When I was in high school, back in the 1980s, one of my classmates was a communist. You hear Tea-Party-types today getting themselves all in a lather about President Obama’s “socialism”, but this guy was the genuine article: he belonged to the Progressive Labor Party, a Stalinist group founded by people who were kicked out of the Communist Party USA for being too left-wing. He was a lean, square-jawed guy who would enthusiastically explain the ideology of class struggle to anyone who would listen, and he had an air of intellectual intensity that was... very Lenin-like. I could totally see him living for weeks on end in a cave, living on military rations and preparing for a march on the capital; I could also see him calmly signing a death warrant for a former comrade who had been convicted of counter-revolutionary activity.
Anyway, since then there was the collapse of the Soviet Union, and since then we’ve had Occupy Wall Street. Furthermore, the Internet provides ways for like-minded people to reach each other, and to convince not-so-like-minded people, that were completely unavailable when I was a teenager. In sum, I have no idea what “hard left” high-school students are like these days. So if you know such a student—or if you are such a student—I would love to know:
- What parties/factions/movements do such folks belong to? (Is that whole “belong to an organized political party” thing a very 20th-century idea?) Which particular writers (incl. bloggers) are they inspired by?
- How do they fit into, or clash with, the social environment of their school? What kind of relationships do they have with classmates who don’t agree with them ideologically?
- What kind of volunteer work do they do on behalf of their causes?
- What relationships do they have with people who share their ideology—either people their age at other schools, or elders in the movement? A political movement, like a high school, has its own internal social structure; how do they fit into it?
- How do they see their identity (gender, race, sexuality, economic class) as informing their politics?