FIST member defends socialism
Published Mar 16, 2008 7:44 PM
Caleb Maupin of FIST
at WWP conference.
WW photo: John Catalinotto
“I learned about a time in the history of this country when
people worked for literally pennies an hour ... worked 12-hour shifts ... and
when children worked in factories ... when organizing a union was a crime ...
when Black men were being lynched ... the Vietnam War in which 4 million
Vietnamese lost their lives ... and while all of this was going on what did
they say about the people that were organizing against this? They said what
they really want is socialism; they are a bunch of communists. I learned that
the first gay rights organization was founded by Harry Hay, a proud member of
the Communist Party. And I learned that in women’s liberation ... the
suffragists contained many socialists and many revolutionaries. And it was
learning all of this that made me think maybe these communists and socialists
aren’t so bad.”
Students and community members gathered at Baldwin-Wallace College on March 3
to hear two students debate socioeconomic ideology. The event, entitled
“Socialism vs. Capitalism,” took place in Berea, Ohio, a suburb of
On the side of socialism was Caleb Maupin, a member of Fight Imperialism-Stand
Together (FIST). Defending capitalism was Timothy Davey, a member of Pi Lambda
Phi. Both are students at Baldwin-Wallace College and contributors to the
college’s newspaper. The debate was initiated through the newspaper,
where the two first began to debate their socioeconomic beliefs through
This first student-organized debate in the history of Baldwin-Wallace College
began with opening statements by both participants. Maupin explained how his
reading of history brought him to socialism (see quote above). To stress the
importance of the timing of such a debate, he emphasized the current war and
economic crisis, including foreclosures and evictions in which Cleveland is
second only to Detroit, the mass layoffs and the statistic that 11.9 percent of
the families in the U.S. are food insecure. Maupin ended with the following:
“I was taught in school when I was growing up that we have a government
of the people, by the people, for the people. But one thing I have come to
understand is that in this country we have a government of the rich, by the
rich and for the rich. What we advocate as socialists is that the people should
have control of society.”
In his introduction Davey stated, “I can’t prove to you
numbers-wise that capitalism is the best but what I will do is point to the
countries that have tried to implement socialism.” Davey cited the Soviet
Union, which he claimed failed because of the “abysmal living standards
placed on the citizens of the country” and that the growth of the USSR
economy was “inflated by the fact that they had surrounding countries
that they sold their products to that they ultimately controlled.”
Davey did not acknowledge, however, the strong attacks that socialist
countries, including the USSR, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
and Cuba, have had to face from imperialist forces such as the U.S. He also
failed to acknowledge the situations where the USSR traded with developing
countries in order to help them boost their economies with little or no benefit
to the USSR. Davey cited other negative occurrences in socialist countries in
his defense of capitalism.
In rebuttal, Maupin pointed out that the economic, health and cultural levels
of the people in the former Soviet Union dropped enormously after capitalism
was restored in 1991. He emphasized how socialist countries, particularly Cuba,
have dealt with and rid themselves of the products of
capitalism—including racism, sexism, homophobia, unemployment, and lack
of healthcare, education, housing and social programs.
When asked about the current wage cuts, layoffs, evictions, foreclosures and
lack of education and healthcare in the U.S., Davey admitted to the downfalls
of capitalism but insisted, though without any current references, that an
altered form of capitalism could remedy these problems.
Some questions included in the debate had been previously agreed on; others
were submitted by the audience. These involved the history of former and
current socialist countries, the growing divide between the rich and the poor
in capitalist countries, the relation of socialism to democracy, and the
material nature of both capitalism and socialism.
Each party was given 10 minutes for closing remarks. Caleb Maupin gave a call
to action on the part of the people for a socialist revolution. Timothy Davey
continued his stance that capitalism is the best socioeconomic system despite
its obvious contradictions.
To hear the debate in its entirety, visit fistyouth.wordpress.com.
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