Uber Alles

A poem about (sub)urban youth, political carelessness, contradictions and the criminal justice system.

From Rex Butters

praveesh-palakeel-352584-unsplash.jpg

we share an Uber
me to work
Miles to the train
old guy driver
(younger than me)
says both his sons live
in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
“my Mom came from Sioux Falls,” I say
“they hate it,” he says
but they graduate soon
they’re both majoring in
Criminal Justice.”
“everyone’s majoring in
Criminal Justice,”
Miles mutters from the back seat

I wonder
is it everywhere?
is it our right leaning local landscape?
over saturation of propaganda
good cop movies and tv shows?
relentless retelling tales
of non-existent imminent threats?
fear for the inevitable rise
of stomped down
ignored hungry
powerless people
fighting back?

or as Fascism goes mainstream
job security in a growing job market?
authoritarian assimilation?
this oxy-
moronically titled
career opportunity
monetizing anger and insecurity
the sickening hole
of powerless rage
weaponized

cop, probation officer, correctional officer, security guard, state trooper, crime scene investigator, fbi agent, cia agent, postal inspector, immigration agent, dea agent, us marshal, secret service agent, customs agent, criminal profiler

when the only doors open
turn us on each other
the new slave patrol
recruiting workers for the private prison
plantations

later at work
on break
lounging at outdoor table
next to table two
late teen girls
discuss their futures

the dark haired white girl says,
“I think I’m going to major
in Criminal Justice.”
her fair haired friend
rolls her eyes
says, “everyone’s
majoring in Criminal Justice.”

the first girl pauses
looks toward the horizon
“I don’t know,” she says
“It’s that
or Cosmetology.”


Rex Butters

Rex foto

Rolling hills and wheeling crows, a voluptuous valley under sunset bloody clouds, night coyote pup trots, mouth full of rabbit or cat, pollinators buzz the trumpet creeper, windy, cold.

Support our work here.

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

creation-of-man-1159966_1920

“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.


Here’s the link to our donation page. And thanks!

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

course__courses_asdinclusiveclassroomstrategies__course-landing-still-1462846710-42

Source

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?”


800px-cross_section_of_a_face
Source

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.


800px-pride_2009_28373927257729
Source

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

The Sword Triumphant

“The sword is the land. The sword is love and love for the wild. It is the love of waves that crash down upon the shore with an unquenchable fury, until it has ground cliffs into dust. It is the love of the mountain, whose heart is iron.”

From Ramon Elani

Dürer_woodcut_series_-_Apocalypse_9

“Reason will not decide at last; the sword will decide.
The sword: an obsolete instrument of bronze or steel,
formerly used to kill men, but here
In the sense of a symbol.”—Robinson Jeffers
Having dug into the dark water and thick peat, stinking with thousands of years of decaying sacrifices, strewn with half drowned bones, and bits of flesh preserved, I have come to the sword at last. Held aloft, with the ghosts behind me. The sword is the earth, the land itself. And its fire burns with a heat that will blow the world to pieces. Destruction upon the wings. For victory in battle, the sword bears the Tyr rune. Victory comes through dismemberment. We must lose in order to win. The wolf is bound by freely giving the sacrifice of blood, of ruin. Those who fear the sword will be the first to fall beneath it’s blade. The sword is the steward of the bloody and of those whose bodies have bled from wounds that will not heal. Ah, that we should curse the sword for teaching us what we are!

Dürer_Apocalypse_12
The sword is the land. The sword is love and love for the wild. It is the love of waves that crash down upon the shore with an unquenchable fury, until it has ground cliffs into dust. It is the love of the mountain, whose heart is iron. It is the love of the grove, where beauty was given to oak and wicker. It is the love of the stars, forever exploding in the abyss of space. What shall be said of man? It shall be said that he was “Prince of the plunder, / The unrelenting warrior to his enemy; / Heavy was he in his vengeance; / Terrible was his fighting.Who dreams of a world governed by a kinder, gentler god dreams of desolation. Who dreams of reason and the triumph of justice will forever dream in vain. Thus we must give our love to the severed hand, though we mourn its loss. For the part that is mutilated is still a part of me and I will not shun it. Wholeness is not what it appears. There is agony in wholeness, though its absence contains a sorrow to break the world.

Ff100289
Humanity is a grotesque enough thing without becoming torn apart by its dreams of a world for which it was never destined. Nevertheless, techno-industrialism promises humanity godhood. Not the bloody commingling of flesh and spirit but the mechanistic arrangement of parts. Isolation, alienation. An ordered world of a compartmentalized humanity. Only be separating itself from the spirit of life can that world be achieved. And what would be left of us by then? What manner of stunted, deformed creatures would still breathe to wander the golden palaces we strive for? The sword is obsolete to the world builders of today and tomorrow. Theirs is a weapon more subtle and dreadful by far. Industrialism had no use for the sword. Those of ages past longed for nothing than to die whole and to dissolve within the heart of the world. To put aside the sword is to curse ourselves even beyond the mark we bear from birth. For the sword is love.

420px-Dürer_Apocalypse_4
I speak to my son and my daughter, my own Life and the Everlasting Strength of Life. What a world you will face. Dark when I was born, dark when the earth was born, dark when the storms come, dark when our home is buried beneath the dust, dark when the stars fade in the sky, and the universe grows cold. The trouble is coming, the trouble is here. It has been here for longer than we know. And the world and humanity will grow more rotten in your time and in the time of your children to come. Lies notwithstanding we have always known that the gods are not full of boundless love and forgiveness. Love yes, forgiveness perhaps. But they do not rule from on high, dispassionately directing our hands with the calm patience of an endlessly benevolent parent. No, the gods are as cruel as they are loving. And to be born into the world is to accept the law of the sword and the bloody claw. And to strive for something other, to strive to bury the sword and shatter the shining blade is to deny the gods and deny their love. My children inherit a world of ruins, a landscape of bones. They will struggle and fight and they will be unrelenting in their battles and they will bring vengeance and fury. They will be demons in a world of monsters. And the sword will guide them.
Through it all, they will see, as I have seen, the staggering beauty of the iron grey sea. The stars shining in a limpid pool. The sun rising over the piney hills. Beauty, yes. And meaning. The meaning of the cosmos and the secrets of the gods themselves. All these things lie in the simplest, most quiet moments. The whispering trees, stirred by the gentle wind. We are never alone. We stand, sword in hand, and commune with the forces. A vision of humanity perfected is a vision of solipsism. Imperfect but whole, we are a part of that which is beyond us. Only if we listen and respond. For there will always be a voice that echoes in the heart, which can speak in the tongues of rivers and mountains. Even as the floods bear down upon us and threaten to sweep our world away, the gods will talk to us if we listen.

