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Journalism

The Truth About Labor Day

If you have ever needed more proof of how the American Labor Movement has declined and how disconnected the average American worker is from its legacy, simply say, “Happy Labor Day!” on May 1st to just about anyone, and the confused look on their face will say it all.

Yes, the actual Labor Day (also known as International Workers’ Day or May Day) has celebrated the worker and those who have given their lives for the labor movement every May 1st since 1890. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans associate Labor Day with the first Monday of September, and, typically, have no real understanding as to why a portion of the population takes the day off as the rest suffer working through a retail ‘Sellathon’.

Believe it or not, Labor Day has its roots in militant trade unionism and radical anarchist and socialist politics. You have Grover Cleveland, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and red scare propaganda to thank for the general population’s ignorance of the holiday. Simply put, Grover Cleveland chose the first Monday of September, instead of May 1st, for fear of empowering the socialist and anarchist movements by memorializing the Haymarket Affair (Kohn, 2014), and in 1947, President Eisenhower established Loyalty Day on May 1st, so as to circumvent any domestic communist menace (Credo Reference, Loyalty day). All of which helped to mask the true origins of Labor Day and perpetuate ignorance of it.

If the average American doesn’t know the truth behind Labor Day, it would be optimistic to assume that they are aware of the Haymarket Affair. To summarize, the Haymarket Affair took place on May 4th, and was originally a rally against police brutality and state oppression in response to the murder of several striking workers at the hands of police the day prior at the McCormick Factory (the strike being a part of a larger general strike that was in support of labor unions declaring May 1st to be the day that the 8 hour work day would be established). Organized by anarchists, the rally featured prominent speakers August Spies and Albert Parsons. With roughly 2,000 people in attendance, the rally was a peaceful event until police arrived to disperse the crowd. Soon after, an unknown individual threw a bomb at the police causing an explosion which led to the police and, possibly, members of the crowd to start firing. This resulted in the deaths of several police officers and one civilian with others injured (History.com Editors, 2009). Later, eight anarchists (including Spies and Parsons) were arrested, put on trial, and sentenced to execution (save for one who got 15 years in prison) for the events of the Haymarket Affair. This trial was notoriously rigged and unjust. It was conducted without any evidence, and without proper judicial procedure (i.e. packed jury, biased judge, etc.). After four of the men were hung, and a fifth committed suicide, the surviving three were pardoned (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2021).

The eight anarchists tried for the Haymarket Riot

Moreover, the Haymarket Affair is just one example of the blood and sacrifice that the American Labor Movement has given so that things like the 40 hour work week and minimum wage are standards. Both the Pullman Strike and Mayday Riots of 1894 took place only a few years later, and the list goes on. It was because of the militancy and sheer popularity of the labor movement that these victories were gained.

Fast forward 131 years later, the United States is a very different country. The militancy that once personified trade and labor unions is all but gone. Their power and influence waning over the past decades. They’re only political representation, a dubious Democratic party that caters more to the whims of capitalists than it does workers. Even worse, the standards of a 40 hour work week and a living wage have been undermined as most Americans have to work more than 40 hours a week, between several jobs, just to make ends meet. But hope is not lost.

Only a few months ago (Dec 2020), the world witnessed the largest general strike in the history of mankind, with some 250 million workers and activists participating…In India. In response to neoliberal legislation that would threaten their livelihoods, Indian trade unions organized a general strike which was then followed by millions of farmers marching on New Delhi, demanding a reversal of neoliberal agricultural reforms, among others (i.e. distribute grain rations, prevent privatization of the public sector, etc.). In the short run, the strike has been successful, bringing the government to the negotiating table in which the Indian Supreme Court has stalled the implementation of the reforms in order to listen to public input.

Not unlike the American general strike of 1886, the Indian general strike of 2020 has demonstrated the power of workers standing together in solidarity and using direct action to achieve their goals. If the American labor movement is to remain a force to be reckoned with, a general strike is perhaps the most effective way to leverage the power of workers over capitalists. If a pandemic isn’t enough to convince people that workers are the backbone of industry, a general strike would undoubtedly make this fact undeniable, and show the rest of the working classes what they are capable of and what they can accomplish if they assert themselves.

In the words of one of the condemned anarchists of the Haymarket Affair, George Engels, “The workingman can free himself from the tyranny of capitalism only through force; just as all advances of which history speaks, have been brought about through force alone. We see from the history of this country that the first colonists won their liberty only through force that through force slavery was abolished, and just as the man who agitated against slavery in this country, had to ascend the gallows, so also must we.” (Engel)

CITATIONS

Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2021, April 27). Haymarket affair. Retrieved May 06, 2021, from https://www.britannica.com/event/Haymarket-Affair

Engel, G. (n.d.). George Engel, Address by a Condemned Haymarket Anarchist (1886). Retrieved from http://www.west-windsor-plainsboro.k12.nj.us/UserFiles/Servers/Server_10640642/File/bugge/Chapter%2018/HaymarketRiotCondemenedMan.pdf

History.com Editors. (2009, December 16). Haymarket riot. Retrieved May 06, 2021, from https://www.history.com/topics/19th-century/haymarket-riot

Joy, S. (2020, November 26). At least 25 crore workers participated in GENERAL Strike; some States saw Complete shutdown: Trade unions. Retrieved May 06, 2021, from https://www.deccanherald.com/national/at-least-25-crore-workers-participated-in-general-strike-some-states-saw-complete-shutdown-trade-unions-920200.html

Kohn, S. (2014, September 01). Why labor day was a political move. Retrieved May 06, 2021, from http://edition.cnn.com/2014/09/01/opinion/kohn-labor-day/

Loyalty day: Cultural studies: Holidays around the world – credo reference. (n.d.). Retrieved May 06, 2021, from https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/hfcwd/loyalty_day/0

Over 250 million workers Join national strike in India. (2020, November 26). Retrieved May 06, 2021, from http://www.industriall-union.org/over-250-million-workers-join-national-strike-in-india

The Wire Staff. (2021, January 12). Supreme court STAYS implementation of Farm laws, sets Up Committee for talks. Retrieved May 06, 2021, from https://thewire.in/law/supreme-court-farm-laws-implemntation-stay-committee-talks

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Unity

Unity… it’s a concept that almost everyone is familiar with. It serves many purposes but at its core it is a concept that drives change. Without it we can accomplish little to nothing as a society in the face of bigotry and hate. Without unity we often face the cruel reality of individual acts that won’t spring things into action without the battlecry of the common person. It’s a cry for peace, for justice, for progressive action that pushes out of the yesteryear of intolerance and inaction. It’s the focus of the people who have led us past racism and are leading us into a future of full acceptance and justice.
Perhaps most importantly it’s the driving concept of movements like the recent march for civil rights, in the face of unprecedented injustice and that is why it is the focus of this issue of the Working Class Whole. Without the united effort of everyone we wouldn’t be able to strive for a future free of hate, and so for this issue we have collected those who highlight some of the unity showcased in the music scene and beyond. Without everyone getting involved and unifying we cannot fight for a better future for our music and collective culture to thrive.

