The document below is being discussed, amended and voted on at this year’s Marxist Student Federation national conference. Every Marxist Society affiliated to the Federation can send up to five delegates to the conference. Amendments passed by societies should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday 9 February.
The context for the document is enormous political turbulence both in Britain and internationally. We can expect big swings to the Left and to the Right, with a corresponding political radicalisation of many people. Marxist students have to be prepared to intervene in these events by putting forward a clear revolutionary socialist programme. The absence of such a programme has limited the student movement over the last year. The NUS leadership elections were won by Left candidates, but this hasn’t translated into action. Instead the NUS has been mired in backstabbing and intrigue. The story is the same in the leadership of Momentum and Young Labour. What these Left leaders are lacking is a clear socialist programme upon which to base a mass movement, without which the organisations they lead fail to connect with the majority of students and young people. Our aim is to win the NUS to a socialist programme.
The Warwick occupation is a reminder of the militancy of which the student movement is capable. The occupation forced the university to make some concessions, but in the grand scheme of things the achievements were modest. The lesson is that victory will require more than one occupation at one university. What’s needed is a strategy for student unions and trade unions to link up, use a variety of tactics from occupations to strikes, with the aim of bringing down the government and holding Corbyn to his promises of free education and an end to austerity. The only firm foundation for such a strategy is bold socialist political ideas.
Over the next year our task is to strengthen and continue our interventions in student politics and beyond. We need to educate ourselves in the fundamental ideas of Marxism – the history and theory of class struggle. We need to strengthen our campaigning methods and experience, and raise money to finance future campaigns. On the basis of this strategy we can look to winning local student unions, trade unions, the NUS etc. to our ideas about the need for bold socialist policies. Our forces are still small, but they are stronger than they have ever been. With patience, audacity and determination we can make Marxism a serious political force in schools, universities and beyond.
1. The cornerstone of our educational strategy remains weekly meetings to discuss Marxist theory, history and current events.
2. This year, to celebrate the centenary of the Russian Revolution, we have published “A Marxist Introduction to the Russian Revolution”. Every society member should buy and read this pamphlet. We should have a target of selling 200 copies of this pamphlet by the end of 2017.
3. This year every member should also read Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution. We should publish reading guides, chapter summaries and video material for this text.
4. Every society should continue running campaigns for NUS delegates, linking up with workers on strike, and participating in local campaigns.
5. Each society should also consider launching a campaign based on the model motions appended to this document. Each society should have the following aims:
a. Gather a certain number of names on a petition in support of the campaign (number to be agreed by the society)
b. Write at least one article for the student and/or local press about the campaign
c. Move a resolution in the local student and/or trade union in support of the campaign
6. We should continue covering our costs through collections at society meetings, fundraising socials and other donations.
7. We should aim to have a surplus of £1000 by September 2017, which can be used to fund our efforts to win the National Union of Students to a socialist programme.
Paper and website
8. We should adopt the Revolution newspaper as our official newspaper and every society should aim to pay upfront for bulk orders of the paper to be sold in meetings and on campus.
9. Every society should aim to write one article for the Revolution newspaper and/or the Marxist Student website once a month.
10. A meeting of one member of each society should meet in the Spring and the Summer to discuss the political and organisational direction of the Marxist Student Federation.
Appendix 1: Model Housing Motion
This student union believes:
1. That the housing crisis is one of the most significant threats to the standard of living for students and young workers in Britain today.
2. That the resources exist for everyone to have a comfortable and affordable home.
3. That the primary reason for the housing crisis is the pursuit of profit by large construction companies and private landlords (including universities), which trumps the satisfaction of the needs of the vast majority of students and young workers.
This student union resolves:
1. To launch a campaign for a massive programme of affordable house building, starting with the lowering of university rents.
2. To argue that this programme must be carried out and funded by the largest construction companies and private landlords (including universities).
3. To launch a campaign for the nationalisation without compensation of the businesses and land necessary to carry out this programme, and for the administration of universities directly by staff and students, in the event that the private owners and university management refuse to participate.
Appendix 2: Model Casualisation Motion
This student union believes:
1. That young people, including current students and recent graduates, are increasingly stuck in precarious casualised jobs.
2. That this kind of work is increasingly common due to employers’ quest for greater profit, which comes at the expense of the well-being and quality of life of employees.
3. That it is possible for everyone to have a decent well-paid job with regular hours.
This student union resolves:
1. To launch a campaign against low-paid and casualised work on campus and in the local area.
2. To link up with trade unions locally and nationally to broaden the campaign.
3. To launch a campaign for the nationalisation without compensation of those businesses that can afford to employ people on good contracts but refuse to do so.