Sweden: 1,000 issues of Offensiv celebrated

“We were convinced by Militant members to launch a paper”

On Saturday 19 May, the production of the thousandth issue of Offensiv – the weekly paper of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden) – was celebrated. More than 160 people attended an all-Sweden event to mark the occasion. There were performers and children, there were seminars and workshops, a rally and a great party.

The rally took place in the Stockholm suburb of Husby, where RS and Offensiv have been present for a long time. We have strong roots due to years of struggle to defend public services and also meeting places such as the one where the rally was held. Earlier this year the residents in the area occupied the meeting hall and stopped the plans to close it down.

Struggles of the past and the present

Among the speakers were Peter Taaffe and Clare Doyle from the CWI’s International Secretariat as well as representatives of current workers’ struggles in Sweden, Chinese socialist Zhang Shujie, trade union activists and well-known RS members and Offensiv writers. The anniversary also attracted visitors from Finland and Norway.

Arne Johansson, editor of Offensiv, opened the rally: “Offensiv was a product of the radicalisation after 1968 internationally and an upswing in workers’ struggles in Sweden in the early ‘70s,” he explained. “We were young socialists looking for Marxist ideas. In 1972 we met two members from the Labour Party Young Socialists and Militant in Britain. They convinced us to launch a paper, which we did in September 1973”.

Wellington Ikuobase and Mario Izquierdo, union leaders at the Läkerol factory in Gävle (producing lozenges and sweets) told the meeting about their struggle against closure. The factory, which makes big profits on their sweets and has more than a hundred year long history in the area, is owned by venture capitalists. They have decided to move production to Slovakia. Margareta Dahlqvist reported from a 100-day long occupation of a small hospital in Dorotea in the north of Sweden. An occupation that has inspired others throughout Sweden to organise a struggle against cuts in hospitals and health services.

“1,000 issues is a great achievement – the whole CWI congratulates Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna”, said Clare Doyle in her speech, which compared the political situation of the ‘70s with today.

Capitalist crisis means austerity

Peter Taaffe explained the present crisis of capitalism: “Capitalists, economists and academics say this is the best possible system. But look at the consequences for workers and poor people, particularly devastating in Greece, with GDP destroyed on the scale of the depression of the 1930s. Fighting austerity across Europe means fighting for non-payment of the debts, for massive programmes of public works as well as nationalisation under democratic workers’ control and management. There is no way solution on the basis of capitalism”.

Elin Gauffin from RS and Offensiv gave an overview of Sweden today, with growing anger over privatisations and loss of support for the right-wing coalition government, but not yet many struggles. Other RS members reported about struggles against cuts in health care and other services, against forced deportations of refugees and about the new network against profits in welfare.

“It’s the same venture capitalists that want to close down the factory in Gävle that are behind the scandals in elderly care, where profit is put before care”, said Sanna Tefke, active in Kommunal (the council workers’ union).

“The world is not only ripe for socialism, but over ripe”, said Per Olsson, from RS and Offensiv’s editorial board. He pointed to the fact the world has never been richer when it comes to resources, knowledge, the level of technique and science – and huge potential. But still more than one billion people are starving and not even getting a job is lifting people out of poverty.

Nearly 30 per cent of all workers in the world – more than 900 million – are living with their families below the US$2 poverty line in 2011. This is about 55 million more than expected on the basis of pre-crisis trends. Of these 900 million working poor, about half are living below the US$1.25 extreme poverty line. This is slave labour.

Per-Åke Westerlund, chairperson of the RS, was the final speaker. “Sweden is not immune to the global crisis. There is the beginning of change. The capitalists and the bourgeois politicians always refer to ‘the market’. But what is the market? In Iceland the market was a handful of individuals who ruined that country.

“We are now writing a new, important chapter in our history. Let’s step up our struggle against rightwing policies and capitalism – for a socialist world!”

New achievements

In the month up to issue No. 1,000 of Offensiv, a campaign was conducted to recruit 280 new subscribers on standing order (autogiro) for Offensiv in order to have 2,000 such subscribers. This target was reached and met with big applause at the week-ends event. In addition, the paper has over 200 cash-paying subscribers and sells on average 500 copies weekly on street sales, at workplaces etc. A collection of donations at the rally raised 41,000 Swedish Kronor (4,300 euros). Several new people declared their interest in joining RS, the party.

Before and during the event last week-end, there were violent clashes between youth and police in the neighbouring area, There has been a long period of neglect and decay in the suburbs. Enormous social contradictions have developed caused by poverty, mass unemployment and the lack of youth facilities. The ‘riots’ indicate that the so-called Swedish model of social peace and progress is no more.

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