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(en) Interview with the CNT-AIT delegation to the XXVII AIT Congress in Melbourne (ca)

Date Sat, 4 Apr 2020 11:11:52 +0300

Between the 28th and 30th of last December, the XXVII Congress of the AIT was held in Melbourne (Australia). In order to learn more about this important event, we interviewed the comrade who was commissioned as delegate of the CNT-AIT to this important International Congress. ---- [FS]- We have been able to read some reviews on the development of the AIT Congress in Melbourne, but we would like you to be able to expand a little more, in relation to some issues. ---- First of all, we would like you to be able to tell us, in your opinion, how the Congress developed, how many Sections sent a delegation to it, how many sent their agreements in writing, how many organizations sent greetings or sent observers, and how the sessions generally developed. congressional.
First of all, we salute all the readers of Fragua Social.

At the XXVII International Congress of the AIT several Sections were present: SF, ZSP, PA, KRAS, ÖLS -the latter that became a Section during the Congress-, ASF, ASI and the Spanish CNT-AIT.

At the same time, they sent their French CNT-AIT, NSF and COB agreements.

We also received greetings from Kurdish anarchists who presented a letter about their situation in Kurdistan, which can be read in the minutes, a greeting from Turkish anarchists, and a salutation was received from the SOV in Santiago de Chile explaining the situation of the social outbreak in their region, which was also very interesting.

The atmosphere was one of companionship and, above all, it was noted that there were no confrontations between colleagues. In the moments of rest, all the delegations attended together, with a great atmosphere of respect. But there were moments of tension when several topics were discussed at various times, especially with the International Editorial, which was the issue where the least consensus existed, and where the most differences had been generated, since four of the sections were in favor and others so many were against it. This resulted in very little consensus and few delegations made contributions that would allow the debate to move forward, mainly due to lack of mandates.

[FS]- At the Belgrade Congress it was agreed that the XXVII Congress of the IWA would be held in Australia, precisely to reap the results of the organization at the international level that had also been done by ASF and the Asia-Pacific Working Group. With the new accessions of Bangladesh, Indonesia and India as Friends of the IWA, as well as that of Sweden, could it be said that Congress recognized the organizational work carried out in those continents?

My general feeling is that ASF has great hope and illusion in spreading anarcho-syndicalism in Asia and the Pacific, and it is interesting because they feel that they are heirs to the anarcho-syndicalist tradition of the Spanish exiles after the Civil War, and they are convinced that that Asia is the future of our struggle. Due to the relocation of companies and the industrialization of Asian countries, this new proletarian class is being created in Asia.

The feeling is that ASF is targeting these efforts, but at the same time it is also confirming the difficulties that exist due to the great distances, the travel costs that generate difficulties in maintaining personal contacts, etc. However, they are doing it, and I think they will improve their relations with the sections that have already joined the International. Surely the contact that had been desired was not enough.

It is a pity that Indonesia, Bangladesh, Colombia and India were finally unable to be present in Congress due to Australian immigration policy, but it was certainly a triumph that Congress was held in the Pacific. There was a lot of debate in Congress about this, as it was not only important to choose the site or location because of the distance, but because of the possibility that delegations could get their visas.

It is very important that the IWA, anarcho-syndicalism, spread in countries where at the moment everything we consume in the West is produced. Because we have the perception that the quality of life and the conditions of the working class have improved a lot. But if we compare how we live today with how our ancestors lived, we realize that the quality of life is distorted when we calculate it by access to the consumption of technology.

In western countries there is a precarious working class, but it seems as if this was not a problem to enslave us and allow us access to technology. Because the people who produce this technology or the clothes we have are paying the cost of what we consume.

In the end, what allows us to access this technology is the exploitation and slavery of half the world through the wildest capitalism, in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, in India, etc. In addition to enslaving us or getting into debt, the compañeros and compañeras of these countries are paying the difference between producing here or there. If these partners could stop production, we would realize that we would not be able to access all that technology and consumer goods or manufactures. And this can give them the chance to understand or change their perception of the world.

[FS]- Some issues were discussed based on international campaigns and joint actions at the international level against capitalism by the AIT. Could you tell us about them?

During the Congress, Priama Akcia's proposal for an International Day to fight against unpaid wages was discussed. It was very interesting because there was talk about whether to convene or not, and if it was done, on what dates was best. It was also discussed whether we want to show society that we only fight to be paid for the work we do, or if what we really fight for is to end wage slavery and that we do not consider the fact that we are paid for what we work be fair.

