|Wolf takes “City Newspaper” to task for its front page article “Labor’s Love Lost,” which she says falsely represents the American working class as the base of the new political right wing.
Sherry Wolf opened the Rochester Marxism Conference on October 15 with a strong message about how the many problems she sees in society can be traced back to capitalism.
“In a country that is multiracial, that is gay and straight and bisexual and transgender and Latino and Asian and everything else under the sun, it is absolutely crucial for the tiny minority of parasites at the top of society to pit the rest of us against each other,” Wolf told conference attendees in the Wallace Library Idea Factory. “Otherwise they haven’t got a chance.”
Wolf, a socialist author whose work includes “Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics, and Theory of LGBT Liberation,” also touched on the current political quagmire.
According to Wolf, while those in the tea party movement claim that Obama’s proposed increase in the highest-income tax rate (from 35 percent to 39.6 percent) is evidence of his socialism, this number is extremely low compared to what past conservative presidents like Eisenhower and Nixon implemented (91 percent and 70 percent, respectively). She suggested that the reason we have a deficit is because we have a “regressive” tax code.
“That’s how you get rid of the deficit: you simply tax the people who have the money,” said Wolf.
When asked what she had to say to those who are afraid of socialism, Wolf said we need to realize that we’re not living in 1953 and that McCarthyism is dead. Socialism, she says, is about having a society that isn’t run by billionaires, but rather by those who produce the wealth.
“Most people [under 35] don’t find that scary at all,” said Wolf. “What they find scary is the current situation where [their] generation is going to walk out of college with $200,000 in debt and no prospects of a job. That’s terrifying, and that’s capitalism.”
Though most attended because they agreed with what Wolf had to say, there were a few who had some disagreements with her or with the International Socialist Organization (ISO), who sponsored the conference.
Mike Andrews, a fourth year physics major, says he attended because he has an open mind and wanted to learn more about how socialists wanted to solve the problems facing the country. Unfortunately, all
he heard was “we hate the Neo-cons” and “Obama
is doing a bad job.” Meghan Castagno, a third year psychology major, attends ISO meetings and likes the concepts they present. She said “survival of the fittest” means
capitalism is more natural, which leaves her unsure of how to feel. “To me, everything about socialism seems like it can’t work because it’s so idealistic,” Castagno said.
Castagno also finds members of the ISO difficult to talk with on certain topics. “Like any organization — Tea Party, Socialists, Republicans, Democrats — they only want to talk to people who think like them, or are only a few degrees off,” she said.
Wolf concluded the talk by laying out why the country is turning to the right. To her, the Republican actions don’t represent what the country wants, and the fault lies with the Democrats who enable the Republicans to get away with it. An Obama speech about bipartisanship came just hours after his election, and she says that this was a decisive turn away from the desires of those who voted him into office.
“It is not sufficient to say that we can just hope for the best and hope that the Democrats will do the right thing next time,” said Wolf. “They have shown
themselves time and time again [they are] unwilling, unable, and, frankly, uninterested in fighting in our interests. We are going to have to do it ourselves.”