"A retrospective on 2017"
December 22, 2017
I hope you had a great year and I hope next year is even better for you! Thank you for reading some of my articles / blog posts this year. I made some new friends on Twitter and IRC (and lost some friends along the way, haha). I thank you for your friendship and for challenging me to be a better person.
I’ve talked to some people who say they can’t imagine a worse year for working class politics in their lifetimes—“How could it possibly get worse?” they ask. Still others say they saw it coming--the rapid assault on worker rights, health care, and the social safety net--since the 2016 election and it is no surprise. Yes our economy can experience a crisis, they say, and yes the political power of the working class is threatened like never before not just by neoliberal ideology but by the growth of fascism which must be met and dismantled through direct action.
I like to look at Chelsea Manning’s picture--the beautiful glamorous picture that was taken of her in the Out100 magazine. I absolutely love her! She lifts my spirits on the darkest of days. #WeGotThis -- just think about her saying and having the will to believe in this phrase while she was facing an extremely long prison sentence in the worst of conditions. It is a phrase that we all can use when we need to find courage and self-determination in the darkness of late-stage capitalism. And by believing and acting on her phrase, with the help of many others it came to pass that Chelsea could leave prison and go on to warn of the dangers of an expanding police/military state. Some people are frustrated that she doesn’t have a clear ‘manifesto’ of her political beliefs. Yet if one listens/reads the numerous speeches (especially her talk at Aaron Swartz Day last month), one can see that Chelsea supports direct action as fundamental way of affecting change in society. We cannot wait for social institutions to change themselves--we have power!--we must take control from financial aristocrats who ignored the pleas of workers protesting neoliberal policies at the #NoG20 in July. Environmental justice activists make visible environmental racism through protests of #KeystoneXL and #DAPL. And #J20 activists sought to undermine the legitimacy of a president determined to put the working class in restraints. Since she took that brave step of exposing war crimes of the United States, Chelsea has been a hero and an inspiration. No wonder @xychelsea was voted Newsmaker of the Year--her opinion matters to me and her perspective as a transgender person needs to be elevated in leftist discourse. She does not _give_ us hope, but she may inspire us to do things that produce hope within us.
In my retrospective of this year, I made new friends and lost some along the way as well. It is gratifying to see so many like-minded people on Twitter talking about class politics and other topics that are important to me. I am overjoyed that some of you, my followers, allowed me to participate in twitter conversations about economics and the war on poverty. We have talked so much about universal basic income and how the US healthcare system is failing so many people. From the #NoG20 direct actions to #NetNeutrality to the #TaxScamBill2017 in the United States--with each new assault on the working class there have been waves of #theresistance.
Since I left college and especially since the 2016 election, I--like many of you--find myself yearning to converse about how we can rise above this tidal wave of neoliberalism and police/military/intel state oppression. We have IRC and discord as well, but leftbook ;) allows our message to spread a little further than an IRC channel or subreddit and is more accessible.
It is a relief that more and more people are becoming conscious of their social class. Just examine the google trends for phrases like 'universal basic income' and 'one percent' and we see that greater numbers of people are developing a 'sociological imagination', as C. Wright Mills calls it. When we realize that we belong to the working class, we become more aware of our oppression, our struggle--aware of the insidious and dehumanizing institutions in a capitalist economy that result in workers' labor being devalued and exploited. This year I have further recognized the importance of Marxism and the history of neoliberalism. The kind of Marxism that speaks to our time, that yields the sharpest critique of our social institutions is that which combines history, geography, and urban studies--exactly the Marxism that David Harvey and E.P Thompson write about in their notions of monopoly capitalism and capital flows. I would like to expatiate on this in future articles and possibly use their work as theoretical background for doing my own sociology research someday.
This year I was able to further my perl programming skills and read a few good books. It had always been my intention to work up to Damian Conway's book--Object Oriented Perl and I can proudly say that I am getting a handle on OO-Perl programming and hope to see what Perl 6 has to offer.
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