June 12, 2017

Jazz Activism

As somebody who both studies revolution, and as somebody who went to school for jazz performance, the interplay between spontaneity and organization is particularly of interest to me.

Leaders exist whether or not we call them leaders.  Events at occupy wall street were organized by teams of people, and did not happen spontaneously, but required days, sometimes weeks, of nonstop planning and organization.

The model of “consensus” is not a particularly anarchist or socialist model of running meetings, it originated in the quaker church and was adopted by utopian idealists in the 1960s.  It’s hung around as a way to run meetings because that’s what people know.  It didn’t spontaneously come about, it was an extant operating system and was deliberately put in place by leadership who felt it was a good system for running meetings. Whether or not it actually is, is another matter that can be debated.

Seemingly spontaneous moments will occur, but the consciousness of those moments will be varied, depending on the level of self-education of those engaging the moment.

There is a difference between stopping a single pipeline and stopping the economic system that keeps building these pipelines.

Jazz uses improvisation, but it also requires structure.  Some tunes, like standards provide a structural foundation with given chords and rhythms that one improvises over. But there is also free jazz, which starts with very little material and is collaboratively created through the interaction between all the musicians participating. The less structure and the less material one starts with, the more intensely studied one needs to be in music theory, the greater the depth of knowledge one needs to have of harmony, rhythm, and melody in order to make it work. Otherwise you’ll just end up playing the same things that you already know over and over. 
There is a difference between camping out on wall street and actually dismantling capitalism and the capitalist state.  If we get too close to actually threatening the functioning of the system, the system will use violence to crush our resistance, as we saw during the eviction of OWS and destruction of our camps on the day that we planned to actually occupy the floor of the NYSE.


In the years ahead the conflicts will be greater and greater, and our ability to resist the violence of the state will need to grow exponentially.  If we’re going to do this, it won’t happen by accident, and it will require extremely thoughtful and organized planning, and the discussion of tactics that we will use, and tactics that we will not use, in any given moment, depending on the strength of our forces.  If we are serious about overthrowing capitalism and the state, we can’t just protest for the sake of protesting, nor can we just throw bricks through a starbucks window for the sake of destroying property.  If we are serious about winning, we need to be cautious about inviting excuses for the capitalist state to crush us using violence, and be serious about building our forces, and building the level of education of the general population.

Spontaneous moments will happen.  Our role as Socialists is to prepare for them.

March 25, 2017

The Limits of Identity as a Lens to Understand the World

So referring to members of organizations who are part of an oppressed identity group as "token members" as a way to insult the organization is messed up. It assumes that those individuals have no self-agency, no control over their own thoughts, and that they didn't come to their politics on their own terms, informed by their own experiences and self-education.

Lately, I've seen the accusation of people being "tokens" done by people who disagree with Marxism and the politics of intersectionality and solidarity, who use identity as their primary lens for understanding the world, and believe that identity is sufficient to inform political and organizational strategy.

It instead highlights the failure of identity to explain the world, and the political conclusions reached by individuals of oppressed identities that are not in lock step with members of identitarian cliques. People in various identity groups often believe and act contrary to the way that they are expected to. This incongruence between believe and action, and identity is often explained away by identitarians saying that these individuals are not actually members of that oppressed identity, and is invalidating of that persons experience and identity as a member of that oppressed identity.

This sort of illogical and insulting conclusion leads to white activists shouting down black people as being anti-black racists, or shouting down trans people as being transphobic.  And the reason for this isn't because there is any substance to these accusations-- it's because there is a strategic or political difference, which is being elided.

Now it's entirely possible that black people have internalized anti-black prejudices, or that trans people have internalized anti-trans prejudices-- and the identitarians shouting people down have to agree in order to engage in this sort of behavior.  But to agree that identity doesn't coincide with politics invalidates the foundational premise of identity politics-- that identity is sufficient to inform your political worldview and strategies for change.

