Friday, June 14, 2013

Solidarity with the Turkish uprising!

Originally Posted onto Facebook
General Strike called for by the DISK and KISK union federations, Hava-Is continues strike against Turkish Airlines (THY) that began May 15.
Turkey, is largely considered the most “democratic” and “secular” nation in the middle east.
There are several reports that suggest the uprising “began” to escalate over a dispute as to whether a popular historic central park used by the working masses–should be made into a corporate shopping mall for the profit of the wealthy and their political stooges. And when there was a show of force of people to resist the demolition, the political and wealthy elite who rule society used their loyal servants–the police, to forcefully remove them. The police do not act independently as an institution and it incorrect to think so. How many thousands of times must we see such similar situations, in ten thousand trivial examples before we come to the realization that we workers and oppressed won’t have control over society until we confront the wealthy capitalists and their political stooges?
The uprising appears to represent more pro-worker, democratic and secular aspirations, as well as an opposition to the ultra-reactionary aspirations of radical Islamism and neo-liberal austerity. The degree of leverage the uprising will provide to groups and movements in the region and the world with similar aspirations will be heavily influenced by the degree of success of the Turkish popular uprising.
It is important to expose the faux democracy of ALL nations (Especially those where we live) which serve and are ruled by the wealthiest of society like Turkey, not merely the ultra-reactionary mission of a section of that wealthy elite. Only when the working masses take more control over their nations and society can they have a Genuine say in what is more useful to our society–a beautiful historic public park or a monolithic shopping mall; a media that serves the interests of the masses, or a media that serves the interests of the wealthy and police; healthcare available for all, or healthcare available for politicians and those who can afford it; a healthy environment for all, or a healthy environment for those who can afford to live away from pollution; democratic and civil rights available to all, or disparity of democratic and civil rights dependent on specific constituencies; the list goes on and on.

Monday, June 10, 2013

An Open Letter to M

Report on Mayday activities in Seattle 2013
(Letter to comrade M)
Hi M,

I am writing this with some help from Ben, in the Cyclo Cafe on Broadway.

I arrived at the [immigrants rights] march a little late at the top of Jackson, after taking a bus-ride from Everett. The bus ride was interesting because I was able to make conversation with a former carpet layer about what the march today is about, and what are some of the problems and potential avenues for movement for working people today.

These are the primary themes of the May Day demonstrations:

On the one hand, we had the theme of problems facing workers: A large percentage of workers deemed "illegal" and therefore socially expendable without rights, a weakened trade union movement, and a bourgeois government that will not "listen."

On the other hand, we had the theme of solutions (or a potential theme) as demonstrated by the anti-capitalist march. These solutions include Anarchism and Marxism, or some kind of Social Democratic variation of one or the other.

The March for Immigrant Rights

The immigrant rights march was carefully managed and coordinated by the Democratic Party and its allies, reformist immigrant groups as well as the trade unions. Most radical activists were unfortunately put into a position to "tail" the march. My original intention at the march was to meet with the comrades at the Communist Voice Organization (CVO) and distribute their leaflet on Immigration Reform. I was going to present a cover letter describing why I was doing so, and that while I don't endorse recruitment for the CVO, I do find the leaflet to be helpful. Based on my lead-up to May Day, they and the Internationalist Group in Portland were the only groups to come up with effective analysis on May Day in regards to the reforms which the unions and mainstream immigrant groups promoted. It is important to expose the Social Democratic institutions as mouthpieces for the bourgeoisie and broken dreams to the broad masses, and it was because of this reason that I promoted the CVO's leaflet (None were distributed by me however due to bad coordination with their members. From what I gathered they had success).

The march grew from about 2 to 3-4k. I had an interesting conversation with Nico about the march, and partial demands, I hope that this conversation can continue with you and the rest of the Black Orchid Collective (BOC), as well as other activists. I later spoke with Frank of the CVO and secured his willingness to be a part of that. I did not see the end of the march since we broke for lunch.

After lunch I met Ben and Frank at the Seattle Central Community College (SCCC) campus. We continued the conversation for partial demands among ourselves. Ben corrected me in my analysis of the role of the trade unions--and how far they can even be trusted for trade unionist demands. At the high point of the struggle, the bureaucrats will generally do everything possible to railroad and sell out the workers.

The ONRA leaflets are more tailored to the idea of solutions with the conscious element as the target audience, the CVO writes for the masses. Both types of leaflets are useful, but writing both types are probably too much for one study group alone. I did distribute some of the leaflets from my discussion group with Ben, which gives his views on the strategic and class perspective of the working class.

