Episode 2: GOP Tax Bill, Net Neutrality, Police Brutality, and The Informal Anarchist Federation

On episode two of The Guillotine, Dr. Bones from the Conjure House and Brett from Revolutionary Left Radio discuss the new GOP tax bill, the FCC decision to dismantle Net Neutrality, the murder of Daniel Shaver and the acquittal of Phillip Brailsford, and the Santiago Maldonado Cell of the Informal Anarchist Federation.

We also take live calls from listeners. 

HERE IS THE EPISODE: http://theguillotinepodcast.libsyn.com/episode-2-gop-tax-bill-net-neutrality-police-brutality-and-the-informal-anarchist-federation

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The Dismantling of Net Neutrality and the Socialist Solution

We are all upset and outraged at the recent dismantling of Net Neutrality; however, it’s essential to understand the broader context within which this attack on the internet is taking place. As neoliberal late capitalism spirals the drain and continues to devour everything in its path, there will be an intensified effort to dismantle and privatize what we call the “commons”: places and resources and institutions that are meant to be accessible to the general public regardless of the amount of money one happens to have in their bank account. This attack on the internet is an attack on the very idea that some things should be free and open to everyone and not privatized and sold back to us at inflated prices in order to increase the profit margins of a handful of already extremely rich and powerful corporations. If we zoom out a bit, we can see this vampiric attack on the commons in many other areas: for example, the Trump administration recently issued an executive order dramatically shrinking the size of two national monuments in Utah, reducing the acreage of protected public land by 80% in one case in order to open them up to drilling by oil and gas companies. From healthcare to prisons to education, we are facing a corporate onslaught from all angles, and working people are being robbed, beaten down, and tossed aside at every turn.

This disgusting excuse for political system has also begun dropping even the *pretense* of democracy and representative republicanism. Over 80% of Americans were opposed to the dismantling of Net Neutrality, and getting 80% of Americans to agree on anything these days is damn near impossible. Additionally, our two “choices” for president, Clinton and Trump, each had Disapproval ratings in the 60-70% range *during the campaign*. And finally, this new GOP tax bill which seeks to transfer 1.5 Trillion dollars away from working Americans and into the pockets of the already extremely rich has only a 30% approval rating from the general population. Yet despite these clear numbers, Net Neutrality was gutted, Trump and Clinton were our choices, and this horrifically cruel GOP tax bill is almost certainly going to be passed into law. We do not live in anything even resembling a democracy, and getting to choose every few years between a handful of representatives of the ruling class doesn’t change that. We live in the Dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, of the capitalist class. They don’t give a fuck what you and I think, they will do whatever they want to do, and we are expected to sit down, shut up, and take it…

But I do not want us merely to despair; if they want a fight, they will get one. And with every sociopathic policy move they make, they stir more and more of us into action. Karl Marx once said that capitalism produces its own gravediggers, and here we all are, with nothing but shovels and plenty of dirt… we weren’t born to bend the knee, we were born to knock off crowns from atop the heads of kings.

And when it comes to the internet, the liberal solution of net neutrality has failed to hold up. Now its time for a socialist solution: if the internet infrastructure is a neutral public carrier of data, then it should be publicly owned by the cities. The internet is a utility, and in this modern world, if you don’t have equal and free access to it, you are at a material disadvantage. Net Neutrality was great, but it wasn’t enough. The internet belongs in the hands of the people; it should be a public utility and access to it should be a protected right. After all, public spending built the internet, capitalists merely sold it back to us at a premium. Its time to get the corporate vampires completely out of the equation and bring the internet under democratic, collective control. That should be our goal, and every move we make in this fight, that goal should be held firmly in our minds. And its not some utopian idea either, its precisely what happened in Chattanooga Tennessee. That mid-sized city, not at all unlike our own, was fed up with private corporation’s inability to provide low cost, high speed access to the internet, so they did it themselves. Now the internet in Chattanooga is democratically owned by the people of that city, costs have gone down, and internet speeds skyrocketed past the speeds offered by the big private corporations.

This fight is just beginning, and as long as we have capitalism, we will have to keep fighting these battles off and on indefinitely. In fact, the very idea of destroying net neutrality in the first place would be inconceivable in a democratic society run by and for regular working people. *Only* in a system where the super rich and private corporations have wildly disproportionate power and influence would this ever even be an issue in the first place. But the single biggest blow we could hit them with would be to respond to this assault on the commons by wrenching their greedy, blood stained fingers off our internet and taking back what is rightfully ours. In order to do this, we have to organize here in Omaha, put massive pressure on our local representatives, and normalize this idea within our social circles as well as online. Let people know that a better way of doing things is a possibility, and then fight like hell to make it a reality.

