Thursday, April 08, 2010

Why you should go to Raymond Lotta's talk on Communism

By Thorey Munro and Jamilla Barra
Published April 7, 2010

Try this. Imagine the whole world. Think about the way things are. Everything, everywhere. Here, in Harlem, in Mongolia, Hawaii, Bolivia, Djibouti, Afghanistan, Greece. Everywhere. That’s a lot to think about, but you go to Columbia, you should have some cognitive volume. So try.

And now try this. Imagine everything being different. Completely different. I’m not telling you what kind of different. I’m not telling you to imagine a world where everyone has access to food, salt, and clean water. Or a world where nobody is afraid to walk down a street or take the subway or travel alone because of the way they look. I’m not even telling you to imagine a world where there is no concept of equality, because inequality doesn’t exist. But you can if you want to. You can imagine anything you want to.

But what’s the point of imagining, anyway. Our parents did that. They imagined all kinds of worlds, and they asked all kinds of questions. They debated and smoked and yelled and marched in the streets. They had speak-outs and sit-ins and lots of revolutionary ideas. And for all their questions, they might even have found some answers. Some things changed in some places. Segregation is officially a thing of the past. Women vote in a lot of countries. Unfortunately, war is still as popular as ever. Slavery still exists, and so does poverty. Patriarchy dominates. And the green on this planet shrinks while carbon dioxide levels grow.

In the end, all the radical revolutions have failed, fizzled out or reformed to some sort of semi-convenient system. Following in the wake of the generation that set out to change the world, we’re led to believe that the way things are is probably the least of all possible evils. So we try to change some of the things that are wrong with this world, rather than attempt to make a new one. Reform rather than revolution.

All the experimentation has narrowed down the options to the point that our generation, globally, sees only two options: McWorld or fanatic religious fundamentalism. If you don’t like one, you’re stuck with the other. But you’re free to choose both.

So what do we do? We live our lives as fully as possible. We do what we can to make ourselves and those around us happy and healthy and entertained. We think global and act local. We recycle.
And that’s it. Those are the parameters in which we, with our Ivy League education, our dedication, motivation, and humanitarian ideals get to influence—”change” is a little too radical—our world.
Sure, we’re allowed to think outside the box, but why would we? There’s no hard and fast way to the top of the cloud on a castle. Idealism is naive, and ultimately makes you look really dumb, when someone drops some witty academic cynicism on you.

Meanwhile our military kills civilians in Iraq, our sneakers were made by exploitation abroad, and women are systematically raped and harassed in this country. Can we reform all that?

This is what we think:

It is our public responsibility as the young to be idealistic. As college students, we have the privilege of gaining access to a world of ideas, and it is our duty to society to challenge those ideas, to challenge the previous generation and to challenge ourselves to challenge the status quo in every respect.
We don’t really like McWorld. Living in it and knowing that our life supports it, whether we want it to or not, makes us feel kind of dirty. And we sure as hell don’t like religious fundamentalism. Of any creed.

We want something else. Does that sound radical?

So let’s imagine. Let’s imagine and talk and think. This is our world, our generation, our responsibility to examine different viewpoints and perspectives. We’re figuring out what we think and believe, and we think that the things Raymond Lotta and the other communists are saying should be a part of that process. Because they break the box and compel imaginings. We already hear a lot of arguments about how to change things while leaving the system intact. But we want to hear an argument about a whole different social and economic system, too. If it’s controversial, all the better, because controversy needs to be part of the discourse, if college is going to be a place where people can imagine and discuss philosophy and history, big ideas and revolutions.

It might not be communism that we want. We might not be able to stand behind communist ideas and ideals, but we stand firmly behind people doing their civic duty by marching in the streets, yelling from soap boxes and doing everything they can to create options besides a rock and a hard place.
This Thursday, April 8, at 7 p.m. in the Altschul Auditorium (IAB), the revolutionary communist Raymond Lotta will speak about where the option of communism stands in our world today. Come hear the talk, because it’s important that you do. It is important because it’s our world and our country that are at the center of so many of these problems, and it’s up to us to take responsibility.

The authors are Barnard College first-years.

posted by Sunsara Taylor at 12:05 PM


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