Student protests in America 

Israel continues to slaughter people in Gaza. The official death toll is now over 35,000 people, but with 10,000 people declared missing is certainly much higher. 80,000 people have been wounded and 1,900,000 people displaced in the Gaza Strip. There is no end in site. There seems to be very little hope for the people of Gaza. 

One of the few positive signs amongst this horror has been the outbreak of massive protests against this genocide in universities across the United States. Let’s be clear from the outset. We don’t think that these protests will stop the war. However, we believe that it is a positive sign in itself that young people are prepared to demonstrate against the war. What the students have been demanding along with an end to the war is that their universities cut investments in Israel, particularly in arms manufacturing. 

The protests began on April 22nd when students at several major east coast universities started to occupy their campuses. It spread like wildfire across the whole university system with protest occurring on over 140 campuses across the country in 45 out of 50 American states. It’s been reported that 8% of students nationwide have been involved in the protests.  It also began to spread internationally with protests erupting on university campus in over 30 countries. Even here in Bulgaria there was a protest albeit at the American University in Blagoevgrad, and involving very few people. 

The cops have come down heavily on the protestors. Just under 3,000 protestors have been arrested. There have also been attacks on student encampments by supporters of the state of Israel. These are certainly the largest scale student protests against war since the Vietnam era, and they have led to reactions from both the presidential candidates. Trump was clear “These are radical-left lunatics, and they’ve got to be stopped now”. Biden had equally harsh words to say “I want to make it absolutely clear rioting is not protesting, looting is not protesting, it’s lawlessness, plain and simple, and those that do it should be prosecuted.” Both parties have been quick to condemn the protestors, but according to research 97% of the protests have been peaceful with what violence there is coming from the cops, and pro Israeli groups. 

With the end of the school year, the protests seem to be fading away. Some of them won some small victories, but it certainly won’t bring an end to the war. When Biden was asked if he would change policy, he answered in one word ‘no’. For us though we believe that the fact that so many people have made a visible public protest against war is good in itself. These wars will continue. The war in Ukraine will go on, and there is no solution viable in Palestine. We feel though that for many young people this will be a defining event, perhaps the defining event of this generation, one in which they realise that the capitalist system has nothing to offer but war and oppression. 

Similarly to when there were protests in this country against the war in Ukraine, of course there are some who want to divert people’s anger at the horror of the situation into support for one or other camps in the war. Just as we say that NATO and the west have nothing positive to offer in Ukraine, and there is nothing to choose between either side, we also don’t see that the Iranian led ‘Axis of Resistance’ has anything to offer, but continued war, and terror. However, that doesn’t mean that we can ignore people’s rightful anger at the horrors of war. It’s up to us to argue for a class based anti war movement. 

It is up to us to argue for a class based response to war. Why do we say this? We say it because we believe antiwar politics will only become effective when they converge with the struggles of workers to defend their wages and working conditions. We aim to connect the question of war and everyday life because we believe in the power of the mass of working people to change the world for the better. 

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