[Explanatory notes by the translator placed in square brackets.]
[One year after, the general analysis and conclusions of this resolution remain valid. Some important further developments include the following:
* According to opinion polls, Social Democracy suffered a historical setback at the end of 1998 due to a new law which reduced the right to retirement pension at the age of 60. Early retirement now requires a private saving during 25 years, i.e. beginning at the age of 35. Social Democracy dropped from 36% in the March 98 elections to below 20% and has only slowly recovered since then, now standing at about 28%.
* The Liberals (Venstre) has become the biggest political party, not only because of the Social Democratic setback, but due to the continuous leadership crisis of the Conservative Party too.
* The far right Progress Party suffered, in October 1999, a deep internal crisis after the re-admission of its controversial founding leader, Mogens Glistrup, who was excluded in 1991. He entered the party proclaiming the need to free Denmark from all Muslims, suggesting among other things to sell Muslim girls to Latin American countries. The horrible statements was followed by the resignation of the four MP’s from the Progress Party.
* The renewal of collective contracts of public employees and others, in spring 1999, happened without conflicts similar to that of the previous year. The teachers accepted the contract proposal by a 53% majority. Only the nurses and midwifes rejected the contract proposals. After nine days of strike, the government intervened and by law forced the nurses to go back to work without achieving further wage increases or improved working conditions.
[Copenhagen, October, 1999]
1. Municipal elections, general elections, referendum on the European Union, nation-wide general strike and a series of exercises in parliamentary balancing… It has been a year full of political confrontations. Politicians, union bureaucrats and labour market experts were proven terribly wrong as the working class entered the political arena refuting all assertions about class struggle being outdated. Not since 1985 did the working class demonstrate its collective strength at this scale. The general strike was undoubtedly the most important single event in the past period. This fresh struggle experience, combined with the reduced disciplining effects of the (falling) unemployment and a continued left-turn among large parts of youth, are all factors favouring the political left in the confrontations to come.
2. In the forthcoming period, we can expect attacks on unemployment benefits, old-age pensions, early retirement pensions and other welfare goods. The collective bargaining between public workers and their employers [in spring 1999] might trigger off major conflicts, not least because of planned attacks on the working conditions of the teachers. The agreement between the national association of municipalities, the KL, and the government will mean austerity policy in the municipalities, which necessarily will provoke protests. So, even if it is expected that [Social Democratic] prime minister Nyrup will hold on to government power for the next four years and that the third phase of the EMU (common currency) can start as planned on January 1, 1999, the picture might change swiftly, especially because Denmark is part of a global capitalist economy, in which developments in far-off countries already have begun to knock on the door of Denmark. The international financial crisis has already meant that expectations to the Danish economy has been re-adjusted several times.
3. While the basis of the latest political development in Denmark was an uninterrupted economic upturn, the fragility of capitalism has been expressed clearly in the Asian economies, in which one country after another has almost totally collapsed. All over the world the liberalist offensive of capital encounters resistance from the working class. The general strike in South Korea and the uprising against Suharto in Indonesia are but a few examples. In the past year, the international working class has won a series of important victories in the struggle against liberalisation and deregulation of union rights. The most remarkable victories were the teamsters’ strike against the UPS in the United States as well as the Australian dockers’ struggle for their jobs. In both cases the international extension and co-ordination of the struggles were playing a decisive role.
Capitalism in growth and crisis
4. Since 1993, Danish capitalism has experienced a boom. The growth in the capitalist economy has meant increased profits for the owners of capital. In 1997 the profits of industry rose by 19 per cent. Stockholders proceeded 47 per cent higher than the previous year. More people have bought BMWs, big houses, Rolex-watches and expensive travels abroad. A few economic key figures may illustrate this development:
Stock index (1983 = 100)
since previous year)
5. Capitalist economy tends to develop in up- and downturns. The upturn »over-heats« economy to a point where the bubble breaks and a crisis advents. A typical first sign of a crisis is when investments decline, because capital cannot gain sufficient profits. Then the workers who produce machines and raw goods become unemployed. Because buying power in society decreases, those enterprises that produce consumption goods must cut down too. The entire economic activity decreases, factories are forced to shut down etc. At the same time, the capitalist crisis creates the basis of a new upturn in economy. This so-called cleaning effect happens because during crisis the value of commodities fall. The value of capital becomes smaller and thereby the rate of profit increases. The value of labour falls because of the pressure of unemployment, and some firms go broke and are sold below their actual value. Thereby the basis of a renewed upturn has been created.
