PHOTO: Jackie4Bernie GoFundMe Campaign. -
Many people in St. Augustine have recently been asking, "Are these the only two candidates?" when discussing the COSA Mayoral race. Well, there is another option...
If you have followed Jackie Rock's under-the-radar campaign, you will see quickly that she is not like the other two at all. Rock is a huge democratic activist who is not afraid to take part in local protests, and she once served as a Bernie Sanders delegate (which she mentions almost every time she addresses the public).
Rock says her political interest peaked during the Obama campaign, when she met a young man who was very politically active. She says his passion inspired her. She says she felt the need to get politically active during her time as a Delegate for Bernie Sanders in this area. She said she was inspired by a Sanders speech, where he encouraged his followers to try and get as many positions in local government as possible, from the bottom up, to help spread the ideals he spoke of during his campaign. That's when the gears started turning.
She organized rallies, fundraisers, and anything else she could do to try and persuade people in this area to feel the... Yeah you know already how it all worked out.
Jackie Rock didn't let the end of the campaign take her out of politics, eventually running for, and being elected to serve on the Mosquito control board.
Over the last few years, Rock says she's gained some valuable political experience.
Still, Jackie Rock has yet to grab on to a golden opportunity to tackle local issues and make a name for herself, in a mayoral race where everyone seems displeased with the top dog candidates. This may be one reason people are unaware of her, and her platform.
My 904 has been the only outlet that I know of to post a sit down conversation with Jackie Rock, in which we talked everything from traffic, to her relationship with Rev Ron Rawls.
Rock says she is running an "unconventional campaign" and has focused her efforts on grassroots support. This has proven to be a little more difficult, given the fact that she's actually been out of the country traveling with her husband for the vast majority of her time since announcing her candidacy.
Rock isn't just campaigning unconventionally here in town, but is also not having reservations in using her newfound platform to promote unconventional ideas for America in general. In a Facebook post just yesterday morning she wrote,
"I chuckle every time I hear it — which is every day, lately. “Denmark isn’t socialism! France isn’t socialist!! There’s no socialism in Europe!” So say American elites — pundits, columnists, usually men with earnest glasses. Have they been smoking too much capitalism?
They’re reacting to the dire prospect of socialism like priests who just met the devil — only the devil was busy saving souls from hell. They don’t quite know what to do with that. How to process it. They don’t even understand, funnily enough, just like those priests, whether or not to even call it “the devil” anymore. Hence: “Nothing’s socialism!! Nope!!” — how else to square the prospect of socialism rising amongst young Americans, except by denying it exists? “That’s not the devil!! — that’s just another cowboy!!”
The devil, my friends, is the devil. Only maybe he was never the monster you thought. Let’s dispel a few myths.
Social democracy isn’t the cartoonish Cold War caricature of “socialism” (hence, Americans don’t understand it well.) America’s weary, Red Scare caricature of socialism — a bunch of bearded Marxist-Leninist intellectuals, all of whom look like Che Guevara in berets, sipping coffee on the Left Bank, plotting the violent global overthrow of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat, debating abstruse theories of the “means of production” and the “fraternity of labor”, which will lead inevitably to global communist revolution, under a single world government. If that’s what you mean by “socialism” — in other words, ideas from the 1850s, spoken by men in the 1950s — it’s true to say that social democracy isn’t that. But is that what socialism really is at all, in any sense — this cartoon villain?
Without socialism, life as you know it wouldn’t exist. You already know socialism. Socialism is your favourite park, school library. It’s the time you spend there. It’s the people who work there. You like socialism. Socialism is your friend.
Think about in the opposite sense. Imagine we were back in 18th century London, Amsterdam, or Paris. If we’d obeyed modern-day American economics, where would these cities have ended up? Without sewers, pipes, parks, avenues, squares, or even gutters, probably. And yet Flint doesn’t have potable drinking water. Do you see my point? American thought lives in a fantasyland — socialism is the devil!! And yet, modern life as we know would cease to exist overnight without it. You’d be taking out a honeybucket every morning — not flushing a toilet (gross, right?) In that sense, you already know socialism, intimately — and you’ve known it all your life. It isn’t the bizarre Stalinesque, Leninist caricature of the Cold War. It’s just everyday life.
(It’s deeply inaccurate, as American thinkers are trying to do these days, to say that all the things above are just “redistribution.” Your public library is eminently not just stuff that was “redistributed” from the rich, to you. It’s a genuine form of public investment. The labour, the work, the design, the bricks, the pipes, the shelves, the books — these things are what people invested in together. There wasn’t some rich dude they took it from. They reap the benefits together, too. There are rules to make sure no one walks off with all the books, sure — but no one has a right to stop anyone else from using the library. Your public library, parks, and schools, are indeed socialism. And you probably cherish and value them, too.)
Social democracy began as socialism. Just in part, not in whole. Today, it’s evolved far beyond the Cold War caricature of Marxist-Leninist “socialism.” Social democracy in the simplest sense just means a system that’s partially, not fully, socialist. It was born of Marxism. In the late 1800s, after the age of revolutions in 1848, Marxism split up into a few camps. The hardcore still foresaw a need for (violent, sudden) revolution, which would bring about worldwide socialism. But the other camp called for a gradual transition to socialism — one country, one institution within a country, one system, like a healthcare or school system — one step — at a time. This was what came to be called social democracy. But for precisely that reason, not to call social democracy “socialism” — as if they were somehow distinct entities, events, or ideas — is deeply historically, politically, and economically inaccurate, the kind of doublespeak for which America’s now famous, and which leaves Americans foolish. It’s not Leninism (global revolution!), it’s not Stalinism (the communist party!), it’s not Trotskyism (revolution, comrades, now!)…but it is a kind of socialism. A gentler kind. That’s OK. So are the pipes in your house.
