How To Get Over Fake News

All media is opinion, it has a perspective, and a political purpose. Some are very transparent and honest. Others not so much. Either way, the media we consume is a reflection of our core personal values, not the other way around.

From Mirna Wabi-Sabi

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As you might have heard, Brazil ‘s population decided to blunder into the depths of blatant fascism last month. Aside from the nerve-wrecking concerns over physical safety, the environment (future of humanity), and basic human decency, we had to cope with the heart break of seeing family members come out of the ‘fascist-closet’. One popular coping mechanism has been to blame it all on Fake News. “They don’t really think this way, they’ve been manipulated by viral lies. Trust me, Google Steve Bannon”. Even though I want to believe this argument, all I can think as I hear it is: “Humans have amazing mental gymnastics abilities”.

We want to believe the problem isn’t Democracy, that it’s Fake News meddling with Democracy. But Fake News is not news, and it’s not new. Fake News is not something that will promote media literacy, it’s something that distracts us from that. We’ve already been reproducing false information for political purposes since before Brazil was a country (in fact it might be the reason why we are a country at all).

What came first, the personal values or the forwarded WhatsApp message? It doesn’t matter, because they depend on each other to exist, like the chicken and the egg. Or do they? Maybe I don’t truly know how chickens are born, what are facts and where do I find them? Maybe Bolsonaro didn’t really get stabbed, maybe the Gay Kit for school kids is real, who knows?

Scientific fact is based on consensus, and thanks to this we’ve been feeling pretty confident about things like chickens laying eggs and horses having hearts. Consensus and politics, on the other hand, seem to be concepts much, much further apart. The Democracy I’ve known has relied heavily on polarization, and regressive values, none of which are recent, or provoked by Fake News. The power to manipulate the population is something that can easily be framed as heroic; Google’s Jigsaw, for example, came gallantly on horseback to save children from the evil dragon Isis. But the very same power of manipulation can just as easily be framed as inauthentic behavior by Russian villains.

It’s possible to see, though, that there is a little something that holds the power to define what is a terrorist, who is the villain, who is the hero, and the victim. It’s not the big They; those in Power. Well, not only… They are the values we’ve internalized from our ancestors, and the eyes we choose to see them through.

A friend recently told me a traditional Quilombola saying:

“Those who sleep with someone else’s eyes, don’t wake up when they want”.

We all learn, we are influenced by things around and before us, we admire and we believe. But that doesn’t have to mean blindly following, it means making decisions that reflect our political principals.

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All media is opinion, it has a perspective, and a political purpose. Some are very transparent and honest. Others not so much. Either way, the media we consume is a reflection of our core personal values, not the other way around. But if we don’t know what our values are, or how to recognize how these values are represented in all the media being constantly bombarded at us, is it because we’re lazy, go-alongers, or bigots?

Let’s say someone in your family is worried about homosexuality being promoted at schools and wants to vote for someone who says homosexuality can be solved with a good spanking early on in life. Either they’re too lazy to find out whether this “promotion” is really happening, where, how, and what this means to children’s sexuality, if homosexuality is “taught”, etc. Maybe they are going along with people around them, and don’t have the means to step out of the group-think. Or, they’re simply homophobic and think we need to prevent homosexuality from spreading; they think the traditional family needs to be preserved, that gay practices are disturbing, and they just instantly relate to the message. Either way, the results are the same. Going through the effort of distinguishing between these seems like a waste of energy, and even potentially dangerous if you consider the rise in physical violence on the streets.

Unfortunately, believing in certain people’s right to exist is a radical ideology as widespread as veganism. While some on the left are out there desperate trying to prove what’s Fake, I’m here thinking that thanks to “Democracy” we can finally see how the lives of LGBTQIA+, indigenous, black, and poor people don’t really matter to the majority of voters…

What do we do with this information?

One might say: “Not all of us have access to information, or the ability to process and analyze a message”. Well, you are here now, reading and analyzing this. If you have a skill or resource, share it, because waiting for your Government to do it clearly isn’t gonna work. Autonomous skill sharing is paramount for strong community building, and it doesn’t mean to lecture others on personal political views.

One might say: “But who has the time to fact-check everything these days?”. We seem to have plenty of time to scroll, read, watch, forward, click, click, click. But to spend a few minutes alone with our own thoughts seems like a daunting task. Take a moment to think for yourself. Harvest an idea.

Guerrilla From Within

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When I took a moment to look inwards, to think about what I was looking at and through whose eyes, it felt like political therapy. Forget the piles and piles of information on-line, these are just useless things we hoard and get on our way. Instead, I looked at the information I gathered first hand: memories. Then I thought about how they made me feel. These feelings guide my political existence, and consequently my work with Gods and Radicals.

The fact that I work with media now is no arbitrary phenomenon, although it happened unexpectedly. I know first hand its power to move people, and people can (and should) make a movement to change the world. When we talk about the (ir)responsibility of other people who produce (Fake News) media, and our artlessness when we consume it, we tend to forget that when we share and talk about it, we are taking part in its production. In other words, in this technological landscape, we should all learn not only how to consume media responsibly, but also how to produce conscious and honest content.

Whenever I talk about the Patriarchy or anti-capitalism, it’s not because I’m brainwashed by feminist or communist media. It’s because men* have interacted with me sexually without my consent since before I knew what sex was. It’s because I constantly see misery and poverty since much before I knew what “class” was. And this makes me feel an array of negative emotions. Media has helped me find the vocabulary to express and process how these memories and reoccurring experiences make me feel.

When I was 12, a group of about 8 boys came to the back of the bus and surrounded me. Some people stood up and moved to the front because they didn’t want to be bothered or harassed. I stayed, listening to my Walkman. They started talking to me, saying I was beautiful, asking where I lived, where I was getting out, until one of them started masturbating under his t-shirt while the others laughed.

It wasn’t until many years later that I realized how this event impacted me, and its relevance in the construction of my political principles. First of all, I only understood the sexual connotation of what he was doing later. But what impacted me the most was the class disparity in São Paulo. I was on that bus going home from school, where a girl’s driver had dropped me off after some type of play date. The whole day hanging out at her house was a bizarre experience. She had big swimming pool, a tennis court, “Friends” in English on DVD, and basically her own section of a mansion. Then suddenly I was on a bus going back to my modest apartment, when these black boys showed up making me feel like my Walkman and the way I looked were extravagant luxuries.

I could easily imagine that they felt about me something similar to what I felt about that girl; a feeling of being from worlds divided by a deep, dark abyss. A separation close enough we can wave at or insult each other from a distance, but deadly if we tried to come together. More disturbing than the public masturbation, was the fact that while some people have private tennis courts and an array of useless glittery objects, others need to sniff glue in order to not feel hungry, and sleep on the street.

From this point on, I could take the fight outwards. If I understand my own pain, I can easily imagine the pain of LGBTQI+ people; the rejection, the self-doubt, the threat at every corner, and the wide range of potential violence. We will fight side by side.

From that point on I can imagine the struggle of Indigenous people. The displacement, and forced assimilation framed as charity. I see first hand the racism, and neglect, no one needs to tell me, all it takes is looking around with my own eyes. All it takes is showing up and listening.

From that point on I can imagine what it must be like for black people. If my body has been used and abused, silenced and erased, how can I not listen and understand the particular, and even more brutal ways this has happened to them? All it takes is to listen the way I wish I was listened to.

Look, I can’t guarantee where people’s imagination will take them. Plenty of people will look inward and not be able to find principles like honesty and empathy, because they’re buried deep under the desire for personal wealth, and repulsion for deviant behavior. But that’s fine, because that’s better than to deny; to deny the racism, to deny the genocide, to deny the violence we are inflicting on ourselves and our environment. This denial is the historical loop we can’t seem to pull ourselves out of.

From that point on, we find safe ways to bridge the abyss to our comrades, and we find the strength to fight together against those who are a threat to our existence.

Rules don’t have to guide us, integrity to our own principles can.

My body, people desire. My heart is squeezed for blood almost every day. It has hardened, and at my age it’s no small effort to squeeze out one drop. I love it, because I love me. It took me 30 years to realize that my self-worth is the rope around the neck of the Patriarchy.


Footnote:

*- If you have an urge to react to the word “men” by saying something like “but women abuse too,” think of all the times you have been abused by a woman, then use the feeling to try and relate to me, to how I felt when I was abused. Please refrain from using comments like these to correct me, or to point out how what I feel is wrong or invalid.


Mirna Wabi-Sabi

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is co-editor of Gods&Radicals, and writes about decoloniality, feminism, and anti-capitalism.download.jpg

How to Buy a Religion

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Source

What’s wrong with Sephora’s witch kit?

Is it crass to reduce a religious practice to $40 of mass-manufactured perfumes and Tarot cards? Probably, but haven’t Pagans been debating “pay-to-pray” back and forth for years? Sure, an independent Etsy artisan needs to make a living. But doesn’t Sephora also have to tap new markets to survive? The scale’s different, but what about the essence?

Is the mall any worse than the metaphysical shop?


Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.

Karl Marx

Capitalism alienates.

It takes parts of you and makes commodities out of them. Your time, your physical activity, and your mental energy all get sold on the labor market like Tarot decks and perfume. Your body contains more than itself – it carries your community, the work and care of your loved ones, everything they do to keep you physically and psychologically functional. Without all that, how would you make it out of your door every morning with enough resiliency to work? After all, capital is hungry. A business needs to grow, or else other companies out-compete it in the market and force it into bankruptcy. The ones that can grow, survive. The ones that find more ways and things to eat, grow. They need your ability to work, to produce goods and services they can sell. All of the ingredients that go into your work, they consume.

Capital imposes its needs onto the dispossessed, the ones who don’t own businesses or rental properties and so have nothing to live on but their ability to work. The whole community depends on the money its wage-workers earn, so it has to organize its collective life in whatever way maximizes their employability. Wage-workers are exploited, and they incarnate entire communities of labor, exploited alongside and through them.

Religion is one way the dispossessed survive. Capitalism cuts you off from your basic nature: your capacity to flourish, to form relationships as a free being. It demoralizes in both the current and the older sense: the mindlessness and futility of wage-work, housewifery, and unemployment teach despair and induce depression, but when capital reduces you to an instrument, it de-moralizes you in a larger sense. The more of you that goes to satisfy capital’s hunger, the less of you is left for self-cultivation, creativity, and relationship-building. You are alienated from yourself.


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Pop-culture resurgence: Internet tabloid Vice offers dozens of witchcraft-themed articles. Source

Sephora sells to women.

The social base of religion (Pagan and otherwise) is not only the dispossessed in general, but specifically the specially-oppressed along racial, national, and gender lines. Even when the ministers and bishops are men, it’s women who cook meals for sick parishioners, clean up after services, teach Sunday school, and fill most of the pews. Capitalism, by definition, only pays for waged work. But, the health and functionality of wage-workers is costly; it takes a vast expenditure of unpaid work in the home and the community to feed and support wage-workers, take care of their kids and elders, and ease the emotional strain of their alienation. So, there’s a division of labor between paid and unpaid work, and it falls along the lines of gender. Culture, ideology, and discrimination harmonize with the pervasive reality of anti-woman and anti-LGBT violence, forming an elegantly self-reinforcing feedback loop; gender roles both flow from and reinforce the overall social system. Those who don’t fall in line get hurt.

Religion sits at a key point in the cycle. It allows the racially and nationally oppressed to rely on each other for support, fellowship, and existential meaning without their oppressors in the room for a few hours each week (is it a coincidence that in the US, Black people report being “absolutely certain” of God’s existence at a higher rate than self-identified Christians do?). Religion takes the edge off of alienation, offering a relationship with something bigger than you, your job, and your daily life – a bedrock of connections and values deeper and older than capitalism. At the same time, it transmits gender roles and racial social segregation from generation to generation, helps the dispossessed stay psychologically healthy enough to work, and gives bourgeois clergy a medium to preach patience and forbearance towards oppression rather than revolution and collective action. From time to time, though, it takes on an opposite role, providing mass movements with a moral language and the institutional infrastructure they need. Religion is politically contradictory. It keeps the dispossessed in line – except when it’s helping them liberate themselves.

Paganism has an even sharper gender skew than most religions. After all, it actively encourages women to take on sacerdotal and leadership roles (not to mention its historical ties to lesbian feminism and LGBT culture). Sephora sells to women, so selling women’s religion is an intuitive next step, especially given that pop culture is currently more infatuated with witchcraft than it has been since the 90s. When Sephora sells Paganism, it’s offering more than a deck of cards and some quartz.  Sephora is no less responsible for capitalism’s crushing alienation than any other business. It helped create the ailment. Now, it’s promising a $40 cure.


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Metaphysical shopfront. Source

Unlike most religions, modern Paganism’s basic institutional anchor isn’t the congregation. Rather, it’s the metaphysical shop. Jonathan Wooley explains:

The authors, makers and the shops that stock their wares could operate without moots and open rituals; but moots and open rituals – in their current form – could not exist without the “Pagan Business”.

