Report on a scandalous public meeting of the CWI in Austria
The CWI section in Austria organized a public meeting in Vienna on the 1st September about the miners’ strike in South Africa. While this would have been an excellent opportunity to discuss about the strike and possible solidarity actions, it ended in a scandal. The CWI advertised this meeting as a “discussion with a representative of the South African embassy”. Therefore the CWI gave a platform for a white man, representing the South African embassy, to defend the ANC government’s policy!
This was a scandal since it was this government which killed just two weeks ago 44 miners during the strike. It is this state which dared to accuse the arrested 275 miner’s of “murder”! To give a platform for an embassy official of such a government in such a situation is unworthy for any socialist organization.
The majority of an audience of about 40 people was disgusted by this. Many people booed and whistled during the introduction of the representative of the South African embassy. It was bad enough that the CWI invited the South African embassy. But worse, the CWI leadership reacted furiously against those protesting the speech of the embassy official and tried to stop them. Since the CWI leadership tried to give the word to this white embassy official again and again throughout the whole meeting, the situation escalated. It ended in a scuffle but fortunately no one was hurt.
Militants of the RKOB, Austrian section of the RCIT, did not participate in activities to disrupt the CWI meeting since we consider them as a centrist organization which participates in a number of progressive struggles and, in this particular case, they support the miner strike. We therefore tried to convince them of stopping this reactionary nonsense. In the discussion representatives of the RKOB – as well as every other speaker except the CWI – sharply condemned the CWI’s policy of giving the platform for a representative of a government which just killed dozens of miners and is still doing everything to suppress the strike. It is like giving a platform for a capitalist in the midst of a workers strike. We demanded that the CWI immediately stops giving the platform to this representative of a murderous regime. Unfortunately the CWI ignored this demand and – as mentioned above – the meeting escalated to a scuffle.
The desperate policy of the CWI to enforce against solidarity activists the South African embassy officials’ possibility to make his propaganda is the scandalous and outrageous consequence of their centrist policy. The CWI follows the social democratic policy which believes that “serious and civilized discussions” with the class enemy during a very militant strike are justified and useful. The CWI leaders defended their invitation of the representative of the South African embassy by arguing that ”one should discuss with those who have a different opinion.” To this, RKOB comrades answered that we don’t have “differences of opinions” with the South African government. We are in midst of a huge class war and they are the enemy who is killing and repressing the miners. Giving and forcefully defending the platform for the class enemy in the midst of a major class battle of life and death is the logical consequence of the CWI’s program which argues for a peaceful and parliamentarian transformation of capitalism and which considers police forces as “workers in uniform”. Rotten theory is necessarily combined with a rotten practice.