The following is the perspectives document approved by the national congress of Revolutionære Socialister ("Revolutionary Socialists") in March 2019. It lays out the comrades’ analysis of the political situation in Denmark, and offers their predictions about where the class struggle in the country is heading.
The economy is stuck in the mud of 2008
Small export economy in debt up to its ears
Crisis of legitimacy in the democracy and the state bureaucracy
A welfare society under attack
The risk of a DF/Venstre government
Mette Frederiksen leads the Social Democrats towards political suicide
The dissatisfaction will find an expression
More than 10 years have passed since the economic crisis in 2008. The crisis marked a new chapter in the history of capitalism, a chapter characterised by revolutions, counter-revolutions, war and instability on all levels. It was not one of capitalism’s normal, cyclical crises, but an expression of the concept described by Trotsky as an organic crisis. This means that it’s a crisis of the system itself, which reflects the fact that capitalism finds itself in a dead end. Capitalism can no longer develop the means of production as before, and thus can no longer bring society forward. We are no longer in a period, as in the earliest period of capitalism or the post-war boom, where the economic upswings were large and lasted for a long time, while the crises were small and brief. On the contrary, the tendency has been for decades now, that the economic upswings are ever smaller, while the crises grow ever deeper.
This has especially been clear in the last 10 years. The ruling class has used all possible and impossible means to attempt to restart the economy, and still economic growth has moved at a snail’s pace, and only the top of the elite has benefited from what small growth has occurred.
The relatively stable situation that has existed in Denmark, when compared to the rest of the world, looks to be changing in the coming period, and 2019 might be the year to mark this transition. There’s a general election coming, which must be held at the latest in the summer of 2019. No matter whether the outcome turns out to be the most likely one (that the Social Democrats win power), or the less likely one (that we get a government consisting of Venstre and The Danish People’s party), or a third option, it will mean a shift in the political situation.
A government consisting of the Social Democrats, which is more racist and right wing than ever before, will have to pursue the “policy of necessity” with deterioration, attacks and a hollowing out of the rights of workers and youth.
The Danish People’s Party, in government for the first time ever, will have to implement the same attacks and cuts, but will attempt to hide behind a veil of nationalism and racism.
Regardless of which government we get, it will likely rule under different conditions from those that have existed for the last 10 years. In our opinion, all signs indicate that we’re on the cusp of a new crisis of the world economy, which within a few years will mean that the coming government will have to implement much harsher attacks than what we’ve been used to in Denmark in past years, though those were bad enough.
A recession cannot be observed like a change in the weather but can only be seen in hindsight. So we cannot say with certainty that a new economic downturn has begun. But even if the crisis does not impact until later, it only delays our prognosis without changing anything fundamentally. At the same time, we must note that there are so many indicators of a new crisis that we must take it as our starting point in our view of the coming period. A downturn in the world market will have a large effect on a small, open-export economy like that of Denmark, and force any government to implement massive attacks on the working class, the young, the old and the lowest layers of society. This will cause a heightened radicalisation of workers and youth.
In the same way that the crisis in 2008 marked a significant transition, we must prepare for the shift that a new crisis will create, combined with a new government. Things won’t continue in the same way as in the last 10 years: The consciousness of the working class will be shaken. Mass movements will once again be on the order of the day – mass movements which will have a large effect on the consciousness of the working class and the future class war. The polarisation that is already taking place will be intensified, and traditions that have existed in the working class for decades might be broken. Old organisations may perish, and new ones might jump into existence. This is the situation that Marxists must prepare for.
This perspective is not an academic exercise, which can be packed away in a drawer once the discussion is over. On the contrary, we consider this document to be a tool for intervening in the class war. It gives us a direction and the ability to concentrate our forces where the largest chance of success is. A perspective however, is not an exact prediction of how events will unfold, and there will be a number of things that will develop differently than how we expect today. A perspective is not a crystal ball, but a working hypothesis, which must be constantly adjusted according to events as they develop.
At the same time, we hope that the document and its conclusions might help to convince workers and youth to help build what is needed more than ever before: a revolutionary organisation that can stand at the forefront of a socialist revolution.
It is our ambition in Revolutionary Socialists to become that organisation. Even though we are still small, we are highly optimistic about the future. We’ve been successful in the last few years, have grown in numbers, and more and more especially young people are becoming open to our revolutionary ideas. If we continue our political work with the same confidence as we’ve had so far, we’re in a great position to take great steps forward in the near future.
This perspective must be read in connection with the document from the International Marxist Tendency’s world congress: World perspectives: 2018 – a year of capitalist crisis.
1. A NEW ECONOMIC CRISIS
Denmark is completely subject to the world economy, and big changes there will quickly make their way into the Danish economy. The economic framework sets the conditions for the development of consciousness and class warfare, and it is in light of this that we consider the economic perspective. In our opinion, the indications are starting to pile up that we’re already at the beginning of a new crisis, or at least that it is on the way, and this will be crucial in how the coming period develops. Therefore, this perspective begins with the international economic situation.
Of course, it isn’t possible to make precise predictions about when and how a crisis will manifest, and it might be delayed. But we’re seeing weaknesses in all the markets (Europe, USA and China) that are crucial for the world economy and Danish capitalism.
The world economy is not equipped for a new crisis, but on the contrary is incredibly fragile. A part of the reason that the crisis of 2018 was so deep and comprehensive was the massive debt that had accumulated, and the enormous speculation that characterised the economy leading up to the crisis. In the last 10 years, these problems haven’t disappeared. Indeed, the ruling class, out of fear of the social consequences of an economic depression, which 2008 was in danger of turning into, have simply reinflated old and created new economic bubbles based on debt. They push the problems into the future, and have so recreated the problems leading up to 2008, but at a higher level.
The uncertainty in the world economy was graphically reflected in the stock markets, which in 2018 had the worst year since 2008. S&P ended 6 percent below the level at the start of the year. The same thing occurred in Europe and Asia, where especially the Chinese CSI 300 was hit hard with a drop of 25 percent.
The economy is stuck in the mud of 2008
In the post-war period, it was especially the increase in world trade that pushed the world economy forward, but the development in world trade has been weak in the last 10 years, and the increase in economic growth, which has happened since the 2008 crisis, has been described by bourgeois economists as the weakest upswing in history. Even in the year 2017, when the growth in world trade was at its peak of 4.7 percent, it was still far below the levels in the years leading up to 2008 and below the average growth since 1990.
The crisis in 2008 was named the “financial crisis”, which is misleading. Even though the crisis first manifested in the financial sector, that was just the way the crisis was expressed, not its actual cause. Marx explained that all crisis of capitalism, despite their different expressions, in the end are caused by inextricable contradictions between workers and capitalists. The working class produces more value than it can buy back, which results in overproduction, or what bourgeois economists refer to as overcapacity, which sooner or later is expressed in economic crises.
