Queen Mary’s Marxist Society
As anyone involved in the freshers’ fairs across the country in the last few weeks will have noticed, there seems to be a growing interest in Marxist ideas and solutions to the current crisis of capitalism among young people. This was especially felt at Queen Mary’s University in East London, where interest in the Marxist Society was unprecedented. We were approached by many students already familiar with the ideas of Marx, and several students had even read Capital as part of their studies.
Despite torrential rain, a good turnout of new students attended our first meeting to hear Rob Sewell give an excellent lead off on Marx and Engels’ predictions in the Communist Manifesto, and how society can be transformed to meet peoples’ needs. A lively discussion followed, with contributions ranging from the impact of Marxism in peoples’ places of work, to questions surrounding the USSR.
Stressing the importance to act upon theory, it was discussed how we might support the current struggle of over 50 staff facing redundancies at the University. Links are to be made with Unison, who represent the workers, and we are offering support for their campaign.
It is hoped that this meeting will launch the start of a successful term of activity on campus. It is vital that we actively engage with and educate young people in the theory and methods of Marxism. University Marxist societies therefore have an important role in this task.
Glasgow Freshers’ Fair Intervention
Student life witnessed an explosive second semester at the end of last year, culminating in a march of 3,000 against cuts, the biggest demonstration in the history of Glasgow University. There was also a student occupation that successfully resisted a full scale police operation trying to evict it through mass action and was in the end able to win significant concessions from management. This sets the scene for new action with Scottish universities starting to set fees for students from the rest of the UK and the prospect of more cuts to come.
For the first time there was a Glasgow Marxist intervention at the freshers’ fair over two days. We had a stall at the fair and were able to set up an official society after getting more than enough support from students over the fair. Despite the tail end of an American hurricane over both days we were able to collect names and attracted a wide range of interest from students from Scotland, England, Ireland and some from other parts of Europe.
On the Thursday, the day after the fair ended we had a successful founding meeting at which the political editor of Socialist Appeal Rob Sewell spoke about the development of the international crisis of capitalism. He emphasised the deepening of the crisis in the Eurozone and the inability of capitalism to find a way out of the situation. The ruling class of all countries are desperately floundering from one method to another and repeatedly being forced to resort to bailouts and quantitative easing. However, across the world in Tunisia, Egypt, Greece and in Britain we are seeing millions of young people in particular starting to question the legitimacy of capitalism and looking for an alternative.
The society intends to connect with this layer and go on to build regular meetings explaining Marxist ideas whilst intervening in the movement at the University and in the wider movement in Glasgow.
We are now passing through a new epoch of capitalism where growth will not be the norm and western economies will collapse. If William Hague knows this and announced it to the Tory conference then the youth, who are streaks ahead of the backward reactionary Tory party, certainly know the self evident truth that capitalism is in crisis. This realization that capitalism will not be able to offer employment, housing or a better life for future generations has resulted in the most advanced layers of the youth actively seeking an alternative. This can be seen in a concrete form in the expansion of students at university fresher fairs seeking out societies that can offer education on the turbulent times they find themselves in. The societies we are setting up across the country can offer a suitable explanation for these layers by basing themselves on the classics of Marxism with a dedication towards being active within the labour movement.
This is certainly true at the University of Sheffield where I found myself as a fresher setting up a Marxist society. In the space of a couple of hours without a stall within the main fair, myself and a fellow comrade had so many students come up to us that at times we couldn’t cope and people were forced to queue to talk to us! We managed to distribute all the flyers we printed and were just shy of filling in all the contact detail sheets for the setting up of the society. The only reason we didn't manage to fill out all the contact sheets was because our voices became hoarse with talking to students about Marxism. The level of enthusiasm and the political level of the students were great to experience. We had many people saying that the society’s ideas were what they had been looking for and were unable to find anywhere else.
It is not an accident that we had initial success at the University of Sheffield. It is a direct consequence of the objective situation and our orientation towards revolutionary theory. The most serious students and workers will not be conned with simplistic reformist arguments but by a serious approach to the problems that face the working class as a whole.
Manchester Freshers' Fayres
On the 21st and 22nd of September, comrades set up a stall outside the Freshers’ Fayres for both Manchester Metropolitan and the University of Manchester in order to raise the idea of a new Marxist discussion group for students of both Universities. We were present outside the Manchester Metropolitan Fayre from 10am to roughly 11.30am and were the only non-corporate stall outside. However, we were eventually told to leave by one of the stewards, but in the time we were there we did manage to get E-mail addresses of interested students.
Next, we went straight down the road to the University of Manchester
where there was a multitude of different stalls advertising a wide range
of societies (particularly political societies). We pitched up our
stall beside the Labour students and hoped for a better result. Over the
next four hours we had a great amount of interest and discussed with
many students as well as selling papers and leaflets/books etc.
By the end of the Fayres, after more or less one and a half days the 'Manchester Marxist
Discussion Group' had over 40 possible members, we had sold 15 copies of Socialist Appeal and several books!