I don’t like people.
Well…that’s not entirely true. I don’t like being AROUND people.
I prefer to sit at home and observe the world from my computer. But occasionally I’ll venture out.
Yes, I’m a “political” person. But I don’t like to transfer that energy into action. I’m a terrible citizen. I’ve only voted ONCE. That was for mayor of some inconsequential town. I only voted for the guy because I personally hated his opponent. So the one time I was motivated into action was for petty personal reasons. Not because I had any sort of conviction. Voting always seemed like it was for assholes (and it is). It doesn’t matter who wins, it’s all about deceiving ourselves into believing “this person wants to do good and is not a power-hungry sociopath.” So I’ve always been the person that would rather go online and bitch. Tell others who to vote for rather than doing anything about it myself.
But then I thought “fuck it, let’s see what this political action bullshit is about.”
So I went to a DSA meeting.
Of course, being around people that have been steeped in this shit for years or decades, I learned that I was pretty stupid. But I’m not as stupid as I previously thought.
I’ve been a member of the DSA since last year. I would say that I’m a card-carrying member, but I never received my card. And the thing is, I never quite cared about socialism and Marxism specifically as a political message. It’s fun to debate that stuff with fellow nerds, but it’s pretty useless as a thing to rally behind. Thankfully there were many there that were in it SPECIFICALLY to address the homeless situation in my area (it’s pretty bad), along with issues facing minorities and the working class. If poverty is so prevalent, then that is THE issue. In my view, working class solidarity would be the first step towards solving those problems. But the working class in the States has been neutered, broken up, and exploited by the capitalist class. Americans have rationalized this by turning wealth into a virtue, even though no ideological terminology has been associated with it. Capitalism quietly crept into our hearts and minds, and we can’t see a way out. This has largely been the source of my disillusionment with US politics, and why I became a member of the DSA.
But I found myself uninterested in the banter around me.
There was talk of Bolshevism, Leninism, Trotskyism. Endless discussion on the Soviet Union. Arguments about European politics. I realized there was a problem: Marxism is too European.
I know, that’s obvious. Nevertheless, it’s a SERIOUS problem that I brought up and doesn’t quite get addressed.
Marxism is largely universalism, so one must be in solidarity with the world’s proletariat. BUT, invoking Soviet iconography and terminology in an attempt to persuade Americans is…well….not going to work. I’m not even talking about the visceral reactions that some have against those thing. I’m saying that Americans have no connection to those things.
The average person simply isn’t going to care.
Marxism, or whatever Leftist -ism you chose to use, is not a religion. It shouldn’t be treated as such. A few argued that yes, material needs should be addressed first before introducing anyone to socialism, but that shouldn’t be the motivation for political action. The motivation should be: “I don’t want people to starve, be living on the streets, families to be separated, and groups of people to be suppressed.” The Marxist model provides a framework to achieve that, but is not a goal unto itself. A desire to help the poor only so that we may convert them to Marxism is prioritizing ideology over humanity….that’s fucking religion. We’ve got enough of that shit.
The question isn’t “how do we make Marxism more American.” My concern is, as Marxists living in America, how can we connect with the working class? Or better yet, how do we BECOME the working class?
Is attending elite private schools and bickering about Bolshevism the best way to do that?