprisonment of Indian activists and journalists Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakroborty of Newsclick. The statement called for their immediate release and an end to the harassment and criminalisation of journalists and progressive voices by the far-right Narendra Modi government.

Israel’s genocide against Palestine

At a time when the world looks with horror at the images of thousands of dead in Palestine, among them hundreds of women and children, due to the barbaric acts committed by Israel against the Gaza Strip, the importance of the struggle against imperialism at world level becomes perhaps even more evident today.

“The people are dying because they want to defend their land, they want to have freedom, this conference discussed the issues of freedom and socialism. We dream of socialism but now we are still continuing our struggle against those barbers, against the fascists … Our children are writing Palestine with their blood. We will continue to fight if one of us is still alive,” the Palestinian revolutionary leader, Leila Khaled, declared in her speech less than a day after the Israeli attack on a hospital in Gaza.

For those on the left who follow the events, it is clear that “these attacks have taken the form of a merciless war of extermination” against the Palestinian people that carries “the shameless support of US imperialism and its allies in Europe”.

“For decades, the Zionists have launched attacks against the Palestinian people and the current massacre of unarmed civilians, including children, the elderly and women brutally murdered by Israeli forces must be understood and denounced as a crime against humanity,” the conference delegates said in their final statement.

In favour of the cause of Palestine, in favour of the cause of Cuba and all the just causes of the peoples, delegates affirmed that socialism is the only path forward.

The theme of Palestine was also constant in the presentations throughout the conference and especially in the discussion on anti-imperialism and national sovereignty.

Philippe Noudjenome of the Communist Party of Benin and president of the West African Peoples Organisation opened his presentation by saying that the Palestinian cause for their liberation is “a common struggle for all humanity”.

For his part, Guy Marius Sagna of the Tekojoja People’s Party of Senegal expressed his solidarity and said “Palestinians will survive, Palestinians will overcome, Palestinians will not fall”.

As part of the closing ceremony, the hundreds of conference participants took part in a symbolic march to demand a cessation of hostilities by Israel and to express their solidarity with Palestine.

Letter from Johannesburg

“Socialism is an achievable necessity”: so begins the Letter from Johannesburg, produced from discussions and debates throughout the five days of the conference. The letter was presented at the closing of the conference by Vashna Jagarnath.

It says: “US-led imperialism finds itself challenged across the world by people who are no longer willing to submit to the austerity-debt model of economic destruction and to capitulate to the economic and military war imposed by the United States on what it sees as its ‘rivals’.”

Likewise, it reaffirms that democracy, national sovereignty, and self-determination are part of the paths to socialism, but that they can only be fully achieved in socialism.

On the construction of socialism, the document outlines four pillars to build the necessary unity to advance this process: concrete solidarity, recomposing the working class, rescuing collective life, and rebuilding the culture of struggle.

It concludes by stating that the Dilemmas of Humanity process itself, which includes holding four regional conferences with the participation of more than 800 people, has provoked important debates and “has ignited hope and commitment towards the construction of a better world”.

“The seeds of socialism have been planted … We commit ourselves to nurture these seeds and to continue to strengthen the organisations and instruments of the working class by continuing the work that has been done here within our organisations and in each and every country that is represented here,” the letter states.

Luis De Jesus Reyes is a journalist and author for Peoples Dispatch. Zoe Alexandra is a writer and the co-editor of Peoples Dispatch

This article was first published on Peoples Dispatch.