I Just Went to a Communist Club Meeting. This is Why You Should Too.

By Jacob Miller

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

I have to admit that I felt slightly uneasy when I committed to attending a Rutgers "All Marxist-Leninist Union" meeting.

After all, some of the things that they list as being at the core of their message (equality, socialism, feminism...) are things that I either outright oppose, or that I feel are in no way necessary to advocate for in the proverbial "current year." On top of that, the things they list as being antithetical to their message (capitalism, conservatism, racism, fascism and even liberalism) are things that I either strongly support, or that I (again), do not feel are in any way necessary to fight against. Their Facebook page also shows a meme in which a police officer is intentionally singled out as undeserving of praise.

Marxist-Leninist Club Flyer 

Marxist-Leninist Club Flyer 

Now back to the meeting itself: When I first walked into the room, it was completely empty, so I had time to compose myself (and prevent my blood from boiling over). 

At 9 PM, established club members, as well as some other new members, came pouring in. My first thought was that they all looked like very friendly, normal students, and my second thought was that I now need to suspect "friendly, normal students" of being crypto-communists. 

Anyway, one of the Club leaders proceeded to hang up a Soviet Flag (it was only in hindsight that I realized how bizarre and surreal this was), and then the meeting officially commenced with a non-Marxist-related icebreaker: Name, major, and favorite cartoon

Then, we finally dived directly into the central tenets of communism. You can label communists many things, but at least in this case, "non-substantive" is not one of them. 

We were also treated to a formal presentation about the “Failings of Anarchism,” some more discussions about Marxist theory, and then a vote concerning future meeting topics (“LTV” or “Labor Theory of Value” won). 

I’d be remiss not to mention that I chose not to record the meeting. I am of the opinion that clandestine operations are, at least for now, best left to James O’Keefe. For that reason,  I cannot document the details, but I do remember the basic points that were made by the communist students: 

1. All historical developments can be reduced to class conflict (first there were the "kings and his subjects," then the "feudal lords and the serfs," now there is the "bourgeoisie and proletarians," etc…). Thus, it follows that this conflict and reorganization of society will continue until the advent of a workers' revolution and the institution of communism. Communism is a system in which there is no more (or perhaps limited (?)) class struggle, no more private property, and in which production is placed in the hands of the proletariat.  

2. There is a distinction to be made between “anarchists” and “communists.” While anarchists want to quickly uproot the capitalist system in the name of extreme individualism, communists are methodical, organized, and have a proper understanding of class conflict (one communist student even said that she considered anarchism to be nothing more than a display of adolescent rebellion).

3. Communist violence is often exaggerated or misrepresented.

I, and the many other non-communists in the room (one can only hope that the political dichotomy of the future is not divided between  "communists" and "non-communists") obviously disagreed with much of what was said. For example, one person -- in rebuttal to the club leaders -- said that Communism "denies fundamental aspects of human nature." As Milton Friedman put it, all people are ultimately selfish, and we need free markets to reign in that selfishness and create an incentive for people to produce. In a communist society (as the free market argument goes) such incentive will evaporate, productivity will diminish, and communism will fail.

To be fair, there were some things said that I found to be incredibly surprising. At one point, one girl mentioned that she hates the “identity politics” of many on the left since it "divides" the proletariat. This, in my opinion, was a view that deserved respect because of its consistent rejection of the racial obsessions of both the far-right and the left. Ironically, if you were to isolate that moment, you might have thought you were sitting in on a meeting of the Rutgers Conservative Union (especially if "proletariat" was to be replaced with "nation"). If Horseshoe Theory is legitimate, then it materialized right then and there.  

Ultimately, my point in writing this is not to deconstruct Communism. Rather, I want to encourage conservative students to make it a priority to talk with students who hold radically different opinions. This includes opening discussion to those on both the far left and the far right.  

I understand that Conservative students who regularly deal with leftists might not be eager to fit a communist club meeting into to their schedules. However, when dealing with people on the left during classes, we are usually talking about cultural Marxists and third-wave feminists, not sincere economic Marxists. Additionally, our interactions with leftism are usually in the form of lecture and monologue, not exchange and dialogue. 

Let me put it this way: I am not virtue signaling and saying we should "refrain from demonizing each other." Of course we should condemn the "other side" when we feel it is necessary -- that’s what politics is all about! However, if we are going to demonize each other, we should do it to each other's faces. That way, our conversations are more constructive, informative, and fun than the usual echo chamber.

Marxist-Leninist Club meetings are held in Scott Hall 221, every Thursday Night at 9 PM. Stop in once or twice this semester. Besides -- you have nothing to lose but your chains!