558905347

Love the sword, for it is who we are. And in that truth lies our link to the cosmos and self beyond the self. To look in upon humanity, to take the ideologies and madness of our society at face value, is to be damned. It is to live in a desert of our own making. If salvation awaits us, if the gods offer clemency for our many crimes, it can only be sought upon the thundering cliffs and the murky woods.

 

“The world’s in a bad way, my man,
And bound to be worse before it mends;
Better lie up in the mountain here
Four or five centuries,
While the stars go over the lonely ocean.”—Robinson Jeffers


Ramon Elani

Ramon Elani holds a PhD in literature and philosophy. He is a teacher, a poet, a husband, and a father, as well as a muay thai fighter. He wanders in oak groves. He casts the runes and sings to trolls. He lives among mountains and rivers in Western New England

More of his writing can be found here. You can also support him on Patreon.

No Individual Solutions

privilege
Source: University of San Francisco

When my partner and I walk down the sidewalk, we know people will sometimes shout that we’re “fuckin’ dykes.” When a straight couple goes out in public, they know they won’t get called “fuckin’ breeders” – they have that privilege.

Mainline social justice acknowledges that. It doesn’t pretend that straight and lesbian couples get treated equally, and it condemns the position of privilege enjoyed by heterosexuals relative to LGBT people. However, recognizing the need to end something is only half of a political position – you also need a way to make that change happen.

Social justice promises just that. Its strategy against not just straight privilege, but privilege in general has two prongs: anti-discrimination legislation on the one hand, and individuals changing their conduct on the other. People need to own up to their privilege; then, they must relinquish it.

But how, specifically, do you do that? Although social justice proponents are often light on the concrete details, one widely-shared article has an answer: if privilege is letting you do something, don’t do it.


 

If you have access to something and you recognize that you have it partly because of privilege, opt out of it.

Mia McKenzie

Now, that implies more than it says. This analysis begins with the experiences of individuals: this couple faces street harassment, that one doesn’t. Then, it generalizes those experiences to larger social groups (Black people, men, bisexuals, and so on). However, it never lets go of its initial individualistic assumptions – the experiences of a group are the experiences believed to be shared by its members.

From there, “opting out” follows logically. Is oppression about individuals being treated unequally because of their demographic position? If so, anti-oppression means working towards equal treatment. Is privilege is the sum of many individual acts of oppression (stacked, like the hierarchy of needs, from microaggressions all the way up to genocide)? Then ending those acts ends privilege. Some can be outlawed (hate violence, for instance). For others, though, you have to convince people to change their behavior. You couldn’t feasibly have a law against not taking women’s opinions seriously, for instance.

So, those with privilege must give it up. Not making use of it seems a reasonable starting point. The article quoted above, for instance, gives as an example not attending a conference that refuses to accommodate wheelchair users. You “opt out” of the benefits, and privilege weakens. To stop privilege, stop participating in it.

In practice, though, that doesn’t work.


 

temp_file_pyramid1_587_589
Source: GVSU Feminist Voices

But doesn’t fewer people taking advantage of privilege mean fewer people reinforcing it? Even if “opting out” isn’t sufficient by itself, isn’t it a necessary tool?

 

On the ground, “opting out” fails for two reasons:

  • “Opting out” is undesirable. When anti-oppression types say “privilege,” what concrete things are they talking about? Sometimes, they mean getting away with things no one should do – committing sexual assault with impunity, for instance. At least as often, though, they mean less-privileged people not getting to do neutral or positive things that the privileged take for granted – not acts of violence, but things that everyone should be able to do. My partner and I risk homophobic harassment when we go outside. Straight couples don’t. Should they “opt out” of leaving the house? After all, they can do so without being bothered by homophobes – that’s privilege. “Opting out” would mean never stepping out of their front door.
  • “Opting out” is impossible. My partner and I don’t choose to be harassed. Straight people don’t choose not to be. When some people get treated better than others, is it because they somehow control how strangers behave towards them? Should a straight couple say to everyone who walks by, “I know we’re heterosexual, but please treat us no differently than you’d treat lesbians”? If they did, would a homophobe answer, “Oh, happy to oblige! You damn dykes”? If individuals could just will these structures out of their lives (as “opting out” implies), this whole system would have died a long time ago. But that’s not how it works. The social order precedes and transcends the individuals within it.

 

feministhulk4
Source: Feminist Hulk via Comics Alliance

But if “opting out” is impossible, why does the idea persist?

Well, social justice’s individualism allows for no other conclusion. If privilege boils down to individual actions and individual experiences, then individual choices must be both the problem and the answer. Sure, social justice pays lip service to “structural issues” and “systemic oppression.” But the nitty-gritty of what it means by that always falls back on individual complicity. How “systemic” can a critique be when it doesn’t acknowledge that social organization is more than the sum of the individuals inside it? If “structural” oppression just means that every member of a better-off group is individually complicit in their privilege, doesn’t that reduce oppression to “bad apples?” The bad apples may number in the tens or hundreds of millions, but the essence is still there – the problem is rotten people making rotten choices. It’s still about each person’s individual moral failure. However, there is no mechanism by which you can stop being complicit. So, for social justice, there is no solution. There’s only condemnation without end.

 

Luckily, though, this framework doesn’t line up with reality. Oppression isn’t the sum of millions of immoral decisions. Liberation is possible. But, it takes something that social justice hates even more than privilege.


 

Only when men see our work as work-our love as work-and most important our determination to refuse both, will they change their attitude towards us. When hundreds and thousands of women are in the streets saying that endless cleaning, being always emotionally available, fucking at command for fear of losing our jobs is hard, hated work which wastes our lives, then they will be scared and feel undermined as men.

But this is the best thing that can happen from their own point of view, because by exposing the way capital has kept us divided (capital has disciplined them through us and us through them-each other, against each other), we – their crutches, their slaves, their chains – open the process of their liberation.

Silvia Federici

Privilege leads to unequal treatment, but that’s not where it comes from.

Capitalism involves more than fast-food chains and stock exchanges. It’s an all-encompassing division of labor. Every single task through which humanity continues to exist gets parceled out to one group or another. That’s the material basis of social categories that, at first glance, look either natural or merely cultural.

