National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts - An insider perspective on the leftist dead end

With angry street protests spilling over into riots and occupations across the country, various groups are jostling for position as the self-appointed leadership of the movement. After the NUS made itself irrelevant in the wake of the Millbank Riot, the National Convention Against Fees And Cuts (NCAFC) took pole position.

Submitted by Fall Back on November 29, 2010

Given the state of things at the moment, it might come as a shock to learn that self-styled NUS alternative the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) decided to delay 5 December, which was to be a day of united action for students and workers, to the 11th. Leaving aside the question of what gives them the authority to change the weekend of action-- after they'd already assumed cooperation from other groups to begin with-- it is always clear that when leftists delay action, what they are actually doing is restraining a movement and attempting to stifle it. This movement has been gaining momentum for weeks, and it seems that the NCAFC is now seeking to control it.

The NCAFC is a perfect example of what is wrong with leftism and why it can never, ever lead a movement or do anything except destroy it. Leftists, whether they are members of dogmatic parties or not, do not have anyone's best interests at heart except their own. They are the NUS without the authority. They are liberals with a veneer of revolutionary glamour. In the end, they will always turn back to traditional authority figures, be they Labour or NUS or their own appointed ones. The real movement does not come from above but from the students and other people out on the street.

I've never believed in vanguardism. The idea that the proletariat need bourgeois intellectuals to lead them from ignorance into the revolution is so ridiculously self-aggrandising that only the most deluded bourgeois would-be revolutionaries actually believe it. Unfortunately this viewpoint seems to have taken hold. The NCAFC is finally showing itself for what I refused to believe it was: a venue for Leninists to insinuate their greasy ideology of power and domination into the genuine anger that so many people feel right now, to corrupt a movement of the people and turn it to their own ends. There is nothing revolutionary about this. It is the behaviour, through and through, of politicians and bureaucrats.

But let us rewind. Let's go back almost a year, to the inception of this group at the Convention Against Fees and Cuts, which I attended in February of 2009. Let's go back to the time I spent as a key part of the group-- and what made me leave it behind. The story is pretty typical: unfocused student outrage that the UK wants to imitate the debt-ridden and deeply unequal American higher education system. I found an outlet for this outrage in leftist politics, then abandoned leftism when it became clear that leftists are far more interested in jockeying for prominence and recruiting for sectarian parties than in changing the world.

I can say with no small amount of embarrassment that I was a liberal when I came to university-- Sussex University, whose reputation for student activism is a little more radical than it actually deserves. What pushed me further to the left at Sussex (and ultimately the 'ultraleft') wasn't interminable meetings dominated by power-hungry leftists under orders from a home office. It wasn't the dogmatic Leninist propaganda. It was watching my fellow students beaten and abused by police-- brought there by a false hostage situation-- for trying to defend their education. Nothing brought home the facts like those batons did, and no proselytising leftist prompted me to action like those snarling police dogs. This is a feeling that I'm sure students all over the UK are newly familiar with, after the brutal policing that took place on the last day of action.

I linked up with the NCAFC in the hope that I could help build a nationwide movement that wasn't dominated by petty party front groups like Another Education is Possible or the Education Activist Network. I liked the fact that the NCAFC was composed of independent activists as well as full-time party stooge, and for a while I thought that we could overcome the self-interest of professional revolutionaries to build a real student-led movement.

I spent months spent trying to coax a lumbering, sluggish machine into action. I helped set up the anticuts.com website, and I puzzled over the apparent tension between Workers Power and AWL. It seems AWL lived in constant fear that WP were going to try to seize control of the NCAFC. I heard from countless people that NCAFC was just a front for AWL, and I denied it. After all, I was an independent activist in the NCAFC, and I certainly didn't consider myself a part of either group.

Not that they didn't try. Over the course of my months with NCAFC, a Workers Power hack did his best to get me to join. I needed the structure of a revolutionary organisation, you see, not having the power on my own to make a difference. I had to be told what to do by a 'revolutionary' party instead of thinking for myself. This sort of disempowering, insidious nonsense is exactly why leftists can't be trusted with the movement, and it's unfortunate that it took me so long to see it.

In the months since, I've realised that the only reason these so-called revolutionaries were there was to maintain control over the NCAFC and the wider movement. I watched them attend occupations specifically to promote their party agenda and position themselves as would-be gurus. Being the self-appointed vanguard, clearly they were the only ones with the experience and ability to tell students how to feel and what to do.

My break with the NCAFC came just a few months after I got involved. The group's national meeting had already been scheduled on the day that the Gaza flotilla demo was called in June of 2009. Despite calls to move the meeting or delay it to later in the day, the meeting went on as scheduled, dealing with a massive backlog of administrative details. At the end of four long hours, with me chairing, Workers Power attempted to force through a motion to call for an academic boycott of Israel. Those familiar with the groups in question will not be surprised that AWL took issue with this motion (as did I and several other independent activists), and there was perhaps 20 minutes of hostile discussion.

The resulting row was cut short when the group agreed that the end of a four-hour meeting was not the time or place for such a controversial discussion. When I commented that I felt the practicalities of running the group were more important than leftist grandstanding, the aforementioned member of Workers Power told me I needed to 'get my priorities straight.' Indeed. I quit NCAFC the next day. I had had my fill of leftist 'priorities.' I didn't bear the NCAFC much ill will; I just thought they were incapable of leading a sing-a-long, much less a movement. I didn't hold their patronising attitude or bourgeois arrogance against them. Until now.

Now I find this group of posturing vanguardists thinks they have the right to throttle a movement that's quickly gaining power. True to form, they've backtracked on their calls to action and tried to force the anger we're all feeling into a neat, leftist-controlled box. Their behaviour reminds me a great deal of another group of bureaucrats feigning interest in student issues for the sake of a little power: the NUS. It's painfully ironic then that the NCAFC has tried so hard to paint itself as a better alternative to Aaron Porter's collection of shameless careerist politicians, given NCAFC's recent attempt to squash the legitimate anger of students and channel it to the group's own ends.

The only difference between the NUS and the NCAFC is that the NUS has the veneer of respectable authority, as evidenced by its squeamish attempts to distance itself from the occupation of Tory party HQ-- a position that Aaron Porter is now backtracking on. It makes the perfect foil for NCAFC's posturing as the 'radical' wing of the movement. But now the NCAFC have tipped their hand. By trying to rein in student anger and delaying action, they will smother the spark that has been lighting this country up from Brighton to Aberdeen. With this ridiculous decision-- made by people I used to consider friends and genuinely concerned activists-- they have shown that they are not the radical wing of anything.

So it is no surprise that a member of the NCAFC tried to argue with me that Aaron Porter of 'despicable idiots' fame is now allegedly on-side. He's apologised, he's very sorry, so can he please lead the movement again? It is beyond satire that the same people howling at the Lib Dems over their tuition fee lies actually give any credence to Aaron Porter's turn around. Only leftists could condemn one group of spineless liars and welcome another back into the fold in the same breath.

I didn't realise how prophetic it was when I said not to trust leftist politicos-- less than 24 hours before the NCAFC attempted to turn a day of action that they co-opted into a day of leftist dogma and rhetoric. The NCAFC will try to sanitise this movement just as the NUS have. They are not to be trusted any more than a political party, because the pillars of the NCAFC are political parties. Experience has taught me that you cannot work with leftists, because they are always working against you. There is always another agenda, there is always a party pulling the strings. If the anti-cuts movement, student and otherwise, is to succeed, we must shake off the attempts of leftists to control us and make us more palatable to their 'revolutionary' sensibilities. We do not need them. All we need is our own conviction, our own action, our own power to change the world.

Comments

alibi

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by alibi on November 30, 2010

what a waste of an hour writing that.

things are happening and the kids on the street are not interested in this shit, or if any fucker is jostling for "leadership" - leadership of what? a slowly updated website? and they're not interested in this article either. you're wasting time that could be spent trying to achieve victories here and now.

its time for action and at least a semblance of unity.

leave writing the history books til some history has actually been fucking made.

the key period is middle of december when the vote happens - no point in burnout before then. and we're looking at a very heightened period with probably 3 demos in a week. the decision makes sense. between the 30th and the 9th: occupations etc. if folk want a demo on the 5th nobody is stopping them.

Joseph Kay

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on November 30, 2010

Now is not the time for criticism! Fall in line! What leadership? They're doing the right thing, follow them!

posi

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by posi on November 30, 2010

I certainly hold no brief for WP, or AWL, and I haven't been involved in NCAFC, but this does seem a little silly. What are the criticisms?

the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) decided to delay 5 December, which was to be a day of united action for students and workers, to the 11th ... it is always clear that when leftists delay action, what they are actually doing is restraining a movement and attempting to stifle it. This movement has been gaining momentum for weeks, and it seems that the NCAFC is now seeking to control it.

So here's the latest facebook message from NCAFC:

Two weekend protests have been called, supported by both the national meeting and local groups in different areas: on BOTH Sunday the 5th AND Saturday the 11th of December students, parents and workers will organise local protests and actions. In some areas people are doing this on the 5th. In other areas, like London, the big event is for the 11th.

The next weekday day of action will be Thursday 9th December. . .

Now, I can't remember where I saw this, but my impression was that the reason to delay in London was that a number of activists wanted more time to prepare. Is it true that this was the reason given? You disagree? OK. But why? Was this decision not a genuine expression of NCAFC/other activsts opinions about what they wanted to do - are you saying it was pushed through manipulatively? OK, but then tell us why you think that.

Even on its own terms, the accusation makes no sense. Institutionally, NCAFC have everything to gain and nothing to lose from bigger escalation. They have no institutional-representative function (and could only gain one through escalation), and no resources to protect.

