The student revolt and the fight against Tory cuts have created new political debates in every workplace, college and community.
Many activists are moving rapidly from opposing the government to questioning the very nature of capitalism.
So it’s no surprise that hundreds of people have joined the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in recent weeks.
We asked some of them about what motivated them to become revolutionaries.
Alan is a 20-year old apprentice electrical engineer at a Ministry of Defence complex in Shropshire.
“I was brought up in a left wing mining family, so I’ve always been around political ideas.
My mum is a big supporter of the Labour Party and in recent years she encouraged me to join too, but I wasn’t so keen.
The way the party took us to war and all the assaults on civil liberties really put me off. So I went looking for an alternative on the internet and found the SWP. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be a branch in Telford.
Not long after, we had a walkout at my work against cuts and there were people selling Socialist Worker at the gates.
I bought a paper and found out that there was a local branch, and it had a member in my factory. It was after that I started going to SWP meetings.
Our meetings are great— really welcoming and informal, even to my Labour-supporting mum. But best of all they talk about class and why it’s so important.
Class politics and the fight against the cuts are the main issues for me. Now I’m trying to convince my workmates that they should join too—and it’s not as hard as you might think.
After all the student protests, lots of us were talking what had happened. Most of the papers that people in work read were all laying into the students, accusing them of being violent. But the vast majority of people were fully in support of them.
In fact, many were saying, we should be doing that too.
Socialist Worker argues that we should get workers and students together. That’s something I really believe in.”
Ruby is 17 and goes to La Swap sixth form in Camden, London.
“I’ve been in the SWP for a while but wasn’t active. With the recession and the cuts I felt like I needed to be more involved.
I started getting a name for myself as a socialist at college—people would ask me questions but I didn’t always know how to respond.
So I started to read books like Why You Should Be a Socialist, the Communist Manifesto and the first volume of Tony Cliff’s biography of Lenin.
Being a socialist and knowing history helps you when you’re thinking about the next step in a campaign or fight.
When people question why you’re breaking the law and you know the history of the Suffragettes or the Russian Revolution you’ve got more arguments.
Some of us at college want to bring people together to organise against the cuts. We’ve had a meeting and started to build a group.
You might not realise that the people around you are radical—I didn’t think we had people in my college, but the walkouts show that we do.
There are opportunities to build SWP groups in colleges now. The debates have come into my school—people are so angry at how the police are treating us, it has shown that we can’t stop here, we need to go further.
When I talk to people now about joining the SWP I say, ‘The fightback is happening now, we don’t have years to think about it—get involved and get organised and start being part of it’.”
Rosie is a 19-year old first year molecular biology student at Sheffield university.
“I’ve been political since I was about 14 or 15, but the area where I grew up is very conservative, so I always felt like the odd one out—until recently.
The fight for equality for women, and lesbians and gays has always been important to me.
I’ve always resented the way that capitalism directs everything towards the upper classes, leaving nothing for ordinary people.
Since coming to university I’ve found lots of people who share my ideas.
I decided to join the SWP after reading Socialist Worker regularly since the beginning of term.
I really like the way the articles take up issues in a very different way to the mainstream press. But I also joined because I like what people in the party do.
If I wanted to convince someone else to join I’d say, read Socialist Worker to see what we stand for, and look at the struggles we’re involved in.”
Alex is 20 years old and a third year international relations student at Queen Mary university in east London.
“I have a lot of friends who are in the SWP so I knew about the party before I joined last month.
Until the student movement started I was mostly interested in issues connected to imperialism, particularly Palestine.
But it was the storming of the Tory HQ at Millbank that really convinced me I needed to be in the SWP.
The party was really well organised on the day, and the comrades were all really supportive of one another—that really impressed me.
And in the aftermath, despite all the hysteria, Socialist Worker stood firm and defended the protesters. That was very important.
I think that the party helps provide a practical direction.
For example, this evening our Socialist Worker group is helping build a student union meeting we hope will overturn our student union executives who condemned the Millbank protest.
But being in the SWP is also about ideas. Since I’ve joined I’ve been to excellent meetings on subjects like gay liberation or the battles in France and Greece. Now I’m always reading to try and find out more.”