On Saturday, January 12, nearly twenty people gathered near Middle Tennessee State University for the region’s first “Marxist Day School.” The event, organized by the Workers International League, consisted of vibrant discussions on how Marxism remains relevant in the 21st century and how working people around the world are fighting to make socialism a reality. As the meeting opened, everyone was welcomed and thanked for attending. The comrades and guests then introduced themselves, setting a friendly mood for the rest of the day.
The school’s agenda consisted of three main parts: “What is Socialism,” the Venezuelan Revolution, and an introduction on the history and activities of the Workers International League and the International Marxist Tendency. The discussions of these subjects went well beyond the scheduled conclusion of the Day School, a measure of the enthusiasm for the ideas of revolutionary socialism.
“What is Socialism?” was the first topic of the day. Josh Lucker, a WIL member from St. Louis, began with a brief explanation of the nature of socialism, which then led to a thoughtful discussion amongst those present. Lucker described the economic, political, and cultural characteristics of genuine socialism, while distinguishing it from the Stalinist regime of the former Soviet Union. The ensuing discussion addressed a range of subjects, from the inefficiencies of capitalism to the role of art in a socialist society. This participatory introduction to socialism provided a great framework for the rest of the day.
The next subject of the day school was “The Venezuelan Revolution.” WIL member David May gave an overview of the Bolivarian movement, from its roots in the Caracazo uprising of 1989 to the recent referendum loss. Dave spoke about how the Venezuelan Revolution is now at a crossroads. He argued that Chavez must resist the pressure to “slow down” the revolution and that the only way forward for Venezuela is to nationalize the key sectors of the economy and begin the transition to socialism.
After a lively exchange on Venezuela, Karl Belin from Pittsburgh and Dave May outlined the history, traditions, and activities of the IMT and its U.S. sympathizing section, the WIL. Those present expressed great interest in the organization’s work and the day concluded with a discussion on the prospects for socialism here in the U.S.
Tennessee’s first “Marxism Day School” was a resounding success that reflects a growing interest in an alternative to the two-party system. Everyone who attended left with a clearer idea of socialism and the means to achieve it. Through meetings such as these, the forces of revolutionary socialism will continue to grow and tackle the historic task of overthrowing capitalist barbarism.