The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) campaigned across the UK for the December 10 international online meeting to take action against the war in Ukraine.
Thousands of copies of the statement “For a mass movement of youth and students to end the war in Ukraine!” were distributed to universities, colleges, workplaces and shopping streets.
The IYSSE branch in Inverness, Scotland, is based at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) in the city and on the high street with a team that includes members who recently joined on the basis of an agreement with the declaration published on the Mobilization of a socialist anti-war movement.
Calum explained his reasons for this by saying: “The campaign against the NATO-Russia war by the International Committee of the Fourth International and the IYSSE distinguishes it from the liberal anti-war movements of the past by insisting that the working class has the only real hope for change, and to make it clear that an end to all wars can only come through socialism.
“Faced with the possibility of global nuclear war, the supposedly ‘left’ parties across the West are bowing to the hawks. With the end of the American empire and an unprecedented crisis in capitalism, the political classes are uniting in their suicidal urge to secure their global dominance or kill us all trying. A genuine international anti-war movement is the first step towards a broader international alliance of the working class and the first stage of a genuine global revolution.
Joe said: “Youth are increasingly becoming disillusioned or losing faith in our government and other governing bodies around the world. This applies to propaganda surrounding the war effort or justifications for the mass deaths caused by COVID-19 or the cost of living crisis that is leaving many of us unable to eat or heat our homes while companies like Shell are making £31billion in profits .
“Former Prime Minister Liz Truss showed her indifference to human life when she vowed to drop a nuclear bomb on Russia. Now Rishi Sunak has vowed to continue the ongoing war, stating that his priorities are to support our armed forces to support a war that must be “fought to its end”.
“With NATO nuclear bombing Europe and Biden warning of Armageddon, what many see as an isolated war is the implementation of a longstanding US imperialist war strategy. We are heading towards a global conflict. This is one of the reasons I stand with the ICFI and the IYSSE to build a global movement against imperialist war among the youth and working class.”
Sandy said: “The war in Ukraine is being hypocritically justified by invoking the self-determination of nations, which I oppose. The nation-state is historically incompatible with the development of an integrated and interdependent world economy. The interests of the working class are being suppressed by the state apparatus in the interests of the national bourgeoisie and global imperialism.
“Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the US has sought to reverse its long-term economic decline and quell its internal class tensions through imperialist wars, justified with bogus threats to “human rights” for which it is the sole judge, jury and executioner.
“The US-NATO-backed war in Ukraine has the overarching goal of crushing Russia and controlling its resources, threatening humanity with nuclear annihilation. Resistance to the war is growing, but the IYSSE must develop among workers a scientific understanding of history, knowledge of the capitalist mode of production and the resulting social conditions, and insight into the true nature of the contemporary war.”
An IYSSE team from Glasgow Strathclyde University spoke to students from several countries including India, Iran, Russia and Kazakhstan. Twenty-two contacts were made at Glasgow University, with many students expressing concern at the lack of serious coverage of the war. Other students, aware of NATO’s eastward push and its relationship to the collapse of the Soviet Union, feared that world war might result.
In Cardiff, Wales, the IYSSE found that the threat of escalation to the point of nuclear annihilation had fueled strong anti-war sentiment among students and young workers. One student replied: “In their desperation for power, imperialist governments pursue a policy of reckless military build-up, regardless of the consequences.”
Another said: “The working class must unite to take an active stand against the war.” She added: “The economic crisis has gotten so bad. Too many people are dying and starving while billions are being spent on militarization.”
Several young people exposed the deliberate silence about the war on campus and more generally in the mainstream media. Another said: “Youth is the person who will call the shots going forward, so it’s all the more important that people in our age group take a stand.”
At the University of Manchester, Jasmine, who is doing an MA in biotechnology, said: “There is no point in waging war. In the end, everyone is affected, whether in Ukraine, Russia or the rest of the world. Today it may be Russia, China or the USA who want to be superior in the world. Even if a country is a democracy, it’s still capitalism. Stop the war!”
Amelia said: “A war in Ukraine is not surprising. I feel like both sides, America and Russia, are so willing to act.”
A Rwandan student studying international negotiations observed: “It’s ordinary people like you and me who get killed in a war. The economy is behind the war. It serves the interests of the US and Russia to keep the war going.”
Zoology student Oscar made the connection between the attack on democratic rights at home, the war abroad and the cost of living crisis. “I went to the Julian Assange protests. There is not enough talk about stopping the police and the crime statute. Hardly anyone took to the streets to kill the bill, but it costs us our right to protest. They intentionally scare people. They make anti-working class laws that they won’t enforce until they really need them.
“My energy bills have gone through the roof but energy company profits are rising.” He was “disgusted” at the media and government scapegoating families for “free school meals and asylum seekers” while he was making £35billion during the pandemic spent on track and trace that was not delivered. This money “could feed everyone”.
Chris, a final-year science student from China, condemned the war in Ukraine, saying, “We must keep a peaceful world, we must help people. I want people to become aware of the dire effects of war so that we can act. If there were a nuclear war, it would be a catastrophic situation. We have to stop this.
“Many Chinese are suffering because US sanctions prohibit us from buying microchips. It’s part of the trade war. The US has become the strongest and wants to ban other countries from growing.”
Jane, who is studying International Business Management, said: “It doesn’t make sense why they are fighting these wars and why Ukraine has to be the target.
“You are right about capitalism. It caused two world wars. Inequality is very deep. There are people who are extremely rich and people who are extremely poor. There should be a system that can solve that.”
Bradford and Leeds
Members of the IYSSE and the Socialist Equality Party have had a warm response to their campaigns among students in Bradford and Leeds. Hundreds of flyers were distributed to promote the online meeting and 14 young people signed up to attend. Among those who expressed an interest in the meeting were law, economics and public health students. Several said they supported the anti-capitalist and internationalist axis of the campaign.
Outside Leeds Beckett University, activists spoke to Andy, who said he thought the idea that nuclear weapons could be used as part of the war in Ukraine was “simple bullshit”.
Khashayar, a Middle East studies student, said he felt it was important to attend the meeting because “it would be hypocritical to say I am against war but not to try to do anything”. Many of the boundaries that now existed in the world, he said, “were just lines drawn on a map by rich men. Many people die trying to get from one border to the other.”
Asked about the increase in nationalist tendencies in each country, Khashayar said it was dangerous because it prevented working class unity with common interests.
At Sheffield Hallam University, a West Indian worker said: “It’s too easy to blame the Russians as the bad guys” and said that the Iraq war and other crimes of British imperialism must be remembered.
Students from India, the Middle East, Latin America and Eastern Europe, and Britain expressed concern that the conflict in Ukraine is going global, and several thanked activists for explaining a complex situation that denigrated pro-NATO opponents as pro-Putin broke through.
One student who declared himself a socialist noted that during the pandemic “profits were put before social interests” and he thought NATO’s real motives were “imperialist”.
A student from Jordan registered for the webinar. He described himself as a socialist and said he was looking for an explanation of the root causes of the war.
Sign up to attend the international online meeting here.