The point here is not that those who make their living through Paganism are being greedy or venial. On the contrary, writing words, speaking spells, crafting holy things, and making ceremonies that heal, enlighten, and empower is important work, and those working in these ways cannot survive on mere air and good wishes. The problem arises from how we are currently supporting the work that they do, and the centrality of this (commercial) arrangement in our community. Before all else, you have to pay. By relying upon the Market to directly transmit our lore, to fund our gatherings, to supply our goods, we become complicit in it. It means the fortunes of our traditions turn not with the wheel of the year, but with the shifting fashions and stock prices of the global publishing and wellness industries. Our community is directed less by the will of the gods, and more by Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand. The heartbeat at the core of our living traditions becomes the ring of a cash register.

This dominance of the logic of the Market within Paganism is not surprising, even if it is disquieting. Paganism is one of the few religions to have arisen within the Modern Age, when Capitalism was in its ascendency. This has very real consequences for us all. Let us not forget the prototypical “gateway experience” for a seeker – traditionally – was buying a book from an occult book shop. The fact that the internet and Amazon have replaced the knowledgeable local bookseller is to be lamented; but it is not so meteoric shift as we might suppose. Whether your spirituality is expressed through buying knowledge from a kooky shop on Glastonbury High Street, or from Amazon, your spirituality is still being expressed through shopping. Equally, this shift demonstrates the extent to which our infrastructure is dependent upon the vagaries of the market to survive: the rise of the internet has caused many Pagan bookshops to close; depriving local communities of an invaluable opportunity to meet, learn, and socialise. Indeed, it is precisely because we have relied on the Market that this transition – from a friendly, in-community, low-profit enterprise, to a distant, global, high profit one – has taken place. The very means by which our lore is spread has been transformed for the worse by the dictat of the Market.

In other words, Sephora and a PantheaCon vendor don’t differ in essence – only in scale.


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The nitrogen cycle. Source

When Paganism is commercial, it’s filling religion’s conservative role, reconciling the dispossessed to their oppression. After all, if shopping is the way out of alienation, then capitalism, if not benevolent, is at least neutral. Collective action isn’t even on the radar.

But that’s not the only Paganism.

We’re all of us embedded in a living relational web – humans, the biosphere, the land and sea and sky, the gods and the dead. The nitrogen cycle and the water cycle have a sacredness. It’s holy when through death, an organism becomes food, transmuting into new life. The Sun is slowly spending itself. It feeds plants and algae with its energy, and that energy sustains the same animals who then nourish plants when they die and decompose. Gods are at once embodied in and emergent from each nexus of the process, standing at the fulcrums where nature moves humans and is itself moved. Paganism is what the mutually-conditioning cycles of ecology and evolution teach you when you pay attention to them, learn their rhythms, find where you are inside them. Prayer, devotion, myth, and ritual all orient you towards that ground of your being and make a sacrament of your participation in it. Reciprocity is cosmic, both an imperative and a fact. Do ut des, I give so that you may give, is at the heart of both polytheist sacrificial theology and the Mystery that governs the process of life.

You were born with a capacity for eudaimonia: balanced, all-sided human flourishing, the Greatest Good of ethics and philosophy. You can develop eudaimonia if you cultivate virtues: self-knowledge, self-control, justice, and right relationship. Capitalism is a social process that alienates you from that capacity, but it doesn’t destroy it. It does, however, determine the form that it needs to take.

Self-development, ritual and political practice, and reverence for the Gods, the dead, and the natural world are the foundation stones of revolutionary virtue. Paganism holds a radical seed: given the reality of capitalism and empire, the communist organizer, the Stoic sage, and the nature-mystic devotionalist must all become the same person. Each component of revolutionary virtue is incomplete by itself. They need each other, just like plants, decomposers, and nitrifying bacteria.

And it’s all unbuyable. The people trying to sell you Paganism are promising to cure your alienation with more alienation, only in disguise. They can sell you a Scott Cunningham book, a handmade pewter pendant, or a $40 “starter” box, but do those contain the Mystery? At best, they’re dispensable props. At worst, they’ll actively mislead you; like any religion, Paganism can teach you to accept your oppression or it can teach you to fight it.

If you really want to buy something, get Marcus Aurelius or an ecology textbook. Read myths. Go out and see how mosses and lichens grow on trees and how trees that die feed mushrooms and bacteria, fertilizing the soil. The relational web spreads out from there. It reaches to the sun, the atmosphere, the microorganisms, and the gods who take their embodiment in that dynamic interplay. Find your nature, your inborn potential for virtue, eudaimonia, and right relationship. You are in the web. Root yourself. Capitalism uproots you and disrupts your nature. It’s throwing the whole world’s processes so off-kilter that if it isn’t stopped, the ecosphere will endure – but it will be so changed that humans won’t be able to live in it.

Paganism lives in that knowledge. It’s a method – you learn the context of human life and you choose to act accordingly. Sephora can’t sell it to you, but neither can the vendors at Pagan Pride.

You can’t simply opt out of the alienation capitalism imposes. But, you can choose what to do about it; you are existentially free. Paganism can be a path to knowledge and revolutionary virtue, or it can be an “opiate of the masses.”

Sephora wants to sell you one of those. But you’re free to choose the other.


Sophia Burns

is a communist and polytheist in the US Pacific Northwest. Support her on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/marxism_lesbianism


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Against All Oppression

Gods & Radicals supports the right for All to live peacefully, without harm from those in power. There are no ifs and buts nor exceptions to the rule.

From Emma Kathryn

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‘Yeah, they split up. She called the police on him.’
‘Fucking hell, what for?’
‘He gave her a slap.’
‘What, so she called the police?’
‘Yeah.’
‘Well, to be honest, I’m surprised he didn’t hit her sooner.’

* * * * *

I grew up on the very same street where I live now, just a couple of doors away from my childhood home in fact. When I was around ten, my parents split up, and from then on there was just my mum, myself and my three sisters living at home. My dad didn’t go far and was always there for us, but at home it was just us females. One day, my little sister, who had been out playing on the front (she was only around seven or eight and so was confined to the pavement outside our house), came running in crying. It turns out that some late teen / early twenty-something man had told her to get out-of-the-way, calling her a ‘little black bitch’. Well, you didn’t mess with my mum and she went straight over to where he was and slapped him hard across the face, all the while giving him a piece of her mind. Even now, I look back on that day with pride at a mother looking out for her child, but at the same time, I marvel at the conditions that allowed a person old enough to know better to think that he had the right to say such a thing to a child.

* * * * *

The conversation at the beginning is one I actually heard. It was a group of men discussing the break up of another friends relationship due to domestic violence. The second story is one of the best memories I have of my mum! But I always find myself thinking about those situations, and countless others like them. I think about the kinds of environment that creates, encourages or turns a blind eye to such behaviour. What gives someone the idea that they can abuse others, simply for existing? What makes the men from the conversation think that it’s okay to talk so openly about domestic abuse, and in defence of such actions too? What allows people to think that such behaviour is okay? Do they think that it is actually okay? Or has it become the norm, conditioned and reinforced? Was it the norm to begin with? What kind of person racially abuses a kid? And what conditions created such a person?

The Capitalist State divides all people into colours, caste, class, gender, and in doing so creates enemies out of them, but not as in enemies towards the state, which would be a good thing, but rather against one another. It keeps them blind so that they miss the forest for the trees. We talk about feminism and about gender equality, race equality and so on as if they are all separate things, when really there are no distinctions within equality. How can equality be equality if not all people share in it? If you look at the Suffragette movement, it was recently celebrated here in the UK on the anniversary of some women winning the right to vote. Some women. Was this a victory? Some would say yes because it paved the way for the vote for all, but I can’t help but see it as a way for the State to weaken the case for equality. No doubt the women who were given the vote were ‘upstanding members of the community’, code for had rich husbands or fathers.

I think infighting between groups each fighting for their own rights comes about because of fear. Why do some men, even now, fear equality with women? Does it threaten them in some way? Perhaps they think it lessens them somehow. And it doesn’t stop there either. Why do some feminist women oppose the rights of trans women so vehemently, or some white people deny the rights for those not sharing the same skin tone? I think it stems from fear, that in some way they think that if those groups gain equality, then it takes something from them.

It doesn’t.

Equality isn’t equality if it doesn’t apply to all, equally. And when I speak of equality, I’m really speaking about freedom, after all, I don’t want us to be equally oppressed now, do I. I’ve never understood why some get so eat up by what another person is doing. All living beings just want to live their lives without harm. In my own personal opinion, everyone can do whatever they want if they are a consenting adult who isn’t causing harm to another – it’s all good.

I’ve written for this platform for over a year now, and in that time I have received help, support and friendship from many involved with it. One of the reasons as to why I absolutely love writing here is because of their stance on oppression – in all of its forms, and I am proud to carry on writing for them. I, as a hard-nosed, working class, mixed race Obeah woman, would never sell myself out for anything I didn’t believe in, and so I hope that you too, dear reader, will continue to support that message, and that is we are against all forms of oppression, regardless of who is perpetrating it. Let’s fight the good fight folks, and that’s the fight against the colossus of Capitalism. If Capitalism should fall tomorrow, then the problems I’ve written about will surely still exist, but it’s important to understand that the Capitalist State sponsors the issues that continue to divide us. We must look past those superficial differences and unite to fight and only then will we truly be free. Gods & Radicals supports the right for All to live peacefully, without harm from those in power. There are no ifs and buts nor exceptions to the rule.


Emma Kathryn

My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!You can follow Emma on Facebook.

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The Common Ground Between Anarchists and Maoists

“Brazilian Anarchists and Maoists are both being criminalized for dissent that could undermine the government’s ability to function.”

From Mirna Wabi-Sabi

English Translation Here

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Credito: ExNEPe

O Terreno Comum Entre Anarquistas e Maoistas

A Copa do Mundo terminou, depois de termos politicado incessantemente os atletas e os países que essas equipes representavam. Havia algo suspeitamente conveniente em lembrar do colonialismo francês agora, mas esquecer da corrupção e da opressão da FIFA. Desta forma, podemos ficar colados na T.V. sem perder “pontos de militância”.

O movimento de resistência contra a FIFA em 2013 e 2014 não é coisa do passado. Os pretextos que transformaram movimentos sociais em organizações terroristas são, até hoje, responsáveis ​​pela criminalização do ativismo político no nosso pais. Isso resultou em 23 presos políticos com sentenças entre 5 e 13 anos, alguns ainda sendo processados ​​agora. Pessoas morreram e muitas mais perderam suas casas. Mas o que discutimos é como torcer para o México é uma mensagem anti-Trump, e como a equipe alemã está de alguma forma (simbolicamente) relacionada com a política sobre refugiados de Merkel.

Estamos testemunhando a fachada do estilo estadouniense de Democracia se desintegrando, revelando o fascismo de um Estado Imperializado que encarcera em massa e mata pessoas pobres, negras, trans e mulheres. Além disso, um Estado que usa uma corporação para distrair as massas com esportes nacionalistas, enquanto criminaliza dissidência política.

Anarquistas e Maoistas estão sendo igualmente criminalizados por dissidência capaz de prejudicar a capacidade do governo de funcionar. A OATL (Organização Anarquista Terra e Liberdade) e o MEPR (Movimento Estudantil Popular Revolucionário) foram recentemente colocados como frentes de iniciativas de atos violentos em 2013.

“Membros da OATL e MEPR planejavam lançar coquetéis molotovs e rojões contra a policia durante passeatas contra a copa do mundo” (Folha de Sāo Paulo, 17 de Julho 2018)

Mesmo com todas as nossas divergências ideológicas; particularmente em relação ao uso idolátrico de liderança, e o interesse na reconstrução de um Estado que sustentará a ditadura do proletariado; concordamos que o Estado em qual vivemos agora, e seu sistema eleitoral, deve ser derrubado. A re-centralização de poder econômico e estrutural num Governo comunista não é nem um pouco atraente pra nós anarquistas. E vemos que, apesar de eficiente em curto prazo, o culto de personalidade de líderes não é só contraditório aos nossos princípios de horizontalidade. É também insustentável, já que até agora revoluções morreram com seus lideres.

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Nosso terreno comum é a ideia de que a dicotomia entre esquerda e direita no campo eleitoral é reformista/reacionária, e não revolucionária, já que visa representação em, e consequentemente validação do, sistema partidário. Até os candidatos de mais extrema esquerda como Boulos, mesmo com sua retórica de defesa do povo pobre por políticas contra a especulação imobiliária e etc., visa a reconstrução da fé do povo Brasileiro no sistema. Isso só atrasa a revolução. Sabemos que o candidato não vai ganhar, se ganhar não vai fazer o que fala, e se tentar fazer o que fala vai ser impeached, preso, ou morto (como já vimos acontecer tantas vezes antes).

A estratégia de usar a plataforma partidária sustentada pela “Democracia” (Estilo estadounidense) pra divulgar ideias revolucionárias é como transar pela virgindade, validando no processo a própria coisa que estamos tentando invalidar. A necessidade imediata do povo que mais precisa dessa revolução não pode ser saciada com migalhas. É nossa responsabilidade como militantes não criar dependência do próprio Governo que visamos derrubar, e lutar para suprir essas necessidades imediatas como uma comunidade; um Movimento.

