What’s the meaning of the New Year?

I’ve started this blog post several times. I don’t really understand what keeps stopping me from writing this post. I suppose it’s just my own personal indecisiveness. By making concrete New Year’s resolutions, I feel like I’m setting myself up for failure. I’m afraid of failing myself, through not upholding my resolutions.

So I’ve come up with a compromise for myself. I’ll just create some general guidelines for myself. That way I can’t really fail per se, just not do as well as I had hoped. Alright, let’s go:

1. I want to do a lot of work this year on my garden. I’m preparing a compost pile, hopefully one that will yield some nice compost pretty soon. I’m also planning to start up an herb and vegetable garden this spring. I’m going to get some mint, some rosemary, some sage, maybe some thyme. Then I’d really really like to get some big ol’ squash going. Maybe a few cucumbers as well. Yum!

2. I’m going to take and do well on the English Language, US History and German AP tests.

3. I’m going to take and do well on the SAT.

4. This year is going to be about being healthy. I want to exercise more. I want to focus more on nutrition.

5. I quit eating meat nearly a year ago. I want to make this year about cooking and making being veg fabulous.

6. Read more. More of everything, primarily more fiction. This past year, I sacrificed much of my reading for school and for non-fiction, but I want to widen my knowledge of literature, as well as sharpen my literary mind.


Characters that change you

My theater department just finished its latest show, Night of the Living Dead. It was a fun show – not incredibly deep, but scary and a lot of fun. So I find it interesting how much my character has influenced me as an actor, and even as a person. I played the police chief, which in itself isn’t incredibly important, but what is important is how the show as a whole has changed me.

The first thing about my character is that he really represents my antithesis. He’s an old, power hungry, NRA-touting cop. He’s basically the comic relief of the show, which was difficult for me in so many ways. I mean, first off, I have a lot of trouble playing comedy, just because it’s difficult for me not to break character. And ya know, there are various levels of character that you can get into, and this one required me to crawl deep down into a shell of a character, so breaking would obviously be very clear. And bad.ūüėõ

More important than my character was my role as a hole. The show is about zombies and is rife with fear – I’ve learned that the most important thing to scaring your audience is feeling and embracing the fear yourself. For me, this was incredibly difficult. I’ve had a few experiences in my childhood that – long story short – left me jumpy and nervous pretty much constantly. Fear is an emotion that I’ve struggled with to no end for much of my life, it’s right up there with anger. I suppose I’m just such a passionate person that I have trouble finding a controllable level of emotion. And fear is a biggun. To be a part of this show, it was incredibly difficult for me to straddle the line between fear and terror. Ya know, between just being scared (or even really scared) and that disgusting animal terror.

Opening night was a big deal. I was actually terrified by my fellow actors. I had been trying to be afraid as my character, and respond to the fear as my character, but there was just absolutely nothing I could do to not let the fear get to me. So I let it come. I embraced the primal terror, that throwback to the time when we were little animals scurry around underfoot of the dinosaurs.

And, much to my surprise, it ebbed. I really honestly couldn’t believe it. All my life, I’ve fought fear and fear as fought back. But once I let fear in, it didn’t stay, it released me. I don’t feel like I’m being controlled by fear any longer.

You know what? Fear? I’m not your bitch any longer.

Capitalism is alcoholism, hide the liquor

An adult that I have a lot of respect for has been helping me develop my political opinions, albeit in a bit of a backward way. She’s a capitalist and, while I disagree with her, I definitely still hold her in high esteem. We were talking about capitalism, and she shut me up with the comment that “capitalism is like alcoholism. We have to realize that we’re sick, then just hide the liquor.” I didn’t have much of a come-back for it, but it did give me a lot of insight into capitalist politics. I’ve had a week to think about it though, and I’ve given it a lot of thought.

Capitalism is indeed like alcoholism, but rather than accept it and avoid the liquor, I think that one should attempt to move away from it. If I were an alcoholic, I would avoid places like bars and wine-tastings, realizing how dangerous they could be for me. Similarly with capitalism, if I realize that it is a disease, why continue playing along? I’d much rather be proactive, and do my best to eliminate it. I do recognize and understand that a communism would not be any kind of Utopia (Engels had a great critique of¬†Utopian¬†socialism, I’d definitely recommend it for a read!) however, it would be a better alternative to the current capitalist system.

