Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Socialist Youth

Tino Rozzo
As a youngster, I guess one being aware of there class would have Socialist inclinations.
I was raised in the industrial town of Paterson NJ.
My family worked in factories and where low wage earners. My father constantly touted Socialism. I wondered what it was. I went to the now defunct Library on Madison and 6Th Ave and pulled out a book on the three isms.
Capitalism, Socialism, and Fascism. I was sold. I new where I stood. I was a Socialist.
That is where I found my favorite Marxist book, “Das Kapital”
It must have caught on earlier because my father factory was a Union shop. We went on Union picnics and most of my hero’s where Union people. Back in the late 1960’s Unions where very relevant.
I used to go to my mothers factory. There where other factories around. I used to watch the workers come out and they all looked dismal and tired. I remember one man who seemed exhausted and dirty. He wore grey cover alls. No one in the factories seemed happy to be there.
We also had outside class warfare. Paterson was considered low and the kids from the wealthier towns used to come and do something racist called “Whack a n****r day”
Our gang put a stop to that.
Many times the wealthier kids would find kids from Paterson and beat them up. Of course we would retaliate.
One thing that was constantly stressed when you where with wealthy kids. The future was for them, your just going to work. They where the future we where not.
People who worked for a living where paid low, but in the early 70’s the pay check went much further. Capitalism attacked in the early 70 with the fake gas crisis. Forcing oil to go up.
Gerry Ford was President. Suddenly there where shortages everywhere. Sugar, Milk, Wheat, peanuts, you name, Inflation was the economic condition. Ford had distributed WIN buttons, (Whip Inflation Now). As President he was a big joke. That is when it really sunk in. Capitalism was evil and had to go. Bu there was no revolution.
I watched Doctors rip apart patients in the name of profits. People went into poverty.
We needed National Healthcare. Still do.
The Vietnam War took many innocent lives, People came home in rather horrible health.
The Vietnam War was a miserable, illegal, and immoral war that destroyed a lot of lives.
Some friends and I played a little joke one day. It was winter and we whore those Russian style hats with ear muffs. My friend,, Communist, brought Red Stars to school one day and we stuck them on our hats. The teacher yelled at us. “Take those stars off, don’t you know that is the symbol of our enemy. Once in a while we would salute the flag with the Nazi salute.”
The Socialist Workers and Socialist Labor Party was active. I used to Read “The People.”
We frequently saw Socialist posters on the walls of the factories.
Ah our rebellious youth! Me and my Communist friend would go to the rail road bridges. We found paint and would graffiti Socialist slogans. My favorite one was ‘ The only Solution is Socialist Revolution.”
Socialist propaganda was painted all along side of those bridges .
(For those who live in Passaic County, they are the three bridges on Wabash Ave not far from Lafayette.)
I didn’t find the Socialist Party USA till my early twenties. It was the 1980’s and Reagan was about to destroy America.
I was actively involved with the Socialist people there. (That is when I discovered a lot of insincerity, ersatz intellectuals, and dilettantes) Michael Harrington was king of that circuit.
Getting a job at a electronics plant fueled my Socialism. My boss put up anti socialist propaganda about how we are more productive than the Soviet Union.
I told him maybe the USSR wasn’t as shallow and materialistic as we where.
I seen to many people come and go, and they are all the same.
I used to go to the Revolutionary Bookstore, when it was on 10th street in NYC.
The people there, well, had personalities. there I discovered Debs and Thomas.
Back to my misspent socialist youth.
I spent a good deal of my high school years involved in Leftist Politics. Going to protests.
Preaching the Socialist gospel. I never imagined when I grew up I would actually run for office. At 18 I voted in my first Presidential election . And I voted for David McReynolds and Sister Diane Drufenbrock.
Back to High School. I wrote a paper on Marxism and Socialism in which I received an A. I wish I still had that paper.
Some teacher got upset with me because they where died in the wool Capitalists. The system works! If one of NJ over paid teachers.
The Cold War was on. The message was “America is a free country, one can be anything they want’ In Russia they tell you what you are going top be.” I found when I graduated High School, that was anything but true. I was met with much Anti-Italian racism and discrimination.
Through out High School I was frequently turned down for jobs because I wasn’t the right religion or ethnic. This even went into my adulthood.
There was also fear of nuclear wars. Russia wanted to bomb us everyday. They even made movies out of nuclear fear, like “Zero Hour”. Twilight Zone and “Outer Limits” frequently had shows depicting nuclear annihilation.
I regret not finding the Sp earlier. It would be nice to have been a YPSL member. My loss.
Here I am now, still Socialist after all these years.