“Há apenas a preocupação de se jogar migalha na boca escancarada da fome, talvez para que nos deixem em paz…” – Maria Lacerda de Moura

Do dia 11 a 15 de Julho, estudantes de pedagogia de todo o Brasil se encontraram em União dos Palmares, Alagoas, para discutir métodos de combate aos ataques do Estado contra a educação e os direitos do povo dentro e fora da esfera acadêmica no nosso pais.

Este foi o 38o ENEPe (Encontro Nacional de Estudantes de Pedagogia), e sua 1a edição Marxista-Leninista-Maoista.

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A realização deste evento marcante na história da ENEPe não foi possível sem a superação de sérios obstáculos. Houve um rompimento entre estudantes de esquerda, resultando em dois eventos diferentes sendo realizados: este organizado pela ExNEPe (Executiva Nacional de Estudantes de Pedagogia) com presença predominante do MEPR, e outro evento com presença predominante do MEPe (Movimento Estudantil de Pedagogia) e movimentos estundatis ligados à UNE (União Nacional dos Estudantes).

Essa divergência ideológica entre os estudantes “de esquerda” é baseada no partidarismo. O MEPR reivindica a independência política, o boicote ao voto, e a completa rejeição da dependência financeira em, ou campanha de, partidos. Além disso, eles e elas também visam manter esse evento aberto a estudantes de outras áreas e a quem não é estudante.

Para muitos, o boicote ao voto significa uma brecha para a direita se fortalecer, ou até mesmo uma direita disfarçada. Os da MEPe, que não estavam a bordo com os posicionamentos da MEPR, não só fizeram seu próprio evento em outra data e local, mas também sabotaram a iniciativa de organização e promoção do evento de seus semelhantes. Cartazes promovendo a 38o ENEPe em União dos Palmares foram removidos ou danificados de alguma forma pelo país inteiro.

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Nos palcos do primeiro dia, 11 de Julho, houve uma fala de forte crítica Marxista ao PT, introduções das delegações de cada região, fala da LCP (Liga de Camponeses Pobres), apresentação de dança do Quilombo, poesia, teatro, e até rock. Os espaços entre cada foram preenchidos por palavras de ordem e punhos levantados. “Resistir, lutar, pra cultura popular”, entre muitas outras.

A grande maioria das aproximadamente 400 pessoas presentes, tiveram que superar múltiplos obstáculos financeiros e burocráticos, além da sabotagem de outros alunos, para comparecer no evento aquela semana. Portanto, a presença de cada um, de cada região, segurava o peso da dedicação à militância, e o entusiasmo de uma juventude com fé na revolução.

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Na mesa do 2o dia afirmaram que a independência do eleitoralismo é essencial na luta pela gratuidade educacional. A formação pedagógica ainda visa o treinamento de mão de obra barata, e Lula não foi melhor que FHC no combate a isso; cotas e bolsas só atrasam a revolução. Enquanto as reitorias agem como o Estado dentro da universidade, não ha como a universidade enfrentar o Estado. O papel do pedagogo e da pedagoga é fundamental pra formação da sociedade, e não deverá ser usado para servir um Estado.

A logística do evento foi discutida com todos e todas presentes. A comida, a limpeza, o transporte e a convivência em geral. Considerando que foi um evento realizado com completa autonomia financeira, sem apoio de partidos ou outras instituições, houve um processo de adaptação para os que não estavam acostumados.

Uma proposta essencial que foi aplicada durante o evento foi a criação de creches nas universidades. A creche representa a luta de inclusão da mulher na esfera política, acadêmica e profissional, com apoio da comunidade como um todo. Portando, a presença de crianças e bebês foi responsabilidade de todos e todas nós, e também simbólico para a estruturação de um movimento revolucionário onde esse papel não poderá ser só da mãe.

No último dia do encontro, o MFP (Movimento Feminino Popular) se apresentou como Marxista-Leninista-Maoista, abraçando a causa das mulheres que são alunas, professoras, operárias e camponesas, e afirmando que a mulher latifundiária é inimiga. O Movimento visa combater o trabalho doméstico não pago, a servitude de empregadas domesticas às suas empregadoras burguesas, e a ideia de que existe alguma diferença inata ente homens e mulheres.

A monogamia da família tradicional também deve ser combatida, pois nasceu com o conceito de propriedade privada para assegurar a transferência de bens por herança. Afirmaram também que não existe a cultura do estupro, existe o Patriarcado e o Capitalismo. Portanto, não se destrói a cultura do estupro com leis, se destrói o patriarcado capitalista com a revolução. O problema não é o homem, é o Estado. E acima de tudo, o propósito da organização é “despertar a fúria revolucionaria nas mulheres.”

Uma camarada da ExNEPe, Tarsila Pereira, foi proibida de comparecer a aulas como ouvinte na UFAL (Universidade Federal de Alagoas), por militar e promover este evento. A tentativa de abaixo assinado pra expulsar Tarsila acabou virando um abaixo assinado pra ela ficar, e o professor se recusou a expulsa-lá, falando que ele não é polícia, e na aula dele entra quem quer aprender. Felizmente, o processo que visava “restaurar a paz” nas salas de aula falhou, e hoje ela é uma aluna matriculada.

Sexta-feira, dia 13 de Julho, em Maceió, foi realizada uma manifestação em defesa de Tarsila na UFAL; contra o fascismo que infiltra a academia Brasileira; contra a intervenção militar e o oportunismo da Escola Sem Partido; contra a privatização das universidades e a regularização da profissão de pedagogos e pedagogas; e contra o imperialismo genocida no Oriente Médio.

Depois da manifestação, a organização do evento mostrou de forma impactante como a Cultura Popular é resistência. Uma apresentação de dança típica Alagoana abriu uma série de apresentações culturais de cada delegação presente. Ficou claro que “cada região é um País”, como falou uma das alunas assistindo. Foi emocionante presenciar como extrema diversidade pode sim significar uma completa união e solidariedade. Diversas danças, músicas, histórias, e linguagens foram apresentadas, destacando como a hegemonia violentamente invisibiliza expressões culturas belas e valiosas no Brasil.

Sábado, dia 14 de Julho, participantes foram divididos em três grupos, um deles destinado ao museu do Quilombo dos Palmares. A viajem no ônibus escolar amarelo foi uma celebração, ele ainda estava enfeitado da festa junina, e todos alternavam entre cantar techno brega e palavras de ordem. Na Serra da Barriga, região do Zumbi dos Palmares, chacoalhávamos na estrada de terra, subindo e descendo montanhas de mata baixa, com ocasionais coqueiros sendo saudados por urubus.

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Foi inevitável sentir o poder daquele espaço, mesmo que agora esteja estruturado um pouco como um parque temático. Cada passo parecia levantar uma memória centenária combativa, como se fosse uma poeira que ao invés de ofuscar, tornava ainda mais nítido nosso propósito politico. A vista do alto a serra chegava quase a nos colocar no corpo dos homens e mulheres que se estabeleceram lá 400 anos atras, e na consciência estratégica de poder ver inimigos de longe sem ser visto.

No fim da visita, muitos de nós até nadamos na pequena lagoa verde pastel onde quilombolas “alimentavam suas almas”.

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Quando voltamos pra universidade em União dos Palmares, assistimos apresentações de trabalhos, dos quais alguns seriam premiados. Um deles abordava a importância de educação sexual na escola, pra alunos entre 11 e 15 anos de idade. Interesses das crianças giravam em torno dos temas de masturbação, puberdade e menstruação. A apresentadora mostrou que sexo ainda é um tabu entre professores e reitorias, e a importância de derrubar esse tabu e abordar esse tema é de extrema urgência, quando se vê como é comum a gravidez de meninas de 13 a 15 anos e idade.

A importância da História foi enfatizada quando reconhecemos que o Brasil tem um problema de memória. Um trabalho sobre a Guerrilha do Araguaia trouxe pra mesa de debate a perpetuação da violência, décadas depois da batalha, quando crimes da resistência são judicialmente equiparados com os dos opressores. Trouxe também o tema das particularidades femininas na tortura durante a ditadura, e a questão do uso do termo “ditadura” em si, como um termo usado pela democracia burguesa pra defender suas políticas ditatoriais contemporâneas.

Em geral, houve muita repetição de termos como “pós-modernista”, “oportunista”, “imobilista” e Marxismo cientifico, sem finas definições e contextualizações. Isso alienou certos alunos que não se reivindicam Marxistas, e deu pouca abertura pra participantes apresentarem divergências. Até as votações finais foram bizarramente homogêneas, talvez não só porque houve consensus, mas também porque ir contra seria intimidador.

Para o burguês e pequeno burguês, a inacessibilidade é o charme. Com eles e elas não há diálogo, há combate. Combater a ideia de que ”uma mentira falada mil vezes vira verdade” (Goebbels) significa também reconhecer que existe diferentes perspectivas sobre a realidade, e não só uma verdade que pertence aos socialistas científicos. Ocasionais falhas em reconhecer isso resultou em certas infelizes falas, como uma sobre o misticismo de comunidades “primitivas”, e abordagens superficiais e desnecessárias do materialismo dialético.

Mesmo assim, foi afirmado que a ciência que vemos hoje na academia serve o Capital. O conhecimento científico do povo, seja ele indígena, negro ou camponês, é apropriado pelas classes dominantes e patenteado. Temos que trazer a ciência de volta para o povo, preservando a educação tradicional indígena, por exemplo. Para uma das palestrantes, o problema “do índio” é o problema de classe, e não da supremacia branca; É uma luta pela terra e pela sobrevivência. Seria interessante a presença de mais grupos Indígenas e Quilombolas nos próximos eventos, tanto que foi decidido que o tema do 23o FoNEPe (Fórum Nacional de Entidades de Pedagogia) será “educação que sirva o povo indígena, camponês e Quilombola”, ano que vem em Juazeiro.

No fim as despedidas foram calorosas, já que durante a semana cultivamos imenso carinho uns pelos outros. Havia espaço pra autocrítica e crescimento, e o potencial socio-politico do evento é inegável. Estamos todos e todas animadas pro próximo ENEPe (39o) que acontecerá em Guarulhos, com o tema de “defesa da escola pública, contra a privatização e fechamento de escolas públicas”.

“Se você paga,
não deveria,
educação
não é mercadoria”


Mirna Wabi-Sabi

editora do site Gods&Radicals, escritora e professora.

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English Translation
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Credit: ExNEPe

The Common Ground Between Anarchists and Maoists

The World Cup ended, after we incessantly politicized athletes and the countries those teams were representing. There was something suspiciously convenient about remembering French colonialism now, but forgetting FIFA’s corruption and oppression. This way we can stay glued to the T.V. without losing any “woke points”.

Brazil’s uprising against FIFA in 2013 and 2014 is not a thing of the past. The pretexts that turned social movements into terrorist organizations are to this day responsible for the criminalization of political activism. This resulted in 23 political prisoners with sentences between 5 and 13 years, some still being prosecuted now. People have died, and many more lost their homes. But what we talk about is how cheering for Mexico is an anti-Trump statement, and that the German team is somehow related (symbolically) to Merkel’s refugee policy.

We are witnessing the facade of U.S. American style Democracy crumbing down, revealing the Fascism of an Imperialized State that mass incarcerates and kills poor people of color, trans people, and women. Moreover, a State that uses a corporation to  distract the masses with nationalistic sports, while it criminalizes political dissent.

Brazilian Anarchists and Maoists are both being criminalized for dissent that could undermine the government’s ability to function. The OATL (Anarchist Organization of Land and Liberty) and the MEPR (Popular Revolutionary Student Movement) have recently been denominated initiators of violent protest acts in 2013.

“OATL and MEPR members planned to launch Molotov cocktails and other flaming objects at the police during marches against the world cup” – (Folha de São Paulo, July 17th 2018)

Even with all our ideological differences; particularly in relation to the idolatrous use of leadership, and the interest in rebuilding a state that will sustain the dictatorship of the proletariat; we agree that the state we live in now, and its electoral system, must be overthrown. The re-centralization of economic and structural power in a communist government is not at all attractive to us anarchists. And we see that, although efficient in the short run, the personality cult of leaders is not only contradictory to our principles of horizontality. It is also unsustainable, since up to now revolutions have died with their leaders.

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“Elections are a farce – don’t vote – long live the rural and anti imperialist democratic revolution! MEPR.”

Our common ground is the idea that the dichotomy between left and right in the electoral field is reformist / reactionary rather than revolutionary, since it seeks representation in, and consequently validation of, the system. Even the most far-left candidates like Guilherme Boulos (PSOL), with his rhetoric of defending the poor with policies against real estate speculation and so on, aim at rebuilding the faith of the Brazilian people in the system. This only slows down the revolution. We know that the candidate will not win, if he wins he will not do what he says, and if he tries to do what he says he will be impeached, imprisoned, or killed (as we have seen so many times before).

