Tomorrow sees the return of the Durham Miners’ Gala – an annual celebration of the labour movement and its history. Today, with capitalism in crisis and workers on the move, it is vital we reclaim the militant traditions of the class struggle.

Tomorrow sees the return of the Durham Miners’ Gala – an annual celebration of the labour movement and its history. Today, with capitalism in crisis and workers on the move, it is vital we reclaim the militant traditions of the class struggle.

This month sees the return of both the Durham Miners’ Gala and the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival – back after a two-year pandemic hiatus.

A great deal has happened in this time. From the cost-of-living crisis, to the neverending turmoil in the Tory Party: there is ever-increasing economic and political instability; and a growing sense of uncertainty and malaise in society. It is clear that something has to give. 

Workers face huge burdens, with soaring prices of food, fuel, energy, and rent. And the squeeze on living standards is only set to get worse.

But workers are beginning to mobilise and move into action. In standing up to the attacks of the Tories and bosses, the RMT has given confidence to the whole trade union movement. Posties, barristers, and airport workers are all striking. And there is a militant mood brewing within public sector unions.

The Gala and Tolpuddle celebrate the best traditions of our movement: militant traditions that have been burned into the working class’ consciousness through past struggles – in particular the Great Miners’ Strike of 1984-85.

Today, growing numbers of workers and youth are once again questioning the capitalist status quo. Many are drawing the conclusion that the whole system needs to go.

This radicalisation needs to be linked with the traditions and lessons of the past. The role of Marxism is to learn from history, and from the struggles of the generations that came before us; to act as the collective memory of the working class. Revolutionary theory and ideas, in this respect, are the vital foundations of our movement.

Cynical, pessimistic types try to tell us that the working class doesn’t exist anymore. They claim that the ideas of socialism are outdated and irrelevant. But mass working-class events like the ‘Big Meeting’ demonstrate what nonsense this is.

This is also shown by any strike, such as the action currently being undertaken by rail workers. As RMT leader Mick Lynch has correctly stated: not a wheel turns, not a lightbulb shines, without the permission of the working class.

The task is to harness this potential power, by mobilising our movement on the basis of bold socialist policies, in order to end the misery and barbarism of capitalism.

Events such as the Gala and Tolpuddle remind us that we stand on the shoulders of giants. But we also make our own history. There has never been a better time to join the struggle for socialism. Help us build the forces of Marxism, and fight for revolution.

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