This review article is also fundamentally unbalanced insofar as it fails to mention NCAFC activist's role (of course, amongst others) in making the Millbank actions happen, AND calling the 24th, AND the 30th. Nothing positive to say about what they've done in terms of encouraging links between students and - e.g. - striking tube workers? NCAFC cannot take credit for all that happened on the 24th. But they can take credit for having caught and judged the mood well enough to make a call out that led to the biggest expression of civil direct action in Britain for a good while, and having built the skeleton organisation over the previous 18 months to give it impact. Frankly, anarchists (and non-anarchists like myself) could do with thinking about why it is that AF and SolFed (with, between them, larger organisations than AWL + Workers Power) weren't able to have the same impact.

Workers Power said that the author "needed the structure of a revolutionary organisation". We all know trot recruitment tactics can be a bit annoying and unprincipled, but this really isn't that bad. Presumably Joseph K also believes that the structure of a revolutionary organisation can be useful for communists, which is why he's a member of SolFed. Does SolFed recruit in movements as well? Don't they make the argument that the structure of a revolutionary organisation is useful?

A Workers Power person also said to the author needed to get their priorities straight, or whatever. Is a bit of spine too much to ask? In politics, you're going to have arguments. Whatever movement you're in, there will be people who disagree with you, and have disagreements about what's worth discussing. You going to walk out every time?

a member of the NCAFC tried to argue with me that Aaron Porter of 'despicable idiots' fame is now allegedly on-side

But to be honest, this is hardly the view of NCAFC in general, or even most activists, is it?

I watched them attend occupations specifically to promote their party agenda and position themselves as would-be gurus

I was at Middlesex for a few days, including the debates around the injunction etc. There were NCAFC people there, and I didn't see them act like this. In fact, they tended to be rather quiet, and more willing than most to stick it out. I'm sure there are a few people who act like this, but again - grow some spine. Challenge them.

Apart from that, it's just a lot of splenetic assertions about leftists with little detail to back it up. AFAIK, there are a number of anarchists in the group who haven't felt moved to leave; and a good few independents - why have they decided to stay?

Mike Harman

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on November 30, 2010

Now, I can't remember where I saw this, but my impression was that the reason to delay in London was that a number of activists wanted more time to prepare. Is it true that this was the reason given? You disagree? OK. But why? Was this decision not a genuine expression of NCAFC/other activsts opinions about what they wanted to do - are you saying it was pushed through manipulatively? OK, but then tell us why you think that.

I followed this date change pretty closely in a few different places, and ended up talking to a couple of people in the NCAFC about it. This is what I understand to have happened:

1. The SWP called a 'co-ordination' of students in London, on Saturday night, of around 150 students, which they overwhelmingly controlled. I haven't seen this meeting advertised anywhere.

2. They want to have a teach-in on Sunday in London (no need to say what an SWP-led teach-in will be like).

3. They don't want any competition for this teach-in from other London events.

4. So this co-ordination took a vote to cancel/push back the 11th December date and told the NCAFC to change the date for the national callout - as a co-ordination they claimed to speak with authority for the student movement/occupations etc.

5. A couple of people in NCAFC wanted to keep the SWP happy whatever happens, so unilaterally changed the date on the facebook page (which has multiple administrators).

6. This pissed off a number of people on the facebook page, people who already had events organised outside London, had taken they day off work for it etc.

7. It also pissed of the majority of the NCAFC organisers who then spent several hours back and forth trying to get an agreement to change it back (rather than changing back unilaterally, although I don't see why they had to stick to some kind of protocol when the other group had clearly fucked up in a serious way).

8. It's now stuck in limbo advertising both weekends, and the NCAFC, as far as I know, has no intention of calling any action in London on Sunday 5th despite previously promoting that date. This is an improvement over completely whitewashing the 5th event out of the picture (even if nothing was booked centrally, 2,500 signed up on the expectation it would be before the date was changed), but still not a healthy situation.

So my impression is that within the majority of the NCAFC, or at least the person I spoke to, they're still quite genuinely trying to build a movement, keen on as much action happening as quickly as possible etc. And prior to this I'd been pleasantly surprised with how they'd conducted themselves. However, the SWP definitely isn't, and it looks like some people in the NCAFC are either SWP members or extremely easily swayed, and used their position to mess around with things. Also the NCAFC structure appears to be much more weighted to people cancelling things at short notice, than it is to promoting them in the first place.

Between all that, I don't think we have a machiavellian plot to fuck things up by NCAFC itself, or even a liberal balking at how far things have come / attempt to control it. But it's clear that there are tensions in that organisation towards that side which are already playing out, and that the SWP is in full swing attempting their usual shit.

My hope would be that local groups and people in London could rise above all this and organise stuff for this weekend anyway, that will likely depend how today goes. However it seems likely to me that a lot of places without a strong local presence are just keeping an eye on the callouts, and responding to them via their social networks (say towns with schools but no university etc.), and these are going to be the most fragile in terms of a leftist demobilisation.

I agree the article here doesn't put its point across as well as it could. I think JK has posted some specific examples of bad behaviour in the Sussex campaign, if this was NCAFC members then that might provide the concrete backup for the other points made.

On the specific date change, it's a complete mess and shows how fragile things are to even a little bit of manipulation, we'll have to see if that's just the NCAFC that gets messed up by it or the wider movement.

Entdinglichung

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on November 30, 2010

even Ian Bone praises the NCAFC: http://ianbone.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/more-days-of-action-announced-in-addition-to-tomorrow/

slothjabber

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by slothjabber on November 30, 2010

Everyone except the Workers' and Students' Movement facebook group, which is trailing it first on their page of events for the 4th.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/event.php?eid=166941933346069

alibi

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by alibi on November 30, 2010

if there's a criticism to be made its not officially joining up with UK Uncut for joint action - that would of made best sense and its not too late for some tie up to be achieved to that end. also "protest on a sunday" has a bad ring to it - don't think there'd be numbers coming out but may be wrong. certainly fewer press would be interested.

to be fair i don't think Ian Bone knows the ins and outs of what's happening within NCACF and i would hold my hands up and say others here are far better informed than me so feel free to take my comments with a pinch of salt.

but these are heady times - don't waste them.

Submitted by Avery Delaney on November 30, 2010

You ask some good questions posi, but you also seem more interested in insulting me than actually getting answers. The long and short of it is that I have plenty of specific instances, but I didn't want the article to simply be a laundry list of things they've screwed up. The point of writing it was to make people aware that this group are not really any better than NUS or EAN or anyone else, and your assertion that they've built a good skeleton is outright wrong.

I think their bad decision making about Sunday-- which is what prompted the article-- is a clear indicator of how disorganised they are. That much clearly hasn't changed since I left the group in June. I could have told you that this surprise decision and the resulting argument amid the group was coming, because it's exactly the sort of thing that's happened before-- because exactly the same handful of people are running things. NCAFC has always had issues with certain members taking unilateral action without properly consulting the group. It's just that before there weren't as many people paying attention.

One of the strengths of the NCAFC was that it doesn't have a party line. But the sad fact is that NCAFC is constantly engaged in a tug of war between WP and AWL, both of whom seek to control it. It's not Machiavellian so much as typical leftist dogma: we know what's best, so we should be in charge. I was always vocal about my contempt for vanguardism when I was in the group, and vocal in my criticisms in general, so your ad hominem nonsense accusing me of being weak-willed just doesn't fly. I said early on in this article that I was new to activism when I joined NCAFC, so expecting me to instantly know how leftist parties work and just accept their foibles is pretty damn silly. And I left NCAFC precisely because I 'grew a spine.' I recognised that it was not going to change, after months of trying, and I didn't believe it had the capacity to facilitate a movement. I still don't think it does.

mons

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mons on November 30, 2010

Agree with posi that what they have done is really not so bad, and I imagine a substantial section of NCAFC was probably pissed off by it.

Mike Harman:
I'd be surprised if there was SWP influence in NCAFC - they were very anti-SWP when I was involved. But it's possible.

I think some of the criticism is probably valid (people of both groups, especially AWL tried to recruit me from after my very first meeting), but they really haven't done any more than make an (undemocratic) mistake at this stage; I really don't think they delayed it to control struggles for the reasons posi gave, instead Mike Harman's explanation is more sensible. Also, they should be given credit for things like the students linking with tube strikers initiative.

I guess we'll see in the weeks ahead...

Submitted by Avery Delaney on November 30, 2010

Mike, what you've just described is exactly the problem with NCAFC. SWP naturally refused to join the group or work together in any way-- though they did regularly send representatives to suggest that NCAFC dissolve and join up with EAN-- and for some reason, certain members of the NCAFC insist on bowing to SWP pressure on issues like this. I really don't understand why.

You are also quite right in that the structure of the NCAFC makes it very easy for people to make snap decisions without really consulting anyone. A look at the discussion list will bring up the same couple of names over and over, and once something has been posted to the list, it's considered 'discussed.' (I was guilty of this myself, I admit.) As I said in my response to posi, this has always been a problem with NCAFC, and they haven't done much to fix it. If they want a position of prominence in the national movement (and they clearly do), they can't keep doing things like this.

There are some keen and experienced people in NCAFC, and up until yesterday, I was quite pleased that the group was getting so much attention. But they've shown that, as a group, they can't be trusted not to screw things up. I sent them a furious email after I found out about the change on Sunday, and instead of explaining what you've explained, which would have been smart, I got a high-handed response that essentially just defended it. The response was also copied to their discussion list, for some reason, so if you're interested, you can find it there.

Basically, this article was my way of warning new activists not to make the same mistake I did. I've come to realise that leftists are only a hindrance to this movement, not because they're wicked Machiavels, but because their dogma and their power structures inhibit real change.

