The Road So Far

by Andrew Ray Gorman, editor of Appeal to Reason on October 8, 2012

First published by Appeal to Reason.

When I was younger, the things on my mind the most were things kids in that time usually cared about: video games, building tree houses, Pokemon, etc. My first experience with the political was the 2000 election, around when I was 9. The debates were on the television one afternoon as I got home from school, and on the screen was Al Gore vs. George W. Bush Jr. My mother asked who I would prefer to win, and at the time I wanted Bush to win because “he was old and would die before he gets another chance.” Such interesting reasoning, but I have always been a sympathetic person. A year later, 9/11 occurred, and as I came home my parents were glued to the television, watching it replay over and over.

One summer up at my grandmother’s house, I was reading a strategy guide for Morrowind, when on the television came the song “Let’s Get It Started” by the Black Eyed Peas. I loved the music video so much, that I somehow got my hands on the CD not long after. I listened to the tracks on this over and over again on my CD player. There was one song which had a much more political message, called “Where is the Love?” The CD also had the music video for this on the bonus disc. While I was not aware of it at the time, this song came out in the wake of the anti-war movement.

Starting in 2005 grade, I began to check the newspaper in my classrooms for their comics. One comic always stuck out to me — initially because of its anime style, but it always had an overt political message. The Boondocks comic strip was my first source of genuine political discussion. It helped open my eyes to a lot of the controversy at the time, in a more digestible form.

For many years, I participated in an online forum called the Imperial Library, for The Elder Scrolls (TES) game series. Threads of many sorts would be created, where we would discuss aspects of TES lore, role play, or talk about politics. There was a fellow there who I always admired, despite his tendency to be very confrontational. Yet he always had a great light to shine on political matters, and was a self-avowed communist. At the time. I wouldn’t know what a communist even was, only that they weren’t popular in the U.S. He also introduced me to Howard Zinn.

In my final year of high school, I was in a class where the focus was international studies, and we would have mock debates on policy. These were very interesting, and I would often remain quiet listening to the arguments of a side until it was my turn. As our debate skills were being fostered, the 2008 presidential election was underway, and heated discussions would often erupt within our group. At one point, a friendly teacher actually had to yell at two of us who were arguing. During this time, I gave my support to Obama, not really paying close attention to what he actually stood for, who gave him funding, what he said, or the third-party candidates. I, like many other young people, were swept off our feet with simplistic and vague slogans.

Fast forward to 2010, not long after the British Petroleum disaster, Obama gave his support for offshore drilling of oil. This tore me to pieces, and not long after this came the Collateral Murder video put out by Wikileaks. I was one of the first few hundred to see it on YouTube, and upon bringing it to the attention of friends, many had a reactionary comments about it. Bradley Manning was arrested and put into horrible conditions. He has hurt no one, and has had the best intentions in his heart. Meanwhile, it has been Obama who has ordered the assassinations and murders of individuals, including American citizens.

I was faced with all of this, and despite still hoping more like Dennis Kucinich could be elected, there was a growing astroturf movement coming about that would become known as the Tea Party. Around the same time, as this started getting in the press, I joined the Green Party in the summer of 2010 in protest of what the Democratic officials were doing.

Fortunately, I found someone who was wanting to get the Green Party started in Greenville. There were a few meetings that went pretty well in my own view, even getting a city council member to attend(!), although for a time the person who founded it with me was absent from meetings. We had also never had our adviser at our meetings. I find out much later from the head of the Libertarian group that our Green president left for the Democrats.

This had pretty big repercussions on my own political orientation, pushing me further from the Democrats and causing me to move even more to the left.

In 2011, near the end of the school year, I was getting caught up in the Arab Spring and was able to talk about the events in Tunisia and Egypt at length, as well as what was occurring in Wisconsin. All of these were highly influential on me, and after finding out one of my favorite Green Party members was also a member of the Socialist Party, I decided to check them out.

This was a very important milestone in my political evolution. Before I go further, my religious stance also shifted in late 2010 to that of a Buddhist, and I began reading the “gateway” drug known as Chomsky. Then fast-forward to the events occurring in Libya and NATO involvement, I began to worry. The same formula that has occurred in the past was occurring here.

In the summer of 2011, I had researched socialism enough to know “which side I was on” in the class struggle, and joined the Socialist Party USA. As soon as I had access, I began messaging the email list with tons of ideas I had about left unity — some which were reposted to Appeal to Reason awhile back. I was met with a flurry of responses, some of which were more historical in nature, and others which were against association with liberal elements. Certain sites, like RevLeft, revealed a great amount of debate over strategy and tactics for the socialist revolution. Although at the time I was more social democratic, I began to move to democratic socialism. (There is a difference — perhaps a post should be spent on that.)

This internal discussion excited me, got me thinking that something great was going to happen soon. And due to having these new connections, I found out soon enough. Occupy Wall Street. I followed it closely, often staying up late watching the livestream of occupations that had begun sprouting up all over. I wrote about them, and tried starting one up myself. A few days later, I found out another group of individuals in Greenville had already held two meetings, and joined them and got it started there. This movement and the lessons learned will be covered in a future article.

Needless to say, the Occupy Greenville group fell apart. And in the midst of this movement, the “Revolutionary Unity” tendency within the Socialist Party formally split off, as did its members slowly as well. Some, like myself, maintain dual membership. Increasingly, I believe people find me hard to place, as they either see me as too revolutionary, or too reformist. Yet my views on socialism line up almost perfectly with Eugene V. Debs, the most famous American socialist and union leader. At any rate, this is about as concise as I get get my political journey, and many aspects will have to be elaborated on at a later date.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Christian October 22, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Do you mean Greenville, South Carolina, USA? There was an Occupy there? That would be pretty sweet.

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Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp October 23, 2012 at 10:42 am

Bingo.

The had occupations in Nashville, TN, and Martinsburg, VA (home of the great 1877 railroad strike) among other places in the south.

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