The recurring crises of capitalism aren’t periodical flaws in the system. On the contrary, the crises are, so to speak, periodic “solutions” to the contradictions that pile up under capitalist upswings. The crises and their so-called creative destruction are necessary to clear out the economy, let unprofitable companies collapse, destroy debt, which can never be repaid, remove surplus products and overcapacity. But this destruction hasn’t happened after 2008. When at first the abyss of the crisis opened at the feet of the world’s leaders and capitalists, and showed that the crisis was moving towards a depression like in the 1930s, they feared the social consequences. They were unsure whether the system itself would survive. Because of this, they decided to protect the market. Overcapacity wasn’t destroyed, the debt wasn’t written off, and because of this, the markets have been more-or-less saturated, which has resulted in a situation where it has not made sense for the capitalist class to invest in new production. Why invest in a new factory if the goods it produces won’t be bought anyway?
Central banks across the world have tried to stimulate the economy with historically low and even negative interest rates. But because the markets have been saturated, it has not resulted in the companies loaning money to invest in production. Instead, the money has gone directly into speculation on the stock markets, which is a large part of the reason that large financial bubbles have been inflated in, among other places, the stock markets. They are a symptom of the underlying problems of the economy.
This has also resulted in speculation, in which the central banks have tried to stimulate the economy by printing money and throwing it into the economy. The European Central Bank (ECB) has through “quantitative easing”, printed billions and billions of euros that banks, large companies, and governments have borrowed. The same has been the case for the American central bank (FED), whose actives have grown from 6 percent of BNP in 2008 to 24 percent in 2017. In the case of the ECB, their actives have gone from 12 percent of BNP in 2008 to 41 percent in 2017. This gives the central banks less room to manoeuvre when a new crisis manifests. At the same time, the financial sector and many companies have become dependent on quantitative easing, and when it stops, it could potentially have a hugely negative impact on the economy.
All these stimuli are a large part of the reason for the enormous piling up of debt. In the first quarter of 2018, the world’s total debt (for states, private people and companies) had grown to 318 percent of the world’s total GDP, which is 38 percentage points higher than at the onset of the crisis in 2008. In the world’s largest and most important economy, the USA, the total debt is about the same as at the onset of the last crisis, and in China, the total debt has grown from 171 percent in 2008 to 299 percent in the first quarter of 2018. China was another reason that the crisis didn’t turn out worse in 2008. Through world history’s greatest Keynesian project, with massive state investments, China maintained a high level of economic growth, and pulled the world economy along with it. But with its enormous burden of debt, China is not able to pull off the same economic rescue again, and there are no other countries able to take China’s place in a new crisis.
The ruling class only successfully prevented a depression after 2008 by kicking the fundamental economic problems from back then down the road. But now these economic problems are catching up to them with renewed strength.
New economic crisis
Throughout 2018, there have been ever more indications that a crisis has begun or soon will begin. At the same time, many red flags have popped up, which can trigger a dramatic and sudden economic downturn.
After the stock markets have broken record after record, in the recent period it has started going in the opposite direction, and several shocks have rocked the stock markets of the world. There have been big drops in stock prices in the worlds biggest economy, USA, and among others, the so-called tech wreck has cut great chunks out of the valuations of the large tech companies. In October, Apple stock was 40 percent up from the beginning of the year, but dropped drastically, and lost more value that it had gained throughout the year. Part of the nervousness comes from the fact that the American central bank has raised interest rates several times in 2018 to avoid inflation, which has reduced the companies’ access to cheap credit.
JP Morgan points to a slowdown in the economy starting at the beginning of 2018. In 2018, the Eurozone saw little growth, including Germany, and the American economy too, seems to be grinding to a halt.
But especially the growth of China has decreased in the last period from the peaks in 2007, when GDP grew by more than 14 percent. It is unknown how reliable the official statistics are, but Chinese economists expect that growth in China will be about 6.6 percent in 2018 – the lowest growth rate in the country since 1990. This isn’t just a problem for the Chinese regime, but for the entire global economy, as China represents by far the largest part of global GDP growth. From a Danish capitalist perspective this is also problematic, as one of Denmark’s most important export markets, Germany, relies on trade with China.
There are currently many different elements which might increase global economic instability and contribute to a sharp economic downturn: the lack of a Brexit deal, the currency crises in Argentina, Turkey, and India; the housing bubble on the Chinese market, where one in five residences are empty; the conflict between the EU and Italy about the country’s budget; Greece and the termination of their “rescue package” from the EU, to mention some of the risk factors.
But it is especially USA’s trade wars that keep the bourgeois economists up at night. The growing trade conflicts are an expression of a system in trouble, where competition forces the states to protect their own capitalists, even though this simultaneously creates serious issues for the world economy. The Germans have warned that raised tariffs on German goods could trigger a crisis, not just in Germany and Europe, but that it will spread to USA as well. Especially the beginning trade war, which has been going back and forth between the two world giants, USA and China, has created nervousness in the markets, and an enormous fear that it will spread. The conflict is not just about reducing the American trade deficit, but especially about the American bourgeoisie wanting to prevent China from becoming a high technological superpower in line with USA, Japan and Germany. The price for this could easily turn out to be the destruction of the fragile world economy, and the coming crisis could turn out to be even bigger.
But the geopolitical context of a new crisis will be considerably different today from what it was in 2008. Back then, different national bourgeoisies coordinated their efforts to reduce the effect of the crisis. For example, the Americans gave the Europeans vital access to an unlimited amount of dollars, so the European banks could live up to their obligations. If this had not happened, the entire international banking system would have broken down.
This unity no longer exists. Instead, we’re seeing that the liberal world order, which was carefully created after the Second World War, with its organisations (NATO, IMF, UN, EU etc.) is disintegrating. This was the world order which was built on the constant expansion of the world trade, and which was dominated by the USA both economically and militarily.
Donald Trump and his politics aren’t the reason that the liberal world order is disintegrating. He has simply amplified tendencies which were already developing. The trade war between the USA and China is also not the reason for the economic problems in the world economy. It simply accelerates already existing protectionist tendencies. Previously, the USA had the absolute highest productivity in the world. This gave the country an objective interest in as free and open competition as possible, because the country was assured of coming out on top in the international competition. USA still has the highest productivity, but is going backwards relative to the rest of the world, and is now trying through political means to keep their lead position towards EU and especially the advancing China.
The organic crisis of capitalism, where the market develops slower, has aggravated the contradictions between the different nation states; the low growth in world trade is an expression that the so-called globalisation is being rolled back. The international industrial companies’ supply chains, which were getting increasingly more global, are increasingly being changed and pulled back under the protection of the nation states or trade blocs. This worries the world elite. The lack of protectionism was praised by the world’s leaders and finance people in the handling of the crisis of 2008 and emphasised as proof that they had learned from 1929 and averted a depression. They let the champagne corks fly prematurely. The ghost of the 1930s has returned.
