Soc Club Treas Club Fair

Th social(ism) network

by Andrew Edwards

Horizon Reporter

On April 10, in a partially lit classroom at Western Washington University, a small group of socialists solved the Israel-Palestine conflict.  Unlike the two-state solution promoted by the U.N., this one addressed the perceived root of the issue: capitalism.

The conclusion was reached that the only sustainable resolution to the problem is a confederation of two socialist states to alleviate the inherent inequality of capitalism. 

Sorting out the Middle East was only one of the items on the agenda of this meeting of Socialist Alternative, an organization which seeks political change to create a more equal society.  The group founded a new chapter at Whatcom Community College at the end of winter quarter and is the first in the college’s history to be associated with a specific political party.   

 “You cannot have social equality without economic equality,” said Jordan Quinn, the club’s treasurer, which is its only elected position.  He said that to accomplish both, there must be a system in place where the workers own the means of production.

The group cites the global capitalist system as the cause of most world issues from poverty and discrimination to environmental destruction and economic crises.

“For a long time I thought I would have to focus on one world problem at a time,” said Patrick Darby, a Western alumni.  “The economics are the root of these problems.”  The profit motive in a capitalist system is what allows the political process to become corrupt, he said.

“We believe {capitalism} is a system that does not support the majority, the 99 percent,” said Keegan Mccoy, a Whatcom student and member of the new club. 

 “There is no reason why, in the richest country in the world, we can’t have living wage jobs for everyone,” said Ramy Khalil, the Whatcom County organizer for Socialist Alternative.  “The problem is you have two political parties, Republicans and Democrats, who are funded by these wealthy corporations.”

People tend to associate the words socialism and communism with dictatorships, but those associations are not valid, said Khalil.

“Socialism is not Stalinism, it’s not Maoism,” said Mccoy.  “Socialism means complete democratic control of the country.”

The Western and Whatcom clubs are part of the Bellingham branch of Socialist Alternative, and focus on events at their respective campuses, however, membership in the organization is open to anyone. 

The meetings, which can last more than two hours, tend to be very structured, with a set amount of time allotted to each scheduled discussion topic, and all decisions being put to a vote.  There are usually lectures on specific issues, and the overall atmosphere is one of an engaged classroom where everyone is involved. 

“We aim for serious student activism,” said Quinn.  To encourage this participation, the club plans to hold public debates and forums on campus, as well as handing out literature like newsletters and pamphlets describing their ideology.

Socialist Alternative also collaborates with several local advocacy groups who have common causes, such as the Whatcom Action Coalition and Coal Free Bellingham, who actively oppose the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point. 

Recently, the group helped collect signatures for Proposition 2, a bill which would ban coal trains from passing through Bellingham, said Khalil.  The organization has also been active in establishing demonstrations alongside the Occupy Bellingham movement.

“We want to build a mass movement of working class and young people,” said Khalil, in order to   “replace capitalism with democratic socialism.”      


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One thought on “Th social(ism) network”

  1. Dear Editor Cutter Kilgore and Staff Writer Andrew Edwards,

    My name is Sirantos Fotopoulos and I am a dues paying member of the Bellingham branch of Socialist Alternative. Within the April 24th edition of The Whatcom Horizon newspaper is an article reported by Mr. Edwards which highlights the Socialist Alternative organization’s presence both at Whatcom Community College as well as Western Washington University. The title of this article is “The Social(ism) Network.”
    I am writing in order to bring to your attention several errors included within this article which need to be addressed and promptly rectified.
    The fourth paragraph (in the print edition) reads as follows:
    The group founded a new chapter at Whatcom Community College at the end of winter quarter and is the first in the college’s history to be associated with a specific political party.
    I attended WCC in the 1990’s and I specifically recall that both College Democrats as well as College Republicans had political clubs on WCC’s campus. It should also be pointed out that Socialist Alternative does not have any affiliations with any established political parties.
    The twelfth paragraph (in the print edition) reads as follows:
    “Socialism is not Stalinism, it’s not Maoism,” said McCoy. “Socialism means complete democratic control of the country.”
    I must inform you that Keegan McCoy grossly misspoke. Socialism does not mean complete democratic control. Socialism as an idea specifically addresses an anti-capitalist stance. It does not allude to a nation’s governing mechanism, i.e. authoritarianism, democracy, monarchy, etc. Socialism is a theory that advocates control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole. It does not advocate how that community is governed. However, Socialist Alternative as an organization does have a preference for democracy and is a strident proponent of it.
    The fifteenth paragraph (in the print edition) reads as follows:
    “We aim for serious student activism,” said Quinn. To encourage this participation, the club plans to hold public debates and forums on campus, as well as handing out literature like newsletters and pamphlets describing their ideology.
    The majority of the material available for distribution by Socialist Alternative won’t be “handed out.” Rather since our organization plans to recoup the publishing costs of the material the items are actually for sale at a price. This is an important point in order to prevent any misconceptions when Socialist Alternative sets up a literature table.
    This concludes my comments. I fully appreciate it if you could have your newspaper’s audience become aware of these most important corrections.

    Sincerely,

    Sirantos Fotopoulos

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