But it was interesting because the sections understood the approach. Since the problem of unpaid wages is something that the sections of Poland, Slovakia, England and Spain face. At this point, the delegations were unable to give a name to this day and mobilization and since there was no mandate for the proposal made by the CNT-AIT of Spain, the proposed nuance could not be discussed, but not because nobody was against this, but because there was no mandate on this nuance. It is a problem that we encounter when we go to work at our jobs. In any case, it was not clear how these actions would be coordinated around that date.

[FS]- We have been able to read that several organizations sent Salutations to Congress, specifically some from Arotearoa (New Zealand), the USA, Turkey, Iraq and Kurdistan, and we understand that this supposes a recognition by these organizations of the work of the Sections of the AIT, as well as an interest in our International. We would like to know if the possibility of new entries in the IWA in these and other regions was discussed.

There was no discussion of any specific organization regarding accession to the IWA, but it was mentioned that there are groups in Chile interested in the IWA. Most of the groups that sent salutations to Congress, wrote specifically to the delegations, which shows the existence of a perception of the AIT as a reference for them. The Kurdish and Turkish anarchists also wrote among them.

The presence of Ockland anarchists is also very important, as this may encourage them to form an AIT-like Section in New Zealand. A fellow observer participated in the Congress, which is clearly a hope for the future.

It is possible that the fear of participating in the AIT may be lost, as it was once thought that to enter the AIT it was necessary to have a massive presence and influence among the working class to stop production. But most of the IWA Sections are not massive. Perhaps over time we will see new sections in small propaganda groups attached to the IWA.

Perhaps in Chile, where the compañeros and compañeras have sympathies for the AIT, they may participate in the future. On the other hand, we have the Friends of the AIT in Colombia, the ULET, which in the near future, everything indicates that it will become part of the AIT as one more Section.

[FS]- What were for the Congress and for the CNT-AIT delegation, the most important agreements reached and the most interesting discussions that could be witnessed by the different delegations?

The feeling is that during the Congress no questions were raised about any fundamental change in the positions of the IWA. Important issues such as the affiliation of new sections were discussed, there was a debate on how the Secretariats should be mandated to make the economic expense, or support other sections. The issue of political parties was discussed again in the sections and quotas were discussed, taking into account the new additions, with purchasing powers far below the purchasing power of European countries.

Perhaps the incorporation that generated the most debate was that of Bangladesh and in which some questions were questioned, such as the way in which they register their members, how they pay the fee and how they participate in the assemblies.

There were sections that opposed and hastily saw these organizations belong to the IWA. At the same time, it was questioned whether they were guided by their own Statutes. It was also discussed whether it was possible that BASF had a similar ideology but that it could also not identify with those of the AIT.

There was also talk about the fact that some people have had some contacts with Maoist organizations in the past and there were sections that did not see it clearly, but the rest of the sections had mandates to approve their entry.

The issue of quotas is going to be an important issue especially because of how it can be contributed economically compared to purchasing power, such as with a percentage of the annual salary. At the moment there is an agreement of one euro per member and year in the Asian sections.

The issue of economic mandates in relation to propaganda was also discussed. The sections do not want the Secretariat to have absolute freedom to allocate money as they wish, but rather the Sections consider this issue to be an important issue and therefore must have clear mandates that do not create any kind of problem. This will be one of the topics in the following Congresses.

There were debates about the relationship between the members of the sections and political parties, but it was clear that within the AIT members who attend elections are not accepted and that they cannot have any responsibility. Although sections such as the one in Poland and France showed great interest in continuing to debate this issue, and agree that in none of the sections members of political parties participate.

Some understood that it is difficult, because this cannot be prevented from arising, sometimes due to ignorance and other times because the sections cannot act in a police manner.

[FS]- The International Congress discussed a paper sent by the CNT-AIT of Spain. We have been able to read that the proposal was discussed and approved and we understand that the interventions of the Sections were possibly very enriching on this, since it was surely very difficult to agree. We are specifically talking about the International Publishing House and its role in propaganda, not only anarcho-syndicalist or revolutionary syndicalism, but also about the revolutionary purpose and anarchist ideas. Could you tell us about this question and everything that was discussed?

A very important topic that was discussed was the real need to be able to edit books with our literature, in languages of countries where the IWA can have a significant development, as is the case in the entire Asia-Pacific and North Africa.

Without a doubt, this is going to be a challenge, although there is no consensus on the International Editorial proposal.

