We are very pleased to reproduce this important and though-provoking article sent to us by Teddy-John Frank, International Secretary of the KPML(r). Comrade Frank rightly points out that rioting for the sake of rioting is not an appropriate tactic for the revolutionary working class. Much of the anti-capitalist rioting that has been seen lately is of this nature: it is not aimed at wresting any concession from capitalism, much less at overthrowing it. Hence, although it gives frustrated people a chance to vent their anger, it can actually prove harmful to the building of a movement to overthrow capitalism. In Sweden the sight of armed police on the streets would normally have outraged the majority of Swedish people and they would have been prepared to act accordingly. The pointless violence of the supposedly anti-capitalist demonstrators, however, allowed the police to set a precedent for arming themselves and shooting unarmed demonstrators almost with impunity. Quite rightly the KPML(r) draws attention to the fact that we will not be able to oppose our class enemies effectively if we do not learn to distinguish violence which has the potential of advancing the interests of the working class from violence that is either totally pointless or which can only harm its interests.
Gothenburg, June 20th 2001
Comrades and Friends,
It is sometimes said that “a picture says more than a thousand words”. It is certainly true at this time. We are sending you with this letter our party paper, because we believe the demonstrations that took place in Gothenburg last weekend are very important and concern all progressive forces in Europe and elsewhere. And we hope that you can from the photos see for yourselves the size of the demonstrations, even if you can´t read the Swedish text.
We know that the news from Sweden has been distorted in established news media. The fact that more than 35,000 people have participated in the three demonstrations that took place from Thursday to Saturday was virtually ignored in the newspapers, which focused instead on the hooligan behaviour of a small minority of some 500 people, led and organised by provocateurs, disguised as “leftists” or “anti-fascists” etc.
In effect these anarcho-syndicalist and trotskyist groups have behaved as the tools – paid or otherwise – of the bourgeois establishment and ruling class, the EU imperialist elite, and in the interests of monopoly capital. The fact that they unfortunately succeed in misleading a number of young, politically inexperienced people, is deplorable but doesn´t alter the fact that they are the instrument of the reactionary forces.
Of course, the EU-establishment and the police forces have jubilantly embraced this opportunity to attack all the anti-imperialist and anti-EU forces in Sweden who demonstrated in Gothenburg. The police launched a military-style operation of a kind unseen in Sweden for more than 50 years, without risking much criticism, thanks to the behaviour of these provocateurs. The shooting of one young man was a turning point of sorts. It is the first time since 1931 (Ådalen mill workers strikes that year, memorised by a film by Bo Widerberg in the 1980´s) such a thing has happened in Sweden.
KPML(r) International Department
Teddy-John Frank, International Secretary.
1. 16,000 demonstrate against the European Union!
On Friday June 15th, 16,000 people marched through the centre of Gothenburg under the main slogans “Sweden out of the EU” and “NO to EMU”. This demonstration was called in connection with the EU Summit meeting held in the city from June 14 to 16.
This is the largest ever demonstration against membership of the EU held in connection with summit meetings in any EU-country! The majority of the Swedish people are opposed to Sweden being a member of the EU. This has been proven by the results of virtually every opinion poll held since 1995 when Sweden became a member state. It is also a clear class issue: workers and ordinary people are against membership; the political establishment and the bourgeoisie are in favour. Quite naturally so, since it is the capitalists that gain from membership.
EU means legislation of right wing politics.
The demonstration was arranged by a broad front comprising all in all around 25 different organisations, including the following major ones: political parties, such as the Communist Party (KPML(r)); the Left Party (Vänsterpartiet) and the Green Party (Miljöpartiet), and other organisations such as the Popular Movement No to EU (Folkrörelsen Nej till EU), the EU-Critical Social-Democrats (EU-kritiska Socialdemokrater), and trade unions as such as the Transport Workers Union and Dockers´ Union (Hamnarbetarför-bundet).
Anders Carlsson, chairman of KPML(r), was one of the eight speakers at the rally. In his speech he said, among other things: “This is a great day because we – representing Swedish resistance to the EU – together with our friends from Norway, Denmark and other countries have, at least for a few hours, made this area of the city a liberated area, an EU-free zone! By this we demonstrate that we – together with the majority of the Swedish people – want to liberate Sweden and Europe from the EU’s plans for market liberalisation, from the dictatorship of the market which is what the EU means….
