"if you don't have a strategy, you're part of someone else's strategy."
– a. toffler
"What can we do today, so that tomorrow we can do what we are unable to do today?"
– Paulo Freire
After seeing student rage just peter out in 2010/11, and seeing the massive student movement in force recently in Quebec, there’s been a lot of talk about how to better organise the student movement here in the UK, to make it more democratic and more capable of dealing with upsurges in struggle. On the whole, that’s in the form of national federations.
The wrong sort of organising
Some people think we should put our energy into organising the more radical students’ unions together for resources (not political leadership) e.g. the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. Some think we should build a big federation of anti-cuts groups alongside students’ unions e.g. Birmingham’s anti-cuts lot. Some think the anti-cuts group structure should sit above and direct the students’ union structure. Some think loads of other confusing things.
There’s a lot of chat about what the balance should be, but I’m not sure that thinking about how to link up anti-cuts groups is the best way to struggle for change.
I think the focus is all wrong.
I’d say better questions are: are campaign groups the sites of action against cuts to (higher) education? are students’ unions? should we devote our time to centralised campaign structures with “decision-making conferences”?
What we need
To me, that means organising in departments and “federating upwards”, so different departments are working together at a university level, different universities are working together at a regional level, etc.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s definitely merit in sharing resources between left students’ unions, and obviously anti-cuts groups networking together is great… I just don’t think it should be our priority right now. Fight local, win, then grow. Without the local base, any national structure is sorta irrelevant.
Some guy on a message board somewhere. Some spot-on guy.
There’ll be more where this came from.