Because of this, the bourgeoisie are, from an international perspective, in a weaker position than in 2008 in terms of reducing the effects of a new crisis, when it hits, which will contribute to further undermining the system’s political and social foundation.
Small export economy in debt up to its ears
The Danish economy is often portrayed as a success story without any big problems. But behind the moderate growth and the low unemployment numbers, which the bourgeoisie boast of, you find one huge problem after another for Danish capitalism. When the big international economic problems became obvious to everyone towards the end of 2018, the Danish bourgeois economists counselled calm; the Danish economy, you must understand, is healthy and stable, and we don’t have to worry about all the scary things happening in the great big world. It’s nothing but the emperor’s new clothes, and a new international crisis will hit Denmark hard and bring the economy’s big problems into the light.
The capitalist crisis of 2008 hit Denmark hard. Like the rest of the world, it was the working class and the weakest layers of society that had to pay for the crisis, while the bank CEOs and the rest of the elite not only got off scot-free but received historically huge tax cuts. But the many attacks on workers, young people and old people have not created a stable Danish capitalism. More than 10 years after the crisis, the Danish economy has big weaknesses, and like the world economy, has had an extremely hard time recovering. The crisis could be felt especially hard in the industrial sector, and it wasn’t until after 10 years, in 2017, that Danish industrial production reached the same level. The same has been the case for the GDP per capita, which took nine years before the Danish economy reached the peak of the fourth quarter of 2007.
Private consumption is still far below the average levels of 2007-08, where it was at about 95 percent of disposable income (the amount left over after paying taxes), while now it’s at 75-80 percent. This means that a larger portion of the country’s total disposable income goes into savings.
On the surface, it sounds like the average Dane has enough money to save up for a rainy day. But statistics can mislead and say nothing about the distribution across class lines. The poorest part of society today has no option of saving up, despite the need for saving becoming ever greater due to the constant cuts on universal welfare services. The poorest 1.5 million of the population, with yearly disposable incomes below 150,000, use 160 percent of their income, which means they’re living on credit, while the roughly 2.2 million people with a yearly disposable income of 150,000-300,000 use just about their entire disposable income without the possibility of setting any aside. In contrast, the richest members of society, with incomes above 800,000, use just 60 percent of their disposable incomes (this group is made up of less than 100,000 people). This means that the working class and the poorest layers of society must expand their debt to survive, while the upper layers of society can put their money into savings. It was the workers and the poor who paid for the crisis in 2008, and they will be forced to do so again when a new crisis strikes.
As with the international economy in general, the Danish economy has a singular leitmotif: debt. We will look at a number of examples. The list is in no way exhaustive, and should not be interpreted to mean that we necessarily think that a new crisis will begin in one of the following areas. But they are examples that show the explosives built into the foundations of Danish capitalism.
The Danish economy is based on exports, which in 2017 made up 55 percent of the Danish GDP, and this is why there’s no doubt that the Danish economy will be significantly impacted by changes in international trade.
Denmark’s biggest export markets are Germany, USA and Great Britain. It is especially Europe that the Danish economy relies upon, and in 2016, more than 70 percent of exported goods went to other EU countries.
Therefore, a “no-deal” Brexit will hit Denmark hard. The IMF estimates that only Ireland and the Netherlands will be hit harder economically. The British market makes up 7-8 percent of total Danish exports, which corresponds to about 91 billion kroner, and 45,000 Danish jobs are connected to it. A hard Brexit will especially hit the part of Denmark that already has difficult economic conditions, the so-called Udkantsdanmark. Out of the 20 municipalities that export the most to Great Britain, 14 of them are in Jutland, and fishers from western Jutland make one third of their catches in British waters.
Danish agriculture, which makes up 1⁄4 of all exported Danish goods, and has Great Britain as the third-largest export market, will be hit hard by a no-deal Brexit. The Danish Agriculture & Food Council expect that food exports to Great Britain might collapse from 13 to 3 billion kr. Despite Danish agriculture having some of the most-advanced farming technology in the world, agriculture is a part of Danish capitalism, which continues to rot. Even with massive exports, agriculture cannot maintain itself, but is forced to live at the mercy of the banks and handouts from the EU.
Up to and after the crisis, the agricultural sector’s debt grew explosively from 217 billion in 2005 to 341 billion in 2017. The number of bankruptcies in the agricultural sector has risen in the last years. About 85 percent of the agricultural sector’s total mortgages are variable rate loans. When interest rates sooner or later increase from their historically low level, it will badly impact the agricultural sector, and the current number of bankruptcies will go through the roof. According to the Danish central bank, agriculture makes up 19 percent of banks’ total business loans. A wave of bankruptcies in agriculture will have a large effect on the Danish financial sector and thus the rest of the economy as well. A similar effect will be seen if the EU decides to remove all agricultural subsidies or a large proportion of them. Agriculture is a zombie sector in Danish capitalism, and it is obvious that this sector has grown far beyond the bounds of private property and screams for nationalisation and control through a planned economy.
However, it’s not just agriculture that is in deep debt. Debt is an alarming phenomenon in several areas of the Danish economy. The debt is an expression of political problems, which the Danish ruling class have been unable to resolve, but which they instead have continued to delay.
Thus, the debt of Danish households has also become a potential bomb under the Danish economy. It is the largest among OECD-countries and was in 2017 at 279 percent of the year’s disposable income. In Sweden and Germany, the respective numbers are 186 and 93 percent. The bourgeois economists are calling for calm, arguing that Danish households have large active assets in the form of pension savings and houses, which balance out the debt. But unfortunately, the world does not work that easily.
In the case of pension savings, these aren’t liquid assets that are available to be spent. It is money that is meant to make ends meet when you no longer work. If you choose to withdraw the money, which is supposed to pay for your old age regardless, you’re punished with a fee of 60 percent, which goes to the state. In the same way, homeowners can continue to mortgage their homes only so long as house prices are increasing. As soon as the housing market turns around, many homeowners will become technically insolvent, as the value of the loans is set, while their homes are suddenly worthless.
A reduction in house prices would be a catastrophe for many families. They will become tied to the spot, and unemployment for just one breadwinner in the family can result in a foreclosure and forced auction. The same will be the case if interest rates increase. About 58 percent of all Danish mortgages have variable interest rates. This means that, not just Danish households, but also the finance sector are extremely vulnerable to fluctuations in interest rates. That 43 percent of all loans are exempt from repayment during a period of artificially low interest shows that many are already in a rough situation. And for repayment-exempt variable interest loans, which make up 32 percent of all Danish mortgages, an increase in interest rates will directly affect the monthly payment.