6. These crises return more frequently than they used to – with about 5 years between them, because technological development is swifter. But to understand the development of the crisis in a specific country, a concrete analysis is necessary. The »Whitsun Package« [an economic clamp-down worked out by the government together with the Socialist People’s Party and the Red-Green Alliance, translator’s note] of June 1998 was intended to solve precisely the problem of the wheels of capitalism turning to fast causing an »over-heating« of the economy. This tendency had to be halted. The package were to damp down the negative effects that can be foreseen when economy »booms« and goes into crisis. Because crisis sharpens the social antagonisms of society and might result in an explosive social and political situation. The crisis shows that the economic system is ripe enough to be substituted by another system that can handle the material and human resources responsibly. But crisis does not automatically lead to collapse. That requires a conscious action by the class which capitalism itself has created, namely the working class.
Prime Minister Nyrup’s success
7. The success of the Nyrup government is to a large extent to be explained by the economic upturn. The opposition has found it difficult to find durable points of critique in a period where »it obviously went the right way«. On that basis, it is rather to be wondered why the success was not even greater. The Nyrup government is today stronger than at any time since its formation in 1992. The government, especially the Social Democracy, has succeeded in coming through a series of important political events with surprisingly good results.
8. In the municipal elections last November, Social Democracy could note with satisfaction – considering the nation-wide polls pointing to a significant decline – the fact that »only« about 1 per cent of the votes were lost. Largely the party was able to hold on to its local positions, and only in very few municipalities the party lost its mayor (the municipalities of Herning, Viborg, Sønderborg, Nakskov), but these were compensated by a few new ones (Frederikshavn, Rønde, Struer).
9. In the parliamentary elections last March, Social Democracy had a slight advance compared to the last elections – a particularly surprising result considering all the polls which had predicted a majority to the bourgeois wing and thereby probably a change of government. Many non-voters were convinced of voting anyway, largely because of fear of giant increases in house rent as well as other attacks from a government under (Liberal leader) Uffe Ellemann. This was the decisive factor behind the formation of a strengthened, although minority government which is now freer to decide between the ‘two sides’ in parliament, whereas the bourgeois opposition is split and weakened (crisis in the Conservative People’s Party, change of leadership in Venstre, the Liberal party).
10. Shortly afterwards, the government handled an intervention in the conflict over wage contract renewal without paying too dearly for it, and finally, after the vote on the Amsterdam Treaty PM Nyrup Rasmussen could note with satisfaction the fact that there was a majority voting for the Treaty with himself at the front of the Yes-campaign under a slogan about »peace, environment and jobs«.
The Social Democratic project
11. But Nyrup’s success is fragile. Most importantly, because it is based on the conjunctural upturn of the international capitalist economy, in which Social Democracy has been able to appear as defender of social welfare and employment. Still, there are great problems in areas such as hospitals, care of senior citizens, education and child care.
12. To the Social Democratic government, sticking to power is a goal in itself. Nyrup’s main message in the struggle against [rival party leader] Svend Auken at the beginning of the 1990’s was exactly that of bringing Social Democracy back into government after ten years in opposition. The Social Democratic leadership will do anything to avoid having to repeat those ten years. Therefore – and as long as the government rests on a minority – it is necessary and acceptable (to the government) to manoeuvre with changing majorities. Clear programmatic ambitions as well as the defence and advocacy of traditional »key issues« of Social Democracy is fading.
13. We have already seen examples of the possibilities of manoeuvring, when the government within a short while made two major political clamp-downs, one with each of the »two sides« in parliament. Firstly, the clamp-down in the wage contracts together with the right wing. Then the »Whitsun Package« together with the left wing. Both clamp-downs were meant to stabilise the economy. The first, moreover, helped the employers secure that wage increases were kept on a low level. Whereas the »Whitsun Package« contained elements of progressive levelling.
14. We are not witnessing an isolated phenomenon, but a Danish variant of the modern »New Labour« project, to which Social Democracies in all of Western Europe are adapting. The kernel of this project is on the one hand adaptation to world market liberalisation tendencies; on the other hand a faith that all people will be able to benefit from this development. Former Social Democratic standpoints are history, as far as day-to-day politics is concerned, e.g. opposition to privatisation and individual wage scales in the public sector, defence of trade union rights and the strategy of reforming society towards democratic socialism. Where they used to oppose, governments led by Social Democracy now carry through a liberal program!
