On Tuesday, Sept. 20, members of the International Socialist Organization, held an informational meeting at UNCG. Led by ISO members, Juan Miranda and Udai Basavaraj, socialists, Marxists, anarchists and those interested in learning about socialism, gathered to hear Miranda speak about socialist issues as well as discuss the question of what these issues will look like in a socialist future.
For the first half hour, Miranda spoke at length about issues related to socialism, and what he believes is important, in conceptualizing a socialist world. When this reporter arrived, Miranda was speaking to a group of about 20 people, regarding the ways in which capitalism has ravaged this world, the principles of socialism and why these principles are the solution to this damage.
“Today we live in a world marked by destruction, devastating unemployment and underemployment, enormous debt, rape culture, racism, mass incarceration, Islamophobia, decaying public schools and an out of control surveillance state and war machine. And if you think things can’t get worse; well, they can, and history has taught us that. And we’re starting to see signs of that, with the rise of the nationalist movements in Europe and the rise of Trump-ism in the U.S. Luckily, the same conditions that have fueled the potential of the right, can also create the potential for the growth of the left… This is why after 40 years of class war, socialism and Marxism, is once again, in the air. So, what do we mean by socialism? You know, there are three basic principles of socialism, the first one, is social ownership of the means of production. The means of production are the factories, the machines, the chemical plants, the printing presses, the mines, the building materials; everything that produces wealth. Under capitalism, all of these are owned by a small hand-full of people, or by a state — which is run by a small group of people — and ultimately, produces the mass inequality we see today. If the means of production were to be owned by a society as a whole, then it becomes impossible for one group to exploit the other… ultimately, under socialism, production exists for the purpose of meeting every human beings’ need, and not the enrichment of few.
“The second principle of socialism is equality; now, not the equality that a lot of people talk about. Equality can often be distorted by the idea that we should all get the same, based on what we put in. This logic inherently creates inequality because not all people are the same — people have different abilities, different likes, dislikes, different characters — but equality is the opposite of sameness. Equality means that, the rewards that people get out of society for what they do, should not differ because their abilities’ are different. ‘From each according to their ability, to each according to their need,’ as Marx put it many years ago. A socialist government would fix a firm, maximum income, and stop all rights of inheritance [in order] to restrain massive wealth accumulation; but this is only the start. The shortest road to equality is to provide everyone with basic human needs, free of charge. Imagine — free education, founded on the principle that all children’s’ abilities are to be encouraged, a free public transportation system, the absolute guarantee that the elderly will live in warmth and comfort, free healthcare service and free housing for everyone; free meals for children at school, free basic food for every family, free day-nurseries and childcare for all children — these basic needs of society will become top priorities under socialism.
“The third principle is, a workers’ democracy. Production of the workplace, whether it is a factory, an office or a grocery store, is a part of capitalism. But what is important here, is the fact that the heart of capitalist production, democracy hardly exists. Any semblance of democracy that may exist outside [the workplace] completely ceases to exist, once you enter the workplace you clock in. Most workplaces are run as top-down, dictatorial hierarchies, with the bosses and managers holding total, arbitrary authority over workers. Workers do not elect representatives in their workplace; bosses and managers are completely unelected and unaccountable to the majority of their workplace. The very top level of management of a company, exists on their ability to own that company, and the profits of the laborers of those they employ. Workers under capitalism, are also pit against one another in order to divide them along racial lines and other identities. The workplace under socialism is the furthest place from this; socialism and democracy are completely inter-related and cannot exist without the other. Democracy under capitalism, exists to the extent that it does not threaten the social position of the ruling class and their ability to profit at the expensive of billions of people,” said Miranda.
After Miranda finished speaking, a discussion of socialist issues ensued. One of these questions was: “Would [socialism] be a down-grade for people who — aren’t filthy rich — but higher-class or middle class people, [would they] lose out, or would they have to change their life-style to consume less?”
In response to this, Anderson Bean said, “In order for us to have a planet to live on, we have to stop the profit system. Socialism is about workers’ owning the means of production, and, [as for] who would benefit, I would look at what percentage of people are workers — people who currently sell their labor to live — and what percentage of people make their money off of owning things. And so, I think that number [of people who make their money off of owning things], is less than one percent… So, my answer would be, all the people who are currently selling their labor to live, would be making a step up, and all the people who own the means of production, would take a step down. So, if I could make an estimate, somewhere less than one percent, would be worse off, and the rest would be a step up.”
Another question posed was: “There seems to be a lot of learning you have to do to be socialist, and there are a lot of people who are just not in a position to be able to fully understand its notions and concepts, and I feel like, don’t people have to kind of know those things to be able to open the door to socialism?”
To which a middle-aged woman responded, “I don’t think we should underestimate people. Working class people, actually get it a lot easier than a lot of other people who have a lot more education; and I’ll give you an example, I was a Justice For Janitors Organizer in Atlanta, and it’s like a two-prong approach to the campaign, because you have to organize the building owners and the contractors, and, we had to explain that to a lot of people, who all just totally got it right away.”
After the conclusion of the meeting, books and magazines were sold, peoples’ names were collected and planning for the next socialist meeting ensued. For questions regarding socialist organizing in the Greensboro area, Miranda encourages people to contact: email@example.com.