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Davis, California

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Column: Socialist Revolution? Nope.

Readers may have seen the fliers around campus last week screaming quizzically: “Can we have a revolution?” I did. I was tickled enough to attend a meeting by a group called the Socialist Organizer at Olson Hall last Thursday. Never say never, right? But this time, I don’t mind the designation of general in the naysayers’ army. A revolution, of any kind, is not going to happen in today’s America. I’ll tell you why.

Apparently, it was a meeting to engage students and push the idea of a revolution, albeit socialist, as the only way forward or out of the current status quo. Before long, one of the organizers mounted his idealist pedestal and categorically spelled hopelessness: the fact that Obama and the Democrats have failed the masses on every issue, from immigration to education.

Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than any other presidential administration in history – almost 400,000. The Obama administration did not do enough, and acted only last minute on SB 1070. Obama is in league with big business and he bailed them out; now they are sitting on $800 billion or so in profits on their balance sheets, and refusing to create jobs. Two billion people go hungry around the globe, while United Nations says there is enough to go around. Three to 6 million Americans are homeless, and 18 million homes have been foreclosed on. Capitalism has proven incapable of satisfying the needs of common folk. Government is run for profit. Our politicians are beholden to corporations that only care about bottom lines. The Democrats claim to be the party of the common man and promise change; they “suck” the energy out of organizing.

“The military and prison industrial complex is…” Work with me here, guys! I am just trying to paraphrase. If you happen to read the dead-leftwing bloggers, you know exactly where this is headed.

Naturally, the question of what to do about it as students did come up: Organize! Socialism-style. The Socialist Organizer wants students to chart (no, make that dredge) the way forward. First, demystify “misconceptions” about socialism that have wide currency currently in America. Next, garner the power in numbers – one college and neighborhood at a time – until the ranks are big enough to (I am only guessing here) shut down government and replace them. What else? We don’t believe anymore in the Democrats; and the Republicans support corporate welfare as opposed to ours. The latter, the organizers claim, are riding the wave of frustration, despair and anger in the country, and making scapegoats of the poor, minorities and immigrants.

The organizers did not quite come to that meeting prepared with all the answers on the way forward. They were looking to engender dialogue on the feasibility of a revolution, looking for input and support. The participants, most of them curious Joes like me, had reservations and concerns. One of them cautioned that we don’t hate the rich, because they sometimes deride the poor out of ignorance. An organizer brought up the current protests in France and tried to elucidate the point that mass protest at the spate of a revolution can bring change; adding that the UC system got more money from the state this year, partly because of fee hike protests on campuses last year. There is no love lost between the Brits and the French, and this student from England said though he is from a country where there is socialized medicine and all, they (Europeans) don’t take the French protests seriously. “It is a common joke that if it is Thursday, the French are on strike,” he jibed. I don’t know that Americans want to go down that route.

And me? I didn’t just observe as I had planned. Let me repeat what I said at the gathering, the very reason I am a naysayer general. The baby-boomers – some of them fought in Vietnam, came back and rode the G.I. bill into the middle class and places further north on the economic ladder. Other boomers (1960s radicals) just grew long hair, tuned out, smoked weed, took “acid” and joined caravans that camped out in D.C. They are currently running everything – from Wall Street to Harvard. They are professors and C.E.O.s today who had the best youth. And they have a “gilded” retirement waiting for them. Our generation? We are screwed! Leave Berkeley today, and go camp out in D.C.; you will be so welcome to join the ranks of the jobless and homeless.

Last I checked, Obama was the socialist for passing a diluted health care bill and financial regulation. Big business has been funneling money into this election cycle incognito via such groups as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. Capitalism is to reality, what socialism or revolution is to fantasy. Fact!

Having a revolutionary meeting? Let FAYIA SELLU know at fmsellu@ucdavis.edu.


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