Red Marriott

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on November 30, 2010

Whatever its supposed stylistic shortcomings, in content a useful article for many who may not be familiar with leftism. I think A Delaney has quickly developed more clarity about leftists than some others here who've clearly been making too many compromises with leftists for too long.

Entdinglichung

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on November 30, 2010

why does Bourdieu's term "profit of distinction" always comes to my mind when I read this stuff

posi

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by posi on November 30, 2010

Hi Avery - I wasn't trying to insult you, so apologies. I am, however, sceptical of some of what you say. In the absence of any real substance to your criticisms of NCAFC, it seemed like your objections were to do with fairly superficial stuff like WP trying to recruit you, rather than the fundamental dynamics of the anti education cuts movement which is the main thing. And, against that background, it was/is hard to see how the very sharp conclusions you draw are justified.

You say in a later comment that "I've come to realise that leftists are only a hindrance to this movement, not because they're wicked Machiavels . . .". But in your article you described them "trying to rein in student anger" and "restraining a movement and attempting to stifle it". You clearly put what they were doing down to purposeful agency with the aim of holding back the movement. That would have been Machiavellian. So what is your considered view?

Mike's account of what has happened is helpful. To me, it suggests that there's a tension within NCAFC. There's some typical trot behaviour, and some people who're resisting that organisational tendency. Who knows how it will work out? But I can't see how dismissing the lot of them as "leftists" in a totally undifferentiated manner is helpful. There's obviously a bunch of activists, including independent activists, who've projected alot of activity through NCAFC, which has been seriously effective by UK standards. What do you have to say to them? "You're leftists"? "Leave NCAFC"? And do what? How do you want the movement to be coordinated, insofar as some sort of formal coordination is useful (clearly in terms of call-outs issued so far, it has been)? By who? You want an anarchist coordination which excludes trots but somehow includes normal students?

"they've shown that, as a group, they can't be trusted not to screw things up."

Nobody can be "trusted not to screw things up". The only way to maximise the chances of things not being screwed up by anyone is for a maximum of debate, including the input of people with opinions like yours, through a decent process. I have talked to people who aren't AWL/WP who don't feel it's a stitch up at the moment. I myself left an AWL student front a number of years ago after it was clear there was no play or use in it at the time. But clearly, at the moment, NCAFC has captured something real. Why not engage with it? If you yourself don't have the personal energy - I get the impression you felt isolated within the organisation - then fair enough. Everyone's got to make choices about what they do with their time. But that doesn't add up to the conclusions of the article as expressed above.

Entdinglichung

why does Bourdieu's term "profit of distinction" always comes to my mind when I read this stuff?

Like many people, I'm sure I've got no idea ;)

PS - Mike, I keep getting a validation error when I try and post...

Samotnaf

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on November 30, 2010

Not knowing much about NCAFC, I found the article very interesting and clearly far more useful than alibi's "let's not think on our feet"-type comments, and posi's insults (they were insults,regardless of whatever you wanted them to be ). Theory and practice obviously inform each other, and it's no use waiting till after history has been made (and it IS being made - Millbank, the occupations, Lewisham yesterday etc. all prove it) to start reflecting. "Reflection is not genuflection" as someone in France once said. Mike H. qualifies the facts in the article and in information's helpful, but the general drift of NCAFC seems to be the classic leftist desire to stamp a movement with the organisation's name, and that's what really comes across. I know I'm not really adding anything to this debate, but I just wanted to say I really welcome Avery Delaney's article.

Rob Ray

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on November 30, 2010

Jesus me and Samotnaf agreeing, whatever is the world coming to...

posi

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by posi on November 30, 2010

Whilst one or two of my sentences could, at the outside, be reasonably characterised as insults - for which I've apologised, a rare enough thing on these boards - dismissing my two entire posts on those grounds is disingenuous. Nothing that Red or Samotnfhave said goes beyond emotional identification with the conclusions of the original post, and contains no engagement with the specific questions I've asked.

Red Marriott

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on November 30, 2010

Nothing that Red or Samotnfhave said goes beyond emotional identification with the conclusions of the original post, and contains no engagement with the specific questions I've asked.

Wrong - it was also an "engagement" with and criticism of the dismissive arrogance you've since felt obliged to apologise for.

posi

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by posi on November 30, 2010

No, I didn't display "dismissive arrogance", you must have misunderstood. You've got nothing to say about the political substance of what I've said; only in confirming your own general - and, yes, dismissive and arrogant - prejudices.

Red Marriott

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on November 30, 2010

posi

this does seem a little silly... grow some spine. ... it's just a lot of splenetic assertions about leftists with little detail to back it up. ...

.

No, I didn't display "dismissive arrogance", you must have misunderstood

Whatever you were apologising for, and more - that's what I call such dickheadishness anyway.

You've got nothing to say about the political substance of what I've said

Not a lot, I can't be bothered – uncritically promoting inclusive leftism is rather boring. But that doesn't disqualify anyone from commenting on your arrogance.

confirming your own general - and, yes, dismissive and arrogant - prejudices.

No surprise that the leftist who supports prison screw strikes should baulk at those who want to break out of the leftist prison. I'm happy to express prejudice against such attitudes; http://libcom.org/forums/news/prison-officers-unofficial-action-spreads-18112009

alibi

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by alibi on November 30, 2010

proof positive today that this inane ideological pish is irrellevant.

these kids are uncontrollable. they won't be led by any fucker.

leave the swappies and whoever to have their revolutionary erections over who's calling what if thats really what they're doing.

the street doesn't care it just wants action- but it needs to be unified action. no fucker will notice if it isn't.

posi

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by posi on November 30, 2010

Red - Ha. OK. Restart that thread if you want to. I'm not embarassed by it.

A bunch of activists, not all of whom are died in the wool trotskyists and a number of whom are libertarians - NCAFC - promote a day of direct action which ends up drawing in thousands of people in taking direct action.

Someone posts an article on libcom which claims, without a shred of evidence, that NCAFC activists are really trying to restrain and hold down the movement, and - by way of evidence - gives a few anecdotes about how he wishes some people from workers power were a bit nicer on a couple of occasions. He describes no internal differentiation, and sees no ambiguity in the organisation or what it has done. A few hundred activists who've kicked off something quite impressive, part of a real movement? Fuck 'em, they're "leftists". You support this perspective. And I'm being the arrogant, dismissive one? Get a grip.

I point out that this is nonsense, and there's no evidence for it - something which you don't, far as I can see, dispute. I could have been a bit less spiky, but frankly, whatever.

You are keen to point out how "useful" the article is, despite the fact that it obviously contains nothing of substance, in terms of either information or argument. Samotnaf, despite this, finds it "informative". Read it again, seriously.

dickheadishness

In a similar vein to the placards - F**k you :)

Someone can delete that for flaming at the same time they delete Red's thing.

mons

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mons on November 30, 2010

Posi was being quite dismissive and insulting. But nobody's replied to the substance of what posi's said!
I think the article is partly right, but think it's over the top (draws big conclusions from very little) and really badly un-nuanced (ignores the more positive things NCAFC has done).
Clearly they are problematic though, and the less their influence over students the better. After today and the Amazing stuff going on in Oxford where I was I think the movement has far too much strength and independent spirit to let NCAFC fuck things up.

Red Marriott

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on November 30, 2010

The article attempts, it seems, to make a critique of leftist involvement in that movement from the author’s own experience – and it corresponds with the predictable tactics of leftism generally. Because the left does involve itself in organising action on issues, are we to applaud and repress criticism of the role of unions/parties every time they organise a strike/demo? No, for obvious reasons we won’t so disarm ourselves in the name of a shallow 'unity'. I appreciate that this movement is a little different in its youth and diversity which has made it harder for the left to get such a grip – but the leftist elements of the old world that will seek to limit that movement are, according to the article’s description, already present within it. Militant Tendency were very active in the Anti-Poll Tax movement, put loads of organisational energy in alongside more libertarian elements – should they have not been criticised from the beginning for what they are and their predictable manipulations?

If there are inaccuracies, misinterpretations etc in the article they can be debated/corrected – but the article has posed the necessity of a critical attitude to leftist manipulation and, for those not seeking some futile left unity, that is useful.

posi

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by posi on November 30, 2010

should they have not been criticised from the beginning for what they are and their predictable manipulations?

They should have been criticised for what they actually did, when they did it, which was from near enough to the beginning not to present a big problem for a critique. But in any case the analogy is not appropriate. NCAFC is not merely AWL + WP. A better analogy would be denouncing a local anti-poll tax union because a number of its members were Trotskyists, having left in a huff because they asked you to join their organisation/wanted to talk about South Africa in a meeting one time/postponed a demo.

If there are inaccuracies, misinterpretations etc in the article they can be debated/corrected

I would welcome that. But by saying it is "useful" and "informative" you imply it does rather more than start a debate, rather that you agree with its conclusions, and consider them factual.

Further more, when the accusation is that activists are accused of purposefully holding back a movement, there better be a solid reason for saying that. I would prefer not to have a culture where that sort of thing gets thrown around without any real basis. So it's not that we should refuse to criticise anyone who organises an action. Rather, that we should make sure that criticisms are clear and accurate, not just throw them around in case someone fancies a debate.

mons

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mons on November 30, 2010

I agree with Red Marriot about the need for criticism and that praising the good they do isn't really necessary, so I think I was wrong on that.
But I do agree with posi that we should avoid hyperbole, etc. and clearly NCAFC aren't deliberately trying to derail the movement, so we shouldn't say it.
Sorry this post doesn't make any points really, just wanted to acknowledge I think I was wrong earlier.

