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One Struggle Creates Chapter on Campus

On Wednesday, Jan. 29, author, cartoonist and activist Stephanie McMillan visited Grinnell for a series of events surrounding her work as a founding member of the anti-capitalist, revolutionist group, One Struggle. Grinnell’s newly founded One Struggle chapter is the first on a college campus, and is slowly gaining support throughout the campus community.

“I decided this year … to entertain the idea of starting a One Struggle chapter knowing that it might not have enough support on campus,” said the organizer and head of the Grinnell chapter, Vincent Kelley ’16. “There was enough interest in people who seemed to think that such an analysis and an organization was needed on campus and we were eventually able to form a chapter here at Grinnell.”

McMillan’s interest in capitalism developed in her teens. A family member encouraged her to read a book on nuclear war, and soon McMillan began attending programs on the dangers of nuclear war. At each program, she was told to sign a petition or contact her local politicians to enact change. Discouraged by such a passive approach, McMillan sought more powerful and direct methods. One evening she heard a man giving a radical speech suggesting revolution.

“I thought revolution was in the past. Sometimes bringing that idea [that revolution is possible] to people is revolutionizing,” McMillan said. “We either risk standing still or we risk moving forward in a new way based on what we know about history.”

McMillan founded One Struggle 25 years ago. The group dissipated, but was restarted in 2010 and continues to fight for the rights of the working classes all over the world.

One Struggle now has chapters in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New York, Ontario and Grinnell, and has done work with Haitian laborers.

“There is an emerging workers’ struggle that is seeking cohesion and unity,” McMillan said. “There is an international movement to cope with the idea that capitalism is a global system now.”

McMillan’s talk “Capitalism Must Die!” on Wednesday evening enlightened the audience on her perspective on capitalism and its implications for our future.

Expressing her concern for our future society, McMillan said, “We are already in the position where we are risking the annihilation of all life on Earth. [This annihilation] is pretty much assured if we don’t do something drastic.”

McMillan’s ideal society devoid of capitalism would involve “getting rid of classes and class domination and making things sustainable.” Still, she insisted that it is a process and that the development of a future society sans capitalism would depend upon the needs and desires of its citizens.

Grinnellians have heeded her words, and the new chapter at the College is seeking solidarity amongst activists in the campus community and throughout the United States. Kelley spoke of the importance of McMillan’s visit.

“It is important … to build political unity with somebody working with One Struggle in another part of the country,” he said. “If we want to overthrow capitalism, we need to meet capitalism where it’s at right now, which is a global system. We can’t have exclusively local activism going on. We need to combat the system in all of its nodes … part of that is building political unity among organizations throughout the U.S. and beyond.”

Kelley also expressed his desire to expose Grinnellians to McMillan’s lesser known theory.

“[McMillan’s talk] is important for a lot of Grinnellians to hear because there is very little anti-capitalist theory on campus,” he said. “It’s just a marginalized discourse.”

Kelley also hoped to inspire more student involvement in Grinnell’s One Struggle chapter.

“[We hope] to potentially move them to be involved with One Struggle or to work as allies with us,” Kelley said.

McMillan also spoke of the importance of radical reform and the importance of solidarity.

“To think that you can make the change from the inside is a mistake,” she said. “We need to be able to be open-minded with each other and resolve our differences together as allies. … If you are trying to change society overall you are going up against some powerful interests who don’t want to see you doing that. We need to be able to defend our movement and defend our path forward.”

McMillan also held events on Thursday, Jan. 30, including an informal discussion on art and politics, as well as another talk entitled “Art is a Weapon.”

Kelley believed McMillan’s talks could provide information to help the Grinnell chapter of One Struggle realize its goals.

“If we want to wage a successful struggle, we have to take it seriously,” Kelley said. “[The events will help facilitate] dialogue about how our theory can be applied on the ground and in different contexts such as at Grinnell or the larger Midwest, and exactly what our chapter’s activities are going to look like.”

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