So far, Denmark has had a reputation as a safe harbour for international investors. But cases like Danske Bank’s money laundering doesn’t just mean that the bank loses a big portion of its stock valuation, it also creates uncertainty about the Danish economy on international markets. If the foreign investors who today own about 30 percent of callable bonds (the traditional fixed-interest-rate bonds) start to sell out, interest rates will increase, with catastrophic consequences. The bankruptcy of one of the large banks or mortgage lenders could result in the bottom dropping out of the Danish economy. According to OECD, the financial sector makes up more than 500 percent of the Danish GDP, and is thus one of the largest in Europe, relatively speaking. Danske Bank’s actives alone make up 180 percent, so Danske Bank’s problems can quickly become a problem for the entire country.
Debt is also an issue for Denmark’s second largest employer, with 40,000 employees: the municipality of Copenhagen. The municipality owns a large majority of the urban development company By & Havn, which owns most of the public construction sites in Copenhagen, and which has been handed the enormous debt from the two metro projects.
By & Havn’s equity is at -3.5 billion, and they have a debt of 19 billion (1⁄3 of which is variable interest), which they pay for by selling off construction sites and residences. The company is dependent on the bloated housing market in Copenhagen. If the housing market slows down, By & Havn will be unable to make payments on its enormous debt and could drag the municipality down with it through layoffs and cuts. Potentially, it might demand a bail-out from the state.
It must be noted here that, since the crisis, the Danish state has been running a constant budget deficit, if you disregard certain one-time advance pension taxations. This is similar to peeing their pants to keep warm: in that they’ve used future state income, which they’ll be missing later.
Overall, Danish capitalism is in big trouble, which is largely expressed in the question of debt. Unlike in 2008, the Danish ruling class cannot lower interest rates further, and because of this they’ll have much less room to manoeuvre when a new crisis strikes. Behind the blown up numbers, which the media uses to present the Danish economy as healthy, hides another reality: a capitalist system in serious trouble. This is a reality which, from a capitalist point of view, requires attacks on living and working conditions, which the working class has fought for, to be continued; and, in case of a new crisis, intensified.
A new crisis will increase social and political instability. It will lay down the foundation for a new increase in class struggle at a time in history where many of the support pillars of Danish capitalism are falling apart.
2. UNSTABLE SITUATION FOR A NEW GOVERNMENT
2019 is an election year, and no matter what government wins the election, it will change the political situation, especially because it will be a government forced to carry through much-harder austerity if a new economic crisis hits while it is in power.
In a crisis situation, there will be more fighting over the export markets on which Danish companies sell their goods, and as a result they will be forced to cut back their expenses by crushing salaries and working conditions to weather the competition. The next government will have to help the capitalists with this by reducing public spending. Increased unemployment and all other negative consequences of a crisis will at the same time lower the state’s tax income considerably and raise expenditure in government subsidies, which will force the government to carry through further cuts. The organic crisis of capitalism also means a crisis of reformism, because it is no longer possible to enact positive reforms for the working class within the capitalist system. A new economic crisis will make this fact clear as crystal.
A new government will have to cut a welfare programme that has already been cut immensely. The welfare won by the working class in the postwar period has been under attack since the 1970s, and after the crisis in 2008 the attacks grew, though not on a scale matching the other European countries. With a new crisis, the politicians will not be able to “make do” with continuing as before with sustained, although gradual, attacks - and the attacks will by all accounts be much worse: mass privatisations and layoffs, cancellation of public services, massive cuts in salaries and working conditions, and attacks on core rights like student grants, free education and healthcare.
All over the world, we have seen how the attempts at creating economic stability after the crisis of 2008 have undermined the social and political stability. The old parties and bourgeois institutions are undermined, and politicians are elected who may be bourgeois but who are outside the control of the bourgeoisie, like Donald Trump in the United States and the government in Italy. The entire legitimacy of the state bureaucracy is in crisis, acutely expressed in the United States, where the president is in open conflict with his own secret service. The entire political system, which was carefully built up after the Second World War, is in dissolution. Countries, which before seemed like stability itself, have been thrown into political chaos, as we see now in the UK. All this is an expression of the same process: capitalism is at a dead end, and the ruling class can no longer govern as it used to. There are no ‘right’ solutions for the bourgeoisie that will restore the stability of capitalism. This also means that social stability is undermined – in country after country, we see workers and young people going onto the streets, beginning to take an active part in politics. But in Denmark, as in several other countries, there is an extreme political vacuum on the left. It will not last forever. The same processes that we see in other countries take place in Denmark, although they are slightly delayed here.
Crisis of legitimacy in the democracy and the state bureaucracy
The bourgeois ideologists conjure up a fairy tale of a proud, strong Danish democracy. Democratic varnish has undoubtedly played a stabilising role for Danish capitalism for many decades. But today, democracy, politicians and the state find themselves in a historic crisis of legitimacy. This will further weaken the foundations of a new government.
"Association Denmark" (foreningsdanmark) no longer exists in the political sphere. In 2016, the nine parties in parliament had about 145,000 members in total. In 1960, only five of those parties sat in parliament, but one alone, the Venstre, had more members than all nine parties of today’s parliament combined. At that time, the five parties together had approximately 600,000 members. Even Enhedslisten, which grew to 10,000 members and has since stagnated around 9,000, is a shadow of what the far left could muster in the 1970s, or the DKP alone after World War II.
The same trend also applies to voter support. In the post-war period, the four traditional parties of power (Venstre, Socialdemokratiet, de Konservative and Det Radikale Venstre) received about 80-90 percent of the vote. Today, they are reduced to just over 50 percent in elections and polls.
A larger and larger part of the population has lost confidence in the parties and politicians. A study from 2015 showed that 63 percent of Danes had "very little" or "rather small" confidence in the politicians. Only 37 percent had "very large" or "rather large" confidence, which is half of what it was in 2007, when the figure was 70 percent (for some reason, these studies are not done very often).
The causes of the lack of confidence are obvious. Besides the failure of the workers' parties over the past 10 years, it is also clear that the political game is nothing but that - a game - where the various politicians more or less break the same promises and pursue the same policies. Rituals and ceremonies with "sharp" media debates are, when the camera is turned off, replaced by big smiles, broad agreements and a cheerful, collegiate tone. The political differences are blurred, and everyone speaks like bland, arrogant political science teachers. The centre of Danish politics has been shifted to the right, where all parties flock, making it difficult to tell one from another.
One scandal after another has run across the TV screens. But workers and young people are no longer surprised at repeated revelations that politicians are putting shady money in their pockets and governing illegally. It has become part of the norm.
But it is not only the trust in the politicians that is falling. There have been many scandals in the last period, in addition to the scandal about how Finanstilsynet and Business Ministers were all in bed with Danske Bank and protected their laundering of 1,500 billion kroner, we have seen the Ministry of Immigration and Integration breaking the law of forced separation, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture’s management of fishing quotas, the purchase of unusable billion-kroner IT systems, chaos in the Tax Department, theft from the Social Department, and the list continues.
