Motions passed at CS Conference 2010
Below are the motions that passed at Communist Students National Conference 2010 (amendments)
Perspectives and Tasks
Submitted by Communist Students Executive
1. The world’s states are still struggling to contain the effects of the biggest economic crisis of capitalism since the 1930s. The systemic contradictions of the capitalist system – that in order to create wealth people must starve– are being laid bare. The need for a society run on the principle of need could not be greater.
2. That the forced turn to Keynesian and protectionist policies visible everywhere internationally will exacerbate inter-imperialist rivalry and increase the likelihood of war and conflict. It will also undermine even the pretence of serious international co-operation to resolve the global problem of drastic climate change.
3. That although the crisis has led to social meltdown on the ‘periphery’ of the global imperialist order (Afghanistan, Iran, the former Soviet bloc) and even led to crisis in European Union member states like Ireland, Iceland and Greece, in Britain we are still in the period of ‘phoney war’. But whatever the outcome of the election, the capitalist class are planning an offensive of swingeing social cuts.
4. That people will not take attacks on their hard-fought rights and freedoms lying down, as Ireland and Greece underline. There will be spontaneous resistance. Struggle, politics and organisation will decide the outcome.
5. That Ireland and Greece also show that – in the absence of a rooted and viable political alternative – the cosy and conciliatory trade union bureaucracy with its sectional, national horizons, has been able to act as a brake on such resistance and limit it to a ‘Grand Old Duke of York Strategy’ of token marches, one-day strikes and so on.
6. As such, the overriding political priority is the organisation of our class from a ‘class for other classes’ into a ‘class for itself’. This means overcoming the division of the class’s political forces in dogmatic, tightly-controlled and conspiratorial sects, and building mass, democratic revolutionary parties guided by the inspiring politics of Marxism. Unlike the trade union bureaucracy and its left hangers-on, such a force can organise and mount the internationally co-ordinated political fightback so desperately needed. It is absence of a left force in this country which has seen the right become the main benefactor of this crisis thus far.
Conference further notes that:
1. On the student Left the political division of the ‘adult’ groups is absurdly replicated. There are numerous campaigns and ‘broad fronts’ with little between them politically such as Another Education is Possible and Education Not for Sale. They all peddle the same insufficient narrow trade union type demands in order to recruit to this or that sect that controls the campaign.
2. Although these groups can put together ‘activist conferences’ or ‘national networks’ every year or so, avoiding the big political questions of revolutionary organisation and culture leaves the student movement programmatically bereft and thus strategically lost.
3. Against the backdrop of cuts on campus, CS must continue to openly struggle against this amateurishness and redouble our efforts to forge the student left into a united revolutionary organisation guided by the principles of Marxism. We must not simply oppose all the cuts in the name of ‘anti-capitalism’ but put forward a positive vision of extreme democracy, internationalism, working class power and the positive supercession of the rotten capitalist system.
4. Our message has essentially stayed the same: Marxism is powerful because it is true – not as some dogmatic schema, but as the only consistent way of understanding the world in order to change it. That is why we argue for, stand on and agitate around these politics in NUS/university elections, in solidarity campaigns with workers on and off campus and in our international solidarity work.
5. At a time when the far left is in complete strategic disarray, getting this message across requires strengthening CS as an organisation and expanding its influence.
Conference resolves to:
1. Organise two day schools in the new term – one in Manchester and one in London – as a way of introducing students to our politics.
2. Continue to organise electoral campaigns on revolutionary politics like the ones in Manchester recently
3. Get involved with local and national anti-cuts campaigns where they exist, and to set them up where they do not – all the time raising the need for Marxist unity
4. Support and attend Communist University this August – an excellent opportunity for comrades to study and educate themselves
5. To support and organise campaigns supporting strikes, victimised workers and workers actions against the wave of cuts.
6. To aid and support local mobilisations against far-right marches and attacks on minorities.
Conference mandates the incoming executive:
1. To endeavour to meet weekly online and work to a specific agenda, assigning a comrade to report on these meetings to the members’ list every week.
2. To draw up a template for CS branches to work from in their branch meetings. In particular we need to take contact work and finances far more seriously, with branch secretaries reporting back to the exec and the members’ list regularly.
