For me, the purpose of activism is to bring about social change. Here in the UK, there is an ongoing debate in the student movement about whether that should be achieved by way of a revolution, or by public policy change. As a democrat, it is important to contextualise my own views. I believe that here in the UK our activism, our pressure groups, and our social movements should be about change through shaping policy solutions. But that is not my worldview.
I have been fortunate through my involvement with the National Union of Students in the UK to meet students from around the world, including from Swaziland, Egypt, and Libya. Many of them have been and are involved in real and serious struggles to assert their rights against pressures I struggle to comprehend. Often when I meet these students I am overwhelmed by a feeling of inadequacy. The challenges that we as students face in the UK pale into insignificance when compared to the struggle for basic freedoms and the threat that these people have faced for merely standing up for what they believe in, which often is not really that radical in itself – just the chance to vote and have a say. However, this perspective also motivates me to become a better activist for local domestic issues, whilst doing all I can to provide international support and solidarity. Continue reading