The AWL held the second of our new series of political day schools on 22 October (in London) and 29 October (in Sheffield). Attendance at the London school was good (twice the number that we had at the first day school of the series), but the Leeds attendance was a bit disappointing (smaller than at the first of the northern day schools, in Sheffield).
We discussed globalisation and imperialism. Most of the time was given over to three sets of small-group discussions — one critically evaluating four different assessments of globalisation current on the left, the second assessing six different responses to it from different parts of the left, and the third designing five-minute speeches on “imperialism, what it is and how to fight it”.
The AWL’s general view is that the best short descriptions of globalisation are “the imperialism of free trade” or Ellen Wood’s formula, “empire of capital”; and the way to fight this imperialism is through independent working-class politics.
Both in Leeds and in London, the people leading the schools (Pat Murphy in Leeds, Paul Hampton in London) warned that this summary should not be interpreted in too mechanical or “workerist” a way. If capitalism is increasingly becoming global-market capitalism, that also means an increasing role for institutions of international capitalist power to regulate those global markets, and the USA is by far the biggest power within those institutions.
In a certain sense, the world is a “US empire” — only “national independence” struggles are no answer to this empire as they were to the old colonial “high imperialism”, because “independence” from the global market just means a blockaded siege economy. And there still are political struggles for national independence in the world today, which we support. Our answer is not just to say: “support direct workers’ struggles and forget about everything else”.
Third in the series will be day schools on “AWL and SWP”, in London on 19 November and Sheffield on 3 December. For details: www.workersliberty.org/whatson.