Later this year, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) will officially hold its founding congress. Amongst its members will be a throng of highly-educated university students, claiming to have been radicalised by life experiences, Tory austerity, or just a desire to “do something”.

The RCP is a Marxist organisation aiming to overthrow capitalism, and has been emboldened after research conducted by the Fraser Institute revealed in 2022 that almost a third of UK young people see communism as the ideal economic system.

The party, previously known as the Socialist Appeal, decided to adopt a more direct approach following the survey, settling on “Are you a communist?” as it’s slogan of choice, a slogan they hope will draw a further 300 people to the organisation by May, when the congress will be held.

Anais Austen Stanley, 22, a student at the University of Cambridge and part-time hospitality worker, said: “What radicalised me is just existing in this sh*thole of a world. Living through the crisis of capitalism is enough to radicalise anyone, and that is why so many young people are turning to communism.

“I grew up surrounded by a lot of poverty, a lot of struggle. I saw a lot of oppression and I spent a lot of my teens very depressed.”

Anais joined the RCP’s Cambridge branch around 18 months ago, after being exposed to communist ideology whilst attending the Marxist society at the university.

She said: “When I was younger I remember thinking, ‘I’m not going to read the manifesto, I’m not going to read Lenin.’ And then when I read it, I thought ‘holy sh*t. This is gold.'”

The student made national news last year when they were accused of inciting violence during a debate at the Cambridge Student’s Union.

They had proposed a motion calling for a mass working-class uprising across the Middle East in response to the conflict in Gaza, which was met with fierce backlash from a group of Jewish students and led to official complaints being launched against Anais and other members of the RCP.

They said: “I was asked a lot of questions, a lot of them in a very angry and rude manner. For example: ‘Do you think the events of October 7 [Hamas attacks] were a mass uprising?’

“I said absolutely not. We are not pro-individual terrorism. But that was conveniently forgotten.

“We are not an Hamas fan club and we’re not antisemitic in any shape or form. We got death threats.”

RCP membership costs £30 a month for students to join, and £60 a month for workers. The organisation also raises money through the sale of its newspaper, The Communist, which costs either £2 or £5, depending on whether the individual wishes to donate to the party or not.

The Communist Newspaper (Source: James Harrop)

These donations and membership fees go towards a “fighting fund”, which is used to build the organisation, cover any expenses over operational costs, and pay the RCP’s full-time staff. The party are also hoping to raise £20,000 towards their ‘Party Launch Fund.’

The fighting fund was recently used for legal advice and fees after a member of the party was arrested in London in January following a pro-Palestine protest.

Matthew Bridson, 21, a Music student at The University of Sheffield and member of the RCP, said: “We are not idealists, we do not exist outside of capitalism. Everything we need to build a functioning organisation costs money.”

“We’re fighting for a classless and stateless society without all the horrors of capitalism. Without money. But for the time being we have to exist within the system.”

Matthew joined the party 18 months ago, and heralded last year’s success of recruiting 300 new members: “That is the biggest growth that we have ever seen, so a radical transformation from years before.”

The music student said his experiences of working part-time since the age of 15 led him to be pushed towards communist ideology, and is now hoping to recruit others to follow the same path.

“The revolution can only be successful if it involves the masses. We would see ourselves as head of this movement.”

When asked about the reaction that he and other RCP members have had from friends and family, he said: “It can vary I suppose. I’ve heard lots of reports from other members of the organisation. Sometimes their family members can be disgusted, like: ‘Oh my god why would you become a communist?'”

Data published by the Fraser Institute revealed that 29% of UK 18-34 year olds see communism as the ideal economic system, more than the US, Canada and Australia, who were also polled.

In a blog written for the Fraser Institute, Jason Clemens and Steven Globerman questioned this rise in far-left ideology, writing: “Of course, young people in the UK who support socialism (and even communism) have never lived in a world with widespread socialism and the misery it created.”

For Lexie, a 20 year-old Applied Social Sciences Student at the University of Sheffield, it was the “Are you a communist?” campaign that led her to join the RCP.

She said: “I’d just failed a year at uni, I’d gone into my second year not quite sure where I was going but hoping to do something with my time.

“One of the comrades approached me and said: ‘Are you a socialist?’ I said ‘I hope so.'”

On the reaction she faced from friends and family, Lexie said: They’re pretty calm. I think they’re hoping I’ll grow out of it.”

This does not deter the 20-year-old, who added: “The boomers who were born in a capitalist upswing were able to buy a house and have a job that puts food on the table, but since 2008 things are only getting worse.”

The RCP is part of the International Marxist Tendency, a transnational political organisation with ties to Marxist groups across 54 countries. It will be renamed to the Revolutionary Communist Party and relaunched in June.

One of the key issues surrounding the party’s aims of overthrowing capitalism is the possibility of violence, and whether they believe armed struggle is necessary.

Ruth Logan, 21, a University of Cambridge student and member of the RCP, said: “By no means are we pro-violence for violence’s sake. We are not pro-terrorism or individual acts of violence.

“However, we are planning on overthrowing capitalism and it’s super reasonable to say capitalists do not want this to happen, and they will be willing to use increased force. If it is is necessary, then it is.”

Attempting to convince others to overthrow the current system is not without it’s backlash, with many people not being receptive to the RCP’s campaigning.

Ruth added: “While there might be the occasional person in the street who tells you to die because you are communist, you develop a thick skin and such an understanding, faith and belief in your ideas, and that is what people see and what enthuses them.

“Some people don’t necessarily understand the need for a revolutionary party, but I’ve got stuff I can give them to read on that.”