The Anti-Capitalist March:

The march of roughly 400 began with a rally with perhaps some of the most amotivational and confusing speeches I have ever heard. The good news is that the speakers did not waste too much time making statements that made no sense. The march's greatest strength I think was its early restraint from doing stupid actions that would jeopardize the march, and taking a route down Broadway and through the backside of Cal Anderson Park. The residential path was good for exposure and safety. The march turned toward Westlake down Pike and over the freeway into downtown.  Both Ben and I think it would have been preferable to stay in residential neighborhoods.  There was a slight tension at Nike Town, where one activist threw a stick at a window, followed by a scuffle and one or more arrests at 4th and Pine.

I do not know the details of the scuffle, but there was a confrontation between one or two activists and a bourgeois reporter.  Ben noted that immediately prior to the incident, a group of activists appeared to be smoking marijuana; which may have attracted the attention of a nearby reporter with a video camera-- leading to a shoving match between the activists and reporter. This is mainly speculation by Ben, since a lot was going on in the area and it was hard to see. If this sort of scenario was what happened, I think it is a sign of a lack of professionalism which is capitalized on by the bourgeois press for public appeal. The escalation to a shoving match with the reporters was harmful. [Noted: Ben believes that smoking pot is symbolic action that amounts to nothing, and mainly symbolized the empty politics which revolve around the idea that nothing is more militant than "confronting the man".]

After the first arrest, the cops created a perimeter around the arrested comrade and the paddy wagon. The other anti-capitalist activists encircled the perimeter and followed it one block north on 4th. The cops at this time reconfigured their perimeter, moved the prisoner from one paddy wagon to another, and held position for several minutes. Tension was pretty high, and, at the front of the convoy, a flash-bang grenade was thrown to disperse the crowd. Activists cleared for a few moments, unsure of what was going on, then cheered and regrouped to block the convoy. The cops threw another grenade, but made no progress. I had a good vantage point from the flowerbed of a fancy restaurant--until an activist shattered the window next to me--leaving me to look like I had done it. The cop's attention was however on the convoy and its immobility. We soon heard a dispersal order and a dozen flash-bang grenades over 20 minutes, as the cops attempted to push through. I am not sure if anyone was arrested after the dispersal order.  The action continued for some time and we were both coughing from the tear gas as we left-[Note: While we both witnessed objects being thrown, we cannot verify the type, weight, or lethality of the objects].

Probably, at least fifty to a hundred of the activists there wanted this kind of confrontation with the cops, although Ben offered the opinion that it would probably have been better for the march to disperse at a time and place of its choosing rather than by the order of the police.


So what can we learn from this? The anti-capitalist movement has some sections that are more conscious than others. Some have experience from Occupy and other struggles; some are new and more immature. The immature tactics near the end of the action probably reflect several things:

(a) The lack of political ideas based on building a conscious movement capable of drawing millions into action, and

(b) the inability for the more conscious section to have greater command and control over the action once it had become clear that it would be necessary to keep moving rather than get bogged down in one place, face arrests, and lose momentum and (eventually) confidence.

Why is it that the most conscious section of the movement is unable to do more to win the movement to political ideas that aim for something higher than confrontations with the cops?

Why do we have groups that have such poor coordination and communication with one another? Why can't we have a centralized source of information that fairly represents the thoughts and theory of everyone, and allows us to better discuss and sum up the best and worst ideas and practices of the movement?  

Why, for that matter, would it not be possible for experienced and dedicated activists to talk about the strategic perspective of the revolutionary movement of the proletariat?
These are things we have to discuss if we are serious about creating an effective machine to defeat the bourgeoisie and replace capitalism.

Ben and I meet when we can at the Black Coffee on many Sundays and hope that, sooner or later, you or other members of the BOC will stop by and say hello.
Mayday Map

 [SUT 2/5/2013] 

On Majority Rule

<Draft> Majority Rule Hi Hi Charles,
Last I checked this thread you asked me the question, “Art, without a majority rules principal how will the organization/party/government come to actionable decisions?”
This is a very good question. I have given some thought to this quite a bit over the past year, and I will likely continue to give thought to this for many years to come, but I will try to answer this humbly to give it the justice it deserves. I did not mean to imply to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but I realize I should better clarify my position.
This is not just a question about majority rules, it is about democracy, democracy of party organization and democracy of state—both of which I view as needed to be separate. Many so called “socialists” view these as the same thing, a tradition that dates back decades and decades due to the embryonic workers rule of the early Soviet system (I don’t think it advanced beyond embryonic before degeneration).
First, what is “Majority Rules”?
“Majority Rules” usually implies a simple majority of 50%+1 votes of an organizational body to come to a decision. So, majority rules may be better described not as a principle but as an organizational device. Are there variations? Certainly, just as there are variations of consensus which implies 100% agreement or votes by an organizational body on a decision of which I also view as an organizational device.

