24 September 2009

Speech to Cardiff University Socialist Students, 24 September 2009

For the archives.

I've been asked to speak for a minute about what we have planned for the year.

Next Wednesday, we're running a film: “Che”, in Birt Acres in Bute Hall. The week after that, we're holding a debate with the Greens and the Liberal Democrats on the question, “can capitalism save the environment?”

Now let me tell you a little about what we've done.

Karl Marx said that in every era, the ideas of the ruling class are the ruling ideas.

Early this summer, a hundred of us stood in the pouring rain in a parking lot in Swansea. We were there to campaign for the reinstatement of Rob Williams, a trade union organiser at a company called Visteon. The ruling idea there was that a worker who's inconvenient, who asks the wrong questions, who sticks up for his fellow workers, can be sacked without a second thought. It was cold, it was wet, and we stood there in the rain – and we got Rob his job back.

A little bit later, in August, the BNP tried to pick a fight around here. They went around online telling people that this Asian-owned post office in west Cardiff wouldn't send packages to British troops in Afghanistan. That was a lie. The ruling idea there was that you can use lies and distortions to tear a hole between people of different races, and into that hole insert an object made of hate and violence – the BNP – and force the people apart farther and farther. We organized the people in Cardiff and across Britain, and without raising a single fist, we scared the BNP off. They never set foot in this city.

And earlier today, the Cardiff University Students' Union took down an advertisement which tried to appeal to the worst in all of us. It was a sexist advertisement. It was repugnant. It tried to call out to the worst and basest things in all of us. The ruling idea there was that you can take advantage of those base things, try to denigrate half of humanity, and use the power of that denigration to extract profits from the other half. But we, along with the Feminist Forum, organised a campaign. In the space of days, we gathered hundreds of signatures. The voice of the people cried out against that ruling idea, and that advertisement, that little piece of sexism in a world full of it, has been deposited on the ash-heap of history.

I tell you, ladies and gentlemen, though it needs no telling: the people, united, are sovereign. I remind you, comrades, though it needs no reminding: the people, united, can never be defeated.

Ladies, gentlemen, our methods are good methods. They work. They bring about positive change. Comrades, our goals are good goals. We promote altruism, cooperation, and respect and we oppose greed, division, and exploitation. Join us, and we will make the world better. Join us, and we will be uniting we peoples of the world. And I promise you: through struggle, united, we will lose our chains.

So ask me what we will do this year. I tell you, plainly: if you join us, we will campaign to save people's jobs. And, working together, in this time of downsizing and layoffs we will save those jobs. Ask me what we will do, and I tell you plainly: join us, and we will rally the people against hate groups of every description. And, organised in the name of equality and peace, we will make those purveyors of hatred run scared back to their winter homes. Ask me what we will do, and I tell you plainly – join us, and we will fight against sexism, against racism, against homophobia, against economic and social discrimination of every kind, and what is more, we will win.