How did you become a socialist? - Politics | PoFo

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As either the transitional stage to communism or legitimate socio-economic ends in its own right.
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Just thinking that this might be an interesting thread considering it doesn't require too much background knowledge to engage with and perhaps gives an insight into the many things that inspire one adopt such an outlook. I suppose it'll also give the humanist side of things, in that theoretical language can give a kind of cold scientific character to things. Something I learnt in reading fiction, where the writings of James Baldwin expressed more in his Sonny's Blues about racism in American, than any amount of acts ever expressed for me. Not that one necessarily have to be poetic and fanciful in their explanation.
Becoming a socialist is obviously a process that varies with each person, but judging from my own frequent but highly informal inquiries there are certain experiences and insights that have a disproportionate influence in triggering or speeding up this transformation. Among these experiences are the following: undergoing a particularly brutal example of capitalist exploitation (or seeing it happen to one's parents or other loved one); becoming involved in radical political activity, even of a minor sort, and being treated as a socialist by others (it is surprising how many comrades told me that they only knew they were socialists or were becoming socialists when people who disagreed with them said as much); living socialist relationships and finding them humanly more satisfying; having socialist friends and coming to take their assumptions for granted; knowing a socialist whose wisdom or kindness or courage one admires. Among the intellectual events that constitute major breakthroughs in the process of becoming a socialist there are the realizations that one has been consistently lied to; that the personal oppression from which one suffers is shared by others and is socially determined; that the path on which society is traveling leads to economic and social disaster; that the problems of capitalism are inter-related and cannot be solved individually; that classes exist and the class struggle is real; and that the socialist ideal represents a morally superior way of life. This last shows that even though ethics has no place in Marxism (see Lecture 4), people may come to Marxism by an ethical route.

How I Became a Socialist - Jack London
How I Became a Socialist - Helen Keller
How I Became a Socialist - William Morris
We are Socialist by nature. We are communal beings. The problem with Socialism is believing what is good for a community is good for a world. World Socialism or National Socialism does not work because it is not a 'true community '. Local Socialism and World Capitalism is the compromise we should pursue.

People become Socialist because they want to eliminate 'us' and 'them', but we need 'us' and 'them' to stimulate competition. We don't need competition within a community, but we do need it.
I will start, as my answer to the question is perhaps the simplest.

I was raised that way. My parents are socialists who worked for the Allende government.

I spent my childhood in or at meetings, comferences, marches, solidarity events, and university offices.
I think the essential realization that took me in the direction of socialism was that all sociopolitical systems are just games we play, there's no grand metaphysical justifications for any of them. Private property is just a game, it's not inherently right or wrong, it's not instituted upon absolute cosmic justice, so if it doesn't work for most of us then we're free to alter or abolish as we see fit. Capitalists seem to think the world owes them something, that if they claim exclusive right to a thing the rest of us are somehow obligated to accept it. The reality is the world doesn't owe anyone anything, no systems are really legitimate, and everything is negotiable.

I'm not an ideological socialist for that same reason, many people prefer the game of capitalism and capitalism isn't any more or less legitimate than socialism. It's all just a question of values and nobody is obligated to value the wellbeing of the majority over individual freedom.

I support social democracy because it's in the best interests of most people and because it's the best system for ensuring the long term survival and success of our world which are two things I value greatly. Granted social democracy isn't pure socialism, it features a healthy degree of capitalism but under SD markets exist to serve people rather than converting all basic human needs into market commodities. I think it's a good compromise between the two extremes and one we're going to have to come to if we want to continue to peaceably coexist and avoid tearing our society apart.
My family was a product of the Cold War and I was raised to understand that there were two sides in that conflict, one defined by capitalist free-market economy and republican and parliamentary governance, the other by command marxist-leninist economy and one party rule.

As a wee lad I was attracted to the aesthetic of Soviet Empire(.com) which seemed like the only alternative to the stale consumerism of western culture. Many years later I would find this ironic as traditionally western moralism was considered less materialistic than soviet atheism despite higher standards of living and the domination of capitalism in the west. As a young scholar I was particularly interested in new research that was coming out of the Russian Federation from former Soviet Archives which demonstrated the crucial role the USSR had played in the Second World War, both in the great patriotic war and as a member of the UN Alliance which won WW2.

Since I was on and PoFo since I was like a thirteen year old kid you can only imagine how fucking edgy I was in actual middle and high school during the early 2000s.

The concept of revolutionary socialism, in the iconography of Che Guevara, Trotsky and Lenin certainly appealed to me in the "oppressive" bourgeoise environment of rich-white kid suburban high school.

