Over the past period, the annual “Karl Marx seminar”, which is organised by the comrades of the IMT who lead the Socialist Youth of Vorarlberg, has grown to become an important event for the left in the lake Konstanz region of Austria, Switzerland and Germany.
Two years ago the main bourgeois newspaper in Austria even mentioned the event, writing: „Once a year about a hundred young socialists meet in Bregenz to improve the world at least in theory and to pay homage to the mastermind of the workers movement. The Karl-Marx-Seminar, organized by the YS Vorarlberg, long ago became a must-go for young social democrats and attracts them every year with prominent guests.“
This year, the seminar was yet another success. On the weekend of the 11th and 12th of February, around 120 people from Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Italy participated. One participant even came from the principality of Liechtenstein! After the Seminar he invited the comrades of the IMT to speak at a meeting in order to defend marxist ideas there – the power of marxist ideas obviously respects no borders! The main guest speakers at this years event were Sonia Previato from the „sinistra classe rivoluzione“ - Italian Section of the IMT and John Peterson, the editor of Socialist Appeal, paper of the IMT in the USA.
In total there were 10 sessions over the weekend. 9 were smaller sessions run in parrallel sessions of 3 at a time. These covered all of general topics of marxist theory: Philosophy and Religion, Marxism and Economics, Womens Oppression, History of the Russian Revolution, History of the Resistance against fascism in Italy and Austria, history of class struggle in Austria in the last decades, a marxist perspective for the EU as well as a discussion on the class struggle in France. The main plenary session of the seminar was lead off by John Peterson about the Perspectives for a revolution in the USA, a topic which may have seemed very unlikely some years ago, but now is back on the agenda after the election of Donald Trump. After the speech, there was a lively discussion where many comrades intervened with comments and questions.
After the first day of the Seminar, there was a demonstration in commemoration of the Austrian civil war of 1934 which started on the 12th of February. Here, for the first time, armed workers detachments mainly organized in the social democratic „Republican protection league“ fought weapons in hand against the rising fascist menace in Europe - against the wishes of their own political leadership. To this day, there is a tradition amongst the left of commemorating the event with demonstrations and meetings. The demonstration in Bregenz, with around 130 participants, was much bigger than that of previous years and was probably the biggest that the region of Vorarlberg has seen for many years. It was certainly very disciplined demonstration, with a determined and militant mood. In the demonstration we chanted anti fascist and anticapitalist slogans as well as singing the Internationale and other workers songs. Afterwards there was a social, which also included the singing of revolutionary songs and an „auction“, which raised around 350€ for the revolutionary work of the IMT.
The whole mood of the seminar was dominated by a thirst for revolutionary ideas. The class struggle in all the German speaking countries are at an ebb at the moment, especially in Austria. The Marxists are swimming against the stream. Opportunism and petty bourgeois illusions are rife in the workers' movement and amongst the youth. It is the task of the Marxist to counter these ideas theoretical clarity and firmness. This thirst for theory reflected itself in the sessions of the seminar and in the huge amount of political material sold. All in all, the book stall sold around 750€ worth of political material, mainly the classics of marxism.
The seminar was a big success, but should not be seen as a one time event. Several people who weren’t already a part of the IMT, have already shown interest in joining us after participating in the seminar. The enthusiasm and confidence in the ideas of Marxism which the seminar fostered in the participants will be transformed into the doubling of our efforts in building an international revolutionary organisation!