Social democracy is so far ahead of American capitalism now it’s like alien technology to a Stone Age tribe — which is why Americans struggle to understand it. Nobody today, though, really, in a social democracy — except maybe the few hardcore Marxists still left — is sitting around discussing the proletariat overthrowing the bourgeoisie, in a sudden, violent global revolution, after which everyone sings the Internationale, at the inauguration of Global Communism. Can we get real?
Social democracy has gone way, way beyond all that. These days, it’s something like the world’s most advanced operating system for human progress — full of beautiful, powerful, profound new ideas, about how to govern, manage, design, and run societies, which are so far ahead, that America simply can’t understand them with obsolete American ideas, like “shareholder value” and “individual responsibility” and “401Ks”, all of which are simply now decades behind — and especially not with Cold War caricatures. It’s the most sophisticated and successful set of economic and social ideas and institutions human beings have ever created, which have led to the best — longest lived, happiest, safest, wealthiest — lives ever, full, stop, period, in all of history. What are some of those ideas?
Social democracy goes (way) beyond old-world notions of socialism. It means public goods are held in trust for the very people they are used by — not “state ownership of the means of production.” Socialism’s often said to mean “state ownership of the means of production.” What does that even mean? Have you ever thought about it? This isn’t 1868, my friends. The economy isn’t made of factories and clanking machines anymore. What are the “means of production”, these days, anyways? Server farms?
For just that reason, social democracy does indeed involve public ownership — but not of the “means of production”, really. Of basic public goods. Healthcare, education, transportation, energy, media, and so on. These aren’t really “means of production”, in the old Marxist sense — factories oppressing the proletariat. The modern variant of social democracy is about providing exactly those things which everyone needs, but capitalism cannot provide at low enough cost, or high enough quality.
So it’s not the “means of production”, really, which are socialized — but public goods. And it’s not the “state” which owns them, either. Have you ever wondered what “state ownership” even is? What does it mean? The problem is that it never really meant anything at all — and so it could mean anything. Hence, dictators quickly rose to the top of purely socialist societies, like Stalin. But in modern social democracy, rather than the “means of production owned by the state”, public goods are owned by the people that use them. But not in a capitalist sense. They are held in trust, usually, by cities, towns, regions, and so forth. That means that they genuinely belong to everyone — not just some “council” or party committee, which was often the problem in Soviet style socialism — and yet no single person or actor can skim off their benefits for themselves.
The “means of production”, where they still exist, in the traditional sense, factories and so on, like in Germany, aren’t “socialized” so much in the sense of ownership, but “democratized” in the sense of management — there, workers sit on boards. It’s a vivid example of how the idea that “socialism” can mean something apart from “oh no, they’re taking our property rights!!”, and go far beyond what Americans can understand given old, obsolete ideas.
Social democracy has grown because capitalism is becoming obsolete. It lets people realize themselves to a vastly higher degree than capitalism alone. Now, the part that Marx left out of “the means of production are owned by the state” was about purpose. When the means of production were owned by the state, what would the point be? Who’d define it? He didn’t say. Apparently, the proletariat would figure that part out when they got there. And that brings me to my final point.
Public goods each have a different social purpose, which can be maximized under social democracy — but capitalism is only ever one-dimensional. The purpose of a healthcare system is health. Duh, you might say. But the purpose of a healthcare system in capitalism is profit. Hence, American life expectancy falling. The purpose of an education system is knowledge. But the purpose of an education system in capitalism is debt and degree farming. Hence, Americans are getting dumber. Do you see the problem? Capitalist institutions simply are not flexible, functional, or usable enough to build genuinely prosperous societies with anymore. Let me put that another way.
Capitalism is obsolete because it is too blunt a tool with which to build a working society. You can’t build a house with only a chainsaw — at least not a very nice one. You need different tools, for all your many tasks. The same is true of a society. If capitalism’s the only tool you have — you’ll never be able to build a working healthcare, education, financial system, to name just a few, because those things cannot be run just in the old binary of “for profit” or “not for profit.” They must each be run for a different set of human outcomes, far beyond that tired dichotomy — health, life expectancy, knowledge, intelligence, savings, security, investment, and so forth.
Now, so far, in human history, only, really, under social democracy have we learned to construct such institutions best. We can build organizations, whose ownership is held in trust by communities, with explicit, specific goals, such as human health. That’s the modern day NHS. But we can never accomplish any of this under capitalism — we can only use the old model of shareholders owning an organization which is run either for or not for profit. That either serves shareholders with profit — or no one, really, at all. That doesn’t help us one bit when it comes to genuinely building systems which realize human potential.
So you should see the rise of social democracy in America — or at least the slender possibility of it — as an eminently good thing. Just as Russia was the last nation to accept capitalism, so America is the last one to accept socialism. Today, it’s capitalism that’s becoming obsolete, for obvious reasons. Meaningless, stagnation, misery, rage, despair, greed, ruin. Social democracy is alien technology to Stone Age men.
Or, if you like…if the devil’s saving souls, maybe he’s not the prince of hell. Maybe it was the other guy, all along.
While she is obviously aligned with the ideas of the man who captured much of the nation's attention and had them 'feeling' the Bern' she may not find as much success in a city that's very evenly split.
Still, if there was a year that a wildcard could take this home, 2018 would be it.
Her focus may have had little to do with local politics, but I've heard from a number of people who say they will be voting for, "Anyone but Shaver or McClure." It appears right now that underdog, Jackie Rock may have a very real shot at taking an unforeseen big win, as the protest vote is a very real thing this year.
We have had the only public interview with St. Augustine's third mayoral candidate, which you can watch below.