Monday, August 13, 2012

Our New Forum

http://socialistrifleman.forumstopic.com/

This forum was created to combine our belief in the soundness of the Second Amendment of the Constitution and our commitment to socialism, whatever specific form we adhere to. Some of us favor Marxism, others Anarchism, still others are Social Democrats, or are just interested in social justice.
Formerly many of us were affiliated with the Liberal Gun Club but felt that our opposition to the Obama administration's half- hearted reforms and full- hearted warmongering was being greeted with more and more hostility, increasing in step with the fear mongering frenzy that has been unleashed by the upcoming presidential election.
The next step was obvious: form our own club.
Some of us still have ties with the LGC, and that is a good thing for both clubs fight the stereotypes manufactured by the immense right- wing propaganda machine that Liberals and Leftists do not own firearms and want to ban them. If you check out how many members the LGC has, you would change your mind about that in a hurry.
So we wish the LGC luck. Some of us left in anger, but we still have the same mission: protect the 2nd Amendment and promote firearm ownership among our fellow leftists.
BTW, Rude Reds has now switched back to its old title. Now that we got the forum up and running we will try to combine the two.
Solidarity!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, and race in America

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’re no doubt aware that something happened in Florida a while ago that has had far-reaching national implications. First, the facts:

On February 26, 2012, in Sanford Florida, an unarmed African-American male named Trayvon Martin was shot dead by an armed White or Hispanic American (his mother is from Peru, his father is a white man and a retired judge) named George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin had been walking home from a convenience store. George Zimmerman was in his car, called the non-emergency police dispatch line, and reported that there was a youth acting strangely and dressed suspiciously. He left his vehicle and followed Martin, despite the dispatcher telling him he shouldn’t. There was a fight, and Martin wound up dead. Zimmerman was taken into custody by police but not arrested. Police did not perform a background check at that time. No drug or alcohol screen was performed. The lead homicide investigator recommended that Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter. Instead, Zimmerman was released.

Nothing more was going to be done about this until the family of Trayvon Martin, and their attorney, successfully brought national attention to the issue, through the use of a Change.org petition. I’ve heard from people that this entire thing was a media creation for bigger ratings and money. I find it hard to believe that, absent a public outcry, the media would have cared about just another dead black man. They certainly have not in the past. People die in horrible ways in this country all the time, the only time it becomes a major media issue is when it’s either a lot of people dying at the same time, or if it’s a missing angelic blond (or more rarely brunette) white girl.

Now sides are being taken, and that’s messed up. There are a lot of people who seem to think, and say things to this effect, that it’s okay that Trayvon Martin died, and that George Zimmerman killed him. Others aren’t willing to come right out and say it, so they blame the media for making this news, or for editing a tape to remove a meager bit of context, or for running old pictures of Martin. White supremacists are lining up around the block to support Zimmerman, and black supremacist groups are doing the same to oppose him. But I think they miss the group here that really dropped the ball. A lot of fault should lie with the Sanford police department.

Stand Your Ground laws have taken a lot of heat in this case because the police department used them as justification to let Zimmerman walk. If you get out of your vehicle and pursue somebody, you are no longer standing your ground. You’re acting like a cop. Zimmerman had completed a Sheriff’s department course in “citizen’s law enforcement”, and was captain of the neighborhood watch, it’s quite possible (but this is speculation) that he considered himself a sort of unpaid police officer. However, he was not, he was a private citizen who tried to be a cop and got somebody else killed; although it could just as easily have been Zimmerman who died, if Martin had actually been a criminal. The people who should have pointed out to Zimmerman that he was not a police officer but was instead a private citizen who got an unarmed youth killed were the police who arrested him.

Instead, the police kept him and questioned him for a few hours, but they ultimately let him go. And that was a mistake. No background check was run, or they may have found that Zimmerman had a history of domestic violence. That was a mistake. The investigator who recommended manslaughter charges was ignored. That was a mistake. If Zimmerman had been charged, and faced trial, then none of this would have gone as far as it has. But the police fucked up.

I’ve seen people holding up cases where African-Americans have beat up white people in the wake of Martin’s killing as… something. They claim that black community leaders would never speak up about it or the media make a big deal over it, but the reason there was such a big deal over the Martin killing was because nobody was charged. A person was dead and it looked like nobody would be held accountable for it in the eyes of the law. In all the cases so far I’ve seen where white people get beat up or mugged, the people responsible have been charged. There are people looking at jail time for it. Prior to very recently, that wasn’t the case in the Martin killing.

