2015: Brief Topics

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Hello folks,

So, it’s been a month or so longer than intended before I wrote another blog post and this one itself is late, but I wanted to keep some things rolling on this blog.

Coming along in this post, I want to talk about some of the smaller topics that have been running through my head over the past year that I haven’t really gotten to addressing and don’t /really/ feel like addressing in longer form. And seeing this is the start of a new year, I’ll give you a sense of my life too.

Life Updates

Well, as you might recall from my tumblr, usually these posts are reflections my life today. Which–really–I want to put into past practice. But, in case you’re wondering: Life is good and certainly interesting. The year has been beautiful and hard–in that I’ve found who I believe is the love of my life and I have family that has been so supportive of me, but I have also had one of the most uncertain years financially that I’ve likely ever had.

But, now, I work for the Ontario Public Interest Research Group, the University of Toronto Students’ Union, and in some other places. None of which imply security or firmament, but things in life are a process. One step at at time, as it were.

Having just gotten back from Newfoundland and spent a fair bit of the last few days with my partner, I’m feeling centered and ready to tackle the coming days ahead. But, enough about me, broadly. Let’s get into things.

On Hiring and ‘Left’ Organizations

During my months of absolute precarity (rather than my current state of constant near-precarity) financially, I spent a lot of time applying to organizations that fit within my past experiences and training. For me, this means: Higher education, non-profits, etc.

But one thing I’ve noticed that is that some of these orgs. (regardless of their claimed ethic or ethos) really, really suck when it comes to actually providing a fulsome process for hiring. Months long delays at small and mid-size non-profits for entry level jobs, hiring processes that lack clear explanations for decisions (even upon asking for feedback), and–more than once this year–watching an entire hiring process collapse due to internal issues, disputes over the hiree, and other undisclosed issues.

I suppose it is a bit of a surprise, especially once this extends beyond the student union-sphere and into other areas. But the strain these things create seems to go unnoticed by folks in many organizations–and unaddressed even when those concerns are raised like a flair pointing to their faces.

It has given me a renewed vigor to work on education within supposedly ‘activist’ or leftist organizations–in particular. Why? Because, if we’re aiming to surpass capitalism or, at the very least, the current broad status quo… how can we do that if we cannot maintain principled consistency in getting people on board for our work? It is a big answer to craft, this one–and I’m still doing my best to develop a sense of best practice–there are some things that one can know is spoiled by its smell and, with practice, one can know when they are wrong when they happen.

On Firing and Student Organizations

To keep with the theme of employment–a topic that has dominated a lot of the past year for me–I want to talk about the Ryerson Students’ Union and Gillary Massa. At the time that this was bigger news, I’d kept my feelings private due to my own current employ and not wanting to dive too deeply back into the inherent politic and organizations that surround these matters (and, they do). I’ve spent too much time doing so, overall.

But, it’s been a topic that has nagged at me for some time and I want to at least get a brief thought out there on the matter. And, to be fully-up-front: I applied for the RSU’s General Manager position and do not regret doing so. It looked like a good job and I needed one.

When it comes to the RSU’s management structure, too, it should be noted that the shortcomings others have noted about it are not off-based (it is a weird mix of unionized managers that is uniquely set in place for the RSU itself, no one else does this).

All said though–and this might surpise some who’d think my feelings on CFS (as Massa et al are tied to them closely) would overtake principle–the actions taken by the RSU were out of line, poorly concieved, and even more poorly executed. They’ve established a clear ethos of racism in their actions (in the public eye, which others have written about more eloquently than I could in this brief) and a disbelief across student organizing in their seriousness to actually effectively run their organization.

Amateurish decisions to fix an oddly fashioned and problematic structure that, rightly so, have brought down the ire of labour, student organizers, and folks organizing for racial justice. When I first heard of the details of this decision I was flabbergasted and angry. Massa is a new mother and to take such callous action as to fire someone on materity leave is unthinkable in the Student Union-HR sphere. To fire someone without true cause or compensation in this situation? My notion of reality melts at the thought. There are ways to do this that would have lessened impacts and been, as it goes, a better way forward.

But, this is what they’ve done. They’ve isolated themselves and taken little care towards the criticism they’ve recieved, the distance others have put between them, and the damage they’ve done not just to the RSU, but to Ryerson as a whole–to student unions as a whole. Meanwhile, those advicing the RSU currently and/or are profiting off of having things as they are–whoever they are–are utterly callous in their actions here.

And, as I said, I write this as someone who is not an ally of some of the political organizations here or as a friend to those affected. This decision is repugnant nonsense in line with other changes resisted within the organization and–if good advice were sought and given–changes made in the management system that avoided these pitfalls. There are examples and processes to follow, but instead RSU chose to drive ahead and bring irreperable harm to Massa and to their organization.

On ENGOs being Terrible

Look, I’m not going to re-write the loads of ink spent on the Notley Tar Sands Agreement with several big NGOs and companies… but, this is the latest some really just awful actions taken in the ENGO sector. And, I say this as someone beholden in a lot of my work to the structures of the NPO-industrial complex and all that comes with that.

But, yeah, ForestEthics, Environmental Defense, Equiterre and the Pembina Institute sold out a broader whole of folks to side with Big Oil, wilfully imposing a cap on production–but in essense selling their voices for broader complicity. And, as MacDonald Stainsby points out:

Are we not noticing something far more troubling than previous backroom negotiated deals? This time around the deal was not to be public at all. Ever. It stands to good reason that since this one was not to be released specifically, perhaps there are others as well.

They were will prepared to pretend that they were functioning on any interest but that of Big Oil Lite and the motely Notely crew in Alberta to keep the oil flowing.

And let’s not forget that this was in the same month that 350.org actively sold actual climate activists down river for protesting in Paris. This happening along side another agreement, of course, between various states. As James Hansen notes:

It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.

As for what one can say about 350.org’s actions in Paris, well, checkout SubMedia for the best take.

Finally, this is the same year that Greenpeace Canada, after engaging in awful labour practices generally, liquidated the last of their internal, unionized fundraising staff… and, I mean, it’s not like GP has stopped fundraising in the past year, if you get what I mean. Having worked, briefly, with some of the folks who’ve been canned, I know these folks put their all into doing their work. It’s a shame that, once again, GP has so little concern for those that have. Not that much of a suprise, though.

From selling out activists to cowing to Big Oil to treating their own workers like garbage, ENGOs have really taken the cake over the past year.

In Brief

  •  CUPE 3902’s ongoing dispute with UofT over the graduate funding is too little, too late. Bad data or no, members and allies were telling members of HQ and in general about the deep and possible pitfalls of the proposed CA not meeting funding targets due to expotential enrolement increases alone.
  • The Sculptor, by Scott McCloud, was one of the most emotional reads I’ve had this year or ever. Though I’m really taken with Greg Graffin’s Anarchy Evolution and will be reading both some Nietzsche and some Coates soon.
  • Fascism is clearly a broadening concern in North America from Pedidga to Trump. No duh. I think I will probably write more on this point later.
  • This reddit post on r/anarcho_capitalism is hilarious.
  • Steven Universe is the crowning achievement of all cartoons. That said, I’ve also grown very fond of the animated movie Rio.
  • Also, you should start reading the Beaverton if you don’t already. They have been rocking this past year.

So then…
That’s how I’ve been feeling this last while about some topics I only have brief things to really talk about. More on Atheism, Girard, and other things coming eventually.

All the best,
– Brad.

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