by Miranda Alpert (MTA – personal capacity)
For a long time, I was aware of politics only in a tangential way. I heard adults talking about elections, politicians, and occasionally my parents dragged me along to local protests and rallies.
I began to get politically active after attending the People’s Climate March in NYC in 2011. Over 300,000 people went, making it the largest climate march in history. People’s signs on the march linked various other important issues to the climate crisis—U.S. imperialism and war, famines and refugee crises, the lack of affordable clean energy and the power of fossil fuel lobbies, etc. This helped me realize that all these issues are connected.
Out of all the organizations at the march, the most visible were socialist organizations. I remember thinking that if the most vocal opponents of climate change were socialists, then I should learn more about socialism.
When I went to college, I went to the club fair held the first week and met members of what would become the Independent Socialist Group (ISG). After hearing what the group stood for, I knew I wanted to get involved. As a member of ISG, I learned about working class history from all over the world, and how we can draw out historical lessons that can be applied today. I liked how the books we read had relevance to political work we were doing on the ground, in the community, rather than just being in some sort of glorified book club.
ISG also is very active in union struggles and issues taken up by unions. For example, ISG was one of the first groups supporting the St. Vincent nurses’ strike in Worcester, MA, and ISG members were often on the picket line during the 301 days of the strike. ISG also held a joint meeting with members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA). This event was open to the community and featured nurses speaking about the conditions in their hospitals and why they were on strike.
Now that I’ve joined a union myself—the Massachusetts Teachers Association—I want to become active in my union and help organize workplace actions like those I’ve attended as a member of ISG.
While union density in the U.S. is low, unions are still a vital organization of the working class which have the potential to demand and win things like a living wage, better healthcare and time off, increased job protection, and more.
Being in ISG helps me learn about labor history and how to apply successful tactics to today. For example, having relevant demands that resonate with people and add militancy to improve the success of union campaigns and strikes. The understanding of Marxist theory and its application to organizing means ISG can help organize a strong fightback against capitalism.