There Was a World Before Capitalism, There Will Be A World After

Starhawk (1951-present); witch, ecofeminist, activist.  Perhaps the only living self-proclaimed Pagan to be recognized as influential to Anti-Capitalists, Marxists, and Feminists alike.
Starhawk (1951-present); witch, ecofeminist, activist. Perhaps the only living  Pagan to be recognized as influential to Anti-Capitalists, Marxists, and Feminists regardless of religious persuasion.

Welcome to the second month of Gods&Radicals!

On Monday, we’ll feature Christopher Scott Thompson‘s essay regarding Honor.

Wednesday, look for John Monroe‘s first essay for Gods&Radicals: “Remarks on Capital, Feminism, and Deicide”

And Friday, Dizzy Witch’s essay on Guerrilla Witchcraft.

Things to read elsewhere

Peter Grey wrote a fantastic essay called The Total Collapse of Our Living Systems a few weeks ago.

Also on that same site, we recommend John Beckett‘s “Building the World To Come”  Also, John Halstead weighs the primacy of the material or the spiritual in “Putting Marx in His Place.”

Gods&Radicals writer Crystal Blanton writes about the Personal Toll of Activism at The Wild Hunt.

Also, political theorist and Pagan Gus DiZerega has published several particularly useful essays regarding Capitalism.  They’re long but quite worth the time. Start here.

As far as news…unfortunately, Capitalism’s still around.  And more fracking sites have exploded.

Site News

In lieu of a glossary entry this week, here’s some updates about the site.

As we mentioned, Gods&Radicals has been around for a month, and we’ve already noticed a significant impact in the conversations regarding Paganism and Capitalism elsewhere, and not just in the American Pagan internet discourse.  A significant portion of our readership is global, a humbling fact; we’re proud to be broadening the discourse not just on Pagan Anti-Capitalism, but on Paganism itself.

Likewise, we’ve had many more writer queries since we launched the site, and we’re significantly behind in responding to all of you.  Please be patient with us–if you haven’t heard back from us by Beltaine, please feel free to follow-up.  And though we’re having trouble responding as quickly as we’d like, it again humbles us to realize so many fantastic writers have been looking for a forum to write about resisting Capitalism.

Soon, we’ll be a non-profit organization.  This will help us handle donations and support the print-journal, still slated to be released Lughnasadh, 2015.  More information on this (as well as ways to support us if you can) will be announced soon.

And on May 1st, we’ll being posting daily articles, a torrent of fantastic, international Pagan and Anti-Capitalist thought.

Thanks for all your support thus far.  Be well, and resist beautifully!

Refuse to Believe What the Empire Says About You

edward-carpenter
Edward Carpenter (1844-1929),, a gay, anarcho-socialist poet and mystic. Argued for equal rights for women, a return to Paganism and an end to Capitalism and industrialized ‘civilization.’

 

This week-

On Monday, a review from River Stone of an installation called Fractured.

On Wednesday, Linda Boeckhout’s essay, The Spirit of the Free Market

And on Friday, Crystal Blanton’s essay on Social Darwinism and competition.

 

Links!

As water becomes scarce, more attempts to privatize continue.  Here’s what’s happening in Mexico.

What to do when your government allows oil-drilling rigs to harbor in your backyard? Don’t let them leave.

Cops obviously don’t care about Black people.  But Dionysos does.

 

Glossary:  Privilege

A special right granted to some but not others.  In social justice language, privilege describes power-relations amongst competing groups within the non-ruling classes and tracks the hierarchy of access.

While useful in describing power dynamics, often missed is the nature of privilege itself–that it’s granted, situational, and constructed, rather than innate (see Essentialism).  Likewise, discussions of privilege tend to stand-in for discussions of class.

For instance, straight white men are generally the most privileged, yet a homeless white man has less privilege than a wealthy white lesbian woman; a black man is more likely to be shot and killed by a police officer than a white woman is, yet even he is likely to be ‘privileged’ over an undocumented female immigrant from Mexico who may, in turn, be ‘privileged’ to have economic access that a homeless white man does not.