The “common sense” belief that race and gender are bio-cultural phenomena just masks what they really are: ways of assigning different work to different people, carried out under different conditions. Those divisions are then enforced by institutional discrimination, “common sense” ideas (promoted through media, education, and religion), and – should those fail – physical violence. “Woman” as a cultural category both emerges from and reinforces the way that certain people are expected to do care work and housework (mostly unpaid). The category “white,” similarly, both comes from and continually recreates the fact that some workers tend to have better conditions, jobs, and pay, a cultural sense of superiority, and de facto segregation from other workers. Through gender, capitalism gets a lot of necessary work done for free. Through race, it prevents certain workers from uniting with the rest of their class against the system by giving them relative advantages within it. So, privileged workers benefit in the short term. But in the long term, their privilege just prolongs their own exploitation.

Social justice will never realize that. Why should it? The activist subculture is mostly middle-class, not working-class. So, it reflects middle-class ideas and middle-class interests.

Do middle-class and ruling-class men and whites have a long-term stake in abolishing their own privilege? No – it gives them an unambiguous competitive advantage in the professions, management, and business. Why else do middle-class people from less-privileged demographics frame their politics in terms of unjust disparities and ethical imperatives? Without a shared material stake in ending privilege, moral self-sacrifice is all that’s left.

Middle-class and ruling-class reformers, though, find themselves in a contradictory position. On the one hand, lacking privilege makes their lives tangibly worse. But on the other, their class position depends on the continued existence of privilege, because the capitalist division of labor depends on it and they depend on capitalism.

So, they end up with equally-contradictory politics. Social justice has no way out.


 

On more than one occasion, Black workers have forced the employer to open a new job area to them, only to run up against the rigid opposition of white workers.

White revolutionaries must understand, and help the masses of white workers to understand, that the interests of the entire working class can only be served by standing firmly with the Black workers in such cases.

Noel Ignatiev

Does that mean that privilege will never go away? If social justice can’t overcome oppression, what can?

Class struggle.

Internal divisions notwithstanding, the working class as a whole carries out all of the tasks of human existence. Without workers, there is nothing. But, the working class doesn’t decide the way in which it does that labor. The ruling class of capitalists does – the investors, executives, and business owners who control the physical and social infrastructure through which all work happens (the “means of production“).

Capitalists dictate the social order and exploit the working class, accumulating wealth at workers’ expense. The working class has the ability to overthrow capitalism (since capitalists need workers, but workers don’t need capitalists). It also has an interest in doing so – replacing it with a system in which workers (paid and unpaid) control everything. Obviously, capitalists have good reason to oppose that. So, whenever workers try to collectively pursue their interests, the ruling class opposes them however it can. That ranges from shaping “common sense” to relying on state violence.

The division of labor within the working class both creates and relies on privilege. In doing so, it makes it harder for the working class to effectively struggle against its oppressors. Privileged workers are less likely to side with the rest of their class because, due to privilege, they’re comparatively better off. But, that’s only a short-term interest. In the long term, their interests are the same as other workers’.

So, there’s a material basis for workers to come together and organize against the ruling class – and when they do so, specifically fighting against privilege is ultimately good for them all, even if some are benefitting from privilege at the moment. But, to make that happen, working-class politics has to focus on the long-term goal of ending capitalism and exploitation. It needs the analysis that your privilege here and now is the enemy of your liberation in the future. In other words, if it sticks to “achievable” short-term reforms, it can’t effectively do that because it’s dropped the long-term aim. After all, you can’t focus on long-term interests if you don’t acknowledge them. Moderate socialism isn’t any more useful against privilege than social justice.

What can end privilege?

Communism.


 

2000px-simple_hammer_and_sickle-svg
Communism can end privilege. Liberal social justice can’t. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Individuals can’t “opt out” of privilege because privilege isn’t individual. It’s built into the class system itself. To get rid of it, get rid of class.

But social justice is scared of that conclusion. Its social base is upper-class and middle-class – they’re either at the top of the pyramid or close enough to imagine themselves getting there. They need the class system, but the class system needs privilege.

Fortunately, abolishing privilege doesn’t depend on them. The working class can do it. No one else can. So, if you really want to see the end of privilege, don’t listen to social justice. Build institutions of working-class power.

Back in the 70s, radical feminists had a saying:

There are no individual solutions to social problems.

Privilege is a social problem. You can’t “opt out” of it. So, stop looking for individual solutions.

Fight for a collective one instead.


 

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

State Terrorism: A Genocidal Tool of Social Control

An article that explores the culture of fear as a tool for establishing the Power of a capitalist, neocolonial, and genocidal governmental system.

From Mirna Wabi-Sabi

IMG_0759
Lapa, Rio de Janeiro (Photo by Laura Cantal).

“Just as the Indian was branded a savage beast to justify his exploitation, so those who have sought social guerrillas, or terrorists, or drug dealers, or whatever the current term of art may be.” (Piero Gleijeses, as cited by Noam Chomsky)

The culture of fear has been part of Brazilian life for many years, most recently exemplified by the dictatorial military regime of the 1960-80s. To generate this fear in the population, the State used terrorist tactics to impose its control, such as censorship, murder, physical and psychological torture. State terrorism is vastly recorded as a phenomenon of governments that have formed from revolutionary factions. What is recorded is only a fraction of reality, and the little recorded is an interpretation of a small fraction of the population: a white elite.

Chomsky is an example of a white intellectual elite who succeeded in elevating the theories of Latin Americans on the topic of “genocidal and dictatorial democracy” (1996). In the same way Sartre helped elevate Fanon’s work, so we can not ignore our reliance on white people to inscribe Other thinkers in history. With or without recognition and records, State terrorism still exists today, and it’s not motivated by revolutionary interests, but instead by the reactionary interests of the elites and the preservation of the status quo.

The CIA’s supposedly secret 1969 document, The Situation in Brazil, describes the continuity of US political manipulation and praises the economic development brought about by the military dictatorship. All the men concurring describe the preliminary symptoms of the insurgency as “sporadic urban terrorism” executed by “disorganized” and “weak” “revolutionary fanatics”. At the same time, the opposition being “demoralized” through “censorship” and “oppression” is only considered an effective strategy to prevent the rise of a symbol of resistance.

