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The Party for Socialism and Liberation stands with “revolutionary optimism”

NATO may look good to many right now, in no small part because Putin looks so very bad

Rallying against war with Russia.
Rallying against war with Russia.

In the middle of February, the Reader got word regarding an upcoming rally at Teralta Park in City Heights. Kwame from the San Diego branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) wanted to let us know that the rally would be “demanding no war or sanctions on Russia, and for NATO to be disbanded,” and would encourage American politicians and the Biden Administration to “pursue a policy of friendship and cooperation with the people of Russia.”

At the time of the rally, held on February 19th, the war in Ukraine was not yet an actuality, only an alarming possibility. What the PSL and other involved groups were responding to was what they saw as unnecessarily bellicose messaging from the United States government. While I couldn’t make it to that rally, I was able to get in touch with one of the speakers — organizer and sometime media liaison for the San Diego PSL Juliana Musheyev.

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The PSL has given me hope, the only source of hope I have sometimes.

Juliana, 29, the daughter of immigrants from Uzbekistan, is polite but direct. She smiles occasionally and cracks a joke here and there, but is clearly motivated by an earnest sense of mission. She got her start organizing in Florida — something like the exact opposite of a socialist paradise — and, before that, was an admirer of Obama and Bernie Sanders. Then she became convinced that more drastic proposals were needed to confront society’s problems than the ones that mainstream Democrats, even those called “socialists,” could offer.

The rally, she says, was intended “to bring attention to the root of the issue” — not a single leader of mythically evil proportions, but “the expansion of NATO in the last few decades towards the Russian border, and the fact that Russia’s legitimate security interests were ignored.” She adds that “Russia made it very clear that they would resort to a military confrontation if that would persist, and that’s what happened.” NATO may look good to many right now, in no small part because Putin looks so very bad, but, she says, “it’s clear that NATO exists to prevent Europe from being dependent on any great power other than the United States.” This, she says, is the real motivating force, not a benign maintenance of peaceful international order. While Russia plays the bad guy, “the U.S. and its junior partners in imperialism” want to continue setting the rules of international power games.

Regarding the PSL’s perspective on Russia, she notes that “it’s not that we’re pro-Russia, it’s that we recognize that at this moment in history, the U.S. practices a hegemonic rule economically over the entire world.” She acknowledges that opposing that hegemony is a tall order, but it’s part and parcel of the PSL’s treatment of health care, housing, and education as human rights — and, of course, in her words, its goal of “the replacement of the capitalist system with a planned economy, a socialist economy.”

I ask Juliana what she says to people who think she is devoted to nice ideas that will never happen. She tells me that this “is something we call cynicism. Cynicism is one of the biggest obstacles to growing our movement. There are a lot of people who agree with our platform, but they’re cynical and they don’t think it can happen. It’s people like us in the PSL who have what we call ‘revolutionary optimism.’”

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Rallying against war with Russia.
Rallying against war with Russia.

In the middle of February, the Reader got word regarding an upcoming rally at Teralta Park in City Heights. Kwame from the San Diego branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) wanted to let us know that the rally would be “demanding no war or sanctions on Russia, and for NATO to be disbanded,” and would encourage American politicians and the Biden Administration to “pursue a policy of friendship and cooperation with the people of Russia.”

At the time of the rally, held on February 19th, the war in Ukraine was not yet an actuality, only an alarming possibility. What the PSL and other involved groups were responding to was what they saw as unnecessarily bellicose messaging from the United States government. While I couldn’t make it to that rally, I was able to get in touch with one of the speakers — organizer and sometime media liaison for the San Diego PSL Juliana Musheyev.

Sponsored
Sponsored
The PSL has given me hope, the only source of hope I have sometimes.

Juliana, 29, the daughter of immigrants from Uzbekistan, is polite but direct. She smiles occasionally and cracks a joke here and there, but is clearly motivated by an earnest sense of mission. She got her start organizing in Florida — something like the exact opposite of a socialist paradise — and, before that, was an admirer of Obama and Bernie Sanders. Then she became convinced that more drastic proposals were needed to confront society’s problems than the ones that mainstream Democrats, even those called “socialists,” could offer.

The rally, she says, was intended “to bring attention to the root of the issue” — not a single leader of mythically evil proportions, but “the expansion of NATO in the last few decades towards the Russian border, and the fact that Russia’s legitimate security interests were ignored.” She adds that “Russia made it very clear that they would resort to a military confrontation if that would persist, and that’s what happened.” NATO may look good to many right now, in no small part because Putin looks so very bad, but, she says, “it’s clear that NATO exists to prevent Europe from being dependent on any great power other than the United States.” This, she says, is the real motivating force, not a benign maintenance of peaceful international order. While Russia plays the bad guy, “the U.S. and its junior partners in imperialism” want to continue setting the rules of international power games.

Regarding the PSL’s perspective on Russia, she notes that “it’s not that we’re pro-Russia, it’s that we recognize that at this moment in history, the U.S. practices a hegemonic rule economically over the entire world.” She acknowledges that opposing that hegemony is a tall order, but it’s part and parcel of the PSL’s treatment of health care, housing, and education as human rights — and, of course, in her words, its goal of “the replacement of the capitalist system with a planned economy, a socialist economy.”

I ask Juliana what she says to people who think she is devoted to nice ideas that will never happen. She tells me that this “is something we call cynicism. Cynicism is one of the biggest obstacles to growing our movement. There are a lot of people who agree with our platform, but they’re cynical and they don’t think it can happen. It’s people like us in the PSL who have what we call ‘revolutionary optimism.’”

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