Aaron Booe: Based Black Communalist

Aaron Booe, a student, Marxist, and the occasional TikToker sits down to talk to Operation Four. Though the current political atmosphere has been conflated with white supremacy, Joseph “the lesser of two evils” Biden, and teenagers from the suburbs posting infographics, Booe sheds light on leftist thought. His social media accounts are filled with plenty of resources and nuanced takes, redefining what it means to have a platform.

O: You are Aaron Booe. To those who don’t know, who are you?

A: My name is Aaron Booe. I’m a student at Howard University, where I study political science and economics. Currently, I live in Austin, Texas, and in my free time I enjoy reading political and economic theory, community organizing, and activism.

O: Tiktok has obviously seen an incredible rise and has subsequently allowed for a variety of communities to commence a dialogue about what is most prudent to them and at the end of the day what lights a fire under them. “Political TikTok” is no different and at times can be extremely divisive. What do you make of the rhetoric and how has it informed the content that you make?

A: I feel like most people have a tendency to view TikTok, and social media in general, as very static and unchanging forms of entertainment. I often notice that people are very surprised to discover that I use my account for political education, but I also do this on my Instagram and Twitter. So, I would say that there will inevitably be divisive rhetoric considering we are talking politics regardless of the platform. I understand that we’re all extremely passionate about what we believe in whether you consider yourself a liberal or a leftist. It’s because of this that I have sought to make my content as palatable as possible to those who have some critique of liberalism, but find themselves unable to understand leftism.

O: Many people have commented on how leftists on TikTok present themselves in a pretentious and conceited manner. Do you see any truth in that?

A: There’s definitely truth in this idea. But this is not at all limited to the leftist community. You will find pretentious and conceited people in any and all communities. I know I have been in conversation with incredibly arrogant liberals who have an unquestioning faith in their politics. Yet, I won’t pretend that I also haven’t seen some leftists do this as well. Personally, I think it’s noticed from us more because we are a smaller group, so it’s easier to notice. Additionally, I think it’s often exaggerated to fit the agenda of those who oppose socialism.

O: Information is key. Far too often approaches and ideas are catastrophism and in the public eye they take on a persona that is so far removed from what they actually mean. An example is that some think that President-elect Biden is a socialist—I think it is safe to say that Joe Biden is not a socialist and does not embody any leftist views. You have used your platform to dig deep into different sectors of political science and have even provided links to a plethora of informational sources. How important do you feel that being informed is?

A: Critical. Most people aren’t politically aware of information that isn’t being fed to them by the establishment. Very few young people especially are aware of the fact that Joe Biden once supported a constitutional amendment that would prevent marriage equality, the DOMA Act. Additionally, I doubt most people my age are even aware as to who have been the biggest donors of the Biden campaign. And these are just a few examples, but it reveals that most people just aren’t aware. As a result, our ideas of these candidates become superficial and shallow which influences our politics. Resolving this is very important to me, and I’ve attempted to illustrate the importance of political education in the hope that it can inspire others to do the same.

O: You are a communalist and a pan-African social ecologist. In layman’s terms could you please define that for our audience?

A: Communalism is a type of libertarian socialism. The primary goal of communalism is the creation of a radically democratic society. As a result, Communalists favor the diffusion of political and economic power through highly cooperative and democratic institutions, specifically organized in a bottom up manner. Some examples of the communalist agenda would be worker cooperatives, popular assemblies, credit unions, public ownership of utilities, essentially anything that brings power back to people and communities.

Another aspect of Communalism is Social Ecology. Social Ecology is essentially the idea that our ecological problems are also social problems. So, social ecologists propose that we transform our society and social relationships to adequately address our ecological problems. 

Additionally, I consider myself a Pan-African social ecologist because the notion of social ecology was widely practiced by pre-colonial African communities. So, I promote Pan African social ecology on the grounds that social ecology ought to emphasize the importance of decolonization and the historically revolutionary struggle of BIPOC people.

O: What do you think people get wrong about the “fight” against climate change?

A: Most people forget that our ecological problems, the climate crisis are not isolated events. They are directly connected to the fact that we live in a hierarchical society where a few people at the top are destroying the planet for profit and power. We can’t simply reform this. As a result, solving the climate crisis requires us to create a new system where power is not concentrated into the hands of a ruling class, but rather decentralized amongst communities.

O: What was your point of radicalization? Do you see your investment in politics as an interest or more so a responsibility as a member of society?

A: My point of radicalization happened around my Junior Year of High School. I had gotten into the activist scene via my school. I was an organizer for a grassroots, student-led organization that was fighting for a more inclusive and integrated school district (our city had the most segregated school district in the entire state). I was able to witness the immense amount of privilege that seemed to separate me and the other members of the community who wanted an education system that served us from our school district members (who were supposed to represent our interests). This pushed me to become a bit of a radical in the sense that I was starting to understand the immense influence that private interests had on the organization of our society and our communities. I started to do more research on the matter and that sent me down a rabbit hole that allowed me to embrace a radical politic based on direct democracy, social ownership, and community self-governance.

O: What is one book that you think everyone should read?

A: I think everyone should read Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Friere.

Murray Bookchin

O: Who has been your biggest influence?

A: My biggest influence would be the libertarian socialist and political theorist, Murray Bookchin.

O: Thoughts on what happened at the Capitol?

A: These reactionary forces aren’t something that can be voted out and liberal candidates like Biden who want to maintain the status quo are only further enabling the rise of these reactionary forces.

O: This is your space to say anything that you want to our audience:

A: My politics are essentially centered around the idea that we live in a remarkably anti-democratic society. As a result, I advocate a radically comprehensive conception of democracy that gives regular working people direct control over the economic and political institutions that define our society.

You can follow Aaron on TikTok @basedblackcommunalist, on Intsgram @aaron_bo02, and on Twitter @aaron_bo02

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