"I’m very glad to be a student this year"—Clare Solomon speaks to Maeve McKeown for the New Left Project
The New Left Project's Maeve McKeown interviews Clare Solomon, editor of Springtime: The New Student Rebellions, about the rebirth of the student movement, her role in the book, and the global impact of student activism.
What was the purpose of the book?
Anybody that saw any of the media portrayal of the student protests last year may take away from that a certain vision either of what the protests were about or how they were carried out. Therefore I think it's important that we record history in our own voices in an attempt to cut through the media bias. So the purpose of the book was to try to bring as many different perspectives and topics together ensuring that all political persuasions were covered, different ages and a gender balance to highlight and to celebrate how magnificent the protests were.
There are a lot of similarities between the UK, European countries and California - they're all struggling against the privatization of education. But the Tunisian struggle is slightly different because it's about removing a dictator. So why did you think it was connected and why did you include it?
Clearly there's a connection in that we live under capitalism, we live under a system that is global and it's important for us to show solidarity to each other, to make those connections so that people know that it's not just us in Britain fighting against the government. Of course, we can't make comparisons in that the effects that we are feeling here are nowhere near as dramatic as what's been happening in Egypt and Tunisia. But there is always crossover from different countries, different issues, different subjects, where people can learn from each other. It's a multi-dimensional process, so I thought it was important to make that connection.
Are you surprised by how much activism there's been recently?
I don't think surprised is quite the right word. I think this is expected. It's not surprising that students were angry about what the government is doing to our education and the wider society and if you're going to do that, people are going to be provoked and will resist. People don't just go on protests and break windows and whatever for the fun of it; they do it for a particular reason - cause and effect. I'm not surprised but definitely pleased that this is the year that I've been doing what I'm doing. I'm very glad to be a student this year.