This was the International Pfingstseminar 2012 in Austria: “Educate, Agitate, Organise”

For the first time we held the Seminar in the Camp of the Falcons (Socialist youth organisation) in Döbriach (Carinthia). 80 participants from eight (out of nine) Austrian provinces and five countries came to the Lake Millstatt. Unfortunately a number of comrades who registered could not make it to the seminar because of illness or work obligations. But this did not weaken the good mood. There were many reasons for the good mood, but in particular one: the quality of the political debates was especially high this year. The report also includes an open letter SYRIZA and their chairman Alexis Tsipras, which was passed by the participants of the seminar.

SeminarAfter the plenary discussion about the perspectives for the global class struggle, which was introduced by Jorge Martín of the IMT, we passed an “Open letter” to Alexis Tsipras, the chairman of the Greek SYRIZA (see below). Following this plenary session the discussions continued in the workshops, where specific political topics were dealt with (History of the class struggle in China and Is China a new imperialist power? a revolutionary perspective for Greece, the impact of the crisis on individuals – how the system makes us ill, the role of Germany in Europe). On the second day we were devoted to the discussion around a revolutionary program. What would a transitional program for Greece look like? What answers to the crisis are put forward by Keynesianism and how what do the Marxists answer? Last but not least we discussed questions of methods, like the challenges of revolutionary work inside factories and companies, and the role of a revolutionary organisation.

Not only were the lead-offs of very good quality this year, but also the contributions to the debate. It is obvious that the crisis and the global revolutionary process pose a number of new questions, and in order to answer them we need to sharpen and concretise our theory. On the basis of a common political perspective it is necessary to develop a correct strategy, a correct program, correct slogans and methods of struggle. Obviously the discussion centred on the developments in Greece. But everybody was conscious that this is only the first stage in a revolutionary process that will capture the whole of Europe.

An understanding of the urgency to materially strengthen the Marxist tendency in the workers’ and youth movement was present in all discussions. Different points of view were discussed in a comradely manner. What we are especially pleased with is the positive reaction which we received from participants who were active in other revolutionary tendencies. One of them said: “I came here with a solid conviction and now I am in a political crisis, because here my assumptions were shaken”. Common discussion and praxis is from our point of view the concrete way to establish the unity in the revolutionary left. Diplomacy and a blurring of political ideas are no suitable methods to rise to the tasks ahead of us.

Jorge MartínJorge MartínThe participation of the comrades from our sister papers of Germany and Switzerland is an appreciated tradition, and also comrades from the Balkans were present. We were glad to welcome representatives of Rdeči Radikali from Slovenia and Crvena Kritika from former Yugoslavia. We hope that this political exchange will deepen and intensify and that we will soon have a group of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) in Slovenia.

But it is also worth mentioning the Austrian delegation. Never before have we had comrades and sympathisers from so many different provinces and different organisations of the workers’ and youth movement present. A lot of comrades had met face-to-face for the first time at this seminar. There people met who, because of their different age or social situation, were it not for their political conviction would have few points of contact. This facilitates a very fertile political and social exchange. The Pfingstseminar has become an event crossing generations.

Outside of politics, there was plenty of time for sport and spare time. The traditional Funke football tournament was featured this year by a solidary togetherness. This principle and the active cooperation by everyone made the seminar fully self-sustained despite the large number of participants. We should also mention that the seminar was fully self-financed by contributions for participation, donations and the selling of “Pfingstseminar bricks”, which started months before the seminar was held.

On the last evening we held the closing plenary, where three points in where raised particularly:

Michi Peiner, the former district chairman of the YS in Bruck/Mur, who for some months have been undergoing a process of expulsion from the YS, appealed to all the participants to show solidarity with comrade Sebastian Seidlitz, who has to go to court again on June 12 because of an anti-capitalist poem.