This, ramblingly, brings me to another criticism of socialism, which is that it breeds laziness. My first thought on it is that a Jamestown, John Smith method to work would be very beneficial,¬†essentially, if you don’t work, you don’t eat. But I do realize that this opens the door for atrocities, like Social¬†Darwinism. I definitely think that this should be altered to say something like “To each according to his need, from each according to his ability” then “he who doesn’t contribute to his ability, shall not eat.” Although it’s definitely not as pretty as the John Smith version, it definitely sets me more at ease. I also think that, again, a paradigm shift would be incredibly necessary. Work isn’t something that we have to begrudgingly do, rather, it should be something that, even if we don’t particularly like it, we understand that it provides for a cohesive society.

Now, I do acknowledge that some people can be lazy, even realizing this. And I think that, in a communism, we would definitely see these people take advantage of the system. As I said, a communism would in no way be Utopia. But, I think that it’s important to realize, in this case, this is one of the evils that we must just take in stride. I strongly believe that a communism would be vastly more productive, cohesive and effective than the current capitalist system.

Effective though, I do use it a bit loosely. I follow Marx’s, in that I believe that the quality and¬†effectiveness¬†of a society can be judged by that of it’s weakest or lowest members. It is this way that I feel a communism would be effective. I do realize that a large reason that technology and whatnot have advanced so quickly, is because of capitalism. Capitalism encourages people to work quickly and effectively, however, the only members of society to reap ¬†the benefits are the upper class, it takes much longer to trickle down to the lower classes, and the disadvantaged. In a communism, things would obviously not progress as quickly, but I think this is a worthy compromise to lessen class stratification and bring benefits to all of society, not just a select elite few.

That last point there brings me to my critique of individualism and my promotion of humanism, however, I’ve decided that I’m going to break it up into two blog posts. This is getting a bit long, and, believe me, I know that denizens of the internet don’t have the attention span. Until next time, I think I’ll leave you with a¬†cheesy¬†‘fight on comrades!’

What does communism mean to me?

I enjoy starting blog posts with rhetorical questions. Aren’t they nice?

I’ve had some heated debate with friends and not-so-friendly individuals about communism. For some reason, people seem to insist on linking communism to that¬†bourgeois¬†paradise of the USSR or China. For the uninitiated, communist theory can by scary, it’s filled with slightly foreign terms like proletariat or bourgeois, and scary words like capital (which has nothing to do with places like Paris, Berlin or Washington DC). It all has to do with what’re called dialectics. Dialectics are, simply put, methods of argument. Karl Marx introduced Marxist dialectics (the best kind, if I do say so myself), which revolutionized the discussion of history. Rather than the traditional Western view of history, government and its influence on the people, along with military conflicts, Marx presented the idea that all of human history was the history of class struggle. The proletariat, or working class, are constantly oppressed by the bourgeoisie, or the business owners. The bourgeoisie own capital, which is a method of production. The easiest way to understand these concepts is in a factory system. In a factory, you have the workers (proletariat, individuals are called proletarians) who are paid for their labor by the factory owners (the bourgeoisie) who own the machinery and factory itself. The workers basically trade their labor for money, then the owners go out and sell the goods.¬†Marx presents the idea of removing the bourgeoisie, who don’t actually add anything to the process, they just serve as a middle man. The means of production, or capital, would be owned by the workers, or proletariat, cutting out the middle man. Obviously, there’s a lot more to Marxist theory, but this is a basic crash course.

Later communists added things to Marx’s original theory, but I prefer to take it straight from the source. Ideally, I believe that through socialism, through common ownership of capital, we will eventually reach a communist society. A communist society is, essentially, a state-less society run by what is called a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” People generally tend to shy away from the term dictatorship, but this is another Marxist dialectic. It doesn’t refer to an actual dictatorship, rather, it refers to a system where there is no “government” per-se, rather, it’s simply a direct democracy. In my ideal political system, politicians and representatives would be done away with, and instead, we would have a direct democracy, similar to that of Ancient Athens. All governing was done on the communal level, at a certain increment of time, all the townspeople (mind you, in that day, this excluded women, slaves, and non-land-owning men) came together to take a vote on everything concerning the community. Naturally, in an egalitarian society, absolutely everyone would be included, regardless of gender, ethnicity, job etc. This is, naturally, a very simplified overview of what would happen, someday, I want to get deeper into individual issues, ¬†but I’ll leave it here for now.

