The Teacher As The Poet, a poem

The Teacher As The Poet

Content’s production,

Ease of mind and constant rush,

Narcotic ease,

And still the voices don’t stop.

Stagnation is a creative mind’s enemy,

as is cowardice.

We are our words,

our letters and symbols.

Intentions mean nothing when they fail,

Yet success is still a subjective term.

I am responsible for the quiet dawn

of these minds,

if only for a day.

What world do we live in now?

What world was it before?

And what shall it be?

This is not a journal entry,

Poetry is public record,

And to be used,

On what was “just” another day.

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Liz Warren Will Sell Us Out Faster than Obama Did

Rolling Stone recently published an article titled, “Is Liz Warren Building a Grassroots Juggernaut?”

Spoiler alert, no, no she is not.

Warren is doing nothing more than copying the election style of Obama 2008, and while it is a very successful, grassroots style of campaigning, it is far from being a juggernaut because Warren, like Obama, will not use it to mobilize her base for a working class agenda.

Why won’t she do this? Because she does not have a working class agenda.

Warren believes in Keynesian, regulated capitalism. To believe in any form of capitalism is to believe in the benevolence and ethics of the bourgeoisie, which is to be inherently anti working class. Warren likes the idea of the American working class, but she fails to understand the need for socialized, radical platforms, and therefore does not understand them beyond her own conceptions of American acceptationalism.

It is true that Warren has doubled down her support for some working class programs, such as Medicare for All at the recent debates, however to quote Game of Thrones, “Words are wind.” Her hesitancy to fully, explicitly embrace Medicare for all until recently demonstrates a hesitancy towards the platform, and anyone can say they support a policy and then retract support later (as Obama did!). Compare this to Bernie who has not only been vocal about working class programs such as medicare for all, but he has also been consistent about voting for these working class platforms.

Warren is also a failure on the international front as well. She has voiced support for Israel and has voted for every single increase in military spending under the Trump administration.

Another misgiving to have about Warren is her refusal to denounce the Third Way Democrats. The Third Way think tank is a collection of investment bankers who are intentionally trying to sabotage the growing left-wing tendency of the democratic party. Their twitter account, Third Way Tweet, has begun praising Warren as sensible and smearing Bernie as a “loser.” (My eyes just rolled so hard they popped out of my skull btw). Third Way might want to actually read Warren’s platform, because there is nothing, literally nothing she has suggested, that is nothing more than a watered down version of what Bernie put forward in 2016.

I also have to say that any one who has ever been a member of the Republican party should never be trusted. Warren was a registered republican until 1996. To support one of the most racist, anti working class parties until you’re in your 40s is bad enough, but what is worse is Warren’s justification for being a Republican.

Warren says while she was registered with the GOP that she was not “politically active” and many who support her say, “yes she was a republican but that was when she was young!” She was in her forties in 1996!

I have even heard some people say that Bernie is a nice alternative to the “old white men” running for the presidency. I would like to remind these people that Warren is 70 years old!

All in all, I do not trust Warren, which hurts because I remember the days of Occupy when she seemed to be on our side. But I am not convinced she is consistent and I think she will sell us out faster than Obama did. Obama is similar to Warren in many ways. Palatable to progressives and moderate centrists alike and with a growing base. But much like how Obama failed to mobilize his base out of a need to be “everyone’s president” so do I also see Warren following the same path.

Warren is not the sensible candidate, she is the watered down version of Bernie. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I hate it when a bar tender waters down a perfectly good drink. I’ll take a shot of Bernie, pure and straight, because that is what we need.

Is Liz Warren creating a campaign juggernaut? No, she is a flavor of the month who might sneak in a victory here and there, but even if she wins the nomination and defeats Trump you will see no activation of this base she built. We will get 4 more years of uninspired, pathetic attempts to regulate a class that already controls the regulations.

We don’t need regulated capitalism, we need to strip away the powers of capital. No candidate can bring us anything close to this but Bernie.

A Quick Note About Leftist Strategy

Strategy and ideology are equally important but when one gets put ahead of the other you run into problems.

Put ideology ahead of strategy you end up doing stupid shit like not voting or joining cultish fraud left groups. If all you care about is validating your analysis instead of thinking tactically to gain the most materially for the most people then you are not helping the left.

Put strategy ahead of ideology you end up selling out important beliefs. If all one cares about is getting socialists elected and not about holding them accountable, about laying out a socialist program for society, and building alternatives to capitalism all at the same time, one is not helping the left.

Leftists should have a strong idealogical core. They should also use that ideology to think and act as tactically as possible.

I don’t think it’s that complicated.

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.

My Recent Car Wreck; Trauma Will Not Win

Like many young writers who play the professional game I picked up a part time job for some extra cash and experience to keep my resume flowing while I still look for the door to kick in and put my foot. I started canvassing for rent control in the city of Sacramento and felt wonderful about it. The hours were flexible, I was working with friends from the DSA, BLM and the other organizations as a part of a cause I whole heartedly believe in. I was getting a work out from walking door to door, it was everything a young writer needed.

