For socialism after Sanders, students say ‘We don’t need to give anything up’

Zach Caldwell

The International Socialist Organization’s Austin branch met Wednesday evening in Parlin Hall to discuss the future of their movement. 

The event, titled “The Fight for a Socialist Future,” featured a presentation by Charles Holm, a graduate research assistant in Africa and African diaspora Studies. A crowd of local supporters and information seekers spanned ages and countries of origin, filling the classroom nearly to capacity. 

Siqi Jiang, history and Asian-American studies senior, announced that she attended the event because she is unable to discuss some of her political views with other more conservative history majors.

“I can’t talk politics anywhere else without starting a fight,” Jiang said.

Taking the podium alongside stacks of leftist literature, Holm quickly took aim at the remaining presidential front runners. 

Contrasting Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s signature slogan with a series of historical injustices from slavery to attacks on 1970s activists, he questioned whether the U.S. had ever been “great.” He was no less critical of Trump’s rival, characterizing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign as one vested in maintaining low expectations. 

Holm and other ISO vets were unified in their advocacy of Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

Mathematics senior Seth Uzman embraced the choice of Stein as a protest vote and part of a broader revolutionary effort. 

“We’re going to hear that we’re going to give up all these reforms. It’s going to slide back into hell,” Uzman said. “I think it’s important to remember that … we don’t need to give anything up.”

According to its website, the ISO is a national organization boasting membership in 40 U.S. cities, as well as worldwide linkages to socialist organizations abroad. Dedicated to “working toward a future socialist society, free of all exploitation and oppression,” the group advocates for a variety of causes ranging from LGBT advocacy to support for Palestinian liberation.

Presenting Marxist ideology as an alternative to what he calls “the racism, sexism and xenophobia that are firmly rooted in U.S. society,” Holm framed a series of ongoing social ills, including racial tensions and poverty as symptoms of capitalist shortcomings. When asked about the upcoming presidential election, Holm urged a focus on a broader political reform. 

“Jill Stein is awesome,” Holm said. “But there’s a question of how you actually build a revolutionary working class organization.”