Now identity politics is problematic itself for a host of other reasons. Using identity to explain why people should have a certain set of politics is reductive (the opposite of intersectional), and members of oppressed identity groups who do not fall lock-step in with a clique are cast as being "self-hating", or as being guilty of upholding and defending other oppressions.

This is all done as a way to hide political disagreements and cast the person in question as being "bad" rather than actually having out debate around areas where disagreements lay, with the goal of winning people to a point of view. It attacks the person and not the argument (ad homeniem), which is toxic and destructive behavior.

Intersectionality, as it was originally conceived by Kimberle Crenshaw is not about how many oppressions you as an individual can tick a box next to on a list. It's about how identities and oppressions interact and cannot be (and should not be) used to reduce any individual to any one monolithic set of experiences. It was an argument against both identity-based reductionism and class based reductionism, but has been taken by those who perhaps have not read the source materials to mean something entirely the opposite, and they instead argue that identity CAN be used to reduce an individual to a monolithic identity.

Intersectionality, as originally conceived, is an argument in favor of Solidarity politics, because nobody can be reduced to monolithic identities, and all our struggles intersect and overlap with one another.  Just as black women have a different lived experience from black men because of gender, and also have a different lived experience than white women because of race, there is no monolithic "black female experience" either.  The black lesbian experience is different from the black female experience.  Ultimately, everybody's experience is different, and identity shapes people's oppressions, and these oppressions are different from person to person, but the conclusion that must be drawn is either that each of us are too unique in our own oppressions to come together and fight in solidarity, or our oppressions are linked and intersect in ways that require us to come together and fight in solidarity.

One of these strategies will destroy the left, and the other will build the left into a force that can take on all systems of oppression and defeat them.  I'm going to throw my lot in with the politics of solidarity, and fight to end all oppressions, even ones that I don't experience directly.

March 22, 2017

If the Illuminati are real, I want to join


There's two options: The illuminati are either real or they are not.

If they are real, I want to join; and if they aren't-- I want to start them up. Having god-powers to control all the major events in world history for our own nefarious ends sounds like a sweet deal. But wait, what are our nefarious ends?

Gaining control of everything? That can't be true-- The illuminati have *always* been in control of everything, including the weather. There's literally no way to stop us, so like, why even bother thinking about it?

We, the Illuminati, offer you something that you desire: a sense of purpose in a cruel, random, and unforgiving universe. We give you a story about why bad things happen to good people. We provide the illusion of order in a random chaotic universe.

So long as you have us in charge, you don't have to think about how totally terrifying it is that nobody is actually in charge of this chaotic nonsensical shitshow we call life.

Not convinced? Just imagine a world without the Illuminati, and you'll see why you need us.

Shootings would happen not because it's a false flag operation, but because some random asshole has a gun!!! Yikes! If that were the case, mass shootings would happen like, every year! What if the nearly 100 people who die of gun violence every day in America, die for no reason, other than some other asshole has a gun? Wouldn't you rather it instead be part of our plan to slowly eradicate the human race in accordance to the Georgia Guide Stones? Because, if it wasn't our doing, that would mean that nearly 100 people die every day for no reason! That's really scary and upsetting!

Or what about extreme weather events!? If it wasn't for HAARP controlling the weather, extreme weather would be caused by naturally occurring meteorological forces that we've got no control over! Do you really want to feel powerless like that? I mean, it sounds really stupid to ascribe human motives like anger or malice to uncaring, unconscious weather systems that are literally not alive, and are just the product of a confluence of natural physical forces. If it wasn't for the Illuminati, weather systems would destroy people's homes for no reason! How terrifying! It's almost like it could happen to anybody! And for no reason! And it's not just the result of a kind of primitive thinking, like how the Vikings ascribed bad weather to the anger of Freya or Thor-- the Illuminati aren't actually gods. They are people who use their science powers, and their reverse engineered alien tech, and their special Jewish powers that only Jewish people get, to amass incredible amounts of wealth and power so that they can control the fabric of reality like gods. Which is why science is bad, and anything beyond your capacity to understand should be destroyed. That's so much more rational, don't you think?