“I represent a party that is fighting to get Sweden out of the EU. We refuse to accept those who say that the EU is our destiny, who say that nothing can be done about EU membership and who say one has to make the best of the given situation. That is a position which only masochists could endorse! The best of the EU situation is not good enough; it´s not good at all; it will never be good….
“The EU means legislation of right wing politics. The EU means mass unemployment, social destruction, privatisation and insecurity for ordinary working class people. The EU is an elitist superpower project, sacrificing democracy and national sovereignty on the altar of European imperialism, and placing the interests of this European imperialism before peace and international solidarity. “
The rally adopted a resolution that was presented to the deputy Prime Minister Lena Hjelm-Wallén after the meeting, demanding a new referendum, where the Swedish people could express its opinion on membership.
2. Bush not welcome!
12,500 in largest anti-imperialist demonstration in 30 years!
The largest anti-imperialist demonstration in Sweden since the Vietnam war took place in Gothenburg on Thursday, June 14th, in connection with the visit of US president George W. Bush to the EU summit meeting. 12,500 people marched through the centre of the city and at Götaplatsen Square the rally listened to nine speakers. The short speeches covered different aspects of the threat to the peoples of the world that US imperialism represents, e.g., Cuba, Colombia, the new Star Wars programme, “globalisation”, etc.
The International Secretary of the Communist Party-KPML(r), Teddy-John Frank, said in his speech, among other things:
“A mass murderer has arrived in our city today! As representative of US imperialism he is talking about crooks in the world and rogue states. But the real crook is George W. Bush and the real rogue state is the USA! And he is here and we send him this message: Bush not welcome!… It is said that globalisation is part of the new world order, and that former economic laws and systems now are invalid and are being replaced by something called the ‘new economy’. Therefore, it is said, former knowledge and experience acquired through decades of class struggle are no longer worth anything. But is it true? I think not.
“I am a materialist. I look around the world and I see that it is imperialism that exploits the people and resources of the world – that now just as before capitalists are profiting from other people’s work – that now just as before they make their decisions behind closed doors with only one purpose in mind, their profits – i.e., nothing has changed. … When we started this fantastic demonstration I met representatives from an American TV-team and they said ‘this we had not expected – not so many people protesting against the US – not in Sweden’ and I answered them: You ain´t seen nothin´ yet! “
3. Third large
demonstration with 9,000 people
On Saturday, June 16th, a third demonstration took place in Gothenburg, arranged by other political groupings, including some of those organisations that had participated on Friday.
The main theme on Saturday was “Another Europe”, where reformists, trotskyists, anarcho-syndicalists, environmentalists, etc. etc. took part.
4. Mass media, police and provocateurs
Despite the fact that EU resistance and anti-imperialist forces had fantastic demonstrations, with more people than even the most optimistic party secretary would have dared to foresee, the mass media to a large extent ignored them focusing instead on the “violence in the streets” organised by a few hundred provocateurs from “Anti-fascist Action”, “Ya Basta”, and other Anarchist “Direct Action” groups, together with elements from Trotskyist groups from “Communist Workers International”, “International Socialists”, “RIM”, etc. They came from several countries – Norway, Denmark, Germany, Britain, Belgium, Austria, Italy and others. Their Swedish colleagues had for weeks in advance been given prominence in the media “promising” this “direct action”.
A police force of more than 1000 was mobilised in Gothenburg. It is one of the largest police contingents ever assembled in Sweden. With the help of the provocateurs this police force could without causing public outcry appear armed on the streets of the city and conduct military-style operations, openly practising new aggressive methods that are one of the consequences of EU membership.
For the first time since 1931(!) live ammunition was used against demonstrators in Sweden. (In 1931 striking workers in Ådalen – commemorated in a film by Bo Widerberg some years ago – were shot down and five workers were killed.)
These provocateurs and hooligans rampaged along the city’s main avenue, and their spokesmen actually announced that their main political objective was: to throw stones at the police!
The Communist Party – KPML(r) – has from the beginning discarded these bourgeois elements as serving the interests of reaction, no matter how revolutionary and leftist the vocabulary they may use, and no matter how much they wave the red flag. Other parties and organisations on the left in Sweden are now trying to politically disassociate themselves from these people with whom they previously co-operated. But they have given them certain legitimacy, through opportunism and being “Mädchen für Alles” – all things to all men.
There are important lessons to be learnt concerning the role of media, the role of the police – and the role of certain political elements.