Walt’s Soapbox: How to Make a Radical

You know, you always hear conservatives gnashing their teeth about liberal college professors indoctrinating their students with commie ideas. And they would probably point to me as a prime example of what their talking about, I have a college degree (in English/Creative Writing, i.e. “a useless” degree) and I’m a full on card-carrying socialist. But believe it or not, it wasn’t Vincennes University or Indiana State University that made me a hard leftist.

When I was in college, I had a left-bent in me, no doubt of that, but I was a Libertarian. I wasn’t a card-carrying Libertarian (although I was on their mailing list), but that was still my political bent. I didn’t give a shit really about unions or wages, I just wanted the government in all its forms to pretty much fuck off, stick to the Constitution, and leave me the hell alone.

And if you want the truth, it’s pretty easy to be a Libertarian in college. At least it was for me, I didn’t really have to worry about money. I was always broke, but I could always score a beer or a cigarette. Yeah I cared about politics (I still had a savage addiction), but my concern was usually more about my next drink or my next fuck than about the Revolution.

So what changed? What turned a left-bent Libertarian into a card-carrying Socialist? The simple answer is the Real World.

When I left college and came back home in December 2011, I was pretty optimistic. Sure the economy was still in the toilet, but I had a bachelor’s degree and that’s all that mattered, right? I could get a pretty decent gig, at least one with the potential to rise up, I’d get on my feet financially speaking and then I’d be alright, a sharp young man with a good future and some decent money in his pocket.

Well you know what they say; sometimes life kicks you square in the balls.

I found myself unable to get a job, any job for about four months, then I got a job with this independent contractor who fired me after a grand total of thirteen days of employment (he said I wasn’t moving fast enough), found myself unemployed again for a few months, landed a gig at Speedway, lasted there about a year, then quit after I had a physical shaking, sobbing breakdown at the register, found myself unemployed for about three months, got a gig at Amazon, lasted about three months before they fired me (for being too slow), was unemployed for about five months and then landed the gig at Pitney

Bowes where I’ve been for the past year and a half (a current record for a “real job”).

That’s been the Reader’s Digest version of my life since December 2011, a never-ending cycle of unemployment and employment with either minimum-wage gigs or temp jobs where I’m lucky that I get a paycheck. That’s what initiated the change, being thrown in the world where a decent paycheck and some respect from the boss becomes your only goal worth striving for.

Respect was always my main goal, I can live broke, but I can’t live being treated like a piece of machinery to be used up and thrown away. And well, that’s basically how most of my bosses at my various real jobs have treated me, as just another empty carcass with a name tag to be used and used and used until I finally cracked and either quit or got fired. I learned what it was like to be disposable, to be seen as essentially nothing.

Well my loyal readers, you know me, I’m a fighter at heart and I had to find something that would at least give me a fighting chance. I looked at the right and saw nothing but a never-ending stream of venom spat at poor people, telling them “You don’t deserve a living wage! Your boss deserves his flashy money and flashy cars because he works for it, he takes risks! You don’t do shit! We can replace you with a machine, so shut the fuck up before we do it!” Then I looked at the left and saw people more like me, working class people tired of getting kicked square in the crotch by the bosses and who wanted to do something about it, who wanted to stand up and say “We work hard! We deserve enough to live, to breathe, to stand on our dignity as human beings!” Can you dig it?

So I joined the left; I got myself a union card, I’m a proud Wobbly, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), IU 440. And earlier this year, I joined the Socialist Party-USA, having recently been elected as a delegate to the National Convention in October.

How that’s for a laugh, my conservative friends? It wasn’t some liberal professor in college waxing poetically against the American empire that made me a leftist, it was the last four years of sucking the shit off the floor of the American economy that turned me into a red flag waving anti-capitalist.


Featured photo credit by thechristianleftblog.org

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