By Jacob Owen, Socialist Alternative Merseyside
On 11 November, over 100 members and supporters of Socialist Alternative gathered in Liverpool for Revolutionary Ideas festival, where attendees discussed the central tenets of Marxism, the struggle for peace and liberation in Palestine, the return of working-class militancy, and much more.
Fighting the right-wing backlash
The day began with a rousing rally: ‘Fight the Right-Wing Backlash with Socialist Feminism!’ Socialist feminist fighters, including Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, spoke about the threat of toxic right-wing misogynists such as Andrew Tate and the attacks on women’s and LGBTQ+ rights under capitalism, such as the crushing of the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill by the Tories. In addition to this, football journalist Suzanne Wrack discussed the progress made in the women’s game, and how football can be a microcosm for the ills of capitalist society. As well as being inspired by the speakers, everyone was able to consider how best we can make our movement a real force for the liberation of women and LGBTQ+ people in the face of violent backlash by the ruling class.
Attendees then moved into workshops on a range of topics, including how we can ‘Make 25 November a Day of Struggle Against Misogyny and Transphobia’, linked to our nationwide socialist feminist protests to turn the International Day for the Elimination of Gender Violence into a fighting protest movement. There were also discussions on ‘75 Years Since Windrush: The Struggle Against Racism Today’, and ‘The ABCs of Marxist Economics’, which covered how Marxists tackle bourgeois economics by viewing the economy as relations between people, rather than as abstract formulas which sanitise the deplorable conditions of capitalism. All workshops featured detailed and open discussion, where members and supporters made valuable and insightful contributions, widening the conversation on topics crucial to our movement today.
In the afternoon, more workshops took place: a crucial discussion on ‘How Can Palestinian Liberation be Won’ explored how our international movement can win an end to Israeli occupation with mass struggle for Palestinian liberation. Another considered ‘What is Trotskyism? Is it Relevant Today?’. Attendees contributed to discuss Trotsky’s incredible life, the disaster of Stalinism, and how the theory of permanent revolution can be applied to working class struggles today. Another workshop in the afternoon was centred around ‘Capitalist Myths about Socialism’ and how we can counter them, all of these workshops were once again well received and proved very popular, with hours of discussion!
The working class is back!
As a successful day drew to a close, the final rally took place: ‘The Working Class is Back!’ Members from England, Ireland, China and the US spoke about the return of the organised working class, from Britain to Israel-Palestine. Kshama Sawant discussed the achievements of Socialist Alternative in the US: Seattle became the first city in the US with a $15 minimum wage, the first city to establish itself as an abortion rights ‘sanctuary city’, and lead the way in imposing a tax on huge corporations. The rally also heard from Tom Barker, Leicester Socialist Alternative and UNISON rep at Ash Field Academy, speaking in a personal capacity, where after 43 days of strike action, they have secured a hugely significant pay rise worth between 18- 25%, plus a lump sum of £2,000. This was great way to celebrate the end of the event.
Attendees were inspired by Revolutionary Ideas festival, seeing a future for a mass struggle to defeat capitalism and ensure the victory of the working class!
An encouraging day of discussion and debate on how to fight for a better world
By Alison Gaughan, Socialist Alternative Huddersfield
The other week I had the pleasure of attending Revolutionary Ideas. In an electric atmosphere, buzzing with ideas about fighting for a new and better world under socialism, people came together from the length and breadth of the UK, from Brighton to Edinburgh to listen to international speakers from as far afield as Ireland, China and the US and to share and contribute in sessions on a range of the most pressing topics facing socialists today.
I attended a session on the build up for a day of action against gender violence on 25 November. It was exciting to hear about all the innovative and inclusive ideas from around the UK. From students in London calling for their universities to re-engage with Stonewall to calls for the beginning of a mass movement against all forms of gender violence, recognising that the patriarchy within capitalism harms people of all genders and sexualities and that the working class should unite against it.
The closing really was a great demonstration of the international nature of the work we do as socialists. From China, we heard about the realities of living and the difficulties of organising under a repressive regime. It is inspiring to know that socialists continue to fight under these conditions.
We heard about the work of Amy Ferguson who organises for Unite the Union in the most difficult of sectors, hospitality, in Ireland. Amy’s work among young and transient staff, organising the unorganised, is much admired in the union movement in Ireland and across the UK.
I came out of the day energised by the positivity and inspiring stories I heard. Many thanks to our comrades in Liverpool for their warm welcome and to all who helped to organise a great day.