I am currently a graduate student at the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh studying Community Organizing, and it was during orientation that I met a comrade from the Pittsburgh WIL. Immediately, I was captivated in a discussion on labor unions and I hoped the conversation was representative of the educational program I was about to embark upon. We talked initially about our interest in, and the problems confronting the labor unions, but he took the discussion further into the topic of the need for a mass party of labor. Everything he said in that short conversation sounded logical and true. I wanted to know more.
The Master of Social Work program has turned out to be more of a means to an end, as I learn more about the causes and conditions of the capitalist society we live in, and the broader forces at work. No one else in the program has been able to discourse with me on a deeper level the way that my first friend did. Every conversation we have had since has lit up my mind more than any other that I have had in my life.
While I am learning quite a bit about how the systems we currently live in operate in my traditional schooling (although it is taught in a not-particularly critical way), there continues to be an evaded truth in every class I take.
To me, that truth is that capitalism is in rapid decline and that fact underpins every facet of our society. I thought the program would lead me to the truths I was seeing around me, but that has not been the case. It only feels like we are being taught to clean up the mess and damage caused by capitalism, while still apologizing for its brutality.
I am just beginning my political journey (I am for the first time reading the Communist Manifesto!) and I already feel like the blinders have been taken off. Logically, I would think that I should feel despair at the sheer scale of the problem around me, but instead, belonging to this organization, I feel for the first time, hope.
I am not sure what a society would look like after the coming end of capitalism, but I absolutely want to be prepared for it if it happens in my lifetime. I have much to learn; I have a liberal arts/studio arts background, and have never studied political science.
The more taste of these theories I get, the more I want to learn. I was frankly blown away at the level of discussion at the first meeting I went to, and every meeting since.
I immediately wished my classes, which are so heavily financially leveraged against my future, were even fractionally as interesting as the conversations happening between these young minds. I also attended a lecture by Alan Woods, and the experience was totally compelling on every level: intellectual, emotional, spiritual. I felt I had met an old friend.
I am a single mother in my forties and one might think it would be a challenge for me to integrate with a political group that for the most part is in an entirely different stage of life. But I have never felt so at home before.