Jay Baruchel even made a movie that parodied the archetype that I embodied. Of course I wasn't alone and introduced a bunch of my friends to this site, with various amusing consequences.

I don't really understand the question. I don't remember ever becoming a socialist. I am working class I was born to two working class people and thus I am a socialist. You don't need to teach a spider how to weave a web it is born knowing. It was like this with me and the labour theory of value. When I read it I just felt that it was a pointless stating of the obvious. Humanity achieves things through work, from that supposition socialism is the only conclusion for a sane and rational person.
I was from a union household, which probably helped.

But they were your basic Irish-American Catholic Democrats.

I took to studying what I thought I knew, and that ended up radicalizing me.
PoFo, pretty much. :lol:

Stuff in real life made me harden up on the position in some ways but I still appreciate Marx and the goals even if I've shriveled into a cynical hopeless pragmatist. :p
For me Wallsy becoming a socialist was about my entire life experiences and all the processes involved in becoming a socialist in thought and more importantly in my actions on a daily basis. I am a socialist in thought and deeds. For many people it is about context and experiences. My sister grew up in the same household--she is not a socialist by any means. She is what I call a person who switches to any position that favors her own interests at a particular time in her life. I have always disliked people like that. They take political stances according to what is the flavor of the month. For me that shows lack of deep thought and lack of analysis. Many people are guilty of that in this world. Or it could be since she is a lawyer she only cares about arguing her current need or interest. I truly despise selfish people. And for me there are those in all political positions. If you are selfish you wind up giving a bad name to any political stripe you label yourself as. If you are an honest, decent, consistent, unselfish person with great humanitarian values? Your politics have much heavier weight than the ones who declare themselves this or that and are ultimately a bunch of lying, indecent, selfsh sacks of inhumane crap people.

I am a socialist because I feel the way most capitalism works in many nations is not about putting the needs of the entire group of that nation or society first....but it places a high value on some elite idiots as the most important and it neglects the rest. No matter who they are. You can declare yourself a communist, an international socialist, but if you live like a King Midas and are a selfish bastard as your people starve and live in misery, and without jobs and stability, and without a means to a decent future? You can go to hell for all I care about your declarations of political ideology! Corruption and hypocrisy are rife in many societies. Labels are just that--actions and level of consciousness and decency are the great distinction of the truly good politicians.

All I know Wallsy is that socialism emerged with the French Enlightment and so on....with a need to deal with the poverty and inequality present in many societies in Europe at the time. Capitalism's lack of stability was very much discussed and well analyzed in the heavy tome entitled "Das Kapital" by Marx and also in his partnership with Frederic Engels" texts. It is obviously true with its ups and downs. Eventually socialism will hopefully will be replaced with something more sustainable and cooperative in the future if we don't nuke ourselves out of existence first. Some people are coming up with alternatives to capitalism that is dysfunctional and socialistic programs that never solve the underlying issues of inequalities in the workplace, and lack of power parity in many corporate structures and other socioeconomic structures. There is a tremendous fear in change though. People fear change. Because of this deep fear of changing a system that no longer works, there are civil wars fought and blood is shed. I usually say if any really true and lasting change in society is imminent? It usually has a blood bath coming beforehand. Heads are going to roll first. Then change will happen. People get complacent and then the elite seize more power than what is healthy, and they wreck society for the working people and middle classes---and then a blood bath ensues (revolutions) start again. That is the pattern. People in the USA are particularly ignorant about socialism and its history in the USA. They take for granted the eight hour work day, labor protections, civil rights and many other long standing American political solutions as just 'emerging' without struggle. But they were all socialistic battles for the lowest classes. Once those protections go away you have violence and mayhem from the poor and underclass or the middle class that follows. Nothing occurs in a vacuum Wallsy. Nothing. History marches on with foolish American dumbells thinking that somehow they are exceptional in human history. Nothing that human beings engage in all nations of every cultural and economic background is exclusive to that culture only. Humans are very consistent in politics and in economics. If you want most of the working people to have very little and take all the profit for an elite? You will have violence at some point down the road. Whether you are a WASP, a South African, a German, a Russian, etc. All nationalities. Humans are humans. For me becoming a socialist is about justice. Nothing less than that. For me having one side being property owners and law influencers and having enormous power, and others not having much of anything is not just. That is why I am a socialist. For now. If someone can come up with a system that replaces socialism that is even better and lifts people out of poverty? I am all for it. For now? Most nations in my cultural group don' t have enough socialism present. That is what is holding progress back in Latin America. Not enough socialism in our societies. I don't want beggars in the street and children not being educated and no high schools in abundance for all. Fix that FIRST. I could care less what all these privileged pro-capitalist fools think in the USA...the day they cut off all socialism in the USA is the day when they will be voted out of office forever. All these Trump voters won't vote Trump when they no longer receive social security checks, or military VA pensions, or can't send their kids to public schools for free and don't even have medicare or Medicaid coverage for anyone in society anymore. That is the beginning of socialism here, and each one of those programs no one can get rid of because the political fallout will undo the person doing that here. No one talks about it---but it is an accepted political reality. People have grown to accept it as necessary to have a stable society. But the Libertarians and the Republicans and the conservatives think government programs are bad and awful and etc. I say let them see what happens to the USA if they have to have people living in the same conditions as they have to live in many societies in Latin America that have zero government socialism. See how long there is stability? I have no tolerance for their lack of historical intelligence.

