Revolutionære Socialister, the Danish section of the IMT, recently held its annual ‘Revolution Festival’. With more than 110 attendees from across Denmark, the festival was an unequivocal success. Comrades and guests left the festival with a higher level of understanding of Marxism and revolutionary theory, as well as a renewed will and energy to fight for the overthrow of the capitalist system.
Economic crisis, war in Europe, strikes breaking out all over the world, and an existing system that is paralysed and unable to explain what is going on. This year’s Revolution Festival has been held at a time when the study of working class history and revolutionary theory are more important than ever.
At the festival, the experiences of the history of the working class were examined and linked to the contemporary economic and political situation.
There were four talks over the festival. On Friday, the first talk dealt with ‘Activism, Ethical Consumption, or Class Struggle?’ Here the attendees discussed how it is only through a class perspective and collective action, not through individualistic methods, that changing the world is possible.
Saturday began with a thorough examination of the Paris Commune of 1871. As the first experiment in workers’ power in world history, this episode has immense significance for the international labour movement.
Indeed, Marx and Engels themselves studied these events comprehensively, and as such they have had a huge impact on the development of the Marxist theory.
The discussion linked the Commune to the previous week’s parliamentary elections in Denmark, as many of the contributions referred to the limitations of bourgeois parliamentarism. But the discussion also touched on the general necessity of studying working class history and the very costly lessons of such experience – lessons that the ruling class today attempts to bury.
This was followed by a lead-off on ‘Arguments for a Democratic Planned Economy’. The lively discussion ranged widely, with contributions on everything, from the need for a planned economy in order to truly facilitate a transition to a green society, to the lessons learned from the bureaucratically planned economies of Stalinist states and the necessity of democratic control, to the use of internal economic planning already applied within huge multinational companies today.
The final talk of the festival focused on the contradictory relationship between free will and actions of the individual on the one hand, and the material conditions in which they exist and the development of the means of production. Here, the dialectical approach applied. It was explained that history, as such, is not a thing in itself. Rather, it is a product of human behaviour.
The other side of the coin, however, is that human beings are not totally ‘free agents’. Quite the contrary, we act within certain frameworks that comprise the society within which we live. At certain times, during revolutions, wars and the like, these frameworks reach their breaking point, and at such critical points the actions of relatively few individuals can have a crucial impact on whether the established system will be broken down entirely, or whether it will be allowed to stabilise again.
In the discussion, it was naturally concluded that we must attempt to impact history as an organised collective rather than individually. To do so, we must consciously study the world and its laws using Marxist theory – our guide to action.
The festival ended on a high note with a ‘call to arms’. We, as Marxists, are in a race against time. The crisis of capitalism is developing rapidly. Big struggles and movements are implicit in the objective situation.
We must build a strong revolutionary organisation here and now in order to place ourselves in the best possible position to intervene in these coming battles.
The festival was characterised by enthusiasm and a high political level. It is telling that even in the breaks and over drinks at the end of the day, it was political discussion that could be heard around the room.
In short, there was an enormous thirst for the ideas being discussed at the festival. This was also expressed in the fact that more than 40 attendees, who were not members of Revolutionære Socialister, are now in the process of joining and becoming active comrades.
The growing strength of Marxism
The festival was held in Nørrebro in central Copenhagen, and as such most of the attendees were naturally from the capital. However, as announced in the latest edition of the Revolutionære Socialister newspaper, our organisation has now successfully launched new branches in Aalborg, Aarhus, Køge, and on the island of Bornholm. Several comrades from these branches travelled long distances to attend the festival. The new faces from across Denmark created a mood of high spirits, and a clear feeling that interest in the ideas of Marxism are spreading nationwide.
Youth and workers are looking for answers to the gigantic crisis that is towering over us. More and more people are realising that the well-worn roads that have been offered to us to change the world are insufficient. They are beginning to comprehend that reel change can only come through collective struggle.
An event like the Danish Revolution Festival is a chance to offer and explain Marxist ideas better and more comprehensively than in other contexts. This is a chance that we grasped with both hands and used to educate the next layer of class warriors in Denmark.