In the past week, I’ve met a few times to talk about socialism with a man I met @ a war protest a few weeks ago (maybe I’ll post on that sometime, too). It has been quite the enlightening experience (in a different way from my spiritual postings) and a good way to think more about ideas that have been rolling around in my head for awhile. We’ve talked about the ways of creating a socialistic world and what needs to be done currently, about filling voids in the current political system with things like talking about socialist ideas with anyone and everyone you know and the need for a general workers’ strike to start the necessary revolution. It’s been very great. He even used “comrade” to talk about an acquaintance tonight — that part was kind of funny.
But something like using the word comrade to speak of someone else gets at the idea of equality and the end of oppression, which I think most of us want. But if you’re really open to the reality of our situation, you’ll recognize that any capitalistic society is built around the idea of oppression, economic oppression. We talk all about the horrors of oppression that occurs based on race, gender, sexual identity, ethnic background, and so many other areas, but we rarely, if ever, talk about the oppression that happens economically. If you’re lucky, you might talk about oppression based on class, but even that one makes it sound a little too nice, like there’s some “class struggle” that is necessary, when really, why can’t we have a classless society?
Here in America, we have a ruling class. It’s not something like the Nazi party or some kind of dictator. We have a better name for them: corporations. If you’re willing to play their game, they might reward you with power or prestige or money, but they’re definitely in charge. Even if you don’t work for them directly, you’re likely called upon to do their bidding: politicians create laws that benefit them; the military creates opportunities for them to make money in places like Iraq; teachers teach workers who will work for corporations; most, if not all, jobs can be traced back to corporations (think about construction workers, postal employees, doctors, and even those in non-profits, who work to fill a void ultimately created by corporations).
And that’s why we need this revolution my socialist discussion partner has been advocating for. Those of us in the “working class” (and there are so many of us) need to recognize our collective power against the economic oppression we’re experiencing. We think we’re stuck in our sad state of things, but we aren’t. Your struggle is my struggle and vice versa, and it’s true for the millions of us around the country and around the world. Change can happen, but radical change won’t simply happen with a new president, at least not the kind of change we need — it will happen by speaking up and binding together to tell the ruling class that (to paraphrase a quote in Network), “We’re mad as Hell, and we’re not going to take it any more.”
How do we do that? Well, we need to begin recognizing the solidarity we have in one another. We need to share our beliefs and hopes for a better life for all people with our friends, family, and perhaps most importantly those we work with. We need to help others understand the need for change. And, first and foremost of them all, we all need to start believing that a change is possible.
I could probably talk more about all of this, but I don’t like these to get too long, so stop there for today. If you haven’t seen The Corporation yet, you need to. I own it and would love to loan it to you. It’s probably at your library, too. (Network is a good anti-establishment movie, too.)
(If you’re so inclined, check out the official list of “discrimination by type” on the left side of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website. You’ll find nothing about discrimination based on how much money you make or the people you’re connected to.)