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Letter to the editor

Socialist beliefs misunderstood

October 20, 2006

In response to the letter, “Campus has no need for socialists,” it seems necessary to clear up misconceptions about what our student organization, Socialist Alternative, actually represents.

I’d like to say that I agree with the writer’s assessment of the conditions in the former Soviet Bloc. Under the policies started by Stalin, the economy was planned by a privileged party bureaucracy. We agree that under this system the economy favored the members of the ruling elite.

However, Socialist Alternative is an organization that fights for the rights of workers, students and communities against the exploitation and injustice perpetuated by the capitalist system. We see the global capitalist system as the root cause of terrorism, war, poverty, discrimination and environmental destruction. Socialist Alternative absolutely rejects the totalitarian systems of Russia and eastern Europe, which have nothing to do with real socialism. The Stalinist oligarchy that oppressed the working class was obviously not a genuine workers’ democracy. We campaign for the building of a mass workers’ party to represent workers, youth and the environment against the two parties of big business. We call for democratic socialism where people will have control over their daily lives. Some might say that our stances on particular issues are unrealistic under capitalism. We believe that the realization of these goals is more reason to strive for a socialist society, based not on profit, but on need.

On our national organization’s Web site, http://www.socialistalternative.org/about, we do say that we stand for, “Mass pickets and militant action to stop union busting, plant closures, and layoffs.” Militant action can be as simple as a strike or the type of civil disobedience employed during the civil rights movement. This has proven effective as a tool for winning wage increases, benefits and rights for workers the world over.

Unlike under the political systems of Russia and eastern Europe, Jan Pospichal was free to speak about his opposition to the formation of Socialist Alternative at the public meeting that we held last month. I chaired that meeting, and Mr. Pospichal asked questions and voiced his opposition multiple times during the discussion. I do find it odd, however, that while he writes of democracy in his letter, he feels that our organization, which was formed and is run by students at UW-River Falls, should “not be welcomed on our campus.” True democracy welcomes all viewpoints, and as such democracy itself welcomes the Socialist Alternative.

Nick Shillingford
Student