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Social Justice for Sale

By guest writer: Comrade Jessica “Labour” Lynn

You did it, comrade! You beat fascism. Now you can relax, put on the new Fred Hampton bio pic, look forward to lining your wallet with those Harriet Tubman twenties, and slide through the next three years without having to pay attention to politics.

    But, before you do, let’s revisit April 2017. Springtime for Trump. No, it wasn’t the first Black Lives Matter protest (but nevermind that.) It was, however, the first to get its own Pepsi Ad. No, not the Pepsi Company that, in 1972, asked the CIA to intervene in the inauguration of Salvador Allende, the democratically elected socialist president of Chile who sought to nationalize his country’s industries, which resulted in a right-wing coup and almost two decades of fascist rule. Well, actually yes. That Pepsi. But they’re different now—and they care about the people’s voice.

    I invite you to revisit the ad. I did, and no. It did not age well. The first thing you’ll notice is: Pepsi portrays the protests as only a display of creativity. Break dancers, photographers, and a fucking string quartet join the march, almost out of boredom. There is plenty of diversity among the crowd, and two minor characters. However, neither of them are black. The posters don’t allude to what they’re protesting either. “Peace,” peace signs, and “join the conversation” come into focus, but little else. But never mind that! This is when our star arrives on the scene—Or, rather, the scene arrives to her.

A screenshot of, “Pepsi “Live For Now Moments Anthem” starring Kendall Jenner & feat. “Lions” by Skip Marley. (Pepsi Global/YouTube)

Yes, even Kendal Jenner forgot about the civil tension that day. She, being creative herself, models in a restaurant the protest passes by. Kendal somehow knows what they want though because she skips the conversation and joins the march right then and there. After fist-bumping her way to the front, Kendal is face-to-face with the handful of cops that are blocking the path of the protest. However, like most spontaneous mobs, this one has sponsorship.

Kendall knocks the cop out with an ice cold Pepsi. Other activists join in and force the police to retreat. First riot cops, and then, eventually, the National Guard is called in. “Join the Conversation,” or JTP, is labeled a terrorist organization. The crowd is teargassed, one of the minor characters is pulled into an unmarked SUV, and a curfew is enforced. A rubber bullet ends up destroying the right side of Kendall’s face, ruining her modeling career (and her eyesight) forever. The commercial ends with her taking one last picture—her mugshot.

Now, if Kendall Jenner had rocked that cop’s shit with a soda can the same way Twisted Tea was used to shut up a racist, it might’ve been a decent commercial. Instead she hands the cop a Pepsi and the crowd cheers her on for some reason. Just a message of unity, how we both want the same thing. If that were the case, there would be no need for a protest. We only remember this commercial because of how bad it failed; not because Pepsi supported the protest, but because they didn’t. They tried to appeal to those who felt passionate about a movement without alienating the people opposed to that movement.

Now, if you yourself had marched, protested, and even fell victim to the police brutality absent from this commercial, you might feel a little indignation seeing something you supported co-opted for clout. That being said, it’s not much worse than if Kendall had just worn a Dead Kennedys shirt. Ok. Maybe it’s a little worse; but it’s not nearly as callous as co-opting a movement to get into power, only to abandon all those who got you there. For something that shameless, you need Liberals.

It’s important to remember that BLM has been active since 2013 and, in 2015, a leaked memo from Nancy Pelosi instructed fellow Democrats not to offer support for, what they called, “a radical movement.” Yet, in a few short years, the Democratic party has co-opted this movement, and mutilated it to the point that one might think Black Lives Matter was a response to Trump; and, in the most ironic turn, used it to make Joe Biden, author of the ‘94 Crime Bill, President, with a cop as his VP.

Much like the theme of the Pepsi commercial, Liberals only appropriate revolutionary aesthetics to attain power. After that, they only care about remaining in power, which means: appealing to the consensus. Already, Biden has negotiated with Republicans on the campaign promises that he hasn’t abandoned. The same Liberals who had said Biden could be pushed left once in office are now telling the right to distance themselves from Trump. There would be no incentive for the Republicans to do that unless they could persuade Democrats to vote for them; and if that were the case, it would further prove that there are no ideological differences between the two parties.

If we are to judge them based on their actions, it would follow that Liberals believe progress comes naturally with time; but “there can be no progress,” as Christopher Hitchens said, “without head-on confrontation.” If we are to change anything, we can not have our movements represented by those who depend on constituents. We are all we need, and we will not be made to choose between Coke and Pepsi.

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Artists Journalism

The Third Eye in DIY: Interview with Spenser Judd of Clear Vision Collective

WCW- Workingclasswhole

S- Spenser Judd

WCW: Who started CVC and when? 

S:  Back in 2018, Danny Loveless and I came up with the idea for CVC while we were at Desert Daze. Both of us were journalism majors at Poly at the time and the idea just kind of clicked while we were in that festival atmosphere. 

WCW: Not only does CVC cover news and events in DIY music, CVC also functions as a DIY label and disseminates underground music. Tell us what the label experience has been like and what challenges you’ve experienced as you’ve tried to establish yourselves?

S: CVC is basically a collective of independent artists, a multimedia outlet, and an event production company. It’s a lot to take in at times and even more difficult to explain to someone who isn’t really familiar with underground culture or the DIY mindset, so we’ve definitely had some struggles showing people that we’re all three in one. 

From the beginning, Danny and I started uploading music to Soundcloud and built a little community of artists who resonated with our mission statement. We’re all independent artists and CVC is kinda like a club or group of likeminded creatives who are open to experimenting and collaborating.

There’s so much music out there and streaming sites make it easier than ever to find new music, so it’s been hard rising above the constant flow of sounds. Streaming has been the main struggle as a label for sure. Spotify is kind of dominating the industry and we haven’t really ventured into that territory yet as a collective. 

Soundcloud is our main platform and it’s been an amazing place to meet fellow artists and gain a following, but the audience doesn’t seem to be as active anymore since Spotify gained popularity. 

WCW: How has CVC distributed and produced music as a label?

