Misconceptions About Electoralism

There is a sentiment shared by some leftists that if one participates in electoral politics then one is inherently counter revolutionary. Many have the idea in their heads that if one is in favor of organizing for electoral politics then that person must think electoral politics is the only answer. This idea in my opinion is shallow, insulting, and nearsighted.

I am pro electoral politics but I am not some naive fool who thinks that we can solve all of our problems simply with reforms and elections. I believe that in order to bring about total revolution we need to be organizing on all fronts relevant to the working class in the time we live in, and yes one of those fronts is electoral.

However, I believe we must also be constructing alternatives to capitalism through local acts of mutual aid and solidarity, that we must have an internationally focused analysis and support fights for liberation all over the globe, and that we must organize the workers, tenants, and patients of the world to overthrow the capitalist system.

I do not think electoral politics can solve much but I do believe that it can 1. Help with mass base building and 2. Can be used to put up resistance to right wing influence. While electoral politics will never bring about the totality of revolution it is a way to reach millions of people at once. Reaching this many people with a working class platform is essential to laying the foundation for revolution. Not only this but participating in elections inconveniences the right wing.

The system is inherently built to protect the right wing because the interests of the right are the interests of capital, however electing leftists to all ranks of public office puts up road blocks to right wing policies. The more we can make things harder for the right wing the better. I do not understand why some on the left forsake this!

For example when abortion bans are introduced to legislatures, the presence of leftists can offer open vocal challenges to these bills and even organize their defeat. This in the short term is a genuine material victory for the working class, their rights to reproductive health are safe for another day. In the long term, if organized properly, their campaign will have built a base that can be mobilized when needed. An example of how to properly utilize the base you have built is best personified in the Bernie campaign. Bernie has used his network to alert his base about ICE raids and strike actions, this is what elected officials should be doing!

The other thing to remember is that no leftist should view one single tactic as a panacea. No single tactic will bring revolution and revolution itself is not a panacea (remember, revolution is not the end but the means to an end!) This is why it is imperative that we be present on all fronts. The number of issues that are connected to the realities of capital create so many different fronts that need to be organized. The attacks on women’s choice, the attacks on sex workers, the attacks on black lives and immigrants, the attacks on unions, the attacks on tenants, and the attacks on genuinely democratic elections are all places where the left must be taking action.

I find it insulting and genuinely shallow that some people think because I am in favor of organizing for electoral politics that I must only believe in electoralism and reform as our means.

No, I believe in electoralism and reform as a tactic of base building, inconveniencing the right wing agenda, and winning short term material goals. I believe that true revolution can only be achieved when the left is built into a massive front united against capital! I do not see electoral politics as a panacea, nor do I fetishize the idea of spotenous revolution, as many leftists do.

Another thing to remember is that infiltration is a lost art to the left. Snu Tzus Art of War makes a clear argument that spies are a necessary tool to win any war, and make no mistake because we are in a class war. We on the left have no spies, no insiders, no informants. We constantly have to worry about the likes of the FBI or local police infiltrating our ranks, the agents of the state should be just as worried about us spying on them. Yet they are not, all because so many on the left do not touch electoralism and reform.

I am willing to concede that electoralism and reform is not sexy. It is not as romantic as ultra left reading groups larping about the russian revolution, it does not feel like as much of an immediate material gain when compared to local acts of mutual aid, it is not as cool to post on social media as a sit in or mass arrest is, but internal base building is essential and electoral work streamlines base building.

Yet once again I must reitierate, I do not see electoral gains as a panacea. I see them as a short term base building gain and a short term material gain when we use elections to put up blockades to right wing attacks on the working class. To act like I believe in no other tactic, no other hope for a massive revolution is insulting, gaslighting, nearsighted, shallow, and just over all counter revolutionary. We can never expect to defeat the right wing if we are still having trivial arugments about whether or not to vote! While we continue to have these conversations, the ice caps melt and all who are not white cis males are attacked by the day.

We cannot afford to reject any area where we can achieve a genuine material gain, be it in the short or long term. We must build our base, our platform, and mobilize. What many on the left forget, we are still in the phase of building our base.

So abandon this shallow outlook. I am not asking you to embrass electoralism, I am demanding you stop assuming that someone using one tactic means the only believe in that one tactic. We cannot afford to be nearsighted, we have too much work to do.

