“Revolution is only possible from the ground up”: Why young people are joining Socialist Alternative
Claudia Charlesworth, Huddersfield
I joined because I have always been in support of socialist ideas, even before I heard the label. Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated by politics and recognised that it has to be about putting the needs of others above myself. I’m very fortunate to come from a fairly privileged background. But a big part of that was because of the gains that we have fought for and won in the past.
My mother - a Morrison’s worker - had me at 17 while my dad fixed motorways. With the support of child benefit and publicly funded childcare, my parents have been able to establish careers they are comfortable with. Now my dad works as a train driver, while my mum works for an insurance company. I was born in an NHS hospital and so I recognised the need to join the fight to save our health service from Tory attacks. Through demonstrating against the closure of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary in the ‘Hands Off HRI’ campaign, I was made aware of Socialist Alternative as their members were playing an active role in organising it on the ground.
As somebody who has both been fortunate with family circumstances while also falling on hard times after trying to establish my own independence as a young person, I am all too aware of the course of government over the years, which have had devastating effects on working class communities. Being a member of Socialist Alternative has allowed me to learn more about where such policies come from, and how they serve the interests of the capitalist elite.
Daniel Hood, West Yorkshire
Ever since I can remember I’ve had a feeling clawing away at my mind that something was untrustworthy about the suits in power. Something told me there was nothing behind the eyes of the nefarious figures operating within the capitalist class. From childhood, images from the news have shown famine and poverty – both domestic and overseas. It taught me early on that the world was one of 'haves' and 'have nots', and those in power seemed to be doing nothing to genuinely tackle it.
Being of mixed ethnic background in a largely white, conservative area meant I ended up in touch with the injustices in society in a way that many others were not. I felt disheartened by seeing this level of trust in the government among the people I knew. But as I grew older, I witnessed and learned about what those in power were responsible for – from the defunding of the NHS, the bombing of Syria and the horrors we saw at Grenfell. I became more secure in knowing I had every right to be disgusted at the way things were run.
One barrier to drawing socialist conclusions was how capitalism seemed to me. I saw it as a lumbering, indestructible behemoth, which could easily crush any resistance using the state. My mind changed after a friend put me in touch with members of my local branch of Socialist Alternative. I decided I was sick of this horror show and attended a public meeting. To hear my own frustrations at the Tories being articulated so clearly and boldly gave me a real sense of revolutionary inspiration, motivating me to join!
Sammy McNamarra, Brighton
In the summer of 2019, I began to put my long held left-wing beliefs into practice. The climate movement really swept me off of my sofa and I started to attend Extinction Rebellion and Youth Strike 4 Climate demonstrations. I even attended some meetings at the London XR headquarters.
The four years that preceded this spell of activism were of vital importance to the formulation of my political identity, as it stood last summer. The election of Jeremy Corbyn to leader of the Labour Party and the movement surrounding Bernie Sanders in the U.S were especially striking in articulating the inequalities and injustices that are the life-blood of capitalist society. I began to read about left-wing ideas and watched a lot of left-wing content on youtube.
This was all well and good whilst I was still a GCSE/A-level student with no conceivable way to get involved in the struggle, owing to a combination of mental health problems, myself and those close to me and a geographical hindrance - I come from a small town half an hour outside of London.
During this spell of activism last summer, I was relaying a lot of what I was experiencing to a friend who was a member of Brighton Socialist Alternative. I was relaying some of my concerns with the decentralised, one-issue nature of the climate organisations. September rolled around and I moved to Brighton for university. My first night there I went along with my friend to a Socialist Alternative meeting and I immediately felt a comradeship, and the lucidity of the programme was incredibly refreshing. I learned why the movements I once thought were radical would need to go beyond the fight for reforms and that a revolution is only possible from the ground up, by way of the working class and that the clear vision of a party of invaluable importance.
Since joining in September I have had some of the most serious and constructive conversations of my whole life. I have attended the annual congress in Manchester and I am now our Branch youth organiser. If you are a young person and are confused about your political identity, I would say that there is no better organisation for you!