OK, that heading is too precious by half, and yet it stays, because it does express something I want to express. The title and subtitle of this blog ought to be clear enough but I fear that what I write often isn't. I'm nobody's paragon of a communist reader and commentator. I am on the one hand too unschooled, utterly unschooled in fact, in literary matters; nor can I on the other hand claim mastery of the depths of Marxist thought in matters socioeconomic or artistic. Still I think I have an angle that's perhaps worthwhile. There are many analysts, many academics who style themselves as Marxist but, well I've just got to say it, none of them as far as I can see ever scuff their marching shoes, ever spend a night in jail, ever devote days and nights to stuffing envelopes or making phone calls or pasting up posters or taking union sign-up cards door to door or walking picket lines or blocking entries to struck factories or writing fliers or handing out fliers or confronting racist cops or blocking evictions. They never, in other words, do any of the thousand and one things that add up to the actual essence of Marxism: organizing the workers and oppressed, fighting the ruling class, doing the work, grand and petty, that must be done if the project of revolutionary socialism is ever to come to fruition. At the university where I work, for example, there are quite a few "Marxist" academics, none of whom has ever lifted a finger in serious, meaningful support of the workers when we've been on strike or in other confrontations with the bosses. They no doubt write great books, but they're writing for each other and it's hard for me to understand how such work contributes to the actual class struggle.
Wait. I hadn't meant to go off on a rant against left academics. It arises in part, I suppose, out of feeling defensive about my shortcomings as a literary analyst. I'll leave it here, though, while getting back to the point at which I was aiming. Which is that I blog here because, for all my shortcomings, I like to think that what I bring to the conversation--the viewpoint of a worker and activist who is also a reader and writer--is worthwhile. But the most important thing is the struggle. I read because I love to, it's my favorite thing to do in life; I write fiction because I have to, I'm somehow compelled to; I blog to spout off my two cents--but none of this matters the way fighting for socialism matters. Which is not to say there's anything wrong with it, and of course I hope that my fiction will eventually, should it ever start getting read by anyone, have some small impact, be some small contribution--but the main thing is the fight.
So. Took me long enough to get to it, but this is an invitation. As anyone who follows Read Red has surely inferred, I belong to a party: Workers World Party. Maybe in another post some time soon I'll write about why I joined WWP 28 years ago, what my life in the party has been and how it interrelates with my artistic life. For now, this: WWP is in my opinion the leading force for revolutionary socialism in this country; it has been in the lead in every major struggle, from anti-war and anti-intervention to anti-racist and pro-labor, over the last 50 years, beginning with staging the very first protest against the Vietnam war; it is the only left party that supports every country struggling to build socialism, every instance of resistance to imperialism, every movement for liberation, every outbreak of the class struggle at home and worldwide. It is in my view the place to be if you want to take your place as an active participant in the fight.
In two weeks WWP will mark its 50th anniversary and set the course for the coming period at a national conference here in NYC. I can guarantee this will be an exciting, invigorating gathering of folks from around the country, from many different communities and with varied experiences. I'm guessing there'll even be a touch of culture crammed in here and there--some music, some dance, some spoken-word poetry--for those of us who like roses as well as bread.
I invite you. Come to New York Nov. 14-15. If you need a ride, email me; chances are someone's coming from your neck of the woods. If you need a place to stay, email me and I'll try to hook you up. If you come to the conference, find me (yeah, we wear dorky name tags all weekend) and we'll do lunch or something.
Reading is great. Writing is wonderful. Fighting to fix the world--not just reading or writing about it, but doing the work--is best of all. Hope to see you in two weeks.