In Defense of The Internationale

There are some who would argue that socialist organizations should not sing songs like the Internationale anymore because it can come across as “cultish.” My DSA chapter used to stand up and sing songs at the end of our meetings, songs like the Internationale, The Red Flag, Which Side Are You On, and Solidarity Forever. I for one miss this practice and would like us to bring it back.

While I can admit that I see how this can feel cultish group think or just plain weird to some people, to me it’s the ritual I need.

I am not a church going man, nor do I believe in astrology or anything metaphysical. I do meditate and occasionally burn incense but I am not a praying man.  I have no rituals or practices that can help one’s self-care and can help build a community around oneself other than my yoga, which to me is a purely physical practice, or my meditation, which I practice for mental clarity. 

No, I am denied the majesty of joining in on church hymns and thus I am denied the feeling of a sense of meaning drawn from a star chart, from praying, or from a bible.

While I may not believe in God or prayer, I do not see why I should be denied the sanctity of ritual and the sense of belonging that comes from singing out your beliefs with others. Say what you will about religion but I do think there is something powerful in the hymn, singing in church gives one a feeling of self-expression and a sense of belonging.

I may not feel that when my family drags me to church and they start singing “This little light of mine,” but I damn sure feel it every time me and the comrades sing the Internationale.

While it is cultish for some, for others it is supplemental, a way to replace organized religion with socialist organization and still feel the power of communal ritual.

Does it spark the same feeling in everyone? No, and it is understandable why it’s not for everyone. All I am saying is that I don’t think I should be denied the benefits of ritual or community just because I have a different take on things. The Internationale brings a tear to my eye and puts power into my heart, and it makes me feel a little less alone in this dark, painful place we call life, especially when I’m singing it with others.

That has to count for something.

Notice: Out of Town, Will Resume Posting Again Monday August 5

I am in Atlanta for the 2019 DSA national convention for the weekend. I may write up a piece on it, but I will be taking a content break for the rest of this week to focus on my work.

Thanks for your support, feel free to catch up on some of my older posts. Solidarity comrades!

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.

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.

The Fraud of Rev Com: Why the Revolutionary Communist Party is Neither Revolutionary nor Communist

The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) is an embarrassment. It shows no respect for the actual people who make up the working class. Their party chair, Bob Avakian, is less interested in the needs of the working class and more interested in creating a personality cult around himself. The RCP’s cultish behavior has been well documented since Avakian became the party chair in 1979, but what is most repulsive about this group is their invasive and disrespectful behavior which humiliates the left and risks turning socialism into a marginalized idea once again.

What is the RCP?

The Revolutionary Communist Party can trace it’s roots to the split of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1969. Multiple activists from California created a group called Bay Area Revolutionary Union (BARU). This was a collective of SDS members from Oakland, San Francisco, and Berkeley who were posing as challengers to the non Maoist wing of the SDS at their convention.

Once the SDS collapsed many members found themselves joining BARU, leading to the organization’s development of a national structure outside of the bay area. BARU officially became the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1975, and by 1979 one of their pluckiest and loudest members became the party chair. That member’s name was Bob Avakian.

Bob Avakian was one of many alumni of the New Left movement along with people like Noam Chomsky or Angela Davis. Unlike Davis or Chomsky, instead of dedicating his life to the development of theories and programs that would answer the material needs of the working class, Avakian became dedicated to developing a cult of personality around himself.

The requirements for party membership all revolve around his theories and accepting his leadership without question. Everything on the RCP website that is about their platform revolves around his name, his work, and his identity as the party leader.

On their About Us page they make their dedication to Avakian quite clear;

There is an actual plan for a radically different—and radically better—society, on the road to wiping out all exploitation and oppression, and emancipating humanity. There is a strategy to draw forward the millions and millions needed to make that happen. There is the leadership, in Bob Avakian (BA), the architect of the new communism and the leader of the revolution.

Immediately they make it clear that they are not interested in hearing the working class’ current material needs but rather are more interested in selling a doctrine, more specifically they are selling the doctrine of Bob Avakian. The purpose of socialism is democracy, and democracy is about allowing the working class to choose its leaders, it’s priorities, and it’s platform. Because the RCP has it set in stone that Avakian is their “chosen” leader, they have no avenue to allow growth for a mass movement, so they must invade spaces to tell the working class why Avakian should be their leader.

Avakian argues for what he calls “New Communism,” and the entire RCP program can be summarized in one statement, that capitalism and the US government, “must be overthrown, not voted out.” However, “New Communism” is nothing more than a regurgitation of Maoist Marxist Leninism. According to the RCP, post Stalin Russia and Post Mao China were the ends of socialist states in the world. There is virtually no difference in the jargon or rhetoric of Avakian’s work and that of the most hardline Stalinists, “New Communism” is nothing more than “Old Stalinism.”