I think what is being missed in all the sides-taking over this incident is the core issue at stake here: In America, we have two different sets of law, two different faces to the police force, two different standards of criminal justice. There’s the standard for whites, and the standard for minorities. By way of example, John McNeil was a black man in Georgia who shot a white man who had come at him with a knife in his pocket, on McNeil’s property, and who was a man who had previously threatened McNeil repeatedly. John McNeil is now in jail on a life sentence.

As a white man, I have little to no fear of being stopped “randomly” by police for a variety of minor reasons. I have even less fear of winding up dead as a result of that traffic stop. If I’m ever caught with an illicit drug, I’m statistically significantly more likely to get probation than face jail time. These are the benefits of what Kurt Vonnegut described in his novel Hocus Pocus (an excellent read for familiarizing yourself with racial injustice in America) as the “uniform of the skin”. Meanwhile, for African-Americans in the US, it is harder for one without a criminal record to get a job than it is for a white with a criminal record.

If Zimmerman had been more clearly a minority, if Trayvon Martin had been a white kid named Steve Gustafson or something, and if Zimmerman’s father was not a judge, I have little doubt that the case would go differently. If the suspicious youth had been white and Zimmerman had been black, he would probably be facing the death penalty. Or perhaps already dead, shot by police after they arrived on the scene.

This is the heart of the problem. There are two separate sets of laws in this country, and there are plenty of people out there who think that’s just fine. That needs to change, but instead we look like we’re speeding towards a culture/race war, an unending cycle of action and reaction that can only be ultimately destructive.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blogwatch: All Secure

I thought this article, "Fist-Swinging Photographers Miss the Point" is an interesting addition to our recent discussion around OWS and security. It makes me uneasy to see journalists being broad-brushed and The Police unequivocally supported. I don't know that general classifications of people should be handed our theoretical trust - it seems like that honor should be reserved for individuals.

Furthermore, compromising photos are going to get out. It's just a fact of the 21st century. Maybe you should be more concerned with reducing our dependence on such potentially lethal and vulnerable edifices and monuments to vertical power.

Instead of being ostentatious with our power and technology, it would be much less of a headache to simplify and ... I dunno, "deconventionalize"? Make less formal? Stop playing such high stakes games at home and around the world? Maybe then it would be easier to have a transparent society.

Or maybe not. But it's worth a try ...getting beat out of shape to maintain a poisonous status quo doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere.


"I can haz full comuninizm?"

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Quick Update on Hedges

“But there is a hostility towards civilization as it’s currently configured and it must be taken down. Their problem with those of us on the organized left is that we, in essence, are attempting to reform it rather than destroy it.” -Chris Hedges from his Truth-Out Interview

Despite Hedges obvious ignorance of Black Bloc tactics, as written about by David Graeber in a paternalistic way– Hedges understands the polarity of opinion regarding how we must change the present system.

In addition, Hedges said something that may help anti-capitalists to understand the thoughts of American reformists. It was something that I’ve heard before from other pseudo anti-capitalists.

Hedges states essentially that the internal national repression brought by capitalism is somehow disconnected from the external repression in other nations brought by capitalism. He basically argues that Americans are different from Egyptians and Greeks; that our struggle is disconnected. He is a proponent of the idea that their struggle is at a more advanced stage than our (American) struggle.This nationalist “not in my backyard” attitude destroys international solidarity between revolutionaries, and creates a false sense of safety through the artificial boundary drawn on a map.

Peter Gelderloos seems to agree that we as activists must overcome the nationalism that pollutes our movement: ”Around the world, people are fighting for their freedom and resisting the depredations of the rich and powerful. In the United States, there is plenty of cause to join this fight, but as long as people continue enact a fear-driven, Not-In-My-Backyard pacifism, and to pander to the corporate media as though they would ever show us in a positive light, the rich and the powerful will have nothing to worry about.”

Hedges, like many Americans, lives in a comfortable position, and I think that is why he is afraid. Rather than seeking to overthrow the horrific, unjust, disgusting system that we have, Hedges seeks its survival to maintain his present level of comfort. He believes that the transition would be “always tragic,” ignoring the tragedy that is presently occurring under the system of capitalism. “I don’t want to go there…I don’t want us to descent into that,” admits Hedges. This fear of confronting the terrifying system we live under is the same fear that the reformists have with regard to the media. The liberal collaborators would prefer to pander to the capitalist media out of fear that the capitalist media will show the movement in a negative light. This is irrational, as the media will always negatively portray the movement so long as the movement threatens the status-quo. That is the reason why the Tea Party despite all of its flaws was depicted by the capitalist media as a legitimate, patriotic, grassroots, american movement. The fears of change, the fear of transition and revolution, of venturing into the unknown must be overcome. We will never advance the struggle until we can overcome our fear, and help others to overcome their fears. We must be more afraid of ignorantly fighting for a perpetual continuation of oppression.

