Link Roundup: November 19

Good morning! It’s a new week and I am once again avoiding my Monday morning responsibilities by compiling a link roundup. Plus ça change …

Today in the horrifying intersection of climate change, capitalism, and the prison-industrial complex: did u know that the wildfires in California are currently being fought by incarcerated people earning $1 per hour? And that the California Attorney-General’s office has previously argued that paroling more prisoners would drain the state’s source of cheap labour? C O O L. In this Democracy Now! segment, journalist Amy Goodman speaks with the incarcerated firefighters and prison officials that oversee the firefighting program. Bonus: if you’re at work and can’t watch the video, the transcript is also included! Not that I would ever advocate spending your employer’s valuable time on such things.

Ediciones Ineditos - “a proletarian anti-political project for anarchy & communism” - has released this experimental thread on the commune and communism. “The commune is not the goal,” they write, “but it is a form (filled with communist content) likely to arise as part of the proletarian communist movement set to destroy the world we live in.” This thread considers what the commune might look like - that is, what the features of a communist social life might be. (Thanks to Friend of Flood Dave Eden for his reliable supply of ultra content.)

Here at Flood you know we love internal left debates, so I’m happy to recommend this essay on ‘Why We Still Need Pitchforks’, wherein Marxist Jonah Martell argues against the “legalistic road to socialism” advocated by Democratic Socialists of America blogger Nora Belrose. The essay is largely written from an American perspective, but many of the arguments and debates translate fairly well to an Australian audience (e.g. the possibility of changing the Democratic Party from within). There are also some more granular intra-socialist disagreements on display here, largely regarding the purpose and strategy of electoral politics. Recommended if you are interested in getting a handle on these debates, and if you feel that your Monday is lacking in spice. (To quote: “Nora Belrose is not good at socialist theory. Her ideas are strategically bankrupt … [But] with her effort to slaughter every sacred cow of orthodox Marxism, she has forced us to defend our views intelligently. For that, she deserves our undying gratitude and respect.” Wowe!)

Hello, hi, have you been wondering lately about economic conditions and the co-operative model in Rojava? Well you are in luck because here is an article exploring just that. This is just a short primer but it’s an informative, interesting snapshot of how the broader project for “ground-up direct democracy, women's liberation, and socially-owned means of production” is functioning in the present.

“With general support for 'socialism' increasing,” write the editors at Socialist Economist, “the following pertinent question also arises: What is standing in socialism's way?” An article with the title ‘What’s Standing in the Way of Socialism? Four Leftists Economists Answer’ might sound like you’re about to experience death via jargon-heavy longread. Pleased to report that the opposite is true! Each economist gives a concise, interesting, non-jargony answer that is easily digestible and sum-up-able. This year I have been thinking a lot about how the lack of economic literacy within large sections of the left (myself certainly included) is one of our major weak points, so I think resources like Socialist Economist are really important. On that note, if you’re beginning at the very beginning (it’s fine, I am too), I can recommend Talking to My Daughter About the Economy, which I received for Christmas last year and which was really, really helpful in getting a handle on some core concepts. Next stop Volume One, baby!

Finally, for at least a month I have been meaning to link to Jane Gilmore’s absolutely gripping essay in the latest Meanjin, ‘What I Learned About Poverty’. It is a simply told story of her experience living in near-crisis-level poverty: how terrifying, lonely, dehumanising, and expensive it is to scramble along on the hamster-wheel of trying to meet expenses when your income is tiny or non-existent. “Rent is due on the first of every month,” she writes. “As the weeks track by I’m falling further and further from the amount I need … If the kids eat with friends or family a couple of times a week the dogs and I can get by on Weetbix. But still there’s not enough money for rent and now it’s due in three days and I won’t have it.” If there is anyone in your life who still thinks that people are poor because they don’t work hard enough, please send them this essay. And then sharpen your pitchfork.

Until next week!