Saturday, January 8, 2011

Activists Study Revolutionary History

By Jay Rothermel
Published Jan 8, 2011 7:25 AM

Readers and supporters of Workers World newspaper, Workers World Party and the revolutionary youth organization Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST) held a 12-week educational class series this fall called “200 Years of Revolution.”

The daunting scope of the classes was more than matched by the interest and enthusiasm of the participants, who met at a local independent bookstore that had earlier featured readings of Fred Goldstein’s “Low-Wage Capitalism” and Karl Marx’s “Capital.”

The classes began with an overview of the development of scientific socialism in the 19th century by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Two weeks each were devoted to the USSR and China. Eastern Europe, Cuba, Latin America, Africa and Asia were covered. Two classes covered U.S. labor and Black liberation struggles. The class on Black liberation was led by a guest speaker from the New Black Panther Party who had participated in many of the struggles discussed.

WW newspapers and books provided reading on each week’s topic. Books by Mao Zedong, Sam Marcy and Che Guevara, and FIST’s “What is Marxism all about?” were snapped up as the classes progressed.

A presentation of 30 or 40 minutes by the class leader, Caleb Maupin of FIST, would be followed by lively discussion periods lasting anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. The presentation was recorded each week and posted to Cleveland FIST’s YouTube channel. The classes, which can be accessed from anywhere, can prove useful to anyone beginning to study the revolutionary continuity of Marxism.

The liveliest and best-attended class was “History has absolved Cuba.” Participants eagerly shared their excitement, knowledge and long experience defending and supporting that country’s communist course. They also related many useful and constructive personal anecdotes about local and national solidarity efforts. A class participant who had been to Cuba gave some concrete insights into daily life in that country.

Common to all the classes were the basic need for revolutionary mass work in existing working-class institutions (unions, oppressed peoples’ organizations); the importance of independent working-class political action apart from and opposed to the capitalist parties; and the need for workers’ organizations to build alliances with the struggles of nationalities, women, youth and the lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer communities against oppression.

The classes were advertised by leafleting on a local college campus and sending e-mails to contacts made at other local political activities. A Facebook page was also created. All these efforts attracted young people becoming interested in politics.

The scope, knowledge and confidence gained by looking at the world from a working-class perspective will be irreplaceable as we combat Fox News-style ruling-class slanders and move forward with a campaign to abolish capitalism and reawaken the struggle for world socialism.

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