15. Whereas social democratic class collaborationist policies formerly aimed at making compromises with the bourgeois parties, starting from the interests of the working population, it is today a matter of a specific Social Democratic profile in order to ensure national companies a position on the world market. The slackening and breaking of the ties between Social Democracy and the organisations of the working class (the trade union movement) is also to be seen in this light. When Social Democracy does not view itself as a political representative of the trade unions and the working class, these ties are meaningless and constitute a problem to the modern Social Democratic policy.
16. At the same time, Social Democratic policy contribute to the erosion of the trade unions and the collective wage contract system. Even though, as yet, trade union members are not leaving their unions, we have already witnessed the spreading of unorganised labour, the decline of active support for the trade unions and the growth of the yellow, Christian »trade unions«. However, this development is not to be taken for a »bourgoisification« of the working class. Economic and political realities are constantly opening possibilities for rebellion, struggles and radicalisation of the working class.
The national strike and the situation of the trade union movement
17. Economic growth has led to more jobs and, consequently, a decline in unemployment. True, the so-called registered unemployment is not a real expression of the situation on the labour market, because the statistics do not include all those persons who temporarily, for public funds, directly or indirectly by way of economic support programs, are put in job training, ‘pool jobs’ , voluntary, unpaid jobs, leave and so on. If one include these people as unemployed, then unemployment in 1997 rises from 8 per cent to 12! Nevertheless, the tendency is clear: More people are in jobs, less people are involuntarily unemployed and the average wage of workers is increasing.
18. This development, which objectively puts the working class in a stronger position, coloured the negotiations for renewal of the wage contracts up till March 1. Many workers felt a justified need for improvements in the light of the enormous increases in the profits of the companies and stockholders. At the same time, the different running periods of the wage contracts had resulted in the fact that all of the strongest areas in the private labour market (construction, industry, transport) were to negotiate at the same time, and in several sectors the deadline was synchronised at March 1.
19. The top of the trade union movement understood immediately the difficulties in driving these negotiations through in a painless fashion. Not least because of the question of retirement pensions, where the industry was a step behind all the other areas – and the extension of labour market pensions is the main goal of the trade union top! The impossible task was to find a solution that was cheap for the employers and at the same time included as well increased pensions as more leisure time.
20. Simultaneously, the trade union left was building a co-operation structure (OK98), which in the first place was to »hold on to demands« concerning more leisure time and which later became a Vote No-campaign with the precise demand of 6 weeks vacation. OK98 was not any stronger or bigger than left wing initiatives of previous years. It consisted to a large degree of trade union representatives from the construction trade sector and to a lesser degree of shop stewards from bigger industrial plants. However, it must be added that the independent »shift work initiative« comprised precisely some of these shop stewards. Of course, this composition is partly a result of the fact that union power in the industrial plants has been weakened. Some big factories no longer exist (B&W, Tuborg). Others have gone through large-scale cut-backs with the accompanying disciplining, and generally industry is moving towards the west of Denmark, where union traditions are weaker.
21. Thus, the fact that the wage deals and the compromise proposal was rejected was not the result of a strong left wing in the union movement, but more of a »rebellion« among the rank-and-file. This is probably most clearly expressed by the fact that the »No« votes were in majority in KAD [the union federation of unskilled women workers], where the left wing is very weak – while the results in RBF [the union federation of workers in breweries and restaurants] and among the graphic workers were a massive »Yes«. To some degree, this rebellion also explains why the poll was so high (44%). At the same time, local unions and some of the national union federations also tried to raise the poll, and with the new voting regulations, a No was a realistic possibility. In summary, the No was a result of the fact that workers hoped for more spare time in return for [already »paid«] increased work tempo and flexibility, while the big profits gave them expectations of gaining their six weeks vacation demand. The fact that the deals and the compromise proposal contained the »provocative« day off on Christmas eve and that the negotiations had taken place in the light of the industrial employers’ arrogant attitude as to who should negotiate when – merely contributed to a strengthening of the No as a protest against the negotiators and the negotiations.
22. When the No then was to be turned into an active strike, the problem was not the common foundation, »There is money for more – 6 weeks vacation«. The problem was to find a leadership of the conflict with an authority towards the strikers. The perspective of the campaign leaders was to include Social Democratic union leaders (who had recommended a Yes) and local sections of the LO [national union confederation] in a co-ordination group. This strengthened the official support for demonstrations and the like, but at the same time it was an effective block against a still more active strike and collective actions against governmental interfering. The problem was that the alternative was weak. The layer of active shop stewards from the plants and union activists as a whole was very small. One must remember that a big part of the strikers was on their first strike ever, and among shop stewards, the lack of experience was striking.
