Who is This Bear?

I’m nobody special. I’m a Californian, born and raised, and have spent more than 20 years involved in activism around environmentalism, union organizing, anti-racist work, and the broader movement to oppose Capitalism. I have some ideas and want to share them, hence this blog, but I don’t represent any movement or organization and can only speak for myself.

In a previous existence, I was an independent underground rapper. I recorded my first demo at 17, my last album at 32, and in between released 8 albums and toured all over the US, UK, and Ireland. The thing about anticapitalist music is it doesn’t pay very well, so I was never able to make a living on the music. That’s all right with me, I was never in it to make money – and said so in my songs more than once. My wife and several of my friends keep asking me to re-record my old songs as a cappella’s so it’s easier to hear the words so I’ll probably do a few of those and post them on youtube. How many I do will depend on if and how people respond. I’m also on twitter more than I probably should be under the handle “@MathanCalifas” and co-host a weekly podcast called “The Independent Left” on youtube.

Politically I’ve identified in the past as an anarchist or libertarian socialist (tldr: the wing of the socialist movement that rejected Marx and Marxist authoritarianism and instead has sought to build worker’s power from the bottom up) and that’s still more or less accurate.

In a perfect world I’d prefer a radically decentralized system of governance and democratic economies. A voluntary confederation of autonomous self-managing and self-governing communities with an economy based on worker-ownership and community oversight; bound together by a global network of trade and freedom of movement for everyone. That’s a vision that should be familiar to most libertarian socialists but is significantly different from what most people think of when they hear the words “socialism” or “anarchism.”

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world so – for now at least – I’d settle for a free and independent Republic of California that uses its significant power to push for aggressive action to stop catastrophic climate change and is a beacon of hope and democracy in dark times. There is a huge body of academic data out there showing that smaller nations are more democratic & have more accountable governments. This is as close to an empirical fact as you’ll find in the world of political science. If we want democracy, we have to think small. I genuinely believe any attempt at an anti-imperialist politic that doesn’t include breaking up empires is nonsense. James Connolly was right.

Short term, I sometimes write in support of progressives politicians. I think of it like a needle exchange – electoral politics won’t get us the change we need but they can at least save lives short term and that’s worth something. But electoral politics alone can’t get us where we need to go. We need to be active in our communities, our workplaces, and in the streets.