Perhaps one way that showed the character of the ISR (International Socialist Resistance – an international youth organisation) and Socialist Students contingent during the Stop the War national march, on 24 September, in London, was the comment from a group of New Yorkers who said they joined our contingent because they “Liked what we stood for”, and that we “Seemed like the liveliest group.”
It wasn’t difficult to see or hear any of the groups at the demonstration, which started in Parliament Square and marching to Hyde Park, but as usual it was the red t-shirts, banners, and loud and lively chants, which set us apart from the rest.
We marched against the war in Iraq, against terrorism and against racism. Since the war began 29,401 Iraqi civilians have been killed and 2,115 coalition troops have been killed (96 of which where British). The effects of the Iraq war are also felt in Britain. 85% of people believe that the 7/7 London bombings where connected to the war in Iraq.
US tactics have lead to ethnic divisions in Iraq, which are turning into violent clashes, and which promise to see a rise in the already towering death toll.
The July terror attacks on London shocked everyone. Blair has used these attacks to take away more democratic freedoms, by passing “terror laws”. These will be ineffective in preventing terrorism and will only increase the oppression of ethnic minorities. The 7/7 attacks have also seen a rise in racist attacks across Britain. Race hate crimes have gone up by 600%.
We were the only youth contingent on the demo that showed an alternative to war, racism and terror. We made our presence felt and argued that socialism is an alternative.
It is important that ISR, Socialist Students and the Socialist Party continue to have a loud, lively and red presence on marches and protests and those demos attract the next generation, showing them that only a united working class can defeat capitalism and imperialism and make socialism the future.
Red and energetic
Every demo has its high points and the sight of bystanders singing along as we marched past, singing the Internationale, on Saturday’s anti-war demo certainly stood out for me.
Our red and energetic International Socialist Resistance and Socialist Students contingent on the demo grabbed the attention of loads of young people who then marched and chanted with us.
The 400-500 young people who joined with us wanted to see an alternative put forward – an alternative to the war and occupation, an alternative to Blair and Brown and their policies both domestic and foreign and an alternative to capitalism.
They had very important questions such as “is it possible to avoid civil war?” and “how could socialism be achieved?”
So the ISR contingent met after the demo to discuss the way forward and to address some of these questions. This discussion attracted many who were not getting these questions answered by speakers on the platform.
We linked the need to end the occupation with the urgent need for the Iraqi working and oppressed masses to unite and organise for their own security and against privatisation and unemployment.
We explained the socialist alternative to war and terrorism, to low pay and exploitation and outlined how the working class needs to organise itself to make capitalism history.
Unfortunately some of the Stop the War Coalition officers wanted to stop the discussion. We have consistently argued for youth speakers at the main rally particularly to raise the socialist alternative and the success of this meeting shows there is a growing audience for it.