The next thing I want to touch on is the abolition of money. This is something that, I think, many people have a great deal of trouble with. The concept of money is quite ingrained in our society, many people really just don’t understand how a system could work without it. I do not propose that we return to a barter economy (obviously that would be useless today) but rather that we revolutionize the concept of work. Right now, you work because you want to provide for your family, you want to secure yourself a better economic status, or you simply want to eat. Rather than seeing work as a begrudging obligation, as we do today, work should be seen as a fundamental important part of the smooth running of a community. We shouldn’t work because we want a pat on the head and a present, but rather because we realize that our work allows society to function properly. Something that I find very irritating today, is the¬†reverence¬†of different types of work. The jobs that contribute the least to society, being a businessman or stock broker for example, are seen as more prestigious than the ones which contribute the most to society, like plumbers or janitors. Money is another kind of middle-man between the work done and goods, similar to the bourgeoisie.

A quick obligated note: I always feel that it’s important to mention that this is not a process that could feasibly happen overnight. The speed in which it would occur is up to your own personal theories, but I don’t think anyone thinks that society could completely be overhauled in the space of a couple weeks. Indeed, this would have disastrous effects, displacing people’s jobs without creating new ones.

I think I’m going to pause now, and let this portion be absorbed. Feel free to leave a comment or contact me another way, let me know what you think of my political and economic theories! Thanks for listeningūüôā

A little update & musical shout out

So, I’ve had oodles of free time lately, but not for any particularly fun reason. It’s really because I got my wisdom teeth removed and felt like crap. I’m feeling marginally less crappy now, and I figure that I need to get back into the routine of writing things , before I get too far gone and never write anything ever again. I do that a lot actually, hehe.

I’ve got a few little things planned out, I’m working on a follow-up to my fascism piece, I’m really looking forward to adding a follow-up to my communism piece (yay for commies ^^) and I’d like to get some stuff going about cooking, of course, that requires me to get back in the kitchen. This last week or so I’ve been subsisting on soup. Don’t get me wrong, I love soup, and I’m not even getting tired of it, the problem is that we’re running out! Last night I had a can of black beans for dinner, that was delicious, and tonight I’m planning to have a can of refried beans. Canned foods just make my heart skip a beat, joy‚̧

Now, for my musical shout out: you know Suzanne Vega? Of course you don’t, but you know the only two songs of hers that got any radio play, “Tom’s Diner” (or as I like to call it do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do) and “Luka” (“My name is Luka, I live on the second floor, I’m an abused child, this song is catchy, but you’ll cry when you really listen to my lyrics”) Well! Girlfriend, I know you don’t have her album, you just downloaded those two songs off iTunes, but get that whole album! It’s called Solitude Standing and it’s the greatest thing I’ve heard in pop music in a while. I know, it was released in the late ’80s, but it’s just an amazing listen (plus you can probably find it marked down very cheaply, I got it for 8 bucks). Her lyrics are golden, they do something that I haven’t heard in pop music in such a long time: they actually paint a picture. They’re all narrative pieces, I’m a bit shocked that none of them are actual pieces of poetry, because that’s what they sound like. In particular, I want you to listen to Wooden Horse, it’s about a wooden horse that comes to life, it’s beautifully narrated. The other song I adored from it was Calypso. YES. YES, SHE IS MAKING A REFERENCE TO THE¬†ODYSSEY¬†IN A POP BALLAD. It presents the Odyssey from Calypso’s view. Magical.

Fun links I’ve recently found

So, being bored during the summer, I’ve done my share of web surfing. Needless to say, this surfing just finds me stupid nerdy things for the most point, but the things I find that make me giggle make me want to share them :

The first spiffy thing that got my interest, I was reading about ebooks. You know, I really detest ebooks (I’m planning a blog to explain about why I do indeed, but that’s neither here nor there), one of the big reasons is because they just feel so artificial. You don’t get that wonderful book smell. I stumbled upon a Gizmodo link here, which explains that an ebook company is going to give out scratch and sniff stickers that smell like books with every ebook they sell. I’m really not into the smell of brand new books, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the smell of fresh paper and glue, but what I reaaally love is the smell of moldy used books. This website addresses that, it has smells such as “Classic Musty,” “Eau you have cats,” “New book smell” and even “Crunchy bacon” (which it warns isn’t kosher or vegan friendly, keeping that in mind!) I still hate ebooks, but I’d kind of like to try some of these and spray them on my bookshelves!ūüėÄ

Living Red

Wake up to the smell of class struggle...I wanted to speak a bit on my choice of communism, and on what communism means to me, eventually winding back into how choosing to pursue the life of a revolutionary Marxist effects my day to day life.

