Interview with Eugene V. Debs Service Award Winner Jay Wolfson

Jay Wolfson is the outreach coordinator for the Central New Jersey Socialist Party local. He won the Eugene V Debs service award in 2016. He was a chief organizer for of the New Jersey May Day march in New Brunswick. As our each coordinator he established contacts with other groups of activists and organized with them to increase the impact. He us currently organizing the Socialist Party National Organizing conference at Rutgers, the march for a clean energy revolution with Food and Water Watch, and a September 9th day of Solidarity with prison laborers.



  1. What got you involved in Activism?


Before I could work, I used to do a lot of charity work. I saw really just how bad things were. I met and talked with people and found that unlike what I had often heard, these people were not poor through any fault of their own. I realized that any system where people have to depend on charity to live when there are those who are super rich is really fucked up. Then when I finally was allowed to work, I saw how bosses got to treat their workers like shit and pay them next to nothing, even though the workers make all of the profits. I realized that a system like this, where economics was placed out of control of the democratic process, just isn’t right or sustainable.


  1. How can we build solidarity and defeat sectarianism? Is this even a logical goal given that we probably won’t ever have the majority on the side of revolutionary action?


I think the biggest problem standing in the way of defeating sectarianism, is the idea that we must form a single party to have a revolution. That makes it so that the activity of all other leftist parties is counter revolutionary, and that breeds sectarianism. If we were to realize that a coalition of all anti-capitalist leftists would be the best option, we could better organize resistance to capitalism.


  1. How can we prevent near term human extinction?


jayI don’t think we are threatened with extinction, what I think we are threatened with is mass death and suffering, largely of the poor. The problem is when the people deciding our energy plan and investment are also a select few rich people, they are actually incentivized to harm the planet for profit. Simply unless we have a democratic energy plan and investment, we will see environmental devastation. Republicans deny climate change and democrats undermine it because it would fundamentally challenge the capitalist system.


  1. In what ways will technology such as automation and 3d printing change the way we talk about the means of production?


I don’t think 3d printing will really radically change the way we think or talk about the means of production. As of now it is a rather limited tech and it is rather expensive. Unless it can be cut down to a price that it is available to lots of people and it becomes more advanced, it will not serve to change too much.


However automation I do think can radically change the way we think and talk about the means of production. Once automation gets advanced enough, we may see human labor start to become irrelevant. I think at that point we can have 2 choices. If we develop a society where things are distributed somewhat equitably, and economics is put under the control of democratic processes, then I think we may see a future that is more peaceful and prosperous. On the other hand if we continue on with capitalism, we may see a world defined by violence as the capitalists will be able to amass more wealth than ever before, causing mass poverty and death.


  1. What are your thoughts on The Socialist Party v. The Greens?


Well I have actually worked with the Greens before and there are real leftists committed to socialism in them. However there are many problems with the greens. Many Greens see their role as to pressure the democrats leftwards, rather than build and alternative, and many are reformists and social democrats. In addition they have some rather odd components, for example they just now removed references to homeopathy in their platform. We do try to work with them rather than fight them, but I think they aren’t a long term option for any serious socialist.


6.Who are your favorite radical thinkers and writers?

There are many who inspire my work. Rosa Luxemburg’s writing really influences how I think of capitalism and imperialism, and how capitalism should be resisted. The work of people like Eugene Debs, Big Bill Haywood, Huey Newton, and Sylvia Rivera inspire my continued work. subcomandante marcos and the EZLN and Abdullah Ocalan and Rojava show me another society is possible.

7. Can you tell us an interesting/ enlightening story about your time in activism?
After the May Day march I organized, I gathered with some others to talk. Some people were there waiting for a train. I talked with them for a brief time, and I found that they really understood the destructive nature of capitalism and its contradictions. However what I found is that they didn’t know what could replace it, and didn’t think they could fight it. However then they saw us on the streets of New Brunswick doing what they thought could not be done. Really if we step up and resist, people will follow.
8. What tactics do you think we need to promote most in order to promote a culture of resistance?]
I think there are many thing we should be doing to promote a culture of resistance. Pursing reformist goals can be a great way of showing the contradictions of capitalisms and raise their class consciousness. Education is also a very important aspect of what we do. However I think the best tactic we have is building alternate institutions. I think we can look to the People’s assemblies in Jackson, Mississippi that were so successful that they got an open socialist elected as the mayor of Jackson.
9. Any shout outs or promoting you’d like to do for any organizations your involved with?
I would like to give a shoutout to the Socialist Parties National Organizing conference, which I am helping to plan, in New Brunswick, NJ this year. We are gonna have great workshops and people from all around the country, including the Socialist Party presidential ticket Mimi Soltysik and Angela Walker. You can register here
In addition I am also planning a march on the DNC in Phili this year called the march for a clean energy revolution. It is demanding a ban on fracking and a quick transition to 100% renewable energy. We have transportation that you can register for here
10. Any final thoughts?
Thank you, the work you are doing is so important. We always should fight for justice for those who are oppressed. We are currently facing imminent economic and environmental disaster due to capitalism. The words of Rosa Luxemburg are very apt here, that we stand at a crossroads between socialism and barbarism. The danger that capitalism poses to all of us makes those who fight barbarism so important.