Between 24-26 June, 80 comrades from the Marxist Student Federation took to the Peak District to participate in the MSF’s first residential Marxist summer school.
Comrades from London to Aberdeen travelled to take part in a weekend of political discussion and activities.
In a speech delivered at the third All-Russia Congress of the Russian Young Communist League in 1920, Lenin stated:
“The tasks of the youth in general, and of the Young Communist Leagues and all other organisations in particular, might be summed up in a single word: learn.”
Comrades therefore took it upon themselves to dedicate this weekend to the important theoretical contributions made by Lenin to the ideas of Marxism.
War and imperialism
The weekend began with a session on war and imperialism, led by Daniel Morley of Socialist Appeal and the International Marxist Tendency.
Daniel started by explaining why war is inherent to capitalism. Imperialism, as Lenin outlined, is a product of monopolisation and the need for the capitalists to find new markets.
The war in Ukraine was also featured in this discussion. Capitalism in this epoch of decay and crisis leads to proxy wars between the major powers, with workers acting as cannon fodder in these inter-imperialist struggles.
Many comrades came into the discussion to talk about different aspects of imperialism. Why do capitalists seek out new markets? What stage of imperialism are we entering into?
Comrades had carefully considered their contributions, and were keen to discuss perspectives and tasks for the immediate future.
After the opening session, comrades spent time socialising, playing frisbee, football, and board games, whilst carrying on political discussions in a more informal environment.
Marxism and the state
The next morning we were up bright and early, with comrades exploring the beautiful grounds around the venue.
The day started with a political discussion on Marxism and the state, with MSF national organiser Fiona Lali speaking.
Fiona’s talk began by discussing the origins of the state, before moving onto how Marxists should answer the arguments of both anarchists and reformists when it comes to the state.
After Fiona’s introduction, comrades separated into breakout rooms, providing space for free-flowing, lively discussion.
Topics covered included: how different states operate in class society; what the state ‘withering away’ would look like; what a classless – communistic – society will look like; and how we should fight for socialism now.
After the morning’s session, comrades embarked on a walk to the Dovedale stepping stones, where we stopped for lunch. Some opted to climb the Thorpe cloud peak, while others swam and sat by the Manifold river.
Had a blast at @MarxistStudent‘s first-ever Marxist summer camp. We’ve held some excellent in-depth discussions on the ideas of Lenin, met comrades from all across the country, sang revolutionary songs, and climbed a mountain – all in one weekend! pic.twitter.com/nft1prTwf7
— tye ☭ (@bolsh3vik) June 26, 2022
Eventually, a short gush of rain forced comrades to pack up quickly, before heading back for the final political session of the day.
Lenin and the Bolsheviks
The third talk of the weekend was given by Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, who led off on Lenin and the Bolsheviks.
Rob’s talk started with the early years of Lenin’s life, and how this future revolutionary leader was politicised after his brother was hanged by the Russian state for attempting to kill the Tsar.
Lenin went on to study law, but soon found his true path in Marxism. From then onwards, he dedicated his life to the building of the revolutionary organisation – an organisation that would become the Bolsheviks.
This served as a guiding lesson for comrades attending this weekend school, with comrades emphasising the need for genuine revolutionary leadership throughout the discussion.
After dinner, we had a social, which included a Marxist quiz and revolutionary songs, such as ‘bread and roses’, ‘smash the van’, and ‘el pueblo unido, jamás será vencido’.
The national question
Sunday morning kicked off with our final session of the weekend, on the national question.
Shaun Morris, editor of Revolution Scotland, spoke on this subject. He explained that there is no magic formula for how Marxists should approach the question. We must study each national question in its historical evolution.
Shaun began by referencing Marx’s writings on Ireland, before moving on to explain Lenin’s extensive writings on the national question, and the works of other important Marxists such as James Connolly.
We once again broke out into separate rooms to facilitate wider discussion. This resulted in an extensive range of topics being covered: from black nationalism, to Scotland, to Catalonia.
Struggle for socialism
Capitalism remains in its deepest ever crisis. We urgently need to build the forces of Marxism, in Britain and internationally.
The MSF weekend school played a vital role in this task, providing theory and camaraderie for a new generation of class fighters.
We take great inspiration from the life and ideas of Lenin. We will go forward with enthusiasm and confidence, steeled in these ideas, and continue the struggle for socialism.