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Catholic Schooled: Why I Joined the International Marxist Tendency
An ongoing series on membership in the IMT, in which comrades explain what drove them to reject the capitalist system and embrace revolutionary socialism.

My eighth-grade teacher had us write thesis papers about something we truly cared about. The only requirement; it had to be researched and cited. I chose to make mine about what the world would look like without money. Instructed to turn in an outline, I proceeded to write over a dozen index cards detailing my youthful hopes for what a future society might look like. When I turned it in she laughed and told me that this thesis was too abstract to explore. Instead of pointing me to the Communist Manifesto, she told me I didn’t cite literature and urged me to make my paper about something more concrete. I ended up dispassionately writing about the lost city of Atlantis. I cited conspiracy theory web pages from the early 2000’s internet. I got a B minus.

Looking back, it would appear I was doomed to waste away, surrounded by anti-socialist ideology; Catholic school was followed by college in Florida and its “upper middle-class” Venezuelans and other “middle class” Latino immigrants. This milieu held a distaste for radical expressions of class struggle, to put it mildly. Take, for instance, a few years back, before Venezuela was on the brink of civil war, my father opined that the economic spiral wouldn’t end until the Chavistas were dead. I can only hope he meant from old age. We don’t talk about how I’m a communist now.

There were so many consistently bizarre moments: I had a homeroom teacher in high school who encouraged me to read Ayn Rand; a history teacher who informed us that Plan B kills babies; repressed nuns and monks who taught science and history; an English teacher who teased me for thinking the A-bomb shouldn’t have been developed; and all the kids in the class who went along with it all.

It was impossible to be unaware of the Church’s hypocrisy, oozing lies, and preternatural perversion. But I still tried my best to be a positive example of a Catholic School student. I assumed I had to because God wanted me to. I have since realized that I only believed that because I was thoroughly alienated. For example, the class question was never brought up in school. Perhaps a good clue as to why is that most families around me were well off enough that they could afford the nearly $6,000 in tuition. Economic distance from the class struggle makes the ills of the world seem less real, and a maze of confused ideas can take hold. Conditions determine consciousness, after all. I was so conservative that after 9/11, I thought Bush was the best guy we could have in office.

On the one hand, Catholic School afforded me a life of relative privilege, an expression of my class makeup. Every goal was set out before me and made “achievable.” Be a good disciple! Go to school! Find a good job! Get hitched—to a woman! Become a dad! Own a home! Retire in comfort! And last but not least: get past those sweet pearly gates! On the other hand, a faith-based education instilled in me a ridiculous amount of guilt, shame, and mysticism that made living outside the Catholic bubble very difficult to deal with. Luckily, Marxism has helped negate some of that for me.

Upon realizing I was now in the land of the “brave enough to vote for Donald Trump,” I decided to commit myself to the work of the IMT. I had been around the organization for nearly six months, seeking answers after the Bernie Sanders phenomenon and the Venezuelan economic crisis. I was impressed the first time I visited the US section’s bookstore. Everyone I met was so adept at openly discussing philosophy, history, politics, and the economy in a friendly manner. These were people dedicated to learning with no concern for career or religion.

The more I study Marxism, the more my lifetime listlessness withers away. Growing up, Catholicism was presented as the path to all of life’s answers. If I felt chronically anxious I must have been “born wrong” and destined to toil, right? Ironically enough, this pessimism was squashed only when I finally took responsibility for living and finally let go of the idea that any God controlled me. The class analysis pulled the mask off the real culprit responsible for my personal suffering: capitalism.

Marxists take the long view of history. We are tasked with putting events in their proper context. By analyzing the world from a materialist point of view, we understand that these fleeting moments on Earth are all we can have. Why not try and make it better for everybody, now and in the future? It is ultimately the ruling class that prevents the rest of humanity from doing so, and this is precisely why we need a socialist revolution.

So, as capitalism makes its final, horrendous stand, the question is strikingly posed: whose side are we on? The old way of the puny ruling class, with its mysticism, individualism, and meaningless tragedies? Or the new, helmed by a mighty mass of workers committed to actualizing the potential of humanity? Join the IMT, and help build the revolutionary party of the future!

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