Unlike the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), SA provides us with no statistics whatsoever. They don't say how many people were present, nor how many visitors they had from other countries. (They do mention visitors from Canada.) Indeed, the paper doesn't list the locations of their branches--it's impossible to get in touch with them without going through the National Office.
One supposes this secretiveness is for "security," i.e., they're afraid of retaliation by the State or its irregular henchmen. But I don't think they should worry--they are not terrorists, nor do they represent any threat to our political system. Nobody cares what they do.
I think "security" is just a ruse. In fact, they are a small and shrinking organization, ashamed of their inability to attract new members.
The August 29th article broadly summarizes the Political Resolution (a summary of the current, global political situation) and the Organizational Report (the proposed activity of the Party in the immediate future). These two are supposed to mesh--that is, the Party's activities should flow from the global conjuncture. This year, at least, they barely intersect at all.
Eight years into the world capitalist crisis—the Great Depression of the modern era—no nation on earth can boast anything resembling a recovery. Stagnation and continued decline are the norm the world over, with the broad imposition of austerity measures taking an ever-increasing toll on the working masses and oppressed, while imperialist wars for domination and plunder in all their manifestations proceed seemingly without end on every continent.This does not seem generally true. While growth has been much slower than desired, there is no question that there has been growth. People with employable skills are doing very well, are getting pay raises, and have a rising standard of living. The current US unemployment rate of 4.9% is not just a propaganda number--it reflects a real labor shortage in significant parts of the economy. Trends are similar in Europe and Japan, especially if you account for stagnant or declining populations. Then the statistics systematically overstate inflation, which means real incomes have been growing faster than is believed. SA's assessment of "ever-increasing toll on the working masses" simply does not reflect reality. Their own newspaper proves as much.
Nevertheless, for unskilled workers the picture is much less bright. Many of them are dropping out of the labor force. So there is a problem, but it's not the problem SA thinks it is.
The report presents five areas where workers are (supposedly) "fighting back."
The fight against increasingly harsh austerity and union-busting attacks on U.S. workers, reflected in the strike of Verizon workers, the on-going fight around a new Chicago Teachers Union contract, and other struggles. [See my post on the Verizon strike.]
The battles of low-wage workers for a $15 minimum wage and a union. [Comments here.]
The fight against racist cop murders and the growing strength of the Movement for Black Lives and other anti-racist groups and coalitions emerging in Black and other communities of oppressed peoples. [BLM helps Trump make a winning Law & Order case.]
The growing struggle against climate change and for a quick and just transition to 100% renewable sources of energy—a struggle that includes the demand for an immediate ban on fracking. [Banning fracking immediately puts hundreds of thousands out of work!]
The movement against deportations and extending the rights of immigrant workers. [Surely they're joking. Illegal immigration is very unpopular these days.]These are, at least, big issues. Every Trotskyist movement is engaged in them one way or another (possibly excepting the SWP and climate change). So big issues should come with a big, audacious program. If you think that, then you'll be disappointed with the Organizational Report.
The lead activity is to sell more print copies of their newspaper, the eponymous Socialist Action. I was under the illusion that the print version had mostly gone away, for which I previously complimented them. Its resurrection is a sure sign that SA is losing members--they are now following in the footsteps of the moribund SWP.
To support their media they're starting a $25,000 fund drive. If the average comrade contributes $250, then they have about 100 members, or not much bigger than the SWP (albeit without the long list of sympathizers).
However, "[t]he most pressing task in the coming months is to expand the 2016 Socialist Action campaign of Jeff Mackler for U.S. president and Karen Schraufnagel for vice president." This includes "organized national tours" (as opposed to disorganized ones) in September and October. Checking their Events Calendar (per their suggestion), as of this writing they have (had) six events scheduled for September and one for October.
This hardly rises to the occasion: an unprecedented capitalist crisis yielding unrelenting economic misery. Beyond which Mr. Mackler is a terrible candidate (even worse than Hillary), and Ms. Shraufnagel is an avowed anti-Semite.
The last part of the article is about their "antiwar" efforts. They talk around it a bit, but ultimately they support Bashar al-Assad in Syria. They're against any and all of his opponents because 1) they might receive some paltry aid from the United States, and 2) SA still can't bring themselves to support ISIS (though I bet that's coming).
I have long since given up on following the situation in Syria--it's much too complicated. I refer my SA friends to fellow blogger, Louis Proyect, who definitely knows something about Syria. Further, whatever else Mr. Proyect has to say, he is absolutely correct about Assad--he should not be supported under any circumstances whatsoever. I definitely agree with that conclusion.
Of course backing Assad is completely consistent with SA's support for Kim Jong-un and Hamas. Their mantra is to find the very worst characters on any block, notice that those assholes are not backed by the USA, and accordingly offer SA's backing. It's that simple. And that disgusting.