A lot of people have been asking me “how to I get involved, I don’t know anyone in my area, but I want to help, what do I do”. And I have a kind of short series of suggestions for how to find a place you’re into.
FIRST OFF: Any org, you should go to it at least once to check it out, see if you like the people, the mission, the way it works in practice, before you start committing yourself to doing stuff. If you feel kinda iffy about it, check out someplace else, or at least go a second time before you commit yourself. Nobody wants you killing yourself with stress over activism and if a place is sketchy, is amazingly ineffective, etc, then stressing yourself out and putting your whole life into that org isn’t going to solve that.
HOW TO FIND THINGS: In any moderately sized city, there’s going to be some broad range political org. Your ISO’s (international socialist organization), your Black Roses (anarchist peeps). If you don’t know anyone, if you’re new to a city and want to get involved, it might be worthwhile to go to a meeting, because a lot of the people involved in those groups are going to be involved in other stuff and you can talk to them about like where a place to check out would be, who’s sketchy, what groups are misogynistic/homophobic, etc. This can be very important even if you don’t end up going to weekly meetings or planning any actions.
PERSONAL SUGGESTION: It’s easy to look at the protests, see Richard Spencer getting punched, etc, and think “that’s all activism is, I’m crap if I’m not doing that”. And that’s not the case. If the process of planning and pulling off a protest/march/action isn’t your deal, that’s okay because there are *other things that you can do*. Something that I very much believe in, right now, in a country and a political situation where the welfare state is getting ripped apart, is the importance of mutual aid, the importance of shelters/soup kitchens/free clinics. These gorups are going to be *everywhere*, even in smaller towns, even in suburbs. Recently I checked out a Catholic Worker’s Shelter, and they’re really beautiful places. My first point still applies, but Catholic Worker’s Shelters are everywhere, and checking them out if you want to get involved is a good place to start. Food Not Bombs is also a great organization that gives food to the homeless but again, step 1
FOCUS ON SPECIFIC ISSUES: I think that there’s a lot (probably more) groups to get involved with that are more single issue groups that may or may not have a “broad range political org” behind them. Some are harder than others to connect with, but they are often more connected to on the ground organizing and communities than political orgs focused on ideology. The best way to find these orgs is too look for community events in the paper, in the internet, and any other popularity community resources such as co-op cork boards and the like. My advice to any person interested in getting involved is to pick ONE issue and stick with it. also be wary of PIRGs because their work tends to be based around fundraising towards little more than survival
“International Workers’ Day, also known as Labour Day in some countries, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement, socialists, communists, and anarchists which occurs every year on May Day (1 May), an ancient European spring festival.  The date was chosen for International Workers’ Day by the Second International, a pan-national organization of socialist and communist political parties, to commemorate the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago on 4 May 1886. The 1904 International Socialist Conference in Amsterdam, the Sixth Conference of the Second International, called on “all Social Democratic Party organisations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace."
Being a traditional European spring celebration, May Day is a national public holiday in several European countries. The date is currently celebrated specifically as "Labour Day” or “International Workers’ Day” in the majority of countries, including those that didn’t traditionally celebrate May Day. Some countries celebrate a Labour Day on other dates significant to them, such as the United States, which celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of September.”
If someone has a Good Idea, how do they go about implementing it in a socialist society, as an alternative to raising capital, starting and running a business and hiring employees?
It wouldn’t be about “starting a business” in the same way as it exists now – like, the entire point wouldn’t be about making something that can be sold on the market so you can accumulate profits and compete with other businesses. This is why it ought to be emphasized that socialism involves more than just “worker control of the means of production”, even if it is a helpful and stylish way to compress a lot of ideas into a good soundbite. Socialism also entails communal control of the means of production, where communities control the production and distribution of goods according to a wider definition of needs and wants, accomplished through a more directly-democratic planning system. Depending on who you ask, socialism still does involve markets for non-essential items for leisure and fun, just as long as the core essentials of the economy are owned and managed by communities and distributed according to need (rather than according to profit for a select few capitalists); especially in the early stages of socialism, this market context for leisure goods is fine by me. But even that market context would differ from today, because the “businesses” would have a socialist internal structure (mutualist cooperatives) and wouldn’t focus on maximizing profits for unaccountable owners and pushing costs onto workers and communities. It would probably reflect the market rhetoric that capitalism-apologists use to justify the status quo, in that it would be a market actually used to meet needs and tally supply and demand, divorced from the class context that the apologists ignore.