This article was originally posted on artfrancisco.wordpress.com 2/19/2012

[2]Open Letter to Hedges regarding “The Cancer in Occupy” written by Anarchist David Graeber http://www.revolutionbythebook.akpress.org/concerning-the-violent-peace-police-an-open-letter-to-chris-hedges/
[3]A Response by Anarchist Peter Gelderloos: http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/02/09/the-surgeons-of-occupy/
[4]Part 1 of Ben’s responses to the Liberal counter-offensive http://www.revleft.com/vb/blog.php?b=6731
[5]Part 2 of Ben’s responses to the Liberal counter-offensive http://www.revleft.com/vb/blog.php?b=6739

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Russ Feingold is right about Obama's SuperPAC surrender

Why is Obama now supporting SuperPACs?
From the very beginning, Mr. Obama castigated the US Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United (read the court’s opinion, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) less than a week after it was handed down. In his January 2010 State of the Union message, Obama said thus:
"Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign companies – to spend without limit in our elections. Well, I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, and worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong."

So fast-forward to late Monday night, when news broke that Obama, in the words of POLITICO, offered a “reluctant blessing” for his campaign to raise money for the main – but flagging – Democratic super PAC, "Priorities USA."

The Obama campaign retort to this is a statement on Obama's website saying We will not play by two sets of rules, which would have been an insufficient argument in WW2 and Vietnam, and is an insufficient argument now. To quote,
In 2010, the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case opened the door to a new wave of so-called Super PACs—non-candidate political committees that can receive and spend unlimited money from special interests. For the first time, these committees could accept money from corporations, not just wealthy individuals.

The decision has accelerated a dangerous trend toward a political system increasingly dominated by big-money interests with disproportionate power to spend freely to influence our elections and our government.

Buuuut then we decided we like money also
But this cycle, our campaign has to face the reality of the law as it currently stands.

Over the last few months, Super PACs affiliated with Republican presidential candidates have spent more than $40 million on television and radio, almost all of it for negative ads.

Last week, filings showed that the Super PAC affiliated with Mitt Romney's campaign raised $30 million in 2011 from fewer than 200 contributors, most of them from the financial sector. Governor Romney personally helped raise money for this group, which is run by some of his closest allies.

That last paragraph there would be a great platform from which to launch attacks on Romney. It would be excellent moral high ground from which to highlight that Romney is the candidate of the wealthy and the 1%, and that he doesn't care about the working class. This would be especially powerful if the Obama campaign was to point out that, over 2008, Obama raised $778 million dollars, an unprecedented amount, overwhelmingly from individual donors making donations in the $5-$250 range.

Instead, that high ground was surrendered to the enemy, as the Obama Administration leapt down to try to fight Republicans at their own level. Many Democrat activists have lauded this, but one Progressive has dared to criticize, and that person is Russ Feingold:
The President Is Wrong -by Russ Feingold
The President is wrong to embrace the corrupt corporate politics of Citizens United through the use of Super PACs – organizations that raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations and the richest individuals, sometimes in total secrecy. It’s not just bad policy; it’s also dumb strategy.
Democrats have tried this strategy before, when enormous amounts of soft money were raised by Democratic Leadership in the 1990s. The result was the enactment, with active Democratic support, of a corporate-dominated policy agenda that included trade policies that shipped millions of family-supporting jobs overseas, fiscally reckless tax laws that greatly increased our long-term debt, and the disastrous banking and financial deregulation that paved the way for the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Just as importantly, this corrupting tactic will gut a winning, progressive strategy. When Democrats play by Republican rules, people see our party as weak, and a false alternative to the power of rich individual and corporate interests that are increasingly dominating our government.

This is dancing with the devil. I know a lot of Democrats in D.C. don’t agree, and I understand the desire to do everything possible to win. But this decision will push Democrats to become corporate-lite, and will send us head-on into a battle we know we will lose, because Republicans like Mitt Romney and his friends have and will spend more money.

Two years ago, the President was right to chastise the Supreme Court for its lawless ruling in Citizens United. Now, he and his campaign need to live up to those principles and reject the support of any Super PACs.