We live in an uncertain time; the 21st century is perhaps the largest and most important crossroads in the history of our species. The class war is being intensified on every front and from every direction. What we need now more than ever is a national working class movement that can rise to the challenges of our time and fight back against the blood-soaked corporate and imperialist monsters who wish to plunder and loot every corner of this planet.

Time is running out, and our choice, in the words of the great revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, is clearer today than its ever been: Socialism or Barbarism.

NEW PODCAST: The Guillotine, Ep 1

We are introducing the first episode of a brand new spin-off podcast called The Guillotine. Brett from Revolutionary Left Radio and Dr. Bones from The Conjure House host this brand new show that covers current news around the world from a revolutionary communist and anarchist perspective and that has live call-ins from listeners.

This being our first episode ever, we had some kinks to work out and could not live stream it. However, in the future, all episodes will be live streamed as well as published through our podcast hosting site, so you can listen to the new show live and call in to talk to us; and you can also listen to the polished version a few days later on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.

HERE IS THE EPISODE: http://theguillotinepodcast.libsyn.com/episode-1-fascism-libya-sexism-and-j20

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Our intro music is “Our Words” off the album “Nihilismo” by Sole and DJ Pain 1, you can find their music here: https://sole.bandcamp.com/album/sole-dj-pain-1-nihilismo

Our transition music between segments was a created by our comrade Ethan S., you can find that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVEXA_RR1sA

Out outro music is “The Guillotine” by The String-Bo String Duo, you can find their music here: https://tsbsd.bandcamp.com/releases 

Refuting Common Arguments Against The Left

Kristy is a revolutionary organizer and co-founder of the leftist organization The Nebraska Left Coalition. Jeff is revolutionary union member and one of the admins of Anarchist Memes.
Brett, Kristy, and Jeff come together (and overcome a slew of technical difficulties during the recording of this episode) to collectively address and refute common arguments made against socialists.
Topics include: Antifa, human nature, Hitler, economics, private property vs. personal property, and much more.

HERE IS THE INTERVIEW: http://revolutionaryleftradio.libsyn.com/common-arguments

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Random Song From Our Friends: “I Wrote This Song When I Was 17” by Not Ben Shin
https://notbenshin.bandcamp.com/releases
 
This podcast is officially affilated with The Nebraska Left Coalition and the Omaha GDC.
 
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Climate Change, Mass Migration, and the Rise of the Far Right

At first glance, it might not be obvious as to how climate change and the far right are causally connected, but in this short article I aim to illustrate that connection and explicate how the two seemingly unrelated phenomena are actually in a frightening cause-and-effect relationship which will only increase over time.

The Relationship Between Climate Change and Mass Migration

The main thread that connects climate change and the rise of the far right is mass migration. As climate change intensifies it will create concentrated droughts, alterations in vegetation zones, and rising sea levels. Concerning rising sea levels specifically, its worth noting that 2/3rds of all human beings on Earth live within 100 kilometers (62 miles) of a coastline, and over 630 million people live below the ’30 feet above sea level’ line. This means that tens of millions of people, at least, will be forced to re-locate over the next half century. Wealthier countries might be able build infrastructure that prevents those rising sea levels from ruining entire cities, but less developed nations will not have that option. Add to that fact the already alarming food shortages caused by draughts, and shifting agricultural zones, and you are looking at hundreds of millions of people around the world being forced to migrate.

In fact, the Syrian civil war was influenced, to some extent, by a horrible draught in Syria in 2006 that led to massive food shortages. Climate change, and the Syrian draught likely caused by it, wasn’t the sole (or even the primary) reason for the civil war, but it added fuel to an already combustible situation. In fact, a study released in March of 2015 suggests this is exactly what happened in Syria after the severe drought of 2006. As the study’s co-author, Professor Richard Seager, explains, “We’re not saying drought caused the [Syrian conflict]. We’re saying that added to all the other stressors, it helped kick things over the threshold into open conflict. And a drought of that severity was made much more likely by the ongoing human-driven drying of that region.” (sources below)

So, as we can see, climate change is already having an impact on the stability of nations around the world, and this instability is causing mass migrations. As Syrians flee their war-torn country they are flooding into Europe seeking refuge. This has already caused a sharp rise in far-right wing political parties and organizations as the native populations of these European countries react (in every sense of that word) to the influx of refugees.

