Portland State’s International Socialist Organization kicked off the new term on Thursday, Sept. 27 with an open meeting in Smith Memorial Student Union. Attendees included PSU adjunct faculty, alumni and current students.
The ISO is a small but active student group that helped to organize PSU’s recent student strike against tuition increases in April 2018. “The Portland State ISO seeks to provide a socialist alternative for students looking beyond the capitalist system for the change they would like to see in the world,” the group’s organization and purpose statement reads. “We develop as political leaders through reclaiming working class history, studying political theory, collectively analyzing current events from a materialist lens, debating theory and tactics and organizing on the basis of democratic centralism.”
PSU adjunct faculty members Colin Patrick and Eva Perelló opened Thursday’s meeting by explaining the mission of the ISO. Perelló said there is a possibility for an alternative to capitalism, and following the financial collapse of 2008, there has been an increased popularity of socialism. “The 2008 collapse brought out the contradiction of the system,” Perelló said.
Perelló said one way change can be accomplished is through protests. She referenced the 2017 Women’s March, calling it “the largest protest in the history of women’s rights.” According to The Washington Post, it was also the largest single-day demonstration in recorded United States history.
Perelló argued that strikes can also be an effective approach to meeting worker demands, referencing the recent teacher strike in Vancouver, WA., which ultimately resulted in new contracts and wage increases for teachers.
According to an article from their official online publication, socialistworker.org, the ISO stated workers can create a socialist society once they are able to collectively control the wealth their labor creates, versus having a select few who control all of the wealth and profits from the majority. “We believe capitalism needs to be overthrown and replaced,” Perelló said. “If we want society to be run by us, for us, we’re going to need a revolution.”
The ISO’s constitution explains the expectations and requirements for PSU students to join the organization. These include supporting the group’s politics and attending meetings regularly. Non-member students are also welcome to attend meetings, but are asked not to record or take pictures under any circumstances.