"Politics" as practiced in America have become not about the issues, not about any objective sense of right or wrong, but about the Teams. When the Red Team uses lobbyists, it's wrong and an outrage. When the Blue Team uses lobbyists, it is an essential and expected part of the operation of government, and any pragmatist would tell you that it can't be changed. When the Red Team uses SuperPACs, it's the End of Democracy. When the Blue Team uses SuperPACs, it's essential and necessary; any pragmatist will tell you that we have to use the weapons of the enemy if we are to defeat that enemy. If we don't become the enemy, the enemy wins. You don't want that to happen, do you?

I remember in 2008 when I supported and donated to Obama, donating a paltry $250 (half of that was during the primary season), but I was among countless others who did so. Our small individual contributions helped Barack Obama break fundraising records. The Koch Brothers have committed $60 million (1/783rd of their combined fortune) to defeating Obama? Obama raised $778 million from individual contributions, and that was before he had the bully pulpit of the presidency from which to make his points. He could publicize the Koch Brothers donations to Romney. He could make a campaign ad highlighting it and further strengthen the existing media narrative that Romney is a wealthy elitist with the backing of the 1%. He did not, he abandoned this opportunity in order to do what Democrats always do: Try to be Republican Lite and then wonder why there are many people who don't see a difference.

As a supporter of Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson, and one of his volunteers working in Ohio to get him on the 2012 presidential ballot, this would be a great time for me to point out that Rocky Anderson refuses PAC money. And SuperPAC money. And any individual donation in excess of $100. Period.

Cross-posted to Liberally Geeky

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Setting the Record Straight

From my blog It's a Socialist Life


There's a lot of talk about what Socialism is and is not, a lot of Socialists can't even really explain it or don't really know what exactly it is. Socialism by itself isn't bad, in fact it's something that everyone should be striving for, but unfortunately it makes certain people obsolete and that scares them. They will thus argue against it tooth and nail until they die and it no longer concerns them. It flips the Free Market currency based Capitalist economy on its head, eliminating the need for investors and the ability to accumulate wealth without having actually produced anything. Likewise the people who currently profit from the necessities of people by claiming ownership of natural resources would also become obsolete ending their tyranny over said resources.
So what is Socialism and why do certain people fear it? Socialism is the elimination of currency based capitalism through advancement in technology. Specifically it seeks to put research and development into machines which handle production of the necessities of life for people to survive making a fully automated system which negates the need to work to survive. This is what Communists and Capitalists fail to understand when Marx said Socialism is the death of Capitalism. It's not a sudden shock to the system, it's a gradual evolution between Capitalism and Communism, the latter of which can not happen without the success of Socialism as the several forced attempts in the Eastern World can attest to. The best example of the ultimate Socialist technology would be a replicator from Star Trek, a device which uses the most basic building blocks around it to create something of value, like food and water.

The Communists will say this isn't true, but it is, the problem for them is that they co-opted Socialism so long ago that they've forgotten the difference between Socialism and Communism which has only made it easier for the Capitalists to resist the evolution of our economy and society further blurring the line between the two and improperly defining what Socialism is. This ill conceived definition is then adopted by “Socialists” who really aren't, but are rather “Economic Tyrants” deciding what can and can't be done economically. Granted, their form of tyranny tends to be beneficial because it doesn't allow productive entities to conduct themselves in ways which harm the overall economy or the people. It basically takes Communist ideals and applies them to the Capitalist system with varying success. Generally this hybrid system ensures competition by not allowing monopolies to form and assisting the lower classes to elevate their station in life by artificially leveling the playing field.

Socialism is the actual leveling of the playing field eliminating the need to do so artificially. Socialism is a process, nothing more, it allows for the existence of Communism. Here are some examples of Socialism:

  • Nano bots which perform micro surgery eliminating the need for doctors providing free healthcare.
  • Fully automated hydroponic farms eliminating the need for farmers and providing free food.
  • Fully automated water processing plants providing free water.
  • Fully automated mines and pumps providing free resources to continue building as needed.
  • Fully automated systems of renewable sources of energy.
  • And of course the maintenance bots necessary to keep the system together.

Sounds like science fiction, but much of it is becoming science fact which is why many industries are fighting against the intrinsic evolution of technology. The oil industry for instance bought all of the patents for electric and solar based cars back in the 1970s and 1980s and sat on the technology to continue our dependence on their product. Also much like how the film studios and record labels are attempting to fight the digital evolution of media which eliminates the need for them to produce and distribute artists' creativity. Take a look at any business entity which profits from the labor of someone else and I guarantee they are chaired by those who fund the mouth pieces which scream about the evils of “Socialism” and a trail of litigation attempting to stop the systems which would provide their service for free or allowing individuals to by pass them entirely and distribute their production themselves.