23. When the government intervened, there were only few and dispersed protests. This was not because the intervention was all right. On the contrary, there was almost complete support in the union movement – from top to bottom – for the view that the content of the intervention was a sell-out to the benefit of the employers and the bourgeois parties. Despite that, only a few and dispersed protest-strikes were started against the intervention. The situation did not develop along the lines of the Easter Strikes in 1985. And there are apparent, historical reasons for that.
24. Precisely all those preconditions which unleashed the Easter Strikes in 1985 were not present. The lack of struggle experience, the weak left, the lacking basis of shop stewards in the plants etc. At the same time, several conferences made it clear that only a small minority of employees in the public sector were prepared to join a united strike against the government intervention. Furthermore, the authors of this year’s intervention was a Social democratic government, and political reality did not point to a left alternative in parliament.
25. The content of the intervention was, as mentioned, a sell-out to the benefit of the employers. Not only because they were economically indemnified compared to the rejected compromise proposal. But also because the intervention contains elements of flexibilisation/fragmentation in the labour market. Special arrangements for specific groups of workers: extra vacation for families with children. And improvements for the securely employed at the expense of the temporarily employed: regulations by seniority of vacation.
26. The reason why the demand for six weeks vacation became so central was that it contains more leisure time for people in jobs as well as the possibility of creating more jobs. On the other hand, the demand for a shorter work week gained only little support, except among shift workers. The lessons of the latest shortenings of the work week have been contradictory. Many employers have been able to compensate for the shorter working time by means of increased tempo and flexibility while the effect on unemployment has been hard to see. This means that the demand for more vacation will also be central in the negotiations in the years to come. However, it is important that the demand for a 30 hours work week with full compensation of wages and personnel is kept alive as a real alternative meaning real jobs for everybody and less everyday stress.
27. But at the same time the intervention makes room for a continuing struggle for more leisure time. The sixth vacation week has now been approached, and already we have witnessed some local negotiations correcting the shortcomings of the government intervention. In this light, the large-scale strike must be seen as a victory for the working class. The results are some improvements that point forwards and thus an increased confidence in a struggle orientation in the unions. Because of defeats in struggles of recent years (RiBus and the garbage collectors in Aarhus), we must not underestimate the significance of even small victories. If we recall the fact that the point of departure of the strike in 1998 was far from optimal, we might calmly see it as a good beginning of a rebuilding of the combativity of the working class. Despite all the problems, lots of new union activists have gained experience with active struggle, picket-lines etc. And discussions among shop stewards have reached new dimensions and a new political content.
Xenophobia and the success of the Danish People’s Party
28. Paradoxically – considering the economic boom with more people having increasing incomes – an aroused debate on refugees with strongly xenophobic attitudes arose during the summer and fall of 1997. Even though municipal policy is only very slightly concerned with the refugee policy – and conversely – this question nevertheless dominated the pre-election discussions, in which the Danish People’s Party [right-wing party which recently split from the traditional right wing populist party, the Progress Party] under Pia Kjærsgaard reaped the fruits of the smear campaign against foreigners. Thus the Danish People’s Party established itself as the leading party on the extreme right wing. The success of the Danish People’s Party must be evaluated in light of the decline of the Progress Party, but the growth is absolute. The two parties have gained votes from other right wing parties and Social Democracy.
29. Part of the explanation can be found in a closer scrutinisation of the economic upturn, which is not an upturn for everyone. For while the stockholders have become fatter and most wage-earners have increased their real wages slightly, the social barriers have also increased. A part of society is detached from the upturn. It includes retirement pensioners without private pension savings. And many – especially the unskilled – among the long-time unemployed, who find it very hard to get steady jobs in a fast-going and demanding labour market. The same goes for refugees and immigrants who are very often included in the above mentioned group. And it includes those people who for some reason cannot keep up with the pace and are sacrificed, when the capitalist express train is set in motion. Occupational damages, drinking problems, suicide and compulsory re-accommodations are some of the costs. Many people in these groups need help from the health and social services. They might fall for the social-populist propaganda by the Danish People’s Party.