The Relationship Between Mass Migration and the Rise of the Far Right

A sad fact about human beings is that we have a strong tribalistic instinct, and in the context of nation states in the 20th and 21st century, this instinct takes the form of nativism, nationalism, and xenophobia. When any population is met with a dramatic spike in immigrants, elements of that population will react in a chauvinistic, angry, and even violent way. Furthermore, the bigger and faster the influx is, the more rabid and darkly bigoted the reaction by the far right will be. This is already happening around the world, and especially in Europe. In the U.S. its barely happening at all (we are, after all, largely protected from the effects of mass migration on most other continents by virtue of the two oceans off each of our coasts) but the reaction by the far right in the U.S. is already extremely vile. The rise of Donald Trump was due, in large part, to fears provoked by the migration crisis in Europe (which is only a taste of what is to come), and Trump cynically played up that threat in order to win votes. Fear is a powerful motivator in politics, and far right wing populists have always used it to their advantage.

It should be obvious to anyone with even an elementary grasp of history and geo-politics that massive influxes of foreigners into a given population often results in chauvinistic and even fascistic backlash. This was true in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th century as immigrants from eastern and southern Europe came to the United States en masse, and its true today in the U.S. with the influx of immigrants over the past few decades coming from central and southern America. The problems we see in Europe right now, and the startling rise of the far right all over the West, are merely the prelude to what will become the norm over the next few decades as the effects of climate change become even more acute.

Conclusion

The connection between climate change and mass migration is clear.
The connection between mass migration and the rise of the far right is clear.
Therefore, the connection between climate change and the rise of the far right is clear.

As climate change intensifies it will create conditions that will force tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people to relocate. This relocation will put unprecedented strains on other countries, and elements of the population within those countries will react in predictably bigoted and hyper-nationalistic ways.

Climate change is not just an environmental issue; or rather it is, and given the foundational importance of the environment to every aspect of human existence, its destabilization will inevitably result in the destabilization of our political systems, our economies, and of our societies in general. It is a moral imperative for human beings who understand this to organize, mobilize, and fight back against any and every policy (or lack of policy) that fails to adequately address the threat posed by climate change. Given its deep and intrinsic connection to every facet of our lives, climate change is the single biggest issue of our lifetimes, of the century, and perhaps of all of human history. The clock has been ticking for a very long time, and we are way past the point of prevention; but we still have choices to make. We can still mitigate the more dire effects of climate change and prevent worst case scenarios. But it will require a strong, international, organized, grassroots resistance movement putting pressure on governments in every major country. It will also include taking part in direct action aimed at increasing the social and economic cost for corporations and governments who refuse to address climate change or who actively seek to intensify it through the continued development of fossil fuels.

Its time to fight!

 

Sources:

 

 

 

The Failure Of Neoliberalism: Right Wing Reactions and Left Wing Solutions

A study by Oxfam just came out this week which shows that the richest 8 people on Planet Earth have more wealth than the bottom 50% of human beings combined.

Think about that…

The report goes on to say:

“While one in nine people on the planet will go to bed hungry tonight, a small handful of billionaires have so much wealth they would need several lifetimes to spend it. The fact that a super-rich elite are able to prosper at the expense of the rest of us at home and overseas shows how warped our economy has become.”

This is what is often referred to as “neoliberalism”; basically globalized capitalism. This is the status quo, and all over the world people from all parts of the political spectrum are beginning to register their discontent with this system. Broadly speaking, there is a Right and a Left reaction to Neo-Liberalism.

The Reaction from the Right

The reaction to the globalized status quo from the right is, well, reactionary. In the face of the chaos and impotence of late stage capitalism, the right angrily recoils, not unlike a snake, into some mythologized past. In the United States, it has taken the form of the electoral victory of a rabid ethno-nationalist, equipped with the not-so-subtle slogan of ‘Make America Great Again’. For the right, the complexity and inequality produced by capitalism is hard to understand, and so they resort to what they have known (or think they have known) by trying to drag the world back to a “simpler time”; into some romanticized version of the past (which, incidentally, never actually existed). The right’s scapegoats, as they have always been, are the simple scapegoats of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. Trump ran on a campaign of white nationalism with virulence aimed at every minority imaginable. Brexiters similarly focused their ire at Muslims and immigrants when they voted to leave the E.U. All over Europe, from Greece to France to Germany, right wing movements are on the rise. This violent bigotry often takes the form of nationalism, a tried and true vehicle for the right.