The strategy of using the partisan platform supported by the U.S. American Style Democracy to spread revolutionary ideas is like fucking for virginity, validating in the process the very thing we are trying to invalidate. The immediate needs of the people who most need this revolution can not be satiated with crumbs. It is our responsibility as militants to not create dependence on the very Government we aim to overthrow, and strive to meet these immediate needs as a community; a Movement.

“There is only the concern of throwing crumbs at the gaping mouth of hunger, perhaps so that they leave us alone …” (Maria Lacerda de Moura)

From 11 to 15 July, pedagogy students from all over Brazil met at União dos Palmares, Alagoas, to discuss methods of combating State attacks against education, and the rights of the people inside and outside the academic sphere in our country.

This was the 38th ENEPe (National Meeting of Students of Pedagogy), and its 1st Marxist-Leninist-Maoist edition.

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The realization of this groundbreaking event in the history of ENEPe was not possible without overcoming serious obstacles. There was a rupture between leftist students, resulting in two different events being held: this one organized by ExNEPe (National Executive of Students of Pedagogy) with predominant presence of the MEPR, and another event with predominant presence of MEPe (Student Movement of Pedagogy) and student movements linked to UNE (National Union of Students).

This ideological divergence among “leftist” students is based on partisanship. The MEPR claims political independence, a vote boycott, and a complete rejection of financial dependence on, or campaigning for, political parties. In addition, they also aim to keep this event open to students from other academic fields and to non-students.

For many, the boycott of the vote means a breach for the right to strengthen, or even a right in disguise (like blaming 3rd party voters for Trump). Those of the MEPe, who were not on board with MEPR rhetoric, not only made their own event at another date and place, but also sabotaged the initiative and promotion of their peers’ event. Posters promoting the 38th ENEPe in União dos Palmares were removed or damaged in some way throughout the country.

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The vast majority of the approximately 400 people present had to overcome multiple financial and bureaucratic obstacles, as well as the sabotage of other students, to attend the event that week. Therefore, the presence of each one, from each region, held the weight of dedication to militancy, and the enthusiasm of a youth with faith in the revolution.

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Delegations from each region, sleeping quarters.

On the last day of the meeting, the MFP (Popular Women’s Movement) presented itself as a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, embracing the cause of women who are students, teachers, workers and peasants, and stating that the landowning (bourgois) woman is an enemy. The Movement aims to combat unpaid domestic work, the servitude of maids to their bourgeois employers, and the idea that there is some innate difference between men and women.

We must also overcome the monogamy of traditional families, because it was born with the concept of private property to ensure the transfer of assets by inheritance. They also affirmed that there is no rape culture, there is the Patriarchy and Capitalism. Therefore, one does not destroy rape culture with laws, one destroys capitalist patriarchy with a revolution. The problem is not the man, it is the State. And above all, the purpose of the organization is “to awaken revolutionary fury in women.”

The event showed beautifully how Popular Culture is resistance. A typical Alagoan dance performance opened a series of cultural presentations of each delegation present. It became clear that “each Brazilian region is a Country”, as one of the students observed. It was exciting to witness how extreme diversity can mean full union and solidarity. Several dances, songs, stories, and languages were presented, highlighting how the hegemony violently invisibilizes valuable cultural expressions in Brazil (we are much more than just Rio and São Paulo).

On Saturday, July 14th, participants were divided into three groups, one of them destined to the historical site of Quilombo dos Palmares. This is the most famous settlement of runaway enslaved Africans in resistance to Portuguese and Dutch occupation. The trip in the yellow school bus was a celebration, everyone alternated between singing tacky songs and chanting political slogans. In Serra da Barriga, in the region of Zumbi dos Palmares (the a most famous abolitionist leader of the Quilombo), we rattled on the dirt road, up and down mountains of low vegetation, with occasional coconut trees being greeted by vultures.

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It was inevitable to feel the power of that land, even though it is now structured somewhat like a theme park. Each step seemed to lift a centuries-old combative memory, as if it were dust that instead of obfuscating, made our political purpose even clearer. The sight from above the mountain almost placed us in the bodies of the men and women who settled there 400 years ago, and in the strategic awareness of being able to see enemies from afar without being seen.

At the end of the visit, many of us swam in the small pastel green lagoon where Quilombolas “fed their souls”.

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When we returned to the university in União dos Palmares, we attended presentations of works, some of which would later be awarded. One of them addressed the importance of sex education in schools for students between 11 and 15 years of age. The interests of the children revolved around the themes of masturbation, puberty and menstruation. The presenter showed that sex is still a taboo between teachers and principals. When we see how common it is for 13 to 15 year old girls to become pregnant, the importance of overcoming this taboo and addressing this issue is revealed as undeniably urgent.

The importance of history was emphasized when we recognized that Brazil has a memory problem. A presentation on the Araguaia Guerrilla discussed the perpetuation of violence, decades after the battle, when the crimes of the resistance are judicially equated with those of the oppressors. She also brought up the subject of female particularities when it comes to the practice of torture during the Brazilian “dictatorship” (Military regime of 1964-1985), and the question of using the term “dictatorship” as it is used by the bourgeois democracy to defend its contemporary dictatorial policies.

In general, there was a lot of repetition of terms such as “postmodernist,” “opportunistic,” “immobilist,” and scientific Marxism, without refined definitions and contextualizations. This alienated certain students who did not identify as Marxist, and gave little opening for participants to disagree. Even the final votes were bizarrely homogeneous, perhaps not only because there was consensus, but also because going against the group would be intimidating.

For the bourgeoisie and petit bourgeoisie, inaccessibility is the charm. With them there is no dialogue, there is combat. Fighting the idea that “a lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth” (Goebbels) also means recognizing that there are different perspectives on reality, and not just a truth that belongs to scientific socialists. Occasional failures to recognize this have resulted in certain unfortunate affirmations, such as one on the mysticism of “primitive” communities, and superficial and unnecessary approaches towards dialectical materialism.

Even so, it was stated that the science we see today in the academy serves the Capital. Scientific knowledge of the people, be it indigenous, black or peasant, is appropriated by the ruling class and patented. We have to bring science back to the people, by preserving traditional indigenous education, for example. To one of the speakers, the “Indigenous problem” is a class problem, not a white supremacy problem; It is a struggle for land and survival. It would be interesting to have more Indigenous and Quilombola groups in the coming events, so much so that it was decided that the theme of the 23rd FoNEPe (National Forum of Pedagogical Entities) will be “education that serves indigenous, peasant and Quilombola communities”, next year in Juazeiro, Bahia.

At the end, the farewells were warm, since during the week we cultivated great affection for each other. There was room for self-criticism and growth, and the socio-political potential of the event is undeniable. We are all excited about the next ENEPe (39th) that will take place in Guarulhos, São Paulo, with the theme “defending the public school against privatization.”


Mirna Wabi-Sabi

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is co-editor of Gods&Radicals, and writes about decoloniality and anti-capitalism.


Please help us pay our writers by donating a few dollars to us. And thanks!

 

The Factory Floor & The Witch’s Stake

To accept Empire is to deny the dead, the tortured witches of our past and the tortured rebels dying in Empire’s prisons. To not fight Empire is to defy our own bodies, defile the land and destroy the bodies of others. To accept Empire is to become Empire.

From Rhyd Wildermuth

The following essay is adapted from Rhyd Wildermuth’s speech, “Witches In A Crumbling Empire,” to be republished as part of his next collection, Our Time of Springs, Our Time of Flames (August, 2018)


The Empire under which we all suffer, under whom we are all ruled, was born upon the factory floor and upon the witch’s stake.

Industrialised capitalism started in England around 1760. Before then, almost everything humans used was made by humans with human effort, without the input of petroleum. So, in the early 1700’s, any clothing you wore and any food you ate was made or grown completely without fossil fuels.

The first coal-fired factories were built in cities swollen with refugees from the surrounding areas. Those people had just lost all access to land and the means to support themselves because of laws called the Enclosure Acts. No longer could they raise animals and plants from the earth with their own two feet firmly planted on the ground; now, their only option was to stand on wood and stone factory floors for 14 hours a day making things for other people.

Humans are hard to control. Humans don’t like working all day for someone else. They have to eat, and piss, and shit, and rest. Many women bleed every moon, sometimes they get pregnant and have to care for their children.

But Coal doesn’t tire. Coal doesn’t show up to work late after a night of drinking or fucking. Coal doesn’t need a rest, doesn’t get menstrual cramps, doesn’t daydream about how life can be better. Coal also doesn’t demand wages.

So the great ‘revolution’ of industrialisation was the slow replacement of human labor with black carbon labor from the earth. In the Americas, the people called Black were also used to replace waged labor. In both cases, the rich tried to find a low-cost, easily-managed, fully-predictable means to gain wealth.

Slaves revolt, though, and kill their masters. Coal and oil blacken the cities and skies with soot, but burned through filters, the carbon becomes invisible, escapes quietly into the atmosphere, warming the earth at such imperceptible rates that it could be ignored until recently.

What could not be ignored was the tendency of humans to revolt against their masters, be they slaves or peasants, workers or servants. Humans don’t make very good machines, we are unpredictable, tire easily, and anyway would rather be creating art or eating, then doing monotonous work for little pay.

The same era which saw the birth of industrialised capitalism also saw the birth of all modern forms of government and control. The modern city, the nation-state, so-called Democracy, representative government, prisons resembling factories resembling schools which resemble prisons. It also saw the birth of the modern police and the political order under which we now live.

But what is Empire?

By Empire I mean America, but I also do not.

By Empire I mean Capitalism, but I also do not.

By Empire I mean colonization. I mean industrialisation. I mean the slaughter of indigenous peoples and the enslavement of Africans. I mean the carbon in the air and the worker in the factory. I mean all the newly extinct species and all the dying forests. I mean the corporations which own the internet and the corporations who profit from the computers and smartphones you read this on.

By Empire, I mean the foreign wars. I mean an Arab woman cradling the corpse of her decapitated daughter and shaking her fist at the gay Black dude from Los Angeles who only joined the Army to get money to support his mother.

By Empire, I mean the Mexican child screaming as her father is taken away by an ICE agent whose grandparents fled the Nazi advance in Europe.

By Empire, I mean the Black father mourning his son killed by a cop whose ancestors sold themselves into indentured servitude rather than starve to death during the famine in Ireland.

By Empire, I mean the intersectional feminist writing essays about the exploitation of women and children on a computer made through the exploitation of Asian women and African children.

And by Empire I mean the Arab man who massacres gays in a nightclub to retaliate for atrocities none of those people committed.

By Empire, I mean the single white mother driving her disabled kid to a doctor’s appointment over roads lain by migrant workers who are about to get deported.

By Empire I mean the civitas and the polis. I mean civilization and the police, the laws and logic, the political order, the thou shalt nots and the prisons where you go when you refuse to listen.

But more than anything, I mean the Empire in each of you and the Empire in me.

I mean all that was once wild and raw and sacred in us that is now ground into machine-parts and mechanical obedience.

By Empire I mean you, and by Empire I mean me.

And finally, by Empire I mean this thing that is crumbling around us, gasping for air, begging us to keep it alive.

The Empire that is crumbling around us was born on the factory floors and the witch’s stake, and both were assaults on the human body.

Silvia Federici said it, in her essay “In Praise of the Dancing Body:

Capitalism was born from the separation of people from the land and its first task was to make work independent of the seasons and to lengthen the workday beyond the limits of our endurance…. What we have not always seen is what the separation from the land and nature has meant for our body, which has been pauperized and stripped of the powers that pre-capitalist populations attributed to it.

If the first task of Capitalism was to separate us from land and nature, they have more than succeeded. One need only look at the vastly artificial surroundings we all live in, the devices we use to speak with each other, the manufactured foods and synthetic medicines. Can you walk outside your home and find something edible growing by the pavement? Do you know which birds share your neighborhood with you? Can you point to where precisely the sun will rise tomorrow morning without a compass? Without looking outside tonight or at the internet, which phase is the moon in?

But it’s useless to rail against this disconnection. What separates us from the land and nature is not a current assault in an ongoing struggle: the war was won by them long ago. We are an occupied people, often occupying occupied land cleared long before any of us were born.

If that war was lost, though, the other war is still on going. Says Federici again:

Mechanization—the turning of the body, male and female, into a machine—has been one of capitalism’s most relentless pursuits.

Capitalism has needed us to act like machines so we can fit into the system as mere, fully-interchangeable cogs. Many of use don’t fit, though: be it our bodies themselves or our failure to conform, the process of turning us into machines is never fully complete.

Those of us who gum up the gears aren’t welcome in the factory, but Empire has a place for us too.

Empire was born on the factory floor, and it was also born on the witch’s stake. Failure to file down your rough bits, refusal to conform to the will of the political order, and worst of all encouraging others to do the same will land you at best in jail, or riddled with mental-illnesses that were non-existent in pre-capitalist lands, suffocated with a crushed trachea for daring to sell loose cigarettes or bleeding to death in the street for looking non-white when the polis tried to enforce its will.

