By Kyle Olson
MILWAUKEE – Last week EAGnews published a video featuring Milwaukee teachers union president Bob Peterson tut-tutting about putting union political flyers in the backpacks of students and bussing parents and students to vote in the Wisconsin recall election.
Of course that strategy didn’t work. Gov. Scott Walker won and the unions were embarrassed.
The same video also featured Brian Verdin, a local college instructor we misidentified as a member of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association. He is, in fact, a member of the Wisconsin branch of the American Federation of Teachers, according to a YouTube video.
While other union activists around Wisconsin are sometimes coy about their radical views (outside the classroom, that is), Verdin is just the opposite. He’s a Marxist teacher who wants to bring a socialist revolution to the United States, and he’s very proud of that stance.
Shortly after the February, 2011 protests at the Wisconsin state capitol, Verdin appeared at a conference organized by the Greek Socialist Workers Party in Athens to talk about why he and others were fighting against Walker.
Referring to himself as a Marxist, Verdin explained he was on the verge of tears when he saw a picture of the Wisconsin capitol building on display in the Greek union hall.
He also attempted to explain that while he’s told to “go back to Russia” because of his Marxist views, he tells people his home was North America “before it was the United States.” This is apparently a reference to some of his family’s Mexican roots.
Verdin also told the audience, “The ideas of socialism are as American as apple pie.” His interpreter clearly didn’t get the analogy, leading to several moments of awkward confusion.
He explained that he is a retired Milwaukee public schools teacher, and now teaches sociology at Milwaukee Area Technical College. To that point, he mused, “Without Karl Marx, there would be no sociology department. So in some way I owe Comrade Marx even more than being a smart person, I actually make money for teaching ‘conflict theory.’”
The irony of a Marxist musing about making money is rich. And he didn’t clarify to whom he was referring as “smart” – himself or Marx.