How do I get started in being effective for social change?
You have to learn and you have to work. All of us are better at one or the other, but we all have to do both. People who think they have knowledge but haven't actually tried their ideas in practice aren't very reliable, and they're sometimes a little hard to listen to.
People who whirl from one activity to another without ever studying or taking the time to absorb the lessons tend to keep repeating the same things over and over. Without realizing it, they tend to choose activities that are the most fulfilling for them personally, rather than those activities that could do the most good.
If you don't already have a subscription to the People's Weekly World, that's step#1. It has all kinds of information and suggestions for activities. Go to CPUSA.
I often ask people what's going on in their own area. Many of them reply, "nothing." It's amazing that they think that, because important changes are taking place everywhere. Call progressive organizations such as the local labor council.
Some folks just want to study academically before they take any action at all. There is a big repository of “classic” Marxist literature at www.marxists.org. I don’t know what their point of view is, and whether or not they do anything but academics, but they sure have the literature! A lot of the “classics” have to do with European history, not ours; consequently, you may want to study your own local labor history. If so, you could start at http://victorian.fortunecity.com/palace/400
Plus, there are dozens of national campaigns that you can join, no matter where you are.
The trade unions, basic building blocks of worker organizing, are extremely important. Where possible, try to find ways to work with them in furthering their goals of organizing people and making them more effective. If you can’t join a union or help organize one where you work, try organizing something that can coalition with them. A really terrific one in the Dallas area and lots of big cities is Jobs with Justice.