Confidence in the state apparatus itself has been severely undermined in the last period. In a spring 2018 survey, 54 percent of respondents replied that they had "limited confidence" in officials in government, regions and municipalities. In 2015, the figure was 48 percent. Only 44 percent believe that the civil service complies with the law. That is the level of confidence in the civil service in what is supposed to be one of the least-corrupt countries in the world.
The top part of the central administration correctly views this as part of a general process:
“Unfortunately, it's not surprising. I experience a general tendency of greater scepticism towards the institutions of society, and I believe that we, as the civil service, must take this very seriously,” said permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Martin Præstegaard, in connection with the aforementioned study.
Martin Præstegaard comes to the same conclusions as us Marxists, just from the opposite class standpoint. The permanent secretary, like us, sees how more and more of the system's supporting pillars are being undermined. Where he is concerned about the development, we welcome it.
For us, the destruction of the illusion of the democratic bourgeois state apparatus is an incredibly positive development. From childhood, you are raised in Denmark to believe that the state is neutral, acting in our common good and helping you if you are in trouble. For many years, the state's class character has been hidden behind a veil of "welfare". But with the destruction and erosion of social rights ("welfare") and democratic rights, the essence of the bourgeois state is becoming increasingly clear. The state officials are now at the bottom of credibility studies, together with politicians, journalists and used car salesmen.
A new crisis with associated attacks will further weaken democracy, politicians and the state. In the long term, it will force more and more people to question the system as a whole, weakening the bourgeois state apparatus responsible for defending and sustaining capitalist society and private ownership of the means of production.
A welfare society under attack
The organic crisis of capitalism has meant a decline in all aspects of the so-called welfare society. Many of the jobs that have been created the past 10 years are low paid, with a great deal of unpaid overtime (known as “hours of interest” [sic]), short-term contracts and unreliable works schedules. Of those who are in employment, 876,000 (i.e. approximately 31 percent of the total workforce) work less than 37 hours/week, and 36 percent work extra hours without pay. These types of jobs, with insecure conditions, will be the first to go when a new crisis hits. This time, the situation will be different from 2008, as conditions for the unemployed are far worse.
Along with the introduction of the new so-called “poor benefits”, like the integration benefit and education support benefit, the unemployment compensation and social security benefits have been under constant attacks throughout the past decade. The common tendency for both is the massive erosion in the coverage of the contribution ratio. To the Danish capitalists and their representatives in the parliament, the purpose of such measures is to create conditions so unbearable for the unemployed that the workers will be forced into the most precarious working conditions with zero-hour contracts and “working poor” conditions.
It's only a matter of time before we begin to see a need for ”food banks”, as has been the case in Germany and the UK. From 2008 to 2016, the disposable income among the 10 poorest percent in Denmark has dropped. Furthermore, there is an increase in people living in poverty, and a 2017 estimate shows that the number has risen to 254,000. In 2017 alone, the number of children living in families with an income below the poverty line rose by 12,000 to a total of 64,500 children. While the poor get poorer, the rich of course get richer and inequality grows.
Like the rest of the economy, it has taken the labour market many years to recover from the crisis. The tale told by the economists, that there have never been more people employed, is a modified truth. The employment frequency, the statistic describing what proportion of the population is employed, has dropped in the years following 2008, and is still below the former level.
Along with this, 743,000 people of working age are pushed out of the workforce without having any productive attachment to society.
That the welfare society has been undergoing massive austerity measures is apparent in the public sector, where we see a lack of resources and people in all sectors, meanwhile, public sector workers are under more pressure than ever before. Though the employment rate has increased since 2013, it hasn't affected the public sector: the number of employees per citizen is at the lowest level since 1986, and the work hours per citizen are at their lowest since 1980, if one disregards the year 1996.
Among public workers, a raging stress epidemic is on the rise and growing stronger every day. Incidents of stress-related medical symptoms for educators and caregivers have increased by 50 percent since 2012. This tendency is visible throughout the public sector. Every seventh newly educated nurse (approximately 14 percent) are sick with stress within the first three years of graduating. With more cuts, these numbers will just grow even bigger.
We must expect that the massive attacks that have hit the public sector year after year will spread into the private sector with a new crisis. This will exacerbate the class struggle, with a qualitative change from what we have seen in the last period.
Even though the youth are drinking less, committing less crime, and spending longer in education than ever before, they are confronted with the prospect of not having better but worse living standards than their parents’ generation. Young people are under a lot more pressure than before. This is true, both in the education system and in employment, where they do what they can to meet skyrocketing standards. Therefore, every time they don’t meet the high bar, the blow is harsher. Especially young women are affected, with one in four experiencing mental health problems and 40 percent high levels of stress. And this is all happening while there is supposedly a “boom” in capitalism - this is “as good as it gets”. The prospects for the youth are pitch black. No matter how hard they work or how good their grades are, the problem won't be solved; it does not change the fact that capitalism cannot secure the majority a proper future. They are looking at a future in which jobs with proper working conditions will be far rarer, the SU and other core social services will be demolished and there will be fees introduced for education, as well as other welfare services.
The parliamentary leftwing is not absorbing the discontent among the youth, who move towards other solutions to their problems on an individual level. Also, they tend to react with disgust towards the mendacious and hollow, opportunistic social-democratic welfare fetishism and patronising approach from the state, which monitors your every move, determines what clothes you can and cannot wear (as in the burka ban) and demands your subordination and loyalty as part of “the Danish values”. This was reflected in the political support for Liberal Alliance (L.A), who pretended to be “anti-establishment” and who for several years were the most-popular party among the youth.
No matter how hard you work through your education, and no matter how many hours of unpaid labour you put into the market, success is still nowhere to be found. The problem is not individual but societal; a fact that is becoming more and more apparent for an ever-greater number of people. A shift in the economic situation would destroy every illusion of being “the creator of your own success”, and frustrations will at some point be converted into collective action. Already, support for the Liberal Alliance has dropped significantly. Just after the 2015 election, they peaked at 20 percent support among the youth. It is down to 9 percent now.
The young people, who today cannot find a point of political expression and have nothing left but contempt for the entire political system, will be at the forefront of the struggles to come. The struggles and the anger won't just be directed towards the new government, but will be a fight against the system as a whole, marked not only by mistrust of politicians, the parties and the government, but of the entire system. It will be young people from this generation that will become the core of the Revolutionary Socialists in the years to come and will be at the forefront in the fight against the horrors of capitalism.
