The deepening crisis of capitalism is pushing more and more people to revolutionary conclusions, and no one is more critical of the status quo than the youth. Hundreds of students who are frustrated with economic insecurity and debt, oppression and discrimination, state violence, war, and environmental destruction signed up to get involved in Socialist Fightback Students (SFS) chapters on campuses across the country and participated in our events during the first month of the fall school term.
Literature stalls were held during clubs days and frosh fairs on more than a dozen campuses. Interested students attended events in the form of a talk followed by an open-floor discussion, and often continued the conversation at a local pub. Even some high school students are looking to set up clubs at their schools! The beginning of September was marked by sizeable Labour Day parades in which impressive interventions were organized by Fightback.
That Socialist Fightback Students chapters are expanding across the country and wider layers of young people are getting involved is symptomatic of a broader radicalization in society. This marks a significant step forward in the socialist struggle in Canada, and comrades on the ground have stated they feel as though SFS is filling a vacuum.
Labour Day & the Fight Against Racism
This year, Fightback organized the socialist contingent of the Toronto Labour Day march under the banner of “workers unite against the far right”. We were clearly the most energetic and political bloc in the demonstration, with placard signs bearing slogans such as “end racism, end capitalism” and “an injury to one is an injury to all”.
Over 60 socialists participated in the contingent, including trade unionists and activists from different universities, colleges and high schools. Our numbers made for a powerful show of force for the resurgence of socialist ideas we are seeing across the globe. A number of trade unionists commented on our high level of organization, with four literature stalls set up at the beginning of the parade in addition to numerous groups of activists distributing copies of Fightback magazine over the course of the march. Over 200 copies of Fightback were purchased during the parade. Fightback is clearly establishing itself as the strongest force on the revolutionary left, and this is helping us to establish authority within the labour movement.
Fightback also participated in Labour Day activities in Waterloo, Hamilton, and Oshawa. At Waterloo, Marxist literature was well-received at a trade union-organized barbeque with several hundred workers in attendance. Our comrades were even invited to speak at the coming Waterloo Regional Labour Council. In Hamilton, the Socialist Fightback club joined the Labour Day parade where they received a warm welcome (and many red salutes!), and the paper proved popular at the picnic after the march. In Oshawa, 14 issues of Fightback were bought, including by Oshawa NDP MP Jennifer French who said she was a long-time supporter of ours.
Socialist Fightback Students participated in the Clubs Day at Ryerson University on September 6th. Throughout the day over 110 students signed up with our club and 42 Fightback issues were sold. With 13 SFS activists present, we were the largest and most visible group.
The atmosphere on campus was more radical than in years past, with many students expressing that they had been radicalized by the election of Donald Trump and the events in Charlottesville. Many students were drawn to our large anti-fascist banner, and recognized Fightback from the anti-fascist rally that we had helped to organize a few weeks before, which had received significant media coverage. Many of the students we met at clubs day would come to our events in the following weeks.
On September 13th, we organized an event titled “After Charlottesville: How to Fight the Far Right”. Roughly 50 people attended the meeting where Alex Grant, Editor of Fightback, presented the topic. Participants brought up thoughtful points, questions and even some criticisms which led to a lively democratic discussion on how to fight against far-right reaction, which was then continued at the pub.
On September 20th, Socialist Fightback Students organized another event titled “Marxism vs. Intersectionality” where Jessica Cassell, from the Fightback Editorial Board, presented the topic. Around 30 people attended this meeting. An educational discussion followed on how to best fight against oppression and discrimination and went on throughout the night to the pub.
These events were far bigger than what any other political organization had organized on campus and goes to show the rising interest of socialist ideas. We believe there is incredible potential for growth of Marxist ideas at Ryerson in the coming year!
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RyersonMarxists/
University of Toronto
At the UofT Clubs Carnival during the first week back to school, some 20 activists of the Socialist Fightback Students helped to sign up over 150 students at the two literature stalls that were set-up. Around 25 papers and booklets were purchased by students, most of whom were first-year students meeting organized socialists for the first time. The following week the SFS activists at UofT ran another literature table at Street Fest and sold more than a dozen papers and booklets and signed up another hundred students interested in getting involved and getting educated in Marxist theory. On both days there was a steady number of students stopping by the table and many lively discussions about the need for socialist revolution.
