leninism:Lenins achievement within Marxism was to found the autonomy of a revolutionary political practice which defines in each case the social content of the revolution that can be made, the corresponding revolutionary class alliance (thepeople’) that the Party must cement at the political level, and the counter-revolutionary bloc (theenemy’) whose political organisations, above all the State, must be smashed in order to carry through the revolutionary social transformation.

The task of the Marxist cadre in mobilizing the various popular classes and groups and uniting them towards the revolution is summed up by Lenin in the concluding section ofTwo Tactics’ (Coll.Wks.9, p. 112):

Social Democracy . . . demands that this word (‘people’) shall not be used to cover up failure to understand class antagonisms within the people. It insists categorically on the need for complete class independence for the party of the proletariat. However, it does not divide thepeopleintoclassesso that the advanced class will become locked up within itself, will confine itself within narrow limits . . . it does that so that the advanced class, which does not suffer from the half-heartedness, vacillation, and indecision of the intermediate classes, should fight with all the greater energy and enthusiasm for the cause of the whole people, at the head of the whole people. That is what the present-day new-Iskrists so often fail to inderstand, people who substitute for active political slogans in the democratic revolution a mere pedantic repetition of the wordclass’, declined in all cases and genders.’

The starting-point of a strategy for the student movement must be the question whether ‘students’ (in contemporary Britain) form part of the ‘people’ or of the ‘enemy’. The transience of the situation that defines ‘students’ makes it necessary to examine both their origin and destination in the relations of production, as well as their specifically structured position within the college or university. Some fundamental structural facts are listed below.

1. Class background is a relatively unimportant determinant of student political potential except for the small minority of really bourgeois students whose future position is secured outside of their educational achievement, and the smaller minority of working-class students who received anti-bourgeois values from their parents and maintained these through primary and secondary education. The mass of students are economically and culturally independent of their parents—a situation very often sealed by conscious rejection.

2. The large majority of students are destined for skilled positions in the productive labour, force, and only a minority will obtain positions as direct agents of capitalist authority or in a direct servicing role to the capitalist class.

3. The stratification of the higher education system generates a considerable differentiation of social destination, with universities filling a higher proportion of ‘elite’ positions.