I can remember the first feelings of passion I had for oppressed peoples beginning to percolate around the time I started listening to Public Enemy way back in junior high school. Songs like “Fight the Power” and “Can’t Truss It” made me more aware of the struggles, frustrations, and anger of oppressed black people. Inspiring and insightful lyrics discussing topics like the civil rights movement, slavery, and the struggle of humanity in general contributed, among other things at the time, to feelings of strong frustration, rebellion, and an overall sense of anger at the plight of humanity.
I think over the years during junior high and high school, some of these feelings manifested themselves in some negative ways. Luckily, as I grew up and matured, I was able to channel these feelings into motivation to dig below the surface, and to try to find out how this world really works. I started reading and learning more and more. The more knowledge I acquired, the hungrier I grew for more. I learned that the world is really controlled by a small percentage of people, people with concentrated wealth and power, and that these people are pulling the strings affecting so many other people’s lives.
I don’t know everything about socialism yet, but what I do know is that the system we have now is not working. It’s not just broken, it’s fundamentally flawed, and something has to change. There has to be something different. All my life I have grown up with a simplistic understanding of socialism: the intellectually lazy notion that all socialism is inherently bad; socialism equals Stalin; the Evil Empire of Russia; and that it “sounds good on paper, but can never work.”
Basically, I grew up with the same understanding that probably many people in the U.S. had and still have to this day. Part of the misconception as to what genuine socialism is is due to people simply not being very educated on Marxist philosophy, and only having a minimal grasp of what went on in Russia around the first quarter of the twentieth century, myself included.
However, perhaps an even greater cause of the common misconceptions, falsehoods, and myths about socialism, is the common practice of popular political pundits, especially on the Right, deliberately distorting and misrepresenting the ideas of socialism. The ruling capitalists and their sophisticated system of think tanks and so-called “grass roots” organizations have done a good job of turning “socialism” and “communism” into bad words. Not until I began discussing with WIL members a couple of years ago did I actually begin to develop a basic understanding of genuine Marxism and socialism, and how at its core it is a much more democratic system than what we have today.
We live in a very turbulent but exciting time. I feel that the world is at a crossroads: Capitalism has, for the past two hundred years or so, allowed humanity to make tremendous gains, but not without tremendous expense. We are now at peak oil and the environment is in a mess. Capitalism does not offer the possibility of resolving these problems.
It is also becoming more and more apparent that the worldwide financial crisis really stems from the larger and main crisis of capitalism. The capitalists rush from problem to problem, applying temporary and reactionary fixes, like sailors rushing around with buckets desperately dumping out the gushing water on their sinking ship. The world is beginning to wake up; even in the U.S., the capitalist foundations are beginning to show cracks.
I’m very excited to be with the group. I have wanted to get involved in some sort of activism for several years now, to do something other than work and simply exist; to contribute to a larger cause. I appreciate the scientific and logical approach that Marxists take, and have enjoyed the informative discussions so far in the meetings I have attended.
I look forward to being an active member, gaining a solid understanding of Marxism and socialism, so that I can get to the point where I can educate other people and explain to them confidently what Marxism truly is and strip down people’s apprehensions and fears with facts and knowledge. We need a world that is not controlled by elite plutocracies, oligarchies and authoritarians; we need a world where everyone has a voice.