Highly recommended

A first time attendee gives his impressions of this year's Communist University

I found attending my first Communist University a most enjoyable experience - despite arriving hot and bothered after getting lost on the way from the tube station. However, once I arrived at Raymont Hall, comrades Peter, Tina and Michael put my mind at rest - I immediately knew that I was among friends. It was nice to put faces to people I had only known from articles in the Weekly Worker. I soon saw that Communist University would be of a very high political level. On the opening Saturday Mark Fischer gave a very humorous speech about why Karl Marx was voted top philosopher in a poll carried out by the BBC. The early Saturday evening debate between Tina Becker (CPGB) and Duncan Morrison (Alliance for Workers' Liberty) for me exposed the sectarian nature of the AWL. Through the week I attended 20 sessions and the highlight was the three-part discussion on the decline of capitalism by Hillel Ticktin, former professor of Marxist studies at Glasgow University. Other interesting sessions included three talks by Jack Conrad on religion: with 27 million people in Britain saying they are Church of England christians, together with one million muslims, religion is obviously an important subject to discuss. I look forward to reading Jack Conrad's forthcoming book on the subject. There is not enough room to describe all the 20 sessions I attended. However, two speakers were of particular interest. The first was the discussion of the democratic deficit by gay rights activist and Green Party member Peter Tatchell. The second was the discussion of 'What the British revolution will look like' by Graham Bash of Labour Left Briefing. The organisation of Communist University by CPGB comrades was most impressive. Unlike my experiences of the Militant/Socialist Party, all sessions started on time. The lunchtime buffets in the Raymont Hall garden prepared by CPGB comrades were most tasty and filling. On the first evening there was a four-course meal to celebrate the end of the Summer Offensive fundraising drive. The presentation of awards to comrades for their efforts in raising money for the SO showed how seriously the CPGB applies itself to the subject of finance. On most evenings comrades adjourned to the pub for a few pints. I started to get to know both members and non-members. I was very pleased to learn that Jack Conrad enjoys a pint or two of real ale. It made CPGB members seem almost human! I was impressed to meet comrades Mike and Marcus who had flown all the way from Sydney, Australia to attend Communist University. I was also pleased to meet comrades I had only known from the UK Left Network and Socialist Alliance Democracy Platform discussion lists. At the end of the week I felt sad to have to say goodbye to the many friends I had made. I had also learnt so much from the university that it has encouraged me to study more of the writings of Marx, Engels and Lenin. I would recommend CU to all socialists, communists and readers of the Weekly Worker. Personally I look forward to attending Communist University 2006. John Smithee