If we got the illuminati out of controlling medicine, we'd have single payer healthcare by now (but no pharmaceuticals, because drugs are chemicals and are therefore bad-- unless that drug is marijuana, which has lots of chemicals that cure literally EVERYTHING).  Or the opposite of Single Payer, because big government is bad, and we could all just retreat into our fallout bunkers and we'll just eat hydroponically grown kale and never die of anything because when you live underground, you can't get poisoned by chemtrails.

It goes without saying that the government is controlled by the illuminati, but what if it wasn't?  That would mean that the ruling class instituted a sham democracy so that they could exploit the working class! That sounds like something Karl Marx would say!  And we all know, Karl Marx was Illuminati, because he was ethnically Jewish, and used his special Jewish Powers to create communism-- which is not a form of democratic control of the workplace and society-- it's a ploy by the Illuminati! Why?  We're not sure.  We did that one just for fun, I guess.

If the illuminati didn't control financial sector? It'd be chaos!  Stock prices would rise and fall with the anarchic forces of the market! And what then?! Why, we'd just have a bunch of greedy rich people fighting with one another to be the ones who are best able to enrich themselves at the expense of the working class and the environment! That sounds like boring old capitalism.  There's no magic there.  No thanks.  Give me that zazzle, zing, pow-- give me that Illuminati!  Capitalism could totally work if it wasn't for the Illuminati!

((psych!  The whole "capitalism would work if it wasn't for the illuminati is actually a double-fake, by us, the illuminati!  We use Capitalism to maintain our control over everything!  That's how good we are!  I put this part in double parenthesis so that way only people who are in the illuminati initiation program with me can read this part, otherwise the secret will get out that the illuminati aren't real and that it's just capitalism, the ruling class, and a complex tapestry of social forces and competing ideologies. Shh! Don't tell anyone!))
Our logo is super creepy looking, right?

Clearly The illuminati are real though, and thank goodness. How do you explain David Rockefeller dying on the first day of the Pagan year? It was a ritual sacrifice! DUH!  There's no way a really old guy with a ton of money (that you ascribe a bunch of weird values from your internalized anti-pagan sentiment that is quite literally a holdover from the Roman Empire's conquest of Europe) could have randomly died on a day that coincides with an arbitrary position of the Earth around the Sun!  And if that is the case, it's quite frankly boring.  Let's give his death magical powers instead!

The trilateral commission! New World Order? That's not internal competition between various sectors of the ruling class! It's us! All us!

Bra-burning feminists and the destruction of the family?  That's not a result of thousands of years of patriarchy, unequal pay, and downward pressure on wages by the ruling class, that's the illuminati. You see, women don't actually want equal rights or equal pay.  Naturally, they are very comfortable with their inferior station in life, and are docile like deer eating alfalfa pellets in a petting zoo. This is because genetically they are just less good than men.  They actually have no agency over their own thoughts and are incapable of thinking for themselves or forming their own opinions. So what's up with all this feminism?! We'll that's just an illuminati thought-program that we poisoned their mind with using mind-control implant chips (you may know them as IUDs) that beam thoughts into their brains using RFID tech. 

((We call them RFIUDs... Shh!)).

Clearly, it's much better to have the Illuminati around. We make bad things happen so you have someone to blame, so you can sleep at night knowing that somebody is in control, so you don't have to be constantly be in a state of existential crisis about the cruel uncaring universe. We provide order to the chaos.

