For roughly five of my adolescent years, I was a part of an Evangelical youth group. From 7th grade until the end of my junior year of high school, I would attend every week to play dodgeball, listen to a sermon from one of the youth ministers, and sing all the songs with my heart fully engaged. I even played bass for the Sunday morning worship band for a couple of years. All of this I did despite no one else in my family holding serious religious beliefs. My reasons for involvement mostly consisted of the following: all of my friends were doing it, it was an environment in which people were willing to listen without judgment, and I wanted desperately to believe that there was an objective meaning in life, that all of the sufferings in the world served a higher purpose.
I traveled to Nicaragua for a mission trip with that same youth group in the summer after my freshman year of high school. The total cost per one person was $900 for nine days, which, fortunately, my parents were willing to shell out. Our stated goal was to help renovate an Evangelical church in Managua and to win over the faith of the locals. My role was to participate in outreach, which meant knocking on doors, praying for strangers, as well as more “fun” things like blasting music in the middle of the day in residential areas, dressing up like clowns, and giving out balloon animals, all with the aim of promoting our religion.
Seeing the living conditions my fellow human beings live under, in person, crushed my heart. We would pray with families of six or more, all crammed into a single shelter made of car doors and corrugated metal, with no electricity or running water—and then look out to the horizon, where we could see nothing but more of the same. With the $900 we had each spent on the trip, we could have transformed the lives of several impoverished families. Once we got back from the first day of outreach, I could do nothing but squat in a corner of the church and cry. After that, I kept my interactions with the locals to a minimum—despite being one of the only few Americans present who could speak entry-level Spanish—out of shame.
A year later, I asked one of the assisting youth group leaders why the 30 or so of us had taken that trip, when we could have had a more meaningful impact by simply donating the money. He responded by saying that he had asked that same question to the head of the church, the pastor, who responded, “If we inspire just one of those kids to become a pastor when they’re older, then it will have been worth it.” Ironically enough, that trip became the primary catalyst for my transformation into a communist (and an atheist).
If I’m honest with myself, I was never 100% certain of the existence of God. But the misery that I witnessed in Nicaragua became the final impetus for my conclusion: there cannot be an all-knowing, all-powerful God. So where is anyone to go from there? Anyone who doesn’t believe that prayer is the solution to all of the world’s problems, must search for the most effective material solutions available, if they wish to actually solve any of them.
I found myself grappling with many of these problems throughout high school, usually alone. I was beginning to ask myself: Why is there such drastic wealth inequality? Why are there so many people in slums? And why does no one in power seem to care?
Worldwide, there are roughly 9 million deaths every year from hunger, 8 million from lack of access to clean water, and more than 3 million die every year from vaccine-preventable diseases. Countless others die in wars and genocides fomented by imperialism, many of which are supplied and funded by the US.
Many of these statistics are growing worse with time, not better. The share of the world’s population that is undernourished has been steadily increasing since 2014. By 2025, the population living in regions with absolute water scarcity is expected to increase from 1.2 to 1.8 billion. As climate change accelerates, all of this will only be exacerbated. The US is no exception to this. More than one in seven households are considered “food insecure,” up from one in nine in 2007.
On the other hand, we currently produce enough food to feed 3 billion more people than the current population. Agricultural yields have dramatically increased since the 1930s due to improvements in technology, while the rate of world population growth has been steadily declining since 1962. We have the resources today to end world hunger. Ending world hunger would cost a mere $11 billion a year. Meanwhile, the US government spent $4.79 trillion dollars on “defense” from 2001 to 2017. The current net worth of Jeff Bezos alone, if expropriated, could eliminate world hunger for over 14 years. That’s 133.5 million deaths that could be prevented if we seized the assets of a single man.
This is the reality of capitalism. The liberal propagandists will claim that a rising tide lifts all boats, that the market is the most efficient allocator of resources that will ever be possible—but the working people of the world know the truth. We live it every day. The fact that the profit motive—as opposed to the meeting of human needs—is the driver of the world economy, is the sole cause for the continuation of this madness.
So the next time someone tells you that capitalism is efficient, ask them: “Efficient at doing what?” Efficient at siphoning resources into fewer and fewer hands? At destroying the environment? At fueling endless warfare for profits? At ensuring the US prison system has an ever-increasing supply of slave labor? At keeping billions of people oppressed and impoverished despite an abundance of resources? At crashing cyclically and taking millions of workers’ hopes and dreams down with it, while the banksters who caused it get off scot-free and even get bonuses? Sure. But it is incapable of utilizing all of the available productive capacity of the world. And it is certainly incapable of getting resources into the hands of the people that need them!
If the capitalists wanted to end world hunger, provide access to clean water, prevent and treat common diseases, provide decent housing and standards of living, and take decisive action on climate change, they would have done so already. But the profit motive prevents them from doing so. Furthermore, it isn’t enough to merely redistribute the wealth more evenly, then continue on with capitalism. Proactive measures must be taken as well. Our aim should be to destroy poverty for good. In order for this to happen, the working class of the US and the world must win political and economic power and institute socialism, conceding no ground to the capitalists. History shows again and again that if the working class gives an inch, the capitalists will take a mile.
I say: instead of the invisible hand of the market, let it be the democratic, collective hand of the workers that determines the allocation of resources in our world!
As for the rest of my reasoning for rejecting capitalism and joining the IMT, I think Pablo Picasso said it best: “I have become a communist because our party strives more than any other to know and to build the world, to make men clearer thinkers, more free and more happy.” I wholeheartedly agree, but more importantly: I have become a communist because there is no other way to eliminate the material causes of human misery. After much research, I have arrived at the conclusion that the IMT is the only group equipped with a scientific plan and the right tactics to achieve this great aim.