30. In the competition between the Danish People’s Party and the Progress Party, Pia Kjærsgaard’s orientation – a more »neat« and centre-oriented line – has won. Yet, it is still very hard to foresee if the Danish People’s Party (and the Progress Party) can become a part of a bourgeois majority government. Locally, the approach is very uneven. In some cities, alliances were made with the old bourgeois parties (in Copenhagen even with the Social Democracy and the [reformist] Socialist People’s Party), whereas in other cities they are completely marginalized (Roskilde, Køge). The results of the parliamentary elections did not show what might be the case on a national level. This question could cause a split in the bourgeois camp – as[BN1] in France. One hint might be the »change« of the Center Democrats [small center party] to the right wing camp, which was accompanied by dissociation from The Danish People’s Party.
31. However, the most essential function of the Danish People’s Party is to pull all other parties to the right. Most clearly, this was shown by the appointment of Torkild Simonsen [as Minister of Interior], which functioned as a «lifeline« to the government during the fall of 1997. The obvious goal was to make a concession to the smear campaign against foreigners and to stop the flow of voters towards the Danish People’s Party. For this purpose Simonsen was an appropriate figure. He represented the Social Democratic »mayor rebellion«, which in the preceding period had levelled a critique at the refugee policy of the government and had put forth a demand for fewer refugees in the big cities. The signal of a tougher line towards refugees had been sent, and in June this led to yet another series of tightenings towards refugees. A special low »integration pay« was introduced, the liberation of movement for refugees was restricted, marriage was prohibited for asylum-seekers etc.
The European Union and the Amsterdam Treaty
32. The referendum on the Amsterdam Treaty took place in a situation where the EU as a whole has experienced an economic upturn since 1993. Contrary to Denmark, there has not been any significant reduction in unemployment in the EU as a whole. The clue of the European governments in the economic policy has been to prepare for the third stage of the Economic Union. To reach this goal, a lot of imagination has been needed to make the national economic balances coherent, while the working class and the welfare state have been under heavy attack. Today, 11 countries are ready for the Economic Union. A few years ago, it was only Luxembourg.
33. In most of the EU this road has been paved by governments under Social Democratic leadership. A change of government has taken place in France (Jospin), Italy (Prodi) and Britain (Blair), and even in Germany a Social Democratic government is the probable outcome of the September elections. These governments have continued the bourgeois, liberal policy in every respect, but nevertheless, they have been forced to make certain concessions, e.g. promises of shorter work week in France and Italy, when the working class has responded to the attacks. The European working class have increasingly questioned the Maastricht-policy (the French large-scale strike in 1995, mobilisations against public austerity in Italy, the Belgian Renualt-workers at the beginning of 1997 who received support from French and Spanish colleagues). The fulfilment of the promises given to the workers movement and of other promises that might be made in the course of future struggles, will be in contradiction with the common European economic policy.
34. Preceding the referendum on the EU in Denmark the left wing (the Red-Green Alliance) did not succeed in putting its – internationalist- alternative on the agenda and thereby create a connection with this growing European workers’ resistance to the EU, with the pan-European mobilisations for the Amsterdam-meeting in the summer of 1997, or with the European left wing conference hosted by the Red-Green Alliance in the spring of 1998. At most, the Red-Green Alliance succeeded in counterweighting the nationalist/democratic concern for the Danish national borders with arguments pointing to political registration, supra-state police authority without democratic control, and the construction of a »Fortress Europe« excluding immigrants and refugees.
35. The referendum on the EU showed that the Danish population is still divided in two camps of almost equal size. Actually, the no-percentage was a bit higher than in 1993 [when a referendum approved the Maastricht Treaty with a few formal amendments, after a referendum in 1992 had resulted in a No to the Maastricht treaty]. This reflects a large gulf between the population and the power elite in Denmark, as regards the EU. This enormous voter-distrust towards the politicians is especially clear within the Social Democracy. Therefore the result of the referendum must be considered a victory for Prime Minister Nyrup in particular, and for the EU-supporters in general. The bourgeois Yes-parties was in a paradoxical situation: they could not allow themselves to disagree on the Social Democratic interpretation of the Treaty, because that might have endangered the Yes-majority. For that reason the bourgeois parties mainly intervened in the debate pointing to the expansion of the EU – a point where the No-propagators were without a clear alternative.
