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Speaker gives speech on “The Case For Socialism Today”

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Paul D’Amato, the author of the book The Meaning of Marxism, came to Ohio University on Tuesday to give a talk titled, “The Case for Socialism Today.”

Sponsored by the Athens International Socialist Organization, D’Amato’s talk centered around what he called common misconceptions about socialism and capitalism as well as the exploitation of labor that capitalists economies have supposedly encouraged in society.

D’Amato, who is also the editor of The International Socialist Review, has been a self-proclaimed socialist since 1976. His talk Tuesday began with an argument against the misconception that human beings are fixed in their ways.

“There is no fixed way that human beings are,” D’Amato said. “We can change, we are capable of change, and in fact that’s a constant feature of our lives as human beings, this malleability and transformation.”

This argument lays the groundwork for D’Amato and socialists like him to break through the claims that capitalism is and will always be the United States’ chosen form of economy.

He then went on to point out that most Americans do not have a completely clear understanding of what socialism means. This became a source of confusion during President Obama’s run for office when some Americans labeled him a socialist.

D’Amato addressed that question as well as what it meant when Americans claimed to agree with socialist beliefs.

“[Socialism is] a society where the work that we do, we reap the benefits of, that is where wealth is redistributed so we don’t have poverty on one side … and extreme wealth on the other,” D’Amato said. “At the very least when someone says I like socialism better than capitalism they’re saying, ‘I think the wealth should be redistributed.’”

The next topic D’Amato touched on was the exploitation of labor that he said has been encouraged by a capitalist society. He explains that employees are essentially selling their labor to their employers and that they are getting underpaid for their work. D’Amato emphasized his point by referencing John D. Rockefeller.

“Rockefeller said at one point, ‘I’d rather make $100 off other people’s efforts, than $1 off my own efforts,’” D’Amato said. “The point being, ‘I’d rather exploit other people’s labor and make money off it than myself work,’ and that’s really the foundation of our society.”

The talk went on to hit on topics such as the why Socialist Russia failed and how capitalism was built on the backs of slaves creating a lasting oppression of black people.

After D’Amato finished his lecture with a question and answer portion. Students asked him questions relating to socialism such as how rape culture is related to capitalism’s supposed connection to the ownership of people. One student also brought up Bernie Sanders because he is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist. D’Amato and a few of the ISO members chimed in with their thoughts about his campaign.

“This is fantastic,” D’Amato said. “Look at how many Americans aren’t scared by socialism, look at how many people want a better world. It’s a recognition that millions of people in this country hate the way our society is.”

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