Socialist Alternative

“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

,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!

“The system cannot be reformed”: Why young people are joining SA

Elizabeth Cox, Cardiff

I first became aware of Socialist Alternative back in 2019. My interest in politics had by that point grown into a quiet passion, fuelled during the years leading up to the General Election by my time spent as a student nurse in the centre of London. Those three years found me regularly struggling to get by, often resorting to working five-day weeks of twelve-hour shifts (not including the commute) just to feed myself.

Yet I still consider myself lucky compared to some of the individuals I got to meet as a nursing student, and still meet now that I am qualified. The experience opened my eyes to many of the inequalities around me – how as a community nurse I could go from checking in on a retired businessman in his penthouse, to comforting an elderly woman suffering from a chronic condition fighting to stay on benefits, within a five-minute car ride – or how poor mental health has become rampant in our society but still continues to be underfunded and discriminated against – or the regular abuse myself and my colleagues would be expected to endure on the frontlines of the NHS, whether it was racial or sexual or otherwise – or how consistent

The movement around Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in 2019 filled me with hope that the world didn’t have to be this way and, after the disappointing conclusion of the election, I was keen to channel that hope into something productive. Searching online led me to the Socialist Alternative, which in turn led to discussions with my local members. Now I am proud to be a part of a welcoming movement of individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, all sharing a common compassion for the people around them, and who actively seek to discuss and debate ways to encourage and implement positive reform into the communities we live in. I look forward to supporting the organisation and its goals through these difficult times, and hope I can one day look back and be satisfied that I actively helped contribute to the growth of a more equal and ultimately peaceful society.

Tim Cowley, Huddersfield

For years I had been an ‘armchair activist’. I’d profess my support for socialism and left-wing policies, but that was as far as I would go. The run-up to, and eventual defeat of Labour in the 2019 general election was a huge factor in why I joined Socialist Alternative, as it radically changed my view of our political system. It was the first election that I had been able to vote in, and I was full of hope, honestly believing that we had a chance to vote for someone who would implement radical change. Instead it showed me that socialism can never be accepted by our ruling class. It also demonstrated the shocking behavior of the Labour right, who worked tirelessly to ensure that they lost the election, and eventually

While I joined the organisation after lockdown had begun I have seen and heard about the actual work that is undertaken to build class consciousness and stand up for those who are denied a voice in our current system. Be this through organising protests or climate marches, or even just setting up a stall outside the university to introduce socialist ideas to students who may never have considered left-wing politics seriously before. Socialist Alternative is an organisation that actually fights to make the world a better place, beyond just voting for Labour every 5 years.

Admittedly my grasp of socialist theory remains relatively unsophisticated, but I can still recognise that the bigotry and inequality that are so pervasive in our society are strengthened and maintained by the capitalist system we live in, and only through the work of Socialist Alternative and revolutionary organisations like it can our society begin to genuinely move past these evils and begin to work for the many, not the few.

Daniel Coulston, Brighton

I joined Socialist Alternative after a year or two of my political views shifting leftwards. Before, I’d been quite the centrist and believed that whilst it was flawed, the capitalist system could be reformed. Events like

But being online all day complaining about it was not going to fundamentally change anything. As soon as I was able, I joined up with a local student group and it was there that two comrades from Socialist Alternative invited me to come along to speak to some members. I went along to my first paper sale and it was immediately a cathartic experience. Rather than being an ‘armchair revolutionary’ I was out in the streets having conversations with working class people about the power they hold to fight to change society.

From there I was involved in university strikes and climate protests, helping to foster solidarity and experiencing first-hand the power of united movements. Weekly branch meetings have helped shape and further my understanding of leftist theory, and the conversations make it much easier to transport these abstract ideas into contemporary events. A year ago, it felt like I was alone – that no matter how angry I got about the world, I was just one person against the entire system. Now I am part of a worldwide movement and everyday I become more aware of the potential we have in making the world a fairer place for all.