February 14, 2017

If some alt-right dumbfuck tells you "the civil war wasn't about slavery" show them this

"Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth." - Alexander Stephens, vice president of the CSA, March 1861

"The recent declaration of the candidate and leaders of the Black Republican Party must suffice to convince many who have formerly doubted the purpose to attack the institution of slavery in the states. The undying opposition to slavery in the United States means war upon it, where it is, not where it is not." - Jefferson Davis 1860

"But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation." - South Carolina's "Declaration of the Immediate Causes" for secession

"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin." - second paragraph, A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union, Jan. 1861

"Whereas, the election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin to the offices of president and vice-president of the United States of America, by a sectional party, avowedly hostile to the domestic institutions and to the peace and security of the people of the State of Alabama, preceded by many and dangerous infractions of the constitution of the United States by many of the States and people of the Northern section, is a political wrong of so insulting and manacing a character as to justify the people of the State of Alabama in the adoption of prompt and decided measures for their future peace and security, therefore:" - Alabama's Ordinance of Secession, Jan 1861

"The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic." - opening lines of Georgia's secession, Jan 1861

"We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial and tolerable." - A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union, Feb 1861

November 27, 2016

Obama's Silence on Standing Rock



by Caitrin Smith

Democrats and socialists have fundamentally different ideas of how American democracy works, how change comes about, and who makes that change happen. Democrats seem to understand it as an interplay of policies, laws, treaties, and courts that come together to form what many agree is an American democracy.




Socialists argue, that "American democracy" is really unfettered capitalism, oligarchy, and a system which bends all those polices, laws, treaties, and courts to benefit the ruling class (those with capital/and those protecting it). It will be challenging for us to come to an agreement on Obama's response (or lack thereof) to Standing Rock if we have fundamentally different understandings on how the system operates. They argue that the bureaucratic process is "how our system is designed to work" and that change comes from "courts and congress."

What we argue, through a careful look at history, political theory, and practical experience in struggle, is that sweeping social movements are what pressure and make those laws pass, not the slow process of Democrat sanctioned reform.

To compliment the suggestion that working class solidarity/struggle pushes change, we argue that capital is the opposing force that makes these same laws bend. What we see at Standing Rock is a dance between oppressor and oppressed; the protectors of water push the laws in our favor and the protectors of capital push them back against us. In other words, there are two things that pressure our government: the working class's ability to organize and capital; our task is to make the former more powerful than the latter.

Standing Rock will continue to mount this pressure. Obama's complacency is an admission of allegiance to the protectors of capital rather than the protectors of water. If you are interested in exploring the effectiveness of reforming capitalism/the democratic party, to read Lance Selfa's "The Democrats: A Critical History" and Howard Zinn's "A People's History."

Selfa lays out, quite convincingly, the faults of the Democratic Party as being a pro capitalist, neoliberal, reformist party that has actually been detrimental for working people who have dedicated their lives to the black freedom struggle, LGBTQ rights, immigration reform, native american sovereignty, the list goes on.

Zinn argues that social change in these areas has not come from Democrats and the "bureaucratic process" but pressure of mass movements in the street and pressure from the people. Those who continue to have faith in the system (and the elected leaders who protect that system at our expense) that created and spawned the conditions for something like standing rock to occur, are digging their own graves: history teaches us to look elsewhere for real, social change.

That being said, it is not mutually exclusive to understand the working class as the agent for social change AND argue for the president of our country to at least offer a statement of support or admit that native american's are treated like absolute garbage historically and currently in the US. He hasn't done that, and they deserve that. They deserve something beyond, "We will get to addressing your oppression later, when the courts and congress and the bureaucratic process allows it."

Native American women are more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other race (and not by Native American men- mind you), Native American men are more likely to be murdered by police than any other race. Native Americans have some of the worst healthcare, highest poverty rates, and hardest living conditions than any other subgroup in the US. They demand to be heard and they should be.



Its deplorable that Obama hasn't even bothered to acknowledge this reality and they are only asking for clean drinking water. "I'll get around to it when the system allows" is an inexcusable response to oppression that will only worsen in his complacency.

I am not a Democrat, I have no faith in the two parties of capitalism. I am a socialist, which means I doubt the Democrats will agree with us; they wont until they see our system through a similar lens.

As Lenin once stated, "...'Full freedom' means election of officials and other office-holders who administer public and state affairs. 'Full freedom' means the complete abolition of a state administration that is not wholly and exclusively responsible to the people, that is not elected by, accountable to, and subject to recall by, the people. 'Full freedom' means that it is not the people who should be subordinated to officials, but the officials who should be subordinated to the people."

