The Frederick Engels Foundation will be present at the 2006 Madrid Book fair - A victory for free speech

After a very widespread international campaign the organisers of the Madrid Book Fair have changed their decision to exclude the Frederick Engels Foundation, which will now be present at the Fair. See also in Spanish.

On April 17 the Frederick Engels Foundation received a letter from the Madrid Book Fair Committee announcing that they were rejecting our request for a stall at this year’s Book Fair. This attempt to exclude our Foundation, after having regularly participated in the Book fair since 1998, led to a widespread protest on the part of thousands of intellectuals, professors, artists, trade union and left activists, members, collaborators and friends of the Foundation from every corner of the world: Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, France, Britain, Sweden, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Austria, Germany, Iran, Pakistan and a long list of other countries, as well as from many towns and villages all over Spain. In just four days more than one thousand resolutions arrived at the office of the Frederick Engels Foundation and at the headquarters of the Madrid Book Fair, strongly protesting against this attempt to limit both the Foundation’s freedom of expression and its work as a whole. This was a mobilisation that was clearly aimed at guaranteeing that the ideas of scientific socialism and the classical works of Marxism should be available to the thousands of people who will attend the Book Fair.

The appeal for solidarity with the Frederick Engels Foundation was issued by our comrades and collaborators: Marcelino Camacho and Gonzalo Puente Ojea, outstanding historical figures from both the Spanish labour movement and the progressive intelligentsia; Alan Woods, British Marxist theoretician and author of numerous books on socialist history and theory and by Juanjo López, General Secretary of the Sindicato de Estudiantes [Student Union]. An endless list of people supported this appeal, among which media professionals such as Rafael Taibo and Fernando Buen Abad; writers such as Celia Hart, Carlos Taibo, Belén Gopegui, Ricardo Rodríguez, Marta Sanz, Asís Lezcano; cinema director Javier Maqua; senior professors such as Eduad Carbonell, co-director of the Proyecto Atapuerca; university professors such as Roca Parés i Buerguès from the Pompeu Fabra University; Ariel Jerez of the Complutense University of Madrid; Magdalena Barahona of the University of Vigo; Eduardo Pérez-Rasilla of theCarlos III University; trade union leaders such as Pedro San Frutos and Agustín Moreno of the national EC of the CCOO [Workers’ Commissions}; friends and collaborators of the FFE such as Esteban Volkov, the grandson of Leon Trotsky. We also received the active support from numerous lecturers, journalists and political leaders from Cuba and Venezuela; the Pakistani Marxist MPs Chaudry Manzoor and Zulfikar Gondal; comrades from the national leadership of Rifondazione Comunista, from the French Communist Party. We also received the solidarity of a large number of activists and comrades with leading positions in the Spanish Communist Party and the United Left, among them Gaspar Llamazares, and hundreds of left and trade union activists belonging to the CCOO, UGT, SOC, CGT, LAB, ELA. Many shop stewards’ committees sent us messages of solidarity (SEAT Coruña, Mahou, Progalsa, ECO...) as well as community organisations. You can find the full list on the FFE website.

We would like to extend a special thank you to the comrades of Rebelión, Lahine, Nodo 50, Indymedia, La Repú,, Vive TV in Venezuela, and all those websites and publications that responded to our appeal. And of course to Alan Woods, Celia Hart and Fernando Buen Abad for their marvellous written appeals that stressed the demand that socialist thought should not be censored at the Book Fair.

The need for Marxist ideas

In the end, as a result of this big response to the appeal, on April 24 the Madrid Book Fair Committee decided to change its previous decision and to allow the Frederick Engels Foundation to have a stall of the same size as last year’s.

The attempt to exclude the Frederick Engels Foundation (FFE) from the Madrid Book Fair in practice would have meant preventing thousands of people from having access to the works of the great thinkers such as Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, V. I. Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg and other contemporary socialist authors.

In an epoch of crisis of capitalism, where the barbarism of the system expresses itself at all levels, where culture continues to be dominated by the ruling class through the mass media, where the ideas of Marxism have been constantly attacked… a new generation of youth, trade unionists, activists and workers all over the world are rediscovering Marxist theory. The ideological rearming of the working class is an absolutely urgent task, as the revolutionary developments in Venezuela, Bolivia, France and so on demonstrate. Today, more than ever, we have to offer a socialist alternative to achieve a life that is worth living.

We would like to use this opportunity to send a fraternal thank you to all those of you who supported our campaign with such enthusiasm. Your encouraging messages, your unconditional support, have shown that the cause of culture can be successfully defended and in a big way. From the Frederick Engels Foundation we wish to express to you our most sincere appreciation and we encourage you to continue actively collaborating with the Foundation in the task of spreading the vast treasure of the ideas of revolutionary Marxism.

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Take part in our activities and support the ideas of Marxism!

See you at stand 162 of the 2006 Madrid Book fair!

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April 25, 2006