Promising start made

Around the web: Scottish Socialist Youth

In between visits spaced over several hours, I was impressed to see the Scottish Socialist Youth website had been updated to reflect the latest developments in the Blair/Bush war drive. The front page now leads with a short statement calling on youth and students to assemble in Glasgow in the immediate aftermath of the declaration of war, and for them to build for this action in the schools and colleges. This is followed by a link to the original home page. This is a short piece spelling out the problems of being young in Scotland and doubles up as the mission statement. In setting out its stall, the Scottish Socialist Party's youth section wants its web space to reflect both its views and those of the youth that visit it. To this end, its masthead claims to be a web magazine for socialist youth in Scotland, and the statement finishes by inviting contributions to its submission address. The organisation of the site is very simple. The eight different sections are linked by a bar running underneath the header. The first after 'Home' is SSY's Charter for young people in Scotland. The introductory preamble pinpoints the dual importance of youth to advanced capitalism: simultaneously flattered as consumers and exploited through low wages and poor working conditions. It goes on to argue that 'official' politics is responsible for political apathy amongst youth and calls for young people to organise against capitalism and collectively struggle for more rights. However, this introductory piece is unnecessarily let down in parts: for example, the statement, "the Scottish parliament is only as good as those sitting in it"�, suggests that a preponderance of Scottish Socialist Party MSPs at Holyrood would be enough to put everything to rights. The familiar nod in the direction of a Scottish road to socialism aside, there is little that is objectionable in the rest of the charter. It is quite comprehensive, covering issues such as war, culture, women's control over their bodies, drugs, etc - marred only by the occasional broken link. Considering how quickly the site was updated with war news, the article section is a slight disappointment. The main feature, a discussion of the weapons inspectors' reports to the UN security council was uploaded to the site on February 11. The rest of the page is divided into two columns: 'Open assignments' and 'Recent articles'. The latter provides links to three other articles, followed by an archive of eight further pieces on the war, the European Social Forum, Govanhill Pool dispute, and others. The 'Open assignment' column is empty, but will presumably be utilised at some point in the future. Next in line is 'Events' - a simple, no-frills page listing an anti-war mobilisation on March 17 and an anti-council tax demo on March 22, the April 22 blockade of Faslane, and a notice on the council and Holyrood elections. More can certainly be done with this page - how about adding local SSY actions, for example? The 'Campaigns' section is similarly sparse, featuring just two further links: to 'Anti-war', and 'Legalise cannabis' and both of these bring up a blank page. Unfortunately this is carried over into the SSY's online forum. All the topic fields are empty, probably because the process of using the forum looks complicated. There is a toolbar that may provide the required help, but I could not access any of these sections, which all turned out to be broken links. I guess the mystery of the empty forum is solved. The contact page gives the various contact details for SSY and the SSP, and invites visitors to subscribe to their email list. The 'Links' section is quite interesting; grouping together 83 sites under 11 headings - from 'Voices of dissent' to 'Fun and games'. Like Globalise Resistance (see Weekly Worker March 13) it serves as a good portal to a lot of activist resources on the web. But unfortunately like its SSP parent, a certain political selectivity mars the 'Alternative news' grouping. The publications of the main SSP platforms are there, but no Weekly Worker, Solidarity, or Workers Power. As a youth site, SSY has plenty of potential. The links issue aside, its positioning as a resource where socialist youth can exchange views via the forum and articles is symptomatic of a far healthier orientation toward youth work than that of GR. Here youth are addressed as thinking beings, not mindless activists. But the website does require a good deal of work before this approach to web work begins to reap its rewards. Phil Hamilton