Meeting the international left

Submitted by AWL on 1 September, 2015 - 5:02 Author: Omar Raii

From Sunday 26 July to Saturday 1 August, the 32nd International Youth Camp, organised by the Fourth International, was held in Kasterlee, near Antwerp in Belgium.

Delegations were present from France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Greece, Denmark, Switzerland, the UK, America and others. The UK delegation was about 20 people, including me, Ella and Ruth from Workers' Liberty, as well as comrades from Left Unity, NCAFC, and Socialist Resistance.

The political content of the week was divided up into 5 sections, each day being a different topic. Crisis/Youth/Class, Ecosocialism, Feminism, LGBTQIA, Racism/Islamophobia/Imperialism, and how to change the world. Every day started with a plenary educational in the morning, followed by a workshop out of a choice of around 10 given by one of the delegations, and then a plenary with speeches in the evening. Throughout the day there was time for delegations to meet one another and in the evening there were often themed parties/discos

Sessions included: one on the situation in Syria/Iraq/Kurdistan given by the Syrian comrade who was based in Switzerland, he stressed the importance of the rights of the Kurds to self-determination and the role of Iran and Assad’s regime as well as of Daesh (ISIS); one on Nuclear energy, where I got the feeling that the FI is very anti-nuclear; one on feminism and Islamophobia; one on the struggle for equal marriage and abortion rights in France; one on Ukraine with a Ukrainian comrade who was impressed with Workers' Liberty's writing on Ukraine and publicised our pamphlet on the Maidan.

Each night there was a party/disco which people went to and on the Feminism and LGBT nights they were themed. They were somewhat bizarre in their themes and their “aims”, but they were mostly enjoyable.

It is common for delegations to set aside time to meet each other and discuss issues in each other’s countries. We managed to meet the French (both sections), the Belgians, the Germans, the Greeks and the Spanish. One interesting thing was the remarkable similarity between the situation in Germany and the situation in Britain (in terms of the weakness of the trade union movements).

We talked to people about the state of the far left in Britain (mentioning the scandals the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Party got embroiled in, Left Unity and the Corbyn campaign), the situation in Scotland, the EU referendum and the student movement. Only the Greek comrades seemed to be opposed to what seemed to be a general consensus of wanting to stay in the EU.

As Workers' Liberty we set up a stall with our materials. We sold lots of material, including copies of the Fate of the Russian Revolution, Working Class Politics and Anarchism, and our pamphlets on Ukraine. Our autocollants (stickers) went down well, and plenty of European comrades now have our autocollants on their notebooks!

It is clear is that the Fourth International is quite disparate, in who is involved and in politics. For example, there is a general concensus about being involved in broad left parties, but the Greek section was not involved in Syriza in the past period.

The camp, however, offers a good opportunity to meet people and build international links, and is fun for those that attend.