S: Over the past year or so, we’ve formed an online collective of musicians on Soundcloud. We all collaborate using a Discord channel and distribute mixtapes and singles on platforms like Soundcloud and Bandcamp. After releasing a few projects online, we all put some personal funds together to start doing physical releases. 

We all know that vinyl is making a comeback, but we decided to invest in cassettes. So far, we’ve been able to release two physical cassette compilations; “Tales from the Trip” and “Clear Fortune”, but we’re in the process of having the capacity to bust out smaller runs for any underground artists who’d be interested. We have all the equipment to start dubbing our own tapes, so some exclusive releases can definitely be expected in the future. 

WCW: In terms of music, CVC seems to have made a niche for itself in the realm of underground/DIY hip-hop. Has CVC been able to make many enroads into the Central Coast’s underground hip-hop scene or have there been challenges to this?

S: Yeah, Danny and I were involved in MPU during our time at Cal Poly, so we’ve loosely been involved in the local hip hop community even before CVC started up. 

We’ve worked alongside local acts like MC Massini, CosmicPrank and Kregness and we were also able to throw a local show at the Chlorophyll Cave back in 2019, but other than that we haven’t really been able to experience much of the local scene since COVID started up. 

WCW: Stylistically, CVC seems to have a penchant for lo-fi and psychedelic hip-hop with artists like SpaceyY, King GFOD, and DigiDara. Was this direction inspired at all by famed indie/hip-hop label, Stones Throw Records? If not what labels or groups inspired the creative direction of CVC?

S: Oh yeah Stones Throw definitely had a heavy influence on Danny’s music. That label’s a creative powerhouse. King GFOD and I grew up together in Oxnard, immersed in the Nardcore scene during highschool. We got that full blown DIY experience since I was in a punk band at that time too. On the other hand I’d grown up off bands like Beck, the Flaming Lips, and Modest Mouse, so I feel like I’ve always had a soft spot for psychedelic sounds and strange lyrics. 

Overall, I think the main catalyst for CVC artists leaning toward lo-fi or psychedelic hip hop was Flatbush Zombies and The Underachievers. That whole Beast Coast scene really opened our minds in highschool, influencing me and my friends to freestyle and dream big. Danny and I bonded overall our mutual love for that scene during Desert Daze 2018, so from the get go I think we kind of knew that was the direction we wanted to take our music with CVC. 

WCW: According to its website, CVC also organizes and hosts live DIY events. How have you guys handled this aspect of CVC’s activities given COVID-19 putting a halt to almost all live DIY music events? Any online streamed events?

S: Yeah it’s been wild not being able to actually throw in person events in over a year. We’ve actually gone down to LA to document/cover underground punk rap shows for our Youtube channel, but we haven’t set up any of our own shows since 2019. A few of our artists aren’t really interested in doing any livestream events, so we haven’t set any of those up yet but we’re looking to do something soon. 

I was invited to do a livestream event on Valentine’s Day last weekend and I turned my set into a CVC showcase where artists like King GFOD, Clout God and Buxx Bandocoot got to perform a few songs. We just uploaded the full set to our Youtube channel this week. 

WCW: With being open to all forms of creative DIY collaboration, what are other kinds of artists and musicians CVC has collaborated with and/or featured?

S: Yeah we’re all about collaboration over competition. As journalists, we’ve been able to collaborate with some LA photographers and journalists like Shitshow Dave and Juan Perez. I’ve also been able to meet Joel Gion, Ty Segall, Toro Y Moi, and Anderson Paak. in my travels as a journalist. 

I’m super stoked CVC has led me to collaborate with Lil B the Based God and a slew of underground artists like IreQ Savage, Cobalt, and Jack Acid. 

WCW: What new releases and activities can we expect from CVC in the coming year?

S: We recently started up a new Youtube series called CVTV that acts like a late night show for underground culture. It’s full of skits, interviews, live sets, and massive amounts of eye candy. This will be our main focus this year since it lets us use our skills as journalists to create engaging content while supporting or showcasing other independent artists and musicians.

Since we got our hands on that new equipment for cassettes, we’ll be doing limited physical releases for sure. CVC artists are always busting out new tunes or projects, so people can definitely look forward to some new material from SpaceyY, King GFOD, and Sadboy John as well as some collective mixtapes or cyphers.  

WCW: Anything else you would like to add?

S: Feel free to hit us up if you’re interested in what we’re doing locally and at large. All types of creatives are welcome. We’re always up to collaborate and make something happen. 

Also don’t hesitate to reach out if you or someone you know wants to be featured on an episode on CVTV. Submissions are open 🙂

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WAP: Well Armed Proletariat

I am writing this after the 116th United States congress has reconvened to count the electoral-college votes for the 2020 election…Not after having been driven out of the Capitol Building by armed right-wing extremists in what was essentially an attempted coup to reinstate the outgoing President Trump for a second term. The members of congress eventually returned to the Capitol building under armed escort after the Capitol was eventually cleared of Trump fanatics and various other breeds of right-winger.

To surmise the day’s events thus far, numerous Trump supporters descended on Washington, D.C. incited by President Trump and several other Republican leaders’ (i.e. Sen. Lindsay Graham, Rep. Kevin McCarthy) false claims of a fraudulent election that they have propagated not only in the weeks leading up to congress’ certification of Biden, but even prior to the November election itself (Rupar). With this backdrop of propaganda and misinformation, it is no surprise that this coup attempt occurred. What was worth noting is not only the embolden spirit of the horde of armed and blatantly violent right-wingers, but how the Capitol police responded. Unlike the BLM and anti-fascist protests that took place during the summer of 2020, the far-right MAGA assault on the Capitol building was met with half-hearted resistance and in some cases apparent collaboration with the police. In much of the footage documenting the events of today, one can see a lack of riot gear, rubber bullets, choke slams, and garden-variety police brutality until after the demonstrators stormed the capitol, whereas BLM and anti-fascist protests were immediately met with National Guard presence despite being unarmed and largely peaceful.

Although the capitol police used pepper spray and eventually mobilized the National Guard to drive back the mob, it’s evident that there is a double-standard in place regarding political demonstrations. Moreover, this sharp difference in how police mete out force against different protestors, reveals the priorities of police. The right (even the far-right) is met with minimal resistance or even possible collaboration (Gerstein), whereas the left, with no provocation, is met with any and all “non-lethal” forms of violence. In addition to disparity in treatment regarding political orientation, there is disparity in treatment with regards to race, in which the tepid use of force against the overwhelmingly white MAGA demonstrators, pales in comparison to the generous helping of violence inflicted upon BLM protesters. 

Why is this? The answer is simple: the Right and White nationalism do not pose a threat to the status quo but the Left does. This is of grave concern for not just leftists, but for people of color and members of marginalized communities.

