Bringing socialist ideas to working class communities and youth
Like most cities across the U.S., Boston has been hit hard by budget cuts over the past few years. The cost of transportation has gone up. There is a housing crunch, and more and more working people have been pushed out of the city. The federal government no longer bails out local and state governments. Meanwhile, hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on the war in Iraq.
The murder rate in Boston has skyrocketed over the past period. Unsurprisingly, this has coincided with an increase in unemployment and the high school dropout rates. Under-funded schools, institutionalized racism and a lack of job opportunities leads to desperation amongst Boston’s youth.
The U.S. elites clearly do not value human life. They ordered the killings of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and the jailing of over one million black men in the US for non-violent offenses. This type of attitude, a disregard for human life, especially the lives minorities, permeates into society, creating the explosion of violence.
Matt Geary is a voice for Boston workers and youth. Matt is a 22 year-old member of Socialist Alternative who lives in Dorchester, an area of Boston hardest hit by budget cuts and violence. Matt was a central organizer against the increase in transportation costs, last year. Socialist Alternative is well-known as a key force within the anti-war and immigrant rights movements in Boston.
In the first candidates’ debate, Matt trounced the mainstream candidates to the point that the chairperson had to tell the audience to hold applause for Matt’s comments until the end because the clapping was cutting heavily into his allotted speaking time. Matt quoted the famous abolitionist Fredrick Douglass: “If there is no struggle, then there is no progress” to huge applause by the young working class audience.
The election campaign has given Socialist Alternative the ability to get the program of socialism out to a wider audience than ever before. Community groups are inviting our organization to meetings and taking our outlook very seriously.
Local elections in Boston are not a small endeavor. Council candidates often spend over $100,000 on their campaigns. There are only thirteen councilors for a city of over one million. Socialist Alternative, with, in comparison, our shoestring budget, is up against tremendous odds.
However, in addition to building the profile of a fighting socialist alternative, we have also been able to use the election campaign to promote struggle. The struggles of tenants against slumlords have been highlighted in Matt’s speeches, and we also used the election campaign to build the student walkout and worker sick day against the war on 26 October.
In the ‘belly of the beast’ – US imperialism – we found openness to our socialist programme when campaigning. A few hundred votes for socialism in Boston will be an important step forward. Also importantly, throughout this campaign, we are building the forces of Socialist Alternative and the Committee for a Workers’ International.
Last Friday night, at a well-attended forum about the ‘Jena 6’ case, one of Boston’s most prominent black intellectuals (Tony Van Der Meer) said: “Socialist Alternative’s campaign for Matt is getting their program out there. Next time, they’ll have more members and come back even stronger. Even when they lose, it will be a victory.” Well spoken!