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(en) Ireland, new position paper of Workers Solidarity Movements* July 2004 conference - The Student Movement

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 18 Aug 2004 17:06:31 +0200 (CEST)

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1. Make-up of student population
a) Students come from all social backgrounds and are in
College for a wide variety of reasons. There is no underlying
political or economic base that unites or could unite all students.
b) Therefore any movement will be limited to a fraction
of the Student population.
[c) Since students are only in College for a short time
(3,4,5 years) they also put up with an incredible amount of
poverty, bad housing, low or non-existent grants etc;
because of the promise of riches to come.]

2. Student Unions

a) Theoretically Students' Unions are constitutionally
democratic, based on the principles of directly elected,
mandatable and recallable delegates.

b) However due to the college cycle, the only
continuous force in a Student Union is ironically its
entanglements with college bureaucracy, theoretically
limited these links can strangle and impede the work of a

c) The main thrust of our work should be in increasing
direct participation in union direct democracy, while
defending and increasing the existing autonomy of the
organisation from college and state bureaucracy.

d) On an ideological level, as in the trade union
movement, Students Unions are rapidly moving toward a
service providing model rather than a campaigning one.

e) They seek to remedy the symptom rather than strike
the root cause. The task ahead is to break the myth that
Students' Unions are there to exist as apolitical service
providers in 'partnership' with the college authorities. The
service model serves only to further alienate the student
body and reduce it to passive consumption of the union
rather than directly taking part in it.

f) Currently, Students' Unions are mainly concerned
with student welfare and services within the College. Very
little of what they do is political. There is, however,
potential to use unions for political struggle, given the
limitations of student movements. This largely depends on
grass-roots work by political activists who may or may not
be in college at the time.

3. The National Movement

a) Once again the Union of Students' Ireland is in
theory democratic and once again the thrust of our work is
in reinforcing its democratic structure and in encouraging
grassroots reclamation of its structure.

b) However, Like all unions the political effectiveness of
the national union is threatened by the services model,
represented best by the Forum of University Students'
Union (FUSU) which splits the student movement into
University students and Institute of Technology students.

c) Also, because of the diverse social composition of the
student body and the fact that student life is temporary, it
is implausible that 'student politics' can result in anything
resembling a uniform level of consciousness nationally.

4. Student Movements

a) Since students are from many social backgrounds,
student political movements tend to use the shallowest
politics possible to capture the largest amount of students.

b) Movements based on singe issue demands will
eventually collapse due to the political, social and material
differences that are inherent in the make up of such

c) Anarchists should encourage attempts to organise in
tandem with similar movements on other campuses.

d) Student movements by their nature are limited but
are the place where students interested in actively
producing political and social change will gravitate.

e) Anarchist students should use student movements to
argue their political and organisational line among this
milieu as well as engaging in more agitational/theoretical
anarchist propaganda. From this it will be possible to
recruit any potential anarchists.

f) By actively engaging in these movements rather that
issuing theoretical edicts we will contribute to building a
stronger libertarian movement by encouraging and
developing self organisation, and implementing certain
libertarian methods in practice.

[g) Since students only stay in College a few years; the
experienced activists are always leaving which means
starting from the beginning again.]

h) However it is possible to offer a lifeline to these
progressive student movements by making attempts to
co-ordinate with forces outside the campus, pricking the
bubble world of the student radical and pulling them into
more sustainable activity which has a long term project.

5. Students, Workers, and Academics.

a) The campus does not just consist of students and
academics, there are also technical and services workers.

b) For there to be any progress in the creation of a
libertarian mode of education in a free society, the
movement towards it will have to consist of students,
workers and academics.

c) However, due to the pressures, foot loose nature and
restraints of academia, academics are usually concerned
with advancing career wise or carving out a niche for their
own research. This often results in silence and a fear to
'rock the boat.'

d) As anarchists, we view the working class as the agent
best placed to create social change. It follows that as
students, we argue for and strive for links with workers in
and outside our campuses.

e) These links should not be exploited solely for the
benefit of student concerns as is often the case with the
student movement.

6. Students As Workers.

a) With the reduction in state aid and increasing fees, a
sizeable minority of students are increasingly forced to
work through college.

b) Despite various deals and agreements with the
Student Union movement, the trade union movement has
shown no willingness to unionise these layers of young

c) Despite the non-homogenous make up of the student
body, a sizeable minority of students face the same
problems as many workers (low pay, a lack of housing

d) As anarchists in the student movement we should
advance demands and tactics transcending the campus
and offering a potential continuity across a sizeable
minority of working class students and the working class

7. Commitment

[a) As Anarchists we believe that our politics are the
most realistic ones being argued and so for the student
movement to succeed it needs our ideas and tactics. Since
at the moment we are the only people arguing our ideas, it
is fair to say that the movement needs us.]

[b) Though we feel that the student movement needs
our politics, we do not need the student movement. In
other words we should not devote all our time to
campaigning and putting up posters. Instead we will join
campaigns and argue our politics within the campaign,
while doing our fair share of the legwork. It must be
remembered that our chief priority is the spread of our
anarchist ideas. Once it is obvious that nothing productive
is going to come from a campaign we should leave it and
not waste any more time on it.]

[c) Given the above, it should be prioritised to recruit
one or two new anarchists from a campaign rather than
keeping a dying campaign going by ourselves]

d) A proper class-struggle movement must be
connected with the working-class. Therefore links with
unions at a grass roots level must always be argued for.

July 2004

Note sections in [ ] are to be further discussed/amended at
the next WSM conference
The new position papers coming from the anarchist federation
Workers Solidarity Movements July 2004 conference are online
at http://struggle.ws/wsm

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