Then, on Wednesday March 21, 2018 at approximately 945pm, as I drove home from a normal shift, it all happened.

A sedan in front of me was going 30 mph in a 40mph zone, both of us were in the right hand lane. I merged into the left lane and raised my speed to somewhere between 40-50 mph to pass the car, who I see in my mirror has slowed down because they were texting. I merge back into the right lane, then within ten seconds my windshield shatters, my airbags explode, and a loud series of thuds batters my car into a circle off the road like the Hell’s Angles stomping a narc.

Somehow I had lost control, spun out, and hit a tree on the side of the road. Within ten seconds, my leisurely drive home was to turn into one of the most traumatic ordeals of my life. Within ten seconds my right hand was full of glass, my neck throbbing with whiplash, and my legs trapped under the dash.

Yet I never hit my head, I never lost consciousness, I never went into a panic, at least not until I realized I was trapped and my door would not open.

The impact had shattered my drivers side window, when I realized I was stuck and that the smoke from the engine was growing I bellowed out onto the street. “Help! I was just in a major car accident and I’m trapped! Can somebody help me, please!?”

Within seconds, a man in a blue sweatshirt caring the mascot of a sports team, I cannot remember if it was pro or college, was by my window.

“Hey, are you okay?” he said.

“I think so.” I knew it was only because of the shock, but at this point I felt no pain, and could not think about anything else except getting out of that car.

He proceeded to ask me what happened and while trying to suppress my panic I told him the details as I told you. He assured me I was okay, and he also assured me that I seem pretty cognizant so he didn’t think I was drunk, which I wasn’t. He kept me calm, and called the paramedics, and stayed with me until they arrived.

While we waited he introduced himself to me, “What is your name?”

“James,” I told him, my voice cracking because I felt like a frightened child who just needed an adult, any adult.

“Hi James, I’m Philipe, you’re going to be okay, I’m right here and the paramedics are on their way.”

Philipe, you are a total stranger and you might have saved my life. If you are reading this, contact me. Needless to say I owe you one.

Soon after three cars had stopped and pulled over. One stayed on the corner by the street with flashers on to keep other cars from hitting me. The two other people stayed by me to keep me calm. I never screamed in agony or hyperventilated, I never did anything accept breath and trust my life to these strangers, I felt there was no other way I could survive the situation.

The paramedics and fire department arrived. They shattered the glass on the passenger side to get the car unlocked, but still the jaws of life were needed to pry open the door to get me out.

Once out, I realized I could put no weight on my ankle, so I was immediately put on the gurney and taken to UC Davis Trauma Center. Of course once your on the gurney they could be taking you to Mexico for all you know.

Once you are on the gurney, all you can do is look up, you can see nothing from side to side or even your own feet. I have no idea what roads they took to get me to the trauma center and once there I had no idea where I was going when escorted from room to room. The blood on my hands had dried to a horror film prop crust. The neck brace was chaffing to say the least. I had no control over anything, I do not like that.

The intake nurse made an insulting joke about how I was lucky I only had one beer, and next time I should “use uber.” The paramedics reassured me that I was fine, that they knew I wasn’t drunk, and that nurse was an asshole. I do not want to obsess over it, but I will say that I hope this nurse gets fired, you do not make jokes to patients in the trauma intake center.

I do not want to relive the rest of that night, I do not want to go into all the details because the details are the hell that traumatized me and I just don’t want to relive it, not now or ever again. I will say that all the other staff at UC Davis trauma center were very kind, very understanding, very tender, all of which I needed at the time.

The night was a series of tests, and waiting, and tests, and waiting. Waiting, alone in cold sterile rooms warmed only by a set of blankets haphazardly stacked on me. Waiting. Locked in a position unable to sit up because you aren’t allowed. Waiting, stuck looking only at the lights and ceiling tile because of a neck brace, then more x-rays and tests. All getting wheeled to an from, never knowing exactly where or for what test. Waiting.

When I first arrived and the doctors started their first tests, just after stripping me of my clothes, a social worker asked who they should call. I gave them my mother’s name and both phone numbers. I did everything I could to share every detail I could whenever I was asked a question, no matter what the question was.

I went into detail with the paramedics about Sacramento’s Rent Control Movement that I had been working on when they asked about my job in the ambulance. I told the nurses about the Irish Socialist themed birthday party I had on St. Patrick’s day when they asked me about what I did on St Patty’s, and when it came to the important stuff, my name my address and phone number I made sure to give as stringently and calmly as I could. I think I was doing that to prove that I was still cognizant, still aware of the situation, still myself. I do not know if it was to prove it to them or myself, but I think maybe I just wanted to prove to myself that I was still here, as if knowing that I was conscious would remind me that I can get better. That I will get better.

My parents arrived after my first x-rays, all I could do was cry when I saw my mother. A cry like a child cries when he wants his mom to make all the pain go away. “I just want to go home.” I told her as she took my hand with tears flooding my face, “I just want to go home.”

