IN TWO weeks one of the biggest and most exciting gatherings of socialists in Europe will take place at the Marxism 2002 event in central London. Several thousand people attended last year's event.
We spoke to people who came along last year for the first time about what they enjoyed and why they urge people to come this year. To order your free timetable turn to the advert on page three. You can send off the coupon or order it over the phone. You can also book for Marxism over the phone.
'I HAVE worked in the car industry for 43 years. This was the first time I'd been to anything like this, and now I'd encourage anyone to go, especially trade unionists. What sticks in my mind is a meeting about the struggles in the car industry. It was given by someone who used to be a shop steward at the Cowley plant. I didn't agree with everything he said, but it provoked a lot of thought and debate about the struggles of workers in the past, and where they went wrong.
The biggest issue for me is, how do we bring workers with us and convince them? Everyone has a chance to say their piece, although I couldn't fit everything I wanted to say into two minutes! But luckily the debate didn't stop at the end of the meeting. It went on in the cafes and bars afterwards.'
ALAN KNIGHT, Jaguar car worker, Coventry
'THERE IS nowhere else you can talk about socialism non-stop for seven days. There are thousands of socialists seriously discussing how to change the world. I learnt a lot, but I had fun too. You can discuss issues like racism, or theories like anarchism, in great depth. I went to a really interesting course on anarchism last year.
The journalist Gary Younge did a very interesting lecture about racism. The left has no other opportunity for serious discussion like this. If you want to fight racism, or not fall into the trap of Islamophobia as some on the left have, you need the space, time and courses at Marxism. This year, after the war and with the threats against Iraq, Marxism is more important than ever.'
AYSHA ALI, council worker, Luton
'THE MARXISM event was all new to me. I'd never been at anything like it before. There was such a friendly atmosphere. It was very accessible for people like me. I was at school studying for A-levels at the time. Mark Steel spoke about Karl Marx.
He made Marx come alive as a real person-so different to the image you usually get. There were also debates that I followed about the Russian Revolution. I came on my own, and didn't know anyone else there. Now I'm in touch with people where I live, and can be actively involved.'
ANTHONY BAKIRADA, student, north London
'I was so impressed at Marxism-there were people there from across Britain and from all different countries. There are stalls for different groups, and discussion after discussion in the coffee bars.
I followed a course on Latin America. I went to an exciting meeting on the Spanish Civil War. I am from Spain, but I learnt things I didn't know before. You can also buy tapes of all the meetings. This means you can listen again to meetings and discussions, and clarify things you didn't understand.'
MONICA GARCIA ACEDES, environment agency worker, Nottingham
'I LOVED last year's Marxism. What was important for me was learning about basic Marxist ideas and economics. It gives you a theory which you can build on and learn how to understand the world.
I planned all my courses in advance, and spent ages looking at the brochure. I also enjoyed the more light hearted meetings. But the best thing about the event is that it is an environment buzzing with debate.
People raise questions in meetings, and then afterwards you can discuss them with people if you don't understand or disagree.'
MIKE WILLIAMS, bus driver, Bristol
'MARXISM GAVE me confidence as a rank and file trade unionist. I went to a rally with Mark Serwotka from the PCS union, Bob Crow from the RMT union, and Martin Smith from the Socialist Workers Party. It was electrifying.
I learnt more in that meeting than I did in 13 years working at the Post Office. Marxism fitted together the jigsaw of socialism for me. It helped me to go into work and build a delegation for the demonstration outside Labour's conference in Brighton.
That took place after 11 September, and was against both privatisation and war. Marxism gave me more confidence to talk to people at work about imperialism and war. Marxism is the most important event of the year for any rank and file trade unionist. I would urge every trade unionist to go-to debate and to see what's happening in the world.'
KEN PENFOLD, postal worker, north east London
'I THOUGHT Marxism last year was fantastic. What really excited me were the range of topics to choose from and the mix of people who went. I nervously went on my own to the first meeting, about climate change and the Kyoto agreement.
I was shocked by many of the facts, and totally fired up by the discussion. You meet so many fascinating people at Marxism, from Britain and across the world. It's worth going just for the atmosphere itself. I can't wait to go again this year. Some of the speakers and the meetings were unmissable. The best thing is the confidence it gave me.
The first thing I did when I went back to work was start a collection for the Anti Nazi League. You don't just learn loads, you feel more able to change the world and, as Karl Marx says, that's the point.'
SAM CURWOOD, teacher, Sheffield
Phone 020 7538 2707 to book your ticket or visit www.swp.org.uk/marxism