Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Real Socialism 101" - An interview with Sherry Wolf

This interview was conducted by Derek Washington and first published on his Blog.



Probably the best thing that I personally gained from working as Director of Diversity & Outreach for the National Equality March (NEM) this fall was that I got to meet so many incredible people.

My faves were the ones who made me think about things I never really cared about before. Sherry Wolf is an unabashed Socialist in an age where every right wing mouth breather uses that word as a pejorative. While my own tastes run towards activism with a soupcon of Prada, Sherry speaks with such eloquence and plain common sense that I can't help but want to know more about her ideas and convictions.

To sate that need, I asked Sherry a few questions. The Lady did not disappoint.

Herewith, a few questions for Sherry Wolf, author of "Sexuality & Socialism".




WHY SOCIALISM?
You mean why would I reject a system like capitalism rooted in rapacious greed, imperial arrogance and built on slavery in which racist, sexist and homophobic divisions are required for a minority to control their ill-gotten-gain to embrace a socialist political system and ideology based on human need over profit? Well, I guess I just answered your question.

ARE YOU A SOCIALIST OR A LESBIAN FIRST?
Like you, a Black gay man, I don't have the ability to separate out the various aspects of my personal identity. Though clearly someone's politics or sexual preferences are not the same as their skin color and there are different histories to these identities. That said, my world view and daily practice are rooted in an understanding of society that is unabashedly pro-underdog and anti-bigshot.

The fact that I am a lesbian in a society where gays are oppressed clearly plays a role in shaping that perspective, but there are plenty of wealthy lesbians who couldn't give a hoot about the obvious class fissures in our society. Sharing with them a desire for sex and intimacy with women doesn't overcome the wider class divisions in society or among LGBT people. In other words, I'm a commie dyke (who's also a fallen Jew!).

ARE YOU TILTING AT WINDMILLS BY ESPOUSING SOCIALISM IN SUCH A CENTER RIGHT COUNTRY AS THE USA?
In recent polls, one-third of people under 30 prefer socialism to capitalism in this country and just 53% of all American adults think capitalism is superior to socialism. Aside from polls I have my own life experience to judge from, greater numbers of people by far are attracted to socialist ideas today than at any previous period in the last 25 years. Essentially, free-market capitalism is exposed as a casino where the house always wins—Derek, you should know that living in Vegas!

We are no longer, if we ever were a center-right country. What we need is greater numbers of people to get organized as socialists and build a stronger and more vocal left, there's an organizational and ideological vacuum out there that needs to be filled.

WHY DID YOU TAKE A LEADERSHIP ROLE IN THE NEM?
I was over-the-moon when I read about the march and thought it was exactly the right call at the right time. I immediately called people about how to get involved, including Cleve Jones whom I had never met before. He called me back on July 4th, assuming a socialist wasn't celebrating. In fact, I was with 1,000 other socialists in San Francisco that day speaking at a conference and we all began to gear up to organize people to get to the march right then.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE WAY THE MARCH WAS TREATED BY THE MAJOR NATIONAL LGBT ORGS?
Predictably, they came on board late, did little to nothing to build it and now are taking credit for its successes. That is the way corporate opportunists operate, so I'm hardly surprised by the flagrant opportunism of HRC, for example, that sent out the first notice about the march on the morning it took place and after President Obama spoke at their dinner—naturally, they were asking for money. Shameful and predictable all at once. It's why we need Equality Across America to project the activist vision our march gave expression to—Gay Inc's vision is narrow and its strategy is bankrupt.

IS THEIR TIME OVER?
HRC and co. have money and media, they will continue for quite some time. And to be clear, I do draw a distinction between their leaderships and the rank-and-file who take no part in shaping their strategy, but volunteer many hours to work for them. But they are a political butter churn—quaintly anachronistic, but utterly useless in practice.

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