Both Kyriarchy and Hegemony are often used to describe the entirety of these relations instead, as both acknowledge Capitalist-created class as well as privileged power relationships such as race, gender, and sexuality.   Privilege through this lens becomes a description of how exploited peoples compete with each other for ever-decreasing scraps, re-enacting their exploited conditions onto other exploited peoples and thus re-inforcing the structures which keep Capitalism in place.

And this week’s quote inspired this week’s title, from Rev. Osagyefo Sekou!

“A refusal to believe what the empire has said about you is to be free.”

Wear Your Best Bonnet to the Revolution

Rebecca Riots.  One of at least 10 peasant and worker uprisings in Celtic lands during the 18th and 19th century invoking sovereignty goddesses, land spirits, Fairy Witches, and other mysterious, usually female beings.  In many of these movements, men wore dresses and bonnets.
The Welsh ‘Rebecca Riots.’ One of many peasant and worker uprisings in Celtic lands during the 18th and 19th century invoking sovereignty goddesses, land spirits, crones, Fairy Witches, and other mysterious, usually female otherworldly beings. In many of these movements, men wore dresses and bonnets.  Other figures invoked included Maeve, Ludd (possibly Llud or Lugh), and Sadhbh.


 

This week on Gods&Radicals:

Druid and Author of God-Speaking, Judith O’Grady, will appear on Monday with an essay regarding the existence of Evil.

On Wednesday, look for Mark Shekoyan‘s discussion of Pan.

And on Friday, we’ll host an essay by Heathen Chinese, called “Are the Gods on Our Side?”

Links of Interest

Wanna see what our lust for technology is doing to earth? Here’s a horror story.

Called “Pagan” by one local Christian priest, a wooden temple was constructed and burned to heal ancestral trauma in Northern Ireland.

Peter Grey, author of Apocalyptic Witchcraft and the very-oft quoted Rewilding Witchcraft, has published another profound speech on technology, witchcraft, and how we’re giving away our power:

Should you worry about “The New Right” and their co-option of Paganism? Yes, and academic Amy Hale succinctly argues why.

 And the long-awaited Draft Pagan Statement on the Environment is ready for public comment! You may note the absence of a certain “C” word, though….

Glossary: Commodification

Literally, to turn something into a commodity, or to abstract it so that it can be bought, sold, and traded.

The process by which something becomes objectified, reduced to an abstraction of itself, and requiring it to be removed from the social relation that produced it.

Any thing which can be bought and sold is a commodity, but Capitalism constantly requires ‘new markets’ and new ways of making money, so things which were historically never subject to sale on markets (land, most importantly) eventually become commodities because of this pressure.  Everything is for sale within Capitalism, and things thought sacred or set-apart from the market often cannot stay that way.

Water’s a great example of this.  Water falls from the sky in the form of rain, wells from the earth, flows in rivers, and settles in lakes and ponds.  It is, in essence, ‘free,’ or readily abundant in Nature.  Now, however, it is something to be bought in bottles at stores.  In order to maintain such an odd or ‘unnatural’ state of affairs, access to water must be limited, and thus aquifers are often sold to private companies, particularly in the southern hemisphere, and the poor have been forbidden from drawing off ancestral wells.

Related terms: Enclosure, Commodity Fetishism, Appropriation.

And this week’s quotes, from early 1800’s anti-Capitalist revolts:

 

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose.
(Anonymous anti-Enclosure Pamphlet, 1821)

and

No General but Ludd
Means the Poor Any Good
(Luddite slogan, 1811)

You Can Only Be The Revolution

Jeanne D'Arc, leader of the siege of Orleans.  Her mystical experiences included not only speaking to Saints, but also seeing Fairies (and declining to call them evil spirits).  Wore "mens' clothing, executed for Heresy/Witchcraft; later re-inscribed as a Saint by the Catholic Church.
Jeanne D’Arc, leader of the siege of Orleans. Her mystical experiences included not only speaking to Saints, but also seeing Fairies (and declining to call them evil spirits). She wore “men’s’ clothing, and was executed for Heresy/Witchcraft; later re-inscribed as a Saint by the Catholic Church.