All the information I gathered on the RCP I gathered from personal experience and from researching their website. A webpage is the most forward facing instrument of any organization in the 21st century and it should be presentable and useful to both an organization’s members and to the public. The RCP webpage, revcom.us, is unnavigable and literally painful to read because of it’s poor layout. The text is often too small to read and the layout of the pages are just plain sloppy. Articles, text, and graphics are almost always off center and the website overall just looks plain cheap. It looks like a self made website from the late 90s or early 2000s, and in all likelihood no one has probably bothered to develop their website since that time. After all, the RCP is less interested in meeting the working class where they are at and is more interested in demanding members adhere to the party line with Avakian as their leader.

Webpages are the primary source of information people use when researching what organizations to join and if you are not showing an interest in making your own webpage presentable and navigable, you are clearly not interested in meeting the masses where they are at in order to build them into a mass movement.

Unlike most other socialist organizations, the RCP is one that is lucky enough to have their own book stores, with two locations! They have one in New York another in Berkeley, and the Revolution Book Stores are a confusing piece of the RCP puzzle.

Store front rental in Berkeley and New York is by no means cheap, so I am wondering where the profit from their stores go. Their shoddy and impossible to look at website makes it pretty evident that funds are not being directed towards developing the organizational infrastructure. These funds are definitely not going toward mutual aid projects either. The RCP explicitly rejects anything it considers charity, including the “anarchistic” idea of mutual aid.

According to their atrocious website they are currently raising funds for their ongoing “Revolution Tour” claiming they will be using the money to send their “Revolution Club” around the country to participate in direct actions. None of the actual actions they will participate in are listed on the website and at no point is their any detail on how the money raised will be actually be used. They do not even mention what they hope to accomplish by sending their members on this so-called “tour.” Based on the behavior that I have witnessed, they will probably just be invading other peoples events. ( I will explain this later in the article.)

What is even more appalling is that the RCP is clearly aware of the criticisms against them. This is an actual quote from their FAQ page:

Who are you to say what the masses of people need?

Answer: We are people who represent, on a scientific basis, the fundamental interests of the masses of humanity, the great majority of the 7 billion people on this planet; who understand what the problem and the solution is to the situation that faces the masses of humanity; and who have taken on the responsibility of leading people to fight to bring about, through revolution, the solution that is urgently needed.

This is just gibberish. It means nothing. It is by no means an explanation for their top down behavior nor does it explain anything about their actual program. It is all flighty words with no substance and it in no way answers the actual question. The worst part is that they actually go out of their way to justify their cultish method of operating.

This all manifests in a technique of agitation that embarrasses the left, it leads to them invading and co-opting the events of other organizations, even if that event is about honoring a victim of the police state.

What does the RCP do?

RCP members like to invade and co-opt other organizations events, including trade unions, anti police organizations, and even Black Lives Matter.

The behavior of the RCP at events hosted by other organizations demonstrates their lack of respect and integrity, and further demonstrates that the organization is in no way interested in actually helping the working class. The fraud that is the RCP can be summed up with a single sentence, “Revolution is not an end, it is a means to an end.”

Every event or march that the RCP shows up for they scream the same thing, “This government cannot be voted out, it must be overthrown!” It is all well and good to call for an end to the American imperialist state, but one cannot act like revolution by itself is a pallet cleanser. So many leftists are quick to scream, “REVOLUTION NOW!” with no actual ideas in hand for a program that would come after the fact. This usually leads to them copping out and settling on an older, outdated doctrine, such as Stalinism or Maoism. This is the case with the RCP.

Socialists have the obligation to not only work towards overthrowing capitalism but to build alternatives at the same time. The RCP never bothers to do this but instead uses newer language to regurgitate old talking points. They like to think they are offering alternatives however there is nothing in Avakian’s work that cannot be found in the works of Stalin or Mao. There is nothing original about Avakian or his so called theories.

In 2010 Bob Avakian released the “Constitution for a New Republic in North America” which is not so much a constitution for a socialist republic but is a regurgitation of tired, over used, ultra left talking points. The Preamble of this so called constitution alone is nothing more than a run on sentence of gibberish that has leftist buzzwords sprinkled throughout.

The New Socialist Republic in North America could only have been brought into being as a result of heroic, self-sacrificing struggle carried out by millions and millions of people who had been forced to live under a system of exploitation and oppression in the former United States of America; who could no longer tolerate the continual outrages and injustices perpetrated by the system of capitalism-imperialism and the structures and institutions of power and repression which enforced all this with violence and brutality as well as lies and deception; who refused to any longer accept that…

The opening sentence goes on like that for 5 more lines and the rest of the preamble is 7 pages long. The RCP think that revolution apparently can be achieved with long winded, inaccessible babbling.

