Reading A Book Alone In The Redwood Forrest, a poem

Reading a book alone in the Redwood Forrest

On the observational scale,

I do sit here in the redwoods in lotus pose,

with a copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

on a stack of logs next to me.

What is the catch?

Is that but the paranoid disillusionment

of the redneck hippies near by

just now learning that they aren’t the real rebels?

They are not heroes,

They can only dream of being such.

The true meaning of center,

of the power of human capability,

If only imagined,

that is all we are,

Then that is the best

and the worst

of our imaginations.

Electoralism and Reformism Are Not The Same Thing

Because one participates in organizing for electoral politics does not mean one has put all their faith in reform.

Some treat electoralism as a form of base building, and given the current political landscape it is the kind of base building that can reach the most people in the fastest way.

However, just because one is supporting a candidate or ballot measure does not mean they have put all their hopes in changing the system that way.

Reformists believe in changing the system from the inside.  Electoralists understand however understand that change is unlikely to happen from the outside without massive public pressure that is also rank and file.   Electoralists understand that elections can be used to base build and can chip away at the power of capital in one is both victorious and consistent after that victory. For example, a reactionary anti woman republican will have a much harder time gutting abortion rights or taking away welfare if he has to worry about losing his seat to a socialist, and when he loses his seat they must live with the reality that a socialist is now in office making policy decisions.

Of course, one cannot depend on that socialist in office alone to make all the right decisions, not without a huge base constantly putting pressure on them to do the right thing.

If that elected socialist demonstrates good practice they will push for policies that direct power away from capital and expand social services. The odds of them going full Lenin and leading us to a revolution are microscopically slim, but their base can now be called on to show up for strike solidarity and anti racist protests. They can be called on to pressure and bird-dog other elected officials to act on climate change.

This is not what reformists believe.  Pure reformists believe that we can count on elected officials to do their jobs once elected.  There is no room for an interest in base building for a revolution if one is counting on reform alone to liberate the working class.  Reformists only care about the bottom line, but electoralists know that they can use the base they have built from the campaign they have organized to build a genuine alternative to the capitalist system.

To reject electoralism because of a false equivalency to reformism hurts us more than it will help.

Plus, more elections should be what ever socialists push for. We need more elections, more mass participation, more things should be put to a public vote. The more we are voting the more we are in control of our communities. This is the goal of socialism and communism, democratic control over what affects our daily lives, that is going to mean lots of voting in lots of elections.

Another world is possible, but we need to get our practice in now. Until we have a mass movement behind us, we have no other choice than to build our base any way we can.

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.

Film Under Socialism

With the success of films like Selma, Sorry to Bother You, and Get Out we are seeing the return of the subversive to cinema. Political significance is making its return to film but the capitalist nature of the film industry keeps its growth in a stranglehold. Socialism would de-commodify cinema and take the power of content creation away from industrial venture capitalists and put it back into the hands of creators and artists.

First let us look at how film has thrived in a socialist state. The Bolshevik Revolution that created the Soviet Union also spurred the growth of cinema, because as the Bolsheviks bottom-lined industrialization industrialization also spearheaded the expansion of cinema in Russia. The state had an obligation to fund and foster the growth of the film industry as it was apart of it’s obligation to expand industrialization. It was in this environment that Sergei Eisenstein thrived.

Eisenstein is easily one of the most important directors in film history and his early films were made as testaments to the power of the Bolshevik revolution. In a country where the state funded cinematic development, Eisenstein was able to develop techniques in film making and editing that are now standard practices for filmmakers today. The most famous contribution to filmmaking by Eisenstein was the montage, and while Eisenstein did not invent montage he was the first director to theorize that editing could be a tool used to help story telling. Instead of editing merely being a part of the filmmaking procedure for Eisenstein it became a part of the film itself.

When one watches Battleship Potemkin or October one sees how true this is because while both films have no central main character the story in both films still progresses thanks to the way the films are cut. The power that montage can have on story telling is best exemplified in the Odessa steps scene from Battleship Potemkin. While Eisenstein would eventually flee the Soviet Union because of his criticisms of Stalin in his magnum opus films Ivan the Terrible I & II, he leaves a legacy behind that shows the power of cinema when there is public investment in the project. Whether or not you feel that Eisenstein’s movies are propaganda, it cannot be denied that the success of his films demonstrates that film can exist for the sake of creating a pro-working class message. Eisenstein’s success and legacy is demonstrative of the fact that film does not have to be about profit or commercialism.