Advertisements

The Sacramento Housing Crisis

Homelessness, Gentrification, and Rent control. One cannot live in Sacramento for three days without hearing these words or seeing them in the news. Especially not the Mayor.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg in a recent interview with NPR went so far as to say, “The G word [gentrification] is not allowed!” After being bombarded at several city council meetings by housing activists, he seems tired of getting called out for his lack of action on the Sacramento Housing Crisis.

Sacramento is in red alert when it comes to housing. Neighborhoods have become gentrified thanks to skyrocketing rent rates and frequent small business closures. Homelessness in the county has jumped by 85% since 2015 (19% in 2019 alone). Sacramento has the highest climbing rent rates in the nation. Most cities see rent increases per-year that average at around 4%, Sacramento has seen rent increase at a rate of 9% per-year since 2015. A single bedroom apartment averages at $1,110 per month. None of these things are coincidental.

Mayor Steinberg and the city council have supported a several band-aid measures to address the issue, all of them short of supporting comprehensive rent control for the city. There is a push for the construction of more “tiny homes” which are small single person homes built into little villages, and the constant opening, closing, and moving of homeless shelters.

However the tiny home solution is merely a transitional living space and does not give the homeless a permanent residence, and the opening of shelters has been difficult. Every neighborhood association in the city agrees that we need more shelters yet none of them are wanted in their perspective neighborhoods. Several business owners have pushed for an anti camping ordinance in the city, which was approved by city council and is now in full effect. Homeless camps are evicted and shut down frequently by the Sacramento Police and Sheriff’s departments. People caught sleeping on the street are hassled daily.

The city council has also responded with even harsher measures than that. The city council unanimously supported a ban on panhandling, which was overturned in federal court thanks to the ACLU and housing activists in Sacramento. Not only does the mayor think he can ban words, he thinks he can ban people begging for change to survive.

If the city had rent control, neighborhoods would not suffer from gentrification. People would not be priced out of their homes and would not be forced on the streets, so they would not have to panhandle to survive either.

Homelessness, Gentrification, and Rent Control. The three words you will never be able to escape while living in Sacramento, no matter how hard Darrell Steinberg tries.

Wanna Be Socrates, a poem

Dull, now babbles some

wanna-be Socrates.

A Plato of the non-

existent preverbal page.

An awkward stammer

and pause gone about

with forced emotion.

So forced that it has no force,

no power,

gone and now at rest,

deserving non of its fake praise.

Lofty lust, and more incoherent

babbles and rambles in the name

of some forgotten crackpot

pipe dream.

Again this “philosopher” speaks,

and the actual teacher wretches in the corner,

excess is the key word

of the wanna-be Socrates.

Sonnet 18 Revisited, a poem

Shall I compare thee to a summer sweat?

Thou art more sticky, unwanted and unpleasant.

Rough wings smelling of piss do flow wild as you speak,

And your public lease is illegitimate.

Sometimes too hot your words break,

And often is other complexions marked to for sin.

And every justice spirited.

By chance our natures changing course, you win,

But summer swelters always end.

No power you have is fair, throughout!

And death will grab you, gold will not ascend,

When eternal lines to time thrown out.

So long as we can breathe or see,

You are ruing my life’s prosperity.

Bounce Back Bernie! My Analysis of the First Debates

Okay, so for those who watched the first 2020 democratic party debates, here is my final verdict:

Winner: Kamila Harris. She definitely came out looking the strongest out of any candidate. That is not an endorsement by the way it is just a statement of fact, the sky is blue and Kamila Harris held and gained ground thanks to her presence on the debate stage. The teeth that she laid into Biden are bites that he will have a hard time recovering from and gave her an image a more feisty “I take no shit” kind of appeal.

Loser: Biden. He took a public beating from Harris, fumbled his answers, and just straight up I lied. “I was not against bussing.” Yeah, grade A lies. I knew this would happen to be honest. Biden is riding high on Obama’s coattails for now but Biden has always debated and paneled horribly. Every time Biden runs for president he flounders in the debate and any chances he has are killed with the gush of dog shit that comes out of his mouth. Plus the more people like Harris continue to press him on the issues of race such as bussing and praising segregationists the more he will hurt. It may not be for a while, but Biden is on his way out.