The clubs fairs were followed by two successful events. The first, “Why We Need a Revolution”, presented by Fightback organizer Farshad Azadian on September 14th, had over 30 in attendance. The discussion focused largely around the debate between “reform or revolution” and it was highlighted that while Marxists fight for reforms that would improve the living conditions of workers and youth, no reform is permanent under Capitalism, a system which exploitation, oppression and crisis are inherent to and so must ultimately be overthrown. Almost everyone in attendance put their hands up at the end of the meeting when asked who would like to get active in building the SFS chapter at UofT.
The following week, on September 21st, the SFS UofT club held an event on ““After Charlottesville: How to Fight Fascism”, presented by Fightback editor Alex Grant. Over 30 people attended and participated in a lively discussion on how the struggle against fascist reaction, which is a product of capitalism in crisis, is inherently linked to the struggle for socialism. There are now dozens and dozens of students at UofT who are actively attending our meetings and seriously committed to studying revolutionary Marxism!
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fightbackatuoft/
Socialist Pub Night in Toronto
This enthusiasm was reflected with the very impressive showing of UofT students at our Socialist Pub Night on Friday. Many Ryerson students and even students from as far as York University made it to the downtown pub for discussions on revolutionary politics.
In total, approximately 60 people attended. Discussions ranged from the environment, human nature, and the collapse of Yugoslavia, to revolutionary politics in the Middle-East and in Kurdistan. At least 15 people agreed to join Marxist reading groups that are being set-up at different campuses.
George Brown College
The recently-founded Socialist Fightback club at George Brown college held its first literature stall for the school year at the St. James campus. There was a lot of excitement among students about the club, and the issue of economic inequality was on many people’s minds. A lot of the students were fresh to politics and the ideas of socialism, but excited to learn more as they organically can see how capitalism is failing a majority of people on the planet. About 50 students signed up to the club, with over a dozen papers and booklets sold.
At the college there is little in the way of campus club activity, and this is especially true when it comes to left-wing politics. The SFS club at George Brown has great potential for growth this year.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RyersonMarxists/
The Socialist Fightback Students chapter at York U began the first week of term with a concerted postering campaign, two literature stalls, and an introductory public discussion on “What is Marxism?”. As capitalism results in increasing inequality and the lowering of living standards, a growing mood of frustration and anger was apparent among students we met, many of whom come from working class backgrounds.
This was reflected in the public discussion where 50 students gathered to discuss Marxist theory. The presentation was led by Alex Grant, and was live streamed. The video has so far reached over 1700 views! After a lively and eventful discussion, attendees were asked if they wanted to get involved with Socialist Fightback. Fourteen new attendees raised their hands and gave their names to get involved with the student clubs.
The following week on September 14th, the York comrades held an event on how to fight fascism. 50 students attended, participating in an educational discussion about the need for a mass, militant movement linked up with socialist demands to fight fascism. Recently the York club held another event on “Marxism and the Emancipation of Women” which also had around 50 in attendance. It was highlighted that as capitalism relies on the oppression of women, the struggle for women’s liberation has to be part of the struggle against capitalism and the class struggle. These high attendance numbers really show the thirst for revolutionary ideas on campus and foretell a significant growth in size and influence of the Marxists at York!
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fightbackatyorku
Hamilton: gains at McMaster despite fascist sabotage
The Socialist Fightback club at McMaster held a literature stall at Clubs Day. We were able to distribute several hundred leaflets, which were met with enthusiasm by students eager to get politically active. We held a coffee shop gathering after the Clubs Day in which a half dozen interested students gathered to discuss Marxism.
The Hamilton comrades were met with a challenge the following week on September 13th when our “Introduction to Marxism” event was sabotaged by fascists affiliated with the “Proud Boys” organization, a men’s only group which openly proclaims itself as “western chauvinist”, advocates the banning of all immigration, and requires that new members “get into a physical fight with an anti-fascist activist at a public rally”.
A “McMaster Proud Boys meeting” was announced at the same time, location and room as the event of the Socialist Fightback club. It later became evident that this was a fake meeting set up so that those responsible could report it to the university and have the room booking for the SFS event cancelled.
The McMaster Police then denied entry to activists and students who arrived for the meeting. It is important to note that the police were able to see that our activists were not the Proud Boys but were clearly with Socialist Fightback, which is an anti-racist and anti-sexist organization. The police closely examined our literature while they were harassing our activists.
This is a clear act of intimidation where the fascists, working with the police, were able to sabotage an event organized by socialists. The fascists’ reason for this action is clear; they want to physically repress left-wing organizations, workers organizations, and they want to break the resistance of anti-racist and anti-sexist activists. However, that they resort to such tactics instead of daring to show up in person shows that they are a weak force, whereas our method to shut down fascists is not to rely on the campus administration and the police but the strength of the workers and students united.
