Finland: Exciting meetings at Tampere Social Forum and in Stockholm

Activists for democracy and justice gather to discuss burning social issues

When different kinds of activists for democracy and justice recently gathered in Tampere, Finland to discuss burning social issues, members and supporters of the CWI participated. We used the opportunity to raise the issue of the need for a new left-wing alternative in Finnish politics. Another hot topic was the danger of racism and militarism spreading in Finland and internationally. Afterwards, the Offensiv #1000 event, held in Stockholm, Sweden by Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI-Sweden), got visitors from Finland.

There were an abundance of interesting seminars at the Tampere Social Forum, which was held 16-17 May, 2012 and was attended by 200-300 people. But the most clearly radical discussions happened outside at the Square of Opportunities, where information stands had been set up by different organisations. The stand that belonged to the CWI and their Finnish sympathisers in Sosialistinen Vaihtoehto was one of the most popular.

Available for the first time was a CWI publication with articles in the Finnish language, which turned out to be a real success – around thirty issues of the paper were sold, along with books and other material. Hundreds of leaflets were also handed out.

A group of activists affiliated with Finnish Antifa visited the table in order to discuss the lack of an effective anti-fascist network in Finland and the threat posed by well-organized Nazi groups, which have recently began to establish themselves in the country. This development is a consequence of the growth of racist ideas, which have become more widespread after the successes of the right-wing populist True Finns party in the 2011 elections, where they got 19 percent of the vote.

Young people from different left-wing organizations, such as disappointed members of the Left Alliance’s youth organization and activists from the Communist Youth Federation (KomNL), agreed that none of the country’s large parties is willing to wage a serious struggle against right-wing politics.

The fact that the leadership of the Left Alliance after the last elections decided to join the “six-pack” – the austerity government led by the Coalition party (conservatives) – is seen by many as shocking and scandalous.

“We have a problem when the so-called radical left in the parliament sees cuts in the welfare system as something unavoidable and only tries to distinguish itself by promising more humane ‘left-wing cuts’ instead of challenging capitalist policies”, said Simo Suominen, member of the KomNL.

The Occupy movement was also represented in Tampere, with a tent camp and activists who took part in the Social Forum. After the forum ended, there was a solidarity march for the Blockupy Frankfurt protests in Germany.

Sosialistinen Vaihtoehto and the CWI are interested in cooperating with all forces that recognize the need for a new, fighting mass workers party, but as usual we were careful to point out that such a party can only be created through active struggle. We must post a challenge not merely through elections, but in the streets and the workplaces as well; by constantly initiating and participating in struggle around concrete issues that concern the workers and others who struggle for equality.

Juha Tapio is an independent socialist who is an elected councilor in the city of Oulu in northern Finland and sympathizes with the struggle of the CWI. He took part in the Tampere Social Forum and afterwards travelled to Stockholm, Sweden, where Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna organized an event to celebrate the publishing of the thousandth issue of the newspaper Offensiv with seminars, workshops, speeches, and a party.

Tapio said: “I found the seminar about the struggle of the poor in the suburbs very inspiring. I was impressed by the work of the Panthers in Gothenburg and the youth organisation Megafonen in Stockholm.

“It was also great that the event could be held at Husby Träff, a meeting centre that was saved from closure by an occupation by local activists last winter. Such places are very important.”

For further reading about the politics of Finland, particularly in relation to recent budget cuts, click here.

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