The red autumn leaves of Minneapolis and St. Paul are bearing witness to more than just lakes and the normal hustle and bustle of the Twin Cities this year. Here, in an area where Trotskyism has had a very significant impact (through the 1934 Minneapolis Teamster strike, for instance), there has been a dramatic revival and flowering of the socialist movement.
Having sunken roots on three Minnesota campuses so far, Youth for Socialist Action and the Socialist Discussion Clubs of the Minneapolis Community & Technical College and Augsburg College have been able to bring the heretical ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky to dozens of students new to leftist ideas.
At Minneapolis Community & Technical College, the Socialist Discussion Club, which began as a comfortable place for students to come and learn about socialism, has become a lively center for activism and radical ideas. From our weekly discussions, our fighting for Mumia, tabling, and just general rabble rousing, SDC has been able to sign up over 70 MCTC students.
Now with our newly acquired office (which we’re sharing with Culturas Unidas, the MCTC Latino student group) and our regular column in City College News, the student paper, SDC is hoping to reach out to even more students!
And not being satisfied with causing trouble on just one campus, YSA and the Socialist Discussion Club have embarked upon a missionary crusade to take the message of socialism to every campus in the Twin Cities!
Already at Augsburg College we’ve been able to set up a socialist club and plan on holding meetings there every week to hear presentations on current events and to discuss articles in Socialist Action newspaper. Similarly, at Macalester College in St. Paul, we’ve held two meetings already, and are working on starting up a study group on the “Communist Manifesto.”
By STEFANIE JOHNSON & ADAM RITSCHER
Below is an article by two YSAers and MCTC Socialist Discussion Club members, which originally appeared in City College News:
“Excuse me, but can you spare some change?” It’s a question we’ve all heard, and it’s usually attached to a dirty creased hand of a person for whom a hot meal and a warm bed are but faint memories. Homelessness is a problem that reaches from coast to coast in this land of plenty, and its ragged shadow even wanders onto this campus.
Why is it that in the richest nation on earth there are people forced to live in poverty? Why, when farmers produce more crops than they can sell, are there people without food?
The answer of course is capitalism. Although not seen as the dirty word it once was, few would disagree that homelessness, hunger, and poverty in general, are indeed the end result of a system that puts the pursuit of profit before all else.
“Survival of the fittest,” “sink or swim,” aren’t these the terms used by even the apologists of Wall Street? The fact of the matter is that even though most of us may not be the victims of such brutal horsemen of the apocalypse as homelessness and hunger, the profit-driven system we live under does indeed affect the lives of each and every one of us-and for the vast majority, it affects us in the negative.
Take, for instance, higher education. We as students at MCTC, like students across the country, have seen college tuition fees rise, and financial aid drop, as more and more the powers that be have put tax breaks for corporations above education.
Similarly, in a desperate attempt to maintain even a semi-decent standard of living, many of us are being forced to work two or even three jobs, in addition to going to school. In the midst of a so-called booming economy, even the government admits that we will be the first generation that will not be able to achieve a standard of living equal to our parents!
Now for most people these grim realities are things that they don’t exactly want to be reminded of. Misery is miserable enough without an announcement about it. But a group of us here at MCTC, who sometimes go by the collective name of the Socialist Discussion Club, have decided that these facts do need to be talked about, because they need to be changed.
We’ve seen capitalism. It has shown us its hand and left few doubting what it has in store for the great majority of us. A good question then is whether or not there is an alternative. We would answer that with a yes-socialism.
Socialism is the idea that because it is working people like you and I who create all wealth, who literally “make the world go round,” that it is we who should be benefiting from the fruits of our labor, rather than some stock broker. Socialism is the idea that people should, have to, must, with absolutely no exceptions, always come before profits.
It’s not a new idea, an old guy from the 1800s named Karl Marx talked about it, but it is an idea whose time has come. Subject to many slanders and myths, confused with Stalinism, denounced as heretical, socialism is the promise of a future without homelessness, without poverty, and without oppression.
It’s not the communal sharing of toothbrushes, but it is a democracy where people collectively make the decisions that affect their lives, regardless of how fat their wallet is. So with those provocative words, we invite you to check out the Socialist Discussion Club.
Come join us in arguing about, in exploring, in twisting, in straightening, and who knows, maybe even coming to understand, the idea of socialism. With a little luck, maybe we’ll even end up making a difference!