This final set of reports from the Marxist societies around the country brings the total number of universities where the MSF has been meeting people and spreading the ideas of Marxism to 29. Clearly an increasing number of students agree with us that now is the most exciting time to be a Marxist and join the fight for socialism.
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London School of Economics (LSE)
Thursday and Friday marked the MSF’s first official intervention in the LSE fresher’s fair, and it was a resounding success. We had two stalls (one inside and one outside) which signed up ~150 people over two days.
We managed to sign up more than twice as many as the Lib Dems (who had a stall next to us), despite their representing the dominant ideas of bourgeois society, handing out piles of useless branded merchandise, and even having their candidate for Mayor of London come visit!
We invited people to a nearby pub on Friday, where we had some good discussions on tactics in student activism, current events, and Marxist theory in general.
The first two meetings of the society have seen a large and enthusiastic audience, with around 20-30 attending on both occasions to participate in discussions on "What is Marxism?" and "What is Capitalism? What is Socialism?". We're looking forward to a great term ahead!
Without an official Marxist society at Chester it is difficult for the Marxist Student Federation to make its presence felt on campus. However, we were present at the university freshers fair where, although unable to book a stall inside the fair, we were able to meet enthusiastic students queuing outside the building who were keen to sign up to the society. With around 30 people signed up there is clearly room for the MSF to grow in Chester.
For the first time this year the MSF was present at Goldsmiths freshers fair where we signed up 30 people to the society – a good number given the small size of the university. Across the course of the fair we even received offers of help on the stall from new people eager to build the society right away.
Our first reading group attracted a handful of people all of whom seem interested in learning more about the ideas of Marxism. We expect this to be the beginning of a successful development of the MSF at Goldsmiths.
After having handed out leaflets at both the Leicester and De Montfort university campuses, our first meeting was attended by around 12 people, including students from both campuses. Ben Gliniecki from Socialist Appeal introduced the discussion on ‘What is Marxism?’ which led to a very interesting meeting that touched on questions of global current events as well as core Marxist theory.
We hope to be able to establish official Marxist societies both in Leicester and De Montfort universities this year. Watch this space!
The UCL freshers fair occurred on the 27th and 28th of September. One day before the fair on Friday we set up a stall for approximately an hour on campus and leafletted at student halls. We set up two stalls on either side outside the main gates, we did have a stall inside the fair but due to large number of societies active in UCL our space was limited. In addition to those a third stall was set up near Euston square station due to the long queue outside.
Over the entire event we had 323 people sign up to our mailing list, 113 of those signed up for the WSA (Worker and Student Alliance – an initiative we have set up through the Marxist society to identify those who are willing to be active on campus and offer the campus workers a show of solidarity).
On the 27th we held our first meeting on ‘What is Capitalism? What is Socialism?’ with the lead-off given by Fred Weston from the International Marxist Tendency. 40 people were in attendance, which is very good, and we were joined in the pub by several people afterwards. Since then, the UCLU Marxists have received large audiences for subsequent meetings on "What is Marxism?" and on the crisis in the Middle East.
The University of Bristol’s Freshers Fair ran on Friday 26th September, and this was the first year that there has been an official Marxist Society presence. Overall it was a huge success, with widespread interest and enthusiasm capped off with nearly 250 signatures.
We began the day by setting up the stall at our position next to the Conservative Society and the International Banking and Finance Society, however any worries we had about competition were soon forgotten after the overwhelmingly positive response we received. Many first year students signed up, however we were also happy to see plenty of second and third year students join as well, showing the depth of interest throughout the university.
Our first meeting was on Thursday 2nd October and it was our biggest meeting yet with 65 in attendance and standing room only. Adam Booth from Socialist Appeal introduced the topic and it was an excellent meeting. Even though this is only our first official year, we have already had the highest meeting attendances out of any political society at Bristol, and we are confident that we can build on this.
In the following two weeks, the society has continued to receive a large audience, with the highlight so far of over 75 people attending our last meeting to hear Hamid Alizadeh of the International Marxist Tendency speak about the crisis in the Middle East.
Over a five and a half hour period we signed up 125 people to the new Durham Marxist society.
Our first meeting was attended by 30 people and it was standing room only. Ben Gliniecki from Socialist Appeal gave the introduction to the discussion and several people joined us to continue discussing in the pub afterwards.
The Cambridge Societies Fair took place on the 7th and 8th of October. We were very successful, getting over 200 sign-ups to our mailing list and handing out around 800 leaflets.
We managed a well-staffed stall, with seven members around for most of Tuesday and at least four members (usually five, with people coming and going) for all of Wednesday.
Overall quite a few students expressed enthusiastic interest in our events, and this was proven by a turnout of around 70 people at the first meeting of the society the following week.
We also managed to meet with members of other societies interested in joint events, including the European society, who intend to host debates on issues affecting the EU, and the African and Caribbean society, who expressed interest in our talk on Marxism and the Black Struggle later this term.
Over the course of three days the Oxford Marxist society handed out 800 leaflets and signed up around 140 people to the society, all of whom seemed very enthusiastic about the prospect of a Marxist society with which they could get involved.
As well as the great interest from students a number of workers at the freshers fair expressed an interest in the society, and we also received a good reception from members of the general public.
Our strong showing at the freshers' fair was followed up with a very successful meeting of around 30 people the following week, who came to hear Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, speak on "Why Marx was right!". The discussion at the meeting was excellent and there was lots of ethusiasm for the revolutionary ideas put forward by Rob and members of the Marxist Society. Lots of potential for building the MSF here in Oxford!