The Next Conversation: “Coming Out Communist”


Event Date: Thursday, May 16, from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. Admission is free. Tell your friends.

Location: Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle

The Summary

This time, we’re working with Red May, the annual vacation from capitalism, in a talk about coming out as a communist, or a socialist, or an anarchist. Read on below for details. And note the Thursday day and earlier time, a departure from our regular schedule.

The Guests

You’re the guests for this one.

The Story

Every so often, we’ve collaborated with Red May to look at some cultural element around Marxism, socialism, communism. This year we’ll be talking about what it means to come of age and decide that one is a communist.

Red May is an annual “month of radical events” in Seattle, a “vacation from capitalism.” an opportunity to turn red for a month, with workshops, discussions, book readings, parades, films, parties, and more. It’s a gathering of writers, activists, Marxist scholars, students, and curious vacationers. There’s a schedule of events on the website and on facebook.

Here is what the Red May calendar says about the  “Coming Out Communist” conversation:

None of us left the womb as a Communist, a Socialist, or an Anarchist. Odds are that neither of our parents raised us in any of these traditions. The American High School doesn’t really nurture them either (to put it mildly). And yet, as we grew older, somewhere along the way we realized that our identities had reddened. Most of us maintain, or try to, some connection with parents, our high school friends, our earlier life. How do we negotiate the gap between how they remember us and what we’ve become? Red May partners with John Boylan to stage an inquiry in the form of a conversation.

To add a little to that, most of us grow up politically in a frame that contains a limited set of options: Democrat, Republican, independent, and “I don’t care.” With the exception of the old red diaper babies, few of us grow up hearing about Uncle Karl as a bedtime story, or talking about the labor theory of value around the kitchen table at dinner. Coming to embrace communism or socialism as an adult can mean a real break with family and old friends, deciding to live a life that’s beyond the pale. 

How does that happen, and how do people negotiate the break? And maybe it’s not as straightforward as all that. What happens when we make unexpected discoveries, encountering the crusty old uncle or aunt who turns out to have had their own hidden history of radicalism?

Come talk about it.

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