That is Socialism, it is the Arbiter between Freedom and Tyranny, allowing the productive to reap wholly the rewards of their labor, and the unproductive and untalented to simply survive. If you don't like welfare, corporate or individual, then Socialism is for you.

A response to Chris Hedges

A response to Chris Hedges:

Today it was brought to my attention that Chris Hedges, a notable figure within the Occupy Movement, and celebrity liberal published an article in Truthdig titled “The Cancer in Occupy.” The article is essentially a hit-piece against “Black Block anarchists.” Don’t be fooled, as the black bloc does not only include anarchists, as it is simply a blob of black wearing anti-capitalists. This is an attack against the entire militant anti-capitalist left.

Some analysis of the article

Hedges opens his piece declaring these activists as “the cancer of the Occupy movement,” and continues, “The presence of Black Bloc anarchists—so named because they dress in black, obscure their faces, move as a unified mass, seek physical confrontations with police and destroy property—is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state.”

Quite a strong accusation, can Hedges back this up?

“The real enemies, they argue, are not the corporate capitalists, but their collaborators among the unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements such as the Zapatistas”

Hedges here exposes his awareness that there are currently two opposing forces within the Occupy Movement: Capitalist “collaborators” and those who are fighting those collaborators. Hedges mention of worker’s movements, environmental activists, and the Zapatistas are nothing more than fluff to add weight to his claim that collaborators are not our enemies and therefore should be ignored. Hedges uses the immense credibility of the Zapatistas in his article to discredit those who take part in militant activity—essentially he uses the logic: If Anarchists would attack a movement as cool as the Zapatistas, then the anarchists are undeserving of any credibility. Here’s the flaw, Hedges quotes from an article written by an author named, “Venomous Butterfly” published in an anarcho-primitivist magazine called “Green Anarchy”. Hedges himself admits that the magazine is defunct, so is it really a representation of the various tendencies that make up any particular bloc?

“Because Black Bloc anarchists do not believe in organization, indeed oppose all organized movements, they ensure their own powerlessness.”

The black bloc in itself is a visual demonstration of organization. Is the ignorance in this quote even worth replying to? While there is a thread of anti-organizational thought within the Anarchist movement, it is clearly not demonstrated by the black bloc. Furthermore, of the tendencies that make up the black bloc, or the militant left for that matter, anti-organizational thought remains a tiny minority. Perhaps Hedges was attempting to touch on something other than organization in general, but rather centralized organization. If this were the case, by this logic Hedges would be arguing that those in the militant left are against centralized organization and are thus powerless—while those who are for centralized organization (capitalist collaborators, unions, progressives etc) are powerful. Is it a false sense of power that Hedges seeks? Does he seek the power that comes with collaboration with the ruling class?

Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale defined power together after much discourse as, “the ability to define phenomenon then in turn make it act in a desired manner." By that very definition, neither the black bloc, nor the forces that Hedges represents wield power. While some anti-capitalists may be well on their way to defining the phenomenon, no one has been able to make it act in a desired manner.

Hedges does make an important point about the rigidity and dogmatism of sects here:

The Black Bloc movement bears the rigidity and dogmatism of all absolutism sects. Its adherents alone possess the truth. They alone understand. They alone arrogate the right, because they are enlightened and we are not, to dismiss and ignore competing points of view as infantile and irrelevant. They hear only their own voices. They heed only their own thoughts. They believe only their own clich├ęs. And this makes them not only deeply intolerant but stupid.

The problem with this point is that it is directed at those who participate in a tactic, a temporal gathering of anti-capitalists and recreational rioters. This quote about absolutism can be applied to nearly all sects within Occupy including the pacifist and progressive sects.

While I think that there is a worthy critique to be made of silly actions that have been used by participants of black blocs, to suggest that the blocs are self-aware in any collective sense would be to imply organization--and while yes, there is some rudimentary organization, the blocs have not been in my experience, "self-aware."

It is important to understand that Hedges did not have to openly attack the black bloc. There wasn’t any reason for an attack or condemnation on this level. Rather than write a comradely critique with suggestions, Hedges wrote that “The Black Bloc Anarchists are a cancer of the Occupy movement.” He states in those words that they are an enemy that cannot be compromised with.

Why did Hedges pick now to attack militants?

I found the article to be a very weak analysis from Hedges which was surprising to me. Hedges while on the pseudo left, generally writes with a little more depth. Recently in Seattle, the militant anti-capitalists of the Marxist tendency found themselves on the receiving end of a hit piece written by Socialist Worker titled, “The Solidarity We Need for Longview”. I've written several activists about this.

