To the Barricade!

Submitted by Matthew on 9 February, 2011 - 12:39

The student movement, with hundreds of thousands of school students walking out of classes to demonstrate against cuts, has thrown whole new layers of school and college student activists into activity.

Suddenly, thousands of students are examining their political ideas and looking for ways of becoming politically active. Through the prominent role that many Workers’ Liberty activists have played in the student movement and the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, as well as in local trade union anti-cuts groups, we have been coming into regular contact with many of these new student activists, and looking for ways to help them organise and get to grips with socialist ideas.

One of the tools we are using to do this is Barricade. Barricade is a socialist zine, published by Workers’ Liberty for school and college students. It carries reports on the activity that local school student activist groups are organising, pieces about the movement against the cuts, and articles on big political ideas and international news.

School students use it to start debates about politics in school — handing it out in class has been known to derail whole lessons and turn them into debates about class politics and the cuts. The presence of Barricade as a national publication gives political back-up to often isolated socialist activists who have to argue their politics alone.

In many colleges, school students are setting up activist groups — moving from meeting up informally with mates to having formal, regular meetings to discuss politics and plan actions.

Barricade supporters have pulled off various actions — sending “class struggle Christmas cards”, sending solidarity greetings to local strikers, organising debates on issues from cuts to class to Israel-Palestine, putting on a “reception” for Tory MPs visiting their school, and campaigning against punishments for students who took part in walkouts.

Workers’ Liberty wants to help school and college students organise local, democratic groups that can link up with the workers’ movement, keep the anti-cuts struggle going, and provide a political education in socialist ideas for young activists.

We hope that Barricade can be a useful tool for this. Unlike some sectarian groups, we don’t want to muscle school student groups into a front project or come along to give them their marching orders. We want to facilitate the work that these groups do, and hopefully along the way convince many activists to join Workers’ Liberty.

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