There’s a large portion of the Left (and frankly the Right too, and also pretty much anyone who is alienated enough to make politics a centerpiece of their life) that lives their life with a lot of ironic distance: constantly in reaction to stuff, making fun of others, and basing a lot of happiness and self-esteem on their ability to critique stuff with wit and severity, etc. The podcast Chapo Trap House is a good example of the mindset I’m talking about. I spent most of my early 20s living my life with ironic distance. I thought it made me … Continue reading On the “Ironic” Left
This is a hard organizing truth that took me the better part of four years to truly internalize: if the majority of what you think about and talk about is Left politics, you will not be an effective organizer for the Left. Why is this? 1. While if thinking about and talking about Left politics the majority of your waking hours might make you a leader among the Left — there is already an abundance of leaders among the Left, whom Lefties follow. What is needed, now more than ever, is moving and activating the vast majority of people who … Continue reading On the Importance of Having Thoughts & a Life Outside the Left
My answer is yes — at least from an ethical standpoint — followed by a: I hate this discussion. Let’s be totally real. This conversation of whether or not it is OK to punch a fascist is so popular right now because it is a sexy, interesting question. The overwhelming vast majority of people who have vocally stated that it is OK to punch a fascist will not actually commit violence against fascists anytime soon. I am reminded of the violence vs. nonviolence debates that happened at Occupy UC Davis. These debates were fiery and went on for hours, days, … Continue reading Is it OK to punch Fascists?
For the most part, many Leftists — including myself — spend a lot of time self-monitoring, and thinking about, how we come off to other Leftists; we don’t spend nearly as much time thinking about how we come off to most normal people. I use “normal” advisedly. Leftists are, let’s face it, a social group. Like most social groups: we are a small minority, we share a general set of values, and we judge/shame other (sometimes competing) social groups for having different values. In this way, much like any social group, Leftists become an insular bubble — that’s why we … Continue reading Seeing the “Left” as a Social Group
General rule of thumb: the more Left organizers want to talk with me about anything but politics and organizing, the more I trust them. They care about me as a person; naturally, that makes me care about them too. Yes, rapport building is important for organizing. But importantly, rapport building not for the sake of organizing. That’s the wrong frame. You give a shit about other people, period. Also then organic relationships help politics and organizing. The world is too dark for anything else. Continue reading Golden Rule of Left Organizing