Since the start of the academic year, comrades of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) have been raising the red flag on campuses worldwide. We have documented much of this excellent work and the eager reception Marxist ideas have received under the hashtag #CommunismOnCampus. We include many of those reports here.
Around the world, young people have been returning to their campuses faced with bleaker prospects than ever before. But the ideas of Marxism give students something to fight for – a socialist future, free from oppression, poverty, war and barbarism.
The success of the #CommunismOnCampus campaign shows the thirst for Marxist theory, above all among the youth. The fight for these ideas doesn’t end here, and comrades will organise and educate a growing layer of student youth, in numerous meetings, reading groups and other activities all over the world.
So wherever you are, now is the time to get in touch and join the struggle for socialist revolution!
Against a backdrop of government turmoil (with Britain having seen three Prime Ministers in three months), the Marxist Student Federation – the student wing of the British section of the IMT – has staged its largest ever freshers’ campaign.
In one week alone, comrades signed up over 500 people to Marxist societies at Cambridge University, Oxford University, Imperial College London, and Lancaster University.
In total, at least 3,750 people at 54 universities have signed up at stalls all over the country. And the semester has only just begun. At most of these universities, the MSF has hosted a series of bold meetings on Why we are Communists, at which more than 1,000 students attended. On one night alone, no fewer than 13 meetings were running simultaneously across the country.
One student at LSE told the comrades at their stall that “your group seems to be the most serious about revolution and I’m glad to see it”, a sentiment repeated in many other interactions as students actively sought out the IMT.
Over 200 people signed up to the Marxist society at King’s College London. Similar figures were reported at the University of Birmingham and University of Manchester.
At one meeting in Newcastle, the speaker asked, “who here is a communist?” and every single attendee raised their hand. This shows the potential to build a powerful Marxist tendency among the youth – a potential that the comrades are determined to turn into a reality.
To follow the events among radical students and young people in Britain, be sure to check out the live blog published on the MSF website, as well as the social media channels at @marxiststudent for regular updates.
In Pakistan, comrades of the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) have been rallying students around a protest campaign in support of students affected by devastating, countrywide floods. They have put forward demands including: a complete waiver of fees for students belonging to flood affected areas, alongside free hostels, transport and internet access.
The campaign has created a stir among the students on campus. Comrades have been collecting signatures to be given to administrations of educational institutions and provincial (state) administrations. More than 2,000 signatures have been collected so far.
During this campaign, PYA activists have consistently put forward the necessity for socialist revolution. They are building up towards a country-wide protest (Day of Action) on 2 November as part of the campaign. Protests and rallies will be organised in different educational institutions and localities all over the country on this date.
This important work also comes at a time of buildup to the Central Convention of the PYA, which will be held on 10 December 2022. As part of this, comrades are organising regional and city-wide conventions across the country. Dates of many regional conventions have already been announced, with campaigns ongoing. The first of these regional conventions in Balochistan was a tremendous success, with hundreds of students, workers and activists attending.
Meanwhile, on 20 October, the PYA at Peshawar University organised a student conference, “Pakhtunkhwa Peace Conference: Class War Against Terrorism”.
Hundreds of students, young people, teachers, political workers and staff from universities across Peshawar participated.
The student conference was hosted at a time of severe global crisis, especially in Pakistan. For decades, the Pakistani state fulfilled its imperial ambitions by supporting reactionary forces in Afghanistan, plunging millions on both sides of the Durand Line into the horror of war. Fearing the anger of the masses and with the Taliban once again in power in Afghanistan, terrorism has once more been visited on the people of Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. In this context, comrades of the PYA organised the conference under the slogan, “class war against terrorism”, at which Adam Pal, leading comrade of the IMT in Pakistan (Lal Salam), and PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen spoke as chief guests.
Rejecting widespread national, religious, regional and linguistic divisions, Adam Pal emphasised the need and importance of joint class struggle against the class system.
He also expressed complete solidarity with the recent mass protests of thousands held in Swat and other adjoining areas against the regrouping and attacks of Taliban. He explained the criminal role of US imperialism in producing and nurturing Islamic fundamentalism in the region and how both imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism have their roots in the bloodthirsty capitalist system. Only through the overthrow of this system in a socialist revolution can peace and prosperity be achieved for the people of the region.
In Italy, the complete absence of a fighting left has allowed right-wing, wannabe-demagogue Giorgia Meloni into power at the head of a right-wing coalition. But this is no indicator of the mood in society, with the youth in Italy increasingly open to Marxist ideas.
Over the last few weeks, young people have been out on the street in their thousands to protest against climate change inaction. Our comrades intervened in 19 of these protests around the country, selling 500 papers and taking 141 contact details from people looking to get more involved.