Today in the United States, the categorization of ‘terrorism’ is somewhat recognized as inconsistent and racist: Arabs “are,” and white people are not. Nevertheless, being black and angry has been criminalized by so-called “Black Identity Extremists” being labeled terrorists. It’s necessary to recognize terrorist acts of the State in order to avoid racist inconsistencies such as ‘black people’ and ‘Arabs’ ‘terrorize,’ while the government and the police don’t (a clear example of institutionalized racism). To dissect this racist double standard we can look at the media as an instrument of cultural manipulation, and at what the motivation behind this manipulation is.

When the media reports, it also records history and influences opinions. There is an excess of sensationalist reports of crimes committed by poor black people, which generates widespread anxiety. The streets of Salvador are soaked with fear and remain empty at night, a desolation which in turn leads to more danger, and this way a vicious cycle is sustained.

“Today in Salvador from 8:00 p.m. it’s rare to find people strolling around in most of the neighborhoods.” (Report of a local from Salvador)

salvador
Footbridge around 7pm in Stiep; Salvador, Brazil (Photo by Mirna Wabi-Sabi).

The motivation behind sensationalism is not only grabbing and expanding an audience, it is also feeding the culture of fear. This culture of fear creates a pretext for military police violence, for the racist devaluation of black lives, and consequently for the genocide of black people in poor communities. The “excess contingent” that does not benefit the capitalist system can be exterminated under the pretext of protecting the supposedly peaceful and non-criminal bourgeois white life.

The unstated and unrecorded reports are the ones from those who are devalued for not benefiting the system. The culture of fear itself has great pro-system power, it institutionalizes social control, street dynamics, product sales, and urban development. Most parts of Salvador seem to have been built for cars since many people are afraid to walk the streets. Shopping Malls, fashion, security, and segregation are profitable industries that rely on fear, they were created to benefit the bourgeoisie, and they symbolize the rebranding of apartheid.

Why do white people hide in fear and fail to rupture with this system, while others are mass murdered? White innocence is not really naive, it’s deliberate. Because in this deliberate innocence we can preserve our advantage while at the same time not be considered a racist. Which is an extremely cruel thing to do, because we destroy with one hand what we build with the other.

It hurts to recognize the violence to which we are accessories, but it hurts more for the foremost recipients of this violence. We have to see the problem clearly in order to begin solving it, and those who seek genocide as a solution to the failure of capitalism will undoubtedly be our enemies.

“The army working side by side with the military police” (Quote and photo by Laura Cantal).

Regarding Women

Considering that the Brazilian government deploys military forces to attack its own people, the so-called Nation this war aims to protect is not only white but also male. Women in particular are afraid to walk alone on the streets after sunset. Women are even afraid to drive their cars alone. They disguise themselves as men with caps, the wealthier women hire male drivers, and many just don’t go out at all. Needing men to protect women from other men is not a solution to patriarchal violence, it’s a perpetuation of it.

Trans women are not even safe at hospitals (TW: transphobic violence), much less on the streets. Even though there has been steady growth of empowering media representation, and a strong protective community, Brazil has had horrific records of transphobic violence.

Whenever a black child is murdered by the military police, they leave mothers and other family members completely devastated and hopeless. Their endless pain is exacerbated by the impunity, and by the continuous presence of the police in their communities and around other black children.

State terrorism affects all women; white, black, trans, rich or poor, though some more than others. I believe that acknowledging the urgency of this problem and coming together to solve it will finally lead to changes in this world. Coming together means listening to the voices of the silenced, not enabling oppression whenever you can with small daily acts of resistance, denouncing the army, opposing borders, and not waiting for ready-made solutions. It’s best to devise your own strategies which are most effective in your own context, because if you want a boss telling you what you need to do then maybe this is the moment to reevaluate what anarchy means to you. In the words of Tina Fey in Bossypants:

“When people say, “You really, really must” do something, it means you don’t really have to. No one ever says, “You really, really must deliver the baby during labor.” When it’s true, it doesn’t need to be said.”

IMG_2428.JPG
Photo by Laura Cantal

PS: Brazil is not the only country being lead by genocidal white men right now, so I hope you don’t finish this article feeling sorry for a ‘developing nation’. We are all connected and we are all responsible

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article was published in Portuguese in the first edition of the Salvador based anarchist magazine Enemy of the Queen.


Mirna Wabi-Sabi

Mirna is an intersectional feminist and decolonial activist from Brazil currently investigating Indigenous heritage. She publishes zines (Something Printed for Reading), and organizes educational events (DIY Workshop).


Mirna is our new co-editor, and we rely on reader donations to pay her and our writers. If our work inspires you, could you please consider helping us continue? Thanks, and resist beautifully!

The Sword Radiant

“If there was ever a thing of beauty among our race, it was the part that held the light of the star and the crash of the waves upon a rocky, inhospitable shore.”

From Ramon Elani

“The spirit of the depths spoke to me: ‘Look into your depths, pray to your depths, waken the dead.’”

“There is a desert on the moon where the dreamer sinks so deeply into the ground that she reaches hell.”— C.G. Jung

I stand upon a hill and gaze to the north, where the sky is filled with flames. The whispering trees sway gently. Urging me to wander, filling my heart with the bittersweet madness of wandering. But I have walked so long already. I have wandered and now have finished with wandering. All will happen as it has happened a thousand times. This is the curse of wandering. Again and again, the wanderer finds himself standing before monuments he cannot remember. Only that he stood he before and he will stand here again. Onward and onward he will be driven, pursued by maddening storms. The self runs but its path is only to circle the endless stones. Life and the cosmos will always be elsewhere. The beast will always be full of bitterness and hunger, as it runs across the plains. Because what it hunts is its own self.

*Who liveth alone longeth for mercy,

Maker’s mercy. Though he must traverse

Tracts of sea, sick at heart,

Trouble with oars ice-cold waters,

The ways of exile—Weird is set fast.

But I bind myself to this hill. Here I will stand until ruination. I will not find my home and my mother through movement. I will find her by digging my grave and standing within it. My mother, the moon, gazes down upon me. I can sense her light from beneath, as well. A pillar of light, extending into infinity. Where shall I seek the barrows? Where are the ancient kings buried, with all their war-gear? Where does the radiant blade shine beneath the dark earth? I know, I know.

Thus spoke such a ‘grasshopper’, old griefs in his mind,

Cold slaughters, the death of dear kinsmen.

What is there to search for that you will not find within yourself? We have buried much of ourselves with them, the dead kings. We have put aside their cruelty, their bloody masks. And yet we have torn from our hearts the beating drum of life and the cosmos. What is left of humanity? What force ever animated these sickly limbs with a sublimity to match the soaring falcon above the dusky hill? The falcon soars that he might rend the flesh and bathe himself in blood. We know, we know.

symbolism_2

No weary mind may stand against Weird

Nor may a wrecked will work new hope;

Wherefore, most often, those eager for fame

Bind the dark mood fast in their breasts.