If one has paid close attention to right-wing activity throughout the country, one would know that this was not the first time right-wing extremists have shut down or stormed a government building. In Oregon, both in June 22nd 2019 and December 21st 2020, the state capitol building was shut down and stormed (respectively) by armed right-wing militias. Right-wing militia groups and organizations like the Proud Boys also have increasingly started attending right-wing events as “security-forces”, in which they often clash with BLM activists, anti-fascists, and counter-protesters (Crosse) (Associated Press).

In addition to recent events, there has been a longstanding historical imperative for commoners and marginalized communities to own and protect themselves with firearms. Contrary to liberal ideology, gun control can be both racist and classist. A prime example being the Mulford Act of 1967, in which Republican Assemblyman Don Mulford proposed a bill that banned the public carry of loaded weapons, and later signed by then Governor of California, Ronald Reagan. The bill was created in response to Black Panthers engaging in lawful armed patrols of their communities, in which the Panthers would protect members of their community from violent police (Newton).

In addition to the Mulford Act, multiple bills and laws have been designed to deprive both poor people and communities of color from owning guns, often in the forms of high taxes or “Saturday Night Special” laws that banned the sale of cheaper firearms. This deprivation of a means of defense leaves communities vulnerable to repression and violence from both police and right-wing extremists (Elkwall).

Not only do firearms serve as a means of immediate protection, but firearms have been fundamental to any social revolutionary movement as well as preserving the political power of working-class commoners. Famed author and staunch socialist, George Orwell, once stated, “That rifle on the wall of the labourer’s cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”  Those words couldn’t be truer in recent years with working-class and marginalized communities being threatened by the emboldening of right-wing militias, the Federal government’s targeting of anti-fascists as “domestic terrorists”, the deployment of secret police to protests in Portland, and the culminating coup on the U.S. Capitol building. It follows that both individually and collectively we need to arm ourselves; every person of color, every woman, every queer, and every worker. In the end, this is how we will safeguard our communities and the political power of the working-class.

An elephant in the room that must be acknowledged is that many amongst the modern left and marginalized groups are neophyte at best when it comes to firearms, and completely averse at worst. This is largely attributed to both the non-inclusive nature of gun-culture (which is often dominated by white conservative men) and the stigmatization of guns by liberal centrists. Taking all this into account, it would be reasonable to suggest to such novices that merely becoming familiar and comfortable with firearms is a suitable place to start. Having done so, the next step is to join or even form a group that one can both socialize and practice marksmanship with others. A perfect example is the Socialist Rifle Association (SRA), a leftist answer to the NRA (We Keep Us Safe). The SRA engages in typical gun club activities, but also in mutual aid and community defense, having guarded counter-protesters at the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville (another grim reminder of the serious threat posed by the far-right).

Another point I wish to make abundantly clear is that, I am not writing this to fearmonger nor excite anyone to violence. My goal is to bring the attention of working-class leftists and minorities to the hard truth that faces us: racism and fascism are alive and well, and we need to take every precaution there is to defend and protect ourselves as well as our political ambitions.

There are eerie parallels between 1930s Spain and present-day America, and although there are many take-away lessons from that period, one in particular comes to mind. When Franco and the Nationalists did their coup (effectively starting the Spanish Civil War) the Republican Government was reluctant to arm the citizens for fear of appearing not in control. In the end, the citizens had to seize arms for themselves to defend against the Nationalist coup, after being refused by the government (Revolution, Counter-Revolution, and Terror). It was through organization and self-armament that the common citizenry was able to fight fascism, and it is through those same means that we in the present day will also fight our own battle with fascism.

CITATIONS

Crosse, Jacob. “Armed Fascists Storm Oregon State Capitol Building.” World Socialist Web Site, 23 Dec. 2020, www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/12/23/sale-d23.html.

Elkwall, Steve. “The Racist Origins of US Gun Control.”

Gerstein, Julie. “Officers Calmly Posed for Selfies and Appeared to Open Gates for Protesters during the Madness of the Capitol Building Insurrection.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 7 Jan. 2021, www.businessinsider.com/capitol-building-officers-posed-for-selfies-helped-protesters-2021-1.

Newton, Creede. “Gun Control’s Racist Past and Present.” Gun Violence News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 6 Oct. 2017, www.aljazeera.com/features/2017/10/6/gun-controls-racist-past-and-present.

Press, Associated. “Militia Threat Shuts down Oregon Capitol amid Walkout by Republican Lawmakers.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 23 June 2019, www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/militia-threat-shuts-down-oregon-capitol-amid-walkout-republican-lawmakers-n1020696.

“Revolution, Counter-Revolution, and Terror.” The Spanish Civil War, season 1, episode 2, Granada TV, 1983.

Rupar, Aaron. “Key Republicans Quickly Fall in Line behind Trump’s Attempt to Undermine the Election.” Vox, Vox, 6 Nov. 2020, www.vox.com/2020/11/6/21552446/trump-loss-biden-kevin-mccarthy-lindsey-graham-ted-cruz-newt-gingrich.

“We Keep Us Safe.” Socialist Rifle Association – About, socialistra.org/about/.

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Journalism

Towards an Abolitionist Future: Interview with Josh Powell of SMYA

WCW: “Tell us about yourself and your involvement with the abolitionist movement. What ultimately led you to become an abolitionist?”

JP: Well, I’m a Black Man living in Capitalist-Power-Hungry-White-Privileged America. I’m a liberator. I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve started my own business, the main product being my body. I’m a street performer known as the Grey Man. You can find me on the pier of Pismo Beach or on the streets of San Luis Obispo or Santa Maria whenever I’m in a bind and desperate for money. I’m a soon to be father trying to secure a new place to live before my baby boy enters the world. I’m a pain in a lot of white people’s asses. Also known as an organizer with a focus on the Black Lives Matter Movement. 

Josh Powell at a Black Lives Matter protest

My involvement with the abolitionist movement has been an organic growing relationship. Kind of like it was meant to be, like it was inevitable, but when I started in this thing, I had a very faint understanding of what was going on, however what led me to it directly was my passionate friend and comrade: Elias Bautista. They found me at a poetry reading shortly after the George Floyd protests sparked. They told me they were starting a group called the Santa Maria Youth Abolitionists. I affiliated ‘abolition’ with slavery at the time, but I soon got a grasp of the topic. I was hungry to make change and they seemed like one of the ones to actually make the change happen so I was more than happy to jump on board.


WCW: “How would you define abolition?”

