‘The Marxist voice will revolutionise society’: A chat with the Marxist society

But do people want to join them?


UCL Marxists are relatively young having only been founded in 2012, but are still adamant they’re committed to “the struggle for socialism”.

They are renowned for their leafleting around campus during Freshers’ Fair, but despite this publicity campaign, many are dubious as to whether they can change anything. “Has Marxism ever worked well anywhere?”, asks student Chris Shortland, while second year Lucian said: “They’re irrelevant. I can’t see why anyone would call themselves a Marxist in 2015.”

But students across the UK are still turning to Marxist societies. They have been popping up across the country since 2008, and there’s even a national Marxist Student Federation. With this in mind I had a chat with Algar Epps – a senior member of UCL’s Marxist society – who strongly argues Marxism has never been more relevant at UCL. He believes his society gives expression to students who believe UCL is part of a system out to exploit.

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Beer is way too bourgeoisie

So what does Algar actually consider to be wrong with UCL? UCL, like the rest of society, is run as a business rather than as a centre for education: profit motivation prioritises coffee shops over study areas, leading to a “crisis” in UCL accommodation that pushes students to live in “Dickensian conditions”, with continually rising rent.

For Algar, this has had two negative effects: it damages students’ studies and “costs poorer students out of university”. Victories such as the rental reimbursement for students at Campbell House was “impressive”, but needs to be seen as part of a wider struggle to get fairer deals for UCL students and the national student body as a whole.

To help this, Algar suggests the Union needs more of a say on how the University is run, to ensure the student voice is heard. This, he hopes, will see UCL’s resources being diverted away from coffee shops and portfolios and into developing infrastructure for student welfare and future employment.

You might have seen these dotted around Campus

You might have seen these dotted around campus

Cru

Cru

But “you can’t have socialism in one university”, he reminds me. There has to be a united front to protect student and worker interests. That is why UCL Marxists have celebrated the election of Jeremy Corbyn, as it enables greater cooperation with the Labour Society to “raise the socialist agenda”.

Throughout the interview Algar felt very confident and happy, proudly displaying his hammer and sickle pendant as an outward sign of his beliefs. I asked him whether the future looked bright for UCL’s Marxist society to which he believed it did. “If the Marxist voice is developed correctly”, he concludes, “it will be at the forefront of a coming student movement that will revolutionise society”.

Coming away from the interview, it’s difficult to see UCL as the centre of an upcoming revolution or how Algar intends to implement the changes he proposed.  There is certainly demand for a greater student voice in how the University is run, but not necessarily corresponding with an appetite for socialism.