To me, the piece by Hedges is an extension of that attack by the pseudo leftists against the militant anti-capitalists. The tip off was not that the Black Bloc was criticized, but rather in the way it was criticized--through well publicized libel and smear. There was an effort by Hedges to drive a wedge between militant anti-capitalists and “unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements such as the Zapatistas” In a sense, Hedges like the Socialist Worker, joined the capitalist media’s campaign against militant anti-capitalists.

By publicly breaking with the black bloc; the tendency of reformism and capitalist collaboration that Hedges represents hopes to usurp the “undecided” proletariat within the occupy movement—that is, those persons who have not firmly sided with either the anti-capitalists or the reformists. The capitalist collaborators hope to take advantage of any weakness in theoretical understanding by the militant anti-capitalists, arrogantly pushing for a premature split. Unless anti-capitalists can learn to work together, create trust, open lines of discussion, comradely critique, and forge a unified alliance and network—we will be divided and conquered.

For more information on the ISO attack against the militant anti-capitalists please read the Black Orchid Collective’s response to the ISO’s SW article:

The quality of comments are well worth the time reading.


This repost was originally published at artfrancisco.wordpress.com 2/7/2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

Red Networking

One of the New Year's goals me and Dresden decided on was to get more writers to participate on this blog. We feel it is important to give people who lean towards the Left a voice outside of the official party newspapers and websites. We want a diversity of opinion ( within reason- hate speech and physical threats will not be tolerated )- a diversity that is too often squelched by rampant political correctness and the party line in " official" socialist media.
 Therefore, as part of the expansion of Rude Reds we are networking with other Reds who have their own individual websites. We are actively encouraging everybody to post their articles on this blog and we hope to return the compliment.
Do our comrades a solid- check out their sites. Read their posts. And feel free to leave a comment, especially if you disagree with them.
Solidarity!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Thanks For Burning The Flag, Dipshit.

Just a quick post on how absolutely fucking retarded this Occupy Oakland guy is. Here is a big reason why the Left never goes anywhere in the U.S.A. The New Left, founded in the 1960s by rich white college kids who decided they were more oppressed than the proletariat, has never been serious about revolutionary change. Quite the opposite, these little punks are far more interested in playing at revolution. To them being a radical is a game and the last thing they want is to have an actual revolution where they might have to do some real work or really put their ass on the line.
You can be goddamn sure that the yellow capitalist press in this country is going to run this image 24/7 over the next few days. This is the image that will go up on the television screen every time the story is about the #Occupy Movement.
The idiots in this image are clearly not thinking about the big picture. Hell, I really doubt that they give a shit about the big picture. Far from this act making some kind of statement all I see is a bunch of spoiled snot nosed shits playing a prank. And that's pretty much how every other working class person in America feels about it. Do the people of the Occupy Movement really expect us to follow clowns like this into revolution? Seriously?
The majority of #Occupy needs to denounce this act of vandalism. I don't give a damn if you think this is a 1st Amendment issue, despise the flag as a symbol of imperialism, or whatever. To the majority of American workers, burning our flag is the same as spitting in their face.
The elites of America have television, newspapers, radio, and all the other forms of media at their command. All we have is our good name. Like it or not, we are engaged in a propaganda war.
Guess who's winning?
Update: There was also a flag burnt by an Occupy Charlotte protestor. The Occupy Movement is committing political suicide before our very eyes.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Union alternatives

Outside of dedicated leftist groups like this one, every single person without exception that I talk to who is not in a union, and some of the people who are, say that unions are not needed anymore, that it's an idea whose time has come and gone, that there's this problem or that problem with unions, and the ones who have been in unions typically have no end of examples they can use to support this. When you point out that the Owners are worse, that they've taken more, ripped off more, and so on, it falls on deaf ears because the programming and indoctrination is simply that strong. I know someone who stays as a nurse at a hospital she hates with management she hates chiefly because the other nearby hospital network has unionized nurses. I know others who've worked in grocery and retail unions and has nothing good to say about them.

If you want unions to be accepted, you need one that will be a shining example, one that will get people to sign on to the idea of unions, one that isn't afraid to snub the political bosses and not be a pawn, one that treats its workers fairly, where anybody has a voice, and one that isn't afraid to fire shitty workers. Without that, give the fuck up now because it's never going to get any traction.