There are countless technological distractions and institutions which have helped us forget our bodies: the masturbatory fantasies of video games and pornography, the medicalisation of any bodily refusal to be a good worker. Gyms look like factories for a reason, for it’s in the mills and on the mechanical looms where we first lost the meaning of muscle and blood. And then there is clock time, our smartphones and alarm clocks, schools which teach kids to move from class to class to prepare them to move from task to task.

Capitalism needed to separate us from the land and our body because it is the land and the body which tells you this is all wrong. The land screams as species go extinct, forests die, icecaps melt. Your body screams when you treat it as a machine.

Your body tells you this is all wrong. Starting from the body, you know you tire faster when you are doing meaningless work. You know the food on offer to you at the supermarkets is empty, you know that the air you breathe is often toxic. You know sitting for eight hours staring at a screen hurts more than just your eyes, that standing behind a counter slinging coffee to exhausted people makes you a poorly-paid drug dealer.

All that knowledge is what capitalism needs you not to know.

All those feelings are what Empire fears you’ll feel.

Capitalism needed to separate us from the land and our bodies for another reason.

Your body is always in contact with something else, something outside yourself. Your feet, the lowest part of you, the easiest part to ignore until they hurt, they connect to the entire world-soul. Taking your shoes off, standing on the grass or the sand or stone, you become no longer a machine but a body again, part of something always bigger than yourself, with a different logic, a more intuitive time, a deeper truth.

Your feet on the earth, you cannot be disconnected from the earth and the seasons, because you are also the earth and its seasons. Work in summer is not work in winter, the time of your waking and the cycles of your sleeping follow a different rhythm fully separate from the time of money-making, the time of machines.

Capitalism needs you to forget this.

Witchcraft tells you to remember.

If Empire was born on the factory floor and on the witch’s stake, it spread into every last bit of our existence, making subjects out of each one of us. While Capitalism needed to separate us from the land and our bodies, Empire needed us to become passive subjects of the political order.

Passivity is not receptivity. As a gay man I can assure you, more action goes into receptive sex than merely closing your eyes and thinking about the Empire. I suspect most women would concur.

Receptivity opens us to the world of senses, of feelings, of meaning. You are being receptive now, taking my words into you, playing with them, weaving their meaning into the tapestry of you. But passivity makes you a victim, a mere tool in the hands of the powerful. Passivity is consumption, selection between lifestyle options, an identity defined not by what you do but by what you choose. Did you vote Democrat or Republican? Drink Coke or Pepsi? Use an iPhone or Android?

Passivity reduces will to mere consumer preference. No longer will to power but a mere checkbox on a ballot or a selection on a screen. No longer desire and suffering but mere distractions to dull the fatigue of work and the anxiety of alienation.

You cannot force someone to become passive except by long applications of torture. But there is another route, a slower one, by which you can conquer the will of others by telling them not ‘thou shalt not’ but ‘thou cannot.’ Like the God of Eden’s lies to the woman in the garden, we are told we cannot survive without capitalism, cannot be safe without police, cannot find meaning outside of waged work, cannot find love without cosmetics.

And so what we did not lose on the factory floor we lost with the death of witches. Not only the women with herbs and poison roots, not only the crones bearing stories from times before private property, not only the maidens urging worship in temples of wild lust, not only the mothers feeding us from their bodies. Not only them, but also them: the women who reminded us an entire world can be made not from city and machine but forest and dirt.

Not only them, but also the heretics, the mad, the dreamers, the rebels. The men dressed like women tearing down fences along with women drest like men, refusing the enclosure of the sacred commons and the seizure of land for the profit of the few. The indigenous elders gunned down by settlers, the traditional healers dead in the hulls of slave ships. All of them taught what Empire needed us to forget: the earth knows what the computer never will, that the body bleeds a liquid more powerful than petroleum.

With them gone, we started to believe we can-not. We cannot heal ourselves without pharmaceuticals, we cannot feed ourselves without factory farms. We cannot make our own clothes, cannot craft our own homes. We must now suckle at the toxic teat of the Market while it slaps us with an invisible hand.

We started to believe we cannot resist.

But in the screaming defiance of the immolated witches was a reminder: we can refuse to submit, even in death.

It took centuries to shape us into what we are now, passive sniveling subjects of Empire and Capital. Though this may seem long, we lived outside Empire much longer. Capitalism is new and short-lived, compared even to Feudalism. It differs only in its full permeation of all our existence, and it is for this reason I call it Empire.

It is also collapsing.

The climate change caused by Capitalism cannot be stopped any longer, and its effects already cause famines and resource wars throughout the world. Between 30,000 and 140,000 species go extinct every year now; at the beginning of the 1800’s, this number was no more than 1000 yearly. Cities are beginning to flood, water tables depleting, while the oil-wells which makes the entire Empire run are going dry. Climate change will increase the refugee crises currently fueling the nationalist parties in Europe and the US, and whether they are fleeing from resource wars or unmanned drone bombers, they are undoubtedly the first quakes of Empire’s impending collapse.

Empires always pompously declare themselves eternal. The British swore the sun would never set on them, the third reich was supposed to last 1000 years. Western Democratic Capitalist Empire declared itself ‘the end of history’ in the 1990’s, but of course Fukuyama’s prediction sealed its fate.

Empires have always tried to cheat death and this one is no different. But the crone that stands on the other side of death’s door revealed her trump card, and now few can deny what this means.

Some still cling to the vain hope that Donald Trump is merely an unfortunate set-back to the progress of civilization. But reversing civil protections, installing fascist theorists in positions of power, rattling the chains of other world leaders, building a wall to keep the Mexicans out—these are not mere reversals of Empire’s progress, they are Empire trying to save itself.

Consider this wall between the US and Mexico. See past the obvious racism of such a thing and its absurd cost to what’s lurking beneath the political veneer. Consider the impending flood of climate refugees: remember your geography, look at a map displaying where the major destruction will occur first, and suddenly Trump’s idea isn’t mere xenophobic delusion.

The increase in surveillance powers, the militarization of police forces, the dismantling of the courts and the rights they are sworn to protect, the stoking of fascist flames: these are not just the actions of a psychopath, but of an engineer shoring up the ruins of Empire.

The same is happening everywhere else in the world. The capitalists know we are remembering to resist again, and so they are raising again the stakes, piling faggots beneath them, waiting for our next sign of revolt.

To accept what is around us now, to call such things “good” and “necessary,” is to laugh in the faces of the screaming witches who died so this Empire could arise. To chase after like mongrel dogs the trinkets and crumbs the capitalists throw down to us on the floor–the “rights” and “freedoms” and all the glossy junk cluttering store shelves–is to jeer at the sorrow and sufferings of our ancestors hauled to work in chains or prodded into mills by the terror of starvation.

To accept Empire is to deny the dead, the tortured witches of our past and the tortured rebels dying in Empire’s prisons. To not fight Empire is to defy our own bodies, defile the land and destroy the bodies of others. To accept Empire is to become Empire.

To fight Empire is to stare in the face of our own deaths and laugh, knowing the worst that might happen is Empire might burn us, too.

But to the witches who risked the stake to avoid forever the factory floor, the insurrectionists who risked bullets to forever avoid submission, and any who risked the rage of Empire for the possibility that Empire might fall, the choice was an easy one.

So is ours.


Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd is a co-founder and the managing editor of Gods&Radicals Press and a co-editor of godsandradicals.org.


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We Can All Be Arks

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“You, reading this essay: you are an ark.”

From Asa West

From a car window, California fuchsia might look like just another ornamental flower. A few bright spatters of red along the parkway, surrounded by the kinds of no-fuss shrubs installed by landlords and people who spend most of their time indoors. Compared to the exotic species like hibiscus or ficus, species that simulate lush tropical landscapes, California Fuchsia might even look rather scraggly and small. Is it the type of plant a driver will notice at all? Maybe people appreciate the showy little tube-shaped flowers, or maybe it’s not impressive enough to warrant a glance.

But you don’t get California fuchsia’s whole story from the window of a car.

Epilobium Canum ssp Canum, native to the California Floristic Province, is an integral member of foothill and coastal ecosystems from Oregon to Mexico. If you suspect that the size and shape of the flowers would be the perfect size for a hummingbird’s beak, then you’d be right: it’s a favored flower of several species of hummingbirds, along with the white-lined sphinx moth, the giant swallowtail butterfly, and the California dogface. What’s more, California fuschia also has a long and beneficial relationship to humans; it’s historically been used by the Chumash as a vulnerary herb, healing wounds in the same way that calendula has been used by Europeans.

Speaking of vulnerary herbs, did you know that yarrow is a California native plant? The feathery plant with the corymb inflorescences, a favorite of #WitchesOfInstagram, grows around the world and may have been propagated by ancient settlers and explorers. Gardeners savvy to its healing properties will eschew the brightly colored cultivars and look for Achillea Millefolium, with its plain white flowers that work well in salves and attract butterflies and bees. But, like California fuschia, yarrow can look pretty plain compared to all the exotics.

In fact, that supposed plainness is why so many native plant communities have been obliterated by developers fixated on turning California into a hybrid of England and Hawaii. You can buy a white sage smudge at Whole Foods to go with your essential oils and appropriated dream catchers, but when you pass real live white sage on the street, it looks like a vaguely pretty but rather uninteresting background shrub. The elder tree (ssp. cerulea) is summer deciduous in California and looks dead during the hottest months. The seedheads of sages and buckwheat turn brown after flowering. The authors of California Native Plants for the Garden are stark in their description of the colonization of California: “Compared to the rich greens, bright flowers, and bold textures of subtropical species,” they write, “the natives must have seemed dull and gray.”

How sad, that a shallow and limited idea of beauty can lead to the deaths of entire ecosystems.

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Last spring, my husband and I scoured Los Angeles for a new place to live. Our options were limited, especially since we had one kid and another on the way, but I found a listing for a two bedroom condo in Koreatown from which the commute to our jobs on the west side wouldn’t be too catastrophic. (Nine miles, only an hour each way, not too shabby by L.A. standards). We went to look at the place and found it had a back door, and outside were two neglected alleyways and a cramped ficus tree. My daughter promptly tried to climb the tree while I wandered the alleys to look at the soil, which was compacted and rocky and covered in garbage. The land was hurting, its surface a raw abrasion, and I knew as I felt the quiet weight of a geis settle onto me that this was where we would live. The spirits of this place had been waiting goodness knows how long for someone, anyone, to come and stick up for them.

After we moved in, I set about getting permission to clean up the alleys, install a small container garden, and plant some drought-tolerant natives. The backlash was immediate. Two neighbors dismissed new plants as against the rules and thus self-evidently bad, citing decades-old regulations in the building’s covenant. Another got upset and tried to get the building manager to shut me down, calling plants a fire hazard (although it was unclear how plants were a fire hazard when a path littered with junk apparently wasn’t). The status quo bias was formidable: anything perceived as unruly or out of the ordinary was attacked like a virus. I couldn’t make sense of it. I still can’t. Is this the same bias that makes people resist renewable energy and doggedly support capitalism, even as it sucks away their resources and erodes their lives?

If only, I found myself thinking, my neighbors could have heard Lili Singer speak.

My husband and I had taken one of Lili’s gardening classes at the Theodore Payne Foundation, a nonprofit in the San Gabriel Valley that propagates native plants. He and I had sat with 30 other gardeners in a little classroom with no AC, taking notes as Lili described plant communities and design principles. For the most part I happily geeked out over wildflowers and sages and coast live oaks, but at one point, the class suddenly turned profound.

Gardeners and conservationists preserve these native species, Lili told us, not to keep them on life support for all of eternity, but in the hopes that someday they’ll be able to flourish on their own again. “California fauna evolved alongside these specific plants, and they need these plants to survive,” she said. “If you save the plants, you’re also saving the insects, and the birds that eat the insects, and the animals that eat the birds. You’re saving whole ecosystems. Your backyard can be an ark.”

She was referring to Noah’s ark, of course, but stories of devastating floods can be found in mythologies all over the world, a specter of annihilation that haunts our collective psyche, a warning whispered by the gods. In the Epic of Gilgamesh,* a group of gods decide to destroy the world, but Ea, “the cleverest of the gods,” warns Noah’s predecessor Utnapishtim:

Reed fence, reed fence, listen to my words.

[Utnapishtim,] King of Shuruppak, quickly, quickly

Tear down your house and build a giant ship,

Leave your possessions, save your life….

Then gather and take aboard the ship

Examples of every living creature.

In this version, the gods are not unanimous in their decision to destroy humanity; in fact, they quickly come to regret it, “cower[ing] by the palace wall, like dogs” to escape the rising water. To me, this version feels truer to our experience of climate change than the Noah myth, in which the instigator of the flood decides which humans are virtuous enough to survive. If climate change were a punishment, then the corporations, lobbyists, and politicians responsible, rather than the most vulnerable and innocent among us, would be hit the hardest. Indeed, we can almost see the 1% in Gilgamesh’s council of gods: foolishly believing themselves to be above destruction, deciding that the world is theirs to destroy and all its lives theirs to take, only too late realizing that they, too, are vulnerable.

