For a number of years now, Socialist Appeal supporters have helped to set up and build Marxist societies in universities across the country, in order to provide a forum for discussing Marxist ideas and organising interventions in the movement and the fight back. After a successful year of building the forces of Marxism in the student movement, Socialist Appeal supporters are now taking the initiative to launch a national federation of Marxist societies.
For a number of years now, Socialist Appeal supporters have helped to set up and build Marxist societies in universities across the country, in order to provide a forum for discussing Marxist ideas and organising interventions in the movement and the fight back. After a successful year of building the forces of Marxism in the student movement, Socialist Appeal supporters are now taking the initiative to launch a national federation of Marxist societies: the Marxist Student Federation.
The past 5 years have demonstrated to the youth of Britain that capitalism offers them no future. Youth unemployment has been at 22% (1 million) for years now. As with the rest of the crisis, it shows only signs of getting worse, not better.
The traditional route out for young people on an individual basis – higher education – is little better. With fees reaching unprecedented levels, student debt getting out of control, vanishing contact time and the promise of more unemployment to greet us at the end, it is no wonder less are applying to study.
Capitalism’s attack on the youth has changed consciousness. The ideologies of capitalism and the free market are in crisis and widely seen as discredited by young people. It is for these reasons that the Marxist societies that Socialist Appeal has helped set up throughout the country’s universities have grown so significantly.
However, these societies, which have been running in some cases for several years now, need to be put on a nationally organised footing. At the recent Marxist summer school, we decided to step steps towards the founding of a national organisation of Marxist societies, beginning with a conference in early 2014. All members of Marxist societies around the country are invited to attend and participate in the founding conference, as are any other students interested in helping to set up Marxist societies in their areas.
We are forming the federation first and foremost to put the work of Marxist Societies on a more organised, visible and campaigning footing. The Marxist Societies already constitute, in our opinion, the best organised and most coherent left force in the student movement. This should be reflected on a national level.
The best explanation of the Marxist student federation is to explain the role and methods of the Marxist societies already existing. In our opinion, although there is a commendable spirit of militancy in the student movement, what is lacking is clear, revolutionary ideas. Short-term activism is prevalent but has proven insufficient to shift the NUS to anything remotely leftwing. Apart from the welcome return of militant methods such as mass occupations, the rise in activism has not led to any other notable gain for the student movement.
As a result of these difficulties, the trend in student activism has been to move away from fighting for a clear socialist programme in the NUS, which is seen as a lost cause and/or old fashioned. In our opinion, the fight for a clear socialist programme in the student movement as a whole is absolutely indispensable, and cannot be achieved with the methods of activism alone. We need to build a strong national organisation of Marxist students to patiently, persistently and in a friendly, non-sectarian manner win the battle of ideas in the NUS.
That means its primary task is education in the ideas of Marxism. The federation coordinates weekly meetings throughout the country in Marxist theory, open to all. We should think about starting a Marxist student magazine, open to contributions from students. The magazine should be full of interesting theoretical articles, with students encouraged to write on topics of interest to them, possibly giving a Marxist analysis of the topics they study.
Of course, on the basis of educating a wider and wider layer of students, the federation should launch campaigns and coordinate interventions in the NUS with the aim of raising Marxist ideas amongst students in a concrete fashion, and ultimately to win the NUS to a Marxist programme. Such campaigns must always attempt to forge closer links with the labour movement and working class on and off campus. Workers should be invited and encouraged to attend Marxist Student Federation meetings.