I think we'd get a lot further by encouraging more ownership of companies by the workers therein, like cooperatives, where it's more of a syndicate. Then you don't need a union to protect the workers from the owners because they are the owners of the company, and the workers are not chattel slaves. There are numerous examples of modern functioning cooperative companies, we need to be publicizing these and doing everything we can to support them and participate in them.

For companies too large for cooperative ownership to work (at which point I personally tend to think a company has gotten too large period), we need to fight for higher wages for workers and a cap on executive salaries. I think fighting for higher taxes is a red herring because the wealthy will always find ways out of paying higher taxes on their bracket, and if you pay the working class more, then they move up in brackets and they also spend more (so that's sales taxes as well), save more, and pay off more debts. Additionally, it's hard to argue for higher taxes for the wealthy simply because they use their media outlets to paint it as higher taxes for everyone; compare that to arguing for higher pay for the workers. Bring down the income disparity by bringing the bottom up.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The New Man, Capitalist Version

"Orthodoxy is unconsciousness." George Orwell, 1984

One of the great jokes of the Cold War was the way the Stalinist state  of the Soviet Union portrayed its people versus the reality of their appearance. The Soviet citizen, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the October revolution, was portrayed as a proletarian superman, with bulging muscles clenching his work tools ( easily exchanged for a bayoneted rifle or submachinegun on a Red Army poster) and his chiseled chin jutting with confidence in the direction of the future. Oftentimes he was accompanied by his female helpmate, beautiful but chaste ( wearing the inevitable babushka), and wielding agricultural implements.
The reality was somewhat different. Civil Wars brought famine and the average Soviet citizen in the 1920s was malnourished and painfully thin. Even in the Great Patriotic War against Hitler's legions the Red Army rifleman was still usually shorter and lighter than his Western counterparts. The broad chested, seven foot tall warrior of the victory monuments simply did not exist. During the Cold War the combination of bureaucratic ineptitude, gross military spending, and the lasting damage of the war against fascism produced quite a different Soviet citizen than conceived in the propaganda of the Politburo. The Soviet citizen, after years of hardship and unkept promises, developed into a shrewd businessman who traded on the black market, a cynic who doubted the Party line, and a fatalist whose black humor was usually directed at those who claimed to be serving him.
Throw in rampant alcoholism and this guy was pretty fucking far from the square- jawed working class hero ready to exceed his quota of washers or catch a reactionary bullet in defense of the revolution.
The New Man was one of the cherished myths of  early 20th century socialist eggheads. These cranks envisioned a new version of humanity, one that would rise above petty emotional ties to possessions and family to serve the collective good, to sacrifice anything for progress, and to stride boldly into a future bright with Utopian promise ( this is the image that George Orwell mocked so effectively in his novels Animal Farm and 1984 ).
But before you supporters of capitalism pat yourselves on your backs, I can inform you that the elites you worship have made their version of the New Man. Only they were quite a bit more clever than their commie counterparts.
The capitalist ideal of the New Man is all together more intoxicating to the average asshole in the street because it is it is so easy to obtain. Think of how the common man is portrayed in the media, particularly television. Our working class hero looks like us. He is likely to be overweight, lacking in intellectual curiosity, and obsessed with the trivial ( sports, junk food, pornography, etc. ). In fact he is effectively an adolescent, his mind forever frozen in the 8th grade by a consumer culture fixated  with youth. The only significant break with reality is that this slob is usually married to an incredibly hot wife, but therein lies the genius of this marketing campaign- you can be a fat shiftless moron and still  shack up with an awesome babe.
For the Soviet elite, the purpose of their propaganda was to give their people something to aspire to, to spur them on to greater action. The capitalists who run the United States have a completely different agenda on their minds. The last thing they want is to have working people actively engaged in politics or working for a new future. Our ruling class is quite happy with the way things are now. Their goal is to create a complacent and apathetic class of consumers. The vast majority of the citizens of the U.S.A. do not participate politically in their supposed democracy, not even to get up off their big asses to vote for who will become the most powerful person in the world every four years. This could be excusable if this was the same type of cynicism displayed by the Soviet citizens of the last century but cynicism it is not. It is sheer laziness brought on by years of polluting the airwaves with mindless crap designed to appeal to the basest instincts a human being possesses. Unconscious and disengaged, The New Man of the American Century is not so much a conquering hero as a grazing cow.

Rotting Empire: Failure of Mass Parties


The Electoral College Motto: "No Good Can Come of This"


When I was involved with the American arm of the CWI, every other newspaper article that was published would end with some variation of "... and this is why we need to build a mass party in the interests of the working class."

