Ravi Ahmad is a New York City activist.
In August 2017 Ravi Ahmad stood for election to the Democratic Socialists of America National Political Committee, at the National Convention in Chicago, from Chicago Democratic Socialists of America.
- I’m the most stereotypical New Yorker you’re likely to meet. My parents met at Columbia, my mom still lives in a ridiculous rent stabilized apartment and I live in the same zip code I grew up in. Most importantly: I don’t know how to drive. Yes, really. The neo-liberal gutting of public services is destroying my beloved subways so, who knows, maybe that will have to change. Like, maybe I’ll get a bicycle or something.
- I’m also proud to be a Red Diaper Baby: my parents are lifelong socialists. I was plenty rebellious as a teenager but I keep coming back to Marx as the most rigorous analyst of the fundamental structuring force in our world : capitalism. The tradition that extends from his work provides a moral as well as a practical guide to fighting the eternal human struggle for freedom and justice. I’ll be honest, raised the way I was, I forget sometimes that folks don’t always know about the intimate relationship between Socialism and the anti colonial and anti-imperial struggles of the last century. Socialism is the norm in the rest of the world. Its what all decent people believe: everyone should be safe and healthy and have the maximum autonomy and freedom to live their lives and participate in democratic decision-making. This requires first the limitation and then the elimination of the power of capital, whether in a plantation economy or in a post-industrial one. The immense effort to keep that consensus from taking power throughout the Global South- whether through outright coups, economic destabilization, supporting criminals like the Taliban and so on- is a testament to the human yearning for freedom.
- I’m running for DSA’s National Political Committee on the Praxis slate with Allie Cohn (Knoxville TN) Leslie Driskill (Oklahoma City OK) Celeste Earley (Anchorage AK) Zac Echola (Red River Valley, ND & MN) Michael Patterson (Anchorage AK) and R.L. Stephens (Chicago IL). We’ve put together a website (dsapraxis.org) to share our thoughts and have been expanding on them regularly on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/dsapraxis/).
- I have the rare pleasure of belonging to a relatively un-embarassing socialist lineage, both as a lifelong fellow traveler and as a communist student organizer for two years at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Let me offer up some potted history: the Left Front in India is the coalition of Communist parties that seeks to hold the line on the socialism that was once the norm in India and push it forward wherever possible, especially as neo-liberalism has gotten its hooks into the economy through the failures of social democratic parties and the onslaughts of the right wing. Here are some further experiences that I hold dear: the Left Front- and its main party the Communist Party of India (Marxist)- is a mass party with over a million members at last count. It contests elections at every level of government. We had the first elected Communist government in Kerala in 1956. We had the longest running elected Communist government in the world in West Bengal. Walking the line between a visionary anti-capitalism and the practicalities of electability has been the Left Front’s fundamental balancing act. We in DSA can learn much from this situation. I could go on at some length about the CPM’s political education strategy, how they break down class privilege with a thorough and at times brutal cadre development process, their abhorrence of formalized tendencies and how they fight in every sector of society from industrial labor to agricultural workers to feminist campaigns to the cultural front of movies, plays and music.
- Like a lot of people, I was drawn to the energy and passion of Occupy and deeply disappointed in its ability to coalesce into a force that could win material gains for poor and working people. It also reinforced my sense that Socialism was the way to go and that anarchism, for all its romantic appeal, has severe limitations as a strategy for building power, which is the one thing that we need to overthrow capitalism. A diffuse and unfocused anti-capitalism just isn’t enough.
- Finally, in my day to day life, I am a former proud member of UAW Local 2110 when I was a secretary at my current workplace. After being kicked upstairs to management, I’m proud to report that not only have I fought off any attempts to take jobs out of the union, I’ve actually been able to add a union position. My department remains the only overwhelmingly union staffed area of my workplace. So, you can definitely be a labor activist even when you’re not in a union..
2017-2017 DSA NPC members
Members elected to the Democratic Socialists of America National Political Committee, August 2017;
- Catherine Hoffman
- Chris Maisano
- Christian Bowe
- Christine Riddiough
- Danny Fetonte
- Dele Balogun
- Ella Mahony
- Jeremy Gong
- Joseph Schwartz
- Theresa Alt
- Allie Cohn
- Leslie Driskill
- Natalie Midiri
- R.L. Stephens
- Ravi Ahmad
- Zac Echola