JP: I define abolition as eradicating something that is evil and inhuman. Such as the police force or ICE or capitalism or prisons or the Fantastic Four remake in 2015.


WCW: “What are some good sources (books, films, authors, etc.) that you would recommend people to check out if they want to learn more about abolition?”
JP: Anybody who was or is still a Black Panther. They put it very plainly that the prison system didn’t work as well as the presence of police. Specifically though, you got the brilliant, unpredictable Huey P. Newton, who was one of the founders of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Next you got Angela Davis whose writings on prisons have a grand depth of insight. Then my next suggestion is Colin Kaepernick who has rebranded himself and brought attention to the injustice Black folks, folks of color, and poor folks face in the United States, he also redirected his focus to the abolishment of prisons also known as modern day slave plantations. 

Huey P. Newton (Right) with Bobby Seale (Left); founders of the Black Panther Party of Self-Defense


WCW: “Care to set the record straight on the events surrounding Tianna Arrata and Elias Bautista’s arrests and the July 21st protest?”

JP: Ha, I would love to. I won’t comment on Elias’ behalf because they are unfortunately in a much more severe situation. 

Elias Bautista speaking at a BLM/Abolitionist protest in Santa Maria

On July 21st, Tianna, as well as several others in the community, took part in a protest through the streets of San Luis Obispo. We marched, we danced, we sang, we knelt, we chanted. We were together in a unique moment in time. This was yet another protest during a hot summer of brutal, unexplainable killings by police, of Black men and women who were trying to sleep, drive, get by, and survive in a country that would rather see them dance, sing, and dribble for White entertainment than accept these people as members of a shared society. You had Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, Breonna Taylor, Elijah Mcclain, Sean Reed, Dijon Mckizee, Joshua Feast, Maurice Gordon, A.J. Crooms, Walter Wallace Jr.; just to name a few of the folks who’ve been killed just this year by police.

So when we went out on the streets, we went out to make noise on their behalf. We went out to bring attention to the racial injustice that this country is steeped in. The people who are supposedly sworn to protect us are actually the ones killing us. So we came out to let the world know about it. And that’s exactly what happened. In a bold move, we as a unit with the help of the police department, went out onto the freeway to get the attention and disrupt the boring rinse and repeat lives of folks coming from or going to their jobs.

Tianna Arata outside of the SLO County court house

As we stood out on those roads, chanting for justice to come to those hurt by police, there was a sense of pride. A sense of accomplishment like what we were doing was changing the course of history. There were cars that attempted to drive off and assault protestors. Some protestors defended themselves from injury. People have been quick to ridicule the actions of the protestors who defended themselves but refuse to condemn the actions of the drivers or the police officers who let the assaulter leave after witnessing the entire event transpire. They won’t tell you how we celebrated life by dancing together. These are exactly the folks who’s comfort is being fucked. They refuse to take accountability or look at life through a different lens. We did. We all knew damn well what was happening. The country is in a state of emergency and the rose tinted glasses these white people have on has left a stain on their eyelids. We just wanted to clean the stain off. 

Tianna Arata leading a Black Lives Matter protest in San Luis Obispo

The night of, however, is a much different story. Tianna Arata was targeted and kidnapped. Pigs scouted the park we were decompressing at for the last hour we were there. Every few seconds, you’d see a squad car round the corner, all while pigs on their motorcycles sat around and surveilled, waiting for their opportunity to eat. After walking sis [Tianna] over to her car, a flash of red and blue came through, and out jumped hogs in riot gear apprehending her while some of us tried getting in the way and others watched helplessly. It was an awful moment that burned into my mind.


WCW: “How is the SLO county DA now charging you and several others over two months later after the initial arrests? What are they charging you with and why?”

JP: Well Danny Dow has attempted to charge my brothers with misdemeanor charges such as “delaying a peace officer, false imprisonment, and obstructing the free movement of a person in a public place”, because instead of doing their actual jobs and going after folks who don’t want to follow covid regulations or assault black women, they would rather pick on the only black faces recognizable in the Black Lives Matter movement out here. 

Dan Dow, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney


WCW: “What has the legal process been like for you and your comrades so far?

JP: It’s been jarring. Confusing. A little exciting too. Watching dudes politely diss each other in suits and ties is as entertaining as a telenovela. I have no idea what’s going on most of the time, but it still looks and sounds fun.  

WCW: “Is there any progress being made with the current court cases? Do you see Dan Dow listening to the voice of the people or will he continue to press charges against Arrata & Co.?”

JP:

Well the judge just disqualified Danny Boy from the case for an implicit bias that is made clear in an email his wife sent out on his birthday. The email said:

“Dan needs to know more than ever that you support him and he really needs your financial support so he can keep leading the fight in SLO County against the wacky defund the police movement and anarchist groups that are trying to undermine the rule of law and public safety in our community. We had planned his kickoff election campaign fundraiser to be this month, but due to COVID and all the crazy protest activity, we were not able to pull it off.”

The key words here are ‘wacky’ and ‘anarchist’. Not to mention this was to get money. He sent this out to all his rich homies in an attempt to get their support to go against US. So now it’s up to the California Attorney General to see if he wants to pursue this mess of a situation. We’ll see in the next 30 days.

WCW: “Do you think the majority of the local community is sympathetic to abolition/police defunding or does support seem to stem from a certain subset of the community?”

JP: I mean I think everybody’s been really nice about it. It’s not like we’re smashing local businesses and shops, or setting buildings ablaze, which is something I’m sure residents are happy about. When folks hear abolish they get all up in arms and think “What’ll we do without our law and order?” without understanding that the police are designed to defend property, not people. So those folks need to do some research before just reacting. Similarly with defunding the police, it’s not a bad thing to take money away from pigs and relocate them into our education system. Then you have the goofballs who try to turn our protests into something that it’s not. They get in our faces and attempt to get some reaction out of us for their corny news stations. So I think the negativity and the conflict stems from that subset you mention. 

Josh Powell speaking at Abolitionist/BLM rally


WCW: “What are some good ways for members of the local community to support or get involved with the abolition movement?”

JP: Come talk to us. And if they’re scared of the Covid, then follow any of us on instagram. @AACCS @Santamariayouthabolitionists @centralcoastorganization @racemattersslo @blmca @naacpslo

 
WCW: “Any other related causes or events you would like to bring attention to?”

JP: I urge everybody to look into Anjanette Young’s case against the Chicago Police Department. 9 officers barged into her home while she was naked and it was the wrong house. Also please read about the two boys murdered by police officers, A.J. Crooms was 16 and Sincere Pierce was 18. Lastly, wear your goddamn masks. Cases are still shooting up day by day, people continue to die, and now our hospitals are damn neared maxed out. 
WCW: “What are some musicians, artists, or performers that have inspired you or that you think people should check out regarding social justice and the abolitionist cause?”

