Socialist Alternative

Stockholm climate crisis protests: Report from a participant

Between 1 and 3 June, members of International Socialist Alternative (ISA) from multiple countries descended upon Stockholm to assist our Swedish section, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna, in campaigning for revolutionary socialist solutions to the climate crisis. The actions were timed to coincide with the United Nations’ Stockholm+50 conference, an international meeting of capitalist leaders. 

Like with our bold socialist ‘red bloc’ at COP26 in Glasgow last year, we were not there with any illusions that the capitalists will address this crisis of their own making. We were there to protest, to point to the blood dripping from their hands, and to point the climate movement toward the socialist transformation of society as the only real answer to ecological catastrophe.

The three days were important for our development as an international revolutionary organisation of struggle. Climate change, and the capitalist system that created it, are global in scale. Only an international working-class movement can combat these problems. 

On Wednesday and Thursday, comrades tirelessly built for the ‘Fridays for Future’ protest as well as our own rally on Friday. The big day was a great success: our energetic intervention brought a vibrant political message to the march. The rally in the evening was inspiring and well attended by workers and young people interested in a socialist alternative to war and climate catastrophe.

Wednesday: Kicking things off

Across Stockholm, we set up several stalls with eye-catching leaflets and bold posters. Throughout the city, comrades sold many copies of Offensiv, the paper of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna. 

I participated in a stall on the Karolinska University Campus. Other comrades campaigned in areas such as Haninge to the West, Högdalen in the South and Slussen in the central zone.

It was evident that ISA’s presence was effective; multiple people mentioned that they had already seen our stalls elsewhere in the city. 

In the evening, we all came together in Odenplan to participate in a small protest called by the Stockholm+50 Network. Despite the attempts of the leadership to forcibly depoliticise the event, we still had a bold presence and spoke with lots of young people.

Thursday: Rainy campaigns

Today it was my turn to campaign in Haninge. Locally, prominent members of ISA have played a key role in leading mass local campaigns against deforestation, protecting six local forests. Currently, two comrades hold positions in the Northern Luleå municipality. Swedish comrades plan to defend these seats in upcoming elections. They also plan to win back seats in Haninge, a challenging but not impossible campaign. 

Every comrade worked hard to build for Friday’s activities, discussing our views with the public and raising fighting fund. Underlining the importance that people see in fighting climate change, our stall received a 500-krona donation (equivalent to £40) from one individual! 

Friday: Protest and ISA Rally

Outside the Odenplan metro, we ran successful stalls for the 90 minutes prior to the protest. Members gave short, animated speeches in Swedish and English. Some of the topics were about Sweden’s indigenous Sami people and the falsities of “fossil free” steel.

From start to finish, the march was bustling and exciting. Our members filled the air with powerful slogans, willfully echoed by others on the protest: “vad vill vi ha? Klimaträttvisa!” [“What do we want? Climate Justice!”].

The climate crisis is linked to the multiple failings of capitalism, not least of which is war. Imperialism creates ecological disasters through its endless drive for profit. The question of capitalist warmongering is felt particularly keenly in Sweden right now. 

Historically, Sweden has on paper observed ‘military neutrality’. But the government is now attempting to accelerate the countries’ membership of NATO, without even the pretence of a referendum, which they justify by the war in Ukraine. If successful, this will mark a serious escalation in the conflict with Russian imperialism. That’s why our members led chants of “Nej till Putin! Nej till NATO!” [“No to Putin! No to NATO!”]

Around 4,000 people attended the march, many of whom were young and interested in our ideas. It was exhilarating, albeit challenging, to intervene in an unfamiliar language. Some reported speaking with protestors whom they had met whilst building for the demo earlier in the week. This is indicative of our effective work, as well as the level to which we boosted the attendance, and the political clarity, of the march.

In contrast, the organisers of the protest (Friday for Futures) did not adequately build for their own demonstration, despite the real mood for militant action and protest for the climate amongst young people and workers in Sweden. Their approach, rooted in polite demands with zero involvement from the organised workers’ movement, blunted the potential for the demonstrations to fight for serious change.

The destruction of our planet is wedded to the functions of capitalism; the ruling class will always prioritise their profits over people. The passivity of the Stockholm 50+ conference is a direct example of this inaction. 

Our flags and banners, chants and ideas brought an attention-grabbing dynamism to the demonstration. ISA’s presence at this protest is a continuation of the organisation’s tradition of international youth interventions. Active involvement with, by and for the youth of the world is a central part of what ISA is about.

Thanks to tireless campaigning and our effective intervention, 70 people, including 15 new contacts, attended the rally that evening. ISA members from across the world also tuned in via Zoom. Comrades gave powerful speeches about a broad array of climate related topics. Yaara Cliff from the North London branch provided global examples of climate activism from Israel/Palestine, Europe and Latin America.

To conclude the rally, attendees watched a video with inspiring footage of ISA protests across the world and even I, already a member, felt stirred to sign up!

A successful intervention

These three days were vital for the politicisation of the climate movement and for the work of ISA in Sweden. It was affirming as a member of ISA to connect and socialise with my international comrades in the evenings, working together on the mobilisation and developing our political programme. 

Building ISA’s international socialist red bloc was a great success: Our energetic approach brought a vibrant political message to the marches – that capitalism is killing the planet and that socialism is a fight for survival!