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.

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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.

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.

Right Wing Attacks on This Blog

Recently a video of me from the DSA convention has gone viral and right wing trolls have dug through my website and are publishing screen shots and videos of me, mocking my mental health and my disability.

I am not bothered. I am not hurt by any of this. But by sharing my name, hometown, and social media accounts on their website, Fox News has exposed not only myself but my family to incredible danger.

(TW/CW Ableist and bigoted language)

This above picture is a screen shot of just one of the dozens of messages I have been receiving in the last 24 hours. Some have been rants like this, others have been direct threats on my life.

It would be laughable that Fox News has picked such an insignificant event from the DSA convention and blow it up so much were it not for the fact it has put the safety of all those I care about at risk.

I have since had to deactivate my twitter and instagram because I have received a bombardment of death threats. This has effected my ability to advertise this blog since I was using both of those sites to do that. I now have to be extra intentional about writing posts and sharing my work for my readers to find.

I am not worried about my own safety but about the safety of those I love. I find Fox News and Tucker Carlson’s obsession with me hilarious, but there is nothing funny about how the safety of my friends and relatives are now at risk because of their constant and irresponsible form of coverage.

I am not afraid of the attacks against me. I am only afraid that someone I love may get hurt. Personally, I have never been afraid of bullies. I have never believed in “just ignoring” them so they “go away. ” No, ever since I was a child I have always been one to look my bullies in the eye and say one thing to them, “I am not afraid of you.”

This blog will continue and so will my regular postings. The right wing will never silence me.

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.

Don’t Just Vote for Socialists, Vote for ECO-Socialists

I am a strong supporter of the DSA’s current electoral platform, and I say that as someone who is beyond disilluisioned with electoralism. However, the DSA’s current platform for getting as many socialists as possible elected to public office has been nothing but good for the organization and for socialism.

This platform of pushing for DSA members to run for office has successfully brought socialism out from the marginalized wings of U.S. politics and into the mainstream. It has brought attention to the organization and helped force the policy platform of many otherwise moderate democrats go further to the left.

However, considering the impending disaster facing our planet, species, and existence, I move that we not only work to elect socialists, but explicit eco-socialists to office.

I don’t need to remind anyone how disastrous of a state we are in. The carbon levels in the atmosphere are at their highest in the history of humankind and too many species are already on the brink of extinction. Farmworkers are being forced to work in even more complicated conditions since we are losing consistency in our crops, and we will be seeing more mass migrations as global warming gets worse.

Therefore, we cannot, I repeat, CAN NOT, take it for granted that the socialists we seek to elect are explicitly conscious of the need for an ecological, sustainable economy. The importance of electing socialists to office allows us to seize a form of state power and push for a democratized economy, which inturn can help create a more eco-friendly one, but that will not be an inevitability if we do not make it so.

Some will say that the terms “socialist” and environmentalist are inherently intertwined because the liberals have clearly aligned themselves with the carbon economy. I disagree with this logic and say we must take nothing for granted, especially not what it means to be a socialist.

A person can identify as a socialist or as pro labor but then can flip that to mean something that is not environmentalist at all. Some have taken the stance that the environment is secondary to labor. For example the AFLCIO has released all kinds of anti envromental stances, including support for pipelines and housing developments. They take the platform of “job creation” being the priority of the working class. This stance is flawed because it blatantly ignores the reality of job creation that comes from embracing a green economy. This is why cannot take for granted that a pro working class candidate is also a pro environmental one.

Support for an eco socialist candidate should not be limitus tested by one single policy either. While I support a Green New Deal we can not rely on that alone to save ourselves. An ecosocialist candidate must incorporate the realities of mass migration, conservationism, and animal rights into their pro working class agenda.

To say that the terms socialist and environmentalist are inherently intertwined risks us losing out ecosocialist candidates in favor of ones who fail to reconcile environmentalism and socialism. We must make our demands explicit and that must reflect in our electoral platform at all times. We cannot take for granted that every socialist is an ecosocialist, I think it is pretty evident that we can take nothing for granted.