it opened lat afternoon on thursday 30th june.its start was delayed,appropriately in the light of the mobilisation of approximately 800,000 workers on strike that day in defence of pensions.
i regret that i felt unable to take part in the public aspects of the event,largely because im struggling to come to terms with my recently acquired disability,which affects both my mobility and my confidence.with hindsight perhaps i made a mistake.
i joined marxism 2011 for its second event of the day.of the four sessions on offer,i attended the talk on the student struggle that erupted in britain last autumn.it was reassuring that despite the silence of most of the media since last autumn,the student movement had not gone to sleep,but rather that whole sections of the student movement have been galvanised and radicalised by the attack on them by the con-dem coalition.many are young people who had not been previously active in anything.with the widening intake into further and tertiary education over recent years the movement is big compared with the wave of activism in the 1960s and 1970s and is potentially even broader.it involves a wider class base and also involves school students and beyond as the attack on student education and funding includes the fundamentral building blocks of any coherent educational system including all kinds of colege and funding.
the movement also draws in working people who are the parents,carers and associates of the students as the attack is on all aspects of the lives and conditions of most working people.
whatever the social starting point of students education is a major route of social mobility of one kind or another.at the same time students tend to be less tied and bound than most working people.this enables the student movement to move at speeds not neccessarilly available to the wider working class,who are bound by both their social responsibilities and the nature of their own wage slavery.
this enables students to act as iniators as well as both detonators to and supporters of the wider working class,although their inevitable transcience limits their ability to build long term roots and traditions.
clearly this is a double edged reality for both students and workers.their strength lies in working and struggling together.it seems to me that,for example,students in occupation in suppoirt of wider struggle as well as thei own might create new and necessary spaces in which the wider class can speak,organise and co-ordinate.
it is clear that the struggle is far from over,as the new forthcoming academic years offers new and continued challenges.there is also unfinished business-not least in terms of outstanding legal trails.one speaker,with a disability spoke about how witnesses allege that they saw him thrown himself from his wheelchair.video on youtube shows something very different
it is also clear that students on trial are being told they cant win.sentences are often dispoportionate to any offence.it seems that students and others are building social,legal and political support for their brothers and sisters who are being criminalised.
it seems to me that we,those in the wider movement need to argue for that support and to not allow students to be portrayed negatively.it also seems to me that in a nation state in which the system no longer works,and in which the ruling class have surrendered their legitimacy,they need showing up fully.students defending their basic right to education,for which the working class here has fought for generations,is no offence.
what was also clear was the impact of the day strike,which impacted on the atmosphere of marxism 2011 very positively indeed.
i sat tight in the same room,the main hall of the friends meeting house in euston awaiting for the main,first evening rally.the hall filled to capacity at over 1,000.headlined"austerity,resistance and revolution",the introduction gave aflavour of events around the country that dayu in the strike which included the involvement of workers in many towns not familiar to open"class struggle".there were reports of new and unexpected sections of workers involved as well as a new carnival feeling,very unlike the practised and often boring atmosphere of worker demonstrations of the past too often led by the formal ranks of the union machines.
a greek comrade flew in from athens that day to bring greetings from the generalk strike of the 2 previous days to rapturous applause,and still he said with the acrid taste and smell of tears gas in his mouth.when kamal abu aita,leader of the indepenednt egyptian tax collectors union was introduced.all the 1,000 of us rose to give a standing ovation,followed by the chant of "the workers united,will never be defeated".In his address,translated from arabic,he brought greetings from the gyptian revolution to the struggle in london,and later led a chant in arabic,which i roughly translate as"revolution in cairo,revolution in london",answered with "one class,one solution-revolution"(i think)
teachers and a young student leader followed in describing and celebrating recent events in this country,but all clear that this is only a beginning which needs to be widenede,deepened and strgenthened.
a generalised,mass and ongoing and co-ordinated strike is in the air and being discussed.the creativity of the working class,combined with a willingness to struggle and fight now needs strengthening,deepening and widening.this iw where the experience and knowledge of the militants,cadre and revolutionary socialists can contribute to make the links between ideas and groups of workers to maximise the effectivity of our class forces.
we have a particular responsibilty to ensure that all workers and others are enabled to fight and to have not just a voice put aq central role in their own future.
there can be no substitute for struggles created by our class in the battle for a society which places workers needs before profit or the crisis of the capita;ist class class.
accept no substitute!