The Socialist Fightback Club

Janny Wang - 2A Nanotechnology Engineering
Posted on: October 17, 2018

The Socialist Fightback meeting had a disturbing lack of red flags.

It was a simple, ordinary affair in an unused classroom, hosted by four or five organizers. The demographics of the group were evident; they were all young men, somewhere in their mid-twenties, with a few charming accents of indeterminate European origin.

In lieu of any more revolutionary décor, they endeavored to transform the classroom into a suitable rally center by taping their somewhat diminutive posters on the whiteboard. The front desks were taken up by an exhibit of books and pamphlets, including the Communist Manifesto.

The turnout was respectable; perhaps a dozen or so students, mostly male, accompanied by a handful of Nano students who did not feel inclined to vacate their homeroom. Two youths, with air and attire suitable for a boardroom, arrived towards the start, spoke briefly with the organizers, and left halfway. Their presence vexed me; I could only conclude that they were either underage corporate sponsors, or the world’s most poorly disguised police spies.

The chief spectacle of the evening was a speech by one Marco LaGrotta, who introduced himself as a professional activist from Toronto. He had a fair bit of the starving intellectual look going for him, but he pleasant and he spoke very well.

The rhetoric of the speech was unremarkable, but he delivered it with a great deal of passion. It was entirely by the book, by which I mean it was an entirely orthodox reiteration of the Communist Manifesto. In short, the bourgeoisie had done their part in overthrowing feudalism and driving innovation at the cusp of the nineteenth century, but modern day capitalism was stagnant and monopolistic. Here, he showed Torontonian roots by launching into an entirely unprovoked diatribe against Bombardier for their failure to deliver the promised streetcars to the TTC.

Unprovoked diatribes were something of a feature; Margaret Thatcher, libertarians, “most anarchists”- exception being provided to the good ones (who were “generally closet Marxists”)-, post-modernists, and – of all things – universities were all lambasted with great aplomb and very little logic. These rants were of a rather mean spirited and tangential nature, with little relevance to the bulk of the speech; little would have been lost if they had been axed by a more judicious proofreader.

The heart of the speech was intended to be rousing rather than persuasive, but he did attempt to incorporate logos into it. He quoted frequently from the Economist and occasionally from Forbes, and cited history almost over-enthusiastically.  His description of the French revolution – as a bourgeoise revolution – was over simplistic, but he conceded this point later on, in private conversation, and demonstrated a pretty good knowledge of 1789 and ’93, and thereby found favor in the eyes of the author.

As far as political speeches go, it was no less factual than most. The speaker did, however, have an irritating habit of punctuating his speech with unprompted declarations of “This is a fact,” generally spoken in a most belligerent manner and accompanied by some appropriate hand motion. His manner in that regard was unnecessarily aggressive and almost suspiciously specific, but when actually faced with questions or criticism from the audience, he addressed them with respectable equanimity.

The chief surprise of this group was how moderate they were. The proletariat were given the right to self-defense, but the revolution ‘would certainly be non-violent’. The Soviet Union was roundly disavowed, small businesses were to be left unmolested, and a transition period of indeterminate length was allowed betwixt capitalism and the utopian Promised Land.

They maintained that the promised day – the day of proletarian revolt – would arise spontaneously at the allotted hour and all that remained for them was to educate themselves and bide their time. Capitalism was untenable, therefore it was only a matter of time before the economy tanked, the proletariat revolted, and they would have the chance to usher in the glorious era of love, peace, and socialism. In this sense, they had almost the air of a Christian doomsday sect crossed with the doom-and-gloom of an Opposition think tank economist.

A portion of the meeting was dedicated to a general discussion, in the style of a high school English class. Like most high school English classes, it was an almost inveterate disaster and – what’s worse – a bore. I have noted that Marco LaGrotta was a good speaker; unfortunately, he was the only good speaker in the room. The questions posed by the students were semi-incoherent, the answers returned by their peers almost entirely so, and, had they been worthy of Socrates and Plato, it would not have mattered a jot because the entire proceeding was almost entirely inaudible.

Incoherence notwithstanding, the debate was fairly lively and participation was good. As a recruitment session, it seemed fairly successful. The majority of the attendees seemed interested, and a respectable amount indicated willingness to donate to the Cause.

The overall impression was not terribly different from any other pseudo-enlightened socially aware youth group. I am not certain that they had any very sophisticated idea of statecraft, the Economist notwithstanding, but the general atmosphere was lively and tolerably good natured. Besides, nobody committed any particularly egregious acts of idiocy. It is by no means certain that they are at all liable to usher in a socialist utopia in this lifetime, but they are pretty unlikely to do any harm and may even do a little good.

They did, however, commit one cardinal sin: they did not have any food.

 

One Comment

  • On October 14, 2018 at 6:37 pm aterrariumtvapp.com said:

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