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Auckland Anti-Capitalism Conference Report

From Grant Morgan gcm@actrix.gen.nz

Kia ora,

Here's a short report on the Anti-Capitalism Conference, convened by the Socialist Workers Organisation in Auckland last weekend (1-2 September). The conference was part of the build-up to the protests in Melbourne against the World Economic Forum, the global roundtable of the top 1,000 multinationals.

With between 120-150 people attending over the two days, this was the biggest radical left conference that New Zealand has seen for many years. It was also the most exciting. The meetings were buzzing with lively people, overwhelmingly young, a mix of workers and students. At the final session, some of the 15 or so NZ activists going to Melbourne were given a rousing send-off, followed by everyone singing the workers' global anthem, "The Internationale".

The conference showcased speakers from across NZ's left spectrum, including the Alliance, Greens, Young Labour, union movement, eco-activists, Pacific Island action group, anarchist movement and third world activists, as well as the SWO. In addition, we heard four overseas speakers: an activist from the Melbourne S11 Alliance, a veteran of the "Battle in Seattle" and two indigenous North American critics of bio-colonialism.

There was a refreshing absence of the sectarian bitchiness which has plagued the left in NZ for too long. Conference goers from different left perspectives simply put up their own ideas, at times in explicit opposition to those of others, without falling into the dead-end of personality politics or group egotism. And, above all, there was a sense of unity against the corporate bosses and politicians.

All groups attending were encouraged to distribute their own literature. Bookstalls were set up by four different groups. Those run by the SWO and the Freedom Shop (Wellington anarchists) did particularly well.

The SWO recruited over a dozen new members. This bodes well for building an influential Marxist party dedicated to maximising the power of grassroots revolt.

The conference allowed lots of detailed networking to take place. For instance, the SWO's Freedom to Strike petition was discussed with other activists, and the beginnings of a broad-based united front around this issue took more concrete shape. Further talks will, hopefully, cement this common activity. The spreading mood of confidence among grassroots workers should be given a boost by different left organisations working together to promote workers' most basic right - the freedom to strike.

Contact me for info and/or petitions on the freedom to strike. Phone (09) 634 3377 or email gcm@actrix.gen.nz

As one of the conference organisers, I'd like to thank all the speakers and everyone else who took part in a fantastic radical left hui.

Kia kaha
Grant Morgan
SWO national organiser


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