Most of the sections agree, but not the whole, and this did not generate any consensus but quite the contrary, most were very tight and also the Sections needed more details. Some sections understood that this proposal could pose a problem of centralization in the International. And they were convinced that the proposal of the Spanish CNT-AIT was not a good one, although all the sections agreed on the need to edit propaganda and literature in other languages, although this should only be done through the sections and not by the International.

This is the case of Bangladesh and Indonesia, since not everything is in the contacts that we can make, but in the possibility that propaganda and translations of our ideological writings can be generated in all these languages so that we can extend our International. The International Editorial would be very important, since we have to generate propaganda and translations in many languages.

[FS]- On past occasions the section in charge of the organization has organized other events outside of Congress. Were there any events on the sidelines of the Congress agenda? Could you tell us about them too?

The ASF colleagues did not organize any type of cultural activity outside the agenda of the Congress. Regardless of this, there were plenty of moments of rest and distraction. Although it is important to note that all the delegations went together to everything. It was used so that the delegations could know the situation of the rest of the sections, etc.

This must be taken into account when the Congress is held in Spain, so that the Congress is not only reduced to a group of sessions and discussions, but that it can do some other things, and take advantage of not reducing ourselves to debating in the context of sessions, delegations limited by the mandates of their respective sections, but may be discussed more informally on other important topics in the form of militant conferences.

[FS]- Regarding the AIT Centennial to be held in 2022, we would like to know if agreements were reached on this.

Yes, as we have already mentioned, the next AIT Congress will be held in Spain in 2022, coinciding with the centenary of the founding of the AIT in 1922. Unfortunately, the CNT was not at the founding Congress of the AIT that was held in Berlin But many sections have Spain as a reference and it has been chosen as a good place to hold this Congress. In my opinion, it is an important moment for our section because of the possibility that we can host this important International Congress.

[FS]- Lastly, we would like you to tell us where and when the next IWA election will be and what kind of issues will be discussed there.

The next is a plenary to be held in Slovakia in June next year. Some important topics will be transferred to that plenary, such as the topic of the international day of payment of wages, etc. And the fact of guiding the campaign against the salaried regime in general, and not so much against the fact of unpaid wages in the context of today's society. The International Editorial, in which an agreement was not reached and from which more details have been requested on how this project will be developed.

Perhaps the sessions would have improved if some motions had been asked to be voted on, or the fact that the agreement could have been read aloud and made clear to all delegations. Perhaps a little inexperience was seen by the delegations, but it was very difficult.

Many of the points had a high level of consensus and perhaps were not necessary. But in others it did take a little effort and debate to reach a consensus and take into account the contributions made by other delegations to reach an agreement. Perhaps some risks could have been taken and some contributions from the sections could have been included in the agreements and not only vote on some motions.

Apart from all this, I want to highlight that during the Congress the sessions were very long, especially because of the translations, since all the interventions had to be done in Spanish and English. However, there was a time when we realized that it might be possible to hold the Congress only in English, but soon we had to overcome a problem, because some delegations could not follow the interventions in English very well. Finally they had to be done in Spanish because they had studied it and because the sessions of the Congress should also be in Spanish, and at the same time be recorded in both languages.

All this meant that only two people had to translate into Spanish all the interventions during the entire Congress.

It was very hard to focus on the content of the debates and that the sessions followed a good rhythm, in addition to listening to the interventions and then translating them. It was very complicated and the colleagues present there began to say that the day may come when Spanish ceases to be the official language of the AIT. Only the CNT-AIT is the only section of the AIT that speaks Spanish, in addition to the compañeras and compañeros from Colombia.

It would also be interesting that perhaps there was only one language to make the tasks of the Congresses faster, but this is somewhat difficult. Perhaps theoretically we agree with Esperanto, but it seems that there is fear when it comes to putting it into practice. Keep in mind that speaking in English is not fair for those who speak it as a second language. Nor is it easy for those who have to understand us and speak English as their mother tongue. We did not have many facilities to understand or to be understood.

It is true that we have to find a way for any member of the AIT to participate in a Congress and this should not create a problem or inequality. English is not easy, nor is it fair for everyone. Learning Esperanto would be learning from scratch and it would be just as it is imposed on us as an equal task for all. If we did a statistical study of the most used words we would realize that perhaps with a vocabulary of 200 words it would be possible to relate equally between the different delegations, understanding that the effort is not in the grammar but in the vocabulary.

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