Weak, reactionary government
The VLAK-government is an expression of a Danish bourgeoisie in decay, just like the system it represents. The government has been staggering from deal to deal, and has been kept artificially alive by the absence of an opposition. And it must be thankful that it has been in power in a time of class peace, without large movements and during an “upswing”. Its visions don’t exceed further than the next agreement on the national budget, and a majority against the government has become the norm. It is telling that even prominent ministers as Søren Pind and Brian Mikkel have left the sinking ship and dropped out of the government. The party Venstre is in a constant crisis and since 2001 its support has halved, when the party began its “struggle of values”, that is since it seriously began to pursue a racist politic together with Dansk Folkeparti.
The weakness of the government already became apparent when Lars Løkke was forced to incorporate Det Konservative Folkeparti and Liberal Alliance in order to remain in power, only a little more than a year after he had formed a government. The chaos and turmoil at the negotiations over the national budget for 2017 once again laid bare the weakness of the government. It barely managed to produce a lame fiscal budget at the end of December, which is unheard of in a Danish context.
The government was therefore not interested in repeating the farce in 2018 before an election, and they laid themselves down flat in front of Dansk Folkeparti in exchange for some peace in their own camp. Also, because of the approaching election, no new attacks on the working class were launched. All in all, the new national budget was a continuation of the status quo, with austerity at the same level as previously, but with racism reaching new heights. But even if the government had wanted to push through with major cuts, it is far from certain that it would have managed to get them passed. Through all its duration, the government has been too weak to get any of its major reforms carried.
The risk of a DF/Venstre government
There is a risk that Lars Løkke will win the next election, which might seem astonishing in the light of all the scandals surrounding him, how little credibility he has left and how unpopular the VLAK-government have been. But the opposition is completely toothless and it is impossible to differentiate them from the government politically. It has not only extended the government’s lifespan but also allowed Lars Løkke to have a relatively high poll rating. This might mean that he can hold onto power. But a new bourgeois government will be extremely weak.
A new right-wing government will have to incorporate Dansk Folkeparti for the first time. In its composition, it will be the most reactionary government since 1940-45. As a governing party and under the pressure from the right by Nye Borgerlige, Dansk Folkeparti will take their racist immigration policies to new heights.
The reason for the continued support for Dansk Folkeparti and other right-wing parties is not that the people have suddenly become xenophobic. The rise of DF came after the Social Democratic Nyrup government in the 90s had broken all promises, carrying through austerity and massive privatisations, while at the same time claiming that things had never been better. But the workers did not feel that all was going well, and from the sidelines came, DF which acknowledged that there were problems. They pointed to the immigrants as a scapegoat and had an "easy" solution: close the borders. The Social Democrats could not point to the solutions for the problems of the working class, as that would mean a break with capitalism. The left did not come with other serious alternatives either. They have not addressed the problems of the working class, but on the contrary, increased these problems through their austerity. This has created a room for racist “solutions” to take hold. Racism is one tool among several that the ruling class use to split the working class and distract them from the real problems in society. Several parties have figured this out and they push each other to racist extremes.
A government made up of Venstre og Dansk Folkeparti would be catastrophic for the working class, both those living in Denmark and those who come here from abroad. We will see vicious attacks on minorities, which a few years ago would have provoked outcry even in the degenerated Folketing. But the participation of Dansk Folkeparti in the government would be positive in the sense that it will totally discredit DF and remove all illusions of them being “the small man's protectors”. They would have to defend every social austerity measure that will be carried through, and this will expose them as what they really are: a thoroughly right-wing, racist and ultra-conservative party, who point at the “foreigners” with one hand, while destroying the conditions of the working class with the other.
Even with moderate growth, like the one we are presently experiencing, such a government would have to cut in order to support the capitalist class in the competitive world market. A new crisis will make these cuts far worse and might reduce Dansk Folkeparti to an irrelevance, as we saw with the participation of SF in the austerity government of Socialdemokraterne and Radikale Venstre.
In this scenario, however, Socialdemokraterne will also end up in a crisis. They staked everything on a tactical attempt to win power by copying the immigration policies of Dansk Folkeparti. They went from calling Dansk Folkeparti a party that would never be “appropriate”, - scolding Karen Jespersen when she suggested sending criminal immigrants to a deserted island - to now completely paraphrasing everything Dansk Folkeparti are saying. The logic of the SD leadership seems to be that the reason for their lack of popularity is they are too “soft” on immigration issues, and by closing this flank, they should be guaranteed an election victory. Should the party lose the election anyway, the leadership and its mistaken DF-politics will be discredited, and the party will, therefore, find itself in a deep crisis. The most likely outcome, however, is that Socialdemokratiet will gain power after the next election.
Mette Frederiksen leads the Social Democrats towards political suicide
The Social Democratic leadership has been an integral part of the capitalist system for more than 100 years and has been one of its most important pillars of support. The post-war boom allowed the party to become the personification of the welfare state, which gave it a tremendous authority in the eyes of the working class. This authority has been repeatedly used to intervene in labour struggles in the interests of the capitalist class, to control the left, and to carry out right-wing counter-reforms in parliament. The party has been a tremendously effective tool for the capitalists to keep the working class quiet. Because of the party's authority, they have been able carry through things that right-wing parties would have had far more difficulty in accomplishing: like attacking early retirement, unemployment benefits and primary school teachers. The capitalist class will depend on the Social Democracy to carry out new major attacks.
But with a new Social Democratic government, the capitalist class risks destroying this tool, as we have seen happen elsewhere on the continent. The Social Democratic Party in Greece, PASOK, went from 44 percent to 4.8 percent of the vote in a few years because they implemented austerity imposed by the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF. This "pasokification" has also hit other Social Democratic parties in Europe, which are more comparable to the Danish, for example the French and Dutch. The German Social Democracy, the SPD, went from polling at more than 31 percent, to receiving only 25 percent at the elections, and at the end of 2018 it was polling just 14 percent of the votes.
The same could happen in Denmark. If the Social Democrats win the election, they will have to form a government in an incredibly chaotic political landscape with an economic crisis on the horizon, which will mean that they will have to carry out historic cuts, affecting those in their electoral base, building upon those carried out the last time they were in government. At the same time, more and more people are beginning to see that the endless tightening of immigration laws does not solve anything. A "strict" immigration policy has been pursued for 20 years, but the social conditions for which refugees and immigrants have been blamed have not improved. Racist rhetoric will not be able to detract attention from their real problems. The economic reality will shine through.
The Social Democratic leadership thinks that they can achieve maximum flexibility by forming a one-party government. The opposite will be the case. If they think that they can pick and choose from among the parties in Folketinget when they have to make political agreements, they are more than naive. On the contrary, it will be a constant headache for them not to have any solid support in parliament. Mette Frederiksen may have to do the same as Lars Løkke and incorporate several parties into the government to ensure its survival. It is not impossible that it could become the Danish People's Party, which would be the logical consequence of their previous collaboration. It will be a dramatic shift in Danish politics and put the current left in a situation where they can end up supporting the extreme right wing directly.