JP: Anybody with a heartbeat needs to listen to Tobe Nwigwe. He has been pumping out art in lyrical form. He’s one for the culture. Killer Mike and his partner [El-P] recently released their album “Run The Jewels 4”. I think that’s all I got for ya right now. 

Hip-Hop artists Tobe Nwigwe and Fat
Killer Mike and musical partner El-P as Hip-Hop duo Run the Jewels

Thanks so much for offering me the chance to clear the air. You’re all dope. Much love. Peace and chicken grease.

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Passion over Profit: The Struggles of the DIY Scene in SLO

A warm February afternoon, a notification, and a long sigh.

A quick swipe and the sigh turns into cursing at the phone.

“Dwellinart shut down any future free shows that it was hosting and fired a lot of its staff,” said a visibly irked third year Ethan Weiss to his fellow bandmate fellow third-year Laila Zaidi.

The problem? The band was booked to play a show there in two weeks, and now they were stuck in a position all too familiar to them.

With its shutdown of the popular free shows, Dwellinart/Stage 9 severed a powerful showing from local bands. Weiss plays in one called SPY and over the years he has seen the scene struggle between the interests of the city and the wellbeing of the scene.

A hardcore band struggling to get by is not uncommon in any music scene, not by a long shot, but for local hardcore punk bands in SLO, from losing venues willing to host them to actually being asked to pay to play, hardcore punk bands in SLO find themselves in a fight for their creative lives.

“It just doesn’t make sense, how can venues like SLO Brew Rock and Dwellinart not have the capacity to understand that bands like the ones from our community want to play there,” Zaidi said.

Both Zaidi and Weiss’s hardcore punk band SPY was one of the bands booked to play a big show at the venue and now they are left to their own devices after cancellation, but more importantly to them, this highlighted a major issue the community has with the area of SLO.

SPY performing at the CalPoly University Union Plaza

Hardcore’s inherent sound relies on bombastic guitar riffs and fast-paced drum lines that more often than not solicit a headbang or two from the crowd. Beyond its loud nature, hardcore in SLO carries another unique identity with it in its “Do It Yourself” mentality that many of its members feel conflicts with the values of SLO itself.

This DIY attitude is something that punk rock has carried with itself since its inception in the late 70’s. From bands like Black Flag to modern local groups like SPY, bands have relied on themselves and like-minded people to instill these core beliefs in every aspect of their art.

Some of these values include public accessibility to live music, support of the creation of music, experimentation of art and music, and most importantly cultivation of musical acts and the community through shows and events.

Cultivation of a Community

This cultivation of a community is not a task that many can keep up for long periods of time, but certain people within the community help keep the scene strong for years. These organizers are the heart and soul of the community according to SPY, and it is through them that shows are put together and word is spread.

Two of these organizers, Stripped vocalist Sterling Snow and DIY Organizer and former Dwellinart Event Planner Biba Pickles, have worked to put on shows to keep the scene growing, and expose it to a larger audience while avoiding the risk of noise violations that comes with house shows.

The stress that comes with running the scene and maintaining a sense of community isn’t something that comes free of charge.

“We have both been part of this scene for years,” Pickles said, “and after a while, especially when you have to deal with people like [Ackerman], it starts to wear down on you.”

That isn’t to say that the experience isn’t rewarding, particularly with the Dwellinart fiasco, as Snow and Pickles both felt like the experience strengthened the community.

“I’m not the first to say this,” Snow said, “But us punk rockers [DIY] are like cockroaches. We will always find a way to bounce back and survive.”

One of the ways the community connects with new people and keeps the scene tight knit is through the Instagram account called SLO DIY, which gets the word out about shows and events that the community is putting on.

Second-year Plant Science major Wenqi Zhang uses Instagram’s’ vast reach; this page helps get the word out for various shows in the scene and helps take the pressure off the organizers who have to deal with other issues within the community, like Ackerman, who was allegedly hard to work with.

Zhang feels like the gap between the DIY music scene and SLO has become more visible than it ever has been after Ackerman decided to stop working with the scene. Dwellinart having once hosted everything from indie rock bands to variety shows called “Art After Dark”, has parted ways from DIY organizers and other venue volunteers.

“It was the place,” she said, “There was no other venue that really wanted to work with our community.”

The bizarre and often avoided venue on the outskirts of downtown SLO had a ton of potential, according to the SLO DIY account, but suffered from a lack of structure and support needed for the venue to truly succeed.

Now that the venue has effectively ended its relationship with not just the hardcore punk scene but the DIY scene as a whole, the glaring issues it had in the first place (especially with its owner Michael Ackerman) have come into the spotlight.

“The venue was always dubious in nature, at least from my perspective,” Zhang said, “I don’t know where or how it got here, other than the fact that it was allowing us to host shows there.”

The nature of who and where exactly the Dwellinart/Stage 9 owner came from was always a mystery but according to Pickles, Ackerman never quite understood what she and many others saw the venue as.

“I cannot stress how often I would clash with Ackerman on whether or not a band could play at the venue because of his complaint of it not being profitable,” Pickles said, “and these shows like T.S.O.L and community bands were bringing in so many people.”

Both Snow and Pickles remember these acts bringing in tons of people, so they know that the bands can bring in crowds. If profit was purely the focus, then they never felt Ackerman was ever at a loss.

Both Ackerman and the Stage9/Dwellinart venue refused to comment on the situation or their past experiences with the DIY scene. 

Going forward and the future of DIY

Places like the Fremont Theatre have a storied history of hosting touring DIY bands with a brand or name recognition like in Jul. 2017 when they hosted the industrial metal group Ministry at the tail end of their 2016-2017 tour.

Bands like Ministry have helped foster hope for the scene, but within the last year these acts have fallen off the minds of venues in favor of more “brand-friendly” alternative and indie music.

“It feels like in order to play out here, you have to have some kind of brand,” Snow said, “We have more than a ‘brand’, we have a community, but it never seems to be good enough for them [venues] nowadays.”

With the future of the scene up in the air with regards to playing venue shows, both Snow and Pickles feel like the scene will survive but not without a new wave of like-minded people to help the DIY scene reach its full potential.

“You know, we do this because we are passionate about it,” Pickles said, “It has never ever been about the money or fame, that’s why I stuck up for these bands till the bitter end, because I know that through events like this we are stronger together and the future is a lot brighter because of that.”