If there was ever a thing of beauty among our race, it was the part that held the light of the star and the crash of the waves upon a rocky, inhospitable shore. Where has it been driven? Driven beneath the barrow, denied with the blood. For, do not mistake, the blood and the light are of the same substance. We can extinguish the one only by hiding them both in the darkest places of soul. One hand holds the fire, and the other holds a blade dripping with gore. And yet, whose blood? Our own, of course. But we are done with fathers and the things of the father. The prohibition against blood-letting is the domain of the father, as are all prohibitions and the logic of law.

There stands in the stead of staunch thanes

A towering wall wrought with worm-shapes;

The earls are off-taken by the ash-spear’s point,

That thirsty weapon. Their Weird is glorious.

Dig, then. Dig into the black and musty earth. Dig out the sparkling blade from a realm of worms and rot. The sword carried aloft, the moon shining at its apex, for I am of the moon. Never forget: “Who would be born must first destroy a world.” The sword shines in the heart of the jewel. And the one who wields it is the maker and annihilator of worlds. Hesse once wrote, “I am a star in the firmament.” The star knows not morality or mercy. Seek not, nor ask for mercy. Mercy is not a quality given from one divine thing to another, but from a master to a slave. Blazing in the void of space, the glory of the star is combustion and the gentle light that it shines upon the faces of the dreamers, who gaze up at the night sky. Gentleness we may find, perhaps forgiveness as well. But never mercy. To struggle into becoming is the fate of the world.

A wise man may grasp how ghastly it shall be

When all this world’s wealth standeth waste,

Even as now, in many places, over the earth

Walls stand, wind-beaten,

Hung with hoar-frost; ruined habitations.

The wine-halls crumble; their wielders lie

Bereft of bliss, the band all fallen

Proud by the wall.

We have come unto our kingdom and found it ashen and decayed. A lie was written somewhere. We followed a path that circled the tower but never approached the steps. So we flee to distant places. The soul is thrown beyond. The horn is heard among the standing stones upon the hill, where the wolf moans to the wind and the bear digs among the moss and roots and the hawk shrieks for slaughter. The song echoes among the bogs and watery places, where dark things slither and dim lights shine beneath the murky water. Reason has made a waste of the world and buried the flaming heart and the weeping sword. Wraiths wandering among the fallen stones speak to us of times gone by. The White Bull and the crescent blade that slit his divine throat. Even as now, even as now. Like Hesse, we are doomed to endlessly traverse the “hell of inner being.”

Where is that horse now? Where are those men? Where is the hoard-sharer?

Where is the house of the feast? Where is the hall’s uproar?

Alas, bright cup! Alas, burnished fighter!

Alas, proud prince! How that time has passed,

Dark under night’s helm, as though it never had been!

ad86adcdd9ea855a111a32052bb6f14d

There is no pain we cannot endure, for indeed, we carry with us the sorrows of the eternal courses of the world within us. Within the heart, all has come and gone and come again. There is no death we have not suffered. The cup is filled and drained and will be filled again. Yet here we stand, alive in a morning world, though our souls dwell in the evening. We have been raised by the Sun, in a Sun land, but we long for our mother the Moon and the icy mists of the forest in twilight. The noumenon rises like a mountain into the sky within the soul. It is not outside of us. Its fragment pulses in the moments that we truly live, like a germ of ice that brings with it the promise of a demon called the glacier that grinds down the ages of the world.

Storms break on the stone hillside,

The ground bound by driving sleet,

Winter’s wrath. Then wanness cometh,

Night’s shade spreadeth, sendeth from north

The rough hail to harry mankind.

The dead live within us. They slumber in the hidden places of the psyche. In this ancestor-less time we have sealed their tombs. And we evoke their names in a manner both crass and profane to strike out against anything as long as it is not within ourselves. There must be a surrogate for the slaughter. Those who will not battle within their hearts will seek a victim for their impotent rage. May they be buried by grains of hail, that nothing will grow from their malice and I will cast a shadow upon them from the north that will bind their vulgar tongues and feed the monster within them, who they will not fight, and who in time will make their existence an inescapable hell. And I will curse them to wander forever among the lost stones of their own fear and stupidity and self hatred. Woe unto them who run from their demons, for they will bring ruin upon ruin to the world. The creature will be fed, one way or another. One war or another. One sacrifice or another.

In the earth-realm all is crossed;

Weird’s will changeth the world.

Wealth is lent us, friends are lent us,

Man is lent, kin is lent;

All this earth’s frame shall stand empty.

tumblr_ogkrfnnlC91u5upz4o1_500
Dive down and waken the dead! Find the demon that time immemorial has twisted and generations of denial and repression has cursed. There lies your foe. Unearth the tombs, shatter the bands of iron that seal them. And the spirits, faced and bested, will fight for us, will trace the edge of the rusted blade until it shines like a beacon through the ages. And the sword held on high will burst into flames and radiate its light into the heart of the star that beats dimly within our blood. And a flame will rise in the north, where I stand upon my hill. And I will not weep for the end of a world. And I will plant the tip of my spear in the dark earth. And I will raise the sword to the moon!

*Excerpts of “The Wanderer” as translated by Michael J. Alexander


Ramon Elani

Ramon Elani holds a PhD in literature and philosophy. He is a teacher, a poet, a husband, and a father, as well as a muay thai fighter. He wanders in oak groves. He casts the runes and sings to trolls. He lives among mountains and rivers in Western New England

More of his writing can be found here. You can also support him on Patreon.


The Anima of Disintegration

“Titanic forces war within us. A war waged by the blood against the intellect, between the influences of the industrial fallen world in which we live, and the primeval, fecund, blood drenched swamps that we remember in our dreams and in the shadows of the woods at night.”

From Ramon Elani

1200px-thetriumphofdeath

“Life is never a thing of continuous bliss. There is no paradise. Fight and laugh and feel bitter and feel bliss: and fight again. Fight, fight. That is life.”

