Interview with an anarchist student occupier at Sheffield University

–          What can people do to help?

One of the main things people can do to help is to start organising actions like these themselves. We need to build a grassroots movement that is working towards our mutual advantage. This needs to be led by those affected. We should resist the attempts of both trade union and political party bureaucrats to either lead or divert the ultimate aims of the struggle.

In addition to this, spreading the word about what is going on and combating negative media coverage are also useful practical things that can be done.

For local people, I would encourage them to participate themselves in the action, bring food, bedding (if this is possible) and any other practical skills you can share.

–          What do you make of Aaron Porter’s recent comments that the students are “aligning themselves with the anarchists”?

Firstly I think it is worth pointing out that he is mistaken in the sense that he is probably largely referring to many students who aren’t, or have little knowledge of, anarchists. The only sense in which students are “aligning with anarchists” is the fact that anarchist principles are in line with the type of actions that students are currently taking – direct action, assembly democracy, non-hierarchy and the rejection of representatives.

People, students in particular, are coming to the realisation that simply asking politicians to do something doesn’t work. The result is that they are starting to take matters into their own hands, collectively and at a grassroots level.

Anarchist education workers and students are very much a part of these struggles but certainly a minority within them. The tactics – of self-management, non-hierarchy and direct action – have been adopted in many places quite spontaneously. This is, of course, far more preferable to us! It’s ultimately what we want – not a struggle controlled or led by anarchists, but one that shares our goals, tactics and principles.