by Polina Brik and Kevin Connolly
To many people it’s not immediately clear why communists would be interested in charitable activities, which are normally relegated to religious organizations and volunteer groups. By establishing bases of open operations, the Party can operate more efficiently and at a larger scale in every endeavor. Firm establishment in communities can lead to any level of political influence, which is paramount even if it only means propagandizing. Our objective is not to interfere with local politics, but to bring about political consciousness in our communities. We also would like to develop bases of interpersonal support that can extend from homeless and housing relief, to immigrant defense, and eventually to the replacement of political influence.
Community engagement is of a high priority in this endeavor. Consistent action is essential to building a repertoire with your community. By building familiarity with the members of your community you begin to build a network of support that you can rely on. If you have a network of people who recognize your integrity and reliability, then they will be available to assist you and provide material more readily. It is not easy to organize even a small contingent for regular service activity. In the field you will quickly learn to use the assets available to you through your community network. In this fashion, by forging personal relationships and organizational familiarity and trust, you can better forward your goals. Use these relationships to form a web into which you will throw your greatest priorities and challenges- the problems you intend to solve for your community.
During times of natural distress for the homeless, mostly the hot summer and freezing winter, extra material provided by outside organizations will be essential for your efforts. In addition to that, due to the persistent failures of the capitalist state to provide for its citizens, we call on workers and community organizers to help us in community-building in the times when people have to rely on food, clothes, and hygiene products distributed by the American Party of Labor.
When your community is familiar with your organization and actions, they will much more readily accept small ideological advancements. For example, say there exists a popular and progressive religious organization in your community. Normally this group would not participate in open displays of political ideology or agenda. However, if you have a history of positive action in the community, and perhaps a history or doing service alongside them, they will readily organize with you on matters much more politically important than perhaps they realize. By establishing yourself in the community, you might just be able to get the Bible Team to supply food for your communist labor barbecue.
This is a long term strategic project that will take serious time and dedication to bring into fruition. Never be afraid of how few you may be, or how little you may have. This work is thankless and is both physically and psychologically exhausting. Never forget that while you are supporting your community on behalf of the party and socialism, the party is supporting you on behalf of all people. As a party and a movement there is only room to grow, and our task can only become easier. There will come a time when capitalism in America will once again bring itself to crisis, when the people of our country will need more help than ever before, and when that time comes we will already be there.
The following article is an interview of a working class organizer who recently donated some monetary resources to Service to the People, volunteer-based program based in New Brunswick, NJ whose purpose is to distribute basic resources to homeless and poor people. Red Aid was established by American Party of Labor, Paul Robeson Division in October of 2016 and we continue to serve the community by providing basic goods. There are other divisions of our party which are involved in similar programs – one located in Orlando, FL, another in Austin, TX.
We asked Kadeem several questions about involvement in the community, the importance of revolutionary stance in organizing, and why people are scared of communism.
Kadeem was a Rutgers University student majoring in Labor Studies who graduated in 2015. He joined All Marxist-Leninist Union back in 2014 and was an active member. Recently, Kadeem donated to Service to the People. Kadeem believes that Red Aid is a valuable resource to the New Brunswick community.
P.B.: You pointed out why organizing in the community is important. Why is is important for you personally? How does it affect you?
Kadeem: It is important for me personally because I am a young poor Black male directly affected by, just to be specific, the crises of capitalism. I am affected directly by things like racism, police brutality as a part of racism, poverty, a lot of these things. And even if I was not affected, I can name tons of people who are. It is a part of being human – empathy, which is a reason why a lot of people get into socialism in the first place, get to organizing and protesting. Empathy. Speaking for those who cannot speak. Providing for those who aren’t being provided for. And this is the beauty of Service to the People. I know there are several revolutionary programs like Service to the People. Basically, you are stepping in where the state will not, for the people that the state has forgotten. I wouldn’t even say forgotten. The people who the state has consciously decided to ignore.
P.B.: What is the difference between charity work and Service to the People, in your opinion?
Kadeem: Charity work is not supposed to be the end goal. Service to the People is not just providing people food and shoes, and clothes, it is about building community and control over that community. I work in the state assistance. State assistance isn’t built to really address the concerns of people. That’s the point I can really expound on. But it’s not what [Red Aid] is. It is not meant to punish people, as state assistance does. Service is not like that – it is meant to be there consistently, to be flexible, whereas private charity suffers from the blows of the market. And again, Service to the People is not meant to be end-all be-all. It’s about survival pending revolution, what Huey [Dr. Huey P Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party] talked about. That’s how I see it.
P.B.: Would you like to say anything else to the Red Phoenix readers?
Kadeem: I want to get more people involved in organizing like you guys do. When it comes down to explaining things plainly — you guys do that. The beauty of Malcolm X is that he would keep things plain, using the things that are right around our face. I use radical imagination to envision that there is a different way. A lot of people are just kind of stuck. Sometimes it is hard to question the things around you because it seems to be just the way it is and this is how it is going to be. But it wasn’t always this way. We can point to different examples. For example, a lot of people are put off by communism because of the Cold War propaganda, people saying Soviet Union is bad, Cuba is bad, Venezuela is … you know. So a lot of myths circling around socialism and communism, and that is a huge barrier. If people can plainly understand that what you’ve been taught is wrong, then you get a little more nuanced knowledge about why certain things happen. You do not make excuses. You are not afraid to defend a lot of great things, which certainly need to be defended. But none of it is, in my experience, really hard to understand once the things are explained. Programs like this can expose the limits of liberalism, and how it can only go so far as to offer temporary solutions to ingrained problems of capitalism.