Rebel With A Cause:
Why I am a Revolutionary
by Shane C. Brinton
It wasn't hard to become a radical. I was born in Humboldt County, CA to a leftist single mother. Being raised in the environmental movement, in the struggle to save the old growth redwood trees of Northern California, "radical" politics were all around me.
My earliest memories were of getting dressed up in my little tweed sport coat-my mom and I called it "the demo jacket." Mom would say "Shanie-boy, go get your demo jacket on." This was exciting. I knew that we would be going to some sort of rally. Essentially, I was born a radical; a green diaper baby. I was lucky. But, that was the easy part.
In my first year of Junior High School, behaviors and attitudes began to change in myself and my peers. Obviously this had to do with hormones. Yet, I knew there was something else happening. People were not only changing in the biological sense, but also in another way that I couldn't quite put my finger on.
The infamous clicks and categories that torment so many teenagers were forming. And the teachers were such despots! It was at this point of my life that I began to despise school and declared myself-like so many other young angry white males-an anarchist.
In retrospect, this was probably when I began considering issues of racism and sexism and how, contrary to what I had been taught, they are problems that have more to do with rich and poor that "good" and "evil." I began to apply this thinking to other areas. It helped make sense of those bizarre teenage puzzles. I knew that there had to be more to them than testosterone and estrogen.
Enter the tragedy September 11th. I was in 9th grade when it happened, and it shifted my attention toward international issues. I cried when the Afghan children were bombed. Soon I was entrenched in the local anti-war effort. Later that year I found the Communist Manifesto on my mother's bookcase. She never read it, but I did.
Slowly things started to become clear. The class struggle was the missing link that I had been searching for. I became an irreconcilable Marxist, as well as a devoted peace activist. I went on to organize for the Books Not Bombs National Student Strike in the period leading up to the war on Iraq.
In the summer of 2003, at the age of 16, I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba with the US/Cuba Youth Exchange. I saw first hand, the valiant struggle of the Cuban people to survive in the face of imperialism. I was amazed: a "third world" country with a lower infant mortality rate than the US!
Today I continue to struggle because I see no other way. War, terrorism, starvation, HIV/AIDS-these are the problems that plague my generation. If we don't fight them, we will be destroyed. That is why I amů not merely a radical, but a revolutionary.
Shane C. Brinton is a senior in high school in northern
California and is a member of the national council of
the Young Communist League, USA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.