Mike Harman

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on December 1, 2010

Further more, when the accusation is that activists are accused of purposefully holding back a movement, there better be a solid reason for saying that. I would prefer not to have a culture where that sort of thing gets thrown around without any real basis

Well it's quite clear that there were people in NCAFC who did exactly this with messing dates around on the national callouts. Guardian or BBC is now only mentioning national days of action on the 9th and 11th, not the 4th/5th despite both the #ukuncut tax avoidance stuff and an increasing number of local actions.

So the end result of this was pushing back (or effectively cancelling) protests just at the time when things are gathering pace, even now news is coming in of fresh occupations, many of the occupations yesterday were by school rather than uni students - this is still developing.

We should also note that it was the NCAFC who were involved in negotiations on march routes with the police etc. prior to yesterday, so at least in London they are doing the official protest organiser + stewards thing to an extent as well, even if that's getting ignored on the day (when it's equally ignored by the police of course).

The fact that this appears to have fallen more into fuckup category (with SWP manipulation and a couple of people inside NCAFC going along with it) than machiavellianism means I'll personally be keeping a close eye on the NCAFC more than anything else, but Red is absolutely right in pointing out that just uncritically supporting groups like this is what leads to 'betrayals' later on. Better to be prepared and honest about how things are up-front.

I'm not going to bother trying to clean up the 'flaming' since it's more of a spat anyway, if you're embarrassed by it go back and edit your own posts.

Submitted by slothjabber on December 1, 2010

mons

... and clearly NCAFC aren't deliberately trying to derail the movement, so we shouldn't say it...

You see, I don't think that is clear.

Maybe I'm one of the suspicious hyperbolic/splenetic politicos who denounce the 'manoeuvres of leftism' overmuch, but on Sunday (or whenever it was) that NCAFC changed the date of the next callout (having previously, as I still claim, steamrollered the United Day of Action into changing their callout for Saturday 4th) I was absolutely convinced that the whole thing was a cynical ploy to roadblock an escalation of struggles. Maybe I over-reacted then but i saw a real danger to the momentum of the protests.

Now it seems there is more internal dissent in the NCAFC than I was first aware of, because I'm daft enough to assume that if an organisation issues a statement it's because the organisation has debated it and it's been approved, not because a couple of people have made a decision on their own and then gone public.

But I don't think that the fact that there's internal disagreements changes anything fundamental; I believe we need to be very wary of the NCAFC. Any group could to seek to control the protests but only the NCAFC it seems to me is actually in a position where that's a real posibility. They have a lot of goodwill from students; they are like it or nor seen by a lot of students as the co-ordinators if not exactly the leaders of the national demos.

A 'stitch-up' between the NCAFC and the NUS would be a real danger for the movement - not so much the protests, because students would still be angry and still demonstrate, but the idea of spreading and co-ordinating the protests. This is the real strength of the movement so far, it's going forwards in unexpected ways and the police, government, NUS and anyone else trying to dampen down the protests have been wrong-footed. But this process is very fragile and we as revolutionaries and class-conscious workers and students need to defend it. Part of that defence involves keeping a close eye on groups that claim a leadership role, which I think the NCAFC has.

mons

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mons on December 1, 2010

I totally agree with almost all of your post slothjabber. The only thing we disagree on is whether their derailing of developments is purposeful, or whether it's a consequence of a misjudgement by their steering committee and bad politics. The fact that they have a structure which allows them to do things like fuck up the dates thing is a problem. Also, the fact they seek control over the movement, and worked with police and assumed the leadership role, is bad - I just don't think it's done with bad intentions.
Good point about watching them getting too cosy with NUS. That would either totally stifle any real struggle, or lead to us breaking off from their control altogether. Based on my time organising with NCAFC, I could imagine a large influential group supporting working with NUS, but there would be resistance.

slothjabber

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by slothjabber on December 1, 2010

Hmm, I really want to be clear here. I have withdrawn my earlier accusation that the change of date was a stitch-up. In the light of the new 'leaks' from inside the NCAFC I think it's more likely to be a cock-up.

What I haven't done is taken down posts where I've said I believe it's a stich-up. I think it's more honest to say 'that was my position when all I had to go on was the statement by NCAFC, now it looks like I might have been hasty in condemning them'.

Submitted by petey on December 1, 2010

i'm viewing from afar, but i certainly support the politics of the post and it's not out of season if it's accurate.

admin - removed flaming - tit for tat is one thing, joining in is going to be heavily moderated in either direction

Submitted by Joseph Kay on December 1, 2010

slothjabber

Hmm, I really want to be clear here. I have withdrawn my earlier accusation that the change of date was a stitch-up. In the light of the new 'leaks' from inside the NCAFC I think it's more likely to be a cock-up.

i think the point is that there's a long history of unilateral decisions being made by party full-timers within NCAFC which make such 'cock-ups' more structural than coincidental. i mean there's independent activists involved. of course there is, front groups/coalitions only work when there are. but when it matters, decisions are made unilaterally by professional revolutionaries.* if anything's interesting about NCAFC it's that it's not a straight party front, but contested by two rival parties, which no doubt adds to the appeal for independents not wanting to be pawns to anyone's agenda.

* apparently one party full-timer was phoning round occupations to get them to vote on when the day of action should be, but given the timing of the decision this seems like a fait accompli or at best a guilty afterthought imho.

Rob Ray

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on December 1, 2010

It's certainly not conducive to focused protest - the callouts they're pushing now include the 4th, 5th, 9th AND 11th. The whole thing seems massively confused (though they seem to be getting their act together on the media front, the Beeb has accepted them as a "voice") which tbh may well act in favour for our purposes - it may allow space for regional groups to develop their own direction/orgahnisation to the point where they're able to engage critically/as equals with any central body that gets developed.

Red Marriott

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on December 1, 2010

posi

They should have been criticised for what they actually did, when they did it, which was from near enough to the beginning not to present a big problem for a critique.

.
A Delaney

I said early on in this article that I was new to activism when I joined NCAFC, so expecting me to instantly know how leftist parties work and just accept their foibles is pretty damn silly.

Nobody with any sense engages in struggles by first repressing prior valid experience. Similarly, what one learns of the shabbiness of leftist tricks is worth expressing and sharing. Unless you are a leftist/have illusions in them.
posi

But by saying it is "useful" and "informative" you imply it does rather more than start a debate, rather that you agree with its conclusions

Those not seeking black & white absolutes can read critically and see things as useful without it 'implying' 110% agreement. I'm in agreement with what I can verify from my general experience and what I’m learning from other sources - that the left manipulates as described and will always do so when tolerated. The description seems plausible and tallies with other sources.

in any case the [Anti-Poll Tax] analogy is not appropriate

Way to move the goalposts. It’s not in terms of discussing the author’s relations to the movement and the left – but it wasn’t used for that. It is appropriate when, as was intended (and as used in replying to your description of leftist involvement), illustrating why a critique of leftist involvement in struggles (even when alongside libertarians) is necessary,.

... it's not that we should refuse to criticise anyone who organises an action. Rather, that we should make sure that criticisms are clear and accurate, not just throw them around in case someone fancies a debate.

Unfounded accusations should always be challenged. But in the context of what has been said, again, this seems like a plea to suspend criticism of what we already know of the left because they’re being busy – again a strategy to disarm ourselves. (But then posi has not acknowledged here the fact that we can expect such behaviour from the left and should express that knowledge, whether or not it can be proven to have occurred in this instance or not. It is itself a leftist trick to wait for the inevitable 'betrayal', then use it as showing necessity of Party leadership.) This doesn’t mean we denounce people merely for their affiliations – but we should if/when those affiliations override the real needs of a struggle in favour of Party influence/goals. And while the rank’n’file Party member may often be fine to deal with, the overall influence of the Party structure is often anything but.

But my impression is posi seems to want to help regroup/unify the left around a mix of semi-trotskyism and semi-councilism, which therefore inhibits any full critique of the left. Hence the above.

mons

But I do agree with posi that we should avoid hyperbole, etc. and clearly NCAFC aren't deliberately trying to derail the movement, so we shouldn't say it.

I’ve spoken to others having similar suspicions to slothjabber. But deliberately/consciously or not, the actual effect of people using movements for trying to recruit/manipulate and monopolise decision making/as a vehicle for Party gains above advancing the struggle etc can derail struggles to varying degrees. If the orders from above demand a change of line/practice the Party rank’n’file will either obey or come into conflict with the leadership.
mons

The fact that they have a structure which allows them to do things like fuck up the dates thing is a problem. Also, the fact they seek control over the movement, and worked with police and assumed the leadership role, is bad - I just don't think it's done with bad intentions.

OK, but intentions is not the main issue - if the same bad effect is accomplished merely due to the in-built logic/organic nature of the left, the fact that they unquestioningly think their acts advance the struggle does not excuse the necessity of criticism and opposition. As Joseph K put it;
JK

i think the point is that there's a long history of unilateral decisions being made by party full-timers within NCAFC which make such 'cock-ups' more structural than coincidental

But before I start sounding as if I’m attributing too much Machiavellian power to the left (however much they seek it) - with the present movement, its more youthful fluid nature may well mean that the left will only get determining control when the movement is near exhaustion and that fluidity is slipping away. It’s also what those in struggle concede to and will tolerate from the left that needs a (self-)critique.

