How I Became a Socialist – Ryan Park (16)

Democracy is the road to socialism” – Karl Marx

I remember when I was younger, about 9-years-old. I was at my gran’s house and when I was in the kitchen talking to her, I noticed a black and white picture of a bearded man with a beret. Not knowing the name of this man, despite seeing his face countless times at my gran’s house, I asked my gran who he was, and she replied with a name I had never heard before – Ché Guevara. Intrigued, I asked what he did? My gran told me that he was a freedom fighter from Argentina. That was enough to satisfy the 9-year-old me. It was not however, enough to satisfy the 13-year-old me, so I googled him, finding out more about what he did, which was apparently to take the lives of many innocent people in the name of “Communism”. Not knowing exactly what communism was at the time, I assumed it was something bad, that’s what the media told me so it must be true, right? Wrong. I questioned my grandad on why he had posters of a mass murdering communist and when he answered the reply was not what I was expecting. He explained to me that he wasn’t a mass murderer and that he was in fact a socialist guerilla fighter who assisted Fidel Castro in the Cuban revolution to establish a socialist state. He also explained to me what socialism, communism and capitalism are.

Che Guevara

Let me offer my definition of these three systems after hearing my grandads’ explanations: socialism is a political and economic system which advocates that the means of production and services such as: energy, transport, health/pharmaceutical, etc. should be owned and regulated by the public to create a society where people are more equal. Communism is similar in the way that the community owns everything, and each person contributes and receives according to their ability and needs. Capitalism on the other hand, is a system in which the country’s trade, enterprise and means of production are privately owned by big companies to create profit for the owners of the companies in question rather than owned by the state to better the people living in the country. Capitalism then leads to the exploitation of the workers, the proletariat, which then leads to a class war between the workers and their upper-class bosses, who Marx referred to as the bourgeoisie.

Karl Marx

So, after many discussions with my grandad and attending rallies and meetings I made my mind up on socialism. I choose to be a socialist, so call me comrade, as I have considered myself a full-fledged ‘red under the bed’ since just before I turned 14-years-old. Having learned more about the theory and the many benefits that the system brings to a country, how could I turn my back on a political theory that helps the people who need to be helped and strives to attain equality among the workers of the world while taxing the rich at levels they deserve to be taxed at?

I don’t care how many people tell me “communism doesn’t work!” or claim that I support regimes that kill millions of people, which is often blamed on so-called tyrants who ran supposed oppressive regimes in which nobody was equal. I would say that the “failure” of communism and socialism is in fact down to the greedy western capitalists who spread vile lies about the collectivist states and fought off the red threat as they feared a socialist uprising in their own country. This happened in our own country. Not Britain, but Scotland. It was January 1919, and the bourgeois swine in Glasgow sent word to the Tories in Westminster as they feared a socialist revolution in their money hole, Scotland. So, what they did was send English, not Scottish as their loyalty to the crown was questionable, soldiers including: tanks, snipers and machine gun nests. Police battered innocent and unarmed civilians all to silence this “revolution” from spreading. Does this sound familiar? If this was a communist or socialist state acting like this, I am certain that this evil would be taught in schools. Thousands of workers were beaten, arrested and some even killed. Families were waking up to the news of dead or arrested fathers, uncles and grandfathers. Why? All because they wanted to reduce their long working week and reduce unemployment. I have been radicalised and there’s no turning my support to capitalism. I will show my support for socialism no matter how stacked the odds are against me.

One of my big inspirations and someone important to my journey into socialism, excluding my grandad and historical figures, is Scotland’s own working-class hero: Tommy Sheridan. A close friend of my grandparents and a significant figure in Scottish socialism, Tommy has been against the establishment head to head on several occasions and has beaten them every time since the 80s. He campaigned for the Poll Tax to be abolished in Scotland and won. He fought the law and the law didn’t win when his war on Warrant Sales ended in a victory. He also played a significant role in the campaign to eradicate bedroom tax in Scotland too.

Tommy Sheridan

It was also the story of his court case that turned me against the establishment and solidified my socialist ideals. Tommy was deemed too dangerous, so they kneecapped him by creating smear stories that were plastered on the front of every tabloid in Scotland, the News of the World being the worst, dedicating 5 pages to smearing him on one Sunday in November and 3 pages the following week. During his legal battle against their shameless defamation attempt they spread more and more lies with every page. And the worst thing, his own party, who he had led to victory in 1999 and 2003, stabbed him in the back. This was a very sad and depressing situation.

Socialism has undoubtedly shaped me into the person I am and changed my view of the world around me. It led me to pursue Philosophy, a subject which I now consider to be one of my favourites, and made me read the works of communist philosophers such as Karl Marx, Friedrich Engles and Leon Trotsky. It has got me more politically involved, leading me to join a political party known as Solidarity – Scotland’s Socialist Movement or Solidarity for short. Socialism has made me support Scottish independence from the UK and EU for more reasons than just the aversion I feel toward the government and the abysmal “union” that Europe has going. Socialism has also given me more confidence, which might sound strange but, it has made me speak up on my opinions and beliefs to friends and teachers alike, even to the point where I requested that Tommy comes in and speaks to the Higher Modern Studies classes, but that got denied. So, socialism has had a very large impact on my life and has shaped me into the person I am today. Socialism has shaped my view of the world, it has opened my eyes to the undemocratic society we are trapped in. In the future, socialism will still be a huge part of how I act as I will continue to pursue a socialist Scotland and continue to speak up against the horrifyingly unjust and controlling establishment that wants to rule this country with an iron fist. I will vote Solidarity in elections. I will continue spreading my left-wing messages. And I will try to help the needy as much as I can.

Leon Trotsky (top) and Friedrich Engels (bottom)

So, my journey in socialism hitherto has been summed up but is far from finished and that same poster of Ché Guevara that kickstarted my journey now hangs on my wall filled with hope that one day Scotland will be a prosperous, independent socialist republic.

Ryan Park

This article was written by one of our Youth Members, Ryan Park as a school essay and does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or policy of Solidarity as a whole

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