Following is a talk
given by PSL member Sarah Sloan in the International Solidarity and Awards Session of the Nov. 13-14,
2010, National Conference on Socialism sponsored by the Party for Socialism and
Sisters and brothers, my name is Sarah Sloan. I am a member
of the Washington, D.C., branch and am on the Central Committee of the Party
for Socialism and Liberation.
Looking around the room, and having the opportunity to meet
and to hear from people who have come from all over the country today, I am
amazed to think that we started this organization with just a handful of people
six years ago.
You know, there is an old adage that you can tell a lot
about somebody based on the company they keep – based on who their friends are.
I think it says a great deal about our Party that we are joined here tonight at
this special International Solidarity and Awards Session by our truest friends.
Of course, some of them cannot be here because they are
revolutionary and committed fighters for justice who languish behind bars. But
we are fortunate to be joined today by Ramsey Clark, by Robert King Wilkerson,
by Mara Vereheyden-Hilliard and Carl Messineo, by Carol Sobel and Heidi
Boghosian, by our sister organizations in Central America and in the
Philippines, by our brothers and sisters from Palestine.
It is a testament to the work of our Party that our friends
and allies are amongst the most dedicated, most committed fighters for justice
in the United States and throughout the world.
‘A real revolution’
The PSL is a Marxist party. It exists to carry out the
deepest radical transformation of society by replacing one mode of production –
the capitalist system, which is based on private ownership – with a new mode of
production based on the principle of public ownership and the distribution of
society’s resources in a planned and rational way that allows for every human
being to have a decent-paying job, affordable housing, free healthcare, free
childcare, and ample time for individual development in the fields of
education, culture and sports.
We believe with certainty that we don’t have to live in a
society where mass unemployment is the norm, where intensifying poverty is the
norm, where the construction of prisons takes precedence over the construction
of schools and cultural centers.
We fight for a society where every person can retire with
dignity and security, for a system that carries out economic development based
on a rational plan so as to save – and in fact rescue – the rivers and lakes
and soil and air that are necessary to sustain life.
These are achievable goals. That may not have been the case
200 years ago. Society then could not have offered and promised every human
being the right to a job, the right to education and free healthcare. But the
industrial, scientific and technological achievements of the past century have
now made these goals possible.
It is not a fanciful dream to think that society can be
reorganized on a different basis. Marxism does not preach a utopia. It is
premised on reality. Marxism does not believe human beings and human society
can simply create a better world out of thin air. In fact, we consider it
utopian to think that the reorganization of society can take place by throwing
our political support behind this or that political party that is already
wedded to the existing capitalist status quo.
What would be utopian, in other words, is not socialism but
the idea that the fundamental transformation of society can be achieved by some
mechanism other than revolutionary struggle. And why wouldn’t we believe that?
Every truly new stage of human society has been the consequence of revolution.
In the United States as children we are taught to honor
those who carried out and led the revolution against British colonialism in
1776. Revolution is not a dirty word if it describes the bourgeois revolution
carried out by the private-property-owning classes as they sought to exert their
own authority and power and legitimacy against the old, decrepit previous
social and political system.
We are taught to uphold revolution as long as it’s not the
revolution of the working people. When it comes to a people’s revolution – a
real revolution – the existing political system categorizes revolutionary
socialists as wild extremists, as outlaws, as authoritarians, as violent and
scary and all of the other colorful adjectives employed against our movement.
That is the way the capitalists’ propaganda works – by
turning reality upside down. From the point of view of our party, nothing is
more extreme, more violent and more disgusting than a system that engages in
endless war against oppressed peoples throughout the Middle East and South
Nothing is more violent and extremist than a system addicted
to endless war, intervention and occupation. Nothing is more extreme than a
system that, despite its fabulous wealth, keeps more than 70 million people in
its own country locked in the prison of poverty. Nothing is more extreme than
an economic system that allows 1,000 billionaires to possess wealth equal to
the 3 billion poorest people on the planet. Nothing is more extreme than a
government that cannot – or will not – put 30 million unemployed people back to
work in the midst of a huge economic crisis.
We consider it the worst form of extremism that a government
can bail out the richest bankers and corporations that helped torpedo the
economy but can do nothing to help – and, in fact, can facilitate – the
foreclosure of millions of working-class families from their homes when they
can’t pay the extortionate debts that they owe on their bank mortgage.
Change the world
We boldly began the formation of a new revolutionary
socialist party six years ago because we were convinced that the capitalist
social order was entering a period of deep and profound crisis. We were
convinced that this crisis would not only expose the cruelty of the current
system but raise the prospect again of the socialist alternative – the only
We are so happy and proud that all of you have joined with
us tonight. We hope you will become even more deeply involved in the struggle
for profound social change. We are a party of action. We believe that Marxism
comes alive in the struggle itself. That is the teaching of Marxism. That is
the spirit of Marxism. It is not a dogma reserved for academics. It breathes
the fire of revolt.
Karl Marx and the others who followed in his path are above
all else revolutionaries and fighters. In describing his own orientation, Karl
Marx said: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways.
The point, however, is to change it.”
The PSL is doing just that and we hope each and every one of
you will be part of this movement.