What is even more disgusting is that the RCP will bring this garbage platform everywhere without ever being invited to do so. They have invaded multiple events organized by multiple other groups including Anti Police Terror Project and Black Lives Matter chapters. They have even gone out of their way to disrupt an event organized by the surviving relatives of Stephon Clark.

At an event marking the anniversary of Clark’s death, his family co-hosted and invited Al Sharpton to come and speak. The RCP made haste to travel from the bay area to Sacramento (there is no RCP chapter in Sacramento) and disrupt the event with cries of “Don’t believe Sharpton!” And “Electoral bourgeois bullshit!” showing no respect for the wishes of the Clark family.

Say whatever you want about Al Sharpton, it will not change the fact that he was the invited guest of the Clark family and since they are the victims who have to live with what happened to Stephon, their wishes should always be honored and respected first and foremost! Disrupting their event because you do not like their speaker of choice is the exact opposite of respecting the wishes of the family.

The RCP’s tendency to invade and co-opt other people’s events is an insult to the working class and embarrasses the name of socialism. Their approach makes the left look invasive, hostile, and inconsiderate, and it is even more so when they behave like this at explicitly anti racist events.

In Sacramento 2018, back when Jeff Sessions was still the Attorney General, an event was organized outside of the Sawyer Hotel in order to disrupt his visit. The event was organized by multiple unions and immigrant rights groups. In attendance was the immigrant solidarity collective known as Nor Cal Resist and immigrant SEUI members, as well as the Democratic Socialists of America, Answer Coalition, and liberal groups such as Save DACA and Indivisible.

Without any invitation, or hesitation, the RCP showed up with a series of banners, loud speakers, and chants, as well as multiple members ready to take the stage and speak on their megaphone about the need to overthrow the government. Despite the intimidating police presence defending Jeff Sessions, at no point did anyone in RCP take time to consider that using such inflammatory rhetoric could be putting the lives of undocumented or black attendees of the event at risk. When police presence is so large, as it was at this event, attendees must take into consideration what will happen if the situation escalates. Who will the cops take out their aggression on? More likely than not it is going to be any black or brown person they can get their hands on. To ignore that reality is to ignore the reality that non-white members of the working class face an extra degree of oppression and risk. To ignore that is to ignore the status of the 21st century working class.

The RCP has already been warned about this behavior. Bay area chapters of the Anti Police Terror Project have already banned the RCP from attending their events for constantly attempting to co-opt them as they did at the Jeff Session’s direct action in Sacramento and at Clark family’s event.

Black Lives Matter Sacramento have also had to deal with the insistent brattiness of RCP members. On the one year anniversary of Stephon Clark’s death, just hours after they had insulted the Clark family, they attempted to co-opt an event that had been organized by BLM Sacramento.

They showed up marching and yelling, banners and all, even with someone banging on the drums as if the eight of them present were about to march into battle. They were screaming about overthrowing the presidency. It took at least five of the organizers from BLM Sacramento to talk the RCP down and make them realize that this was about honoring and respecting Stephon Clark, and that making it about anything else would be a direct insult to a murdered man and his family.

But their deescalation was all for not because that did not stop the RCP from continuing to chant and scream. They even attempted to chant over the members of BLM who were leading the march, screaming about revolution nonstop instead of screaming the name of Stephon Clark. Clearly they were not there to honor the 22 year old who had been murdered by the Sacramento Police Department. They were only there to advance their own agenda, even if it meant disrespecting the members of BLM Sacramento and the Clark family.

To scream revolution without listening to the working class is to insult the working class. All the RCP does is scream “revolution” like a baby begging for its bottle without any consideration for the status and needs of the working class as they are now.

Why are they so invasive?

The RCP is so disrespectful and invasive for one simple reason, they are incapable of rallying people on their own. The RCP is dependent on using front organizations in order to make them more palatable to people who are hesitant to trust self identified Marxist-Leninists and Maoists outright.

The RCP also operates front organizations in order to maintain a larger public relations presence and to ease recruitment. The current and most notable of their front organizations is Refuse Fascism. Refuse Fascism is the front organization for their anti Trump platform. While it sells itself as a “coalition” the majority of it’s leaders and members are simply senior RCP members.

The RCP has no chance to gain legitimate attention without operating a front organization like Refuse Fascism. Their doctrine and program is unappealing to the modern working class and lacks in nuance because it is an outdated rehashing of state socialist theories from the previous century. This is why they resort to invasive tactics. They will not get attention unless they steal attention for themselves, and the RCP has demonstrated they will do so even if it means insulting people like the family of Stephon Clark or the immigrants who face the risk of deportation and state violence.