I was not released until 5am. My poor mother had to call in a substitute teacher for her class that morning and my father was passed out until 10am the next morning. My poor father, a disabled person himself and he compensates his nerves with humor, he is the kind of person to laugh when he is anxious. The whole time in the ER where he had a lot of time just waiting he was fidgety, making comments he should not have, but he knew no other way to process the situation. He has a bad history with car wrecks, at my age he was in a similar situation, he was hit on his motorcycle by a drunk driver near Torrance, CA. He almost lost his leg and because it was poor working class hippie versus rich Cadillac drunk driving estate agent, CHP wanted to cite my dad for being in his way. Not twenty years later, my father lost his own father in an auto accident that is shrouded in mystery. My grandfather had issues, so many issues that some of us wonder if this death was actually an accident. The point is between my grandpa, my dad, and myself we are three for three for car wrecks. I do not think that was an easy thing to process and a legacy I hope ends with me.

My mother has been in Mom-mode ever since. Like when I was sick as a boy, she has been doing everything to make me comfortable, but not only that, she is keeping my father grounded because I know this traumatizes him in a way the rest of the family just will never get.

Then there was my sister, my poor sister. She loves and supports me so dearly, for her to see me in that state in the ER, for her to think she might have lost me that night, I cannot imagine what she felt. My sister is an Empath, yes like in Star Trek, she can just look at someone and feel what they are feeling, I know she felt my pain that night and I wish I wasn’t in pain, because then she wouldn’t be either. Later, she was not pleased because the day after the accident I made a point of showing up to city hall and the outskirts of the Golden 1 arena for the Stephon Clark protest. Yes, I was there even with a broken ankle, a bruised lung, and whiplash. We all have our own ways to heal, mine is to keep going. My wounds will heal, Stephon Clark won’t.

My road to recovery could be long or short, I am still not sure. All I know is that in a matter of seconds everything about who I was was taken from me, and that I never realized how dependent on being an able bodied person I was for my identity. I know I will recover, be it weeks or months I will walk again and march again. I did not get the word “Invictus” tattooed on my arm just because it looks cool, I got it to remind myself that I am strong, that I am unconquerable. Yes, I am traumatized. When I am alone for too long I have flashbacks to the accident, to the total loss of control and the moment that the thuds came thundering onto my van. But I will not let this trauma define me. I know this passage has been mostly about pain, fear, and a loss of control that I had never experienced before, but I am not despairing over a few boo boos. I will not let a simple twist of sad and painful fate rob me of who I am. I will recover, I will be fine. But what I will never understand is the how, or the why I survived.

All the paramedics said I was lucky. That when they saw the car they “expected the worst,” and were amazed I was conscious. The doctors and nurses all said the same thing. I do feel lucky. I don’t when the cast on my ankle itches or when the pain meds where off and it throbs but I do feel lucky, and curious.

How the hell did I survive that? How the hell did I not hit my head on the air bag? And why? Is there a why to my survival? Is the God that I do not believe in telling me my life really does have a purpose? Do I just have enough good karma that when the bad things happen to me they aren’t as bad as they could be? Or am I just so lucky that I ought to take a road trip to Reno or Vegas when I recover? I do not know, and to be honest I do not want to care. I do not want to care about the, “Why did I survive?” but I do. Every time I close my eyes and relive the crash, whether I want to think about it or not, I always come back to that question, “Why the hell did I live? Is there even a why?”

I firmly believe in Occam’s razor, that the simplest solution is probably the correct one. What is the simplest answer to my question, “Why did I survive?” Well in my opinion it’s “Because you still have work to do.” I will not trifle myself with questions about meaning or God, the way I see it I survived. Yes, I need to slow down, to recover, but I survived, so I can keep going, because like I said I have work to do.

The Soul of a Socialist

Sometimes one has to wonder, what is the point of it all?

Of course many argue there is no room for existentialism in a Marxist’s life style, and I am inclined to agree. But when left alone with a hyperactive mind, one can’t help but be tempted to wonder. Since embracing my Communist identity I still find myself wondering at times, and while the wondering remains the nature of my mind’s wondering has changed. I no longer ask “Who am I?” or “What am I doing?” I now wonder, “What results will all of this yield?”

As a member of the DSA I am a part of a goal and project oriented organization, which does not yield much time for existential disposition. Generally, though not to universalize, one joins a socialist organization with a fairly strong sense of who they are. Yet when one is marching, meeting, planning, and scheduling, there are moments in between where I am left asking, “What will happen at the end of it all?” I plan on organizing until I can organize no more, so when the day finally comes and I meet my maker I wonder, what will have come from all I have tried to do here and now in this capitalist world?

It is not an egomaniacal concern about what my “legacy” will be. Or perhaps it is. Maybe this is all just an ego’s ramblings from a young writer unsure about his direction in life and what his efforts will yield.

Perhaps this is just paranoia from my constant indulgence into cannabis.

In any-case, I am not worried. No matter what happens, no matter when my life and organizing comes to an end, I operate around a simple Greek proverb, “Great people plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit it.”