What the fuck is Democracy?
Some people believe that “Majority Rules” is democracy, and some believe that consensus is democracy—others believe that rule by their specific organization or ideology is a democracy. Currently capitalist parliamentarian and representational systems with a constitution are widely called “Democracies”— but it is likely that no one with a deep level of class consciousness is willing to accept this definition. Democracy is a vague term with many, many definitions, so for the purpose of this response I don’t think this term is helpful or meaningful in any way. I will attempt to avoid it in order to discuss the concrete.
For the purposes of this write-up I will be using “Democratic” as synonymous with “Fairness” characterized by the principle of “political, economic and social equality for all.”
Primary Guiding Principle & Mission of ALL organizations that we create:
The organization we build must be an organization that fights for working class rule. That will be the life and death difference between our systems of organization, and the bourgeois systems of organization. All tactics, devices, means and methods must be scrutinized through the lens of our guiding principle.

Democratic Rights
Because working class rule is our guiding principle, we must also fight for democratic rights of freedom of speech and organization. Freedom of speech and organization must be protected because they are the democratic rights that will allow the masses to hold those in positions of power accountable. They are the rights that all other rights will rest upon. When I describe these rights as being protected, I mean in very concrete ways using various organizational and technical devices, not simply just jotted down on a paper (even if it is hemp paper).
Now one thing I’m not quite sure is if freedom of organization implies is protection of minorities, so for the hell of it I’ll put emphasis on this as well (would like thoughts on that). Protection of Minorities and minority rights are important because for years to come we will be the minority. Far too often have I seen radical groups shrug this important democratic trait off because the most radical and militant members held majority while reactionaries and idiots held minority—but unfortunately it is possible to flood an organization that recruits new members with idiots, reactionaries, social democrats and other fools who will actively subvert the primary mission. Some of the Anarchists have proposed the solution to this is to not recruit new cadre—but I say “Good luck building a mass movement for revolution, and have fun in your tree house.”

So by studying minority rights we can have a greater understanding of “Majority rule”:

1) Sometimes Majority Rule may be in the favor of the mission for workers rule

2) Sometimes Majority Rule will not be in the favor of the mission for workers rule

Will this always be the case? No, I think it won’t always be the case, as revolutionists who advocate workers rule, majority rule will likely become more favored as those with a deep level of consciousness become a stable majority, however there will likely always be a need for minority rights and protections, as well as freedom of speech and organization!
Will all organizations we build be organized the same way? Will they use the same organizational devices?
No, they will not all be organized the same way, they will not all use the same organizational devices. These organizations will be built and organized to meet the present and future needs of their primary and secondary missions. A secondary mission might be for example, to study a book with the intention to learn from it and apply what we learned to our work. Or, a secondary mission might be to journalize exposures for propaganda. The former example may be done with a high degree of informality and lack of “policy,” but the second may require more formality and “policy” in order to be more effective.

Furthermore, the former may get by on majority rule for quick decisions,  such as how to organize the study group, or an action; but it may require broader consensus for decisions that require nearly unanimous support such as risky major actions or public statements. The second example may be set up in a way where articles require only to meet policies enacted through majority rule or consensus—but articles may be vetoed to be decided by majority rule if it is believed that they violate the primary mission (hypothetical example). In some cases it may be in everyone's interests to allow decisions to be made by a minority such as specialists under special or extreme circumstances.  When your house is on fire, the firefighters do not wait for those within the building to come up with a decision to leave or not--there is simply an immediate evacuation decision made by the firefighters.

In any case, I do not believe in a “one size fits all” cookie cutter system, but I think I have hit on some of the key points. I would appreciate feedback on these thoughts.

