Socialist Party Summer School 2022 – “Extremely enjoyable and educational event” • ISA
From August 18-21, Socialist Party members from North and South and visitors from the International Socialist Alternative (ISA) gathered in Glendalough to take part in the Party’s annual summer school, the first since the pandemic. The weekend was a success with 130 members and supporters attending over the four days.
An exciting program of political talks and workshops combined with activities and socials to create a hugely enjoyable and educational event.
Topics on the agenda included commissions on: ‘Resisting the Rise of the Far Right’, ‘The Relevance of James Connolly’s Work in Irish History‘, ‘Rebuilding militant unionism in a new generation’, ‘Capitalism and the origins of racism’, ‘Socialism and the struggle for trans liberation’, and an Irish-language commission on ‘Cad is Sóisialachas Ann? ‘, with plenaries on ‘War and Capitalism — How to End Both? », « Understanding the world to change it — an introduction to Marxist philosophy », « Our bodies, our lives! Against the Backlash of the Right: Marxist Analysis of Oppression Based on Gender and Sexuality; & what we need to end it’, and ‘Crisis, Reaction & Revolution: ISA’s Revolutionary Strategy for the 2020s’.
We asked several of our young members, who were participating for the first time, to give their opinion on how the weekend went:
“As a relatively new member of the Socialist Party, this year’s summer school in Wicklow was a truly eye-opening and enjoyable experience and also provided so many learning opportunities for the future. I already have the feeling that each of the sessions I have attended has really developed and strengthened my knowledge of the values of the Party as well as its main areas of interest and how best to implement them in our society in the sense wide.
Being able to attend sessions such as “The Revolution and the Party We Need”, “War and Capitalism – How Can We End Both” as well as an introduction to Marxist philosophy, m really helped solidify my understanding of what it means to be a Marxist as well as underline the vital importance of a strong socialist movement today given our current global situation.
It was also a wonderful opportunity to meet other comrades, from near home and further afield. It was so rewarding to be able to engage in discussions with people from different international perspectives and with such a beautiful setting as Glendalough, I came home feeling refreshed and excited to be even more involved in the future of the Party .
“The Glendalough Summer School was a fantastic post-pandemic weekend full of policy discussions.
I am a 6th grade student who joined the party less than a year ago, and the school has really strengthened my understanding of why I joined the Socialist Party. The commissions that analyzed current issues while explaining a socialist way forward, and the people I met and spoke with, eliminated the feelings of doomericism that I and many other young people have. As a young person, I often find it paralyzing to read about trans life under capitalism, the war in Ukraine, or how mental health is dealt with in capitalist Ireland. But the way the commissions unfolded made me come away with a sense of motivation and a concrete path forward.
I think the commission I found most interesting was titled “War and Capitalism – How Can We End Both? “. Mick Barry took the first step. He quoted Carl von Claueswitz who said that “war is a continuation of politics by other means”. War is used as a political tool by world leaders when they cannot get what they want peacefully. Wars are made by the ruling class, at the expense of the working class. Ordinary people gain nothing in war but are compelled, or more often, forced to kill each other for the gains of the capitalist class. Mick also pointed out that warfare is an extremely profitable industry for arms producers.
It is shocking to me to learn about this war through a Marxist analysis because at school we are taught that war is started by a “bad guy” or because Western powers are “defending democracy” when in fact war is a horrible result of the system of capitalism. What I have appreciated most in all the commissions in which I have been involved is that they have always offered a way forward.
“The Glendalough Co. Wicklow Summer School this year included a variety of excellent discussions on important issues facing workers.
The plenary session on Marxist philosophy, focusing on dialectical materialism and how we Marxists understand the world, was particularly interesting in the context of other discussions on issues such as transphobia, gender oppression, racism and the cost of living crisis. All of these issues are extremely relevant to the working class and the class struggle and having a Marxist method to understand them is vital.
A number of commissions have given particular attention to the national question here in Ireland and the legacy of the Troubles today. These discussions are all the more important as the national question in Ireland begins to sharpen in the current political context, in the North as well as in the South. One of the important lessons I learned from these discussions on the national question is that even if the class struggle advances, it does not necessarily mean that bigotry is pushed back. In the context of Northern Ireland, the sectarian divide may seem stronger today despite the many strikes by workers across the North.
As the cost of living crisis weighs on the working class, workers go on strike to fight for better wages and conditions, but it is against the backdrop of the most sectarian election with the religious divide clearer than ever at Stormont. As the capitalist crisis deepens, the national question and sectarianism will come to the fore. It is vital for any socialist revolutionary party to take a correct approach to these issues, an approach based on workers’ unity, solidarity and the struggle for socialism.
“My first experience at the summer school was excellent, full of stimulating discussions, Marxist education and camaraderie. It took place in the heart of Glendalough, in a hostel surrounded by high wooded hills and warm lakes according to Irish standards.
Over the weekend I attended a number of excellent commissions. Outside on the grass, we discussed the metabolic breakdown and ecological crisis under capitalism as the sun quite rightly scorched our scalps. The introductions touched on a myriad of problems that capitalism poses to the planet – the depletion and destruction of the earth’s natural resources, the improper disposal of waste due to a desire to increase profits, the disconnection of people of nature, and the displacement and damage done to living things on earth due to human-led ecological destruction.
An important question posed by the commission was what can we do as socialists to raise awareness about this link between environmental catastrophe and capitalism? How to effectively and succinctly highlight the inability of capitalism to provide solutions to a climate crisis it has caused?
The National Affairs Committee has underlined the urgency of a collective struggle, particularly in the face of collective misery. Working-class Catholics and Protestants will suffer the same grueling effects of the cost-of-living crisis, which has hit the North harder than anywhere else on these islands. The discussions highlighted the need to reject the “solutions” proposed by capitalism in the face of the nationalist question, solutions which always require the coercion of one group over the other and which increase the division between the two communities. that is, the coercion of Catholics to remain within the union in spite of themselves. their yearning for national unity, or the coercion of Protestants into a united capitalist Ireland against their will.
The Summer School allowed us to meet fellow students from all over Ireland and fellow students who have traveled overseas to be there, not only for us to attend and contribute, but also to connect, share ideas and have other chats over a pint (or soft drink), or while hiking in the beautiful town of Glendalough. It was a great experience overall and I look forward to attending again.”
“My time at Glendalough Summer School made me feel a lot of different things. Sometimes I felt intimidated by the advanced discussions fellows had both in and out of sessions that showed my own ignorance to myself, sometimes excited by the prospects of the opportunities and eruptions that will occur in society that these Discussions were also discussed, but for the most part, the major feeling was a renewed sense of engagement.
One of the things that stands out from the many contributions and discussions experienced is the idea of joining the party in a fuller commitment. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but later I fully understood what it meant. I’ve only been officially in the party for a month, so I guess other comrades took it on a more personal level, but it showed me that I hadn’t fully committed to the party. At many times, both during my short time at the party and over the weekend, fellow students would mention something to me about theory or strategies that I didn’t fully understand. I nodded to make sure I didn’t look ignorant. However, I realize the lack of commitment that emanates from it, that is to say a desire to keep up appearances rather than to broaden my knowledge and perhaps help my comrades as best I can. can. I realize how silly that is now. From the many conversations and discussions I participated in, one thing stood out: the party was large, international and full of generous people. No matter how stupid my question was, the comrades were only too eager to answer it.
Of course, I learned a lot on a more specific level, from the national question and our solution to it and from Marx’s writings on the environment. But I think that idea of re-engagement was the most important thing I took away from it. I hope to use this recommitment and awareness in the future to help my comrades and the peoples of the world as much as possible.