Why I Became a Socialist


By Hank Gonzalez — Boston, MA, Student

On the eve of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Jesse Jackson visited my high school. He spoke in a dignified voice about democracy and morality. He gently criticized the Bush government. And weeks later – when million dollar bombs were killing people in ten dollar tents – he followed the rest of the Democrats and pledged his support for an endless “war on terrorism.”

Lessons like these leave me convinced that the Democrats, the Republicans, the official news media, and other institutions of the ruling class cannot be expected to solve the problems that capitalism creates.

As I joined protests against the invasion of Iraq, I tried to imagine what sorts of perspectives and methods would have been needed to actually stop the war. Malcolm X, while speaking against an older example of U.S. imperialism, said: “Walking downtown with a sign saying ‘we protest what you did in Congo’ means nothing if you’re not organized.” I think he was right.

U.S. capitalists are organized enough to conquer two distant countries, to imprison over two million people, and to keep the vast majority of wealth in the hands of a tiny minority. In order to defend our interests, working people must themselves be well organized. The working class needs an organization which can overcome artificial divisions based on race, gender, and nationality. We need an organization which learns from the history of workers’ struggles, and which builds for future ones. My decision to join Socialist Alternative was a decision to take an active part in building such an organization.