As reported earlier (see Stop the expulsion of Danish Marxists from the SUF! An international appeal), a series of expulsions have been taking place in the socialist youth organization, the SUF, in Denmark against the supporters of the Marxist tendency Socialistisk Standpunkt. On April 26 the leadership of the SUF expelled the 26 comrades and the decision was taken last Thursday (May 17) to a special congress of the SUF which confirmed the expulsions.
The 26 have officially been expelled for “operating secretly” and “working with disloyalty” in spite of the fact that they have always stated their ideas openly and formed a legal fraction within the SUF to work for their aims. The 26 include several founding members of the SUF, former members of the national leadership and leaders of local branches. Socialistisk Standpunkt has worked inside the SUF for years as a recognized tendency and the support for its ideas has increased over the recent period. That was the real reason why they wanted to expel the 26 comrades. Their aim was to silence a political tendency whose ideas they fear.
The expulsions have been carried out with very bureaucratic methods. Several channels of communication inside the SUF were closed or limited. The expelled comrades were removed from the national mailing list and the internal bulletin was not distributed to the members by post but only by email. In 11 local SUF branches the expelled were denied the right to put their case and the discussion at the meeting of the leadership held to deal with the case was reduced to a farce where each single member had to come in individually and be interrogated by the leadership for two minutes!
In addition to this, it has now been proved that the secretariat of the SUF has systematically registered all those who were opposed to the expulsions and those activists who were going to the congress and opposed the expulsions were called in for a “comradely chat”.
The May 17 congress
The congress last Thursday was held in the same style. The expelled were only let in to present their own individual cases, but were not even allowed to be present in the congress during the discussion and the actual voting! They were also denied the right to present a collective statement in defence of their position and the discussion that followed was reduced to only one hour, with each intervention lasting only one minute!
The official result was that 272 had voted and according to the official version 79% had voted in favour of the expulsions. However, no official counting of the number of people present in the hall was carried out, but people in the hall who did check the numbers could only see about180! How nearly a hundred more votes were cast than the numbers present remains a mystery!
Also there were people over the age of 30 present in the meeting hall (which is actually not allowed by the statues of the SUF) and a lot of individuals who are not active in the SUF had come along to pack the meeting.
How much the whole thing was a farce can be seen by the fact a prominent member of the SUF had even prepared a resolution in advance calling on the leadership to expel the 26 comrades even if the expulsions did not get the necessary 2/3 majority at the congress. So the whole thing had clearly been stitched up beforehand!
The expelled decided to go ahead and make a joint statement in any case before leaving the congress, stating that they did not accept the result, that there had not been 272 voters present in the hall and that the whole voting procedure had not been carried out properly.
And in spite of this clear atmosphere of intimidation, 55 votes were cast against the expulsions and this was without the 26 comrades who had been deprived their membership rights and thus could not vote.
These expulsions have taken place at a time when Denmark is facing a wave of protests and radicalisation of important layers of the youth and the working class. The year 2006 saw the biggest demonstrations since 1985 and militant strikes on a local basis. It is in this background and this context that the ideas of Socialistisk Standpunkt have been winning more support.
This was clearly alarming a section of the leadership in the SUF that was becoming concerned for the future. They could not tolerate the fact that we were gaining decisive influence and they now saw us as a potentially strong opposition that could even challenge for the leadership. Throughout the whole process they have been sidestepping the real issues and have stubbornly refused that these expulsion were political. They are claiming that we have only been expelled for being a “secretive group”, and they have “proved” this by distributing some of our old emails and internal discussion documents, that were hacked from a personal email account and completely manipulated. Yet, so far not one concrete example of disloyal behaviour on the part of any of the 26 has been presented. No concrete criticism of any work carried out by the 26 comrades in any local branch, in the national leadership or anywhere else has been produced.
However, three of the main leaders of the SUF revealed some of their real political aims when this month they presented an amendment to a conference of the Unity-list (the left-wing party linked to the SUF), where they raised the demand to drop resistance to the European Union and that it should be reform from within! Fortunately that amendment was defeated at the conference, but this incident shows clearly how some of the leaders want to push the SUF to the right. And this task would be much easier without opposition from Socialistisk Standpunkt.
This is really what all this is about! The 26 activists have been expelled, not for any of the supposed crimes that the leadership is accusing us of, but simply for defending revolutionary Marxist ideas and winning support for those ideas within the youth.
More expulsions to come?
On May 19, just two days after the congress, the SUF national leadership held a meeting where it discussed a plan to expel even more members. This shows clearly that they want to purge the organization of all political opposition. Will they go so far as to state that anyone who supports the policies and ideas of Socialistisk Standpunkt will be expelled? Such a move would destroy the SUF as a living, revolutionary organisation. You cannot have a revolutionary organisation without complete freedom of discussion. These expulsions will inevitably establish a tradition where political differences are solved with bureaucratic methods.
The creation of a left opposition
The expulsions have not passed by in silence. Five local branches of the SUF – in Vejle, Roskilde, Østerbro, Gladsaxe and Holbæk – passed resolutions against the expulsions. The day after the congress that approved the expulsions, many of these comrades met and discussed what to do. A resolution was adopted calling for the creation of a left opposition, which has as its aim “to take the SUF back to its original starting point, which is clear revolutionary Socialism and democratic debate”.
Socialistisk Standpunkt has been accused by the SUF leadership of “wanting to leave the SUF if the organization goes into crisis”. But the SUF is in crisis now, a crisis provoked by those that manipulated and distributed the false documents (and in effect broke up the previous congress) and by those who have used bureaucratic methods to stop political debate. In spite of all this we are not calling on anyone to leave the SUF. On the contrary, we are calling on everyone to stay in the SUF and fight to reclaim the SUF for socialist policies!
In reality, the expulsions mark a new turning point in a conflict that has been brewing inside the SUF for some time, between two major tendencies, one that claims to be revolutionary and one that tends towards reformist ideas. Although the former claims to be revolutionary and even “anti-authoritarian” they have unfortunately ended up accepting extremely bureaucratic measures in order to isolate and ultimately kick out the genuine Marxists.
But these expulsions have solved absolutely nothing. Marxist ideas can never be separated from the revolutionary youth. We will fight to be readmitted into the SUF, while keeping links with the newly formed left opposition. The coming period in Denmark will not be one of calm and eternal prosperity. On the contrary, recent events indicate a huge level of discontent. In March we had the Copenhagen Youth Riots [see The Copenhagen youth riots – the blind alley of capitalism exposed] with hundreds of young people on the streets, and in the wage negotiations 62% of the unskilled workers voted against the agreement (although the agreement was passed with a tiny overall majority).
All this shows that there is seething anger and radicalisation taking place. In such a situation the ideas and influence of Socialistisk Standpunkt will increase and will find their way to the best revolutionary fighters, no matter what manoeuvres the leaders of the SUF or any other organization may use.
Copenhagen, May 22, 2007
NOTE: In passing it is worth mentioning the fact that the SAP (the Danish section of the USFI, the so-called United Secretariat of the Fourth International whose most well known historical leader was Ernest Mandel) from the very beginning supported the leadership of the SUF in its attempts to expel the Marxists. They claim to be Trotskyists, but have proved in practice that they are prepared to support bureaucratic Stalinists methods. With such methods they will never build a serious viable force in Denmark, or any where else for that matter.