Last February we began to organize the second Emancipation Congress which was to be held in July. However, as the dates approached, borders were still closed or required lengthy quarantines after travel.
Emancipation’s statutes reserve powers to face-to-face congresses – such as incorporating new members – that cannot be replaced virtually. However, they allow the arrangement of virtual conferences to discuss new forms of organization.
Since the 1st Congress up to here, not only did we already have a good number of candidate members; we had begun to carry out specific work in neighborhoods in different countries; the appearance of La Antorcha in Spain forced us to discuss how to articulate ourselves with an independently born youth organization around a similar program but focused on a specific age and work group; in the last few months we have experimented with new tools for debate and internal training; in the last year we have created new mastheads in new languages and a diversity of publications in different formats and topics… and that was only part of it. There was a lot to organize, to guide and to give objectives.
In response, two weeks ago we began an Organizational Conference. The dynamics of these conferences are relatively simple. Seven groups were formed that discussed and elaborated proposals of approach and objectives in the medium and short term in as many areas, also proposing the development of new tools in each one of them or the transformation of the existing ones. The result was merged into a single document organized in a transversal manner – not by themes but by sets of objectives over different time horizons – which was then discussed in a series of plenaries making the new challenges explicit, harmonizing the proposals and providing coherence.
What emerged from this long and enriching work was a transformation, an expansion in reality, of the tasks of our organization. Since the First Organizational Conference, which paved the way for the foundation of Emancipation, the focus of our work was to fuel conversations against the tide in workplaces through our publications: to provide understandable arguments and a framework for criticism of ideology to those who resisted the media bombardment and influenced their colleagues at work. Although we now keep that line of work, we are aware of the difficulty of organizing groups in a structure where trade union control, the development of precarious work conditions and the small scale of most workplaces all combine against us. In order to reach a wider sector of workers and gain organizational power, we must complement this work from the neighborhoods.
In the background, of course, stood the changes in the world situation of a year so far: the outburst of the Covid pandemic, a developing accumulation crisis, the first nearly simultaneous worldwide frontal attacks on our living conditions, and the parallel emergence of a wave of workers’ struggles on all continents.
Those of you who read our contents have already been able to notice some of the changes underway, those that affect our publications. There are no longer three titles, three newspapers sharing content, there is only one, Communia, which is published in three languages: Spanish, English and French. In a few weeks we will also start re-ordering our books and brochures. But there is more and in new areas: from the tasks and limits we face in the spontaneous solidarity networks born during the pandemic – which will very possibly spread as the consequences of the crisis unfold – to the forms of organization of our members in neighborhoods and companies.
Overall, this conference has covered most of the needs that have arisen from the growth of our organization over the past year. It has strengthened and mobilized us even more. Most importantly, it has put us on the path to equipping ourselves to be more useful in the battles ahead.