Malala Yousafzai was already an inspiring figure to me for many reasons: her desire for equal education, her bravery in standing up and identifying herself in that classroom on October 9, 2012, knowing that she was likely to be shot and killed, and her perseverance in surviving and continuing to advocate for equality. Her desire to return to Pakistan and organize for women’s equality especially hits home for me. I live in west Alabama, was raised in Virginia, and trace my origins back to rural North Carolina. If you are a person that cares about justice, equality, and a society that sees no lepers, but rather simply children of God? You have either long since left the South or are champing at the bit to get out as soon as possible. Not many people stay behind and do change work here, and the fact that Malala would risk death to go back and finish the work she started has a special resonance with me.
Today, however, I found out something that absolutely blew me away: Malala is a socialist. A SOCIALIST.
“First of all I’d like to thank The Struggle and the IMT for giving me a chance to speak last year at their Summer Marxist School in Swat and also for introducing me to Marxism and Socialism. I just want to say that in terms of education, as well as other problems in Pakistan, it is high time that we did something to tackle them ourselves. It’s important to take the initiative. We cannot wait around for any one else to come and do it. Why are we waiting for someone else to come and fix things? Why aren’t we doing it ourselves?”
“I would like to send my heartfelt greetings to the congress. I am convinced Socialism is the only answer and I urge all comrades to take this struggle to a victorious conclusion. Only this will free us from the chains of bigotry and exploitation.”
This should not really surprise me, right? I mean, if there is any ideology that recognizes the full dignity and worth of all human beings, it is socialism. But when you see someone traveling all over the world with celebrities like Bono and you see the likes of Gordon Brown starting petitions on her behalf, it can lead someone to think that the good heart and egalitarian spirit that the person in question possesses is something that they see as separate from their overall ideology. You see it all the time in liberals who love unions….right up until it is time for them to go on strike. Or liberals who love community organizing right up until….okay, maybe I should not go there.
Neoliberalism loves nothing more than issue atomization because it keeps members of the working class from developing coherent ideologies, which keeps us from having policy and rhetorical programs that we can put forth to the people. It keeps us from connecting the inability to find meaningful work to the same force that is privatizing and corporatizing our public school system, which is also driving our foreign policy and determining the shape of government intervention in our rights to democratic expression of our grievances. It is all connected, and it all matters.
I am happy to know that Malala Yousafzai sees the threads between violent patriarchy and capital. It is just one more small symbol that the tide is turning, indeed, and that socialists of all stripes are fighting back and making change in this world. Fight or die; few people have exemplify the choice that we have been given than Malala, and I am over the moon that her message has been recognized with a Nobel Peace Prize. May we all heed her call and get to work.