[TMO 3/6/2013 B]

Monday, August 13, 2012

Our New Forum

This forum was created to combine our belief in the soundness of the Second Amendment of the Constitution and our commitment to socialism, whatever specific form we adhere to. Some of us favor Marxism, others Anarchism, still others are Social Democrats, or are just interested in social justice.
Formerly many of us were affiliated with the Liberal Gun Club but felt that our opposition to the Obama administration's half- hearted reforms and full- hearted warmongering was being greeted with more and more hostility, increasing in step with the fear mongering frenzy that has been unleashed by the upcoming presidential election.
The next step was obvious: form our own club.
Some of us still have ties with the LGC, and that is a good thing for both clubs fight the stereotypes manufactured by the immense right- wing propaganda machine that Liberals and Leftists do not own firearms and want to ban them. If you check out how many members the LGC has, you would change your mind about that in a hurry.
So we wish the LGC luck. Some of us left in anger, but we still have the same mission: protect the 2nd Amendment and promote firearm ownership among our fellow leftists.
BTW, Rude Reds has now switched back to its old title. Now that we got the forum up and running we will try to combine the two.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, and race in America

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’re no doubt aware that something happened in Florida a while ago that has had far-reaching national implications. First, the facts:

On February 26, 2012, in Sanford Florida, an unarmed African-American male named Trayvon Martin was shot dead by an armed White or Hispanic American (his mother is from Peru, his father is a white man and a retired judge) named George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin had been walking home from a convenience store. George Zimmerman was in his car, called the non-emergency police dispatch line, and reported that there was a youth acting strangely and dressed suspiciously. He left his vehicle and followed Martin, despite the dispatcher telling him he shouldn’t. There was a fight, and Martin wound up dead. Zimmerman was taken into custody by police but not arrested. Police did not perform a background check at that time. No drug or alcohol screen was performed. The lead homicide investigator recommended that Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter. Instead, Zimmerman was released.

Nothing more was going to be done about this until the family of Trayvon Martin, and their attorney, successfully brought national attention to the issue, through the use of a petition. I’ve heard from people that this entire thing was a media creation for bigger ratings and money. I find it hard to believe that, absent a public outcry, the media would have cared about just another dead black man. They certainly have not in the past. People die in horrible ways in this country all the time, the only time it becomes a major media issue is when it’s either a lot of people dying at the same time, or if it’s a missing angelic blond (or more rarely brunette) white girl.

Now sides are being taken, and that’s messed up. There are a lot of people who seem to think, and say things to this effect, that it’s okay that Trayvon Martin died, and that George Zimmerman killed him. Others aren’t willing to come right out and say it, so they blame the media for making this news, or for editing a tape to remove a meager bit of context, or for running old pictures of Martin. White supremacists are lining up around the block to support Zimmerman, and black supremacist groups are doing the same to oppose him. But I think they miss the group here that really dropped the ball. A lot of fault should lie with the Sanford police department.

Stand Your Ground laws have taken a lot of heat in this case because the police department used them as justification to let Zimmerman walk. If you get out of your vehicle and pursue somebody, you are no longer standing your ground. You’re acting like a cop. Zimmerman had completed a Sheriff’s department course in “citizen’s law enforcement”, and was captain of the neighborhood watch, it’s quite possible (but this is speculation) that he considered himself a sort of unpaid police officer. However, he was not, he was a private citizen who tried to be a cop and got somebody else killed; although it could just as easily have been Zimmerman who died, if Martin had actually been a criminal. The people who should have pointed out to Zimmerman that he was not a police officer but was instead a private citizen who got an unarmed youth killed were the police who arrested him.

Instead, the police kept him and questioned him for a few hours, but they ultimately let him go. And that was a mistake. No background check was run, or they may have found that Zimmerman had a history of domestic violence. That was a mistake. The investigator who recommended manslaughter charges was ignored. That was a mistake. If Zimmerman had been charged, and faced trial, then none of this would have gone as far as it has. But the police fucked up.

I’ve seen people holding up cases where African-Americans have beat up white people in the wake of Martin’s killing as… something. They claim that black community leaders would never speak up about it or the media make a big deal over it, but the reason there was such a big deal over the Martin killing was because nobody was charged. A person was dead and it looked like nobody would be held accountable for it in the eyes of the law. In all the cases so far I’ve seen where white people get beat up or mugged, the people responsible have been charged. There are people looking at jail time for it. Prior to very recently, that wasn’t the case in the Martin killing.

I think what is being missed in all the sides-taking over this incident is the core issue at stake here: In America, we have two different sets of law, two different faces to the police force, two different standards of criminal justice. There’s the standard for whites, and the standard for minorities. By way of example, John McNeil was a black man in Georgia who shot a white man who had come at him with a knife in his pocket, on McNeil’s property, and who was a man who had previously threatened McNeil repeatedly. John McNeil is now in jail on a life sentence.

