The new executive of Communist Students explain why they are part of Communist Students and what they hope for the future of the organisation. They were elected at the CS national conference on April 2 2011.
Callum Williamson - CS Manchester and CPGB
There can be no doubt that we are in a time of heightened class conflict. The campus, the workplace and the community hall have seen the growth of a movement that refuses to accept the attacks on its living standards (that have already begun).
As far as the student movement is concerned, we must strive for the unity of the left around Marxist politics. This is a vital prerequisite to an effective fightback. However, we must help to deepen and broaden the struggle, and stress the fact that the fate of the student movement and that of the workers movement are intertwined.
Our fundamental task in the coming period is to equip our class with a programme and strategy to win the struggle in which we are engaged. Promoting both revolutionary communist politics and class unity is fundamental to overcoming the austerity measures and then capitalism itself.
Ultimately, the only alternative to crisis, war and alienation is the seizure of class power by the workers. Only emancipation from the servitude and oppression of wage slavery will allow for the transformation of education into a tool for human development, rather than a means of creating skilled labour. Humanity’s flourishing will come with the destruction of capitalism, this is our goal.
Liam Conway – CS Manchester and CPGB
I have been a member of CS since mid 2009 when I first attended a meeting on the crisis of capitalism. I am a full time student studying politics and will be entering my third year in September 2011. I joined CS because I enjoyed the openness and democratic nature the group had and still has to this day. I am also a member of the CPGB and believe in the necessity of a Marxist party based on democracy and internationalism.
The educational aspect of CS has been of great value to me as I feel my political education has greatly improved during my time in the group mainly due to the discussions and reading that we have done. I believe that CS has at times this year slackened on the educational aspect due to the demands of activist based work and this must be remedied in the future. Activism and education do not contradict each other they are intertwined and CS must work harder to continue its tradition of self education amongst its comrades.
The student protests of late 2010 certainly posed many questions on how CS functions as an organisation. It appeared that many comrades including myself were unable to make interventions at meetings due to a lack of direction regarding the group’s stance on such issues. CS must at the upcoming conference debate and analyse future work in such situations and have a clear direction regarding its direction on education and the student movement. Despite the problems CS comrades did make many good interventions regarding calls for free education while other groups were indecisive on such basic principles.
I believe that the executive should continue to provide political leadership for CS but problems that have arisen such as the LRC debate must again be debated at conference to avoid any future problems regarding affiliations. The question of affiliations and how we go about it should be open to the organisation at all times and the executive must endeavour to provide comrades with enough time and information to scrutinise any such proposals.
The executive must continue to give direction to CS and provide it with the tools necessary to equip itself in the coming year. I believe that a well organised executive means a well organised organisation. With the coming attacks on the public sector and continued attack on education CS must be ready as an organisation to intervene and emphasise the need for revolutionary Marxist politics as the real and only alternative to the capitalist system.
Ben Lewis – CS London and CPGB
I am a founding member of Communist Students and sit on the leadership of the Communist Party of Great Britain. I am currently preparing a PhD thesis on the revisionism debate within German Social Democracy, based on a book I am working on for the Historical Materialism book series entitled ‘Karl Kautsky: Selected political writings (1898-1904)’. My politics are anti-Stalinist and emphasise partyism, democracy and internationalism as opposed to the narrow, reformist outlook of Social Democracy. I understand communist revolution as the conscious act of millions organised in a Communist party. As such I am very critical of both ‘trotskyism’ and ‘left’/council communism.
I am standing for the CS executive to ensure that CS continues to focus its energies and efforts on developing and organising a new generation of rounded revolutionaries. The capitalist class is unleashing an enormous attack on our hard-fought economic and democratic rights. Against this onslaught we must articulate not merely an anti-cuts agenda, but a positive political vision of overcoming the constraints of the logic of capital. This means more than a nebulous ‘anti-capitalism’ (views excoriated by Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto) but an open struggle for communist politics at every possible juncture. The anti-cuts movement must be built into a movement which rebuilds the workers’ movement around the inspriing yet thoroughly realistic outlook of Marxism: in co-operatives, in trades councils, in the trade unions, in the Labour Party and so on. Achieving this crucially requires overcoming sect amateurism by making moves towards revolutionary, partyist unity with open factional rights and open disagreements/criticisms.
Despite small numbers and weak organisational structures, CS has provided a pole of attraction for students interested in the politics of Marxism. I would like to see CS continue to deepen its sense of theory and history, raise the standard of its publications and ideas and thus prove more effective in fighting for a Marxist alternative in the student movement – as part of the fight for these perspectives in the workers’ movement more generally.