Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/529/4012
Portsmouth Activists Academy: Day of debate
On Saturday 12 April, Portsmouth students union, aided by Socialist Students members, held its inaugural Activist Academy, which brought together around 30 campaigners during the course of the day from groups across the south such as Socialist Students and People and Planet.
Will Schafer-Peek, Southampton Socialist Students
Virginie Prégny from Gauche Révolutionnaire (the Socialist Party's sister group in France) opened the event with an inspiring introduction about how the May 1968 movement in France developed through the unity of students and workers in struggle.
She gave an insight far greater than the trivialisation of the period of history by the capitalist media recently. She concluded that the discontent about living and working conditions, as well as the lack of a say working-class people had in the running of society, are factors common to both the current situation and that in the run-up to the events of May 1968.
Socialist Students contributed effectively to a debate on the question of Israel and Palestine arguing that neither the ruling Israeli regime, backed by US imperialism, nor the ruling elite in Palestine can resolve the crisis and end the horrific suffering of ordinary Palestinians. This can only be done through the struggles of the Palestinian and Israeli working classes.
Socialist Students put forward the case for democratic international socialism and a democratically planned economy in the session hosted by People and Planet on the subject of the process of oil production. We argue that the destructive system, where nation states compete against each other for resources and prestige, cannot avert climate change, but in fact can only hasten the ruination of the planet.
Only the working class has the potential to change the system, from one based on competition to favour the tiny elites of the super-rich, to one based on international cooperation, planning the use of resources to end, not just the destruction of the environment, but also global poverty.
The final discussion was a debate on 'where now for the student movement?' Matt Dobson, national organiser for Socialist Students, put forward a strategy to take the student movement forward based on organising around the key uniting issue of fees.
John Molyneux, Respect Left List candidate for Central Southsea, insisted on being a platform speaker in this debate and proceeded to criticise the meeting. He also focused his remarks on criticising the Campaign to Defeat Fees (CDF), which Socialist Students plays a key role in organising, saying it is focused solely on the issue of scrapping tuition fees rather than concentrating on international issues like the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Socialist Students does campaign against these wars, but regarding the CDF, Matt and other CDF activists pointed out that there is no other national campaign that is consistently organising against university fees and seeking to unite all who stand for free education.
The CDF argues for the hundreds of billions of pounds wasted on Trident nuclear weapons, war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and all that is lost through the unpaid and low taxes of the fat cats, to be put to good use in publicly funding free education with a living grant for all students, proper public services and decent wages and working conditions for all.
This would help coordinate students, angry with the marketisation of education, with other young people and workers struggling for decent wages and conditions to help build a campaign against the common enemy - the exploitative capitalist system.
Socialist Students and CDF activists are organising in cities and towns in the south of England for an anti-fees demonstration in Southampton after the freshers fairs in October. This will take place in the constituency of the universities minster, John Denham. Details will be announced shortly.
In The Socialist 16 April 2008:
Workplace news and analysis
Global food crisis
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and views
International socialist news and analysis