I like to joke that I’ve been red all my life. I started off, as most young boys, following right in my father’s footsteps. My father is a gun-touting, misogynist, Social-Darwinist Republican. For much of the first half of my life, I chose to go with my father. ¬†I think I was probably one of the most brainwashed misinformed little robots running around the playground, but the worst part was that I was being encouraged to think for myself. Essentially, I was told to think for myself, while being misinformed about all other view points. So it was like “believe how you like, as long as you believe what I believe.” I’ll always remember walking around the mall with my father and step-brother, and eventually stumbling onto the subject of politics, where I proclaimed to everyone the common¬†cop out that, “sure communism sounds great in theory, but when it gets to¬†practice, it just doesn’t work.” My step-brother agreed with me, but my father was shocked and appalled! “It doesn’t even make sense in theory? You have us [essentially the blue collar white people] workin’ hard and contributin’ as much to society as possible, then those lazy liberals, runnin’ off welfare [“lazy” brown people, who were also all here illegally and taking all our jobs, goddammit!] benefitin’ from all our [again, the white people] hard work!” Well of course, that makes perfect sense! My young brain certainly didn’t think that questioning authority might be virtuous, or doing my own personal research might have some kind of benefit. He’s an adult, he knows what he’s talking about, right?

I continued on this young republican path for a good chunk of time, but eventually I began to have questions that my father couldn’t answer, or I was just too terrified to answer myself. This was right about that time when we got a computer and I learned all about the wonders of the internet and, especially, Wikipedia. I devoured everything that they had on any sort of political theory, I read about Ancient Chinese political systems and small poorly developed economic theories that had never made their way into a textbook, and certainly not into the world at large, nothing could sate my voracious appetite. It went on like this for, literally, years, until I started finding things that were a bit further to the left of the typical politics I was used to, and this is where I simmered for some time. I began to describe myself as a Democrat, and I aligned myself based on American politics and American political issues. Pro-choice. Pro-gay marriage. Pro-welfare and social security.

I stayed in this kind of in between stage for quite some time as well. As I read more and acquainted myself with more and more political theory, I found myself drifting further and further to the left, even to the point where I found my “fellow” Democrats too conservative for me. This is also the point where I really began to develop my love of foreign languages, and, naturally, to learn a language, one must acquaint oneself with the culture at hand. This introduced me to European politics and, ultimately, socialism. Socialism, of course! This kind of statist, Euro-socialism finally met my full needs as the happy little leftist teenager I was. Along with this I was introduced to a world where environmentalism wasn’t just those hippies chaining themselves to trees, but to a place where it actually had a huge and, at some points, very powerful voice in the government.

It really took me a while to actually find Karl Marx. For European politics, it seems that socialism was represented by faces like Lionel Jospin and countries such as Denmark, while communism was associated with Karl Marx and the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, following the workings of the Socialist Party, especially in France, taught me a lot about their modern ideology, but actually very little about their roots. It actually took me until my sophomore year of high school (last year, if I have to remind anyone!) to be introduced to communism and Marx, by a friend of mine. I instantly felt my appetite settled, my hunger for an ideological home settled. The more I read from him, the more I felt that he was speaking to me. Although I may not agree with Marx on every single ideological point, I will always have a very very special place in my heart for him, for bringing me home. I began to familiarize myself with other modern communist and anarchist writers, such as my dear Emma Goldman, Lenin, Trotsky, Kropotkin (who I hear from a little birdy did the nasty with Emma Goldman. All I can say is YES, you go girl! Sexual revolution all the way!) and Proudhon among many many others.

Alright, I’m going to cut myself off right now. I think that there’s a lot more that I can say, but I’m going to just talk about my journey to where I am right now. I’ll add more later, but I think that monstrous long blog posts make readers sad and scared.ūüėõ

Wake up and smell the class struggle