Flo Keller of the trade union GPA-djp student faction from Salzburg emphasised the importance of the conflict around the collective bargaining agreement in the metal industry (which the bosses want to split up into different small agreements). We want to politically intervene in this conflict with all our forces.

participantsJorge Martín of the IMT appealed for the participants to build the forces of Marxism with urgency and for international solidarity with the Greek Marxists in Syriza. We collected €320 for the comrades of Marxistiki Foni. “Educate, Agitate, Organise” – with this slogan of the International Workers of the World, Jorge closed the political program of the seminar.

The party on the last evening was introduced with the singing of workers’ songs. We celebrated long into the night and with the certainty that this was not an end, but a beginning. Also next year we will say: Come to the International Pfingstseminar!

More photos of the seminar

Source: Der Funke (Austria)

Open letter to Alexis Tsipras, Chairman of SYRIZA

The following letter to SYRIZA and their chairman Alexis Tsipras was passed by the participants of this year International Pfingstseminar of the Marxist tendency “Der Funke” in Austria.

Dear comrade,

We would like to congratulate Syriza on its remarkable gains at the latest parliamentary elections and its refusal to support the inhumane economic policy of the troika (EU-ECB-IMF).

Especially the opposition to the cuts, which is throwing Greece back into barbarism, the demand for the cancellation of the corresponding multilateral contracts and the announcement of a halt to the payment of the public debt, deserves the full political support of all activists of the European labour and youth movement.

Greece is only the tip of the iceberg of an all-European development which is characterized by a process of passing on the costs of the crises onto the shoulders of the working class.

Financial derivatives, credit-financed real estate speculation and the increased exploitation of the working class have been the most important sources of profit for the bourgeois in the latest boom. This shows that the bourgeoisie is not able to play any progressive role in a historic sense, i.e. it cannot extend and modernize the production and it does not further the cultural development of society.

What we can see since 2007 is an attempt to pass the costs of the crisis on to the working class, which consists of the attempt to transform assets, which have been made worthless in the course of the crisis, into real assets, through pumping tax payers’ money into the economy. This has lead to an explosion of public debt, which they now try to reduce by cuts in the welfare state, the education and health system, privatisation, attacks on trade union rights and cuts of labour costs. This process is euphemistically called a “rescue package”. However, the only thing which is rescued is the property and the profits of the capital owners. For this the living standard of the working people and the youth in Europe is sacrificed. This is a declaration of war against the working class.

The Greek bourgeoisie has conducted itself in a very parasitic way and is now supporting this program of the European capitalists and the troika. It is the task of the Greek labour movement to answer this.

We, who are part of the labour movement in the countries of the core of the Eurozone, think the following:

  • we oppose the “rescue packages” of the troika;
  • we oppose energetically, the mechanisms which have been created for this purpose (ESM, ESFM, the EU fiscal compact);
  • we support the cancellation of the payment agreements the Greek government has negotiated with the troika;
  • we wish to see an election victory of SYRIZA and the formation of a government of the Left in Athens, which bases itself on the mobilised labour movement and popular assemblies in the workplaces, the neighbourhoods and the universities;
  • we consider it legitimate if a government of the Left repudiates the payment of the public debt (except for small savers in cases of proven need).

A government of the Left acting on this program will have to face the expulsion of Greece from the Eurozone and other forms of imperialist sabotage. However, would not mean the end of the world. A government of the Left could privatise the debt, nationalise the banks and the central levers of the economy under workers’ control and stop capital flight. She can reorganise the economy according the needs of the working class in a democratic way. She can integrate the nationalised banks into one central bank which provides credit to industrial and infrastructure companies which can then start to produce in the interest of the population and not to maximize profits. This would be the cornerstone of a democratically planned economy.

A government of the Left is at the same time the best instrument to break the isolation of Greece. As you pointed out, “the war we are fighting in Europe is not between people or nations; it is between the forces of work and the invisible forces of finance and banks.” Appeal to the European workers and youth to fight against the economic sabotage of Greece by “our” banks and governments. Go forward, we will follow you.

  • SYRIZA to power, for a government of the Left on a socialist program!
  • For the United Socialist States of Europe!
  • Long lives international solidarity!

The list of signatories