Socialism and Electoral Politics in the US
An Interview with Mimi Soltysik
Devon Douglas-Bowers and Colin Jenkins
The campaign I will be running will not be about votes, will not be about ballot status, and will not be about revenue raised. It will primarily focus on the unique media opportunities that are presented during a general election. Given the Bernie Sanders candidacy, it may be reasonable to expect that any candidate from a democratic socialist organization might see enhanced opportunities to discuss socialism from an explicitly anti-capitalist perspective. Failure to take advantage of those opportunities in this general election would be a crucial mistake, in my opinion. I am not a fan of respectability politics. It doesn't resonate with me or many of the others who I have spoken with throughout my time as an organizer. Frankly, in a fairy-tale situation where a democratic socialist would actually take the White House, my belief is that the candidate would have to need to fire herself or himself the moment victory was declared. Why? In this electoral system, a democratic socialist would have to so thoroughly compromise and/or concede her or his beliefs, beliefs that inspired the votes leading to victory, and would be so incredibly beholden to corporate interests, that she or he would be completely unfit to govern once taking office. I am not here to play nice with those who support our money-driven electoral system. I also believe this is an opportunity to take a few dramatic shots at capitalism and our current electoral system, to convey a radical message, and to stress revolution from below. Much of the messaging will focus on what folks throughout the country can do to swiften the revolutionary pace, helping in any way possible to connect the people to existing social movements. Finally, I believe that the campaign can be a unifier, offering support to local socialist campaigns throughout the country. This is an opportunity to smash sectarian walls where they exist while still maintaining a democratic socialist identity.
Questioning the Left
An Interview with Gregory Smulewicz-Zucker and Michael J. Thompson
We agree that the problem is not solely with the academy. It is important to look at the academy because the kind of work that is done in the academy is, in part, often a reflection of what people think they can achieve on the ground. The main issue seems to be that moral revulsion has supplanted the critique of social mechanisms that produce the problems that outrage people. It is also important to stress that moral revulsion is not a substitute for, nor an equivalent of, political action and political strategy. The key, as we see it, is to understand that politics is about shaping not only the mentality of citizens and the norms of culture, but more crucially about organizing the legitimate power of the state to enforce laws that prevent social injustice and expand the horizon of social justice. This requires understanding the mechanisms of politics, of elections, of the law, of constitutional interpretation, and so on. The contemporary left has abandoned these concerns and has instead decided to view them as attributes of a system that needs to be rejected. This is simply absurd and, in our view, anti-political. We also think that there is a problem with what theory has become. The only reason that a cleavage has developed between theory and practice is because the function of theory has been abandoned. It is important to recognize that what is now touted as theory is not actually theory. Theory plays a vital role in diagnosing and critiquing concrete political problems. People like Zizek and Badiou do not have theories. Their work is so convoluted and self-referential that there is no link to the concrete. It masquerades as theory. They are able to create their own fan clubs and say whatever they want because they purposefully construct so-called theories that allow them to evade critical evaluation. Esotericism has become a virtue unto itself. From this standpoint, the aversion to theory is understandable. So-called theory has become..
Anti-Racist Rednecks with Guns
An Interview With Dave Strano
The John Brown Gun Club was a working group of Kansas Mutual Aid, an anarchist collective active in Northeast Kansas from 2002 until early 2009. Kansas Mutual Aid focused on a variety of organizing initiatives and social programs including free food distributions, support for political prisoners and prisoners of war, copwatch and legal support, anti-military recruitment, and firearms and self defense trainings. The John Brown Gun Club focused on two main program points. We worked to provide skillshares and trainings in the tactical use of firearms within the radical community and also to distribute free anti-racist literature at gun shows in Kansas and Missouri. We managed to table at over 30 different gun shows in a three year period, and distribute hundreds of copies of anti-racist and anti-Minutemen literature during that time period. We even managed to make some close allies with several other gun show vendors, one of which quit the Minutemen. That connection would later prove very advantageous after my move to Denver, as that vendor helped provide some of the first tabling space for the Redneck Revolt project at gun shows in this area. Kansas Mutual Aid was mostly comprised of working class anarchists, few of who seem to meet the normal demographic of ex-punk and ex-middle class backgrounds. The majority of the folks that made up the John Brown Gun Club working group even went as far as to openly identify as rednecks.
Transgender Life and LGBT Politics
I was raised in a religious household, where gender roles were fairly strict. In my church, wearing pants was controversial for women, and skirts above the knee would result in chastisement. It's in many ways fortunate that my tastes, preferences, and hobbies fit fairly neatly within the realm of feminine, so it was rare someone would criticize my gender expression or choice in clothing. My behavior was considered atypical from what one might expect from a young girl, but it was just as likely to be attributed to a difference in socioeconomic difference between my family and my peers, or just a personal oddity. Compared to church doctrine, my family was fairly progressive, but being raised in the church, attending parochial school through the church, and participating in extracurricular activities sponsored by the church resulted in a very limited understanding of sex, gender, and the expression of the two. Despite all this, my mother raised me and my sister to be critical of hierarchies and gender expectations, and tried her hardest to promote feminist thinking within a highly patriarchal community. At fourteen, my family could no longer afford to maintain my enrollment in the parochial school offered by my church. My first year of public school was at 14, as a freshman in highschool. It took a year for me to understand that my innate weirdness wasn't just a quirk, but there were actual words to describe..