Maybe I’m too remote from it all and am allowing my prior prejudices to colour my interpretation – that’s theoretically possible. But that would mean a very unlikely overnight reversal of the whole historical orientation and motives of the leftist parties as hierarchical organisations that fuck things up.

mons

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mons on December 1, 2010

red marriot wrote:
OK, but intentions is not the main issue - if the same bad effect is accomplished merely due to the in-built logic/organic nature of the left, the fact that they unquestioningly think their acts advance the struggle does not excuse the necessity of criticism and opposition

I agree entirely, and with the whole of your post. I wasn't saying their good intentions means we shouldn't critique them - just that contrary to what some have said, I don't think they do have bad intentions. Their negative role comes from their leftist politics and structure, not bad intentions, that's all I am saying. Their intentions aren't worth discussion, I just mentioned it because I think we should stick to better arguments than saying they are trying purposefully to derail the movement. What is worth discussion is to what extent NCAFC are gaining control over students, and so derailing the movement - whether intentionally or not - and how we can combat that.

posi

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by posi on December 1, 2010

posi seems to want to help regroup/unify the left around a mix of semi-trotskyism and semi-councilism,

not really - in particular, I have no illusions about regrouping the left/ultra-left/either/both. however, I do question the usefulness of the category of "leftism" and "the left": the predominant function of which, to me, seems to promote ultra-left self-satisfaction and lazy analysis, of which the above article is an example. Nor do I necessarily think that the politics of some elements of the non-left (e.g. ICC) are particularly more useful than the politics of some elements of "the left". I don't consider their political mistakes necessarily less egregious, and in that sense I don't prioritise identifying with them, and against "the left". (I don't, in general, care whether people think of me as being "on the left" or not.) And, frankly, the stories of sectarian behaviour from the ICC are far worse than I've heard from either of the Trot groups in question (going beyond the stuff that has appeared on these boards even).

posi has not acknowledged here the fact that we can expect such behaviour from the left

I hereby acknowledge it. Indeed, in other threads and conversations I have stressed it. But the umpteenth time, NCAFC is not just Trots. It's open membership. Although the critique would have been ineffective, if it was a critique of AWL+WP I wouldn't have reacted in the same way. Any SolFed and AF students/education workers could get involved if they wanted to. That's a tactical question, but I was looking at things now and I was a student I'd be tempted to say: ok, there's some movement here, let's go and argue for our politics. AWL+WP, as I've said, have a lower membership than SF+AF... I don't see why their dominance is a structural necessity of the movement at this time, or why the abstentionism of the article is the necessary conclusion of a critique of Trotskyist organisational malpractice.

Red Marriott

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on December 1, 2010

OK, fair enough, posi.

Submitted by Caiman del Barrio on December 2, 2010

posi

NCAFC is not just Trots. It's open membership. Although the critique would have been ineffective, if it was a critique of AWL+WP I wouldn't have reacted in the same way. Any SolFed and AF students/education workers could get involved if they wanted to. That's a tactical question, but I was looking at things now and I was a student I'd be tempted to say: ok, there's some movement here, let's go and argue for our politics. AWL+WP, as I've said, have a lower membership than SF+AF...

I went to one of your (general you rather than at Posi specifically, although if the shoe fits... ;) ) student politico jamborees once, in a nice conference room at the T&G. Myself and went and were the only two (out of the 20 odd) not on speaking terms with the rest, and thus were given weird looks all day. It was deathly boring, so much so that I can't remember half of it. At one point there was a massive bicker between some NUS "radical" (AWL I think?) and the resident anarcho (who was being treated - and playing up to - the Anarchist Spokesman role that all Trots attempt to assign to the loudest anarchist), can't remember what over.

Afterwards, I drank lots of pints in an attempt to restore my will to live and I think I took a month or two off politics. I struggle to think of a more staid, demoralising experience in my time involved in radical activity (maybe Mayday 03 competes), and I was someone - as an anarchist - who already had a very high tolerance for long, inane meetings.

Are you really suggesting that the entire student movement should subject themselves to this shite? Why should the terms on which the movement operates and moves forward be determined by these feckless, mateless professional networkers? Why should the onus be on these kids to automatically and immediately acquire all the cultural capital, etiquette, jargon and behavioural norms of these people and their domineering clique? Does NCAFC even have 6th form representation? Do they even want them in (the guy I clashed with on Tues clearly didn't; his mistake was being new enough to The Game to openly admit it to me)?

posi

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by posi on December 2, 2010

In answer to your questions: no; it shouldn't; it shouldn't; yes, it must have some, since the AWL has a number of 6th form contacts and WP has Revo; and evidently they do - and I got some facebook message about them setting up some sub group for them.

The group you talk about - I think that's possibly the one I had left as well, a year or two before the meeting you mention. The reason NCAFC (apparently) has more reality to it is because of the changed context, which has given it a broader and more relevant character. As I've said before; use your time how you like, I'm not shouting "go to NCAFC meetings". Engagement is a tactical question, but I don't think it's automatically resolved in favour of disengagement.

Mike Harman

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on December 3, 2010

yaaawwwwwn: http://socialiststudents.org.uk/page.php?article=165
ffs another one http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/communist-students-dayschool-december-4-2010-london/

RedAndBlack

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RedAndBlack on December 3, 2010

Interesting article. Altho not really news to me.

I have to say tho, aren't the influence of these "national co-ordinating bodies" being over-stated a bit? From a regional perspective (working within the Sheffield Occupation) the general feeling seems to be to tailor these different call outs to our own needs and priorities. We intend to do an action over the weekend, because tactically this is a good thing for us to do, whether this or that body has called it or not. A lot of students feel this way.

There is definitely still a disconnect between the lefty world of student politics and what's actually happening in terms of your non-aligned or independent student. The rise in student consciousness has failed to bridge this gap. I'd say that this serves to demonstrate how truly disconnected leftism is for autonomous action. These national conferences and co-ordinating bodies have always existed. They only seem to serve to scoop up Trots from their locales and dump them in a conference room to bicker for a day. As far as I can see little has changed. It's still the AWL/SWP/SP activists travelling down to London every odd weekend (who else would be able to afford this!?) and then with the rest of the students getting on with the more practical groundwork needed to build occupations/direct action etc.

Sure in our occupation we've had numerous attempts to push it to align towards this or that body - EAN, this weird national manifesto of occupations and various other fronts. We've been successful so far in arguing for an independent (but nonetheless formally organised and connected with others on a national scale) occupation. Someone mentioned earlier about how the Anarchist Federation could be throwing its weight around in bodies like NCAFC. We haven't been doing this precisely because we've been, where members are active on campuses, building the autonomy, independence and attempting to broaden and deepen existing occupations.

Whether this or that group claims to speak for our struggle is currently a distraction. As Aaron Porter demonstrated, events will quickly go beyond any self-appointed "media spokesperson" (would we even want such a role?!). The real tasks ahead of us now are building the occupations and struggle in the grassroots level. Spectacular politics lends itself to manipulation by leftists, genuine communities of struggle do not.

posi

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by posi on December 3, 2010

at the moment, it does seem like the value of the national coordinations is limited... however, when you look at the 24th/30th, it's not credible to say that the call outs weren't important. Those things were not predetermined, they were the result of specific activity. As much as anything else, I'm challenging people to acknowledge that. It's all very well, being like "yeah, but we're for autonomy". OK, but are you saying - no, there's ever any room for anything which collects activists together nationally, issues calls, that sort of thing? If there is, what should it be like and who should be in it? Right now, the pace of events - in particular the fact of the 9th - are setting the agenda, so the formal coordination looks less vital. Maybe they'll pick up a role again in the new year, if it's less obvious organically where to go next. We'll have to see.

I was at the UCL occupation last night. There was a massive boring debate with a trot/Green Party top table; whilst UCL students sat around the sides doing practical media/legal/possibly other work for the occupation. There were EAN placards on the entrance and a NCAFC banner behind the top table...

After that there was something really inspiring - showing of a video from Manchester of students doing an office invasion, I think of a lawyers firm threatening to evict UCL? I can't find it online, but it'd be cool if someone could. We filmed a solidarity/thanks video in response.

EDIT: also, I'd be interested to hear any specific encounters people have had with AWL/WP trying to wind things down/hold them back. I've personally seen plenty of this from SWP/Counterfire. And I've heard about SP full timers in QMUL recently arguing that an occupation wouldn't be "democratic" unless it was backed by the SU, hence putting a room full of people off organising an occupation themselves. But I've never seen/heard AWL/WP doing anything like that myself. Anyone?

Red Marriott

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on December 3, 2010

posi

I was at the UCL occupation last night. There was a massive boring debate with a trot/Green Party top table; whilst UCL students sat around the sides doing practical media/legal/possibly other work for the occupation. There were EAN placards on the entrance and a NCAFC banner behind the top table...

I was there a couple of days ago, same scenario except it was SWP hack lecturing at top table to 12 students while the other 100 did something useful.

Red Marriott

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on December 3, 2010

Report (from one of posi's comrades :upnorth: ) detailing SWP manipulation ;

Today I was involved in the LSE occupation over the fee rise.

This is obviously pretty good. I reckon at the height there were 100ish people, the room we're occupying is small and when I left about 8:30pm there were maybe 25 people there.

The SWP had organised a petition to get the Students' Union to have an Emergency General Meeting on the cuts. This was 1-2pm today and took the form of a motion that the SU should approve of the occupation tactic.

The opposition to the occupation had a certain hearing in the room, but their arguments were very weak. After initially asserting that it was an "extremist tactic", the right-wing of the SU claimed that ordinary students would be alienated and thus we would damage the goal of increasing participation in the SU and the number of student activists. Never mind the fees juggernaut heading towards us: the most important thing is to ensure "participation", and maintain "dialogue" with university management. More feeble still, one student even claimed that we should not occupy since it would be feckless of us to leave the lights on overnight! A posh Tory was drowned out with laughter as she repeatedly insisted the occupation was "Not in my name" and defended her right not to be represented by others.

One argument put forward in support for the occupation (apart from the obvious) was that we were close to success, and that turning just 7 more Lib Dem MPs would defeat the government. I have been unable to verify this claim or what it refers to.

