Revolution in the
Fourth Grade
I think it was in the 4th grade that my career as an activist began. There was a burning issue involving hall-passes in my elementary school, something to do with permission to leave the class, or go to the bathroom, or something of the sort. This was so long ago that the details have become a little fuzzy in my mind. Whatever it was, the burning injustice of the school rules on this matter roused me to militancy.

I organized a few of my classmates into a protest group, and I still remember its name, after nearly 60 years: "The Committee for the Rights and Justice of the Students." I was a precocious little boy. If I had been even more precocious, I would no doubt have named our group "The People's Interplanetary Mobilization for Peace and Justice" and added the WTO, globalism, and the genetically modified soybean to our list of grievances.

We issued a proclamation and distributed a leaflet to our fellow students, using crayons for lack of access to a mimeograph machine. Our proclamation started from the rank injustice of hall-passes, and went on to denounce the historic exploitation of nine-year-olds by the international capitalist system of scheming, soulless grownups.

First, we put up posters in the hall. Then, We considered blocking the street outside the school, in order to "raise consciousness," but had to drop the idea because we couldn't safely cross the street without a crossing guard. Instead, we announced our intention to occupy the school nurse's office. In retaliation, the school warned that WE might spend some time occupying the vice-principal's office after school. It was a clear test of wills, us against our oppressors.

Several of my contemporaries were nervous about taking a strong stand. If we occupied the school nurse's office, they worried, wouldn't that prevent the nurse from bandaging scraped knees and doing things like that? "We who wanted to prepare the ground for kindness," I told them, "could not be kind ourselves." But, they went on, if we were all given detention after school, then we would miss out on getting ice cream on the way home from school. I explained that you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

It was clear that the waverers just didn't understand the logic of revolutionary struggle. In the end, I threatened to expose them as lackeys of the ruling class. After that, the deviationists quickly broke down, sniffling a bit, and acknowledged my superior revolutionary leadership. I was, in effect, the Secretary-General, and deference to my superior revolutionary leadership was taken as identical to militancy, trustworthiness, and sound moral character generally.

In the end, the school administration felt obliged to meet with us. We agreed that the Political Bureau of our Central Committee would discuss our grievances with the vice-principal. Actually, I recall that there were only five of us in the entire group, so the five of us called ourselves the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, and we went to the meeting.

I think some kind of compromise about hall-passes was worked out, but I don't recall the details anymore, after all these years. Come to think of it, I undoubtedly forgot the details of the compromise, and of the whole dispute, by the time I finished elementary school two years later. What I remembered, and vaguely remember still, was the excitement --- the sheer thrill of being Secretary-General of the PolitBureau of our Central Committee. It was a great way to get attention.

--- Dr. Phage
Send us e-mail


Go Home

Go to the most recent RALPH