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.

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Undemocratic, A Word Not To Be Taken Lightly

As an active DSA member I hear this word all the time, almost as much as I hear the words “organizing” and “socialism.”  I think active leftists in all organizations can relate to this, but I think the attack of something being “undemocratic” is overused.

Now I am not suggesting in any way we not call out undemocratic behavior, what I am saying is we need to acknowledge that being called “undemocratic” is the heaviest attack you can lay against someone in an organization that is supposed to be democratic.  That is not something to take lightly.

Behavior that is genuinely undemocratic is something that an elected official does not have the authority to do or is an action that goes out of its way to side step democratic procedures.  That does not stop people from throwing the term around when a comrade does something that they simply do not agree with.

Most of the time what is called ‘undemocratic behavior’ is actually just people disagreeing with how something was done, or it is people letting personal differences effect their outlook on what is good for their organization. If we attack every single thing or person we disagree with as ‘undemocratic’ then the word will lose all meaning.  It will be a boy who called wolf situation, the moment we actually have to face the consequences of someone doing something undemocratic we will be ill prepared to handle it.

An action is only undemocratic if it goes out of its way to defy democratic principles, unless it is intentionally sidestepping the consent or consensus of the voting body, the odds are it was not “undemocratic.”

I am not saying hold your tongue when you see genuinely undemocratic behavior, all I am asking is that people remember that in organizations that pride themselves on democracy, it is not a term to be taken lightly.

Liberal Identity Politics Are Dehumanizing

Recently I saw an article in the Los Angeles Times that actually used the following phrase, “The coveted black women vote.”

Candidates like Kamala Harris or Liz Warren perpetuate toxic ID politics

Before I begin my tangent let me start by saying I am hesitant to even use the term “identity politics.” I feel that the term is used more often than not to silence the voices of women or people of color in leftist spaces when confronting the reality of what it means to be anti racist becomes uncomfortable. That said, I think that there is a staunch difference between liberal identity politics and leftist identity politics.

Leftists acknowledge intersectionality and use it to improve their analysis so that they may recruit and engage with more people in a more diverse way. Liberals use identity politics to tokenize, to excuse their own complacency in white supremacy, and most shallowly to get votes.

This is why I get infuriated when we talk about “the women vote” or “the black vote,” as if anyone who is not a white straight male in our society is of some bizarre kind of hive mind.

Pundits dehumanize LGBTQA+ people when they assume Buttigieg has their votes locked down simply because he is gay.

I hope everyone realizes that is what pundits and politicians are saying when they sayings like “the coveted black women vote.”

They are saying that oppressed groups of voters, such as black people, women, black women are nothing more than who they vote for president and what is worse is the dehumanizing idea that they will all vote for the same person for the same reasons.

When it comes down to discussing the “woman vote” or the “black vote” in the eyes of liberal and conservative pundits you are no longer a collection of individuals, each with your own stories and culture and background and reasoning. No, to them you are simply a part of a demographic, a thing to be used as fodder for politicians and talking heads alike.

They are fucking insulting you and reducing you to an infantile point. We should not stand for this.


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.

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.

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.