More than 3,900 people booked up in advance for the annual Marxism festival in central London last weekend—and hundreds more bought tickets during the event.
It was a huge success.
Large numbers of workers, students and activists from across Britain were joined by delegations from socialist groups from around the world.
They came to debate the crucial issues facing the movement—including resistance to our rulers’ plans to push austerity onto ordinary people, and the fight against racism.
A huge opening rally on Thursday evening gave standing ovations to a British Airways worker and John Kelly, whose brother was killed on Bloody Sunday.
Over the five days, thousands of people discussed the Marxist tradition, economics, the struggle against oppression, climate change, working class history and many other subjects.
People crammed into meetings big and small—whether it was to hear Guardian journalist Gary Younge speak on Barack Obama or Andrea Butcher on sex and society.
Many people were turned away from meetings as they were so full.
Cultural events, including an evening of comedy, the Left in Vision art exhibition, musical performances, film showings and theatre, were well attended.
Many people, whether they were attending Marxism for the first or the 20th time, commented on the large size and vibrancy of the event.
It confirmed the renewal of interest in Marxist ideas since capitalism went into crisis in 2007.
Participants asked questions and contributed to discussions in an open and friendly environment, helping everyone to learn from one others’ ideas and experiences.
“Marxism has been enlightening,” said Louise, a media communications worker from south east London.
She was at Marxism for the first time with her friend Janine, a journalist from Leeds, who was at the event for the second year running.
“I’m very glad to hear people talking about the threat of the English Defence League,” Louise continued.
“I came to Marxism because I’m concerned about the Tory cuts. I voted Liberal Democrat but I never will again.”
Janine said, “I’ve enjoyed my second time at Marxism even more than the first. I’ve got more out of it. There’s a really friendly atmosphere.”
Liz, a PCS union member, said, “After being at Marxism I feel more confident to go back to my workplace and fight the cuts.
“We are a major target for the Tories. Marxism has helped explain why workers aren’t to blame for the crisis.”
Adele is from Roehampton University. She came to Marxism for the first time this year.
She said, “I never expected it to be this big.
“I came because I’m worried about racism and want to learn how to stop it in my area.
“In the meetings people have taken it a step further and explained how, to be successful, we have to fight against all the other things that make people fight among themselves.
“I like the idea of everyone taking their anger to the bosses and the government. That could be really effective.”
Theo Thompson is from Leicester and has just finished his GCSEs. He said, “There’s a nice community here. Everyone is here for the same reason. You feel that you belong.
“I like the format of the meetings and the amount of choice available. I want to come more after this experience.”
Marxism was also a launchpad for intensified opposition to the government’s onslaught.
Hundreds of trade union activists and union leaders, including Jeremy Dear of the NUJ and Matt Wrack of the FBU, spoke about the need to co-ordinate action across the working class to force the Tories back.
Many of them emphasised the importance of the demonstration at the Tory Party conference in Birmingham on 3 October, called by the Right to Work campaign and officially supported by the UCU union.
This can help to mobilise opposition to the next round of cuts which will be announced as part of the spending review on 20 October.
Marxism drew to a close with a rousing rendition of the socialist anthem the Internationale on Monday of this week.
Thousands of people left the festival with a renewed determination to make the bosses pay for the crisis—and build the socialist alternative to the chaos of capitalism.
CDs of all Marxism meetings are available from Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop, for £3.
Phone 020 7637 1848 or go to www.bookmarksbookshop.co.uk