Those who advocated an occupation also made clear we would occupy even without the SU's support, and indeed the occupation began while the EGM was still underway. The SU vote is online and the results will not be known until Friday evening. At the high point of today's occupation in the Vera Ainsley suit there were perhaps 100 people present.

The SWP played a central role in getting the occupation going and a fair few of their members were present. They also quickly assumed control of things like organising speakers (from various SWP fronts), including a Friday evening rally with Tariq Ali, SWPer John Rose, SWPer Mark Bergfeld... and, for political balance.... they said they would invite Frank Dobson MP. I objected to this and a few people seemed to agree, but they invited him regardless (this all happened not in a general meeting but in a conversation I happened to be sat next to, leading to an SWPer unilaterally phoning Dobson and leaving a message). Also when one student asked what font the poster for this rally should be, the guy who'd invited Dobbo said to her "surely you don't need a CCer to tell you what font to use".

Similarly, in discussion of committees, me and two other people (who strongly implied they'd had experience of SWP gerrymandering in last year's Gaza occupation) asserted the need for regular general meetings, and the SWP seemed reluctant to accept. This will now happen, but (i) the various self-appointed committees are basically doing what they please anyway and will just report back their faits accomplis, and (ii) as the SOAS occupation over the cleaners showed, it is difficult to get across to others in advance why it's really important to set down some properly democratic ground rules, until it's already too late.

Kronstadt_Kid

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by Mike Harman

Submitted by Kronstadt_Kid on December 3, 2010

Mike Harman

yaaawwwwwn: http://socialiststudents.org.uk/page.php?article=165
ffs another one http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/communist-students-dayschool-december-4-2010-london/

What do you not like about Communist Students having a day school?

Rob Ray

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on December 3, 2010

Hey students, now that you've been to a few demos how about coming along to listen to the "vanguard of the proletariat" patronise you with some rehashed Leninism for a few hours before exhorting you to sign up to their group?

That'll definitely get your revolutionary blood pumping and won't in any way be as life-sapping and offputting as being forced to watch end.less repeats of two-and-a-half men, let alone a massive diversion away from actual struggle into the dead-end of train-wreck leftism.

Kronstadt_Kid

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kronstadt_Kid on December 3, 2010

It wasn't planned to coincide with this upsurge in student activity, indeed it is unfortunate that it has as I am not attending due to this.

I have never found Communist Students meetings to be patronising, we don't exhort people to sign up either.

That'll definitely get your revolutionary blood pumping and won't in any way be as life-sapping and offputting as being forced to watch end.less repeats of two-and-a-half men, let alone a massive diversion away from actual struggle into the dead-end of train-wreck leftism.

Okay, perhaps I am just odd as I find it important to learn and debate political questions with people (and two-and-a-half men, as it happens). Furthermore, the first session of the day will be about our own experiences in our local anti cuts groups and how we should react to groups like NCAFC.

The charge of 'leftism' seems to be flying around a lot on this threat. It sounds like a pretty cool insult to use, perhaps some more clarification of its meaning is needed though.

Kronstadt_Kid

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kronstadt_Kid on December 3, 2010

I've had a bit more of a think since I posted before.

I never had this reaction to the Manchester Class Struggle Forums. So I guess it is because of the CPGB element that you object. As they are for parliament, participating in trade unions and national liberation.

Sorry if double posting is bad.

Rob Ray

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on December 3, 2010

Well yes, there is the problem that what's being "taught" at this non-patronising dayschool is a political outlook and set of tactics that most people on libcom would argue is largely without merit and often actively harmful to struggle. Plus there's the recruiting and proselytising that usually goes on (I note for example that y'all are doing the introductions, and presumably deciding what's to be debated?), which is always irritating and offputting to people who usually haven't gotten involved to find out what Lenin thought about a historic event which is like toootally similar yeah?

Caiman del Barrio

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by Mike Harman

Submitted by Caiman del Barrio on December 3, 2010

Mike Harman

ffs another one http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/communist-students-dayschool-december-4-2010-london/

One of these was held in my friend's university halls a couple of years ago. What a bunch of weirdo cultists imitating late 20th century revolutionaries in their dress sense and haircuts. If i remember rightly, that's the party where everyone pretends to be Iranian (cos, like, Ahmadinejad's a socialist rahly).

They're also fuckin dorks, we stole all their booze and an airbed. :D

Fortunately, i don't see too many newly-radicalised students takign up the offer, unless you offer a dubstep sound system. ;)

Kronstadt_Kid

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kronstadt_Kid on December 3, 2010

Ok.

Yes, both the sessions will be introduced by members of Communist Students (one is a member of the RSO in Switzerland, if that makes any difference).
Although at past day schools and similar events we have had members of the AWL, IWW and Permanent Revolution provide introductions.
Further, at our first meeting of the year in Manchester we had a sympathiser of the CWO give a talk on human nature. He is a poster on here and I hope it would be fair to call him a member of CS!

Yea, CS members decided what is to be discussed. If we had been contacted by interested people I'm sure we could have had sessions on what sympathisers would like to talk about. But as I'm sure you're aware it's not exactly like the masses are flowing towards CS.

Some people I know say that CS is 'boring' and too focused on theory, I'm sure that if a non members turns up they will have the right idea about what to expect.

Do the Solidarity Federation not hold similar events?

Also, I would bet on it that the person introducing the session on anti-cuts groups at our university will not be pulling 'dead russians' out of the bag. They will be talking about our concrete experiences in groups and occupations, sort of like this article and comments responding to it?

Lenin could easily pop up in the session on education under capitalism though.

Thanks for responding to me as well.

Submitted by Kronstadt_Kid on December 3, 2010

One of these was held in my friend's university halls a couple of years ago. What a bunch of weirdo cultists imitating late 20th century revolutionaries in their dress sense and haircuts. If i remember rightly, that's the party where everyone pretends to be Iranian (cos, like, Ahmadinejad's a socialist rahly).

Are you trying to say that they were defending Ahmadinejad? As that would definitely not be Communist Students.

Joseph Kay

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on December 3, 2010

Marky b

Do the Solidarity Federation not hold similar events?

the closest thing i can think of is a joint conference held by the the Education Workers Network (part of SolFed) and the Autonomous Students Network at Sussex Uni earlier this year. It was split into three sections, practical workshops (blockading/occupation techniques, propaganda design), organising discussion (trade unions, maintaining democracy) and strategy. some of these were introduced by SF members, others by AF or ASN ones and others by non-aligned people we knew from struggles who certainly weren't SF 'assets'. fwiw, a few people who'd been to leftist events (including NCAFC) complimented us for it not being a leftist love-in (no palestine etc) nor a naked recruitment event.

i mean i wouldn't be embarrassed if we picked up members (we didn't, but built some good working relationships which is more important imho), but the focus was very much a practical/organising one, although it of course reflected the approach of the organisers.

Kronstadt_Kid

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kronstadt_Kid on December 3, 2010

Hi JK, that's cool.

Am I taking this thread off topic?

But surely theory is important? The reason LibCom is one of the best things on the internet is its library section. Also, when you click on peoples' profiles on this site it shows they have read things by Giles Dauve (for sake of example). I bought a copy of Leninism or Communism off the Anarchist Federation a year or two ago. I don't know how I would fare with it now but at the time I did not understand it and would need someone to go through it with me (a reading group).

I am now sympathetic to the ideas of people who post on LibCom, this is due to things like the Manchester Class Struggle Forum where I was able to listen to and sometimes take part in discussions on certain questions.

I have been trying to stress certain things here.
IE - Our last public meeting was a talk by the ICC, not what I would call a Communist Students 'asset'. I have already mentioned speakers from other groups who are also not assets.

For our dayschool some people wanted to do a discussion on something like the nature of the USSR (a very interesting and theoretical discussion). Instead we decided to do one on the anti cuts groups as they have personally made my head spin and we have found it very hard to know what to do in them in Manchester - what I am trying to say is that at this day school we are trying to focus on 'practical' things as well.

Finally, I don't think any naked recruitment goes on at CS events.
Perhaps someone who has experienced differently can show me up though?

Rob Ray

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on December 4, 2010

No-one would argue that theory is unimportant, but it's time and place - and personally what I fear in most socialist dayschools certainly is the convert's urge to explain their interpretation of the "Big Idea" with the hope of converting an audience (usually with a few swipes at parallel tendencies) at the expense of actually helping people become more effective.

Generally afaic the best function a leftist can fulfill in a fastmoving rebellious phase is to offer their best, most practical ideas where relevant and only go further when asked - basically trusting in the people involved to be bright enough to learn from their circumstances.

Taking charge through things like presenting as keepers of the Good Word or using "activist experience" to justify leading roles though is a sure-fire way to kill off the very independence, enthusiasm and self-sufficiency of many newcomers that groups are so desperate for - which is a lesson best illustrated by the SWP.

Submitted by Mike Harman on December 4, 2010

Marky b

I never had this reaction to the Manchester Class Struggle Forums. So I guess it is because of the CPGB element that you object. As they are for parliament, participating in trade unions and national liberation.

I posted the link because of:

1. SWP/Coalition of Resistance messing around protest dates because of some conference thingy, which prompted this thread.
2. The SP launching a new front group during exactly the same week.
3. Then seeing this event advertised at the same time. If it was booked ages ago, then it escapes being opportunistic like the first two, and it's cool that you're not going in favour of everything else that's happening :) Obviously just about everyone on here would have major disagreements with the CPGB, particularly the points you mention (not to mention their history), but in this case it looks like just a double booking.

