Happy Pride Month! Hopefully you have been able to see or participate in a joyful pride parade this month. In many ways, it’s been a good year for LGBT rights. We’ve seen the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the flourishing of Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project. We’ve watched viral YouTube videos of legislative chambers where legislators and citizens make impassioned speeches defending the rights of their queer brethren & sistren. There have been emotionally compelling ads for marriage equality and even a popular dance anthem that manages to proudly fit the word “transgender” into its lyrics. And recently, President Obama voiced his support for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people to marry the person of their choosing. So let’s talk about some socialist perspectives on marriage equality, and how that fits in with our broader views on queer rights, sexual liberation and revolution.
All life on this planet is at a crossroads. Science, as well as our everyday experience, tells us so. The mass disappearance of bees, rising food prices, a lack of healthy jobs, and the privatization and decreasing access to clean, drinkable water are just a few examples of the related and deep crises we’re facing. If many things don’t fundamentally shift in the next 50 years, then we’ll be facing some of the biggest challenges we’ve seen in our history as a human species.
Count on the G.O.P. to throw up a smokescreen during an election year. While the calamitous state of the economy is one of the biggest issues facing us today, reactionaries like to divert attention with wedge issues. They’re called “wedge issues” because they divide a sometimes otherwise unified electorate. I think of it more like the Republicans sharpening a wedge and jamming it into America’s fundamentalist religious fear-filled jugular.
I was recently asked to participate on a panel regarding the Left and electoral politics. I declined. For many people, this may seem strange since I have been a very strong proponent of the Left looking at electoral politics strategically. Well, that is all true but I have encountered a problem and maybe you can help me resolve it.
Good guess, but it has more to do with the role of taxation in today’s political economy.
As Ben Franklin said, nothing is certain except death and taxes. Taxes have been around since long before capitalism, although they were not always called taxes and they were not necessarily based on income. People have always been required to contribute to the government’s treasury, whether to buy silks for the Empress of Rome or to buy ships for the explorers of Portugal. But one thing is constant: they always serve a political purpose, and are usually a transfer of money from one group to another.
No, I wasn’t thinking about Christmas season lay-aways. I was thinking about the Lord’s Prayer:
“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” it says, or in another translation, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Many people describe the U.S. as a “Christian nation.” In the heat of anti-Communism in the 1950‘s, conservative politicians insisted that we re-insert “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance, making being a non-Christian a reason to be a suspected subversive. Recently, many of our Congressional representatives have fallen all over themselves to assert their Christian credentials. However, I never hear any of them mention debt forgiveness, a bedrock Christian principle.
This question comes up a lot among young activists. Many people are critical of capitalism but not sure they are socialists. They may be keenly aware of the failures of previous experiments that called themselves socialist, suspicious of a centralized state, or even unsure that a socialist model is the best alternative to capitalism.
After the revolution, be prepared to give up your sense of style. Trade in your favorite sweater that your mother gave you for a government-issued grey tunic. Burn those boots you decorated with silver pen and melt down all your jewelry for the State. Innovation is the most pernicious evil of capitalism. Individualism is dangerous. The world needs to be uniform, standard, so nobody has more than anybody else, and nobody *thinks* more than anybody else. That means you have to squash all your “good” ideas. Creativity breeds instability.
Whether a session of Congress, a corporate board meeting, a union meeting, a community meeting, or even a socialist meeting, there was Robert and his Rules of Order.
U.S. General Henry Robert wrote down the Rules of Order in 1876, bringing methods used by Congress to citizens running other meetings. The rules were supposed to ensure fairness. Of course, in 1876 and for a hundred years thereafter, it was only white guys who were having “important” meetings, and the Rules worked for them. So of course it was expected that they were the best of all possible rules.
Without the ability to pull the economy out of the current capitalist crisis, Democratic and Republican politicians have been mud-slinging even more than usual in an attempt to disown the recession (depression?) and place full blame on the other. It wasn’t scary enough to call Obama a “liberal” or a “progressive,” so they began calling him a socialist, as far back as his campaign in 2008.
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