CS member Mark Harrison is standing as an NUS conference delegate during this week’s election at Manchester Metropolitan University. All MMU students can vote for him from 9am on Monday the 29th of November until 5pm on Friday the 3rd of December by clicking ‘Student Login’ on the student union website, after entering your details you can vote here.
Mark Harrison on
Read his manifesto below.
Vote Communist! Vote Mark Harrison #1 For NUS Delegate!
Why am I standing as an NUS Delegate?
I am standing as a delegate to NUS conference to spread the ideas of communism/socialism. As a communist I stand for a society based on collective ownership of the means of production and distribution and an economy organised not for value production but for the well-being of humanity and in harmony with our natural environment. Communism will abolish the system of wage-labour so that our ability to work will cease to be a commodity to be sold to an employer; it will be a truly classless society; there will be no state, no managers or organisations superior to those of workers’ self-management.
Communism can only come from below. Decisions concerning production and work will be taken by workers’ councils composed of elected and revocable delegates. Decisions in other areas will be taken on the basis of the widest possible discussion and consultation among the people as a whole. This democratisation of society down to its very roots is what I call ‘workers’ power’.
Self-managed institutions and collectives will be the living framework of a free society. There can be no socialism without self-management. Yet a society made up of individual self-managed units is not, of itself, socialist. Such societies could remain oppressive, unequal and unjust. They could be sexist or racist, could restrict access to knowledge or adopt uncritical attitudes towards ‘expertise’. We can imagine the individual units of such a society – of whatever size or complexity (from chicken farms to continents) – competing as ‘collective capitalists’. Such competition could only perpetuate alienation and create new inequalities based on new divisions of labour.
I am an internationalist: This means I am opposed to all borders and immigration controls. Being an internationalist does not mean that I support anti-working class groups such as The IRA or Hamas. It means that I seek the greatest possible collaboration with communists in other countries and wish to build solidarity with workers’ movements around the world
Communism/socialism has nothing in common with the fake “socialisms” of the Stalinist state planning of the former USSR, of the sweatshops of China, or social-democratic “humane” capitalism. No nation in the world today is socialist, nowhere is the economy managed by the workers. These models of “socialism” have all proven to be complete failures, maintaining and in many cases aggravating the working class’ lack of self- determination. There is no particular connection between socialism and nationalisation by the state, which merely replaces one set of managers with another.
The trade unions and political parties cannot be reformed, ‘captured’, or converted into instruments of working class emancipation. I don’t call however for the proclamation of new unions, which in the conditions of today would suffer a similar fate to the old ones. Nor do I call for militants to tear up their union cards. The aims of communists should simply be that the workers themselves should decide on the objectives of their struggles and that the control and organisation of these struggles should remain firmly in their own hands. The forms that this self – activity of the working class may take will vary considerably from country to country and from industry to industry. Its basic content will not.
Communists are the most consistent advocates of social liberation in all its forms. I fight sexual repression, sexism and homophobia and advocate sexual liberation; I champion anti-racist and anti-fascist struggles; I oppose all limits to freedom of speech and free cultural expression. These struggles are not just some adjunct to working-class struggle but are the cornerstone of democracy and human freedom.
Communists have no gods, not even revolutionary ones. I reject the practice of using the works of this or that socialist of decades past as sacred texts from which “revealed truths” can be read off as gospel. I abhor the decay of the left and the absolute poverty of its ideas and slogans; its abandonment of class politics; and the sectarianism of those groups vying for supremacy with their own front campaigns and so-called unity projects; are all evidence of the need for ground-up rethinking of the communist project and the re-composition of the workers’ movement.
What will I do if elected?
If I am lucky enough to be elected to NUS conference I plan to critically co-operate with activists from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. NCAFC is a democratic group of student activists from around the country who oppose cuts and stand for free education. As well as arguing for the necessity of student-worker unity, I would argue that NCAFC delegates at conference take the position that the only solution to the crisis with which we are faced with is communism. The campaign is highly influenced by members of the Trotskyist Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and Workers’ Power groups, they should show their true colours and instead of standing for just ‘free education’ in this campaign they should articulate a different vision of society – communism.
I shall also write a report of my experiences at conference so that all students can have an idea of what happens.
Furthermore, if elected I will not abandon my mandate and skive off to climate camp as a current member of our Student Union executive did two years ago.
Upon joining Manchester Metropolitan University I attempted to form a branch of the Stop The War Coalition at our university. Unfortunately my attempts to lead this group in an independent direction were stifled by members of the Socialist Workers Party and this project had to be abandoned.
In January 2009 I lead a sit in of Lecture Theatre 9 of the Geoffrey Manton building, as part of the wave of student occupations which hit the country in solidarity with the people of Gaza suffering the bombardment by the Israel Defence Force known as Operation Cast Lead, which lead to 1417 deaths as well as untold destruction and adding to the unspeakable horror there. This lead to me persuading Jocelyn Hurndall to speak at the Tom Hurndall Memorial Lecture last year, a very moving experience. I have been a strong supporter of this institution ever since. I was elected as a delegate to the 2009 NUS conference and this experience will no doubt prove invaluable if I am elected again.
After fully breaking with radical liberalism and reformist socialism I joined Communist Students (of which I am now an executive member) and The Commune communist network, during the summer of 2009. Last year I was highly involved with the postal strike support group set up at the university and the campaign against management’s decision to try and force through 127 compulsory redundancies amongst support staff at MMU. This year people will testify to the commitment and hard work I have put into the anti-cuts groups formed at both universities. I have also been central to producing The Educator bulletin aimed at students and staff at university. This year I also became a student rep and have begun a productive dialog with lecturers (for example contributing to Board of Studies meetings).