It also looks like the Education Activist Network (which I believe is the SWP front) has woken up, trying to do a facebook callout for November 9th competing with the NCAFC one. I'm very geographically distant from this, and everyone involved that I know, and what I can surmise in general, suggests that all the leftist jostling is more or less irrelevant to everything at the moment, so hopefully it won't actually do much harm, but when I see it I'll point it out regardless.

I didn't got to university in the UK so have never actually experienced student leftism first hand. The closest I got was when working at a sixth form college, we used to have Jonty Leff of the Workers Revolutionary Party leafletting outside every few months for some kind of socialist students disco night, so I'd either end up going in late or miss half my lunch 'cos I'd start having a go at him, and he'd tell me about which leftist groups (including WRP splits) were funded by the CIA etc.

Kronstadt_Kid

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kronstadt_Kid on December 4, 2010

I posted the link because of:

1. SWP/Coalition of Resistance messing around protest dates because of some conference thingy, which prompted this thread.
3. Then seeing this event advertised at the same time

That makes sense.

2. The SP launching a new front group during exactly the same week.

What is this new front? Your link does not work and I can't see anything new on the Socialist Students website.

It also looks like the Education Activist Network (which I believe is the SWP front) has woken up, trying to do a facebook callout for November 9th competing with the NCAFC one. I'm very geographically distant from this, and everyone involved that I know, and what I can surmise in general, suggests that all the leftist jostling is more or less irrelevant to everything at the moment, so hopefully it won't actually do much harm, but when I see it I'll point it out regardless.

I think it's pretty irrelevant, but it'll still impact on the struggle

I want to try and make some sort of comment on these two quotes above.
In Manchester, where I am currently situated (as student scum), there is no NCAFC.

EAN is complete SWP front. Although I think it is wrong to call them irrelevant. The SWP turn up at a student anti-cuts meeting and say there is a "national network" and that everybody should support it, all the independents just go along with it and support it and before you know it it seems like the local group is affiliated to EAN. All the publicity has EAN on it and with the SWP taking leading positions in everything that is happening I think EAN is relevant.

Jonty Leff

hehe

Finally, the SWP do see NCAFC as a dangerous rival to them, we have seen all the press coverage that WP's youth group has been getting in the news. I have naively(?) been arguing that NCAFC seems like a positive development IE - here. This is because of the involvement of independents, anarchists and the acceptance of motions at their conference.

Last night I was elected to go to NUS conference on the following manifesto, so I hope to learn more about NCAFC. Also, I agree with what people are saying re: this article does not seem to like NCAFC because people in Workers' Power try and recruit..

Why am I standing as an NUS Delegate?
I am standing as a delegate to NUS conference to spread the ideas of communism/socialism. As a communist I stand for a society based on collective ownership of the means of production and distribution and an economy organised not for value production but for the well-being of humanity and in harmony with our natural environment. Communism will abolish the system of wage-labour so that our ability to work will cease to be a commodity to be sold to an employer; it will be a truly classless society; there will be no state, no managers or organisations superior to those of workers’ self-management.

Communism can only come from below. Decisions concerning production and work will be taken by workers’ councils composed of elected and revocable delegates. Decisions in other areas will be taken on the basis of the widest possible discussion and consultation among the people as a whole. This democratisation of society down to its very roots is what I call ‘workers’ power’.

Self-managed institutions and collectives will be the living framework of a free society. There can be no socialism without self-management. Yet a society made up of individual self-managed units is not, of itself, socialist. Such societies could remain oppressive, unequal and unjust. They could be sexist or racist, could restrict access to knowledge or adopt uncritical attitudes towards ‘expertise’. We can imagine the individual units of such a society – of whatever size or complexity (from chicken farms to continents) – competing as ‘collective capitalists’. Such competition could only perpetuate alienation and create new inequalities based on new divisions of labour.

I am an internationalist: This means I am opposed to all borders and immigration controls. Being an internationalist does not mean that I support anti-working class groups such as The IRA or Hamas. It means that I seek the greatest possible collaboration with communists in other countries and wish to build solidarity with workers’ movements around the world

Communism/socialism has nothing in common with the fake “socialisms” of the Stalinist state planning of the former USSR, of the sweatshops of China, or social-democratic “humane” capitalism. No nation in the world today is socialist, nowhere is the economy managed by the workers. These models of “socialism” have all proven to be complete failures, maintaining and in many cases aggravating the working class’ lack of self- determination. There is no particular connection between socialism and nationalisation by the state, which merely replaces one set of managers with another.

The trade unions and political parties cannot be reformed, ‘captured’, or converted into instruments of working class emancipation. I don’t call however for the proclamation of new unions, which in the conditions of today would suffer a similar fate to the old ones. Nor do I call for militants to tear up their union cards. The aims of communists should simply be that the workers themselves should decide on the objectives of their struggles and that the control and organisation of these struggles should remain firmly in their own hands. The forms that this self – activity of the working class may take will vary considerably from country to country and from industry to industry. Its basic content will not.

Communists are the most consistent advocates of social liberation in all its forms. I fight sexual repression, sexism and homophobia and advocate sexual liberation; I champion anti-racist and anti-fascist struggles; I oppose all limits to freedom of speech and free cultural expression. These struggles are not just some adjunct to working-class struggle but are the cornerstone of democracy and human freedom.

Communists have no gods, not even revolutionary ones. I reject the practice of using the works of this or that socialist of decades past as sacred texts from which “revealed truths” can be read off as gospel. I abhor the decay of the left and the absolute poverty of its ideas and slogans; its abandonment of class politics; and the sectarianism of those groups vying for supremacy with their own front campaigns and so-called unity projects; are all evidence of the need for ground-up rethinking of the communist project and the re-composition of the workers’ movement.

What will I do if elected?
If I am lucky enough to be elected to NUS conference I plan to critically co-operate with activists from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. NCAFC is a democratic group of student activists from around the country who oppose cuts and stand for free education. As well as arguing for the necessity of student-worker unity, I would argue that NCAFC delegates at conference take the position that the only solution to the crisis with which we are faced with is communism. The campaign is highly influenced by members of the Trotskyist Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and Workers’ Power groups, they should show their true colours and instead of standing for just ‘free education’ in this campaign they should articulate a different vision of society – communism.
I shall also write a report of my experiences at conference so that all students can have an idea of what happens.
Furthermore, if elected I will not abandon my mandate and skive off to climate camp as a current member of our Student Union executive did two years ago.

My credentials
Upon joining Manchester Metropolitan University I attempted to form a branch of the Stop The War Coalition at our university. Unfortunately my attempts to lead this group in an independent direction were stifled by members of the Socialist Workers Party and this project had to be abandoned.

In January 2009 I lead a sit in of Lecture Theatre 9 of the Geoffrey Manton building, as part of the wave of student occupations which hit the country in solidarity with the people of Gaza suffering the bombardment by the Israel Defence Force known as Operation Cast Lead, which lead to 1417 deaths as well as untold destruction and adding to the unspeakable horror there. This lead to me persuading Jocelyn Hurndall to speak at the Tom Hurndall Memorial Lecture last year, a very moving experience. I have been a strong supporter of this institution ever since. I was elected as a delegate to the 2009 NUS conference and this experience will no doubt prove invaluable if I am elected again.

After fully breaking with radical liberalism and reformist socialism I joined Communist Students (of which I am now an executive member) and The Commune communist network, during the summer of 2009. Last year I was highly involved with the postal strike support group set up at the university and the campaign against management’s decision to try and force through 127 compulsory redundancies amongst support staff at MMU. This year people will testify to the commitment and hard work I have put into the anti-cuts groups formed at both universities. I have also been central to producing The Educator bulletin aimed at students and staff at university. This year I also became a student rep and have begun a productive dialog with lecturers (for example contributing to Board of Studies meetings).

My manifesto was basically a crude combination of The Commune's platform and Solidarity's As We See It.
What do people think about NUS? Was it wrong for me to stand?
(I think all this is still relevant to the thread)

Submitted by Kronstadt_Kid on December 4, 2010

Yeah Jim. I was wondering if it was so irrelevant it did not matter either way

I stood on the principle of opposing the SWP and it was also an excuse for me to distribute some propaganda.

I thought this year might be slightly interesting with Arron Porter's remarks after Millbank as well.

You are correct about turn out. The SU Exec deliberately do not promote it so that they can get the positions, you would have not known there was an election going on after walking around the university. I will not have a full break down of results until Monday but I probably only got elected because I am in my final year and have made a lot of friends. Although two good friends (known one of them for four years) refused to vote for me on the principle of me being a communist - thought that was pretty cool actually.

I won't have factional backing and if I get the confidence to take to the podium I will probably seem like a loon (hey-ho, at least I am honest about my politics).

The NCAFC thing should be interesting as well.

Mike Harman

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on December 4, 2010

"Youth Fight For Education" - http://www.youthfightforjobs.com/education - at least I think it's SP, maybe it's someone else.

What exactly is an NUS delegate? Just means you attend conference or you're a local officer or what?

Kronstadt_Kid

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kronstadt_Kid on December 4, 2010

That new SP front is funny, thanks for letting me know about it Mike.

Correct, being an NUS delegate means you attend conference. I wouldn't stand as a local officer (SU Exec member) as it is standing to get a job and be a bureaucrat.

Mike Harman

12 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on December 8, 2010

National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts - national meeting
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=137693992951892

Time
Friday, December 10 · 11:00am - 2:00pm
Location LSE Tower 1 Room U8
Created By
The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, Edward Maltby
More Info The morning after the big demonstration, supporters of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts need to get together to discuss the next steps for our movement. Coming from outside London? Want to get involved? Stay overnight in London - get in touch with us on 07775 763 750 or [email protected] to arrange somewhere for you and your delegation to stay, and meet us at 11am in LSE.