—D.H. Lawrence

The birth of the modern world brought with it the death of the old gods and their ways. As D.H. Lawrence wrote “it was in 1915 the old world ended.” When the factories came, when the machines arose, when history became the demon that had once haunted our groves and forests. The ethos of the modern age placed humanity at the center of the cosmos. They promised a world of endless human perfection, a world without suffering, a world were engineering could so arrange society that the demons would be driven out. But, as we know, the demons will always find other homes. Now we see what these promises have come to. A world of ash, a world of endless ruination. Inseparable from the acts of enclosure, from the mechanization of human life, came the prohibition against violence. Modernity and the techno-industrial society that it created, teaches us that violence is a thing to be abhorred, resisted, renounced, abandoned The Christ-worshippers and their other desert dwelling brethren of the crescent moon and the temple and the lamp teach us this. The servants of capital and industry persuade us to repudiate violence so that we might not be tempted to turn it against them. The ghosts and bones speak: we would rather die than live mechanically. There is truth in blood. Not in the blood of this tribe or that nation. But the pumping, wild, vital blood of the animal that still lives within us. There was a time when we listened to the lessons of the blood, before the spirit of the modern age told us to fear that voice. The spirits still dwell among the blood, in the world of instinct, of wildness. The spirits that modernity sought to quell. For my blood is of the ocean, and the ocean is of my blood. It is in blood and vitality that humanity discovers its true being. Modernity has taken the cosmos from us and replaced it with a lie. A grotesque lie, made of factory chimneys and machines. We would rather die than live mechanically! The techno-industrial world denies the blood and denies its expression in violence. As we shall see, there are few voices that argue more compellingly in defense of the truth of the blood and against the tragedy of the modern age than D.H. Lawrence.

6467213939_551e26be6d_b

Though Lawrence had no direct contact with Sigmund Freud, the ideas of the unconscious and the subconscious run deeply through Lawrence’s oeuvre. The key point to make in this regard, however, is that Lawrence instinctively rejected Freud’s conclusion that pre-modern or pre-civilized humanity was nothing more than a horrific riot of bloodshed. Clearly there was blood and suffering but there was also a deeper connection to the mystical essence of humanity and to the cosmos as well. And the eradication of the primal violence of the pre-modern era also brought with it the derangement of the cosmos, the annihilation of the natural world, and the alienation of humanity. While Freud is terrified of primal humanity and sees it as a force that must be imprisoned, to protect humanity from itself, Lawrence finds the darkness to be fertile and ripe with meaning and beauty. In the words of Ursula Brangwen, heroine of both The Rainbow and Women in Love, “You are a lurking, blood-sniffing creature with eyes peering out of the jungle darkness, snuffing for your desires.” For all our veneer of civilization and rationality, we are still bloody beasts haunting the dark forests. And this is why modern humanity fears the forest. We know that among the shadowy trees and the uncanny light of the moon, we will find our true selves. Not only is there a truth in acknowledging the essential, primal, bloody nature of humanity but further, there is a greater beauty in it than the fictions of modernity and the humanists.

the-triumph-of-death-c1562-oil-on-panel-upper-right-hand-section-detail-of-457-see-also-69068-71-pieter-the-elder-bruegel

For Lawrence, like Carl Jung, the unconscious is not merely the basement prison where our complexes and repressed memories ferment and mutate, as it is for Freud. Lawrence saw in the unconscious a burial mound, a haunted relic from pre-modern times where a world invigorated by blood still lived and breathed. The forces of industrialism and modernity sought to keep these ancient memories suppressed and thus deprive life of its true meaning: violent, bloody, life-affirming struggle. Lawrence was disgusted by Freud’s fear of primal humanity: “The psychoanalysts show the greatest fear of all, of the innermost primeval place in man, where God is, if he is anywhere.” For Lawrence, who had strong inhumanist tendencies, it was not clear that divinity still resided within humanity at all but if it did, if even a spark of the world soul still flickered in our hearts, it could only be in the depths, where we still lived as dark primordial beings, monstrous and bloody and alive.

31cb98e17097af17f75646c604ff8af3--pieter-bruegel-the-elder-triumph

The soul of the pre-modern world is unapologetically violent. Blood ran freely and the people were possessed by blood. But the lived and they lived in the lap of the gods. They saw them, felt them in the roar of ritual and the darkness of oak groves. As we see everyday around us, humanity is dying. Its vitality denied. Its blood denied. Like a tree uprooted, humanity is torn from its intuitive life. Modern consciousness displaces instinct. We are taught to fear the body, for it is the source of wickedness. How telling that as modernity seeks to dispel the old gods, the same repressive impulse is given free reign by the stories of the Christ-worshippers. Thus modernity and Christianity go hand in hand. They work together to deny the body and its blood. To eradicate the world of nature, which cannot be conquered so easily by technics. Both fill our heads with stories of a world to come, in which all struggle will disappear. Humanity will live in peace, in harmony, as one. Whether this is told via the worship of Christ the Redeemer or Technology the Redeemer, the message is the same. The demons in our heart enter the world through the body and the blood. To keep them at bay, to suffocate them, we must deny our nature. Forget the body, it is the source of pain and misery. Deny the body until someday, the priests of technology promise, we may be able to do without them altogether.

H58DKzV_mgM

The only path for humanity that leads away from the waking nightmare of industrialism is to successively dive deeper and deeper within our psyches to rediscover the true self, the self forged in bloodshed, and animated by passion. As modernity evolved and expanded, this true self was buried beneath the lies of a benign, passive cosmos and a docile human nature. Industrialism taught us that the world could be controlled and that what was best for humanity should be our only concern. Thus the truth of blood became hidden from us. For Lawrence, our only hope is to swim through the oceans of the unconscious and to arrive again on the mysterious shores, thick with fierce life, where we abandoned ourselves. The intellect, the tool of industrialism, the demon of modernity, denies this true essence and pushes it down. In fact, the intellect seeks to persuade us that it never existed at all. The intellect, which speaks in the language of control teaches us to fear and disregard the things that overwhelm us, the forces that resist control. Thus violence is, above all, abhorred by the intellect. Violence appears as an irrational power. It seizes us in the language that only blood can understand. Everything that we have not chosen, everything that is above and beyond us is anathema to the intellect. And therefore, the intellect cannot help us understand the most profound experiences of life for truly, who can say that when they were consumed by the living heart of the world that the rational, conscious mind gave them words to express the wisdom that was bestowed upon them.

Lawrence dedicated his life to discovering the power that lead to greater wisdom than the bland, tasteless fruits of the intellect and the conscious mind. The power that could shatter the bitterness of the industrial world and its crimes against the earth. In a letter dated 1913, Lawrence writes:

My great religion is a belief in the blood, the flesh as being wiser than the intellect. We can go wrong in our minds. But what our blood feels and believes and says, is always true. The intellect is only a bit and a bridle. What do I care about knowledge. All I want is to answer to my blood, direct, without fribbling intervention of mind, or moral, or what-not.

