App State student brings nationwide socialist group to campus


Neil Hemmerly

Lachlan James, head of the App State Chapter of IYSSE sits in his bedroom with hisi collection of literature and signage related to the world views represented in the organization.

Xanayra Marin-Lopez, Reporter

The Bolshevik revolution of 1917 in Russia was an overthrow of the capitalist government by Russia’s working class, led by revolutionaries Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. After Russia’s losses in World War I, it led to abolishing their monarchy and the start of the Soviet Union through protests and strikes. 

Years later, those same ideologies linger, now in the form of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality, a national group with a regional chapter at App State’s campus. 

Junior economics major Lachlan James started App State’s IYSSE chapter this spring. He has been a member of the national group for a few years and finally came across the idea of bringing it to campus.

“Our aim is to create a mass movement and eventually be able to have enough power to build up a general strike,” James said. 

He attends meetings with other chapters in the southeast region. They are held via Zoom and are structured with political discussion and readings of theoretical texts. This would be the same structure for App State’s chapter meetings. 

IYSSE is the youth movement of the International Committee of the Fourth International, one of two Trotskyist internationals. The Fourth International is a socialist organization that exists globally to overthrow capitalism and establish socialism.

There are multiple parties within the organization, all called socialist equality parties. They follow Trotsky’s means of establishing socialism in America’s capitalist society and the mobilization of the working class.

To mobilize the working class consists of political organizing to give more power to the workforce.

A few of their core beliefs are that it is the working class’s job to take state power, electoral politics will not achieve socialism and that the working class must be educated before attempting revolution.

“Our belief is that only a party guided by the most theoretically rich and principled political program will be armed to lead a true revolutionary movement,” James said. 

Socialism saw a rise in popularity during former President Donald Trump’s term. “The Squad,” consisting of six Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives, is known for being the most politically progressive in the federal government. 

Most notably, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York’s 14th congressional district has shown public support for former presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders is an advocate for democratic socialism, the closest thing in the public eye to the far-left ideals of IYSSE.

James wishes to get more people in the Boone community involved in socialism and IYSSE through the campus chapter.

Matthew MacEgan, a graduate student at the University of Florida, attends regional meetings alongside James. He says that politicians use socialist language to gain support and take advantage of socialism’s interest. 

“What socialism really means is a complete reorganization of society and taking power away from capitalist elites who are literally killing working people to maintain their profits,” MacEgan said.

In Watauga County, approximately 53% of votes were cast for Democratic candidate and current president Joe Biden during the recent election. Boone has a history of swinging either Democrat or Republican every election year. In the 2012 election, 50.09% of voters picked Mitt Romney. This can be attributed to the voting practices of the large retirement population and App State’s college students. 

James notes the recent interest in socialism, but says it won’t come from these progressives and electoral politics. In IYSSE, James says they instead take history and lessons from revolutions in the 20th century, bringing them into their political perspective and using them for future mobilization. 

“Some people may accuse us of being too principled or sectarian or whatever, but I think that is our strongest sort of suit,” James said.

James is seeking potential members as he is currently the only one involved.