On the weekend of 4 and 5 November, der Funke, the Swiss section of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), held its 2023 Marxist Autumn School. The theme of this year’s school was The Road to Communism, and the weekend proved that communists have a plan and are bursting with drive.
As Marxists, we always take the side of the oppressed. So we unconditionally defend the oppressed Palestinian people in the face of the massacre of the Zionist state. For this we have been dragged through the mud by various outlets of the capitalist media. And so, at the last minute, the premises we had reserved six months earlier for this year's autumn school were taken away from us for political reasons.
But as communist fighters, we were not intimidated by these actions – on the contrary. We did everything we could to find premises anyway and finally organised the school in Biel. With 238 registrations, it was the largest and most enthusiastic communist school that Switzerland has seen for decades!
In an article from 6 November, the Bieler Tagblatt reported on the school, claiming: “There is no debate at the annual autumn school – but no real fighting either,” a doubly false, as the two were packed with lively debate… to reinforce the combativity of our organisation. It was a school, precisely, of communist struggle.
We have doubled the size of our organisation in recent months, growing from 18 local groups in six cities to 39 local groups in 15 cities and regions. The school’s purpose was to train all these new members in the path to communism.
The Russian Revolution
More and more people in Switzerland and internationally are fed up with capitalism and want to know how to build communism. The good news is that history has already answered this question with the Russian Revolution!
As Marxists, it is essential for us to learn the lessons of history, and so we dedicated a session to studying the lessons of the Russian Revolution, which proved a highlight of the school. Unlike in the other revolutions of the 20th century, the Russian Revolution led to the successful seizure of power by the working, followed by the expropriation of the capitalists and establishment of a planned economy.
This was only possible because the Bolsheviks had patiently built up the backbone of a revolutionary party over decades as part of the struggle, in the course of which they gained a great deal of experience. This gave them the necessary clarity of vision, the correct programme and a tightly organised revolutionary cadre organisation in October 1917. Through this lengthy, difficult preparatory work, the Bolsheviks were able to win over the working class to the revolutionary programme. And only on the basis of such a programme could the working class overthrow capitalism and take power. That is the path to communism.
A wide range of sessions
Meanwhile, the negative lessons of the German Revolution were brought out in another workshop. The German proletariat was no less heroic, no less willing to fight than the Russian proletariat, but its leadership, the German Social Democratic Party, betrayed the revolution.
The communists were too late to improvise a revolutionary organisation in the heat of the battle, and ultimately this led to the failure of the revolution. This session proved, once again although in the negative, the necessity of building a revolutionary leadership on the model of the Bolsheviks – and we must start as early as possible!
Many other workshops followed, including: perspectives for the world revolution today; the role of the revolutionary newspaper; Marxist economics and imperialism; the Marxist understanding of history (i.e. historical materialism); the revolution and the civil war in Spain of 1931-1937; a very important session on the revolutionary way forward for Israel and Palestine; and the central role of women in the Russian Revolution.
In the session on Stalinism, we clarified the question of why it was that the Russian Revolution degenerated. Trying to build without clarifying this question would be like trying to drive with the handbrake on. The tradition of the IMT, going back to Leon Trotsky, has always been one of defending the USSR without conditions. After all, the planned economy on which it was based represented gigantic progress. But why did Stalin’s totalitarian regime develop?
The ruling class tells us that there is a straight line from Lenin to Stalin. The fact that Stalin physically liquidated all the Bolsheviks exposes this lie. But on the basis of Marxist theory, we understand that Stalinism did not come about because of the Bolsheviks – on the contrary. The revolution degenerated because it remained isolated, and it remained isolated because (among other things) there was no Bolshevik leadership in the aforementioned German Revolution. The communists’ answer to the danger of the degeneration of the revolution must be: let us build a Bolshevik organisation on a world scale!
The will to learn, the will to act
The Marxist Autumn School was imbued with the will to learn. Lively discussions and exchanges of experience took place in all the sessions, in which our international guests from Britain and Austria also participated. We sold Marxist literature worth CHF 4,000, illustrating the comrades’ clear thirst for theory.
But it was not out of a desire to acquire mere ‘book learning’ that the comrades purchased so much literature. As communists, we learn the lessons of the past in order to apply them in practice; in order to build a powerful communist organisation modelled on the Bolsheviks. What characterised this school above all else was that it glowed with a yearning for action!
The proof of this came on the Saturday, when a delegation from Der Funke travelled to the Palestine demonstration in Bern to carry our communist slogans into the movement: “Intifada until victory!” and “For a socialist federation of the Middle East!” On the back of the intervention, several attendees of the demos came to the autumn school on the Sunday.
The last session underlined the school’s purpose: to equip us for the struggle. It was dedicated to Bolshevism and the practical struggle for a victorious revolution.
Particularly inspiring in this session were the contributions of Alex and Giuseppe, two young workers who have been members of the IMT for several months. Alex fought in his vocational school, against the resistance of his teacher, to give a talk at school on the situation in Palestine and the way forward: “I didn’t care what the teacher or the other students thought about me – it was all about finding the next potential communists!”
Giuseppe has been with us for three months and has taken a 60 percent cut in his hours (and wages) in order to carry out as much political work as possible, and to train himself to become a leading comrade. Both comrades have sacrificed comforts of life to build up the forces of revolution.
To quote Giuseppe: “I am ultra-excited. I’d rather be in the audience right now. But the communist organisation needs this speech – so of course I'm on stage!”
During this last session, all the comrades nailed down the practical tasks of the coming days and weeks: speeches at universities, actions at vocational schools, interventions at demonstrations, etc. Comrade Michelle inspired the whole school with her boldness. She built up an entire local group from scratch by identifying herself as a communist wherever she went; by standing on walls and shouting into the crowds: “Who’s a communist here?” This attitude, illustrated by Giuseppe, Alex and Michelle, is exemplary for the whole school.
At the end of the school, around CHF 20,000 were collected for the construction of the IMT. This is practical proof of the degree of understanding and resolve, that we know how we can play a role in history; that we know the path to communism. All of us are ready to organise the next ten, hundred, and thousand communists. When we achieve this, it will place us on the map as a communist organisation everywhere in Switzerland!
Do you want to fight side by side with us for a communist revolution all over the world? Then organise with us now and build up the Marxist forces where you are.