I thought about just going ahead and planting the plants, even doing it in secret to avoid getting fined, but after I experimented with a little flower bed and someone kicked it to pieces, I realized my neighbors were not above simply tearing up anything mysterious they found. The sickness plaguing our land isn’t just physical. A dark and troubling thing happens to people’s minds when they live long enough under capitalism. They begin to hold life itself in contempt, seeing any other organisms not as partners and companions, but as competitors and threats. They view the new family down the hall with suspicion and anxiety, ready to attack if property values sag. They grow used to monocultures and conformity and balk at the sight of an unruly hedge. They forget how to be a community; one neighbor plays loud music at 3 a.m. and shrugs at the thought that it might bother people, while other neighbors call the police instead of knocking on his door. There are literal floods happening, yes–and droughts and famines and hurricanes and wildfires–but we’re drowning in something else, too.

We can be arks, I found myself thinking after the class. On the first full moon after we moved in, I brought my ritual supplies to the roof of the building to perform my first esbat in our new home. Not for the first time, I found a part of myself preparing to instruct my daughters in witchcraft when they come of age (if they want it, of course). This is how you’ll explain the compass, a little voice said as I conjured the quarter spirits. This is how you’ll teach scrying, it murmured as I closed my right eye and gazed at the moon in my bowl of water. Then I thought: I am an ark. My body, my mind, my knowledge, the traditions and wisdom I’ve stored up inside me. I carry them through the years so that I can pass them on, and so that their recipients can pass them on, and so forth until the calamity has passed.

You, reading this essay: you are an ark. The god Ea whispers to you through the reeds. What are you carrying that’s worth saving? What do you hold that must be protected and sheltered until conditions are right for it to fly free? Your devotions to the old gods and your knowledge of the Ways? Your friendship with the good folk? Your gateways through the hedge? The mass-produced books on Paganism, as lovely and important as some of them are, are not living knowledge. The written word kills the witchcraft. What’s alive lives in your body, and nowhere else.

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Happily, I eked out the majority board approval I needed to plant my natives. I bought my seedlings–some fuchsia and sagebrush and golden currant and blue-eyed grass and elder, plus some California poppy and baby blue eyes seeds, and a compact Cleveland sage that wouldn’t tolerate the clay but might do all right in a pot–and, after a good rain, put them all in. I was afraid the soil was just too bad for them to thrive, but as I dug, I noticed it was teaming with earthworms. The land was impatient to be healed.

Gardening might seem to some like a paltry, even indulgent form of activism when Nazis are killing people in the streets. But the nurturing of threatened species requires radical hope–which Jonathan Lear defines as hope that “is directed toward a future goodness that transcends the current ability to understand what it is,” and which Junot Diaz says “is not so much something you have but something you practice.” There’s a chance, and not a small one, that someone will kill all my native plants after I move away; after all, people all over Southern California are still hard at work tearing up natives to replace them with sod and concrete. But the act of planting keeps despair at bay. Perhaps one of my plants will release one seed that will fly somewhere safe and carry the species forward. Besides, liberation becomes easier to imagine when you get a tiny glimpse of what lies on the other side. Your body remembers a future with gardens, and that promise propels you to action.

After I put the plants in, I tamped the moist soil down and made the berms and offered each plant a little breastmilk to welcome it. I went inside and fed my children. My husband and I hope to move out of the city in a few years, to a place near a forest where I can tend a real garden instead of an alley, but my geis puts me firmly in this place until these plants are established and the birds and insects have learned of their presence. I hope that when I leave, the spirits will be able to protect these plants, or at least that status quo bias will work in their favor. I hope this patch of land will be a sturdy ark, sailing patiently towards a time when riotous, joyful life will thrive again.

*Translation by Stephen Mitchell


Asa West

Asa West is a sliding-scale tarot reader blending traditional witchcraft with earth-based Judaism. Her writing has appeared in Witches and Pagans Magazine, Luna Luna Magazine, and other outlets, and you can find her at tarotbyasa.com and instagram.com/tarotbyasa.

 


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The Leadership and Legacy of Indigenous Women

April was Indigenous Month in Brazil. This article reports on the Leadership of Indigenous Women conference in Salvador, and explores the personal and communal journey of indigenous women through generations.

From Mirna Wabi-Sabi

Texto em Português (BR) aqui.

You can hear this article read by the author here. (For those with dyslexia, visual impairments, or multitasking needs.)

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Photo By Julia Lea de Toledo. Photo of the Krahô, in Tocantins.

The Leadership of Indigenous Women

Indigenous peoples are often seen as “protectors of the forest” when they lift up a mirror to Western Civilization, revealing how capitalism and industrialization lead to climate change. But if we look beyond ourselves, we can see that their livelihoods have been at stake much before it became clear to us that ours is as well. Rapacious hunting and fishing is making the land scarce, which is unsustainable for us, and devastating for them. This devastation has lead Indigenous women to fight to reclaim land, not just the right to use whatever is left of the land’s resources after governments privatize and industries extract. And they fight at any cost.

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Nádia Akauá Tupinanbá, Flávia Guarani Kaiowá, Rosimere Arapasso. (Federal University of Bahia)

It’s clear now as much as ever, after the coup, Lula’s imprisonment, attempts to privatize Latin America’s largest electricity company (and consequently Brazil’s largest river), that the Government is not an ally. “Politicians don’t represent us” (Nádia). They (and the military) are not to be believed, because it’s clear that “what they say they will do to help doesn’t happen, they’re only after votes”. Many politicians only show up to collect information, and even family members sometimes turn people in (intentionally or unintentionally).
The fight for territory doesn’t need the government. The auto-demarcation of land shows the political strength of the movement, and most importantly the spiritual strength of the people.

“If you don’t feel capable of speaking about yourself, how can you speak for the other? If we don’t speak, we won’t be heard. The abuse of the woman needs to be spoken by the woman! Otherwise there won’t be any change. That’s why we assume the responsibility of militancy, without weekends or holidays.” (Rosimere)

Husbands also can’t represent their wives, they must represent themselves because if they don’t speak up, they are not heard. There is power in denunciation; without it, there are no rights. On the other hand, with denunciation comes persecution. Coming out of invisibility means a whole new set of threats. “Whites want to keep getting richer, so they kill us.” (anonymous) Which is why massacres happen with impunity. If the cops or the military don’t remove tribes from privatized land, landlords will “by the bullet”. And if they don’t kill, they burn their homes and all their things.

“To lead requires courage because we are hunted down like animals.” (Flávia)

The Guarani-Kaiowá territory in Mato Grosso do Sul is home to a tribes that have recently endured egregious acts of violence. Flávia, a 21 year old Indigenous leader, has witnessed a type of police brutality unimaginable to most people. The militarized police force invaded her community, where she lives with her 6 year old son, shooting, leaving many injured and one dead (2016 Caarapó). She says with tears in her eyes that her son is no longer afraid of guns, and that for generations natives grow up in fear without knowing that what they endure is oppression.

“I had to overcome the fear of death, and now I’m prepared to die because I know I’ll die doing something worthwhile.” (Rosimere)

The trans-generational trauma, together with the violence that is still happening today, leads to complex existential obstacles. Among Native youth in particular, demoralization leads to high suicide rates. Some Government programs arrange for psychologists to go to the communities, but according to Nádia Akauá they are not the solution. They will not help people because they have no spirituality, and to Natives prayer is the strongest weapon against demoralization. Many of them go because it’s easy money and they have a curiosity for the “exotic”. These psychologists come from academia, not speaking their language literally, culturally or spiritually.

“The community should decide who comes in and who doesn’t, not some government issued program.” (Nádia)

Hope comes through prayer, which is why spirituality is a driving force of the Indigenous resistance movement. To be able to call yourself Indigenous and practice rituals is in itself a victory. It’s important to preserve and vocalize Indigenous identity, especially after being harshly prevented from doing so in the past. “If we said we were Native, we died” (The Female Cacique/Chief of the Abaeté tribe). During the dictatorship in the 60’s, there were concentration camps for natives. Today, calling oneself Indigenous can still be death sentence. So, in many ways this fight is simply for the right to exist.

The Legacy of Indigenous Women

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Photo By Julia Lea de Toledo. Photo of the Krahô, in Tocantins.

When Brazil was invaded (not “discovered”), there were virtually no European women, so the vast majority of the Brazilian population has come to be from the violent miscegenation between white men and women of color. The fact that our ancestors were violated is something that affects us today, and is a trauma that is passed down to us. There is no recorded history of these Indigenous women; for hundreds of years they have had no voice. All we hear and reproduce is the memory of the white European men who violated them. So we had no chance to heal.

Not allowing indigenous people to speak for themselves has been a successful and despicable way to instill in society the white supremacist ideology we are still struggling with today. For instance, only last year the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam hosted and exhibition of works by a Dutch colonial artist called Frans Post. He continued to paint Brazilian landscapes well after his visit to Brazil (in the mid 1600’s) because they “sold very well“- while “not a single animal or plant study from his hand [is] known”. In other words, he was painting fantasy, and he isn’t the only Dutch artist in museums today who did that.

“[Albert] Eckhout’s depictions were presented, at the time, as “curiosities”, but would end up influencing not to a small degree, the ethnological gaze and anthropological perspectives toward Brazil’s indigenous peoples up to the present day.” (Adone Agnolin)

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To the left is an indigenous woman with chopped body parts and dangerous wild animals, intending to represent the savagery of indigenous peoples in Dutch occupied Brazil. This is not how Natives practiced anthropophagy. To the right we have a “domesticated” mestizo man with European-style clothes and firearm. The twisted white European gaze, while still widely considered objective, has for hundreds of years misrepresented the culture and traditions of native peoples, while violently silencing the people they supposedly represent.

These are examples of capitalism sprouting from patriarchal colonialism, and forming the symbiosis of white supremacy, sexism, and the “free” market that we live in today.

The way to keep the legacy of Native ancestors alive is to rescue the memory of the mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and great-great-grandmothers. Listening, learning, practicing, and sharing keep the identity alive. Indigenous identity is preserved through practice and tradition, not through DNA. Government authorities, however, often use DNA as a tactic to discredit Indigenous leaders, undermine their movements, turn Native people against each other, and bend the law in their favor.

Flávia Guarani Kaiowá, for instance, has had her mixed black ancestry used as a threat against her by several authority figures. That doesn’t even come close to interfering with her commitment to the movement of Indigenous resistance, and to her upbringing, ancestors and traditions. If anything were to happen to her, the whole world will speak her name and her voice will not be silenced like those of the women who came before her.

“My grandmother used to tell me: ‘This land is not ours, we were forced to choose between coming here and dying.’” (Flávia)

Indigenous women were taken by force from their land and moved into camps. Or they were put to work as maids in the homes of military officers and Christian leaders until they were 30 or so. When they aged and were no longer considered valuable as cheap labor, they were left without homes or jobs, and faced discrimination even in their own tribes when they went back. When Brazilians marginalize these Indigenous women, it also means marginalizing a significant part of themselves.

Brazilian families tend to not value their Indigenous ancestry, there is so much colorism that it makes it hard to look for our roots and to preserve our identity. I, personally, decided to rescue the memory of my ancestor by ritualizing my life. This doesn’t mean I’m going to move in with a tribe and start painting myself. It means I practice daily rituals that connect me with my ancestor, by listening, learning and healing in ways that are just not possible through Western medicine and therapies. We can all benefit from destroying a little bit of the white supremacy in the world by decolonizing ourselves.


Mirna Wabi-Sabi

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is co-editor of Gods&Radicals, and writes about decoloniality and anti-capitalism.


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TRADUÇÃO PORTUGUÊS

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Krahô, Tocantins (Foto de Julia Lea de Toledo)

Abril foi o Mês Indígena. Este artigo relata a conferência Liderança de Mulheres Indígenas em Salvador, e explora a jornada pessoal e comunitária das mulheres indígenas pelas gerações.

Por Mirna Wabi-Sabi

A Liderança de Mulheres Indígenas

Os povos indígenas são frequentemente vistos como “protetores da floresta” quando levantam um espelho para a civilização ocidental, revelando como o capitalismo e a industrialização resultou em aquecimento global. Mas se olharmos além de nós mesmos, veremos que a sobrevivência e bem estar deste povo já estava seriamente ameaçada muito antes de ficar claro para nós que a nossa existência também está. A caça e a pesca predatória tornam a terra escassa, o que é insustentável para nós e devastador para eles e elas. Essa devastação ambiental e cultural levou as mulheres indígenas a lutar para recuperar a terra, não apenas o direito de usar o que resta dos recursos da terra depois que o governo privatiza e indústrias extraem. E elas lutam a qualquer custo.

