Socialist Fightback Edmonton seeks to grow itself and educate its members on Marxist ideals, but their ultimate goal is to overthrow capitalism.
“Fightback” is the name of the International Marxist Tendency Movement in Canada (known as La Riposte in Québec). The Edmonton branch of Fightback was started last year by Ted Sprague, who has previously organized branches in Toronto and Montreal. The club has already grown to 13 members, and they hope to grow to 20 by next year.
U of A English student Andrew Brown said he joined the organization because it reflected his views, and that given their current small size they have to be “aware of their limitations.”
“We’re too small to organize any protests ourselves,” he said. “But if there is another protest we go support it and make contact with the people there.”
In addition to attending protests, the club frequently hosts private and public discussion groups to deliberate and educate themselves in socialist ideas. Recent events have included a talk on Marxism and the environment at the U of A, and a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution.
For open studies student Laine Sheldon-Houle, Bernie Sanders’ campaign to be the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee inspired him to get involved with socialist ideas.
“When (Bernie Sanders) was treated so poorly by the Democratic Party, I started to think that the state served a lot of the purposes of the ruling elite, and it led me to contact a Marxist organization,” he said. “I wanted to learn more about the philosophy.”
MacEwan journalism student Zoey Scott said she thinks capitalism must be dismantled because of the role it plays in sexism and racism.
“Those are things that happen as a result of exploitation and as a result of improper power balance,” she said. “Socialism doesn’t have that improper power balance like capitalism inherently does.”
Other socialist groups in Edmonton include the Young Communist League and the Edmonton branch of the Industrial Workers of the World, both of which Socialist Fightback Edmonton view as “disorganized.”
“That leaves a vacuum where we fit in,” he said.
The club’s firm anti-capitalist stance stems from what they see as an overconcentration of wealth in the upper-class caused by capitalism and the harsh repercussions it has had on the working class.
“Last year there was an article about how eight people in the world owned more wealth than the bottom half of the world,” Brown said. “Six months later, now it’s five. Five people own more wealth than the bottom half. If that doesn’t make you angry…”
Brown said that they are wary of the criticisms directed towards socialism given that it has been associated with controversial historical figures, such as Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong. In response to these criticisms, he emphasized that Socialist Fightback Edmonton is a “Trotskyist organization” (a form of Marxism attributed to Leon Trotsky), and that they are critical of Stalin and Mao.
While the club’s ultimate goal of overthrowing capitalism may seem ambitious, Brown said he believes it’s possible, although it may take a while.
“(Capitalism has been overthrown) before, and it can happen again,” he said. “Is it going to happen tomorrow? In all honesty, probably not. But I feel like within our lifetime, given how much people are polarizing and pulling to the left, I feel like it’s very feasible.”