The inhumanist, who boldly asserts the limits of the human view of the world and the weakness and fragility of our species before the might of the cosmos, knows too that morality is nothing more than a trick of the mind. The blood pays no attention to these inventions that are not reflected in the universe beyond ourselves. Throughout his career, Lawrence sought to refine this view. He maintained that there was a seat of higher wisdom and greater self-knowledge than the mind. The blood contains its own consciousness, for Lawrence, separate from the rational faculties of the mind. In 1919, Lawrence writes:

the blood has a perfect but untranslatable consciousness of its own, a consciousness of weight, of rich, down-pouring motion, of powerful self-positivity. In the blood we have our strongest self-knowledge, our most powerful dark conscience. The ancients said the heart was the seat of understanding. And so it is: it is the seat of the primal sensual understanding, the seat of the passional self-consciousness.

In other words, our consciousness is not monolithic. Our innermost soul is Vigrid, the plains of battle where Ragnarok will be fought. Titanic forces war within us. A war waged by the blood against the intellect, between the influences of the industrial fallen world in which we live, and the primeval, fecund, blood drenched swamps that we remember in our dreams and in the shadows of the woods at night. Industrialism has deified the intellect, since it is by such powers that humanity has gained its cursed dominion over the earth. The heart and the blood will not assist in such an unholy crusade. The law of the blood is to tear down, to expend itself in a glorious detonation of fire. The intellect is a bridle, a yoke forced upon the wild human spirit. For truly, how else could those that hope to reduce humanity to a state of endless servitude accomplish their designs? The wild within us will not serve! It cries out with foaming jaws! The wild will must be broken in order to build the world of artifice and degradation that the Mammon worshipers desire. The call of the blood must be silenced. The vigor of humanity must be denied and renounced.

Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_The_Triumph_of_Death_(detail)_-_WGA3398

The destiny of blood is war and struggle. Bliss and self destruction. As violence is denied, so to is the joy of an unfettered life. For Lawrence, predating Jung, the blood consciousness was seen as the subterranean force, which the domination of the intellect was built upon.

Destroy! destroy! destroy! hums the under-consciousness. Love and produce! Love and produce! cackles the upper consciousness. And the world hears only the Love-and- produce cackle. Refuses to hear the hum of destruction under- neath. Until such time as it will have to hear.

These two complimentary forces, destruction and creation, were both given their due in the world before industrialism crashed down upon us like a wind from the abyss. The imbalance in these forces is what now drives us to the precipice. Lawrence saw, like Jung, that the blood could only be denied for so long. Slumbering powers would not consent to dream forever. There will be a time when the blood rises again and it will take its revenge upon the bland, tasteless, ashen prisons that we have built around it. What will that time look like? Apocalypse. Revelation. The veil built by centuries of denial and repression will be shredded. And blood will return with a fury that we have never seen. It has grown rancorous in its years of imprisonment. Oh, that we had shown reverence to the blood and cast aside the chains of the machines and the intellect when we had the chance. And Lawrence saw all this: “There’s a bad time coming. There’s a bad time coming, boys, there’s a bad time coming! If things go on as they are, there’s nothing lies in the future but death and destruction, for these industrial masses.” A bad time, indeed.

The spirit of blood and violence screams in the words of Lawrence, “I’d wipe the machines off the face of the earth again, and end the industrial epoch absolutely, like a black mistake!” The gods fled in the face of these monstrosities that we gave birth to. And in our denial of them, they retreated further and further. And so humanity began to rot. Only in the vigorous struggle does life exist and only in the throes of a wild battle the likes of which have not been seen in hundreds of years, will the gods open their bleary eyes and gaze upon us with curiosity and something approaching tenderness. The intellect and modern consciousness lead us, again and again, away from the path. The intellect of consciousness knows nothing but anguish and dullness. It winds around and around in mazes of its own creation. But it is too blind and bedizened by its own design to ever find its way out. Look what I have created! It proclaims like a madman. But it is nothing more than its own tomb. The intellect knows nothing of value. It knows how to imprison, it knows how to divert the natural course of the water until it pools in fetid, subterranean filth. The blood, the blood only knows the language of freedom, the language of the gods. Truly there is nothing to fear from anger and the letting of blood. It is when blood is denied that it becomes stagnant and sick and infects the body of humanity. Born from the cosmos, humanities only hope is to return to the rhythm of the cosmos themselves. A rhythm of destruction and creation, death and rebirth. There can be no rebirth without death.

As Jung and others have articulated, the self is not the self. The unconscious and its hidden depths are not clear to us. They are murky as a forest tarn, thick and black with the compost of millennia of dead leaves. The unconscious, the deepest self, the blood self, the awareness of the bodily, returns to us only in brief glimpses and hauntings: “The self that lives in my body I can never fully know. . . My body is like a jungle in which dwells an unseen me, like a black panther in the night, whose two eyes glare green through my dreams, and, if a shadow falls, through my waking day.” To shun and renounce the intellect and the techno-industrial world is to dive into the world of dreams, to seek what we have forgotten in ourselves. At the bottom of the murky pool, we will find a beast. There is terror in the depths. But that is not all, for we can only be free and experience joy when we find and do homage to the monster that lives in our deepest places. For Lawrence, this path, the diving path meant abandoning the scientific view of the cosmos, which had grown out of modernity, the bloody sire of industrialism. Science represented to him the principles of death and the machine. The unconscious may be unknowable to the rational mind, to the intellect. But like Jung, Lawrence believed that we could rediscover our essential nature by returning to a religious conception of the universe. We must realize that the techno-industrial world and its rational, scientific view is precisely what puts us out of balance and separates us from the world of blood and wild nature. The ancient spiritual teachings of the pre-modern world sought not to explain the mysteries of the gods and cosmos, but to acknowledge them, to honor them.

Lawrence dedicated his life and creative efforts to articulating the meaning of the blood and rediscovering the true self that techno-industrial society has displaced. It ultimately led him to write this creed:

That I am I. That my soul is a dark forest. That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest. That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back. That I must have the courage to let them come and go. That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognize and submit to the gods in me and the gods in other men and women.

We must submit to the gods, and the blood through which they speak. Forces beyond our understand and control rule us, utterly. At best, we may hope to discern their presence in the nighttime places, the dreamtime places. Beyond this, the beauty and truth of Lawrence’s creed speaks for itself.

