Counterfire has increased its membership fivefold over the past year, and continues to grow. A few people who have recently joined the organisation explain why.

Joe Glenton is a former soldier, who refused to serve in Afghanistan because he thought the war was wrong. He is currently a student in York.

My route into politics was an unusual one. I was a soldier and returned from a dubious war looking for coherent answers. I came back to a world which collapsed economically not long after and, again, I was left with more questions. How was it my own peers were to bear the brunt of this, when we’d been burning up billions in a war waged largely against innocents who I had more in common with than my own military and political commanders?

I found some of the answers through my own struggle, a fight during which I began to make sense of things, where I witnessed the dynamics of class, concentrated power and narrow interest playing out in real-time. I heard arguments which made sense – more sense than any officer or set of orders, repeated parrot-fashion, ever did. I had taken the most daunting leap – I had asked if there was an alternative to the rubbish my former employers spouted.

There is. When you start to examine one issue (for me, the War on Terror to which I had played lackey) more issues tug at you, each shown to be unresolvable by the corporate governments. Palestine, globalisation, Iraq, Libya, war, imperialism, racism, gender…

Through my involvement with the anti-war movement I encountered people who could help me engage with these questions and through that process I found Counterfire. As well as being broad, combative and committed at a time when the Left seems atomised, it is a powerful resource. The people in it have shown themselves as activists dedicated to changing the world. I may not be a functionary to the state anymore, but I have found a fight worth fighting, and with it comradeship.

Shukri Sultan is a FE student in south west London.

I’m a 17 year old student and have been very left wing from a young age – I guess it was innate! Despite being left wing I’ve never thought about joining a particular group – none of them especially appealed to me.

It’s really aggravating having the Labour Party – apparently ’left’ wing – as your only option in the polling station (I haven’t reached voting age but doubt it’ll change much by then). The party which in government started imperialist wars, without public consent, can’t be the only option if you want to be political. I guess that would be the fundamental reason I joined Counterfire. I believe revolution is the only alternative to this pro-business party political world.

Now every aspect of social welfare is being attacked by the Tories. Since I have no hope in hell of going to university with current fees, I guess I’ll dedicate the rest of my life to revolution and protest!

Alex Lockwood is a university lecturer in Sunderland.

I joined Counterfire after being inspired by the website’s in-depth, thoughtful analysis of our current cultural, social and environmental crises, which is then matched with action. I’d never been politically active before, but knew I couldn’t sit by and do nothing after the global financial crisis and the ever worsening environmental situation.

You often feel unable to do anything – but the ability to get involved with people locally was a key reason for joining Counterfire.

Shadia Edwards-Dashti is a student in London.

It has never been so important to express our oppostion against Con-Dem cuts, war and injustice, through the power of campaigning, protesting and occupying.

Counterfire embodies such principles and works to unite students and workers nationally. A resistance movement is being born. We need revolutionaries like Counterfire activists at the heart of it. I am honoured to be a part of Counterfire.

Counterforum: the politics of resistance | 7 May

no cuts no war placards Discussions include: how mass protest can change the world; revolution and imperialism in the Middle East; tackling Islamophobia; Marxism and the struggle for democracy; from economic crisis to slump