A new Social Democratic government risks committing political suicide with their current right-wing and racist policies. The leadership of the Social Democracy has absolutely no intention of breaking with capitalism, thus jeopardising their entire social and political position. If you accept capitalism, you must also accept its requirements - even when in crisis. With a new crisis, the extent of the cuts the Social Democracy will have to make in government will prove to be far greater than what Lars Løkke had to carry through.
It is possible that we will see a meltdown of the Social Democracy, and that the party will be reduced to almost nothing. The Thorning government's attacks on primary school teachers in 2013 destroyed one of their traditional bases of electoral support, and we will see the same kind of attacks being repeated at a higher level, where unions will become targets for the government, and they will try and subjugate the workers under the complete control of the employers. A Social Democratic government will be forced to attack what has been their traditional social base in society, which could remove the party's last remnant of authority and lead to a steep decline in the coming years. Such a collapse will have enormous consequences for the Danish capitalist class on the one hand, and the labour movement and working-class consciousness on the other.
3. POLITICAL VACUUM AND THE PERSPECTIVES FOR CLASS STRUGGLE
Many politically conscious workers, and especially young people, are frustrated that so little is happening in Denmark, when one mass movement arises after another around Europe and the rest of the world. Working-class consciousness is shaped by the previous period, and it is therefore necessary to look back to understand the stagnation of the class struggle in the last decade. In the late 1990s and up through much of the 2000s, we saw huge movements in defence of welfare, especially after the right-wing Fogh-government was elected in 2001. Young people and students were at the forefront of the struggle, occupying schools, launching strikes, attending mass meetings with thousands of participants, and assembling huge demonstrations. There were strikes among the public employees, and for several years Denmark was the OECD country with most days lost due to strikes per-inhabitant. The movement had enormous potential, with several demonstrations involving more than 100,000 people.
But the leaders of the Social Democracy, the SF, the trade unions and the student movement, who led these struggles, treated the movement as a faucet they could turn on and off. At their command, tens of thousands would flow out into the streets, and at their command they returned home. It could continue for a while, but the faucet logic stopped working at a certain point. The strikes, school occupations and demonstrations did not change anything: the cuts continued. The one-day demonstrations became smaller and smaller because more and more people realised that, although they were an important element in showing how many people were united in the struggle, they were not in themselves a means of forcing change. The right-wing government could just look out the window at Christiansborg, wait for the protesters to go home, and then continue their cuts - often together with the Social Democracy.
Thus, the movement did not lead anywhere, and with the crisis in 2008, both the strikes and the big demonstrations collapsed. In the workplaces, the workers bent their necks in the hope of maintaining their jobs. Young people stopped going on strike since these acts did not change anything. Workers and the youth tried to change things with struggles in the trade union field and non-parliamentary routes, but this did not work, and instead they turned to the parliamentary front. There were massive illusions to the election of the Thorning government in 2011, especially because the parties to the left of the Social Democracy saw their largest parliamentary election victories ever, and because SF participated in a government for the first time.
However, it was a sudden awakening. When Helle Thorning was elected, she proclaimed that a "new normal" existed and she continued and intensified the attacks of the right-wing: counter-reforms to benefits, the sale of DONG to Goldman Sachs, the lockout of primary school teachers, and continued public sector cuts. Everything happened hand in hand with SF and with the Unity List providing parliamentary support. Helle Thorning and the government obeyed orders from their masters, the Danish capitalist class, and SF and the Unity List obeyed (albeit under protest) the orders of the Social Democrats and the trade union leaders who would not risk creating problems for "their" government. Thus, the problems if the workers and the youth were not solved through parliamentary means. This created widespread demoralisation.
The reason why relative calm has existed in recent years is therefore not that the working class in Denmark is apathetic or satisfied with the state of things.
Below the surface, enormous anger and frustration is building up. The collective wage negotiations in 2018 for public employees (OK18) looked as if they would break the peace with a thunderstorm. The public employees were ready for battle. They got together at the historic meeting in Fredericia with 10,000 shop stewards, and even more interesting were the demonstrations in a few cities that occupied city council meetings and directly intervened in political life, which is unheard of in a Danish context and offered a preview of how the struggle could have developed if it had not been stopped. The public servants had the support of the workers in the private sector, and it was clear to all that it was the right-wing government that was the aggressor. OK18 could have been the channel through which the accumulated frustration of the masses would express itself. But the Danish ruling class could, as always, count on the help of the trade union leadership, which more than anything else fears a mass movement that is out of their control. They dragged out the movement, tiring the workers and eventually reached a rotten compromise that maintained the status quo.
But the calm in the class struggle will not last. The frustrations, anger, and social contradictions that have been built up since 2008 will find an expression. There will be movements in the coming period that will make it impossible to restrain the class struggle to the level of the last decade. The question is, what expression it will find?
Movement through the parties?
It is impossible to say how future mass movements will take shape and through which channels they will express themselves. But the declining authority of the workers' parties and the extent to which they’ve been discredited could mean that they will not lead or benefit from a future mass movement, as was the case in the past. Social Democracy is no longer seen as a real alternative to the bourgeois parties, and SF completely undermined itself by joining the government and signing off on all cuts and attacks.
Not even the Unity List has, as a party, wanted to plunge itself into any movement, and it is an open question whether they will do so in the future, or whether the party will simply continue the leadership’s unilateral focus on parliamentarianism. The top of the party has pursued the aim of becoming an accepted part of the political system, and has succeeded. Instead of inciting the working class to go into battle, they cultivate the "art of the possible" within the narrow framework of the Folketing and Danish capitalism. They have no confidence that the working class can do anything on its own, let alone achieve a revolution.
The top of the party has followed the general political turn to the right, which was expressed on paper when the party's programme was changed. The former programme, that still contained references to socialism and revolution, was replaced by a new one that harkened back to the welfare state of the post-war recovery. Also, on the immigrant question, the Unity List moved in the same nationalist direction as the rest of the parties, with statements such as "we must recapture Dannebrog", and, together with the other opposition parties, the Unity List signed a declaration claiming that the number of refugees Denmark receives impacts on integration.
What the Unity List leadership does not see is the enormous dissatisfaction that exists towards the whole political system. If the Unity List offered a programme that seemed like a real alternative, and that was sufficiently extensive in its criticism of capitalism, they would receive great support, as we have seen in the case for other left-wing parties elsewhere in Europe.
However, despite their right turn, it is not excluded that the Unity List could grow strongly in the opinion polls in the coming period. If we get a new right-wing government and a Social Democracy in crisis, the Unity List could take over the position of the largest opposition party. Even if the Social Democracy comes to power, the Unity List could become the largest working-class party in the Folketing - as we saw with SYRIZA in Greece - if the Unity List is voluntarily or involuntarily pushed into opposition against a Social Democratic government carrying out new major cuts.