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Climate Change Screws Over Poor People

Climate change and its effects on the global poor

The eradication of poverty around the globe has been an ongoing struggle for much of modern history, with a wide range socio-economic obstacles that often perpetuate or even exacerbate it. However one phenomena in particular that will drastically impact the world’s poor in more ways than one is climate change. Climate change impacts the poor more than the non-poor in at least three major ways: greater exposure/vulnerability to extreme weather, endangered livelihoods, and food and water scarcity.

  Most of the world’s poor live in developing countries or the Global South that are located in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and South America. In comparison to developed nations or the Global North, these regions are experiencing greater impacts from climate change in the forms of severe droughts, heatwaves, flooding, and other extreme weather phenomena. According to Winsemius et al. (2018) in a study of 52 different countries, it was found that poor people were unevenly exposed (meaning located in areas prone to) to droughts and urban floods, and climate change increases the frequency of said droughts and urban floods. Winsemius et al. (2018) also add that not only are the poor more exposed, but they are also more vulnerable or susceptible to such extreme weather phenomena in that they lack the protection and/or ability-to-adapt to natural disasters brought on by climate change (susceptibility is best understood as poor people losing a greater portion of their wealth or greater likelihood of mortality). Simply put, it’s difficult to stay or climb out of poverty if one’s life is being destabilized by constant natural disasters with no social safety net.

Not only does climate change have more adverse effects on the poor, it also acts as a poverty trap in which the livelihoods of the poor are endangered or ruined. In its analysis of poverty dynamics and climate change in Andhra Pradesh, India, Hallegatte et al. (2014) reported that weather events create a poverty trap tied to health, education, livestock and other assets, and that drought, irrigation failure, or crop disease are responsible for 44% of poverty inflow cases. Given this information it is of no surprise that agricultural livelihoods are vulnerable to climate change. Natural disasters such as a drought or hurricane that are brought on by climate change, often disrupt agricultural crop production, which in turn negatively effects the income of small-scale and subsistence farmers (see Hertel and Rosch 2010). Similarly, fishing as a livelihood is also jeopardized by climate change in which the rising temperature of oceans destabilizes marine-eco-systems in which fish populations migrate further and further away from coastlines (see McCarthy 2020). Without being able to sustain oneself or sell product to generate an income, farmers and fishers consequentially dive into or further in to poverty, as they often do not have the means or resources to protect against the natural disasters induced by climate change. This ultimately create a vicious cycle and an enduring poverty trap.

            Moreover, with fishing and agricultural livelihoods being adversely affected by climate change in the poor regions that are overwhelmingly exposed and susceptible to them, the issue of food/water scarcity arises. With regards to scarcity, although other factors may negatively affect crop production, climate change is especially disruptive, and alters food production across the globe, thereby threatening up to half a billion people with food insecurity and poverty. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, water scarcity brought on by droughts have detrimentally endured to the point of causing crop failure and the death of livestock, which has resulted in widespread famine and by extension, poverty. These disruptions to agriculture are not limited to sub-Saharan Africa, as they can be found the world over with comparable economic fallout (see McCarthy 2020).

Even here in the United States, natural disasters and catastrophic weather bring the same or at least very similar disruptions to rural and agricultural communities. According to Olson, et al. (2018), these communities are vulnerable due to their economic dependence on resources from the natural environment, which is “subject to multiple climate stressors”. What’s more, the majority of rural communities have higher percentages of poverty than urban areas, and the poverty levels of already vulnerable groups (i.e. the elderly, children, racial/ethnic minorities). The plight of such rural communities is made worse by the fact that they lack economic diversity, infrastructure, and political influence, thus further reducing the ability of these communities to deal with the natural disasters and catastrophic weather.

 With regards to agriculture specifically, we are seeing small and mid-size farmers being forced to either “consolidate” (i.e. merge with a larger farming operation) or literally sell the farm (again, usually to a larger farming operation). This phenomenon of consolidation within the agricultural industry has been happening for some time (as government policy leans towards big/industrial-sized farming), however the increasing frequency of natural disasters has accelerated this as a small-size farmers lack the means to cope with disaster fall out as they lack the financial resources to sustain themselves (see Atkin, 2019). Moreover, not only are the farmers themselves at risk, but many migrant workers are also negatively impacted, as they have their livelihoods reliant on the agricultural industry as well (see Olson, et al, 2018).

In essence, with the impacts of frequent exposure to natural disasters, inability to make a living in agriculture or fishing because of said natural disasters, and food and water scarcity, it’s evident that climate change (manifested in the form of extreme weather and natural disasters) has a far greater adverse effect on the global poor than the non-poor.  This is even more apparent when impoverished populations lack the ability to prevent or alleviate the fallout from natural disasters caused by climate change.

WORKS CITED

Winsemius, Hessel C, et al. 2018. Disaster risk, climate change, and poverty: assessing the global exposure of poor people to floods and droughts. Environment & Development Economics, (June).

Hallegatte, Stephane, et al. “Climate Change and Poverty.” World Bank, 2014, https://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/document/Climate/Climate%20and%20Poverty%20Conference/D1S1_Hallegatte_CCandPov_9Fev_v6.pdf

Hertel, Thomas W. and Stephanie D. Rosch. 2010. Climate Change, Agriculture, and Poverty. Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy (autumn) 364-365.

McCarthy, Joe. “Why Climate Change and Poverty Are Inextricably Linked.” Global Citizen, 19 February 2020, https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/climate-change-is-connected-to-poverty/

Olson, Carolyn, et al. “Ch. 10: Agricultural and Rural Communities.” 4th National Climate Assessment, 2018, https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/chapter/10/

Atkin, Emily. “Climate Change and the Death of the Small Farm.” The New Republic, 27 March 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/153390/climate-change-death-small-farm

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“SWOLETARIAT”: THE IMPORTANCE OF LEFT-WING FITNESS CULTURE

Most people do not associate fitness with politics or activism. Most folks simply see fitness as a means to stay healthy, look good, or just as a form of recreation; however, exercise and fitness have implications far beyond the mundane. You may have heard the phrase “A fascist worked out today, did you?” It is with this perspective that many members of both the left and marginalized groups need to include with their approach to fitness. As someone who is both a leftist and a gym rat, I’ve observed that there is little overlap between the two groups; most leftists I’ve met are not involved with athletics or fitness, and the majority of fitness enthusiasts I’ve met are largely apolitical and the ones that are tend to be conservative or right-wing.

