It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death on 16 April 2023 of our comrade and former IIRE co-director Marijke Colle, at the age of 75. Below is a reflection on her life as a socialist and feminist activist, written by her Belgian comrades.
Born in 1947 in a very conservative Flemish Catholic family, Marijke studied biology in Ghent and became radicalized like many young people of her generation in the 1968 wave.
She became a member of Dolle Mina (a Dutch-speaking feminist group) in the early 1970s, and later of the socialist feminist groups that formed a coordination throughout Flanders.
It was also during this period that she participated in the foundation of the Ligue Révolutionnaire des Travailleurs (LRT)-Revolutionaire Arbeidersliga (RAL), the Belgian section of the Fourth International, which has now become the Gauche anticapitaliste - SAP - Antikapitalisten.
Together with her comrades in the organization’s women’s commission, she played an important role in the struggle for the decriminalization of abortion in Belgium. She contributed to the emergence of both an autonomous women’s movement and a class struggle feminism.
Marijke was also the first to address the ecological question in the Belgian section and one of the pioneers in the Fourth International, more than thirty years ago. Marijke’s commitment remains marked by these three dimensions of her life, which inextricably intertwine revolutionary Marxism, feminism and ecology: she defined herself as both Marxist and eco-feminist.
Marijke also spent many years working (as a teacher) and campaigning in different countries: England, France and the Netherlands, where she was co-director of our International Research and Training Institute in Amsterdam.
Since her return to Belgium about ten years ago, she had continued to nourish the reflections and political orientations of the organisation and its feminist commission, which became Anti-Capitalist Feminists, and its ecosocialist commission.
At the time of the Covid pandemic, she provided us with valuable reflections on the links between capitalism, the ecological crisis, zoonoses and the crisis of care, and the responses to be made.
The comrades of the Gauche anticapitaliste-SAP Antikapitalisten and of the Fourth International will remember her strength of character, her rigour, her frankness, her pedagogical and transmission capacities, put at the service of a lifelong revolutionary and internationalist commitment to collective emancipation. These qualities serve as an example for us. Our thoughts go out to her family and friends, in particular to our comrade Pips, her companion.
The best tribute we can pay to her is to continue her struggle, which is ours.
Thanks to you for everything, comrade.
NB: Among her many commitments, let us also mention her participation for many years in the leadership of the combative CGSP-Education (ACOD Onderwijs) of East Flanders, and more recently her involvement in the climate movement with Climaxi in particular in Ghent.