• Sona Chaturvedi

The Accidental Marxist

Writer Sona Chaturvedi explains how she came to view herself as a Marxist living in a capitalist society.

I never considered myself a Marxist, just a left-leaning Democrat who cares about social and economic justice.  I grew up in the 70’s. Gloria Steinman made her mark with Ms. Magazine and famously said, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman to run for president. Roe v. Wade came to the Supreme Court. The Equal Rights Amendment was almost ratified. White America watched “Roots” in horror, as they learned the true history of slavery in America. AND the wealthy paid their fair share of taxes.  I don’t think it was the perfect time, of course, but we were trying.  As time marched on and our politics changed so dramatically, from a more inclusive and progressive era to now, I have been forced to reconsider my beliefs.  Not enough was done when it came to race relations, women’s rights and economic justice, but we were on an open path and had the level of social discourse needed to go in the right direction and make real change possible. It all changed. It all went backward, and we were forced to confront a new reality. As with every change, it happened gradually. We were fed lies on a constant basis, weakening our resolve toward striving for a just union in all aspects of life, particularly with regard to economics.  It all ties together in diabolical disguise. First, by demonizing women for working outside the home, keeping us oppressed and reduced to homemakers and beauty contestants. Second, by keeping people of color oppressed through offering up the hard-work-solves-all myth. Finally, by being told we would be taken care of by the wealthy. These factors have led us exactly to where we are now. It ALL works together to keep us fighting amongst ourselves, so the power structure remains predominantly white and male.  Enter Karl Marx and the concept of hegemony. Hegemony is about maintaining control ideologically so that the values of the bourgeoisie become common-sense values for all. In other words, twisting our mindset so that only what the RICH think matters.

Now, it’s OUR fault if we aren’t living up to their ideals. WE are the problem. Dependence on any kind of social programs, affirmative action or charitable assistance of any kind is to be viewed as derelict and lazy.  It’s become so disproportionate that the affluent are in denial about their own class and privilege. To maintain their sense of self-worth, elites tend to exaggerate their own hardships to justify their privilege. This denial of class privilege is akin to the denial of systemic racism. In this new reality, we scrounge to keep every ounce for ourselves, our loved ones and have absolutely no sense of social or economic justice for all.  This isn’t new. This is what the writing of Marxism is about. For a more perfect union, safeguards must be in place for all who need it. With the coronavirus, the glaring gap in the way the wealthy adapt is wildly out of reach to most of us. Yet, these elites still complain about their circumstances, whether it be a celebrity pretending we are equal from her bathtub full of rose petals, or billionaires not being able to choose in which of their many homes to quarantine.   Our reality is spinning out of control. Empires have failed with more than what we have. In order to avoid becoming a sad footnote to history, we should all read The Communist Manifesto, not for the lie we have been sold -- that it is against American values -- but to save ourselves, our future and our union.  Karl Marx may have said, “I am not a Marxist,” but I am saying that I am. I want us to pay attention. I don’t want another capitalist, demagogue president like Trump.  Melania may not care, but I do, do you?