Elections are a zero-sum game. The electoral progress that the Unity List could make in case of a Social Democratic collapse will represent a rejection of the Social Democracy rather than any real enthusiasm for the Unity List. Genuine support and popularity only be achieved if the party rejected the entire political establishment and put forward a clear anti-capitalist class position. Therefore, we should not be surprised if the Unity List makes progress, even if they are moving towards the “respectable centre.” It only requires the Social Democracy to collapse. The top of the Unity List, however, will use such progress as an affirmation of their move towards the centre, and escalate their right-wing turn.
The dissatisfaction will find an expression
The anger, dissatisfaction and frustration that exist in society will find a point of expression sooner or later. For any action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction. It is very likely that mass movements in the coming period will be comparable to those we have seen in France with the yellow vests, for example. These will be spontaneous movements that are not controlled by the leadership of any traditional workers' organisations, and which will not be homogeneous in terms of class or politics. These movements will not abide by the unwritten rules of political activity and will have moved beyond the trade unions’ "festival" demonstrations of colourful balloons and pop music, and will instead use new and more radical means. These new movements could take many forms and arise on many different issues. That it was an increase in fuel taxes that caused the movement to explode in France was a coincidence, which expressed an underlying necessity.
Another example is the international movement against the climate crisis. For a large number of young people, the climate has emerged as one of the most important political questions of our time and, and this is expressed in a wave of climate protests led by youth all over the world. For many of these young people, it’s obvious that there are no individual solutions to the climate crisis, but that systemic change is needed. Because of this, these movements hold enormous revolutionary potential. It is our task to connect them to the need for a revolution and socialism.
More and more people are seeing that capitalism has failed to address climate change. The establishment’s ‘best’ attempt at handling the climate crisis – the Paris Agreement – has set the goal of a rise in global temperature of “just” 2°C, and according to a UN report, the promises made in the Paris Agreement will not be enough to achieve even this. These climate agreements are pure theatre. None of the world leaders live up to these agreements, and when Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement, he simply said aloud what the other leaders are thinking: “fighting climate change is not profitable for the capitalists of my country.”
Instead, the emphasis is placed on the consumer. We’re told to stop using plastic straws, use energy-saving light bulbs and cloth diapers, and observe meat-free Mondays. The enormous focus on politically correct consumption, which is promoted by the media and politicians, is simply a way to distract attention from the actual culprits: the large corporations. The scientific journal Climate Change reported that the 90 largest companies are responsible for two thirds of all human emissions of greenhouse gasses. Climate change cannot be solved within the boundaries of capitalism, where the capitalists’ need for profit is more important than human needs, the environment, and nature. The climate crisis screams out for democratic control through a planned economy, nationally and internationally, as a precondition for the transition to 100 percent sustainable energy, and making the earth habitable for future generations.
The top of the trade union movement in Denmark is deeply integrated with the Social Democracy and the state apparatus, and couldn’t even stand up to the right-wing government during the OK18 negotiations. Instead, it ended up signing a rotten deal. It is inconceivable that they will be at the forefront of a future movement. But this doesn’t mean we should write off the entire trade union movement. It is quite possible that one person or tendency could advance in the unions and crystallise some of the dissatisfaction that prevails in society.
It is impossible to predict how future movements will be expressed politically: a new mass organisation out of the blue, a sharp left turn in one of the existing organisations, a known political figure taking the lead of a new movement, or something completely different. We cannot say what, but only that something will fill the vacuum that exists at present in society. But if the Social Democrats in the next few years experience a "pasokification", which is a possibility, it will open the door to a completely new period in the Danish labour movement. It will mean that the party's near-monopoly in the trade union movement will be broken and it will open up for oppositional and more militant currents to crystallise. Such a fundamental shift will not occur at once, but will be an extremely positive consequence of a Social-Democratic collapse in the medium or long-term.
But that is the music of the future. The most distinctive feature of the current period is the enormous political vacuum on the political left. Most of the radicalised youth feel politically homeless and are looking for a place to organise, without being able to find it in the established parties and organisations.
New mass movements will initiate a protracted process of class struggle, because there is not yet a revolutionary mass organisation that can help the working class to draw conclusions about the system's failure and lead the movement to victory.
It is clear that there has been a thicker layer of fat in Denmark compared to many other countries, and this helps explain why we have not seen the same movements here as elsewhere in the world. But it is also clear that while Danish workers and young people for many years have been fed the myth that we live in the world's best society, and that we are a happy people, it is difficult to find anyone who is satisfied with the state of things. Most people believe things are getting worse. A new crisis will strengthen these tendencies.
Calm before the storm
In the last months of 2018 we witnessed a flood of small and medium-sized demonstrations on everything from climate change, to racism, and tightening the rules of absenteeism in high schools. At the same time, there have been work stoppages, by train-drivers at DSB in connection with collective bargaining, and by the teachers at the TEC schools. We have also seen bus drivers organising, and several pickets of workplaces over contractual issues, which have received some publicity. Even primary school students have been on strike because of dissatisfaction with a lack of action towards the climate crisis.
At the time of writing, it is impossible to say whether we will look back at 2019 as the beginning of a new upsurge in the class struggle, or whether this will occur later. What we can say is that the frustration that has accumulated, and has not been expressed through a mass movement for more than 10 years, will break to the surface sooner or later. If it doesn’t happen until after a crisis has hit Denmark, it will make the character of the battle even more bitter.
The pessimists on the left have given up on any revolutionary perspective for Denmark. They are not a notch better than the bourgeois commentators who only see what is happening on the surface. The years of austerity, the increased stress in the workplaces, the discrediting of bourgeois democracy and the uncertainty about the future leave marks on the consciousness of the masses, although it has not yet expressed itself. We have every confidence that workers and youth will move towards revolution. Not because they want to turn the whole society upside down, but because capitalism does not give them any other option if they want to sustain any hope of a real future.
There is a huge vacuum on the left, and Revolutionary Socialists is still too small to fill it. Our task is to build an organisation that can do so. If the quiet period that has lasted since 2008 is extended, it is in fact a good thing for us. Because we need all the time we can get to build our forces and thus allow us to intervene on an even-larger scale as the class struggle progresses. But we are not the masters of history, and the great shifts we face will fundamentally change the situation in Denmark. It will test all political tendencies and parties, both politically and organisationally. We face these tests with our heads held high.
The Revolutionary Socialists participate in the daily struggles against the consequences of the failure of this system. At the same time, we are preparing to ensure that a future revolution will be victorious, by building a strong organisation based on a solid theoretical Marxist foundation. The majority in Denmark are not revolutionaries at the moment, but more and more young people are becoming radicalised and can be won to the perspective of building a revolutionary organisation. That is our task now: to win these young people to RS and build an organisation that is strong enough to play a crucial role in the future class struggles. We invite everyone who agrees with this perspective to join us and the struggle for a socialist world revolution.