3. To encourage the production of regular local newsletters or a regular blog where we do not have the resources. These should tackle the issues on campus without losing our high political focus.
4. To produce a ‘Being a Communist Student’ activists’ guide which can be sold at Freshers’ stalls and used by students coming into contact with the organisation and its politics for the first time – this should include suggested reading, summaries of some of the debates within and around CS, activism tips and so on.
5. To organise a rigorous Freshers’ Fair drive to establish CS branches on campuses across the country.
6. To aim to produce a ninth issue of Communist Student in time for said freshers’ fairs in September.
7. To support and organise campaigns supporting strikes, victimised workers and workers actions against the wave of cuts.
8. To aid and support local mobilisations against far-right marches and attacks on minorities.
9. To meet face-to-face atleast once every academic term
Submitted by Cat Rylance (Manchester CS)
1. That Communist Students in culture and practice is an autonomous, open organisation which allows for the full expression of political differences.
2. That Communist Students in part serves as an educational organisation in which people can develop their ideas.
1. That Communist Students membership should be open to those in other revolutionary groups.
2. That the above is not accurately reflected in ‘What we fight for’ Point 1.
1. To amend the first sentence of ‘What we fight for’ Point 1 to read:
“Communist Students is an organisation open to all those who are interested in or committed to revolutionary communist politics in any organisation or none. It was set up by members and supporters of the Communist Party of Great Britain, but is now run autonomously of them.”
Solidarity Not Sanctions
Submitted by Chris Strafford (Manchester CS)
Communist Students note that
1) Since the rigged election in June 2009 a popular movement has broken out onto the streets fracturing the ruling class in Iran leading to repression, assasinations and the exile of many leading socialist and democratic activists. The radical youth and students have faced the repression and continue to struggle against the theocratic regime and imperialist threats and sanctions.
2) The reformists led by Karoubi, Mousavi et al have attempted to divert the popular struggle to bring their faction back into power and to maitain the Islamic Republic. The leaders of the ‘Green Movement’ are responsible for the death of thousands of socialists, trade unionists, women’s activists, LGBT people as well as those from religous and national minorities.
3) The continued crisis of the imperialists project in the middle-east coupled with the economic crisis has given further impetus for the warmongers to bring Iran to heel, to curb its regional influences that it gained since the fall of its biggest rivals the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.
4) The sanctions on Iran have a detrimental affect on the working class and their ability to fight. Youth unemployment is at 70% and inflation is set to reach 50% this year. On top of this wages are not being paid for months at a time and workers organisations are being continually attacked and destroyed by the repressive state apparatus.
Communist Students believe that
1) Sanctions are not an alternative to war. They are a pre-cursor to military action and impose a state of siege on Iran, causing poverty, the destruction of Iran’s industrial base, starvation, disease and eventually social collapse as was seen in Zimbabwe.
2) Sanctions and the threat of military action actually strengthen the theocratic regime by allowing the regime to pose as anti-imperialist and lay the blame of the economic and political crisis in Iran on the USA, Europe and their allies.
3) The theocratic regime cannot be considered a reliable anti-imperialist force as it welcomed the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and aids the occupations of those countries by supporting the puppet governments. The only consistent anti-imperialist force is the working class.
4) The worker’s movement, the radical youth and student’s movement must strike an independent class line against all sections of the Islamic Republic. The errors of the majority of the left in Iran and globally during the 1979 revolution to back the new clerical state cost the lives of thousands and strengthened the counter-revolutionary and reactionary forces. We should not make the same mistake, communists are for the destruction the Islamic Republic not just Ahmadinejad and Khamanei.
Communist Students resolve to
1) Continue to support the campaigns and actions of Hands Off the People of Iran and critically Stop the War Coalition.
2) To take part in the fundraising events over the Summer such as the LRC vs HOPI Cricket Match.
3) To organise meetings on sanctions at the beginning of the new term on campuses where we have a presence.
4) To give space on our website and publications to Iranian socialist youth and students such as comrades from the Independent Left Students.
5) To build and support the campaigns of Iranian asylum seekers in the UK and abroad.
6) To push for the affiliation of local student unions and the National Union of Students to Hands Off the People of Iran.
The national executive and it role
Submitted by Robi Folkard (Manchester CS)
1) That the Executive has not worked efficiently this year, but despite this CS as an organisation has enlarged and developed.