If capitalism functioned with tremendous greatness this crap about food stamps and state run health care and HUD housing and etc gov't programs like unemployment payments and etc would be unnecessary. Why are they necessary? The simple truth is that capitalism doesn't work all that well. People are not stable enough under this system to make enough money to cover all the expenses involved in educating their kids, or covering their health bills, and finding affordable housing etc with just their bad salaries. The capitalists want the subsidies because they don't want to pay people a wage where someone can afford to pay it all out of their pocket. Their bottom line will be affected. They don't want to pay a lot of taxes and they don't want to pay the workers more. They want the government to tax lower bracket people with less money so that they can profit more without any social responsibilities along the way to their 'freedom' to retain all power and keep all profits. That is not just. And I hate injustice. That is why I am a socialist Wallsy.
The Immortal Goon wrote:I was from a union household, which probably helped.

But they were your basic Irish-American Catholic Democrats.

I took to studying what I thought I knew, and that ended up radicalizing me.

Hmmm. Both my parents were born in Puerto Rico (I also was born in Puerto Rico), and they grew up partly in New York City (in the worst of the ghettos of NYC. Were poor as can be but got advanced educations and moved to Southern California, (San Diego) where I lived for a bunch of my growing up years. Then I went back to Puerto Rico as a young woman and lived there and in Mexico too. Both my parents were international socialists and politics were spoken about in our daily lives. Few people know that socialists are quite common on the left side of the political spectrum in Spanish speaking Latin American countries TIG. But they are. The USA had a 'cleansing' of the socialist types long ago. Latin America and many countries in Europe and in Africa have a strong socialist mainstream presence. In the USA we are few.

I have come to realize white liberals are not friends of Latin American socialists. For me the left and the right in the USA are really not much different. They are from the same boring culture of white people with money and bad values of consumerism and lack of understanding of how the rest of the world lives. In that they are astoundingly consistent.
Just fine Decky. I currently am working in a non profit helping out people with kids who are in dire straits. When I hear about how Trump is representing the working class of America I have to smile. How ignorant can anyone be to believe that Billionaire silver-spoon-in-his-mouth, incompetent, immature and reckless old white man with many bankruptcies in his past and who might be tied to some kind of backroom deal with Russian oligarchs in Moscow is going to be a "Working Class" hero in the USA? I have concluded Americans have zero idea of what a working class advocate looks like politically in this country. The only certified socialist was Bernie Sanders in the entire senate and even that Right Wing Polemicist Anne Coulter admitted Sanders would have been tougher to beat than Hillary Clinton in that crazy election of 2016---but the white liberals were so out of touch with the working class white people they failed to read the writing on the wall and lost the election.

The USA is politically ignorant in the extreme. But I am not surprised.
One Degree wrote:We are Socialist by nature. We are communal beings. The problem with Socialism is believing what is good for a community is good for a world. World Socialism or National Socialism does not work because it is not a 'true community '. Local Socialism and World Capitalism is the compromise we should pursue.

People become Socialist because they want to eliminate 'us' and 'them', but we need 'us' and 'them' to stimulate competition. We don't need competition within a community, but we do need it.

I don't understand the logic here? How is competition good for everyone? For me in the future we are facing now with climate change competing for resources with nations with uneven power relationships is catastrophic. I will give you an example, Al Gore spoke with the PM of India in the Climate meeting there in Paris last year...the PM told Gore that they don't care about having to use fossil fuels and contribute to global warming because the first world nations dirtied things up and now they want clean air and water but want the Indians to sacrifice jobs and economic stability without giving them money or resources to do so. Why should poor nations give a crap about rich nations with a lot more money who want the poorer ones to not develop their economies to make sure the air is sustainable? They won't. The solution Gore came up with was to have an American solar panel company give up their solar cell secrets for FREE to Indian government people in order to implement clean energy in India. SHARE knowledge to solve issues together. If you take a competition model you will have wars in the future. The developing world such as Ecuador with tremendously green spaces producing the world's oxygen that is vital for life, versus first world nations with development who refuse to give money to the developing nations to get better standards of living in order to get clean energy commitments. Unless cooperative models are the norm in the future? We all perish together the developing world and the developed world.

