On the 18 and 19 September comrades from the Socialist Appeal attended the Oxford Brookes University freshers fair, with the aim of attracting people to the ideas of socialism.
The fair was well attended, and over the two days pages of names and e-mail addresses were collected in order to form the Oxford Brookes Socialist Society. Many people were interested to find a reference for socialist ideas, and throughout the two days we discussed with many students about the ideas of revolutionary socialism.
Students were particularly keen to learn more about what is going on in Venezuela, and there was a strong interest from overseas students. Those who are now socialist society members also include students from Bulgaria, Poland, the USA, Iran and Portugal.
Throughout the freshers fair we leafleted for a meeting on ‘The Life and Ideas of Che Guevara’, in the lead up to the anniversary of his death on 9 October. Pablo Roldan from the Hands Off Venezuela campaign addressed this inaugural meeting of the socialist society, talking on the experiences of Che’s youth and travels, and his direct experience of the overthrow of the Arbenz government in Guatemala which shaped his revolutionary outlook. He explained that he was an ordinary young man who drew socialist conclusions based on his experience of the extreme contrasts between rich and poor that he witnessed throughout Latin America.
In reference to Che’s collaboration with Fidel Castro, Pablo drew parallels with the attempt by Hugo Chavez in recent times to advance the plight of Venezuelans within the framework of capitalism, and how Castro too was left with no alternative but to discard the straightjacket of "doing business" with US imperialism.
At that meeting more students officially joined the socialist society, and since then more joined after the screening of ‘No Volveran – the Venezuelan Revolution now!’ on September 27th.
The film had a tremendous effect on students who had not realised the extent of the process developing in Venezuela, due to the poor press coverage in the British media. What followed was a good discussion on the concept of revolution, what it means in regard to the mass movement and how socialism in the 21st century can differ to that of the past.
People left enthused with what they had seen and provided an excellent start to the socialist society in providing a political alternative on campus. The group has caught the attention of students at Oxford Brookes. Shortly, we intend to hold an organisational meeting on campus to properly decide what the aims of this new socialist presence at the university should be, and what the next steps are.