We will not be intimidated by reactionary fascists! Notably, we have gotten support from the president of the librarian union on campus and several other figures in the labour community, a real demonstration of working class solidarity.
Our meetings and organizing will continue on campus and we expect to grow in the coming year, especially as the emboldening of the fascists and racists is a wake-up call for many for the need to get involved in socialist organizing. This was demonstrated by the dozen or so students who came out the following week to discuss Marxist theory and expressed an interest in helping us build in Hamilton!
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/fightbackhamilton/
Socialist Fightback Students Waterloo held regular literature stalls in the first three weeks of the term and during Clubs Day, collecting approximately 100 names and emails of students interested in learning more about socialism and getting involved with the club. Just under 30 students attended our first event on September 15th on how to fight fascism, and the following week, on September 22nd, we had a record attendance of 40 for a discussion on “Why We Need a Revolution”, presented by Alex Grant. This impressive turn-out and the enthusiasm of the attendees about getting involved in the SFS chapter at Waterloo shows the thirst for Marxist theory on campus!
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/fightbackwaterloo/
McGill and Concordia
The McGill chapter of Socialist Fightback/La Riposte socialiste was present for all three nights of Activities Night, from September 5th – 7th. We were welcomed by youth who have become politicized in the recent period. Although McGill is characterised by having a more conservative student body, it is obvious that more and more students are looking to the left in order to understand the state of the world today. In total we sold 35 papers, 18 of our foundational booklets, and met around 140 students who signed up to our email list wanting to learn more about how to get involved. We are becoming a point of reference at McGill as we are the only openly socialist group on campus.
At Concordia Clubs Day this year, the Fightback table was a very popular one. The various lively discussions we had with new and returning students resulted in 44 papers sold and 79 new emails on our email lists! Visitors to the table were excited to see an openly socialist group on campus, and were impressed by our level of organization and the amount of literature we had to offer.
On Saturday, September 9th, the clubs at Concordia and McGill combined forces to hold a Socialist Pub Night – our first event of the school year. Building off of a good tradition from previous years, we once again beat all of our expectations with over 70 people showing up, completely packing the bottom floor of Brutopia pub in downtown Montreal. This was the result of the hard work of our activists at Concordia and McGill, who had gathered over 220 emails and phone numbers of interested students during the previous week from the two campuses.
Dozens of fresh faces came out to the pub night, clearly demonstrating that youth are interested in Marxist ideas and are looking to get organized. Our literature table was very popular, with many new people buying copies of our paper, booklets and books. We ended up selling almost $60 of literature! Discussions were wide ranging and engaging with people embroiled in in-depth discussions for hours until late into the night!
On Wednesday September 13, Socialist Fightback at Concordia and McGill held its first event on campus titled “ Why We Need Socialism”. Over 50 attendees came out to listen to Kian Kenyon-Dean, a Fightback activist and McGill student, present on the topic. Kian discussed the current crisis of global capitalism, the failure of liberalism to resolve this crisis, and the growing unpopularity of establishment liberal and reformist politics. The presentation was followed by a lively hour-long discussion.
The following week on Wednesday September 20th, Socialist Fightback at Concordia and McGill held a discussion titled “The Relevance of the Communist Manifesto” at McGill university. Around 45 participated in what was a very successful event. Natalia Garcia, an activist with Socialist Fightback at McGill presented for 25 minutes, going over the main ideas in the manifesto and explaining their relevance for today. The presentation was followed by a lively discussion with many questions, interventions by those present and many signing up to get active in our campus clubs! This successful start to the years demonstrates that we are becoming a pole of attraction for radicalized students at these two campuses.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fightbackcm
Université de Montréal
Comrades from La Riposte socialiste étudiante were present at the Student Clubs Fair at Université de Montréal on August 30th spreading Marxist ideas to the student population. We sold 17 copies of our paper La Riposte socialiste and had close to 50 people sign up to our email list. We were by far the most impressive and active club at the Clubs Fair. The general ambiance was very good with many people desiring to know more and wanting to get more involved building the forces of revolutionary Marxism on campus!