Because some fool only capitalism and competition person thought that was the 'solution' to our problems. It is not. This world and nature relies on interdependent systems. One part fails...eventually we all fail. The whales, fish, plants and eco systems are not respecting borders One Degree. Neither should the humans in terms of cooperating to get big problems solved.
There was not any one thing in particular that inspired me to embrace socialism . I suppose though , if I had to create a cohesive narrative , I would say that that I had always been a social outcast , and felt alienated from the society at large . This was largely due to my neurodiversity , which stems from my having Asperger's syndrome . So from an early age I had become acutely aware of the social hierarchy of classes , and cliques , and resented how unfair and exclusive it is , from my perspective , and experience . In third grade , I was befriended by an Anglo-Metis whom asserted the opinion that the U.S.A. is an illegitimate regime , established by greedy white invaders . It was this pivotal encounter that set into motion my interest in Native American peoples , and their historic primitive communism , and I identified with the cultures of such indigenous Americans . This initial proto-communism was later further developed when I read such books as "A History of Socialism" , by Harry Laidler , at around age 15 . Further experiences have only served to further convince me of the soundness of Marx's social theory , and the merits of economic democracy , as a solution to the problems afflicting bourgeois society . In a concise nutshell , this is how I came to currently espouse an ideological viewpoint with influences ranging from Euro-Communism to eco-socialism .
My father had spoken for the CP back at the time of the Big Strike (they were interested because his grandfather was a Liberal Councillor for Glamorgan) and had friends who were still members. At Christmas they would all meet and discuss theology and Marxism, and I thought it was marvellous. All the same, when Harry Pollitt, big chief of the CP, came to book a hall from my father, the latter was hugely embarrassed by my having scrawled 'Vote Liberal' on the wall, God knows why (I was seven), and had to explain they weren't even standing in our constituency, where Pollitt lost by only 1.000 votes. Later my father moved us to Shropshire, where he got three times as much money for moving back some two hundred years. I was enraged, and started reading Marx. Never looked back really.
Ned Lud are you a British socialist then? And why would Marxist theory influence you so much? I find the UK never has had a true Marxist in power for a long time in the parliament making policy decisions? The British Labor party is so incredibly watered down and ineffective with that Tony Blair in did you take all that from a socialist perspective? BTW, I have very narrow or sketchy knowledge about British politics.
I always had socialist ideas about the economy and society. I remember being around 15 years old and wondering why Western conservatives defend capitalism when it promotes decadence and immorality. I always heard bad stories about the Soviet Union, how it was such an evil place. But in that country you did not find advertisements of women in bikinis and pornography on sale. In the West it is possible to find all sorts of decadence like this. The commies never allowed any of this.

I never liked the idea of the free market. It seems counter-intuitive to not have the state involved in economic planning.

But as to real life experiences which influenced me, I think living in England was a major one. I saw a country where people are divided hugely by class. Economic liberalism has created an environment that is dangerous and where you can be mugged on the street very easily. On two occasions I had drug dealers approach me trying to sell to me. Prostitutes also roamed the streets. The middle class liberals live in their suburbs away from all this but when you actually have to live in the world that liberalism creates, it is very unpleasant. Coming from a middle class background and not experiencing this in my country of origin it was a major shock to be exposed to the world that liberal capitalism created in modern England. All in all I have gradually come to the conclusion that the so called conservatives do not create a world of conservatism, that is to say stong families, clean streets, strong social morality and a beauty. They create a world of grunge, criminality and sleeze. It's a very dangerous environment. And what is most poweful for me is the realisation that this depression I feel in big Western cities is not a middle class hipsterism but a real feeling that I cannot live in such a world. And escaping it is not an option because it follows me everywhere I go.

The liberals are promoting mass immigration into Europe and calling anyone who objects a racist. Today in many parts of England the English are becoming a minority. They already are in London. In the Warsaw Pact countries there never was mass immigration.

But even though I am a socialist I have written off most of the Western left. They do not interest me at all, the cultural warriors, communalists and guilty white liberals that they are.


Western liberalism:

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