 

Hey!

Thanks for all the many links so far– Gods&Radicals has received mentions in The Wild Hunt, several times on Patheos Pagan, on Pagan Square, and on many individual blogs!  We’re happy to be here, and glad you’re reading!

Coming up this week:

On Monday, we’ve another poem, Innominate, by Alan Evans.

Wednesday, we’ll re-post an article on Gender, Diversity, and the Gods by Rhyd Wildermuth, originally published at The Wild Hunt.

And on Friday, we’ll host an essay by Sean Donahue about the Dead and resistance.

 

Fascinating stuff elsewhere

Wild Hunt columnist Alley Valkyrie wrote an excellent series of contemplations for those of us living on stolen land (i.e., most of us): Thoughts on Settlement and Place

A shout-out to our Canadian comrades and their excellent site, Winding Widdershins

Some states have been passing so-called “Religious Freedom” acts.  They’re not what they seem, and Pagan lawyer John Halstead unravels one of them for us.

The Archbishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church has declared Climate Change Denial immoral” and warned of the heavy burdens the poor will bear because of un-restrained Capitalism.

And there’s a high price to be paid for strawberries in wintertime, at least by the workers who make them possible.

Apparently even Monsanto lobbyists don’t drink their own “Kool-Aid.”

Also, have some French Anti-Capitalist rap!

Glossary: Re-inscription

Literally, to re-write.  Part of the process of appropriation where something outside of a dominant narrative (and sometimes opposed to that narrative) is pulled in and made part of that narrative–basically, written-over.

For example, revolutionary, anti-authoritarian, and anti-capitalist movements in the late 1960’s in America and Europe, which threatened to topple governments and terrified the powerful, have now been re-inscribed as having been about “Peace” and “Free Love” rather than anything potentially revolutionary.

Similarly, the very radical anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist views of Martin Luther King Jr. get downplayed in order to re-inscribe his actions as non-threatening to the current (and still very racist) order.

Re-inscription is vital to Capitalism.  It’s why “buying and selling” has become synonymous with Capitalism, and why it’s so difficult to imagine historical or future relations outside Capitalism.  Capitalism re-writes our experiences of everyday activities so that it seems to have always existed in some form or another, rather than being a specific (and very recent) historical shift.

Quote of the Week

You cannot buy the Revolution. You cannot make the Revolution. You can only be the Revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.”

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed.

And Onward!

 

Cécile Fatiman,  Mambo whose invocation and possession by Ezili Dantor at Bois Caiman started the Haitian Revolution.
Cécile Fatiman, Haitian Mambo whose invocation to and possession by Ezili Dantor at Bois Caiman started the Haitian Revolution.

Thanks for reading Gods&Radicals!

On Tuesday, we’ll be publishing the award-winning piece by poet and Awenydd Lorna Smithers, “Proud of Preston.”  And on Friday, Asa West’s first piece on this site will appear, a compelling essay about The Morrigan and Anti-Capitalism.  And in case you missed it, Jason Thomas Pitzl’s essay on Respectability Politics continues to have quite a presence.

This week, we’re also introducing a new feature: The Gods&Radicals Glossary.  Each week we’ll include a new term and short discussion of its relationship to Radical and Pagan thought and practice.  We’ll start today with “Essentialism,” inspired by an unfortunate discussion which arose in the comments this weekend.

Glossary: Essentialism

A modern Western belief that there exists something inherent within the being of person which corresponds to their culturally-identified traits. Essentialism is one of the defining characteristics of Western Capitalist thought, possibly derived from the shift towards Materialist and Mechanistic worldviews.

Gender Essentialism is the belief that there is something ‘inherently’ gendered in a human previous to cultural constructions of identity; that is, the possession of a penis or a Y-Chromosome marks a human as Essentially male, while the presence of a vagina or a double X chromosome ‘creates’ a Female.

