One of the most important things I have learned since I started working is that it’s okay to not know things. This was really surprising for me because in uni I always felt like I should already know everything - if a professor mentioned something they were not teaching in that course I mostly didn’t ask since I thought it was a prerequisite.
At work, no one cares. Or rather, everyone knows that you can’t know everything because there are SO MANY tools and frameworks and methods of doing stuff that you can’t possibly know them all. Especially if you’re fresh out of uni/college! Man, programming at uni and actually building software in the industry are so vastly different, it’s like learning to program all over again. And your colleagues know that you didn’t use Tomcat or Docker or Hibernate or Java EE because why would you? It’s okay!
This is why I don’t hesitate to ask anything, even things that seem to be self-evident to everyone else. Because I’ve never gotten a bad reaction from anyone finding out I didn’t know something. No condescension, no irritation, no confusion. Just explanations in a reasonable tone of voice in a way I could understand. So don’t be afraid, it might take some getting used to but this way you’ll learn so much and will be a lot more relaxed.
(That’s not to say I don’t have any problems at work or that there is no awkwardness. The social and organisational stuff is not as easy, but I never feel bad asking about technical stuff.)
These are just some of my thoughts on the state and future of the Left as of late, feel free to ignore or to debate or to reblog, but it’s mostly just because I want to shape my scattered thoughts into solid form.
I’ll begin with my thoughts on how I believe our praxis should look in an era of right-wing hegemony and neoliberal consensus. I believe that our fundamental focus should be building dual power in several forms, which I’ll outline. The first [and most important, in my opinion] is localized dual power. We should be helping people organize into a system of nesting, democratic councils, similar to those in west Kurdistan, that begin on the street level, then the district level, then the city level, then the region level, and so on. These councils can then be used to create strong, participatory local politics, whether by organizing mutual aid programs for food assistance or healthcare or getting “socialist” [left-center Democrats or Socialist Alternative etc] candidates into local office or organizing neighborhood people’s defense from white supremacists, neo-nazis, ICE, and police. The second form is unionized dual power. I think in the deindustrializing global North, labor unions aren’t nearly as useful nor militant as they used to be, but I believe workers in certain key industries [particularly those put forward by Monsieur Dupont in Nihilist Communism and discussions I have had with @gendernihilistanarchocommunist] have immense power over global Capital because they work in its arteries—the logistics industry. For decades now, an ostensible supply chain revolution has taken place to so-called “just in time” manufacturing, in which transportation, manufacturing, shipping, etc are timed to have no wasted moments in between. The advantage of this, for us, is that if dockers shut down a port, the factory that those commodities were going to gets shut down, and the factory that that factory’s commodities were going to gets shut down, and so on, rippling through the economy and causing multi billion dollar losses to Capital, inching closer and closer to capitalist crisis. One idea would be to salt these immensely powerful unions, such as the ILWU, and push them [as much as possible] towards more disruptive, more radical, more frequent action.
The second, and I think less important question, is how I believe we as the Left should organize in order to enact this praxis. I think that anything from affinity groups to communist parties would be capable and effective at organizing dual power, salting select unions, organizing self-defense and mutual aid, rallying behind left-center electoral candidates, etc. I think the best option, however, would be for us to organize a nonsectarian, multi-tendency party that would serve to organize militants across a broad geographic space [hopefully across the country and even more hopefully the world] who would act both as long-term, dedicated organizers of dual power as well as “agents of intensification” [stole that from Endnotes] in the situation of uprisings, strikes, protests, and eventually, hopefully, revolutionary situations. The Communist Labor Party in the Pacific Northwest seems to be the closest model to this I see in the US, and I think similar parties [or additional chapters of the CLP] could and should be organized nationally and internationally. If we are going to organize local dual power, it would be incredibly helpful and power-leveraging to be able to link, say, the dual power system of Seattle to the dual power system of New York City to the dual power system of Mexico City to the dual power system of Mumbai, and I think that can be best organized through an efficient party form. The same goes for linking “salted” militants in, say, an Oakland dockers’ union to “salted” militants in a Shenzhen dockers’ union, and bringing a single, albeit powerful, strike action to a potentially world-economy-destroying strike action.
