The May Day School is a traditional event within the Spring-Summer conference circuit in the Balkans, held each year at the end of April by The Workers and Punks’ University (WPU) – a collective of students, researchers and activists from Ljubljana, Slovenia.
The May Day School combines theory with political tradition, overarching commemorations of two important historical achievements – the foundation of the Liberation Front during WW2 on April 27th and The International Workers’ Day on May 1st.
This year the theoretical part of the conference was dedicated to the concept of primitive accumulation, featuring keynote lectures by Michael Perelman, Andrew Kliman, Werner Bonefeld, David McNally and Michael Lebowitz as well as a wide variety of panels and other events.
May Day Schools are held in English and the attendance is, as for all WPU events, free of charge. Video recordings of the events are available on the WPU website and YouTube channel.
The more political segment of the May Day School was marked by a press conference on the official launching of the Initiative for Democratic Socialism (IDS). The initiative grew out of the winter wave of protests in Slovenia, but with an explicit aim of establishing a more continuous, if not as eruptive, political movement. The IDS is currently at the head of a growing trend in the former Yugoslav republics, in which younger people are attempting to reaffirm socialism as a viable prospect after more than two decades of its complete absence. Though only at the very beginning of establishing a political base, the IDS is attracting considerable public attention and is shifting discussion of current events away from a centrist consensus towards the ideas to the left of the political spectrum.
More information can be found on the official website, including translations of the IDS manifesto, which was introduced at the May Day School 2013, in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and English.
The notion of democratic socialism itself is a novum in the region. It draws upon reference to the tradition of self-management socialism, practised in Yugoslavia for the better part of its lifetime, while at the same time distances the initiative from purely nostalgic connotations of the better days gone by.
May Day School 2014 will provide an excellent opportunity to evaluate it in its own right.