Our Italian Marxist paper has also been selling well at high schools and universities, with another 500 sold on campuses so far. Student comrades have organised meetings on Marxist theory and discussion groups at various universities around the country, including the University of Milan, La Sapienza University in Rome and the University of Naples. Comrades have found that their slogan, “fight the Meloni government in the streets,” really resonates with the actual mood among the youth.
The Italian comrades also held their first ever national camp of Alziamo la Testa (ALT), the youth organisation of the Italian Marxists. This was a great success, with eager students getting a healthy mix of theory and socialising, to build the revolutionary optimism needed to navigate the coming period.
It is clear from these accounts that there are many avenues to grow the forces of Marxism.
In the Swiss sections of the IMT, L'étincelle and Der Funke, the #CommunismOnCampus campaign has produced very promising results.
From a total of five public events so far with the theme, ‘Study Marxism, Prepare for World Revolution’, 166 people participated, with more than half of those not yet members of the IMT, although 39 have so far expressed an interest in joining our ranks and are now taking part in the reading circles on Marxist classics. Comrades have sold around 1,100 copies of their newspaper at the universities.
But it is not just at the universities that students are mobilising; they have also gone out in Zurich to show solidarity with the movement in Iran, as well as preparing for a student solidarity block at the next public service and public transport strikes in Geneva.
The strength of the work of this section can be illustrated by the fact that a right-wing newspaper published an article on, “How radical Marxists are infiltrating the universities”. They published an image of the Sri Lankan masses with the slogan “Prepare for World Revolution”, claiming that our comrades “stand for strike and uprisings”, whilst listing their programme of public events. This free publicity has resulted in new recruits, with hopefully more to come, so we thank the capitalist press for their free publicity!
The hard work of comrades of Revolution, the Danish section of the IMT, has resulted in successes already exceeding expectations! Over 100 people attended a meeting on Marx and the Communist Manifesto, with 40 expressing an interest in learning more about the IMT, and some already asking to join.
The Marxist Students have been busily spreading the ideas of Marxism in six universities and two high schools in Copenhagen, organising stalls, paper sales, and open meetings on campus, and this work has clearly paid off.
One student at the Institute of Geosciences said that all of his friends on campus had been talking about Revolution and all knew who they were, thanks to the almost daily stalls at the campus. Another young comrade is now known as ‘the Marxist’ at his high school because of the tireless work he has put in organising meetings and discussing politics with fellow students, leading to his being asked to organise a climate strike at his school, for which he mobilised over 200 students.
Overall, the picture is looking very positive in Denmark, as students can daily see the rottenness of the system. They are looking for an alternative to capitalism, and the Marxist Students in Denmark are the only ones offering it on campuses.
With the recent election of a racist right-wing government only adding to the sense of disillusionment young people in Sweden are feeling towards the capitalist system, Marxistiska Studenter activists have been busy intervening at schools and universities around the country to offer an alternative.
With their ‘fall offensive’ period drawing to a close, the Swedish comrades can count hundreds of papers sold, 400 sign-ups from people keen to hear more about our ideas, and at least 100 concrete meetings set-up, from which dozens of people have already agreed to join.
By all accounts, it appears to be the most successful campus recruitment drive in the Swedish organisation’s history. They are not resting on their laurels, however, as the layers already reached are surely just the tip of the iceberg – and there are many more opportunities to connect with young revolutionaries.
For example, activists of Revolution, the Swedish section of the IMT, have been getting involved in the protest and solidarity campaigns for the Iranian masses, who are undergoing revolutionary upheavals as we speak. Distinguishing ourselves from the liberals, reformists and sects in these movements presents an excellent opportunity to draw the most advanced layers of youth towards us, as has been happening in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Umeå and beyond.
Another hugely positive development is the fact that all Swedish branches are continuing full steam ahead with public meetings, reading groups and general education of the young comrades there. For example, Marxistiska Studenter Umeå are holding a meeting this Thursday 27 Oct: ‘For a socialist revolution in Iran’.
This training of Marxist cadres will be essential if young people in Sweden are to be able to look forward to a brighter, socialist future.
‘Could America go communist?’ Although this question (recently posed at the Revolution Festival in Britain) might once have been viewed as absurd, it is looking increasingly likely to be answered in the affirmative.
Tablings by comrades of Socialist Revolution, the US section of the IMT, have become increasingly commonplace at campuses up and down the country, to meet a growing demand for Marxist literature – that is, concrete lessons to apply to today’s historic impasse of capitalism.
Most exciting of all are the Marxist schools being put on by comrades up and down the country since mid-September. From Phoenix to Minneapolis, Atlanta to New York City, eager revolutionaries are right now being trained in the fundamentals of Marxist theory, to arm them with the ideas to achieve socialism in our lifetime.
