Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (Socialist Justisce Party, CWI Sweden) held its Congress on the 6th and 7th May in Gothenburg in the working class suburb Hammarkullen - a stronghold of the party. Almost 100 delegates and visitors from more than ten cities attended the congress from Luleå in the north, Lund in the South, Gothenburg in the West and Stockholm in the East.
The two days were characterised by enthusiasm for building a socialist alternative against the right wing policies of the "red-green" government and against racism. The political discussions maintained a high level and showed that RS is a unique party based on grass root activists well based in working class areas and workplaces.
Four documents were agreed on - 1) Denmark, Norway and Finland, 2) Swedish perspectives, 3) Party building and 4) The trade unions. A new national committee was elected. On the Nordic countries, reports were given from recent visits to Iceland - with its stormy political events - and Finland for May Day. Two CWI members from Norway attended the congress.
As is the tradition, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna’s Congress opened with an analysis of the world situation. Per Olsson’s introduction gave examples of the volatile situation in which we find ourselves: war and destruction in the Middle East, extreme droughts and famines in Africa, millions of refugees who are forced to flee from war, terror and oppression and the West’s treatment of them with barbed wire and walls. At the same time, the period is marked with mass struggles, most recently in Iceland and France, as well as political support for socialist ideas such as in Bernie Sanders’ campaign in the US.
During the congress there was also a session with contributions about Africa, and comrades with a background from Ethiopia, Somalia, Cameroon and Kenya were among the speakers.
"Naomi Klein explained that a shock doctrine is using a crisis to be able to get through neo-liberal policies. This is exactly what Social Democratic prime minister, Stefan Löfven, and the government did when they brutally reversed Sweden’s refugee policy", said Elin Gauffin in her opening statement on “Sweden: perspectives for the construction of a new socialist movement”.
Jonas Brännberg summed up the discussion: "There have been major changes in Sweden during the past year. We must realise that Sweden and Europe have fundamentally changed – and this is not temporary. The EU crisis is acute and is not only about refugees but also about Brexit, Greece and so on. It determines the character of the political situation in Sweden and is weakening the government".
A special session of the Congress discussed the trade unions. This follows recent strikes in the construction industry - although only for a few days - and longer strikes by painters, and also strike action on the ferries in the archipelago islands outside Stockholm and Gothenburg, all of which the party intervened in and got a good response. Wage agreements (with only modest increases) have now been reached for most workers, apart from, for example, state employees and bus drivers who will start to negotiate later in the year.
Per-Åke Westerlund made the introduction on party building: "The party has a double role to play in this situation - to build the revolutionary party and at the same time take initiatives and build a movement against right wing politics and racism and rebuild the workers’ movement on a socialist programme".
RS is in a situation where we are more well known, have a bigger audience but this is not always reflected in a growth in membership. One task is to spread the party to more cities and regions and build new branches. There is also a need to continue to try and build the CWI in other Nordic countries. Two new branches have been established recently in Borås (West Coast) and Örebro (Mid-Sweden). The target agreed is for another two new branches. Plans for more visits were made during the Congress.
The party needs more cadres that can defend and develop Marxism in a period when the policy of the government and the established parties is moving further to the right. The left generally has been weakened and awareness of the need for struggle and the ideas of socialism are still lagging behind.
Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna is today the most important left party outside parliament in the country. The Congress laid the basis for building its membership and fighting capacity in the coming period.
One highpoint at the Congress was the report by Cedric Gerome from the International Secretariat. He reported on the international political work around the world.
The Congress collection raised 8,400 euros, more than in the last two years.