There are new political winds blowing through Sweden, especially among young people. A good example of this is the founding of the organisation Students Against Racism about a year ago. It is attracting more and more young people, with many of its activists present at last weekend’s Congress of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden).
The Congress was the biggest for some years, with 110 delegates and visitors as well as a wider geographical spread. This reflected the beginning of a new situation, most clearly marked by record-sized anti-racist demonstrations against Nazi violence since December. On Sunday 16 March, over 10,000 gathered in Malmö where the latest attack took place. In Gothenburg the same day, 5,000 demonstrated, with Kristofer Lundberg from Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna among the speakers.
The anti-racist mobilisations have had a clear left-leaning profile, with strong support for criticism of the government and its neo-liberal policies. Elin Gauffin, who lead-off the discussion on party building at the Congress explained that, “We are in a period of polarisation, where the anti-racist struggle has broken out on a mass scale. Media and politicians want this to end, fearing that crowds protesting against Nazism and racism today, will make demands against cuts and privatisation tomorrow”. In the discussion, members from many parts of the country spoke about an increased interest in our party. In Malmö, for example, in the south, we have more contacts and new people than for over ten years. The newest member from Malmö, Johanna Andersson, said that she joined the RS when she got tired of the Left Party’s policies and passivity. She looked to RS as an alternative that differs from other left organisations because we are an active and really socialist party.
Johannes Lundberg from Gothenburg explained the importance of getting involved at work, selling the paper, Offensiv, as well as getting active in the union work. The priority for 2014 is to get re-elected in Haninge and Luleå councils in the elections on 14 September. Our council seats are used to organise and support strikes and protests against cuts and in favour of the demands of council workers and local people.
Racism linked to neo-liberalism
“The rise of the racist Sweden Democrats, which can become the third party in the elections, and the neo-nazi violence, are closely linked to the neo-liberal policies of the government”, Per Olsson pointed out in his lead-off on Sweden. The gap between the classes is increasing faster in Sweden than in other countries. The country’s 136 billionaires have wealth equivalent to 45 percent of Sweden’s GDP! This year, listed companies are handing out nearly 200 billion SEK to their shareholders, which is more than the annual costs of health care in the country.
A lively discussion on Sweden raised many topics. It included the strike call from the Building Workers’ Union from 1 April and the struggles of women, where a new consciousness is emerging plus the crisis in health and elderly care and environmental issues. The main campaign the party is involved in is against privatisation and profits being made in the welfare services with new demonstrations planned.
The Congress started with a discussion on the world situation, the struggle between revolution and counter-revolution. A major theme was Ukraine, exposing the role of both Western imperialism and the Putin regime in Russia.
The Congress was attended by Tony Saunois, secretary of the Committee for a Workers’ International, who reported on the CWI’s work around the globe. “This year marks the 40th anniverary of our International. For a long time, Europe was our base with the strongest sections. 2013 and probably even more 2014 will be remembered in our history for the major breakthroughs in other continents,” he said. The main focus of the report was on South Africa, Brazil and the US.
A group from Sosialistinen Vaihtoehto (CWI in Finland) took part in the Congress. “We now have members in Helsinki, Turku and close sympathizers in Oulu. We have regular Skype meetings and publish our journal, Sosialistinen Vaihtoehto, four times a year. Our website is visited frequently,” said Tim Halpin from Helsinki.
The excellent mood at the Congress was reflected in the excellent collection which raised 85,378 SEK (€9,115).