Racial Essentialism, too, posits something similar; there is something biologically different in a Black person or a white person.  Examples of this are manifold within Capitalist modernity; books such as The Bell Curve, as well as many Social Darwinist projects, asserted there was something different (and usually inferior) in the Black human which made them Black.

Sexual Essentialism: Variants of this ideology show up, unfortunately, in Western Gay Rights political strategy–the notion that a human is ‘born that way’ was a legal strategy to combat institutionalized homophobia; it has now come to mean there is something inherently homosexual in the “gay body.”  This has led to biological deterministic strategies of isolating ‘the gay gene.’

Popular particularly with Christian Fundamentalists, New Right thinkers such as Jack Donovan, some Dianic Witchcraft leaders, Volkisch strands of Heathenism and prevalent, unfortunately, in some Celtic Reconstructionist groups, Essentialism fails by starting with a culturally-constructed notion (Racial, Gender, Sexual identification), selecting data which confirms that notion, and then asserting that these correlations prove the self-evident nature of their position without acknowledging the inherited nature of their certainty (see also Re-inscription).

Essentialism requires the denial and sometimes violent eradication of counter-examples in order to enforce clear lines between peoples; the mixed-race person, the trans*person, the bisexual, the androgyne, the queer and the intersex person each challenge the pure categories required for the Essentialist thinker, and such people often endure intense violence for their existence as counter-example.

Some formerly radical groups (Deep Green Resistance, in particular) have abandoned critiques of Capitalism in order to use variants of Essentialist-thinking, too, resulting in a deeply reactionary stance and horrible harrassment of trans* and queer folks. A good antidote for such thinking is Sylvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch, or just not being an arrogant arse.

Fun things to read:

Sable Aradia discusses protests in Canada against legislation granting the government new spy-powers, with the following insightful introduction:

I don’t think there’s any doubt, for any witch who’s been to one, that a public protest is a magickal act. A group of people get together and use symbolism to focus the collective will towards a specific goal.  If the magick is successful, consciousness changes, with results that are reflected in the outer world.

The Wild Hunt has an in-depth look at this bill and Pagan protests of it.  Also related, First Nations groups, including Idle No More, have been discovering the government’s already illegally spying upon them.

Speaking of First Nations resistance, here’s an article on what happens when a people’s ancestral traditions conflict with Capitalist disasters: When Global Warming Kills Your God

And speaking of warming and Capitalism, Asa West discusses the (human-made) “desert” of Los Angeles.

Had enough depressing news about the state of the world?  Gods&Radical’s editor Rhyd Wildermuth’s Equinox meditation, “Maybe, Another Vein” might dull the pain a bit?

Need a little inspiration instead? Some humans temporarily took over one of the world’s largest coal-extraction machines in Germany to save a forest and a meadow.  And in a slightly colder (for now) climate, elves are reported to have reached an agreement with the Icelandic government over road-construction plans.

And two quotes this week!

Racism, in the first place, is a weapon used by the wealthy to increase the profits they bring in by paying Black workers less for their work.–Angela Davis

and

You can’t have capitalism without racism.–Malcolm X

Be well and resist beautifully!

 

The Shape of Things To Come

Portrait-Fatma_N'Soumer
Lalla Fatma N’Soumer, Algerian Resistance leader, Sufi, and oracle. She led the Berbers against the French in the 19th century after learning to see into the future through visions.

 

Gods&Radicals will soon publish its first piece!

On Friday, 20 March, 2015, to celebrate the Equinox, we’ll open with an essay by Jason Thomas Pitzl, founder and former editor of The Wild Hunt, about ‘respectability politics.’

We’ll continue to feature pieces every Friday and Tuesday until our full launch on Beltaine/May Day.

Over the next few weeks, look forward to essays from Asa West, Sean Donahue, and Judith O’Grady among others, as well as poetic pieces from Lorna Smithers and Alan Evans.  Every Sunday we’ll let you know what’s coming, as well as pointing out relevant writing from elsewhere.

