Marxism 2012 ended on a spirited note today (Monday) with a closing rally at Friends House in central London.
The festival this year was the largest it has been for over a decade, attracting over 5,000 participants.
Mani Tanoh from Ghana opened the rally with an account of how the economic crisis had affected Africa—and how the Arab Spring had fanned resistance across the continent.
He stressed the need for “permanent democratic organisation” in the struggle against exploitation and oppression.
“Changing the world without taking power is less and less an option, especially when we take on a system as rapacious and venal as capitalism,” he told the crowd.
Alfie Meadows is a student protester who was hit on the head with a police baton. He faces charges of violent disorder. Alfie received a standing ovation from the rally.
“We see all around the world that the authorities are unable to convince people of the need for austerity measures—and those authorities turning to repression and violence,” he said.
Students and workers would be coming together this autumn for a new round of strikes and demonstrations, he added. “We can bring this government down—we need resistance, courage and solidarity.”
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka also spoke of the potential of this autumn’s actions—and angrily denounced union leaders who had failed to follow through on the 30 November mass public sector strike.
“The challenges in front of us are immense and will shape things for decades to come,” he added. “When history is written, let every single person here be able to say, we fought like lions, turned the tide and looked forward to a world a whole lot better than what we have now.”
Egyptian activist Gigi Ibrahim also received a standing ovation for her speech describing the tumultuous events there. She urged people in Britain to follow the example of the Egyptian people.
“Britain isn’t so special—the revolution can happen here as well!” she said. “Your solidarity and your struggles are exactly the same as those of the Egyptian working class and oppressed people.
“We share common ground and common traditions. Let’s keep the networks going and bring down the system together.”
Socialist Workers Party national secretary Charlie Kimber brought the festival to a close with a call for “a hot autumn—and a hotter winter”.