Fourth International youth camp 2023 – Importance of internationalism

From the 22nd to the 28th of July France once again hosted this year’s International revolutionary youth camp of the Fourth International.

Much has changed since the first camp 40 years ago, and with new generations new questions have come up. But the goal of the camp is still the same. To bring together young comrades from around Europe, to live internationalism, and share experience and political analyses from the class struggle.

To have an international perspective, and an open attitude to new generations of militants are ongoing tasks for Marxist. But only a small part of our activity actually creates these spaces, and puts them in the centre of our work. So the camp is still a one-of-a-kind experience.


Theoretical and practical educational:

The main political subjects of the camp change with new generations. Fifteen years ago the questions of ecology and climate started to get a separate focus at the camp. Today they not only among the main topics, but also an integrated part of the political discussions on other subjects.

The camp started with the theme: “Against capitalism: The only alternative is Ecosocialism!”. A concrete reaction to the climate disaster taking place in the world, and the climate movements led by young generations. The discussions covered not only experiences from different struggles in the climate movement but also how these questions have been integrated into the trade unions, or how the far right has launched attacks against ecology.

On the theoretical education, the need for a political programme putting ecosocialism in the forefront was underlined. But the debate on the usual methods of theoretical education was also interesting. Our situation perhaps requires us to educate ourselves on practical issues: to show that we can really organize a new society, that we can lead a strike or a self-organised occupation. We can only win the trust of the working class if we show ourselves capable of organizing society from a more practical point of view too.

On this level this years’ workshops included a lot more practical. A good thing for a self organized youth camp, where new generations can take leadership in practical and political decisions throughout the week.

Feminism, women, gender, and problems?

A part of the camps DNA has been the closed spaces for oppressed groups. Starting with women-only workshops in a physical women-only space. Later in the camps history there have also been integrated a LGBTIQ-space, and latest a space for racialized comrades. After two years of pandemic, a new generation, focused on the question of gender. The tradition of a “women’s space” was challenged, on the question of gender, do we acknowledge women as a revolutionary subject? Should we rather open a “gender-oppressed space”?

Last year a big part of the discussion was of course also related to different traditions, difficulties with translation/language and the lack of a common understanding of the word women. Especially after two years of absence of the camp, and a whole new composition of participants. This year the discussions took place before the camp, and concluded with a general agreement to keep a special space for comrades that recognize themselves as women and/or are perceived as women.

For the first time the camp static also including a registration of people not identifying as either man or women, including 18 % of the camps participants (!). This fact also launches the idea of a new trans-space.

And inspirational young attitude:

Maybe it’s the part of the new generations focus on consent feelings and psychology, acceptance of differences, more outspoken fight against patriarchy or whatever. Its very clear that the attitude from our younger comrades in political context is inspirational (!) not only their very tolerant and positive attitude to each other. These comrades dare to ask questions, and question their own experience and belief. You don’t see them lecturing each other about “the right Marxist analysis”, they have an open attitude for different experience and situations. The debate on “party building” and experience of broad political parties from the Red-Green Alliance in Denmark, Podemos in Spain and Bloco in Portugal are still discussed at the camp. But its not longer with one strict position that has to be defended, its with an open attitude for mistakes, and sharing of experience. That way of debating should be an inspiration for the older generations.


The big problem – and the positive side:

The big problem of the camp, a flection of the European left, is that the camp once again decreased.. With only 150 participants from 9 countries. Far away from the historical figures, with 300-500 participants. A clear sign of the state of the different organizations, and the state of international exchange on the left wing. Even through the world has become smaller, meeting political comrades, discussing politics on an international scale, and sharing experience cross borders, is still an eye-opening experience. And for new generations, its maybe an even more special experience, since the majority of social movements and parties don’t include this possibilities any longer.

But even through the size of the camp was smaller – This just made the integration between delegations even bigger. It seems a lot easier to socialize with foreign comrades one did not know. So in many ways it seems like the internationalism was standing even stronger..

In many ways the founding of ideas of the camp, the experience of direct internationalism, and give a specific self-organized space for young cadres, still seems to function – even though the content is always changing.

Jonathan Simmel