‘Till then, here are some links worth your attention:

Gods&Radicals writer Sean Donahue examines Cortisol and Ginseng in late-stage Capitalism.

California is running out of water.  So is Sao Paolo.

Brennos at Strixian Woods examined the relationship between the spiritual and the political.

Elisheva Sterling posted a meditation on land theft and First Nations’ recognition.

And someone left a pig’s head in a pentagram outside a police guild-hall in Montreal. Perhaps they were inspired by this recent compilation by a fellow Canadian witch?

And this week’s quote:

We are often told that the poor are grateful for charity. Some of them are, no doubt, but the best amongst the poor are never grateful. They are ungrateful, discontented, disobedient, and rebellious. They are quite right to be so.

–Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism

 

Resist Beautifully!

Gods & Radicals

alley fist

We Pagans are trying to re-enchant the world,
to bring back the magic of the forests and the mountains.
We are trying to hear and revere the wild places
the sacred forgotten places, the spirits of ocean and rivers and lakes.
And yet Capitalism is always poisoning these places
because it considers nothing sacred except profit,
nothing holy except wealth.
To Re-enchant the world.
we must destroy Capitalism

Welcome to Gods & Radicals!

(A Site of Beautiful Resistance)

 

The name ‘Gods and Radicals’ is taken from a presentation given by Alley Valkyrie and Rhyd Wildermuth at Pantheacon on Valentine’s day, 2015.  The presentation was packed; a room safely handling 25 people filled with 75, with many more physically unable to enter.

The point of that presentation? To help re-awaken what many see as an integral aspect of Modern Paganism–its opposition to Capitalist exploitation of the earth and all its inhabitants.  For years, it’s seemed Pagans have stopped talking about the destruction of the earth and its causes–perhaps out of despair, for the situation’s quite dire.  Maybe we’d forgotten the roots of resistance of the 1800’s, when occultists dined with anarchists and druids helped organize unions.

Or maybe, even, we’d been bought off, trading our radicalism for security, sacrificing our spirits at the altars of Commerce.

Either way–something’s changed, and this site is part of it.

And one doesn’t have to look very hard to discover why a Pagan should care about Capitalism; the answers’ all around us.

 

What sort of Pagans are you?

All sorts, actually!

Some of us are folks who revere and speak to gods; some aren’t. Some are witches, some are mages and occultists.  Many are druids, poets, priests and maybe all of us are rogues.

By ‘Pagan,’ we mean all these religious stances who find commonality with each other, even when we disagree vehemently on questions about the nature of gods or even the nature of Nature.

A Shaman and a Polytheist, an Animist and an Atheist, a Pantheist and a Heathen all lose something when a forest dies or the oceans rise; this is our commonality, and why we like each other despite all the differences.

There are also non-Pagan ways of seeing the world which share this same solidarity.  We won’t try to speak for them, but we embrace our shared struggles, our kin upon our dying earth.

What’s wrong with Capitalism?

Everything.

And this site is a place to talk about it, and also a place to teach each other how to dismantle it, and particularly a place to work out what we want the world to look like instead.

We reject the notion that ‘one solution’ must be found to fight Capitalism and ‘one alternative’ must be implemented afterwards.  There’s nearly 8 billion people on the earth, and besides, Capitalism is monolithic.  To fight it, our resistance must be myriad, outgrowing it like a forest overgrows ruins.

If you’re new to this, we highly suggest reading A Pagan Anti-Capitalist Primer, free to download or print-yourself.

Can I write for you folks?

Absolutely! We’ve already got over 30 exciting writers working on this project, and there’s always room for more!

Information on how to do so is here.

What now?

On 20th March, 2015, we’ll begin posting occasional essays from some of our writers, and on 1 May, 2015, the full site will launch.  Later in the year, we’ll also publish a print-journal of some of the best writing from the site.

In the meantime, subscribe to this site, follow us on Twitter and Facebook and tell your friends!

Be well, and Resist Beautifully!