No comrades, this is not a release concerning our latest membership figures! We have a few more than two members thankfully. Neither is it news of a split tearing our organisation apart. In fact it concerns the fact that there are now two groups operating under the name “Communist Students”. Perhaps our comrades in the reformist-Stalinist Communist Party of Britain (Morning Star) will change their name to more accurately reflect their organisation’s politics. It is our contention, after all, that they are not communists in any case. Seeing as these things are coming in twos, we give you two articles to help you understand this mess.
The first is by a student comrade in the group Permanent Revolution (not Communist Students) – and is taken from her blog at http://infantile-and-disorderly.blogspot.com/
Communist Students (logo to the left), the student group established by the Communist Party of Great Britain at the end of 2006, has always had a slightly rocky relationship with the Communist Party of Britain’s youth group, the Young Communist League (YCL). Perhaps this is because typing communiststudents.org does in fact take you to the YCL homepage, or perhaps it’s because Communist Students and the CPGB, for all their faults, are actual bona fide Communists, unlike their Stalinist counterparts in the CPB.
And then, a few days ago, this rocky relationship fractured further when an exec member of the YCL removed all information from the Communist Students Wikipedia page and replaced it with information of another group called – you guessed it – Communist Students and founded by the YCL (logo to the right). This Communist Students claims to have been in existence since 2005; if so it predates the CPGB’s Communist Students. Having said this, I’ve been fairly active in the students’ movement and though I’m by no means a leftist trainspotter (this post belies that statement somewhat, doesn’t it?) I can’t claim to have seen the CPB’s youth active under any name other than the YCL.
How very strange. So now, where one Communist Students would no doubt have been enough for the world, we find ourselves blessed by two. Who will get to keep the name?
This second article is from Ben Lewis of Communist Students – the communist one, that is
It came as quite a surprise to us in Communist Students when a young contact was convinced we were working together with the soft-Stalinist, reformist Young Communist League. That is, the youth wing of Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain.
Being an on-the-ball comrade, he pointed out that even Wikipedia was saying so. Indeed, when I typed in ‘Communist Students’ I was exasperated to find that the Wikipedia entry for our organisation – founded in 2006 – had been deleted and replaced with the CPB version, which quite frankly hardly anyone has even heard of. It did, however, mention that their CS should not be confused with our “similar sounding” group!
Apparently, the Stalinist version of Communist Students was launched at NUS conference in April 2005. Given their lack of forces, nobody really seemed to notice. Only after our founding CS conference in 2006 did we hear of it via a Socialist Workers Party member who had overheard YCLers moaning about the “Weekly Worker nicking their name”.
Not that we got a peep from them about it – they never wrote, called or raised it when we came across them. I personally know their new convenor, Dan Cole, and Wikipedia hacker George Waterhouse quite well and have done for nearly two years.
Despite ‘launching’ their own student organisation in 2005 they have done absolutely nothing with it since then. Ask anyone in the student movement who Communist Students are, and if they have heard of either group it is going to be us. We have a record of consistent activity. We have stood in local and national student union elections, built CS groups on campuses, intervened in numerous left conferences from Student Respect to Socialist Youth Network (which has two CS members on its leadership), produced thousands of leaflets and seven editions of Communist Student.
And what have our Stalinists done? They recently set up a website which suggests that they have managed to produce two newsletters in four years. One for freshers in 2007 and one for NUS conference this year.
Google ‘Communist Students’ and the point is quite clearly underlined. It seems that because of our record and success the CPB is trying to take our name. Maybe the CPB’s Anita Halpin is looking to invest some of her millions in the future – the expensive banner they unfurled at this year’s NUS conference would certainly imply this.
But the CPB is going about this in an entirely wrong way. Instead of sorting out this question in a democratic spirit – say, by proposing a conference of all communist students – they rely on hacking. This is made all the more ridiculous by the fact that in their NUS bulletin they proclaim: “We aim to build a united communist front within the student movement and to work with other sections of the left to fight for left policies within the NUS and on campus.”
An interesting unity, that one – simply deleting the Wikipedia material dealing with CS and not even approaching us for discussions, let alone unity. Their new website (http://student-unity.org.uk) calls for students to “Question everything”. Maybe members of this organisation should question why they are looking to achieve such ‘unity’ by trying to remove CS in the way the Stalin’s henchmen would remove Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev from photographs.
A final point. The last time I looked, Wikipedia had restored the material on CS to its original format. The lesson – censorship does not work.