Bernie’s Performance: SO/SO. I’d give him a 6 out of 10. He was definitely the candidate saying the things I agreed with the most and he stayed consistent with his message, but it came across more stiff than firm. Bernie needs to stay consistent with his message but if we wants to pull more votes in the primary he needs to find a new ways to deliver his message. I am not suggesting he compromise his working class platform, but that he find ways to make it sound different and fresher each time. He also missed some opportune free throws and chances to take on the smears against him.

“Do you hate diversity Bernie Sanders?” Asks shit for brains Chuck Todd.

“No, I have the most diverse campaign staff for any candidate. Next question.”

That is how that interaction should have gone.

However Bernie did win in another way. The fact that all of the policy questions revolved around progressive values such as medicare for all or solidarity with the undocumented, means that it is progressives like Bernie who set the dialogue for that debate. The same can be said of the debate the night before this one. Even though Bernie was not on stage, his policies and platform were.

We have a long election season ahead of us, there is time for Bernie to bounce back. If he wants to recover he needs to sharpen his teeth. He needs to find new ways for him to communicate his platform that are consistent with his platform. Harris will see a bump over the next few weeks, Biden will be struggling to recover and each debate will be worse for him.

It’s going to be a long election season.

Why Socialism? Because We’re All Going To Die!

Many wonder why I have moved so far left. They wonder why I have embraced the terms “socialist” and “communist.”

Now, many tell me that the word “communism” is still too stigmatizing and off putting to people who have not yet been radicalized. This maybe true, to paraphrase Nelson Madela “the oppressor inevitably has control over the tone of the dialogue.”

If this is true, and assuming that it is, then one of the roads to liberation is taking control of the dialogue, and this can only be done by embracing the terms Marxist, Socialist, and Communist, without watering them down through other terms like “liberal” or “progressive.” It should be noted that when we are not talking about Stalinism when we are using the word socialism but the association between the terms Stalinist and Communist is an annoyingly nearsighted one that is not worth addressing.

We should not shy away from the truth of our goal as leftists, which is the abolition of the capitalist state and the creation of cooperative world, free from the toxic nationalism that comes with borders and the racist, colonialist, ableist, patriarchy, which upholds capitalism.

However, there is another reason why we should not shy away from the words communism and socialism, and that is the matter of our planet’s sustainability.

It can no longer be denied that the existence of the humanity and society is dependant on us creating a ecologically sustainable economy and lifestyle. This can only happen through cooperation.

The liberal notion that laws and reforms from the top down can salvage the planet are laughable. (Side note, I am in favor of the Green New Deal, do not mistake this for sectarianism) What I mean is that simple band-aid acts such as carbon taxes or emissions limits passed by bourgeoise politicians will do nothing to alter the course of our impending demise. We have approximately one decade to salvage ourselves from a climate crisis and we cannot afford mere reformism to be our savior.

These are moments when I often think about Rosa Luxemburg’s famous line, “Our choices are socialism or barbarism.” Well, the ecological disaster in our midst is barbarism. Socialism or barbarism is not merely a call to action, but a warning. A warning that a top down, non cooperative economy and social structure will inevitably doom our species and the only alternative to that is a democratic cooperative economy. IE, socialism, communism.

The importance of a sustainable, cooperative ecological economy also ties into all issues that are important to the left. Heavy polluting factories are always put in the poorest neighborhoods. Polluted water is raising the infant mortality rate, leaving working class mothers to watch their children die. Pipelines cut through rivers and tribal lands, perpetuating the imperialist colonialism that founded the U.S.

The only way to counter how capitalism pollutes our world is with its antithesis, and the antithesis is socialism.

So when people tell me, “Communism is too dangerous of a term,” or say, “Don’t call it socialism, it’s too off putting!” I say unto them that the destruction of our species at the hands of an economy controlled by the greedy few and not the hungry masses is far more off putting than a few simple words. Words which mean cooperation and liberation I might add!

When people say that leftist language is too dangerous, I say to them what Rosa said, “Our choices are socialism or barbarism.” The barbarism is about to kill us, it is time for socialism!

Leon

Leon sat on the porch as the sun set behind the red silhouetted hills off in the horizon. As it went down the sun turned the sky into a deep purple with streaks of orange drizzled throughout. The sun itself had shifted into a deep red hue, a red that reminded Leon of the flags he once raised over vanquished enemies. Even though the shadows of the mountains had swallowed the whole front of the compound, Leon could still see the shadows of his bodyguards patrolling the entrance, their rifles almost making it look like they were carrying crucifixes on their backs.

