Anarchism, Anti-Capitalism

fellowshipping with socialists

red_anarcho_pacifism_by_christiansocialism

I first heard of the event, “Socialism from moment to movement,” when some Facebook friends clicked “interested” and it appeared on my timeline. I paid it no mind, but took a screenshot of it so I would be reminded of it every time I went through my photos. It was the day before the event that I decided to attend.

I arrived 10 minutes early. For some reason I did not notice that it was an International Socialist Organization event. When I entered the room, a mid-50’s white woman cornered me and bombarded me with questions:

“What are you thinking about this election?”

“Do you consider yourself a leftist?”

“Would you like to join one of our book groups?”

I answered them as quickly as she asked them. Although, I felt like I was trying to impress her as if I had to show her that I was a card carrying Leftist. Around 7, I took my seat in an empty row. Shortly after, the room started to fill up. As I watched those who entered the room, my eye caught the moment when another white woman in her mid-50’s entered and spoke with the one I just talked to and I saw her point to me. The newly arrived woman then came and sat next to me. She too asked me several questions. These were more personal though. Like what I did for work and where I live. She seemed more interested in what I thought than the first woman. It wasn’t until 7:20 when the speaker finally gave her presentation. She offered an incredible historical overview of socialism in the US starting with the 1919 Strike in Seattle up through Occupy Wall Street and Bernie. I was hoping the talk was going to address how to harness the energy from the Bernie campaign and use it to empower the Left; instead, they called Bernie a totalitarian socialist. It felt like they were trying to split the already fractured and unorganized Left. We need to protect and watch each other’s backs, not to stab each other.

After the talk, there was an hour and a half for questions and responses. They were both done by audience members, which I liked that it wasn’t the speaker who had all the answers. The questions included “Who will pay for free healthcare?” “How can there be free tuition?” and “Do we really need Democracy; will it not always be tied to capitalism?” By the end of the hour, I heard so much proselytizing for socialism that I felt very uncomfortable. As well, as the event went on, the room kept getting warmer and I was ready to leave. The question session ended at 9:10pm. I tried to burst out of there, but before I could, I was handed a Socialist newspaper and a flier by one of the women I spoke with earlier.

I found the whole event overwhelming. There was not much room for political discourse, other than what they called ‘socialism from below.’ I came in not quite knowing what the event was about and left exhausted and sad for the state of Leftist discourse. I’ve never thought of myself as a socialist. For me, the language is too strong and I’d rather not have the State be our only overlord of Almighty Capital.

I’ll keep with the label anarchist or anarcho-communist, situating myself in a politic of community, autonomy-in-togetherness, and anti-capitalism: where we’re fighting for a world where everyone has a place to live and thrive. And sure, socialists have similar ends, but their means depend far too much on power-as-it-is rather than imagining new ways of being.

In general, the title “Socialism from moment to movement” was more of a history lesson than anything one can posit for the future. At one point the speaker said that we need to be ready for revolution at any moment and their reading groups and conferences are how we get prepared. Maybe that’s how one prepares intellectually and emotionally, but also we too need to prepare by getting to know our neighbors, their needs, and start living into the revolution here and now.

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Christainity, Justice, Liberation Theology, Prison Industrial Complex

no good, very bad, terrible horrible news: ndaa passed

The NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) was passed by Congress late Thursday night (84-15-1). It received $609 billion dollars in funding. Carl Levin, D-Mich. stated, “the bill before us is not a Democratic bill and it is not a Republican bill. It is a bipartisan, bicameral defense bill.” Those who didn’t vote for it were the outliers with very strong and differing positions from the likes of Senator Bernie Sanders, a socialist, to Senator Ted Cruz, representing the  far-right-wing of the Republican party.

Senator Cruz remarked,

“Today I voted against the National Defense Authorization Act. I am deeply concerned that Congress still has not prohibited President Obama’s ability to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens arrested on American soil without trial or due process.

The Constitution does not allow President Obama, or any President, to apprehend an American citizen, arrested on U.S. soil, and detain these citizens indefinitely without a trial. When I ran for office, I promised the people of Texas I would oppose any National Defense Authorization Act that did not explicitly prohibit the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens. Although this legislation does contain several positive provisions that I support, it does not ensure our most basic rights as American citizens are protected.”

The NDAA legislation is a mixed bag for Senator Cruz. He wants to make sure that American citizens cannot be indefinitely detained without a trail, which the bill as it stands now allows. It frightens me that this bill was passed bipartisan, not that I have much hope for Democrats, but that who wants US citizens to be detained? Are they working for us or for defense contractors? Because this is the first time a bill has passed that allows defense contractors multi-year agreements rather than their normal yearly agreement. Does this mean that we are going to more wars in the future? Is this Congress’ way of flipping off the American people and letting us know that we are never going to not be in a war?

Historically, this is the 51st year that the NDAA has passed. It has just been recently that the NDAA has been challenged. Most notably, this year’s Hedges vs. Obama, which sadly was rejected. Yet, why does the NDAA matter so much? Why did I wake up this morning angry when I saw on the Facebook newsfeed that this legislation was passed?

It’s because of priorities!

We would rather slash food assistance checks with SNAP than ever think about cutting our defense budget!*

We would rather budget $609 billion dollars for the military than to help poor people in the US!

We would rather encourage multi-year military contracts than aid in US economic recovery!

We would rather privatize the military and prisons than to setup better public programs and safety nets that actually work!!

God, forgive us for we have no idea what we are doing. 

ndaa

*If you haven’t checked out the Daily Show’s interview with Forbes Columnist John Tamny, you must!

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