“There’s no petition we can sign to end poverty, or to make ‘no’ a word with teeth. I know there’s not enough windows to break us a free, but maybe one would be just enough for some dignity.” – Pat the Bunny, “A Glorious Shipwreck”
There were once three people who, through their patronage of the same salon, became friends. Two worked within the city’s university, and one lived just outside it.
These three friends had similar goals. One of the students wanted to share stories kept inside the university’s walls with everyone in the city. The other student wanted to help people in the city share their stories with the university. And the third wanted to leave the city, and see who was telling stories that no one knew about.
So that is what they all did.
The university and the city did not like any of this. They went to the friend who was sharing the university’s information, and threatened to imprison him unless he helped them capture the other two friends.
The friend was distraught. Either way, they could no longer share information with the people of the city, and either way, the city would probably capture their friend. Maybe if they agreed to cooperate, they could warn their friend.
The next time the other student came into the university, bringing stories from the city, their friend was waiting for him. They tried to warn them, but the whole thing was a trap, and both were captured.
Both were threatened with imprisonment unless they helped the city find the third friend, who had left the city many months ago. They could not help, even if they wanted to: they didn’t know where their friend had gone.
While waiting for their trial, the friend who shared information from the university killed themself. This drove the other captured friend into a rage, and doctors from the city gave him a treatment which permanently calmed him.
Without their friends and anger, the friend was let back into the city, and they never tried to share stories again. A few years later they also committed suicide.
The third friend, hearing all this, vowed to never go back to the city, and stayed in distant lands forever.
I’m excited for the relative silence of the next few months. The city is a metaphor, and in its reality, it doesn’t have a boundary you can step past, at least not right now. And I am so tired of having to listen to the din of “cityfolk” living their “city” lives, despite wearing my rejection of their ways on my sleeve. (Literally, if you look close at the symbols on my bracelets.)
Nearly everyone around me put a hold on their community work to refocus around the election, and I am excited for a few months without having to deal with folk like that while they keep to themselves, distraught about the election results.
They’ll come back next spring, talking about how All Cops Are Bastards and smashing the state again, “organize” of the local mutualist actions, and things will be very supportive of the status quo again.
But for these next few months after the election, all the faux radicals who burnt themselves out on reform are going to be asleep, and I’ll actually get to see who’s still around packing up boxes of food and medicine for the community.
As soon as Bernie started campaigning, people wearing anarchy patches on their thrift store coats stopped showing up to meal distributions because they wanted to support that campaign. People come when I’m distributing food to hawk their favorite candidate, and get pissy with me when I tell them they’re voting over stolen land and I don’t want to hear about it.
There are so many many people out here working toward a better world, with no shits given toward petitioning the US state, and I haven’t been able to hear them all year over the cacophony of election fever.
‘Round here voters got pepper-sprayed standing in line for the polls a few days ago, we’ve had conservative judges for decades removing folks’ right to vote and establishing gerrymandering, we’ve repeatedly had our voter rolls purged.
If a “legitimate” election is one where all the folk who are promised the right to vote can vote and those votes are counted proportionally…
We haven’t ever had a legitimate election, and I really don’t know what could change by the end of today that will somehow make that clear.
If decades of disenfranchisement, gerrymandering, and physical violence, after decades of Jim Crow, after decades of other voter suppression, didn’t make you honestly consider that voting might be a poor use of your time compared to almost any other community action you could take, then I really doubt whatever today brings will.
To folk who will continue to pitch reform: have fun posting petitions for Congress to do some white-people magic to try and give Biden the presidency or whatever it is y’all end up doing: I for one will be thankful you’ve accepted your role as a Collaborator and hope you can join me in accepting that as your chosen role, because it apparently is the defining aspect of your political identity, and it is very tiresome that you speak through leftist metaphor.
And, to the people who are planning on radicalizing tonight, after the election passes your “red line” for “illegitimate:”
Ew, gross. You’re willing to fight cops to secure the right to pick the military commander of an imperial state existing on stolen land, but not to keep your Black neighbors from being murdered by that same state?
What the fuck is wrong with you. I don’t want you in my Bloc, y’know, if you’re only here to re-secure your privilege.
That might sound like I’m telling people not to radicalize if they haven’t already.
No! Please, please, stop Collaborating with the kyriarchy! But do it in a way that recognizes you’re joining a complex confederacy of intersecting radicalism that stretches back literally my entire peoples’ history.
I welcome anyone to stop Collaborating, at any point. But I also welcome them into the wider community of those who have, and those who never started, and those who never had the opportunity.
I think maybe Christian imagery encourages folk to envision themselves, if they are leaving their status quo, to envision themselves as a lonely individual, walking into the desert, maybe a staff in hand, maybe wearing robes.
That’s not accurate. There are vibrant and thriving communities on nearly every inch of space outside the metaphorical city of Civilization. You won’t be alone, unless you work to make yourself that way.
You’re radicalizing, and it’s important to recognize that starts with your own thinking. It starts with recognizing your own cultural myths, and how they help or hinder what you actually want to accomplish.
And as those bougie jetsetters will tell us, exposure to other cultures is a great way to develop a clarity toward one’s own culture. So learn to see the cultures that already exist around you, that your Collaborationist habits have so far excluded you from.
And, welcome to the community. I know it might seem contradictory to welcome you while also saying you’re gross for just now radicalizing, but I think it makes sense:
Part of radicalizing, in a way that recognizes you’re joining a community, means really grappling with the fact that yes, it is ew, gross, that you didn’t radicalize earlier, and figuring out why that is.
Was it due to misinformation? Then you need to be developing methods to prevent such ignorance in the future.
Was it due to financial stress? Then you… have a good excuse, but please radicalize quick because in my experience mutualists can meet one’s survival needs (excepting shelter) a lot better than capitalism, so it’s a fiscal savings to be mutualist.
Was it due to a commitment to career? Then you’ll have to reckon with that before really getting involved.
And so on. How you got here is very important in defining who you are, and where to go from here. We’re all, y’know, unique and dealing with unique situations.
A few months ago I heard people now casting ballots repeating the words of Assata Shakur. It seems that they’ve been forgotten by a lot of folk, so let me bring them forward again:
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Photo above is of some of the plants I gave out to neighbors this summer, hinting at the next email, where I plan on giving some advice on how to get started actually engaging in self-emancipation: consider this a delayed Settlerday post, because really, what’s more Settler than the election?