November 16, 2016

Preliminary thoughts on the disarray in Trump's transition camp:

via Owen Hill:

1. The disarray at the moment is not primarily being driven by protests in the street but instead by the arrogance and overreach of a triumphant Trump. They have axed a section of their ruling class supporters in an effort to settle scores and punish those that they deemed insufficiently loyal.

2. This has two effects: first of narrowing their base of support within the ruling class, second of energizing their far right populist base--since they are proving their "anti-establishment" credentials.

3. While the discord is being driven from within the administration, the ongoing protests have made it clear that there is a political price to be paid for compliance. Sanders and Deblasio seem to be the most prominent Democrats who have broken ranks so far from the Democratic Party line of "unity" for "an orderly transition". The early breaks widen our opening to assert a politics of mass resistance to the Trump regime. Simultaneously the continued protests are making it less likely that other establishment politicians will easily forgive and forget the scorn of the moment, which is how they would like to proceed.

4. Two dangers confront us: first that we assume that the rulers who break ranks and turn against Trump are really on our side. They are making a political calculation based on our mobilizations. End the mobilizations and the political calculus changes. Second, that we miss the way in which the discord at the top will actually energize Trump's base. The hardest of the hardcore elements will become more determined to fight as a result of the fighting at the top and they will have a broader appeal as well. This heights the need for self-defense and for a readiness to defend those being attacked. Moreover it puts a premium on confronting the far right as they begin to organize: their demonstrations, organizing meetings and organizing networks must be exposed and challenged. Meetings of the Klan must be broken up when they emerge. Keep them atomized and on the run.

November 6, 2016

Bernie Was Wrong to Endorse Hillary

There's nothing admirable about selling out the movement you built to back a candidate who worked with party operatives to sabotage your campaign and oppose everything you campaigned on.

Sanders ended his campaign exactly wrong, and has completely disoriented the movement he built and funnelled it into a bourgeois political party that sabotaged him from day one-- and he will extract nothing from the DNC in return for it-- neither for his personal gain, nor for his movement. What he will get in return, is a candidate who campaigned in 2008 on using nuclear weapons against Iran, who lobbied in Haiti to suppress the minimum wage at the behest of sweatshops, who used the state department to back a right-wing military coup in Honduras and then deported the refugees back to die, who lobbied for fracking around the world as Sec of State, who voted repeatedly as Senator to authorize and fund Bush's illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, who called the TPP "the gold standard in trade deals", who supported NAFTA as first lady, who lobbied for racist drug laws, who opposed gay marriage (and continues to privately), who calls Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden traitors who should be put to death, who backs the Keystone XL, and who is backed by all the same banks who are backing the DAPL pipeline going through Standing Rock (which is why she's silent-- she will complete the pipeline when she is president).

People said that Bernie could be like the "Ron Paul of the left wing" and move the right-wing DNC to the left. Yet, at the end of it, Bernie has proven himself a political coward. Ron Paul ended his campaign by refusing to endorse the GOP nominee, and endorsed the Libertarian Party candidate for president, and gave birth to the Tea Party, which has shifted both the DNC and GOP to the right wing. Bernie could have done the same by backing Jill Stein.

Bernie forfeited his chance to build a serious left wing challenge, when he endorsed Hillary. His "our Revolution" is neither revolutionary, nor ours, it is just another liberal nonprofit in a long line of failed liberal nonprofits formed in the attempt to reform an unreformable Wall Street political party. The Tea Party sought to make a far-right party more right wing. It succeeded. If Bernie's movement is an attempt to reform a center-right political party and make it leftist, it is doomed to fail.

What's needed is for the American left to say Goodbye DNC and work to build a politically independent party that runs it's own candidates, which remains independent of corporate money. Jill Stein is doing that work. I back her, and I back the Green Party. Because with the atmosphere over 400ppm CO2, the future of the planet quite literally depends on it.