The following week the UdeM comrades held their first public event of the semester on September 20th on the subject of “What Would Socialism Look Like?”. Around 30 people turned up for the event, making it a big success! The discussion demonstrated that the majority of the people in the room were already anti-capitalist and were looking for answers to how we could precisely fight for socialism.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ripsum/
Cégep du Vieux-Montréal
At the beginning of the school year at the Cegep Vieux-Montreal, La Riposte socialiste étudiante held 4 tablings in the first two weeks of classes. These tablings were a big success! Students in general were very open to socialist ideas. We signed up around 30 new students to our club list. Many seemed very interested in helping us to create a socialist club at Vieux-Montreal! As well, we sold around 20 copies of the latest edition of La Riposte socialiste!
Our first event at Cegep Vieux-Montreal was on the subject of “The Capitalist Crisis and the Socialist Revolution.” The discussion was wide ranging and touched on many subjects, most notably the question of the environment, how to convince people of the relevance of socialism, what can activists do to make sure the revolution prevails, etc. The discussion concluded with a call to help form a club on the campus which was received with enthusiasm by the participants!
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ripsocvm/
These past few weeks, activists from Socialist Fightback Students began activities to establish a club at Cégep Marie-Victorin. We organized five tablings where we sold 42 copies of our paper La Riposte socialiste, three educational booklets, and one book. In addition, we gathered nearly 100 emails and phone numbers of people wanting to get involved in the club! This success is the result of our hard work on the campus last spring and we intend to build on this momentum.
Following this mobilization work, we held our first public event of the semester on September 6th on the question “Is Socialism Possible?” This event brought out around 20 people and their interest was shown in the fact that after the event, we sold $40 worth of literature. There is no lack of interest in socialist ideas on the campus and it is up to us to build this group!
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LRSMV/
The Socialist Fightback Students chapter at UVic got off to a promising start this year, engaging dozens of students at a number of successful literature tables and events. The comrades ran a literature table at the campus clubs day and had a very positive reception. Some 55 students signed up to the club’s email list and stopped by the table to discuss socialism. At the Anarchist Book Fair the same week, the comrades sold 13 issues of Fightback and several booklets. In the following weeks, many of the young people who stopped by the literature tables came out to our events. On September 15th, SFS at UVic hosted a successful pub night with over a dozen in attendance and several voicing a desire to get more involved with the club. On September 20th, the comrades held a discussion called “Is Fascism on the Rise in North America?” which had over 20 in attendance, reflecting the trend we are seeing across the country as youth are getting radicalized by the emergence of far-right groups and seeking revolutionary answers. We now have a solid base of support at UVic which will allow us to reach wider layer of students and build more influence on campus.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SocialistFightbackUVic/
University of Alberta
We are very excited to have a new SFS chapter at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, located in what is sometimes referred to as the “Texas of Canada”, implying a right-wing or conservative mood of the population. We saw how this doesn’t reflect reality when 44 years of Conservative rule was overturned with the election of the Alberta NDP in the last provincial election. Clearly, people are looking for meaningful change and there is significant discontent among workers and youth looking for an expression. We are also seeing this reflected in the interest of students in socialism at the University of Alberta where the SFS has held two successful events during the first month back to school.
Our first event of the year took place on September 11th and saw 20 in attendance for a presentation on “Socialism 101” followed by an energetic discussion and many eager to continue coming out to our events to learn about Marxism. Our second event on “What is Fascism and How to Fight it?” on September 19th had a very impressive turnout of approximately 50 in attendance! After the event, more than half a dozen people joined us at a nearby campus pub to talk more about socialism and how to get involved with Fightback. This event put us on the map at UofA and many in attendance are expected to get more active in building up the forces of Marxism on campus and abroad.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fightbackedmonton/
Join the Revolutionary Struggle!
The interest in socialism has only been growing and our activists have never been so energized. What we are building is something unique on the campuses. We provide a space to discuss ideas, theory, and history in a manner that is concrete and that can be applied to the struggles of today and those to come. However, we are not building another academic discussion circle. We refuse to be inwards looking, passive and abstract. We discuss political ideas with a purpose, with a commitment to being active and participating in the real struggles of workers and youth.
We want to reach the broader youth and workers to provide the best ideas in the fight against inequality, oppression, poverty, capitalist austerity and war. We participate in struggles in the workplaces and communities. We organize picket-line solidarity. We support every fight of the oppressed. We raise funds for revolutionary movements and to support local actions. Our goal is to take the ideas of socialism to the youth, the oppressed, to the workers, in order to unite our collective struggles and win.
If you have made the decision to get organized, and want to help others fight to build socialism, link up with us. We commit to help you get active. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at our office at 416-461-0304.
Get involved and build the socialist student club at your campus!
Let’s build a revolutionary and anti-capitalist student movement in Canada!