As someone who had never attended any sort of political convention, I didn’t know what to expect from the Freedom Socialist Party gathering. What I found was camaraderie, knowledge, and an array of perspectives on things affecting the working class, like education, labor, healthcare, feminism, and ecosocialism. All pointed to the same basic fact: capitalism is a monster that must be slain, and it’s going to take an international movement to do it.
Meeting comrades from all over the globe was incredible. Having the common goal of creating a better, saner world forges an instant friendship. Not a friendship like you’re baking cookies and having a sleepover, although I wouldn’t say that’s totally off the table. In the movement, this camaraderie translates into an assumed mutual loyalty: you know that person has your back.
As a child in El Salvador, I was largely sheltered from the horror of the 1980s civil war. People didn’t talk about it much, mainly because to do so could cost your life.
In this convention, I learned that not talking about politics is a matter of life and death. We have to understand its impact on us. From our international comrades I learned concretely about how the U.S. creates war and poverty worldwide with bogus trade agreements. It was treaties liked these that helped to impoverish El Salvador — forcing my family, like so many others, to leave home in search of opportunities and survival.
During sessions, presenters approached subjects on a large scale, and during discussion periods it all came together as individuals spoke on their own experiences.
When the panel on labor began, I wasn’t sure any of it would apply to me since I don’t work in a union shop. What I learned by the end of the session is that, union or not, my labor matters and can contribute to the movement. During the panel on education in the U.S., I made connections to my home country, where schooling is primarily geared toward clerical work for girls and physical or technical jobs for boys. The same purpose is behind it: to perpetuate a profit-driven system that forces workers into jobs that make the bosses rich because we need the paycheck to survive.
The convention was an uplifting and profound learning experience — and the wonderful thing is that it isn’t over! Now I can share these ideas with everyone I know and people I have yet to meet. I can put them to use in the many struggles to help secure a better world with full rights for all of us.
Also see: A world to win, a planet to save
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