It had been years since Leon was forced to flee his homeland, and though he was gracious to his hosts and happy to be alive, he just never could get used to the climate. The desserts of Mexico were vastly different from the muddy winters and bright springs of home. Leon was glad to have found refuge in Mexico, but he always missed home.

Leon did find the sunsets in Mexico more beautiful though. They gave him something beautiful to look up at when he wanted to take a break from his notebooks and studies. Leon was a man of the pen, a day he did not write a letter, an article, or a chapter in his next book was always a bad day.

Today was shaping up to be a bad day, nothing could get him to work on his book, not even the strong coffee that his local comrades had gifted to him. Leon was not able to write anything that day, until he came out to the porch to watch the sunset. For some reason, the deep red sun shading the sky had inspired him, and he took advantage of the withering daylight to fill his notebook as much as possible.

After the last bit of sunlight had been swallowed into darkness, Leon grabbed his books and notes and moved inside into his study. He sat at his desk and tried to continue with his writing, but he was drained out. For some reason now that he was away from the sunset he could not think about his text, he could only think of the sunsets back home.

He was lost in his pondering when he was then jolted by a knock on the door. Leon got up to answer it an on the other end of the door was one of Leon’s guards and a young comrade, Franc. Franc was young and Leon admired the energy of young comrades like him. He had been to the compound several times before with articles for Leon to read and had earned a degree of respect for his candor from Leon’s other comrades.

“Mr. Franc calling on you, comrade.” Said the guard.

“Send him in send him in.” Said Leon, gesturing for the young man to come in, closing the door and leaving his guard in the hall to stand watch as he did every night.

“No doubt you have an article for me to look at Comrade Jacson?” Said Leon as he returned to his desk.

“Yes Comrade.” Franc said pulling a stack of papers from out of a whicker brief case. “I wrote about the syndicalists, and contextualize what happened to them in the wake of this new world war.”

“Ah yes, so many of our enemies are all at war at once and all with each other!” Leon gave a chuckle looking at the papers handed to him as he sat down.

Leon shuffled through the pages to count them quickly before he began to read.

Suddenly Leon felt like a thousand nails had been driven into his forehead. He felt the crack of his skull and the surge of torture that came flowing through his entire body from the corner of his shattered temple.

Leon looked up from the papers to see that Franc had struck him. He struck him with something both sharp and blunt at the same time somehow. As Leon screamed in pain Franc delivered another blow, adding a stabbing pain to the torturous throbbing and shattered bone that was now torturing Leon.

Franc raised his weapon for a third blow, but was stopped as Leon sprang up and grabbed France by his arm and laying a firm grasp on his weapon.

Leon screamed, “You traitor! You scum! Murderer! Help! Help!” The two danced around the room, their shoes scuffing the wood of the floors as each one dug their heals in to try and over power the other. Leon might have been older than Franc, but one does not run an entire army without learning hand to hand combat, “And be damned this Stalinist traitor!” Thought Leon as he struggled to overpower Franc, “I will not bow down to anyone without a fight!”

Leon continued to scream for help as blood from his wound pooled over his eye and lips and dripped into his long beard. The guard from outside burst in, they grabbed Franc and pulled him back, forcing him to drop his weapon. The guard blew his whistle and with in seconds the room was flooded with Leons guards, others went to handle Franc while two sought medical attention for Leon who had collapsed into a guards arms after Franc had been subdued.

The guards beat Franc senseless until he was a pile of mush on the floor, but they did beat him just short of beating him to death. They wanted the man alive for his trial.

Leon was rushed to the hospital. Blood dribbling from the top of his head and through his hands as he tried to use what little strength he had left to put pressure on the wound. Some of the blood on in his beard was beginning to dry and congeal.

By the time the doctors got to him Leon was a weak husk of himself. They managed to bandage the wound but the doctors saw little else that could be done.

At the hospital Leon lingered in and out of consciousness. He’d awake from the pain, then he would collapse into unconsciousness from the pain. The blood had been cleaned from his eye and beard, but Leon could feel more of it seep into his bandages as he lied in bed. All time was lost to the pain, Leon did not know if he had been their for hours or for days.

After what felt like days of torture Leo woke once more, he could see that the sun was setting through a nearby window, just before he closed his eyes for the last time.