Optimism and new targets at Gothenburg Congress
Last weekend – 16-17 February – 100 delegates and visitors from Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (RS, CWI in Sweden), met in Gothenburg for the party’s annual congress. The beginning of a new period in Sweden and the Nordic countries is opening up. The progress of the party in youth campaigns and trade union work, fresh targets for recruitment, finance and the newspaper were all fully discussed.
The congress was held in Hammarkullen, a stronghold for RS in Gothenburg. It was in a conference hall in the ‘People’s House’ complex where the party has organised many mass meetings of resistance over the past years. The suburb and the square outside the People’s House was decorated with banners and flags. Members from as far away as Luleå in the north and Malmö in the south travelled to take part in the congress. Those from Luleå spent 24 hours on the train, travelling 1,500 kilometers.
The opening session covered world developments on the theme of "Class struggle, revolution and counter-revolution". It was introduced by Per-Åke Westerlund, the party’s Secretary. A number of contributors filled out detail in relation to what was happening in different countries or regions of the world.
The conference then broke into five different commissions – on workplaces and the trade unions, school struggles, Offensiv (the newspaper), the campaign against sexual harassment and how to improve the party’s financing.
Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna has recently taken new initiatives in the struggle against racism. Demonstrations on 9 February marked the 25th anniversary of the racist party, the Sweden Democrats. In Stockholm, this led to the formation of ‘Students against racism’ and brought a number of new young people towards the party. The congress resolved to step up youth work and support a re-launch of the socialist youth organisation, Elevkampanjen (School Students’ Campaign).
Perspectives for Sweden
“Sweden: On the threshold of a new period of unrest and struggle" was introduced by Per Olsson. He outlined the background to rising unemployment and the struggle against profits being made in welfare provision as well as against the present right-wing government in Sweden. Several RS members took up different aspects of how economic and political perspectives could change, even in the coming months. Only the RS has maintained a clear and principled opposition to all cuts and forms of privatisation.
Party finances were discussed in detail in a session introduced by Elin Gauffin and new targets were agreed to ensure the work of the party continues to go ahead. Most urgent was increasing the party’s monthly income from the members. Promises amounting to more than a third of the targeted increase were given during the conference appeal for finance made by Amer Mohammed Ali at the close of the first day. Also handed over were donations and pledges to the party’s fighting fund amounting to over 71,000 kronor (8,100 euros).
On the congress’ second day, the session on "Party building, campaigns and goals" agreed targets for membership in the coming year. The number of subscribers for Offensiv, which has increased sharply over the past year, is in stark contrast to other left-wing papers and groups who all seem to be undergoing difficulties. At present, Offensiv arrives every week in nearly 2,300 letter-boxes around the country.
For the first time ever, RS’ congress had a separate discussion with written analysis on the Nordic countries. It was introduced by Jonas Brännberg who explained how capitalist commentators are promoting Scandinavia as the ‘super-model’ for further attacks on slashing and cutting welfare provisions in the interest of profit. In Finland, the CWI has launched a new paper and in March there will be a public meeting in Helsinki. At the end of April, RS members will visit the conference of the Red-Green Alliance in Denmark and stay on to intervene in the May Day demonstrations with material underlining the need for very clear policies to counter the government’s cuts and attacks on workers’ living standards.
A report about the work and progress of the CWI in many countries round the world was given by Clare Doyle from the International Secretariat. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Swedish section of the CWI and its paper Offensiv. A few months later, two Swedish comrades were in London for the founding in April 1974 of the Committee for a Workers’ International. Clare stressed the value over the years of being able to pool experience and develop clear analysis and programmatic demands. She also urged maximum support for the vital work of the CWI (DSM) in South Africa.
By the end of the congress a renewed National Committee had been elected and, in total, five resolutions had been discussed and passed. The mood was one of strong optimism about the future development of the party, in a new period of struggle, when Sweden will undoubtedly see a great radicalisation as the result of capitalist crisis.
An excellent week-end was concluded with an enthusiastic rendering of the the ‘Internationale’.