“Witnessing the effects of austerity got me thinking…” – Why young people are joining SA
Finn Trelfa, Brighton I have been lucky enough to have been educated on Marxist ideas from age 16, which made me join small leftist circles in my hometown. After moving to Brighton for university, I continued to educate myself on Marxist theory – unlearning what was drilled into me as a kid and relearning the truth of our society throughout teen and early adulthood, which helped me to solidify my identity as a Marxist and a socialist. However, as I was in a completely new city, I wasn’t sure what leftist circles to join or even how to find them. With the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, I decided to channel my energy into ensuring his being elected prime minister.
After Corbyn was beaten the second time in a general election, and was forced to step down, I was distraught. I knew what was next – a right-wing leadership in the form of Keir Starmer. And that’s exactly what happened. Thankfully, a member of the Brighton branch told me about Socialist Alternative. I saw members joining us on the picket line for the UCU strikes, and giving powerful speeches of support. Later on, I bought a paper. After reading and doing more research on SA’s website, I decided I wanted to join.
As a trans/non-binary person, I was hesitant at first. I had seen other ‘left’ groups spout transphobic rhetoric before, including the transphobic cartoon in the Morning Star newspaper. However, I have been welcomed with open arms into Socialist Alternative! The use of introduction to say our names and pronouns in branch meetings has made me feel incredibly welcome and safe. I’ve also had the opportunity to give an introductory lead off on ‘rainbow capitalism’ and how we as socialists must fight against this and ensure liberation for all working class people, including trans people. It was great to not only give this lead off, but to see incredible discussion from my fellow comrades.
Branch meetings have brought me rich knowledge of the corrupt nature of capitalism, and the inequalities that come with it. Through SA articles and papers, I have learnt of the negative impact capitalism has in my community. I have also been recommended texts by Trotsky, Lenin etc., to continue learning!
Socialist Alternative gives people the chance to organise. It gives us education in socialist ideas, understanding the nature of oppression under capitalism, as well as the rights of the working class. It allows us to mobilise against the system that has dragged us down, killed us and withheld our rights. It allows us to fight for a socialist society – one of equality for all.
Jack Chestney, York
I come from a working class background, where a lot of the ideas and values were right-wing and old-fashioned. Living with my father, a lot of this became almost normal growing up. However, the older I got, the more I opened my eyes and rejected these ideas, beginning to draw my own conclusions about the world around me. Seeing news footage of refugees risking all to travel across vast oceans for a better life, reading about the level of hate crimes and witnessing the effects of austerity first hand in the areas I lived in got me thinking.
I could no longer understand why people accepted this as ’another one of those things’ and in some cases almost welcomed unnecessary hatred. I quickly decided that I would push for change, spreading acceptance, understanding and unity. It was by chance that I engaged with a Socialist Alternative stall in York; talking to members and hearing ideas I could really get on board with. It took time to come round to the idea of joining but I felt now more than ever socialist ideas needed as much exposure as possible. I had done my research and had taken away some key points from the New Members’ Reading Series, which included a list of Socialist Alternative’s key demands, such as ‘secure jobs paid a real living wage’ and ‘a democratically planned economy to protect people and planet.’
I fell in love with the powerful words of Marx almost written two centuries ago that still have so much relevance for today’s world. All of these things combined motivated me to take the step towards becoming a member as I saw the opportunity to gain more knowledge from members, strengthen that wall of change and make a difference for future generations. Being a member of Socialist Alternative is an honour, especially in such unstable and unpredictable times. Now more than ever we need revolutionary action to make this world a healthier place.
Tom Butterworth, Manchester I’ve been a socialist ever since I learned what socialism was. I was a member of the Green Party for about eight years, joining while Caroline Lucas was leader, and getting involved with the party locally. At that time Lucas said that she, and the party, were socialists. While I had been disillusioned with Labour under Blair, Brown and Milliband, I was given hope by Corbyn’s ascent to the leadership of the party and the movement that surrounded this.
In recent years I lost faith in the Green Party: I felt that they had lost their way with their Brexit position and choosing a former Tory (Jonathan Bartley) as co-leader. His shocking comments on halal meat were the final straw, and I cancelled my membership. I became involved in Socialist Alternative early last year, and was inspired by the dedication, effectiveness and analysis of the local members. I realised that change comes not just through Westminster and electoral politics, but through the organisation of the working class in our workplaces. I saw that Socialist Alternative members across the country and the world were able to gain real victories and build powerful networks in the trade unions.
We have only a decade left if we are to fight the worst effects of climate change: with the prospect of another five years of Tory government, and the Labour party shifting back to the right, we can’t wait and hope for electoral politics to save us. We have to organise now to achieve the transformation of society, to take power for the many, to end poverty and to fight climate change. I joined Socialist Alternative to be a part of that fight.