Martha Davenport – Manchester Marxist Society

On Thursday 13th August, students across the country received their highly anticipated A-level results which, much like the exam grading debacle in Scotland, provoked a huge backlash among students, teachers, and parents.

It was reported that almost 40% of grades had been downgraded for students in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, with a third of college principals reporting results dramatically lower than their previous exam performance. However, these downgraded results were not based on past, predicted, or mock results- they were based on where students live.

This “postcode lottery” system of grading had left the poorest students out to dry, and exposed the real nature of education under capitalism. This rightfully sparked outrage among students across the country. Many demanded a fairer grading system from Tory education secretary Gavin Williamson, and organised protests at short notice.

Anticipating this enormous response from students and the Labour Movement, the MSF released a series of agitational statements on social media, which condemned the current education system which is failing young people and depriving them of their future. This social media activity gained significant popularity among students looking for an answer to the reckless behaviour of Williamson and the Tories in response to the grading fiasco, as well as receiving interest from the student organisers of the ‘A-Levels 2021’ protests. We called for the organisation of young activists who are looking to fight back against the ravaging cuts which have been carried out against working class students and youth.

Despite this incredibly positive response, one of the tweets which brought attention to Marxist Societies in schools and universities around the country, fell victim to hate from a large number of right-wing trolls and reactionaries. The tweet, which received over 200 likes and retweets, and over 150 comments, caused quite a stir within the ranks of right-wing twitter, with hundreds of anonymous accounts vomiting up the usual misguided slogans and insults in the comments section. It seems that the red scare is firmly back for these regressives, and the Marxist Student Federation is at the forefront of this fear. 

Most noticeably, none of these comments were left by students. In fact, many of the comments attacked the education system itself, with one user writing “I blame the educators”, while many others attacked students for being ‘delusional’ or ‘stupid’. However, what these commenters fail to see is that the MSF is in line with the anti capitalist, anti Tory mood which is gripping young people. Their angry outbursts are only revealing themselves to be deeply intimidated by the growth of the Marxist Student Federation and the growing revolutionary consciousness of students in general.

After all, if these people truly believe that all members of the MSF are ‘delusional clowns’, then what is there to get so worked up about?

Any anti-capitalist who has spent any time on twitter will likely have been presented with the lightweight argument that tweeting from an iPhone makes you a hypocrite. This was one of the main arguments presented by these rightwingers, with over 80 comments ‘calling the MSF out’ for simply using machinery produced within capitalism. 

According to those trolls, we should magically remove ourselves from the capitalist society of which we live in and exist inside a system of socialism, which has not yet been created. They refuse to notice that it would be impossible to live, never mind fight for socialism, without living and participating in this capitalist society, especially when the very nature of capitalism requires the working class to have access to technology in order to survive. As Marxists, we do not suggest that nothing useful has been created under capitalism, simply that capitalism now holds us back from our true potential. 

This argument also seems to suggest that the ‘magic hand of capitalism’ produced an iPhone alone. We know in reality that what produced this technology was the minds and hands of the working class. In a world of working class co-operation, the greatest minds of technological advancement could truly thrive and work together. I would certainly be happy to give up my iPhone to the incredible technology that will exist after the revolution. If these reactionaries want to hold on to their dying phones and computers for political reasons then we will happily let them be. 

Many other commenters pointed out the conditions in countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, East Germany, and so on, with foolish and unsubstantiated claims that we ‘worship’ the regimes of Mao and Stalin, and support the theory of ‘socialism in one country’.

However, these commenters wouldn’t have to look far to see that we fight for genuine socialism, not the crude distortion of the Stalinist regimes. Just as capitalism is a world system, socialism must be a world system, which is why we fight for socialism not just in Britain but throughout the world. We emplore some of our critics to read our work instead of blindly throwing anti-Marxist arguments at us and hoping they stick. We are happy to enter into any debate on our actual programme. 

As Marxists, we analyse the features of capitalism on a daily basis, yet it is clear to see that these reactionaries have never attempted to read a word of Marx, Engels, Lenin, or Trotsky in their lifetimes.

Of all the comments, the most laughable had to come from Paul Staines, the right-wing conspiracy ‘blogger’ behind ‘Guido Fawkes’. Staines criticised the MSF for selling newspapers by tweeting: “Selling Trotskyite newspapers is so last century.” This childish and petty jibe once again proves the right’s fears of a growing consciousness among students and young workers. Selling Trotskyist newspapers may be ‘so last century’ to those who have abandoned talking to the masses about politics, however, this is not our way. We suggest that a man who lived his life mostly in the last century leaves an organisation of young students and workers to worry about being too old fashioned. Our ranks of 20 somethings fighting for world revolution on streets across the world can decide if they would rather become twitter trolls along with Staines. So far, the MSF has rejected this change of path. 

These trolls neglected to provide their own analysis of the exam grading debacle, whilst criticising both the education system, and also the students which have been mistreated by the very same system.

Looking at the sheer volume of these comments, as one commenter pointed out, the wound up messages sent by these reactionary trolls prove that the MSF is doing something right! As we move in the right direction, we will run into more silly arguments such as these, as well as more genuine arguments. For now, we will sit back, safe in the knowledge that we are scaring these reactionaries and that they have no solid arguments to make against us. Fight the right! Fight for socialism! Join the MSF.