Eisenstein was not the only early director who had anticapitalist tendencies, many American and British filmmakers from the silent era also had roots in radicalism. The works of Charlie Chaplin have a central theme of sympathy for the working class. His character, the Little Tramp, is a working class archetype. The Tramp is a lovable human being who is just trying to get ahead in a world that seems to hate him for not being rich. The Kid, Modern Times, The Gold Rush all have this connecting theme and all three of them paint a less than forgiving portrait of either law enforcement, the rich, or both.

In The Kid the police are constantly trying to take the Tramp’s newly adopted child away believing someone so poor could never be a good parent. In The Gold Rush the rich friends of Chaplin’s love interest are bullies to Chaplin because he simply has yet to strike it rich in the gold mines. One of the best case examples of Chaplin’s working class sympathies is the scene from Modern Times when unionists and communists march on the streets peacefully only to be mercilessly beaten by the police. In the scene Chaplin can also be seen waving the red flag. Another classic subversive moment of Chaplin’s would be his closing speech from The Great Dictator, now one of the most popular speeches in film history and a viral piece of inspiration porn, one that is desperately needed in this era of revitalized nationalism.

Let us not also forget that the films deemed the greatest in American film history have been ones rooted in radicalism in some form or another. In addition to the works of Charlie Chaplin, we can see radicalism or at least elements of radicalism in many of the classics. Citizen Kane, which is considered by many to be the pinnacle of perfect filmmaking and storytelling, was a subversive biography about industrialist William Randolph Hearst. The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppella, originally a pulp novel about the mafia, was converted by Coppella into “a commentary on the effects of American capitalism on the family,” according to the film’s producer Robert Evans.

Radicalism in the film industry is nothing new, however as time went on commodification of film became harder to fight and exploitative labor practices had been running rampant since the dawn of Hollywood. During the golden era of cinema, the late 1920s to the mid 1950s, it got to the point where labor in film was so exploited that even the actors were literally at the mercy of studios. The relationship between actors and studios in old Hollywood can be considered an example of the importance of workplace organizing. For example, live ammunition would be used in war and gangster scenes up until the late 1930s. D.W. Griffith and Cecil B Demille were notorious for using live ammunition, with one actor actually dying of gunshot wounds on the set of Demille’s The Captive in 1915. In 1930’s gangster films, rather than use blanks and squibs as we do now film directors would hire marksmen to shoot at and around their actors but not hit them in order to get the most realistic reaction and sound for the film.

This practice did not stop until Jimmy Cagney, who was nearly shot in the head on multiple sets of his gangster films, helped start the Screen Actors Guild and demand work place safety regulations be put into place for actors, including the ban of live ammunition on film sets. The SAG would also go on to give actors more autonomy and make them less dependent on predatory studios. Before SAG actors were bound to the contracts that they signed to specific studios and had to do whatever films the studio ordered and to participate in whatever stunts the directors demanded. The success of SAG and other film industry unions and guilds is demonstrative of the power that actors now hold over studios where as in the golden age of cinema it was the other way around.

Years later the SAG would become a tool of the red scare when reactionary Ronald Reagan became it’s chairperson, using his power to purge radicals from Hollywood as they had been from other unions during this time, such as the AFL-CIO. However its origins and successes show the importance of workplace organizing and how such organizing is a possibility for the film industry of today. In fact bottom up organizing within the film industry is necessary as it is with other industries in order to make the unions democratic again.

With the creation of groups such as SAG to protect the labor of creatives came the catch-22 of the film industry that is standard for all current film industry professions, be it set design, directing, or acting. It is virtually impossible to get work in the film industry if you are not a member of one of the unions or guilds, and the average dues are astronomical. The Screen Writers Guild charges dues averaging between $3,000 to $5,000 a year. Getting work in film is always a matter of connections, who you know, and the way to get to know people in the industry is through the guilds and unions. So in short, you can’t get work easily if you aren’t in the unions and you can’t afford to join the union if you aren’t getting work.

Incorporating democracy into the economy and taking the power of creation away from the power of capital could solve this issue. In a democratic economy, trade unions in film would put the power of decisions back into the hands of the masses, freeing them from the dangers of political purges. It would also allow the union members to create their own standards for membership instead of relying on the ones set by undemocratic union organizers who are intent on keeping new workers from entering the labor market of film production. Such issues with the unions would have been less likely to have arisen had radicals not been purged from the Hollywood guilds and allowed to pursue true rank and file organizing as was the case with Jimmy Cagney and the Screen Actor’s Guild.