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Citações de Nádia Akauá Tupinanbá, Flávia Guarani Kaiowá, Rosimere Arapasso. (UFBA)

Está claro, como sempre esteve, após o golpe, a prisão de Lula, tentativas de privatizar a maior companhia de eletricidade da América Latina (e consequentemente o Rio Sāo Francisco), que o governo não é um aliado. “Políticos não nos representam” (Nádia). Não podemos acreditar no governo e no exército, porque é claro que “o que eles dizem que vão fazer para ajudar não acontece, estão apenas atraz de votos”. Muitos políticos só aparecem para coletar informações, e até mesmo membros da família às vezes entregam nativos (intencionalmente ou não).

A luta pelo território não precisa do governo. A auto-demarcação da terra mostra a força política do movimento e a força espiritual do povo.

“Se você não se sente capaz de falar sobre si mesmo, como pode falar pelo outro? Se não falarmos, não seremos ouvidas. O abuso da mulher precisa ser falado pela mulher! Caso contrário, não haverá nenhuma mudança. É por isso que assumimos a responsabilidade da militância, sem fins de semana ou feriados.” (Rosimere)

Maridos também não podem representar suas esposas, elas devem representar a si mesmas, porque se não falam, não são ouvidas. Existe poder na denúncia; sem isso, não há direitos. Por outro lado, com a denúncia vem a perseguição. Sair da invisibilidade significa todo um novo conjunto de ameaças. “Os brancos querem continuar enriquecendo, então nos matam.” (anônimo) É por isso que massacres acontecem com impunidade. Se os policiais ou militares não “removem” aldeias de terras, os proprietários se sentem no direito de “remover a bala”. E se não matam, queimam as casas e as coisas.

“Liderar requer coragem porque somos caçadas como animais.” (Flávia)

O território Guarani-Kaiowá, no Mato Grosso do Sul, abriga aldeias que recentemente sofreram horríveis atos de violência. Flávia, uma líder indígena de 21 anos, testemunhou extrema brutalidade policial. A polícia invadiu sua comunidade, onde mora com seu filho de 6 anos, atirando, deixando muitos feridos e um morto (Caarapó 2016). Ela diz com lágrimas nos olhos que seu filho não tem mais medo de armas, e que por gerações Nativos crescem com medo sem saber que o sofrem é opressão.

“Eu tive que superar o medo da morte, e agora estou preparada para morrer, porque sei que vou morrer fazendo algo que vale a pena.” (Rosimere)

O trauma transgeracional, junto com a violência contemporânea, resulta em complexos obstáculos existenciais. Entre os jovens nativos, em particular, a desmoralização leva a altas taxas de suicídio. Alguns programas do governo mandam psicólogos às comunidades, mas, segundo Nádia Akauá, isso não é a solução. Eles não ajudam os Nativos e as Nativas porque não têm espiritualidade, e para eles e elas a oração é a arma mais forte contra a desmoralização. Muitos participam do programa porque é dinheiro fácil e brancos têm uma curiosidade pelo “exótico”. Esses psicólogos vêm da academia, não falando a língua da comunidade literalmente, culturalmente ou espiritualmente.

“A comunidade tem que decidir quem entra e quem não entra, não um programa qualquer do governo.” (Nádia)

A esperança vem através da oração, e é por isso que a espiritualidade é uma força motriz do movimento de resistência indígena. Ser capaz de se chamar indígena e praticar rituais é em si uma vitória. É importante preservar e vocalizar a identidade indígena, especialmente depois de ser duramente impedidos de fazê-lo no passado. “Se a gente falasse que era indígena, morria” (A Cacique Abaeté). Durante a ditadura nos anos 60, havia campos de concentração para nativos. Hoje, se afirmar como indígena ainda pode ser uma sentença de morte. Então, em muitos aspectos, essa luta é simplesmente pelo direito de existir.

O Legado das Mulheres Indígenas

Quando o Brasil foi invadido (não “descoberto”), praticamente não havia mulheres européias, então a grande maioria da população brasileira veio a ser da miscigenação violenta entre homens brancos e mulheres de cor. O fato de nossas ancestrais terem sido violentadas é algo que nos afeta hoje em dia, e é um trauma transmitido a nós. Há pouquíssima históra registrada dessas mulheres indígenas; por centenas de anos elas não tiveram voz. Tudo o que ouvimos e reproduzimos é a memória dos homens europeus brancos que as violaram. Então não tivemos chance de sarar.

Não permitir os povos indígenas de falar por si mesmos tem sido uma maneira bem-sucedida e desprezível de incutir na sociedade a ideologia da supremacia branca, contra qual ainda estamos lutando hoje. Por exemplo, apenas no ano passado, o Rijksmuseum de Amsterdã exibiu obras de um artista colonial holandês chamado Frans Post. Ele continuou a pintar paisagens brasileiras bem depois de sua visita ao Brasil (em meados do século 17), porque “vendiam muito bem” – enquanto “nem um único estudo de animal ou planta de sua mão é conhecido”. Em outras palavras, ele estava pintando fantasias, e ele não é o único artista holandês em museus de hoje que fez isso.

“As pinturas de [Albert] Eckhout foram apresentadas, na época, como “curiosidades”, mas acabariam influenciando, não a um pequeno grau, o olhar etnológico e as perspectivas antropológicas em relação aos povos indígenas do Brasil até os dias atuais.” (Adone Agnolin)

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À esquerda está uma indígena com partes de um corpo picado e animais selvagens perigosos, que pretende representar a selvageria dos povos indígenas na região Braseila ocupada pelos holandeses. Não é assim que os nativos praticavam a antropofagia. À direita, temos um homem mestiço “domesticado” com roupas de estilo europeu e arma de fogo. O olhar branco Europeu distorcido, apesar de ainda ser amplamente considerado objetivo, por centenas de anos deturpou a cultura e as tradições dos povos Indígenas, violentamente silenciando as pessoas que supostamente representava.

Estes são exemplos do capitalismo brotando do colonialismo patriarcal, e formando a simbiose entre a supremacia branca, o sexismo, e o mercado “livre” em que vivemos hoje.

Uma maneira de manter vivo o legado de ancestrais Nativos é resgatar a memória das mães, avós, bisavós e trisavós. Ouvir, aprender, praticar e compartilhar mantém a identidade viva. A identidade indígena é preservada através da prática e da tradição, não só através do DNA. As autoridades governamentais, no entanto, muitas vezes usam o DNA como uma tática para desacreditar líderes indígenas, minar seus movimentos, transformar os povos indígenas uns contra os outros, e reverter a lei a seu favor.

Flávia Guarani Kaiowá, por exemplo, teve sua descendência negra usada como uma ameaça contra ela por várias figuras de autoridade. Isso nem chega perto de interferir em seu compromisso com o movimento da resistência indígena, e com sua relação com sua criação, ancestrais e tradições. Se alguma coisa lhe acontecer, o mundo inteiro falará seu nome e sua voz não será silenciada como as das mulheres que vieram antes dela.

“Minha avó me disse: ‘Essa terra não é nossa, fomos forçadas a escolher entre vir aqui e morrer.'” (Flávia)

Mulheres indígenas foram retiradas à força de suas terras e transferidas para os campos. Ou foram colocadas para trabalhar como empregadas domésticas nas casas de oficiais militares e líderes cristãos até por volta dos 30 anos de idade. Quando envelheciam, e não eram mais consideradas valiosas como mão-de-obra barata, ficavam sem moradia ou emprego e enfrentavam discriminação até mesmo quando voltavam pra suas próprias aldeias. Quando brasileiros marginalizam mulheres indígenas, isso também significa marginalizar uma parte significante de nós mesmos.

As famílias brasileiras tendem a não valorizar sua ancestralidade indígena, há tanto colorismo que dificulta a busca à nossas raízes e a preservação de nossa identidade. Eu, pessoalmente, decidi resgatar a memória da minha ancestral pela investigação histórica e pela ritualização minha vida. Isso não significa que eu vou me mudar pra uma aldeia e começar a me pintar. Significa que pratico rituais diários que me conectam com minha ancestral, ouvindo, aprendendo e me curando de maneiras que não são possíveis através da medicina e das terapias ocidentais. Todos e todas nós nos beneficiaremos da descolinização e da destruição da supremacia branca no mundo.


Mirna Wabi-Sabi

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é editora de Gods&Radicals, e escreve sobre anti-colonialismo e anti-capitalismo.


Apoie nosso trabalho aqui.

Man Alone in a Mass Grave

‘Where we are now is a state of ruin. Ruins typify the geography of the world. And ruin is the apparent destination of History, God’s story for “Man”, as “Man” plunges into the Future’s abyss.”

From Julian Langer

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“And I saw the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the one seated on the horse and against his army. And the wild beast was caught, and along with it the false prophet that performed in front of it the signs with which he misled those who received the mark of the wild beast and those who worship its image. While still alive, they both were hurled into the fiery lake that burns with sulfur.”

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

–Two quotes from The Book of Revelations

What greater symbol of manhood, manliness, “Man’s” strength, “Man’s” relevance, “Man’s” status in the world, “Man’s” authority, “Man’s” dominance, the awesome might of “Man’s” mighty cosmic cock, has there even been, than that of God? “Man” was made in God’s image and God signifies all power, all morality; God is the great, cosmic determiner. All is under God’s will and, as “Man” is made in God’s image, “Man’s” determination of how the world ought to be is within God’s image of what “Man” ought to construct, build, etc.

But as we stand in the aftermath of The Enlightenment, in the continuing Scientific and Industrial-Technological Revolutions, and the nihilism that has been found within the spaces between the great icons of the Leviathan, it feels reasonable to embrace the famed Nietzschean adage of “God is dead”.

With God being dead, we also find that “Man” has been slain in the process, with his mighty cosmic phallus decaying over the past couple centuries. The monarchies, churches and most other institutions that upheld “Man’s” image in God’s eyes have largely succumbed to ruin. In their place, “Man” has built great houses of Republicanism, laboratories and expanded the dominion over the earth promised to “Man” by God, through expansion of its roads, cities and national boundaries; through erecting great architectural monuments in the form of skyscrapers, in an apparent attempt to build a Neo-Tower of Babel to re-join God in heaven (or will that be through the great space elevator?); and through territorialising the entirety of the body of the earth under the singular locality of Production and Markets. This has all been done within the narrative of the myth of “Man’s” manifest destiny, as an attempt to regain “Man’s” Godliness.

What this has led us to is ruin and Death. Where we are now is a state of ruin. Ruins typify the geography of the world. And ruin is the apparent destination of History, God’s story for “Man”, as “Man” plunges into the Future’s abyss.

Can we honestly deny this? The weather over the past few years is an obvious sign of the ruin “Man” has created, as it makes ruins of the Reality “Man” has constructed. The evident collapsing of this culture is apparent within the escalating warfare between differing nations, in a dance whose choreography seems to originate through events in Europe and the world-made-European within the 15th century.

This dance, in the early days of the Scientific Revolution, as God’s face started looking old and tired to “Man”, followed from event the Dark/Middle Age of European History (in a Derridean sense, this is a sequence of différance that will likely never become whole, but … whatever). It manifested the colonialism we are abundantly aware of, as we find ourselves caged within History, through the centuries and into the early 20th century. Following the mighty cosmic cockiness of “Man”, manifested through the Technological-Industrial Revolution, the ruination of “Man’s” manifest destiny started tipping into the abyss of the Future we see as the manifest-geography “Man” has created. And out of this two World Wars, the Cold War and wars between the Euro-American “world” and the Communist and Islamist “worlds”, as this singular locality of “Man” made God through the Leviathan consumes itself, in an act of self-cannibalisation.

And we arrive at ruin. The ruin of the environment. The ruin of the Leviathan and the Reality “Man” has constructed, its buildings and markets, its roads and politics. Will God return reborn, like the bible preaches, to wipe away Man’s tears? I doubt it!

“There I saw a woman riding upon a scarlet animal, covered with blasphemous titles and having seven heads and ten horns. The woman herself was dressed in purple and scarlet, glittering with gold, jewels and pearls. In her hand she held a golden cup full of the earth’s filthiness and her own foul impurity. On her forehead is written a name with a secret meaning—BABYLON THE GREAT, MOTHER OF ALL HARLOTS AND OF THE EARTH’S ABOMINATIONS.”

–Another quote from the Book of Revelations

Within this narrative of the death of God and “Man” as an image of God, we’ve seen, in many ways, the image of Woman rise up, liberated, taking the mighty cosmic cock of “Man” and flinging it to the floor. And, while this might have been made part of the myths of History, the Leviathan, with Woman’s liberation being-made politicised and many technological phallus being made to replace “Man’s” fleshier one (some vibrating, others not), this has, in many ways, left Man’s image in ruins. (This is not to deny the manifestation of patriarchy in our present situation, but to simply acknowledge the effects of the forms of liberation that have been attained, in whatever ways they may be.)

But Woman’s liberation, in all the senses that entails, has not just led to the obvious resurgences of “Man’s” grasping for his mighty cosmic Godly wang, as the alt-right, populism and Trump-style politics attempts to masturbate all over the world (even through artificial virtual cocks, like Twitter and 4chan – cocks which don’t vibrate). No, there exists far more subtle ways of “Man” trying to retain his wang, as History nose-dives into ruin. They might often do it under the guise of being allies to Woman’s liberation and enemies of God, in the name of Secularism and Humanism. They virtually always retain their (virtual) allegiance (subservience) to History(/God/the Leviathan/the mighty cosmic cock of “Man” that was revealed, within the myths of civilisation, at the dawn of agriculture).

