the youth are in the streets!
50 students and young activists from around the country turned out for the Revolutionary Socialists first National Meeting.
With many of those present only released from police cells in the early hours, and many more involved in arrestee support work, a late start was inevitable.
Nevertheless the energy of the previous day’s militant actions that saw several hundred antifascists attempt to block the EDL’s march through London, carried over into Sunday’s political discussions.
The morning was kicked off with a discussion about why we were forming a new organisation. We heard reports of activity from RevSoc groups in Leeds and Sheffield who had forged stronger links with socialist and radical students on campus, as well as proposals and questions from students preparing to launch RevSoc groups at Freshers.
Positive contributions from delegates sent by the AWL and FRFI were a welcome change from the usual left wing meetings where the agenda and political line is set in advance by one group seeking to corral young activists around a doctrine handed down from above.
We decided to go on the offensive at Freshers where we will actively seek to draw other revolutionary groups into joint activity and discussion – not on the basis of counting recruits, but in order to build stronger revolutionary organisations based on collective campaigning and honest debate.
This approach applies equally to our relations with Feminist, Palestine, and other Liberation and progressive societies. We think it’s possible to walk and chew gum at the same time. This means joining these societies in order to strengthen their work – by challenging what we don’t agree with as well as contributing revolutionary ideas and experiences.
Campus work is a two-way discussion. We want to take the best of what other groups have to contribute and enrich those new methods and ideas with revolutionary politics to strengthen students’ campaigns to defend education, to fight for liberation and through this kind of principled work to win the students and youth of the future for revolutionary socialism.
Activists from 15 universities contributed a diverse array of experiences – from defending students’ conditions in housing and contact time to organising against campus lad culture and solidarity with the Arab Spring and the Palestinian liberation struggle.
Some RevSoc groups have produced their own magazines and leaflets and others have organised highly successful joint events with organisations both on and off campus.
We discussed the bread and butter student work – fighting privatisation and sexism as well as branching out to questioning how we can organise the hundreds of thousands of students who have to work in insecure, exploitative jobs to fund their education.
Fight for liberation
We came up with lots of innovative ideas about how to refresh revolutionary organisation on campus, with a particular emphasis on how to link up the everyday struggles students face with a socialist analysis of how these can be integrated with the working class struggle against capitalism and social oppression.
There were sessions on fighting the ‘new sexism’ and racism and fascism. Some key things which were agreed were a need to agitate for an understanding of sex work as integral to capitalism and therefore part of the working class struggle – not something to be banned or driven from sight, as driving the problem underground doesn’t challenge its material basis or help sex workers to fight for their own liberation.
We also agreed to launch nationally-coordinated work in Black History Month using poster campaigns, fact-sheets, and other material challenging reactionary attitudes to sexualisation of Black women and rejecting liberal anti-racism as a solution.
Each of the sessions was packed full of debates spanning too many subjects to cover here – for a more detailed account of what was discussed you can read the minutes of the meeting.
The following are some of the main action points agreed by the meeting.
Join the Revolutionary Socialists
Hearing about the experiences of young socialists involved in ANEL, the independent students’ federation in Brazil, the anti-sexist policies used within left wing organisations by socialists in Austria, the empowerment of organising Sisters Against the EDL and a dozen other struggles showed us that young people can challenge established ideas and entrenched power structures, while renewing and championing the legitimacy of revolutionary ideas for a new generation.
The relatively high proportion of women (around 40 per cent) and people of colour shows that we are determined to build on a foundation that takes the duty of revolutionaries to pay special attention to the organisation of the oppressed seriously.
The high quality of political discussion and the range of innovative ideas were genuinely inspiring.
In the end all reports of conferences will tend to be positive – the only way to find out for yourself whether the Revolutionary Socialists is something new and worth joining and building is to join yourself and find out…
We would like to thank all those who came down, all those who helped organise the event, the organisations who sent delegates to contribute, and all those who have in various ways supported our attempts to get this off the ground.
We encourage all youth and students to join your local Revolutionary Socialist group – and if you don’t have one near by, get in touch and we’ll help you set one up!