36. The debate preceding the referendum was less clear politically than in previous referenda. The No-voters are still primarily left-wingers, but in the media the right wing No-propagators drew most of the attention. This reflects several developments:
* A part of the bourgeoisie does not want more political union (cf. the »Social Democratic EU«), but are satisfied with free movement for capital.
* A part of the old left wing has abandoned the idea of an alternative or a break with the EU and are now working for a »progressive EU«. This current is clearly represented by the Gade-current within the Socialist People’s Party, while this party as a whole has also accepted the Danish membership of the EU as such. This was expressed in the declining No-percentage in Copenhagen.
37. Thus, there is a trend, in which the resistance spreads more to the entire political stage – and in this sense, it has moved to the right, even though the Social Democracy overestimate this trend for tactical reasons. Likewise, there is silence about the reverse trend in other EU countries, where the working population turn more and more against the EU. For the Yes-voters this polarisation of the EU opposition gave even better opportunities for claiming that the No-camp did not have any alternative, or at least could not agree on one.
38. The questions of border control, »More union or less?« and transfer of national sovereignty, conceived very abstractly, became the central topics of the debate. This, by the way, happened as a continuation of the Supreme Court verdict [which stated, though with reservations, that the transfer of Danish sovereignty to the EU does not conflict with the Danish Constitution], which for a while gave a lot of attention to the EU opposition, but at the same time shows that the institutions of the bourgeois state cannot be used as a strategy. The content of the Amsterdam Treaty contributed to directing the debate this way (as compared to e.g. a debate concerning the economic policy, the common currency, employment etc.).
39. Most activists, movements and organisations on the left wing today recognise the Red-Green Alliance as a political rallying point – even if a large number of activists and activities are outside the organisational frames of the Alliance. A part of these are without any organisational links whatsoever. Others are members or sympathisers of competing organisations. However, organisations such as the Internationale Socialister [part of IS-tendency, linked to the British SWP] and DKP-ml [a Stalinist group emanating from Enver Hoxha’s critique of the Maoist movement] have been weakened lately by splits and defections, and they have had to revise their attitude to the Red-Green Alliance and make it more positive. However, it is a problem that the Red-Green Alliance functions most of all as a parliamentary centre and only to a very small degree as an organised left force in the unions and other movements. This makes it harder to utilise the good opportunities to initiate broad campaigns and other united activities.
40. Parliamentary, the Red-Green Alliance has maintained its positions. The municipal elections showed advance all over the country (except in Aarhus), but only in a few places the progress was significant enough to provide for more seats. An exception was Copenhagen, where the political polarisation was outstanding and resulted in a mayor [of the department of Education] to the Alliance. The parliamentary elections in March reflected both the strengths and weaknesses of the Alliance. The strength is that the Alliance has consolidated itself as a left force representing the consequent resistance towards the European Union. In several deals with the government the Alliance succeeded in pointing out to the government an alternative to the left, even if the bourgeois policy of the government was not changed in general. On the other hand, the weak organisation combined with the ebb of extra-parliamentary movements means that the Red-Green Alliance in public is identical to its parliamentary representatives and can only with difficulty appear as a representative of a radical break with the capitalist system itself. Without an increase in the level of class struggle and a stronger extra-parliamentary profile, in the long run the Red-Green Alliance will have problems in retaining and developing its central position.
41. In the parliamentary elections the overwhelming part of the union left supported the Red-Green Alliance. The SF [Socialist People’s Party] is no significant force. This is a good point of departure for establishing union work. But the Alliance was not able to get represented in the leadership of the strike movement this year. This reflects both organisational and political weaknesses in the work of the Red-Green Alliance in the unions.
42. With a rising number of members – now surpassing 2000 – the Red-Green Alliance is in a positive organisational development. But it is still a long way, before we can talk of a common project of organisation building. The structures outside of parliament are weak. And only very few of the members are actively engaged in contributing to building the Red-Green Alliance as well as movements. Concerning the elaboration of a political program it is not decisive how fast a »program« can be approved, but how far the members are rallied around the program and how much this can create a basis of common political action.
43. A significant part of the small advances of the left originates from the youth. New recruitment to the Red-Green Alliance comes largely from the young generation. And a lot of young people has made positive experiences in real class struggle. This is not only due to the general political development, but also to the fact that, today, young people react, vote and organise more »radically«. At the same time, companies are beginning to complain about the lack of young work force. This makes it possible to propose more demands. As regards the education sector, fewer people to fill the study places will reduce the disciplining effects of restricted admission.