The more one looks into the alleged doctrine of the RCP on their hideous website, one can see that their is no way they can gain public attention without being invasive. What their doctrine also represents is their adamant hypocrisy.

Their website features the guiding principles of their chapters, what they call “Revolution Clubs.” The first principle of their chapters is clearly an attempt to exonerate themselves of accusations of personality cultism. “We base ourselves on and strive to represent the highest interests of humanity: revolution and communism. We do not tolerate using the revolution for personal gain.”

This completely counters their statement that self proclaims Avakian as the leader of their movement while also intentionally ignoring the self serving rhetoric of his doctrine and the actual actions of RCP members. If they do not believe in using revolution for “personal gain” why do they invade and disrupt other organizations events?

Another blatant lie can be seen in principle number five of the Revolution clubs. “We search for and fight for the truth no matter how unpopular, even as we listen to and learn from the observations, insights and criticisms of others.” This is just 100% false. According to one of the past organizers of Black Lives Matter Sacramento, when one of them approached an RCP member asking them to refrain from their behavior and honor the name of Stephon Clark, the RCP member responded by saying “You guys are just as bad as Trump and the rest of the fascists.”

If we allow organizations like this to exist unchallenged then the name of socialism is at risk of becoming a marginalized voice once again. Socialism has gained momentum in the last decade, we are gaining attention at a speed not seen since the turn of the 20th Century. Membership in socialist organizations such as the DSA has exploded and socialists are infiltrating elected offices on both the local and federal levels. In short, we are winning, and if we want to continue to win we cannot let intentionally sectarian organizations like the RCP to exist unchallenged. There is a time and place to agitate and insist on revolution, and the RCP has demonstrated that they have no concept of when and where that is actually appropriate. They have shown that they are not interested in developing an applicable socialist program for the contemporary working class. When you wave the red flag you have a duty to represent socialism in the best of ways, to forsake that is to forsake the cause of the working class.

1. https://revcom.us/a/129/New_Synthesis_Speech-en.html

2. https://revcom.us

Avoid the “Self Care” Trap

Self care is a radical act, never forget that. When you practice self care you are doing so in order to exist in a world that tells you you shouldn’t have any power.

This is why self care was created by radical black femmes in the 60s and 70s. It was an act of rebellion to do what it took to exist in an world trying to extinguish or diminish a person’s existence, and it still is.

This is why we need to make it clear that self care is about self preservation, not indulgence.

Several rich, mostly white people, use the term “self care” as an excuse for spending thousands of dollars on spa treatments or for drink service during nights at the club. I have no problem with indulgence but self care is not just about self indulgence. Calling self indulgence self care is once again a co-opting of the work and culture of non white radicals.

Self care is taking a mental health day. Self care is opening your mail that has been piling up on your desk. It is doing your laundry and organizing your space. That is self care.

It is true that for some, especially those with PTSD or anxiety, a yoga class or a massage is in fact self care, because what might be an indulgent treat for some of us is to them a need for preservation of their sanity.

It is easy to fall into what I call, “The Self Care Trap,” because the truth is humans are always looking for an excuse to indulge. Humans are effort minimizers and euphoria maximizers, especially the privileged and the rich. Any excuse they can use to indulge in yacht trips and day drinking, they will, but rich people aren’t the only ones who have co-opted the term self care.

I have seen several self proclaimed “leftists” use the term self care as excuse for a night of binge drinking or as an excuse to avoid an organizing meeting and get stoned for the billionth time. There is nothing wrong with a drink or a toke, in fact I’d say I’m very self indulgent with those two things myself, but I am not about to pretend my drinking is an act of self preservation.

I am a white, straight, cis male, so my need for self care is far less than that of someone who was queer, non white, and non cis gendered. This is why it is important for us to avoid the “Self Care Trap.” We cannot use a term that is about the self preservation of the oppressed as an excuse for our own self indulgence.

So the next time you go out for drinks or go on vacation, ask yourself, is it self care or self indulgence? If you live in a world that allows you to exist, then you probably aren’t the one who needs self care.

Soul and Pain, a poem

Soul and Pain.

Here we are again,

A dying planet and a line of willful morons

Humping their hands while complaining about the better sex.

No game, and they won’t shut up about it.

Our so called leaders are afraid to lead

Because they might not be leaders anymore if they do.

Complacency is safer than action only if you’re rich.

Sex and violence and sexual violence.

Two souls comrades butchered in the streets.

Lynchings protected by badges and city hall.

Soul and pain.

21st century lies and truth.

Soul and pain.