This, of course, is the predictable response from reactionaries; but as usual, their hyper-simplistic, tribalistic narratives of bigotry and nationalism are viscerally appealing to large swaths of the population in any given country. While the left tries to appeal to the intellects  and sense of history of the people, the right has the advantage of merely having to appeal to their emotions; anger, hatred, confusion, and fear. It’s not pretty, but in times of economic uncertainty, its always been effective.

The Reaction from the Left

The reaction to the globalized status quo from the left is to critique the overarching socio-economic system that is driving the global engine: capitalism itself. We know that the only way to move beyond the stagnation and absurdity of the neoliberal established order is to revolutionize the global economy such that it is controlled by, and works in the name of, common people all over the globe.

Unlike the right’s offer of angry nativism and bigotry, the left offers a more nuanced approach to our problems: one rooted in history, economics, and science (notably environmental science and sociology). The only answer to cartoonish levels of inequality and exploitation (which are inherent features of capitalism) is a socialist economic system. The goal is to take the enormous material gains that capitalism has made possible and employ them for the betterment of all, instead of for the massive enrichment of a relative few.

The equality, sustainability, community control, fairness, internationalism, and cooperation of a global socialist economic system is the only way forward. As the old saying goes: “Socialism or Barbarism”. Although at first glance that statement may seem like a false dichotomy, its becoming increasingly clear that we have very few options on the table. The status quo is dysfunctional, unsustainable, radically unequal, and promotes all types of social neurosis (terrorism, mass shootings, and widespread cases of addiction, anxiety and depression in the population). The right offers solutions to precisely none of these problems… How can they? They do not even understand the problems themselves. Only the left has anything reasonable to say about a possible world after this one, and although there will be differences based on the country, the culture, and the context in which leftist solutions get implemented, the overarching values and principles of the left are undoubtedly progressive and represent our best only chance at improvement from this point forward.

In short, the sophisticated response to neoliberalism, to be sure, is the international and intersectional solidarity, the emphasis on economic and political equality, and the social and cultural progress pushed by the revolutionary left.

Conclusion

Capitalism is eating its own tail. It has served its historical purpose and is now becoming superfluous; but it will not exist the stage gracefully, it must be ushered off.

With the rise of hyper-automation and artificial intelligence, the contradictions of capitalism will only continue to become more stark. The values of capitalism (inequality, competition, infinite growth, etc.) are proving to be unsustainable, exploitative, and existentially dangerous. The rise of the right in the face of capitalism’s failures represents an even more dangerous possibility than neoliberal capitalism itself. Both of these approaches are poisonous.

As a civilization, we are in the middle of a dark tunnel, the neoliberal establishment’s apologists want us all to take a seat, hunker down, and stay where we are for as long as possible (while they ransack the world in the name of “progress”). The right, on the other hand, wants to grab us by the hair and drag us back the way we came; preferring the dull comfort of what we have known to the frightening uncertainty of moving forward. The left, in direct opposition to both, has made out a tiny pinpoint of light at the end of the tunnel, and are urging us to move courageously towards it.

I do not know what direction we will ultimately go, but I know that now is not the time to throw your hands up and let the cards fall where they may; it is time to stand up and fight! We cannot hand this world over to the vampires and the fascists…

 

 

Political Organizing, Organic Community, and Meaning

When people organize politically, like many of us are doing now, we do so for obvious reasons at first: to resist injustice, to push toward some political goal, etc.
 
But by meeting face to face over and over again and cooperating towards shared objectives, something new arises: a sense of community.
 
What starts off as a means to an end (namely: organizing), becomes a microcosmic outline of the sort society we want to build together. Comradery, solidarity, and a sincere feeling of love, care, and trust emerge among us. Friendships blossom. We hit the streets together, and we inevitably have each others backs if something goes down; and we do so without hesitation or second thought. We were total strangers a few months ago, but now we are willing to fight and put ourselves in danger to protect one another.
 
Trying to create political change is immensely difficult, and only a very specific sort of person engages in such activity, but organizing with like-minded people creates links of meaning and purpose; which is why many of us are drawn to it in spite of the difficulty, stress, and discouragement which inevitably spring from such attempts. We cooperate, not because we are trying to earn a wage and happen to be hired at the same company, or because we are motivated simply by self-interest, but rather because we share a vision of what human life COULD be, and we are willing to do what we can, in our limited and humble way, to try and move closer to that ideal.
 
There is something sincerely beautiful and moving about that…