We will discuss the results of last night's vote, impressions of the demonstration and the movement, and the next steps in our fight to stop fees and cuts and save EMA.

Submitted by Kronstadt_Kid on December 10, 2010

Mike Harman

National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts - national meeting
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=137693992951892

Time
Friday, December 10 · 11:00am - 2:00pm
Location LSE Tower 1 Room U8
Created By
The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, Edward Maltby
More Info The morning after the big demonstration, supporters of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts need to get together to discuss the next steps for our movement. Coming from outside London? Want to get involved? Stay overnight in London - get in touch with us on 07775 763 750 or [email protected] to arrange somewhere for you and your delegation to stay, and meet us at 11am in LSE.

We will discuss the results of last night's vote, impressions of the demonstration and the movement, and the next steps in our fight to stop fees and cuts and save EMA.

I went to this and although I left early I found it very open and democratic.

They are proposing a joint united left slate for the NUS elections this year.

As I have said previously in this thread, I am really not sure how I supposed to relate to this type of thing. (Although it could be argued that NUS is just redundant).

I am going to this national student assembly in a few hours where they are going to make their proposition.

Submitted by Kronstadt_Kid on December 12, 2010

Tommy Ascaso

It's an attempt to drag the struggle into electoralism which most people will ignore, don't waste your time on it.

Thanks again Jim, you are probably right.

That London Student Assembly Meeting was the worst meeting I have ever been to.

Submitted by Mark. on December 12, 2010

Marky b

That London Student Assembly Meeting was the worst meeting I have ever been to.

It would be interesting to hear more about your (or anyone else's) impressions of the meeting.

Mike Harman

12 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on December 17, 2010

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=184694258211136 see comments - the January demo may or may not be postponed due a TUC/PCS youth unemployment rally in Manchester. Looks like this meeting is where that gets clarified/decided - http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=177882798902267 - if it's postponed by this meeting (not clear either way if it will be), that's two months between December 8th and the next 'official' national demo.

Auto

12 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on December 17, 2010

The thing is, I don't reckon pushing the date back will stop an action from taking place. There are already a lot of people pushing for the date to be brought forward as it is.

I think the NCAFC overestimates the level of control they have over these dates. If they move the date back, another earlier date will arise on its own.

Like I said somewhere in a previous thread, we are into the realms of collective (if unconscious) decision making. The dates the NCAFC have previously called have not been successful because they were official, but instead because they caught the mood of a critical mass of students who were eager for action. If the NCAFC starts to back away, then the mass of students will find another outlet.

Submitted by Kronstadt_Kid on December 18, 2010

Mark.

Marky b

That London Student Assembly Meeting was the worst meeting I have ever been to.

It would be interesting to hear more about your (or anyone else's) impressions of the meeting.

On this;

The main reason this was indeed 'the worst meeting I have ever been to', is that it appears the SWP told NCAFC supporters that the meeting was at 7pm, when infact the meeting was scheduled to start at 6...

I'll write some rough notes below.

So I arrived at this 'student assembly' on the back of the previous day's demo and full of spirit. I can only wish that there were no students there who were new to politics and had been enthused by the national demo as they will probably never want to do anything to do with politics ever again.

There was probably about 100 people there (apparently the same amount of people that has regularly been turning up each time round).
I had been told to expect that Clare Solomon would hold disproportionate influence but as we shall see, this would not turn out to be true on this night.

There was no agenda written on the whiteboard at the front and the single un-elected chair (who performed poorly throughout) simply asked for 'proposals' which the assembly was supposed to discuss on vote on.

The first contributions did not bode well. We heard the usual catch words of "widest possible" forces and the "illegitimate vote" of the coalition government.

The SWP circulated a proposal which amongst other things called for a steering committee to be elected at this meeting.

Amongst the earlier contributors was an unbelievable stereotype of a member of Socialist Students who complained that the 'key role Youth Fight for Education had played in building for the student days of action' had not been mentioned in the SWP's proposal. This was stupid, as is shown in this thread, YFE appeared out of nowhere about a week before.

The date of this meeting which had been decided at the previous one, was evidently controversial.
In my opinion it made the most sense to hold a student assembly the day after a national demo, I received a text which was inviting protesters to stay over night at one of the occupations and it was just better to stay in London for one night than having to make two trips within a short space of time.
Indeed I would not have made the decision to stay in London for this if it was not on this day.

The SWP made efforts to swipe at the date of the meeting.
My SWP friends from Manchester who were sat at the front of the hall liked to portray themselves as the representatives of Manchester, paying no heed to the fact that I was sat right across from them.
They told the hall that they thought attendance would be higher if the assembly had been scheduled for later in the week and asked "where are the faces that were calling to hold our assembly on this date?!"

Well 'these faces' would arrive after an hour of the assembly going nowhere.

I had been at the NCAFC meeting that morning were it seems Mark Bergfeld (SWP) told everyone the meeting was at 7.
Clare Solomon and her Counterfire friends had also been defending her against a motion of no confidence at ULU.

Members of NCAFC were justifiably annoyed and claimed that the emails and texts which they had received told them the meeting started at 7pm.

Members of Counterfire argued that this meeting of 100 people was too small to start making decisions "on behalf of the mass student movement".

NCAFC suggested that there be a joint united-left slate at NUS conference this year, although this was not discussed. Mark Bergfeld had made it clear that he was against this proposal at the NCAFC meeting that morning (by using many flowery words like "organic and from below".)

Someone made the "emergency announcement" that one of the London occupations was under the threat of eviction - this was used as an excuse by some people to escape the meeting.

A grey haired member of the AWL complained there there were "too many non-students present". His point was that he thought the meeting had been stuffed with too many SWP full-timers and it should be students making the decisions. This culminated in him marching round the front of the hall proclaiming that "SWP full timers should have ten votes".
I did not agree with his proposal, as these assemblies should be open to all. Also, when after 2 hours we finally voted on whether "only students can vote" at these assemblies, the overwhelming amount of people voted against this and it made us sat in the corner with NCAFC look like idiots.

What I have not managed to put across here is that after NCAFC arrived the meeting almost descended into a brawl and some people actually had to be restrained and sat back in their seats.

After 2 hours and 15 minutes the decision was made that the date for the National Student Assembly would be Saturday the 22nd of Jan, this upset SPEW due to NSSN that day but the weekend before would clash with the Coalition of Resistance steering committee meeting and the Network X gathering in Manchester.

No decision on a steering committee was made.

facebook tells me that the '5th London Student Assembly - what's next' is on Sunday the 9th of Jan and the '1st National Assembly for Education' is on Sunday the 30th of Jan.

PS

I don't have the right to lecture others on how to organise an event of this size. However, if I was involved in this I would have made sure that mass leafleting took place of the national demonstration so people knew about this. The only way I knew about it was through my politico contacts!
This makes me think people were not serious in building for it...

PPS

There was a member of the IWW there who said something at the beginning but left early.

Mark.

12 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on December 18, 2010

Marky - Thanks for the account of the meeting. It does sound pretty soul destroying.

mons

12 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mons on June 8, 2011

Oops, it seems Revolution (Workers Power) are dropping out, citing AWL's manipulation. Hardly surprising it's deteriorating, given what's happened to the student movement.

Entdinglichung

12 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on June 10, 2011

mons

Oops, it seems Revolution (Workers Power) are dropping out, citing AWL's manipulation. Hardly surprising it's deteriorating, given what's happened to the student movement.

the empire strikes back: http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2011/06/10/ncafc-conference-hard-facts ... my experience is, that WP and their clones in other countries are far less trustworthy than the AWL (especially after having read some "leaked" internal stuff of one of their clones)

Aflwydd

10 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Aflwydd on December 10, 2012

The SWP no longer have any representation on the NC, a commitment has been made to federalising, meaning that the NC will be dissolved, and as of yet, the AWL (4 on the NC) have not caused much trouble even though I still don't trust them of course. They were trying to recruit, albeit a limited attempt, during the weekend and had their awful pamphlet about Anarchism with them.

I've posted in a few threads but need to emphasise how important it is now for Anarchists to get involved. This is a time where we could actually make a difference and turn the movement into a genuine alternative to the NUS, not simply a mirror. Also, if you happen to be Welsh, we need your help! There's only three of us representing Wales right now, all independents and of Anarchist sympathies, and the next few months are vital if we are to make sure that Wales is well represented when we federalise.

Ingersoll

10 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ingersoll on January 6, 2013

First, this was obviously a leftist-union action from the beginning. It's important to be clear on that - "days of action", "campaigns against cuts" and all such protests called in advance, set for one day etc. are not and can't be genuine worker/student mobilizations. Such struggles are mostly being created in a spontaneous way, while this is a union terrain - participants are not mobilized as workers, but political/union supporters.

I think that we should focus on union/campaign way of organising rather than just conseqeunces of it - obviuos opportunism of bureaucrats. Whether unions are delaying action, calling it off etc. OR NOT this kind of actions will just take us in exhaustion. (If we are discussing the issue just from the standpoint of union opportunism, not related to the union way of organising, we can, at best, come to conclusion about "crisis in leadership")

From the text above it's obvious that it was not a worker mobilization but a joint front of activist groups/unions. Participants are related to each other as members of these groups which are negotiating for a common ways for action.

Initiative for real social (and not union/political) protests is brought by calls for assemblies, joint meetings which only can lead to mass action. Calls for protests and campaigns as a pressure method (and not a mean of unification and free discussion above everything else) can only be union performances, as mass protest can't be created from nothing.

Finally, I wouldn't agree that Kay's text was "a waste of an hour"! Discussions like this are a good opportunity to break away with unions and parties, for all of us (students, employees) used in their rhetorics and to find a way to struggle autonomously.