I think through these organizational forms—a local dual power system, “salted” labor unions in key industries, and a nonsectarian, multi-tendency party—we can restore power to a broad Left [from anarchocommunists on the left all the way [in my opinion] to left-center liberals or maybe DSA on the right] in order to crush the Right and work towards building socialism. Questions of state seizure are certainly not relevant now, and I think in a world of high-tech, asymmetric warfare [cue marxism-leninism-memeism disagreeing, lol] and multi-continent supply chains, making economic autarky in the face of embargo very difficult [although, as proletarianization and industrialization continue to develop in the global South, chances for surviving and even thriving of marxist-leninist states look increasingly higher], questions of state seizure may never be relevant, as worldwide implosion of capitalism and communization in its bones may be the only option left. Either way, I think that left unity is paramount in the face of the Left’s weakness and the Right’s strength, and we need to be organizing on a nonsectarian, multi-tendency, anti-capitalist basis.
I think this is a good start as far as solidifying my thoughts goes, and I may add more later on, but I’d like to hear people’s thoughts on it if anyone is interested!
“Bible John” is the popular nickname given to an unidentified serial killer who was active in Glasgow, Scotland between 1968 to 1969. The centre of the case is the Barrowland Ballroom- a popular dancing venue for courting couples -where all three of the victims danced before meeting their deaths.
Bible John struck first on February 23, 1968, on a frigid winters night at the Barrowlands. Twenty five-year old Patricia Docker went along for a night of dancing with her sister, and got so drunk her sister could not support her on the walk home. As they waited for a taxi, a young man with reddish hair approached Patricia and offered to walk with her home. The drunken woman agreed and left with the man, leaving her sister behind at the ballroom.
The next day a road builder found Patricia’s naked corpse lying in a door yard, just feet from her home. She had been raped and strangled. Her clothes and purse were missing, but one detail stood out; Patricia had been menstruating at the time she was murdered, and the sanitary napkin she had been using had been quite deliberately placed next to her body. Though her sister gave police a reasonable description of the man’s appearance, her testimony was considered unreliable because she had been drunk when she saw Patricia’s killer. Months went by, and the case went cold.
Nearly eighteen months later, the killer of Patricia Docker again prowled the Barrowland Ballroom. This time he chose Jemima McDonald, a pretty young secretary who agreed to walk with him home after a night of dancing. Her sister went to her house the next day to drop off her purse, but there was no sign that Jemima had come home the previous night. Frantic, her sister waited for news, but then she saw something odd; a group of children running out of an abandoned building nearby, screaming about a body. She hurried over to the house, and in an empty room she found the hideously beaten body of her sister. Jemima had been choked and beaten around the face, and again a used sanitary napkin gad been positioned next to her corpse. Like Patricia, she had been violently raped.
Police immediately noted the similarities between the Dockery and McDonald murders, and warned the young women of Glasgow that a killer was on the loose. Nobody got a good look at the man who accompanied Jemima home, but the crime scene evidence was in strong favor of a single offender having committed both murders. The killer would strike a final time, and then seemingly vanish into thin air.
On October 31, 1969, Helen and Jean Puttock went to attend a birthday bash at the Barrowland Ballroom. As they worked the room, Helen noticed a tall man with red hair following her; he bought her a drink, and the two appeared to hit it off. The man politely introduced himself to Jean as “John”, and when the ballrooms closed John accompanied Helen and Jean to the taxi stand. While they waited another man - ironically also named John - chatted to Jean, and this man would later tell police that “John” was very well spoken, appeared educated, and seemed to disapprove of ballrooms. Jean, Helen, and John took the same taxi home, and during the ten minute trip home Jean got a good look at her sisters companion. She described John as being twenty five years old, clean shaven, with short cropped red hair and a slim build. During the trip he quoted from the Bible and spoke about praying instead of dancing (it’s this pious attitude that earned him his famous nickname) Jean bade goodbye to her sister and John when the taxi arrived at Helen’s house, and Continental on her way.
The next morning a postman collecting mail noticed a white shape spread-eagled on her back in the back garden. Upon closer inspection the shape was revealed to be the partially nude body of Helen Puttock. Like the other two victims she had been raped and strangled, and a sanitary napkin was placed near her arm. Her bloodied clothes were scattered about the garden, but her handbag and stocking were missing - most likely taken as a trophy by her murderer. Jean Puttock immediately met with a police sketch artist and created a very good likeness of Bible John. He was profiled as a power-reassurance killer with a fixation on menstruation, a confident killer who carefully planned his murders and took care of evidence. A poster bearing the police sketch and his mannerisms was circulated throughout the Glasgow region, but despite thousands of tips police were no closer to catching the killer. The case faded from public memory, and eventually grew cold.
Nobody has ever been charged with the Bible John murders, though investigators currently believe serial killer Peter Tobin may be responsible. Tobin was in his mid twenties during Bible John’s active period, and the police sketch is a good fit for his appearance at the time. However, with no concrete evidence available, police haven’t moved to officially charge Tobin with the murders. The case is still open.