By LISA M. NAGY
(Note From Caleb: I didn't write this! My way cool friend Lisa M. Nagy did! Thanks again Lisa!)
A national student organization has opened a chapter on the Baldwin-Wallace College campus, thanks to the efforts of one second-year political science major.
Caleb Maupin is currently writing the charter for FIST (Fight Imperialism-Stand Together) which he aims to complete by December. FIST was formed under the belief that imperialism and capitalism are the causes of injustice in society, and only socialism can bring about true liberation for all citizens.
Maupin’s academic advisor, Dr. Mark Mattern, acts as faculty advisor to the group. “I agreed to serve as advisor because I believe that student activism is very important. I would like to see FIST raise awareness of issues and of alternative views on those issues,” he said.
FIST membership is currently open, and Maupin stated approximately 10 students have joined him in his efforts thus far.
Maupin said his plans for member activity will include efforts to raise awareness on topics such as the fight against racism, sexism, and the exploitation of the working class. He said the group will also organize guest lectures and participate in national events, such as the demonstration in Washington demanding the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq in September.
Maupin referred to FIST as an organization “of action,” and said he hopes it will provide a forum where students may become active in informed debate.
Interest in FIST on campus has been limited, however Maupin understands that many students must work as well as attend college and simply do not have the time to commit to extra-curricular activities.
In spite of this, Maupin said he feels that student involvement is changing, and sees his classmates as becoming more passionate about the issues. “Students today have a lot more to lose than they did during the time of the Vietnam War, for instance. Back then, if you lost your job due to protesting or radical behavior, you could walk across the street and find another one the same day. Today there is no job security, you have to watch what you say and do,” he said.
Professor Charles Burke, chair of the political science department at B-W, says he sees the sort of lonely path chosen by those who commit themselves to an unpopular stance as a “hard role, but a useful one.”
Burke said he views FIST as having its utility on campus and feels it is better to have the group than not. “Be happy we live in a country where speaking out against the government is tolerated,” he said.
Maupin said he first became interested in communism about the age of ten, when much of his time was spent in the library where his mother worked, reading “The Communist Manifesto” and “Das Kapital,” by Karl Marx. He said his father sparked an interest in working class solidarity in him as he educated him on the 1917 Russian Revolution.
Maupin said he continued to read about socialism and communism throughout his youth, yet dreamed of writing horror movies until Sept. 11, 2001, when he said his views of reality were changed forever.
He remembers feeling as though he were the only one questioning the “blind patriotism” which seemed to take over society after the attacks. He said he knew the terrorists must have had reasons for the extreme acts, but no one around him seemed to care what they might be.
At Orville High School, Maupin considered himself to be the only student who objected to the war in Iraq. He claims to have been physically assaulted by a fellow student and verbally accosted by the school librarian for his views, yet he held on to his values and became a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party during his sophomore year. Maupin said he ended his involvement with the RCP as he began to realize its mission consisted more of indoctrination and less of the action he felt necessary to promote change.
At the U.S. Labor against War convention in 2006, Maupin was introduced to the Workers World Party, which he remains a member of today. He said he values the way in which the party demonstrates respect for the oppressed and understands that communities have the right to solve their own problems. Maupin said he does not believe in forcing views onto others, or blind adherence to an ideology based on power differentials.
FIST was created by youth members of the Workers World Party around the time of the Republican National Convention in 2004. Currently, the largest chapter of FIST is located in North Carolina, with chapters in California and New York City following close behind.
A few students on campus have referred to Maupin as “anti-American.” In response to this, he wondered aloud why he would be working toward a better economy and healthcare for the people if this were true. Maupin stated that he is a socialist because he loves his country and he believes in democracy for all.
He does, however, openly admit to hating the American government. “I hate the CIA. I disagree with the prevalent ideas in this society,” he said. In spite of this he said he does not want to live anywhere else, or even study abroad. He said he is loyal to his country, and vowed to work toward “liberty and justice for all” until the day he dies.
Mark Mattern supports Maupin’s efforts. “Caleb is to be commended for his political activism. Whether or not one agrees with his political stances, he is a model of engaged global citizen. He is fearless in expressing his views, even when they cut WAY against the grain of contemporary political culture in the U.S. He is also willing and able to listen to others with different views, and engage in constructive dialogue with them,” he said.
Students may join FIST by emailing Maupin at email@example.com, join the Facebook groups “B-W FIST,” and “FIST” or find information at http://fistyouth.wordpress.com/. ###
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