In the ruin that “Man” has constructed, through “Man” constructing the Reality of the Leviathan, “Man” has subsequently hidden himself away from the world through virtuality, alienating himself further from the immediacy of his flesh and the Living Real, in technological inauthenticity. And within this virtuality, this artificial cosmic wang for man to masturbate with (which does not vibrate), “Man” has attempted to erect himself as the image of History’s salvation, through the revolutionary icon of the Left.

Through this icon of Leftism, “Man” erects, “Man” attempts to save the world from ruin. We see this every day, through endless hashtags, callouts and social media campaigns. “Man” (predominantly white “Man”, the great writers of History, within colonialism’s racist narrative) will save Woman from his own fist (as he saves the world from the racists who uphold his image). These men of the Leftist image of “Man” claim this constructed Reality History has made as their own, their capital for them to have dominion over, for them to police and to condemn those who defy their image of how History ought to be.

No names will be stated here – this is no call out. These men of “Man” know who they are. We see them try to erect themselves as icons of the Leviathan and we know who they are. They are no-one. They are no-thing. They are constructions of the machine, symbolic phalluses. So their names shan’t be stated here.

These men find themselves alone, alienated from their flesh and the Real, caged by the Reality constructed by History, the Reality of a mass grave.

“God is engaged in three kinds of activity: creation, preservation and destruction. Death is inevitable. All will be destroyed at the time of dissolution. Nothing will remain. At that time the Divine Mother will gather up the seeds for the future creation, even as the elderly mistress of the house keeps in her hotchpotch-pot little bags of cucumber seeds, ‘sea-foam’, blue pills, and other miscellaneous things. The Divine Mother will take her seeds out again at the time of the new creation.”

–Ramakrishna

“She was a normal wild beast, whose power is dangerous, whose anger can kill, they had said. Be more careful of her, they advised. Allow her less excitement. Perhaps let her exercise more. She understood none of this. She understood only the look of fear in her keeper’s eyes. And now she paces. Paces as if she were angry, as if she were on the edge of frenzy. The spectators imagine she is going through the movements of the hunt, or that she is readying her body for survival. But she knows no life outside the garden. She has no notion of anger over what she could have been, or might be. No idea of rebellion.It is only her body that knows of these things, moving her, daily, hourly, back and forth, back and forth, before the bars of her cage.”

–Susan Griffin

In the eyes of God, though many of God’s worshippers of a more liberal disposition will seek to deny this, Woman signifies unrepressed wild animality. Eve takes the apple from the tree, ignoring the will of God, the will of the machine, the will of the Leviathan. Delilah cuts the hair of God’s servant Samson, in an act of betrayal towards the will of God. Jezebel doesn’t worship God who burns the body of bulls to prove his might, consuming the sacrifice instantly, but worships Baal, a god who, myths appear to reveal, didn’t want to consume the bodies of living beings in reverence of their own image (for authenticity’s sake I feel to acknowledge here that I am non-theistic in my belief systems (sympathetic to panpsychist/hylozoic metaphysics) so don’t actually believe in the existence of any gods).

Woman represents, in this way, the creative-destructive Mother Earthly energies of wild-Being.

And here we arrive at the crux of what I have intended to convey here. I suggest that we do not follow these men who uphold the image of “Man” and History, sacrificing Woman upon its alter, in their pursuit of the dominion over the earth granted to them by God. I suggest that we embrace the wild-feminine, rather than the sacred-feminine. This embrace of wild-feminine is the embrace of our bare naked flesh; our honest, impulsive, unrepressed, authentic desires; the animal creative-nothing of wild-Being.

I am not intending within the term wild-feminine to signify something inherently engendered or sexualised. Rather, as the Reality of civilisation the Leviathan of Man has attempted to construct is manifested through the phallus of “Mans” mighty cosmic phallus, I am intending to signify that which this Reality attempts to dominate, repress and domesticate.

Let us leave “Man” alone with his followers in their mass grave of ruins. We will embrace the Living world of creative-destruction, the wild-feminine that gives Life birth.


Julian Langer

Writer of Feral Consciousness: Deconstruction of the Modern Myth and Return to the Woods, blogger at Eco-Revolt, and has been published on a number of other sites. Eco-anarchist and guerilla ontologist philosopher. Lover of woods, deer, badgers and other wild Beings. Musician and activist.


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Assigned Faggot: Gender Roles, Sex, and the Division of Labor

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A boy in eighth-grade math class walks over and says, “You sit like a woman. What are you, a woman?” We both know there’s no right answer.


 

When I was born, the obstetrician said I was male. So, growing up, that was the role expected of me. People told me I’d become a heterosexually-married adult man. I shouldn’t have long hair, wear dresses, or cry “like a sissy.”

At some point, though, that comprehensive set of expectations (that gender role) changed. By the time I hit adolescence, no one thought I’d marry a woman. Boys were supposed to like football and act tough, but nobody looked at me and thought I could ever do that. My classmates started calling me gay before I even knew what the word meant. More and more, people expected that I would behave different from my male peers.

Of course, their expectations carried a weight of moral condemnation. When they called me a “faggot,” they made it clear that it was a very bad thing to be. But, none of them seriously believed that someone who looked, moved, and sounded like me could be anything else. I was chastised and punished for filling it, but nevertheless “faggot” was the role I was pressured to fill.

Are gender and sexuality fundamentally personal identities, or are they imposed by a larger social system? How sharp is the line between them?


 

Walking down the hall in high school, it feels like every other word is “faggot.” An especially churchy classmate tells me that if I was a real Christian, I wouldn’t “want to be that way any more.”

In gym class, the coach sends the boys to one side of the room and the girls to the other to do different activities. No one looks surprised when I go with the girls.


 

On paper, US conservatism believes in a strict gender binary. You are male or female, birth to death. Men are naturally one way and women another. No one really falls in between. Men, of course, are naturally strong and unemotive. They sleep with women but socialize with each other.

And yet, people who embraced that ideology wholesale would meet me and assume that my friends were girls, that I was emotional and “sensitive,” that I’d defer to my male peers, and – perhaps most of all – that I was sexually available to men. But since they didn’t read me as cis female, why weren’t they bringing the usual male expectations?

When I had straight male friends, why did they expect me to be emotionally supportive and assume I had some special insight into “what women want?” They didn’t seek that from each other, and they’d have either laughed or gotten angry at anyone who asked it of them.

If their idea of gender was as binary as they believed it to be, why didn’t they place me into a male role?


 

Unfortunately, many women-particularly single women-are afraid of the perspective of wages for housework because they are afraid of identifying even for a second with the housewife. They know that this is the most powerless position in society and so they do not want to realise that they are housewives too…

We are all housewives because no matter where we are they can always count on more work from us, more fear on our side to put forward our demands, and less pressure on them for money, since hopefully our minds are directed elsewhere, to that man in our present or our future who will “take care of us”.

Silvia Federici

 

Did those people believe in genders besides female and male?

With their ideas, they didn’t. With their actions, though, they did. After all, they created at least one gender role besides “man” and “woman” – I know because they assigned me to it! My social position was not authentically male. I was failed-male. In practice, my gender was “faggot.”

When they said “faggots aren’t real men,” that was an is, not an ought. “Faggot” is a socially-real gender category distinct from “male.” It is imposed (like all genders) by a social system beyond the control of any given individual. Gender, after all, is more than either individual identity or cultural beliefs. Each gender role corresponds to a particular place in the overall social division of labor.

To be given a feminized gender (like “woman” or “faggot”) means to be given feminized work: emotional, interpersonal, domestic, caregiving, and sexual. When you meet someone, they read a gender onto you. Practically speaking, that means they either expect you to take on those tasks or they expect others to take them on instead of you. There are, of course, plenty of signifiers that help people make that gender assignment (speech inflections, clothes, names, communication styles, inferred secondary sex characteristics, etc). But all that only makes up half of what a gender is – the rest is being expected to do specific kinds of work, and you can’t cleanly untangle the two halves. Being conventionally feminine means being expected to wear makeup, long hair, etc – but also to have a less aggressive conversation style, to step aside for men on the sidewalk, to be “nurturing,” and to sleep with men. On the ground, the division of labor and cultural norms are united. Each upholds the other.


 

I sit in a therapist’s office and talk about how since transitioning, I’ve felt less and less connection with any sort of sexuality and I don’t understand why. He tells me I just need to accept that I’m attracted to men – once I do that, he says, things will fall into place.


 

Radical feminism talks about “compulsory heterosexuality” – the idea that heterosexuality is more than a sexual preference some people happen to have. It’s a political institution built into the gender system itself, through which all women (including lesbians) are pressured to treat sex with men as inherent to womanhood. This approach to sexuality cares about the pleasure of men, but leaves non-male desires as (at best) an afterthought. Without it, feminized gender roles (woman and faggot alike) would bear little resemblance to their current forms.

I faced that imperative, just like my cis female peers. To be sure, people delivered it to me on different terms. Attraction to men was expected of me, but never treated as though it were positive. However, it was still part of the role I was assigned. Accepting my lesbianism still entailed a process of soul-searching to break through some deeply internalized messages; it tracked closely with the experiences of the cis lesbians I know.

Sexuality doesn’t neatly come apart from gender. Gender is an overarching system, a way of organizing certain types of work within class society’s overall division of labor. My socialization into a feminized role brought with it certain sexual expectations, just as it carried emotional and interpersonal ones.

Neither sexuality nor gender floats free, separate from each other or from the overall organization of society. They aren’t (just) individual identities, and they aren’t (just) cultural ideas. These roles exist physically: the interactions humans have with each other and with the world re-create them every day. If you ignore that context, you’ll misunderstand the relationship between them.

Cultural norms about gender receive institutional support from the government, businesses, religious congregations, etc. After all, gender is an efficient and elegant way to get some people to do certain kinds of work for free. Sure, some aspects of contemporary gender predate capitalism. However, this gender system is still capitalist to its essence. Why? Capitalism digested those older components and turned them into something qualitatively different (as the historical research of Silvia Federici and other Marxist feminists shows).

Beliefs and practices aren’t merely ephemera. They aren’t fluff on top of an underlying economic reality. They’re part of economic reality because they’re part of how people carry out the daily work of existence. Their function within it is vital. Without them, it wouldn’t be easy to get anyone to do feminized work for free, but with them? People “spontaneously” enforce those roles on each other via social pressure, “common sense,” and violence. Why else do so many women punish each other for deviating from fundamentally-sexist norms?

Again, though, the ideas in people’s heads are only half the picture. The conservative Christians I grew up around believed wholeheartedly that only two genders existed. But when they couldn’t find a place in the male role for people like me, what did they do? They created another one for us (faggot). Did they call it a gender? Of course not, but ideology isn’t what you believe. It’s what you’ve internalized through what you do. And isn’t it telling that if you asked them about trans and nonbinary people, they’d say none of it was valid because “those people are just confused faggots?”


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Nearly all liberals (and more than a few leftists) arrive at their politics by first noticing an instance of oppression, then deciding to oppose it. They hear conservatives condemn gays, for instance, and think, “We’ve got to stop that prejudice. Gay people deserve respect!” That’s an understandable approach – disrespect, bigotry, and microaggressions are right there for all to see. Shouldn’t they be gotten rid of?

But when you remember that ideas and beliefs are only half of what’s going on, doesn’t something almost sinister emerge? We can remove the outward signs of oppression. But does that mean it’s gone, or just that it’s harder to see?

When you look at someone’s face, it doesn’t take its shape from the skin on the surface. It takes it from the bone underneath. If outright bigotry is the visible skin, the division of labor and the need to enforce it are the bone. Had I grown up in a liberal area rather than a conservative one, the people around me would have believed that women should be considered equal to men and that LGBT people deserved acceptance and respect. Those categories would have been enforced more gently – but they still would have been enforced. Since capitalism’s division of labor would have remained, feminized work would still have gotten assigned to feminized roles.

They wouldn’t have called me “faggot,” but they would have called me “fabulous” – and at the end of the day, the role expectations are the same either way. Respect and inclusion would have been nicer makeup, but the face beneath would have been no different.


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Radical politics should begin with the physical reality of class society and its division of labor.

The cultural half of the mechanism matters. It isn’t a question of “divisive social issues.” Norms and ideas are part of how the system works, and separating them from “economic class” just shows you’ve misunderstood both.

But because these roles are unified with the class system, the goal can’t simply be greater respect. Imposing them politely is still imposing them. The surface manifestations are an important part of the phenomenon, but they aren’t all of it. And ultimately, radical politics must seek to abolish the entire thing.

And if radicals forget that, then sure, they might find ways to make society look less oppressive.

But will anyone have actually gotten free?


 

Sophia Burns is a communist and polytheist in the US Pacific Northwest. Support her on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/marxism_lesbianism