It is in a similar context that Socialist Fightback Students (SFS) in Canada has spread to campuses across the country. This activity extends from coast to coast, currently at 15 different locations, including big centres of activity in Toronto, Montreal, and Edmonton. There have been expansions to Vancouver, Calgary, and Quebec City too – with new chapters at University of Calgary, University of British Columbia, and Université Laval respectively.
This has all helped contribute to the amazing figure of 2,000 student sign-ups across the country in September alone!
In Toronto, with its skyrocketing rent prices, we have received huge interest – with over 1,000 students signed up to get involved in just two weeks across Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), University of Toronto, and York University. In addition, well-attended meetings of at least 60 students are regularly being held at these universities – as well as other locations in Ontario, such as Carleton University in Ottawa, McMaster University in Hamilton, and the University of Waterloo.
In Quebec, there has been a similar interest in socialist ideas. In Montreal alone, we collected 700 sign-ups in the first few weeks of September. At English-speaking campuses, we are averaging 50 or more students at campuses such as Concordia and McGill. Similarly, our events on the Francophone campuses in Montreal are the biggest we have ever had!
Similar success stories are being reported in Alberta, including the first event ever held at the University of Calgary. We also held our first event at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, a meet and greet which drew out 65 students – which is the largest gathering we have ever organised in the city!
These are just a small taste of the many positive developments from the Canadian section, but the theme is the same across the board – the forces of Marxism are growing in Canada, and we are at the forefront of this wave.
Amidst the election in Brazil, comrades of Esquerda Marxista, the Brazilian section of the IMT, have been hard at work organising in schools and universities around the country, setting up newsstands, leafleting and holding discussion groups. The Marxist students have wasted no opportunity to put forward their perspectives, a more important task than ever at such a time of heightened political activity.
Already, this has paid off, with many people saying they are interested in getting more involved. We have built up a presence at various schools and universities, such as the University of Brasília, where students have been selling the Tempo de Revolução newspaper and our manifesto; and at political rallies, distributing our materials to the crowd at a recent event featuring Lula.
Meanwhile, comrades have been building the campaign for the Marxist candidate for federal deputy, Lucy Dias, representing the programme of Esquerda Marxista. This has formed a point of reference for young people, sparking debates and meetings, such as a recent discussion in Bauru which touched on vital issues such as non-payment of public debt, and the importance of rejecting class collaboration when building a revolutionary organisation.
As the only group putting forward a revolutionary Marxist perspective, we can become the force around which young people coalesce, as they tire of a choice between reformism or reaction. We say: Fora Bolsonaro and Fora capitalismo!
The comrades of Der Funke in Austra have focused their student work on three cities: Vienna, Graz and Innsbruck. They have combined political events on campus with newspaper sales, flyering and postering.
In Vienna, for example, the student comrades have sold large numbers of papers, as well as collecting contact details from 20 people interested in getting more involved. They also held a pub night attended by 60 people, which raised €600 to help build the organisation. Another event on ‘Ukraine, Imperialism and the Energy Crisis’ achieved similar numbers, with a lot of those attending leaving their contact details.
In Innsbruck, a fairly new branch has gained valuable experience in organising paper sales, and very successful events on the ‘Lies about Inflation and Revolution’ and the ‘Lies about Communism’. In Graz, they have had one open meeting on ‘Why we are Communists’, with another one planned on ‘Marxist philosophy and Stalinism’.
All in all, the young comrades have been utilising their resources very successfully in Austria, doing excellent campus work in areas where Der Funke has branches in proximity to universities. On average, paper sales are at least double those of last year – an indicator of a new mood on campuses and the energy and determination of the comrades.
The student movement and the present political situation
In 1908, during the period of prolonged pessimism and reaction that followed the failed 1905 Russian Revolution, Lenin wrote the following in an article titled The Student Movement and the Present Political Situation, with regard to a student strike which had been called at St. Petersburg University:
“Social-Democratic students have no right to shirk such work under any conditions. And however difficult this work may be at the present time, whatever reverses particular agitators may experience in this or that university, students’ association, meeting, etc., we shall say: knock, and it will be opened unto you! The work of political agitation is never wasted. Its success is measured not only by whether we have succeeded here and now in winning a majority, or obtaining consent for co-ordinated political action. It is possible that we shall not achieve this all at once. But that is why we are an organised proletarian party—not to lose heart over temporary failures, but stubbornly, unswervingly and consistently to carry on our work, even in the most difficult conditions.”
These words ring as true today as they did over a hundred years ago. But unlike in 1908, we are not living through an era of pessimism and defeat. On the contrary, the working class is awakening from many decades of slumber, with a growing consciousness of its own strength with every passing day.
What these reports from our student comrades all around the world demonstrate is that the avenues for connecting with this situation are many. As Lenin explained a century ago, “knock, and it will be opened unto you!”