That was a bit of a tangent, but I guess you could say a Good Idea, and innovation more broadly, could be handled in democratic “science councils” where resources and knowledge are open-access and put to use for innovation, without all the bullshit of patents and intellectual property (which are more about corralling benefits towards the owner of said patent or property, rather than for the purpose of “cultivating innovation”; like with everything else in a capitalist economy, they’re about capital accumulation and not about humanely meeting needs in the most effective way possible). Think publicly-funded research but on a more accountable and humanitarian scale. So much of the technology we enjoy is the result of collaboration between groups and over generations, rather than the result of the sole “creative individual” coming up with life-changing stuff in a vacuum. Universalize education and more people would actually have the means to innovate as well – do you know how many Einsteins exist in this world, who are shoveling shit instead of helping to create the next life-saving vaccine? Most people are excluded from the “innovation process” today – open-sourcing would have huge impact on how we even contextualize creativity and technology, probably for the better in leaps and bounds.
Today in labor history, May 1, 2015: Happy International Workers’ Day! May Day is celebrated around the world as a day of international working class solidarity and is a national public holiday in more than 80 countries. The date was chosen by the Socialist International Congress (the Second International) in 1889 to commemorate the Haymarket incident in Chicago.
English artist and book illustrator. He is considered to be the most influential, and among the most prolific, children’s book creator of his generation. He was part of the Arts and Crafts movement and produced an array of paintings, illustrations, children’s books, ceramic tiles and other decorative arts. Crane is also remembered for his creation of a number of iconic images associated with the international Socialist movement. (Wikipedia)
From our stacks: 1. Illustration “Frontispiece. “Princess Fiorimonde” (Macmillan, 1880).”, 2. Illustration “”The Sirens Three” Opening Page. (Macmillan, 1886.)”, and 3. Illustration “From Grimm’s “Household Stories.” (Macmillan, 1882.)” from Of the Decorative Illustration of Books Old and New By Walter Crane. London: G. Bell and Sons, Ltd., 1921. 4. Title page detail from The Bases of Design By Walter Crane. London: G. Bell and Sons, Ltd., 1925.
International Socialist Republican Solidarity with Standing Rock!
We, the undersigned socialist republican organisations from Ireland, Scotland and Wales, express our complete solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their heroic resistance against the imposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline on their sovereign territory.
The ongoing resistance at Standing Rock in defence of land, natural resources and the right to water, is providing inspiration to anti- capitalist and anti- imperialist struggles around the world. The resistance at Standing Rock resonates in particular, in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, where our peoples have, and continue to fight against the joint systems of Capitalism and Imperialism and in defence of our homes, our natural resources and our right to clean safe and free drinking water.
We recognise that the fight of the Lakota is our fight and we further recognise that Standing Rock is a key battle ground in the struggle of the international working class and oppressed peoples around the world against the exploitation and oppression of Capitalism and Imperialism.
We condemn the US Imperial administration for its ongoing attacks on the Standing Rock Sioux. The militarisation of tribal lands, and the brutalisation of those acting in defence of their future is unacceptable and must end immediately.
We note with concern the recent raid on Last Child Camp and the subsequent mass round up of protestors. We demand that all those arrested are immediately released.
It is our view, that the US administration, acting as it is, in support of the private capitalist interests behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, have convincingly demonstrated, the fundamental truth of James Connolly’s maxim, that ‘governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class’.
We call on all progressive forces in the United States to rally behind the resistance at Standing Rock. For our part, we pledge our continuing support and solidarity and vow to do what we can in our own countries to highlight the outrages being committed at Standing Rock and to build international support for the resistance!
Defend natural resources! Release All Prisoners! Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline!
Signed (List in formation)
Ireland- Éirígí Wales- Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr - The Great Unrest
If Mr. Kennedy does not like socialism, well we do not like imperialism! We do not like capitalism! We have as much right to protest over the existence of an imperialist-capitalist regime 90 miles from our coast as he feels he has to protect over the existence of a socialist regime 90 miles from his coast… Rights do not come from size. Right does not come from one country being bigger than another. That does not matter. We have only limited territory, a small nation, but our right is as respectable as that of any country, regardless of its size. It does not occur to us to tell the people of the United States what system of government they must have. Therefore it is absurd for Mr. Kennedy to take it into his head to tell us what kind of government he wants us to have here.
Fidel Castro. Decleration of Cuba as a Socialist Nation. May Day celebration, 1961.
“The Most Dangerous Sorceress in the Empire”,Clara Zetkin, circa 1910.
March 8 is International Women’s Day, and here is why.
In 1910 German socialist Clara Zetkin proposed to the Second International that March 8th be proclaimed International Women’s Day, to commemorate demonstrations held by Women Garment Workers in New York CIty on March 8, 1857, and again on the 51st anniversary, March 8, 1908 Zetkin, a renowned revolutionary theoretician, argued with Lenin on women’s rights, and was considered a grave threat to the European governments of the time. Title quote by Kaiser Wilhelm I.