2) That CS branches, particularly Manchester, have developed broad autonomy from the National Organisation.
1) That CS nationally requires both organisational and political leadership.
2) That local autonomy of branches is essential to the political growth and development of CS as an organisation.
3) That those members on the ground are best placed to decide on how to intervene in campus struggles.
4) That accountability and recallability procedures must be in place for CS to function democratically.
Conference Mandates the Executive:
1) To submit the minutes of each meeting to the e-list.
2) To submit a monthly report of its actions to the e-list.
3) To assign specific roles (e.g. Secretary, Treasurer etc) to each of its members.
1) That executive decisions on policy such as left unity calls should be discussed in branch and on the e-list before being published where possible.
2) That the consistent failure to produce reports and attend executive meetings without good reason is grounds for recall of Executive members.
3) That one third of the membership can call a national meeting where removing the executive or one member of the executive can be discussed and voted on.
4) That members can only be suspended by the executive pending expulsion by a national meeting.
5) The executive can only be elected at a national conference
[Editors note: The proposer accepted the amendment submitted by Cat Rylance and Chris Strafford]
Producing Communist Student
Submitted by Robi Folkard (Manchester CS)
1) That currently the editorship of Communist Student is unspecified and unaccountable.
2) That frequently articles of Communist Student are politically edited.
1) That the National Publication must reflect the political differences within the Communist Students.
1) To mandate the incoming executive to choose from its members an editor of the publication and an editor of the website.
2) That in planning and commissioning articles, features and reports these editors look to encourage as many comrades as possible and take into account some of the discussions on the e-list or at branch level.
3) That, as part of its regular reporting, the executive gives a clear outline of what materials it is looking to produce, seeking to engage comrades in the process of production.
4) That there be thorough feedback from branches on issues of CS, articles on the website etc.
5) That in order to educate ourselves, the executive look to produce a ‘Discussion’ bulletin that summarises some of the discussions we have had in our short history – this will serve to educate comrades new and old. This bulletin should aim to be produced in time for the new term – under the guidance of the CS executive.
[Editors note: the motion was amended with Ben Lewis’ amendment but only under the ‘resolves’ section]
Communists and liberation
Submitted by Robi Folkard (Manchester CS)
They should have full democratic rights to do so and to openly express any differences. However, in order to avoid sectionalism and the ghettoisation of struggles, communists stress the need for working class unity around a political programme that opposes every manifestation of oppression. This ensures that the working class takes the lead in these struggles to become a hegemonic class fit to rule – “tribunes of the oppressed” in the struggle for complete emancipation for all
Change point 3, which reads:
“The Education System, the fight for women’s equality, against racism, fascism, homophobia and chauvinism, and the struggle against war and for ecological sustainability are just as much working class questions as pay and trade union rights. We fight for free abortion on demand, free 24-hour childcare, an end to the discrimination against lesbians, gay men and bisexuals.”
“The Education System, the fight for women’s liberation, against racism, fascism, homophobia, transphobia and chauvinism, and the struggle against war and for ecological sustainability are just as much working class questions as pay and trade union rights. We fight for free abortion on demand, free 24-hour childcare, and the decriminalisation of sex work. In order to be effective in their struggle against their oppression both within society and within the working class, women, LGBTQ, ethnic minoritiesand disabled people may at times need to organise autonomously. However, this should be as working class people as cross-class movements hide real class differences. Full emancipation cannot be achieved without the abolition of capitalism.”
Communists and Parliament (Not Passed)
Submitted by Mark Harrison (Manchester CS)
The capitalist class will never willingly allow their wealth and power to be taken away by a parliamentary vote. They will resist using every means at their disposal. Communists seek to mobilise working class self-activity independent of the state, the employers and the labour bureaucracy. The working class must prepare itself to make revolution – peacefully if we can, forcibly if we must.
Therefore deleting the following two senctences; “Communists enter parliament to win the biggest possible working class representation in elections on all levels. Communist Students are in favour of revolutionary socialists standing in elections on a revolutionary platform” and amending (Communist also seek…to Communists seek…) in point 9.
[Editors note: conference agreed to continue the debate and focus our next dayschool in October 2010 on this question]