Monday, March 15, 2010

In The Great Recession, Socialism Sells

In The Great Recession, Socialism Sells
By Shareen Pathak

The Socialist Party’s chapter in New York City has a brand new member. Kimberley Ortiz, 25, is a single mother from the Bronx who had never heard of socialism until six months ago, when her co-worker handed her a piece of paper with the details of the Socialist Party’s next meeting.

“He told me, there is a word for what you believe in,” she says. “Socialism.”

Ortiz attended the meeting, and the one after that, and the one after that. She became an official member of the party on Feb. 12.

The economic crisis may have sounded a death knell for investment banks, construction companies and countless small businesses, but there are some groups that are benefittng from the general malaise. Alternative political movements such as communism and socialism are hoping that some Americans will go outside the mainstream and adopt a socialist ideology, breathing new life into these organizations.

“I want to put a normal face on socialism, which looks like this big scary thing for most people,” says Ortiz, who has been working alongside party members, translating fliers into Spanish and handing them out. She says that she has been seeing a steady increase in the number of new faces at every meeting.

“I want more people like me to join, single moms and regular people, y’know?”

Officials from the Communist Party USA and the Socialist Party USA say they have never seen such interest from Americans as they see today. A poll conducted by Rasmussen in 2009 showed that 20 percent of Americans favor socialism over capitalism, with more support among younger people. Of adults under 30, 37 percent of them said socialism was the better choice.

Though Ortiz had never heard of socialism, she thinks that in her own way, she had always been championing its cause. “I had been inquiring about a union at my workplace, and pointing out unjust and unfair treatment,” says Ortiz, who works in food services at the Statue of Liberty. “I work my tail off at this job and I don’t get paid what I deserve, and being a woman doesn’t help my chances at promotion either.”

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1 comment:

  1. It would be nice if the Socialist Party could "capitalize" on this recession and try to recruit new members.