As a white man, I have little to no fear of being stopped “randomly” by police for a variety of minor reasons. I have even less fear of winding up dead as a result of that traffic stop. If I’m ever caught with an illicit drug, I’m statistically significantly more likely to get probation than face jail time. These are the benefits of what Kurt Vonnegut described in his novel Hocus Pocus (an excellent read for familiarizing yourself with racial injustice in America) as the “uniform of the skin”. Meanwhile, for African-Americans in the US, it is harder for one without a criminal record to get a job than it is for a white with a criminal record.

If Zimmerman had been more clearly a minority, if Trayvon Martin had been a white kid named Steve Gustafson or something, and if Zimmerman’s father was not a judge, I have little doubt that the case would go differently. If the suspicious youth had been white and Zimmerman had been black, he would probably be facing the death penalty. Or perhaps already dead, shot by police after they arrived on the scene.

This is the heart of the problem. There are two separate sets of laws in this country, and there are plenty of people out there who think that’s just fine. That needs to change, but instead we look like we’re speeding towards a culture/race war, an unending cycle of action and reaction that can only be ultimately destructive.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blogwatch: All Secure

I thought this article, "Fist-Swinging Photographers Miss the Point" is an interesting addition to our recent discussion around OWS and security. It makes me uneasy to see journalists being broad-brushed and The Police unequivocally supported. I don't know that general classifications of people should be handed our theoretical trust - it seems like that honor should be reserved for individuals.

Furthermore, compromising photos are going to get out. It's just a fact of the 21st century. Maybe you should be more concerned with reducing our dependence on such potentially lethal and vulnerable edifices and monuments to vertical power.

Instead of being ostentatious with our power and technology, it would be much less of a headache to simplify and ... I dunno, "deconventionalize"? Make less formal? Stop playing such high stakes games at home and around the world? Maybe then it would be easier to have a transparent society.

Or maybe not. But it's worth a try ...getting beat out of shape to maintain a poisonous status quo doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere.

"I can haz full comuninizm?"

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Quick Update on Hedges

“But there is a hostility towards civilization as it’s currently configured and it must be taken down. Their problem with those of us on the organized left is that we, in essence, are attempting to reform it rather than destroy it.” -Chris Hedges from his Truth-Out Interview

Despite Hedges obvious ignorance of Black Bloc tactics, as written about by David Graeber in a paternalistic way– Hedges understands the polarity of opinion regarding how we must change the present system.

In addition, Hedges said something that may help anti-capitalists to understand the thoughts of American reformists. It was something that I’ve heard before from other pseudo anti-capitalists.

Hedges states essentially that the internal national repression brought by capitalism is somehow disconnected from the external repression in other nations brought by capitalism. He basically argues that Americans are different from Egyptians and Greeks; that our struggle is disconnected. He is a proponent of the idea that their struggle is at a more advanced stage than our (American) struggle.This nationalist “not in my backyard” attitude destroys international solidarity between revolutionaries, and creates a false sense of safety through the artificial boundary drawn on a map.

Peter Gelderloos seems to agree that we as activists must overcome the nationalism that pollutes our movement: ”Around the world, people are fighting for their freedom and resisting the depredations of the rich and powerful. In the United States, there is plenty of cause to join this fight, but as long as people continue enact a fear-driven, Not-In-My-Backyard pacifism, and to pander to the corporate media as though they would ever show us in a positive light, the rich and the powerful will have nothing to worry about.”

Hedges, like many Americans, lives in a comfortable position, and I think that is why he is afraid. Rather than seeking to overthrow the horrific, unjust, disgusting system that we have, Hedges seeks its survival to maintain his present level of comfort. He believes that the transition would be “always tragic,” ignoring the tragedy that is presently occurring under the system of capitalism. “I don’t want to go there…I don’t want us to descent into that,” admits Hedges. This fear of confronting the terrifying system we live under is the same fear that the reformists have with regard to the media. The liberal collaborators would prefer to pander to the capitalist media out of fear that the capitalist media will show the movement in a negative light. This is irrational, as the media will always negatively portray the movement so long as the movement threatens the status-quo. That is the reason why the Tea Party despite all of its flaws was depicted by the capitalist media as a legitimate, patriotic, grassroots, american movement. The fears of change, the fear of transition and revolution, of venturing into the unknown must be overcome. We will never advance the struggle until we can overcome our fear, and help others to overcome their fears. We must be more afraid of ignorantly fighting for a perpetual continuation of oppression.

This article was originally posted on 2/19/2012

[2]Open Letter to Hedges regarding “The Cancer in Occupy” written by Anarchist David Graeber
[3]A Response by Anarchist Peter Gelderloos:
[4]Part 1 of Ben’s responses to the Liberal counter-offensive
[5]Part 2 of Ben’s responses to the Liberal counter-offensive