- Created: Friday, 22 May 2009 14:57
The Student Anti-Imperialist Network (SAIN) was launched at a conference in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 29 October. Students were mobilised by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! student societies across the country to begin the important work of rebuilding an independent student movement against war, racism and imperialism.
The conference split into work groups so that everyone could participate in discussion about the priorities for anti-imperialist work. Suggestions included:
• opposing the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine;
• opposing the illegal incarceration and torture of detainees held by the US and Britain;
• opposing Labour’s anti-terrorism legislation;
• opposing the racist hysteria about Muslims and immigrants
• joining local anti-deportation campaigns;
• supporting revolutionaries in Latin America and defending socialist Cuba;
• boycotting murderous multinationals such as Bacardi and Coca Cola, and boycotting Israeli goods.
There were also skills workshops on written publicity, public speaking and knowing your rights. We were able to put these skills into practice immediately after the conference when we marched to the city centre protesting against deportations. Once there, we held a militant rally using new skills to address the public and to assert our right to demonstrate.
Lex Seedhouse opened the SAIN conference by explaining the urgency of building the Student Anti-Imperialist Network:
‘When the war on Iraq broke out in March 2003, I was in the sixth-form. When war was declared, I left the classroom and went into our common room, where a large group of people were assembled, ready to stage a walk-out in protest. We were told that if we walked out of school, we would all be suspended for truancy. We left anyway!
I expected the protesters to be older, sixth-form students because of the threat of suspension, but once the Durham protest was underway there was an amazing moment when we saw maybe a hundred students from schools in Durham marching down the road shouting and chanting anti-war slogans! That was unity; spontaneous solidarity with one of the most oppressed people of the world, and that was what politicised me, and many others.
Unfortunately, today, this lively student movement, which demonstrated disgust at the racist Labour government, is virtually non-existent. There was no real organisation: people fragmented, either joining groups with ties to imperialist parties – Respect and Stop the War – or they became inactive. After the highs of the walk outs and mass protests this was such a frustrating anti-climax! When US President George Bush visited Blair’s constituency in Sedgefield, barely half-an-hour away from Durham, only three of us from the sixth-form turned out to protest!
Sadly, this was inevitable precisely because of the failure to create an independent student network. Imperialism will never be destroyed by a few scattered individuals. Students must be united.
Most young people could see that war was wrong, but many failed to link it to imperialism and realise that there will always be racist wars under imperialist regimes. Students oppose privatisation and top-up fees in education, but may not understand this as another outcome of a deepening imperialist crisis. Capital needs to create new sources of profit in order to sustain itself. Education is increasingly run like a business. Crucially, students need to unite to share experiences and educate one another to better understand the root causes of issues like racism, sexism and globalisation.
This academic year Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! student societies are being set up in schools, colleges and universities across Britain. We aim to rebuild a student movement, involving all student groups committed to constructing a co-operative Student Anti-Imperialist Network.
We have already had very positive responses from students who understand that SAIN is an enormously crucial network to establish, particularly in one of the most powerful imperialist countries in the world. When politicised and educated graduates, who understand the causes of issues such as racism and the need for consistent and principled activism, emerge from universities and schools, the scope for social change will be much greater.’
Individuals and groups who want to get involved please contact us!
SAIN conference decisions
c SAIN opposes all forms of capitalism and imperialism, and in particular that of Britain, as the country we are living in.
c SAIN opposes racism within Britain in all its forms, including the racism of the state and its police force.
c SAIN actively supports all those fighting back against imperialism, whether people organising to defend their communities in Britain against racist attack, or national liberation movements in countries oppressed by imperialism.
c SAIN is independent of all imperialist political parties, including the Labour Party.
How to contact FRFI Student Societies by email:
• Glasgow University
• Caledonian University and
• Strathclyde University, Glasgow
• Durham University and
• Newcastle University
• Salford University, Manchester
• Sheffield University
• SOAS University of London
• London School of Economics
• Kings College London
FRFI 188 December 2005 / January 2006