44. In this process, the revolutionary youth organisation REBEL plays a decisive role. During the last year, REBEL has developed into an organisation of about 500 members equipped with a program and with a relatively high level of activity. In other words, an organisation with prospects of a solid role among youth.
45. A decisive contribution to the development of young revolutionaries is experience from class struggle and the building of broad movements and unity initiatives. Since the beginning of the 1990’s, this experience has been meagre, which has limited the development of new revolutionaries, while different sorts of secterism has flowered – including in REBEL. Different united initiatives against the European Union, as well as broad antiracist manifestations and the large scale strike this spring has taught lessons of struggle to more young people. This has also marked the positive political development of REBEL, and in the long run, this might cause a much broader radicalisation than the one we have seen so far. This could have great significance, not least for the youth organisations at schools, among apprentices and in universities. These organisations still suffer from a lack of real broad activity which can confront the bourgeois attacks on youth under education.
The tasks of the Left
46. The fall in unemployment, the economic upturn and the lessons of the first great strike since 1985 are all factors putting the working class in an objectively stronger position. Generally, the task is to convert this objective strengthening into an organisational force which is able to pressure the government and the employers. The balance of forces means that the left wing only sets the agenda very rarely. In a number of areas, the promises of the government itself can provide the opportunity to go into the offensive. But generally it is a question of utilising those political openings which arise – that is, to build a standing force and not to be paralysed by routines and old priorities.
47. The activities of the left wing must not be limited to day-to-day demands – a trend which is strengthened by the limits of manoeuvring of the Red-Green Alliance in parliament. Everyday reality presents innumerable examples of market economy catastrophes implying destruction, exploitation, repression, planlessness and waste of social resources. We must constantly try to develop a set of demands and activities leading from everyday questions to the basic question of the social order itself. Bourgeois and Social Democratic ideologues have used the fall of the Wall as a final »proof« of the »bankruptcy of socialism« and the blessings of capitalism. A response is needed.
48. The trade union left must now accumulate the lessons of the strike and, perhaps most importantly, strengthen the conviction that trade union work has to be organised politically in order to have real influence on the development of the class struggle. Where possible, accounts must be settled with those union leaders who recommended a yes to the negotiation results. The basic organising of elementary union activity in the different companies is one of the tasks of the union left – especially since these tasks are being neglected more and more by the Social Democratic union leaderships. Local networks of shop stewards must be created immediately, starting from the groups of workers most active before and during the strike, with the aim of supporting local strikes as well as preparing future renewals of collective contracts – in 1999 the public employees, slaughterhouses and the »green sector« is at stake, and in 2000 the same groups as this year as well as electricians, cashiers and others. A part of this preparation concerns the development of collective demands, under the main slogan of »more leisure time«.
49. The defence of the weakest sectors of society must not be played into the hands of right wing social populism. In the eyes of the »losers« of society, the marginalised and the victims of an intransparent bureaucracy, the left wing must lead the struggle for social rights. Some of the most important tasks consist in fighting the compulsory training programs being forced on people on social benefit at dumping wages, and in defending the right to early retirement pension.
50. It is urgently important that the left wing is able to attract and organise that part of youth which is radicalised to the left. What is needed is both educational programmes and activities giving different demands an organised and collective expression. This is to happen through a continuous strengthening of REBEL, among other things.
51. The issue of the European Union will be central in the forthcoming period too. Possibly, political openings will appear in a conflict with the EU-system or with the government that tries to sell out of the Danish exemptions. Generally, the task is to continue the international and socially based resistance to the EU. Before the EU parliamentary elections in 1999, the Red-Green Alliance must wage an internationalist and socially oriented campaign in connection with the pan-European mobilisations against the EU summit in Cologne.
52. The struggle against nazism, racism and xenophobia is a central task which cannot be isolated from the questions of international solidarity or social struggle. For many active young people the struggle against nazis and racists is the first step towards organising themselves politically and achieving political consciousness. Discrimination against foreigners must be rejected, demanding a human refugee policy, including by showing the consequences of the inhuman policy raging today.
53. The Red-Green Alliance must be strengthened. Internally, an organisational strengthening is needed. This includes involving more members in mass work, thus creating for the Alliance a public face outside the parliamentary framework too. The elaboration of a political program must continue in a way which attracts the largest possible number of people to the discussions, including, and very importantly, new members. A special priority is the development of trade union work of the Red-Green Alliance and the campaign leading up to the European parliamentary elections in June 1999.