At first glance this seems to be a mere coincidence (to some extent maybe it is), however one would be surprised at how right-wing politics are connected to fitness culture. The first place where we might see this is with CrossFit. While CrossFit as a form of exercise or sport isn’t necessarily tied with right wing ideology, CrossFit as a company came under fire in early June of 2020, when the CEO and owner of the company, Greg Glassman, mocked the civil unrest in America as “FLOYD-19” via Twitter. He later expressed to affiliates that “he does not mourn the death of George Floyd.” Moreover, CrossFit has largely pandered to members of law enforcement, even so far as to train the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department, and in turn many conservatives are CrossFit enthusiasts. A 2008 article on CrossFit.com had to address the number of right-wing political comments that were made on their “rest day” online forum. Cross-fitter and former Ranger, Russel Berger, commented, “I started paying attention to the CrossFit website four years ago…Recently, I’ve noticed more and more complaints about the less-noticeable information posted alongside the Workout of the Day. Right-leaning political commentary, articles, and studies are occasionally popping up on rest-day postings. To some this is a perverse and offensive combination…”

A lesser known example (yet probably more relevant to members in the metal music scene) of right wing fitness culture is the Operation Werewolf movement and the Wolves of Vinland. According to Rose City Antifa, “Drawing upon a mix of motivational speaking, weightlifting, hand to hand and tactical arms training, hyper-masculinity and pre-Christian Germanic religion, the Wolves of Vinland (WoV) have situated themselves as the group du jour on the countercultural Right. The group expresses an elitist and patriarchal worldview, much of which is copied from the philosophy of Julius Evola. Evola considered himself to be to the Right even of fascism; however Evola was attracted to the Nazi SS as a model of the sort of “elite” he wished to cultivate, and moved to Nazi Germany after the fall of Fascism in Italy.”

While Wolves of Vinland may be considered just a bunch of scared reactionary white dudes who are few in number, the fact that the left has no answer to their organization is concerning, especially since they are actively trying to recruit new members through the feeder clubs of Operation Werewolf. Where are the leftist powerlifters, martial artists, and triathletes? How would we fair in a fight or standoff with adversaries like these?

This raises another point of concern: physical conflict at protests and demonstrations. From Charlottesville to Portland, we’ve seen leftist and antifascist protesters clash with armed right-wing counter-protesters (many of whom were members of the alt-right and white supremacist organizations). It would make sense that, in the event of a street fight, one would want to not only be well versed in combat skills (i.e. martial arts), but to also have the physical strength and endurance to defeat one’s enemies. To put in very simple terms: the more you lift, the better you are at punching Nazis! The more you do cardio, the better you are at running away from the police!

Another way to look at it is to imagine just how much more intimidating leftists and anti-fascists would be if they were built and conditioned like powerlifters, UFC fighters, and other athletes. Not only would the pejorative of ‘liberal cuck’ become laughably inapplicable, the right will have to think twice before physically attacking protesters at the next BLM rally.

This also goes beyond mere perception, in which physical fitness and athleticism improve self-confidence and mental health. Many people have used physical exercise – whether it’s weight lifting or long-distance running – as a means to cope with depression and improve mental health. I can affirm this from my own personal experience, in which I gained greater self-confidence, more energy, and felt comfortable in my own skin after taking up weight lifting and swimming.

Moreover, fitness and exercise can be very empowering, especially for women/femme folks and the LGBT+ community. For women/femme folks, athletic activities like martial arts and weightlifting are not only a source of personal empowerment, but also help defy patriarchal and rigid gender roles/sexist stereotypes of femininity, namely that women are soft, frail, petite, and weak, rather than agile, muscular and strong. Often these sexist beliefs are verbalized as “Don’t get too fit,” or “You’ll look like a man” as a means of reaffirming gender norms. One can look no further than to athletes such as Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes that have rebelled (whether overtly or by simply being whom they are) against these expectations of women. With regards to feminism, a body-positive fitness culture is extremely complementary, as women and feminine-identifying people are engaging in exercise and fitness for themselves and for practical purposes (being strong, fast, flexible, etc.) rather than for the appearances and expectations of patriarchy. A great example is the Solstar gym in London that’s based on feminist and antifascist principles.

For queer individuals, physical fitness and prowess also defy negative stereotypes of excessive effeminacy and weakness. Such a development would simultaneously destroy common perceptions of LGBT culture and intimidate homo/transphobes who have to accept the fact that being a queer doesn’t make you weak or gutless, and may actually make you the opposite. Put as a single phrase, “Yeah I’m queer, I squat 225, and I can kick your ass!”

Essentially, if the left is to be a force to be reckoned with, a culture of physical fitness is essential, not only in the event of a protest or physical confrontation, but also as a means of personal empowerment. If one is to combat oppression or wage revolution, one should be in the best fighting shape they can be. It must become part of the common sense of any serious leftist that health and fitness are important facets of activist or revolutionary praxis. That being said, I want to make it clear that such a fitness culture must be serious yet body-positive and self-affirming, and not based in vanity or toxic masculinity. While it is important, physical fitness isn’t the be-all-and-end-all either, and there are other ways to improve and empower oneself. It must be understood that we are all different and have our own limits and abilities, and we shouldn’t be hyper-critical of ourselves if we fall short of certain expectations, so long as we are putting in a sincere effort. This attitude is best embodied by the mantra “Do your best and forget the rest,” and is one that complements the spirit of a fitness oriented left.

Work Cited:

McAleavy, Emma. “There’s a Schism Happening Inside CrossFit.” Outside Online, Outside Magazine, 26 June 2020, www.outsideonline.com/2414895/crossfit-greg-glassman-future-racism.

“The Politics of CrossFit by Russell Berger and Dan Freedman.” CrossFit Journal, journal.crossfit.com/2008/11/the-politics-of-crossfit.tpl.

“The Wolves of Vinland: a Fascist Countercultural ‘Tribe’ in the Pacific Northwest.” Rose City Antifa, rosecityantifa.org/articles/the-wolves-of-vinland-a-fascist-countercultural-tribe-in-the-pacific-northwest/.

Samantha Schmidt, Fenit Nirappil. “Right-Wing Protesters Gather Outside Portland, Adding to Tensions.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 8 Sept. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/09/07/rochester-protests-daniel-prude/.

How to Physically Prepare for a Protest, www.vice.com/en_us/article/akzezp/how-to-physically-prepare-for-a-protest.

“How Weight Lifting Helped Me Recover.” National Eating Disorders Association, 7 Mar. 2019, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/how-weight-lifting-helped-me-recover.

“Depression and Anxiety: Exercise Eases Symptoms.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 27 Sept. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495.

Fighting Fascism at the UK’s Feminist Antifa Martial Arts Gym, www.vice.com/en_us/article/8xb985/solstar-feminist-antifa-gym-interview.