Around 4,000 activists and campaigners attended the biggest Marxism Festival in a decade. The event, held at Soas University in central London, was a place where activists could meet to discuss and debate a wide range of topics.
Those in attendance were hungry for socialist ideas, with meetings on Marxist theory being some of the most popular at the festival. Meetings on the Russian Revolution, Rosa Luxemburg and a course on Marxist economics were attended by large numbers of young people who wanted to equip themselves with socialist ideas.
Student and media worker Chey said, “I liked that there was such a range of topics, a broad, in-depth analysis of socialism. “There was also an international element—it wasn’t just about Britain.
“I’m interested in listening to the meetings on art and culture. I want to learn about how culture can send a message. “My general approach to socialism has become wider, and I want to understand more about the different ins and outs.”
Chey added that they joined the Socialist Workers Party to get more involved in practice and theory. There were debates in meetings on the climate crisis and war.
The question of how it’s possible to change the world and get system change ran through the festival.
Speakers at the event included Amazon Labor Union (ALU) president Chris Smalls from the US, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and rapper and activist Lowkey.
Women’s oppression was a key theme at the festival. Meetings took place on abortion rights, women, race and class, gender, sexuality and misogyny.
In the meeting on biology and oppression, the speaker explained that there has been a resurgence of the argument that oppression is rooted in biology and used by the right to justify oppression.
Some have also taken up this argument on the left to attack transgender people. Throughout the festival, the real roots of sexism were made clear—women’s oppression isn’t natural or accidental.
It exists because of the nuclear family that is essential to capitalism. It was argued that socialists should smash the system that benefits from women’s oppression and link this to a class fight against all other forms of oppression.
Workers argue for confrontation with union tops over how to win disputes
A major question for trade unionists at the festival was —how can strikes win?
The opening rally of the festival brought together strikers and other activists, and there were big cheers when strikers from St. Mungo’s homeless charity took to the stage.
Sofia, a St Mungo’s strike, said, “Voting for indefinite strike was a big decision.
“But at this point with agency workers legally covering our strikes—which is anti-democratic and anti-strike—we can only deprive management of our skills.
“Then they will see how essential we are.” In a meeting that brought together strikers from across trade unions, workers were clear that a more significant confrontation with their union leaders is needed.
Postal worker Alex said that when union leaders are slow to call action or refuse it entirely, workers must push for it from the ground up.
“Every time the membership has voted for strikes, we have returned a bigger mandate. “We currently have a mandate to strike until August, but what is general sectary Dave Ward doing with that—nothing.
Teacher and NEU union member Jodie told the room that education workers, “need to go out in September, and we should stay out until we get what we want.”
Marxism Festival was an opportunity for workers to come together to discuss the best way forward.
Join the Workers’ Summit on 23 September in London. To book go to bit.ly/WS230923. To add your union branch to the supporting organisations, or for a model motion, contact email@example.com
‘We’re here to build solidarity’
Socialists travelled from all over the world to be part of the festival. Anouk travelled from France to attend for the first time.
“A group of us came from France as we have comrades there who have been before in an organisation called A2C.
“We are also in anti-racist groups, and we’re here to build solidarity “she said. Charlie, a student at St Andrews University in Scotland, told Socialist Worker they had fundraised with other socialists so more students could attend the festival.
“We fundraised so people could afford the travel here because the cost of living crisis is tough on students.
“It was a 12‑hour bus journey, but it was quite fun,” they added.
RMT union member Luminita explained they attended the festival because Marxists have a “very good understanding of inequality in society.”
“People who work are not valued for what they do, and they should be,” she said.
“We need to go back to Marxist theory and explain the term so people do not misinterpret it for what happened in Stalin’s Russia.”
Nat from Forfar, Scotland, attended the Marxism Festival for the first time and said it has a “really nice atmosphere where I have met new and like minded people”.
“I have learnt a lot that makes me want to get up and change the world. It’s definitely a good place to get organised,” they added.Original post