Internationalist Solidarity from a Village During a Pandemic

Socialist version of Oskar Pernefeldt’s International Flag of Planet Earth proposal

Living away from my country, while always a personal net positive, can be dislocating. Obsessed with bigger ideas and other people’s thoughts of them, I used to retreat to Twitter to check the pulse of what was current in the discourse back home.

But something changed, either in me, my experience using it, or in the collective, that showed me it is not the place I once learned so much from.

Maybe it was the momentum of the Bernie campaign, its rise, the enthusiasm and hope for an uncertain future that it brought to many. Or its subsequent crashing into the full weight of an democratic establishment, recalcitrant to any critique or admonition for something better. Or maybe it was my partner becoming rightfully annoyed at my manic moods in reaction to what was happening online.

Regardless, I took a month away and realized my mood was better, I was more present in my real life, and not as anxious. But Twitter is a good place to make personal connections and I wanted to find a community of like-minded people interested in socialist ideals, especially vis-a-vis the United States. I had started a Twitter account for DSA members living abroad earlier and found some people to create a Telegram channel.

There was no goal. I imagined we get a people together and decide what would be possible while living abroad. Over the months, some of us brainstormed. Do we make a chapter of DSA? An organization that acts as a bridge between continents? A media arm to support Medicare for All and other logical policies such as a Green New Deal? How can that integrate seamlessly into our lives as foreigners in other countries? So we decided to prioritize a social component. For me, this is the best. Because what I crave isn’t some organization that I might become anxious with trying to do something for a country sometimes not in the forefront of my mind, but people, their beautiful ideas and interesting stories, away from places that can’t build solidarity and internationalism like Twitter. So we decided on a social discord server.

The Internationale After Hours Discord

The Internationale
Unites the world in song
So comrades, come rally
For this is the time and place
The international ideal
Unites the human race

While recognizing that the majority of people are depoliticized, those of us on the left can be divisive in a way those on the conservative, reactionary side have never been. We posture theoretical ideologies online and critique those outside of those frameworks. Socialists, anarchists, and communists do not hold any real power, and these ideas, while certainly more acceptable than ten years ago, are still fringe. Our group wanted to create a space of learning and discussion away from somewhere like Twitter that encourages hot takes, calling people or ideas problematic, and looking at everything through a distrustful lens.

Now is the time for internationalist, ecological, and socialist solidarity. I’m not under any illusions that we can solve world-spanning problems, but if some of us can enjoy a space online to talk about these things, it’s something. Going forward and with more people interested, we will produce a mission, a website, and a podcast for our collective perspectives.

I have a lot to learn from people. And hopefully I can also share some experiences and information along the way.

If you’re interested in joining the server, let me know.

Some Values

Going down the rabbit hole of leftwing tendencies is enlightening. Before today, I didn’t know what council communism or who Anton Pannekoek was, but ultimately it is an exercise in futility. The left fractures, and the reactionaries cohere much more easily. The project of keeping things the same or traditional lends itself to cohesion, whereas radicals and people for change have their own ideas of the future and readings of the past of what went wrong and right.

I’ve been thinking about this tension within the concept of a vanguard party, espoused by Marxist-Leninists, or dual power and mutual aid groups, preferred by anarchists. I’ve historically though myself more in favor of decentralization, but when confronted with the problem of climate change, perhaps a centralized project is worth considering. 🤷🏼‍♂️

A Soviet Dystopia Under Late-Stage Capitalism

This article from yesterday should be required reading. It begins with the latest kerfuffle about some NBA manager’s tweet in support of Hong Kong’s right to self-determination. It should be a given, right? The United States is for freedom (despite hardly living up to that ideal, ever). But capital, the incessant desire to expand into global markets, stomps all over that. We’ve seen it with Apple, the NBA, even Hollywood rewriting Bohemian Rhapsody to remove all references to homosexuality, apparently.

Relatable Brand on Medium:

Late-stage capitalism has this Soviet-esque quality to it, with all its pointless bureaucracy, collectivism, propaganda, burnout, and helplessness.

If capitalism fosters human creativity, then why does our economy produce an extremely limited demand for artists, musicians, academics, researchers, or scientists, but has a seemingly insatiable appetite for corporate lawyers and rehashing the same Marvel superhero movie every six months? Well, if the 1% controls most of the wealth, what we call “the market” is merely a reflection of their desires, and it’s imposed a privatized tyranny on us all.

There’s a lot of talk in the American public sphere about socialism, communism, capitalism. But if, like many say, capitalism is the best system to organize an economy and nation, why does it feel so terrible to so many people?

I’ve heard all the talking points. I’m not convinced. And each day brings new examples of corporate greed, lack of dignity for normal people, and the suppression of freedom, even for rich basketball coaches.