The purging of radicals from the American film industry was also the purge of most radical films. There has been the occasional boon for radical content with the works of people like Francis Ford Coppella or Boots Riley yet the 40 year gap in between films such as The Godfather and Sorry to Bother You is important to note. When the endgame for all American cinema became profit so did our stories change to suit the desires of mass commercial appeal rather than subversive radicalism. Film has always been about story telling but now it is the question of what story will sell, not what story the filmmakers think needs to be told. This is why superhero and franchise films have dominated the market for nearly a decade, they are the blockbusters and therefore they are the only films worth investing in. It is another reason why diversity is such an issue in Hollywood. The investors who put their money into films don’t invest in stories directed by women or into stories starring non-white or LGBTQA characters unless they are convinced it will be a profitable venture. That is what needs to be removed from cinema, the need for investors.

“How would socialism solve this?” One may ask. Well for one it would make the film industry more democratic. Diversity is bound to increase if there is more collective input on what kind of story needs to be told and if the need for investors is removed so is the need to appease the bourgeoisie with your storytelling. We are also looking at the de-commodification of a creative outlet which would in turn lead to a renaissance of content. There would be a surge of new content creators and there would be no shortage of pertinent content because of that surge. Films such as Sorry to Bother you or the Young Karl Marx would become an industry standard. A de-commodified film industry would increase accessibility to resources for those without capital which in turn would increase original content, ending the rut of familiar franchises and constant reboots. The end of investors means the return of radical content and an increase in diversified content as well and would allow for subversive tales about power hungry industrialists such as Citizen Kane to return.

Union membership would also thrive under a socialist film industry because it would be the democratic participation of industry members that would keep this system alive. This would not only lead to a greater control of wealth in the hands of film industry workers but would also guarantee consistent protections for them, which we already know is a possibility because of the establishment of the Screen Actors Guild to improve workplace safety for actors.

A return to radical content, liberation from commodification, increased workplace democracy, are all arguable and demonstrable effects of what would happen to the film industry if democracy were introduced into the economics of filmmaking. Artists would once again be free to experiment and push boundaries while telling stories that are pertinent to the working class, just as Eisenstein was able to thrive in a de-commodified film industry so would people like Boots Riley, all while assuring fairer treatment of the people working to make the movies. If there is any industry that benefits from a socialist, democratized economy, it is the film industry.

Rebels Lead The March of History (a poem)

Rebels Lead The March of History!

Do not forget,

It was the rebels who brought forth our days!

And do not forget,

the people who learned,

But got little praise.

Stupid is a condition,

Ignorance a choice,

So stop the idiotic voice.

So cheers to the rebels,

Who died for our better days!

And peace to those who lost the fight,

And lost it going insane.

They had no stake,

No burden unless they choose,

So it is no wonder

Why the rebels never lose.Nationalists

Bootlicker (a poem)

Do not mock me!

Do not! Do not!

For I am a man,

And this my woman

And we be not beasts, damn straight!

We’re just monsters, deplorable sexists

enabling fear monger flag waving.

But stop being so mean to us!

We have feelings to.

But we ain’t afraid of no snowflakes,

that’s why I armed myself to the teeth!

But blue lives matter and your blocking traffic!

Some of us have jobs to get to!

How dare you call me racist!?

I still watch CNN!

Bootlicking, it’s just my thing.

Bootlicking, I’ll make the man’s shoes shine.

Bootlicking, it’s just what I’m born to do.

Be it through kink.com videos

that I never pay for

and shame anyone who does.

I earn the bread,

then give it all to have the latex woman

break my balls.

But I’ll never admit to it.

My 2 twitter followers would never

let me live that down.

I’m a good little bootlicker,

Capital is my dominatrix master.

Thank you master,

I’m such a good little bootlicker.

Socialism (a poem)

Socialists

Filthy depraved minds we are,

Daring to see women as equals,

To see race as a tedious thing

to feud about,

To see that liberation

is an all or nothing game.

Wanting to see each child fed,

Each human housed,

Every belly full,

and every need met.

How dare we ever take up arms

to protect ourselves

against the colonial bullies.

How dare we,

Us sex craved drunks

biting roses in between our teeth

as we seduce your now young adult children

into a lifestyle

of militant humanity.

Yes, how dare we,

how dare we even think

such thoughts about justice

or equality

or dignity.

How dare we,

us filthy,

us depraved,

us socialists.