It was the kind of thing people made jokes about, sounding like a goddamn broken record every issue. It was also the sort of thing that caused me endless writerly exasperation. I'm sure it eventually bored the few readers who were not already members.

But hey, on its own, a "mass party" sounds well and good, right? After all, as the activist group (rightly) points out: Wall Street has two parties of its own - Democrats and Republicans. Two variations of the same general practices. A center-right party and a conservative party. They keep America good and profitable. It sure would be nice if there was a great big party for working folks to defend their own interests, wouldn't it? Fight fire with fire?

No. Wrong.

Hence:

RULES FOR RESISTANCE, #1: NO ONE WHO USES THE WORD "MASS" OR "MASSES" IN A POSITIVE WAY IS YOUR ALLY.

People who don't use those words aren't necessarily your allies, either. But folks who use this kind of terminology tend, in my experience, to either be psychopathic schemers or the boot-licking lackeys for psychopathic schemers. They will also, at some point, refer to you as "unwashed."


"The masses." If people referred to me by my density, I wouldn't wash, either.


Let's face it: when you join a "mass party," ie, a party made up of lots of people united for a common interest, you're compromising your individual positions for a party platform. That has its uses, sure. Legalizing gay marriage. Legalizing hemp. Banning the death penalty. We live in a pretty big country and pretty big decisions "have" to get made.

But your voice gets drowned out. There's lots of people shrieking for the ears of just a few representatives. Having a new political party doesn't change that. And it's always the political people shrieking the loudest, the ones who think they know best for everybody else.

We don't need another party that whitewashes personal and regional differences.

Also big parties are targets for big interests. The Democrats are constantly co-opted by business, and they're constantly co-opting social movements in turn. Big institutions, whether it be corrupt labor bureaucracies or planet-poisoning industries or corrupt financial powerhouses, use big political parties to cover their asses. That's how the Republican party can house both working-class conservatives ("I don't want my money going to anyone else!") and rich conservatives ("I don't want my money going to anyone else!").

We can't get what we want out of national parties. We can't build a "mass party" that we won't eventually lose to other "mass" institutions. Look at the Labour Party in Britain!

It'd be much wiser to form smaller parties that we can hold on a short leash. Keep em accountable. Keep em close to the people they represent. It'd do us far more good in the long run to start paying more attention to our local political scene, instead of fixating on a cabal of a few hundred limp-dicked old fossils in Washington whose geriatric minds we will never change.


Political parties love their Dicks (this one is Cheney).


Mass parties emerged from mass communications: the telegraph, the radio, telephones and television. Look at where our technology is heading, what it's doing to our lives and our society, and ask yourself what it will and could do to the political parties of the future. And to you socialist activists, nostalgic for the myths of the mighty Bolsheviks, you need to get yourselves in shape. This is far, far away from the Russia of the first World War. This ... is reality. And the old models cannot engage it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!


It's the time of year where The Man pauses to pay tribute to its favorite appropriated revolutionary, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Junior. So it's a good for us to remember that he wasn't just an outspoken black man who stood up for civil rights, but a perpetrator of "direct action" and, in the eyes of the oppressive institutions of his time, a criminal.

It was criminal in the 1960s to defy racial segregation. It was criminal to have marches, boycotts, sit-ins, and strikes. Standing alongside the everyday men and women involved in the struggle for equality, MLK was repeatedly arrested - according to the King Center, 30 times.

Sort of flies in the face of what we think of as "criminal," doesn't it?

Like many great thinkers, some of his best words were written from prison. Good lord, that letter finds a whole new realm of relevance with the rise of Occupy Wall Street!

Don't let the LCD flag-waving media turn King into another talking head with a sound-bite dream. 150 years after slavery, racism is still alive and well in America; OWS has taught white and privileged Americans the truths of police brutality which the black community has known for decades. And not everyone the State would like to paint a criminal is in fact our enemy - some are trying to help us face the brutal force we accept all too easily.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Urban Homestead

It was my fiancee's birthday recently, and as a gift to the home she bought The Urban Homestead. 65 pages deep, it's a wonderful book so far.

And sure, you can find reviews of it anywhere - and also tons of news about the legal debate over the book's title and the term "urban homesteading" (is there anything dumber than arguing over who "owns" words? guh). I'm not going to contribute to the wealth (clutter?) of that criticism. But I do want to use it to launch more refined points about politics, economics, and the failure of mass institutionality. By which I mean the slow collapse of mass culture and mass politics via their decomposing institutions.

I'm looking forward to that. Meanwhile, I suggest getting ahold of this book!