Oxford Left Network started in Michaelmas term (October) 2018, growing out of Lincoln Left Forum, a leftist reading and discussion group based in Lincoln College that had been started the year before.
The primary aim of OLN is to connect and build the left wing community across Oxford, primarily doing so through
- Assisting the foundation and growth of smaller autonomous groups (so far within colleges)
- Helping these groups arrange speaker and training events, as well as hosting these ourselves
- Directing attendees of our sessions towards local actions they can assist with, e.g. protests, pickets, work with campaigning groups like Oxford Worker Justice and ACORN etc.
- Helping produce materials or arrange events with other groups like Oxford Radical Forum
- Organising social events and pub trips after sessions to make the Oxford left a community that knows each other, rather than just recognises each other (at best)
In the past we have had a variety of speakers, including Grace Blakeley, Asad Rehman, Leo Panitch, and Cat Hobbs among others. Our discussion groups have covered topics from the crisis in Venezuela to the NHS, and had series on multiple books, like Capitalist Realism and Society of the Spectacle. Members have helped Oxford Radical Forum run its activist training series in Hilary 2020 (including sessions on the structure of the university, campaign strategising, press releases and FOIs and more), helped with various protests, joined and held positions in organisations like ACORN, and generally ensured their presence was felt.
We cannot allow ourselves to repeat the 1980s, with the Left losing power, confidence, and creative capacity for decades. With contemporary existential challenges like environmental breakdown, increasing automation, rising inequality and demographic change, this is not morally permissible. Instead we must learn our histories and our mistakes, build our capacities, and organise for a brighter future. In its own small way, we hope OLN can be a part of that.
If you would be interested in helping run OLN, or set up/join/restart a smaller group, then send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org