Unfortunately, Lawrence’s religion of blood and dark self-knowing was misunderstood by many. Bertrand Russell, who maintained a correspondence with Lawrence even identifies this philosophy as an antecedent of the horrors of the Nazis. Russell writes “He had a mystical philosophy of “blood” which I disliked…This seemed to me frankly rubbish, and I rejected it vehemently, though I did not then know that it led straight to Auschwitz.” Perhaps it is unsurprising that a philosophy of the world that conforms so much to Jung’s view also becomes conflated with abhorrent ideas and actions. It is also unsurprising that someone with such a radically rational perspective as Russell misunderstood Lawrence so outrageously. When Lawrence writes of the blood, I believe it is quite clear that he refers, like Jung’s collective unconscious, not to the blood of this particular race or nation but to the blood of humanity as a whole. To an impulse which is universal in humanity and a force that is vitally present in the non-human world as well. This is a cosmic force, not one that suffers the pettiness and vileness of nationalism or the intolerant, narrow minded hatred of the demagogue. Author Rex Warner likewise situates Lawrence in this milieu, writing in 1946: “There must be nothing at all gentle about the ‘dark’ force to which the dark independent outlaws of his dreams would owe a sort of reverence… Fascism finally succeeded, at least temporarily, in making the synthesis that eluded Lawrence.” Again, this misreading of Lawrence fails to acknowledge that the power of the blood brings with it joy and bliss, as well as violence and struggle. Lawrence is significant precisely because, like Jung, he understood that humanity must accept that it has a dark dimension to its nature. And that this element within us puts us in touch with the vast sublimity of the cosmos.

What both Warner and Russell mistake in Lawrence is the same problem that we can see so clearly in Freud: the hysterical fear of the realm of instinct, blood, and wildness. There is an assumption among over-rational minds that if there is something we cannot control within ourselves then that thing must be feared, abhorred, shunned, denied, or denigrated. There is something to be feared within the wild, bloody heart of humanity. But it is not this force that left unchecked that will turn the world into a graveyard. It is the other. The intellect, running rampant, will annihilate humanity and the world far quicker than the savage violence of those who sleep in tombs beneath the earth. No, let us be quite clear: the gas chambers and the unspeakable horror of the holocaust were born from the ruthless, rational, mechanistic mind of industrialism not from the pre-modern darkness that dwells in of the blood and its mysterious power. And likewise, there can be no doubt whatsoever that the rule of the intellect and the techno-industrial order is solely responsible for the destruction of the earth. A holocaust against the earth which has lasted every single moment of every single day for hundreds of years.


Ramon Elani

Ramon Elani holds a PhD in literature and philosophy. He is a teacher, a poet, a husband, and a father, as well as a muay thai fighter. He wanders in oak groves. He casts the runes and sings to trolls. He lives among mountains and rivers in Western New England

More of his writing can be found here. You can also support him on Patreon.

Mourning a Tree and Denouncing a System

From the microcosm of personal grief, to Western civilization’s atrocities throughout the ages.

From Mirna Wabi-Sabi

Texto em Português (BR) aqui

ALJ_5285-2
Photo by Christiaan Braga.

After 15 years of living abroad, I came back to my childhood home to find the front-yard treeless. The house was not big; one-story, 2 bedrooms, and a 30 by 15 meter yard; in Itaipú, Niterói. The yard had lots of trees: mango, java plum, hog plum, acerola, banana, and all sorts of miscellaneous bushes. Had. First, the bushes went away to make way for pavement. Then, an extra bedroom replaced the banana and the acerola trees. Now, one mango tree stands alone caged by concrete. I cried. I didn’t cry because I’m attached to things in general. After living in 3 different continents and I-don’t-know-how-many cities, I’m very used to leaving things I care about behind- houses, records, pets, books, routines, loved ones, familiar languages, cultures, etc. So, if something being gone truly breaks my heart, it’s because it runs deep.

The mango, java plum, and hog plum trees were massive; imagine these 40 year old trees (at least) forming a triangle and interlacing branches like comrades in peaceful but epic resistance. We used to put 2 hammocks between the 3 trunks, and lay all day talking and drinking mango juice. As a kid I thought I was the most radical athlete when I climbed on the thick branches to pick the mangoes before they fell on the floor (and bruised or cracked open). That was until I found one already cracked open while still hanging, with juice dripping down and a tiny spider with giant colorful legs sucking on it. It was scary, and confusing. How could a spider slice through the thick skin of a mango? I mean, the tear was bigger than the spider itself. It must have been the Chupacabra. Every night since, I’d see the swift black shadows of fruit bats and I was convinced it was the alien goat-blood sucking monster in the news. Of course, it was the 90’s; we had the X-files, and sensationalist Brazilian “news” shows with reenactments of real people’s accounts (you can probably tell I kind of still want to believe). When I asked the new tenants why they cut down all those trees, they said it was because they were afraid of the bats (I was also scared- as a child; that doesn’t mean- chop it down).

If people can relate to my sorrow in the microcosm of a front-yard, then I hope they can imagine this sorrow in the context of the most bio-diverse country in the world, as well as the country with the highest rate of deforestation. What leads people to want to cut down trees? Literal slash-and-burn techniques used to make cattle ranches, with the help of soy-bean farms, were responsible for the obliteration of 13% of the largest rain forest in the world, just like that, up in smoke. All of that for beef? It has got to make you wanna cry, or curse, or both.

There is no need to go to the Amazon to see this kind of senseless destruction happening. The Flamengo park in Rio de Janeiro is a good example of the brutal way in which landscaping is done in Brazil. The ‘Santo Antonio’ hill was dismantled with high pressure water to make way for a road, which they describe as urban evolution. The rumble was used for the landfill, on which the Flamengo Park was built. The flora in this park was carefully selected out of a catalog by Brazil’s most renowned landscape artist, Burle Marx. The only things that survived the dismantling of the hill were a convent and a church, because they are considered “exceptional works of art” from Rio’s colonial era. The lake that used to be on that hill and the site of one of Rio’s first favelas were not worthy of preservation. In this fashion, Burle Marx pioneered, or shall I say paved the way for, Brazil’s modernist landscaping style, where we combine industrial urban development with a shallow concern for rain forest biodiversity preservation. In other words, we can turn lakes into landfills, obliterate mountains, and build roads, as soon as we also buy exotic plants and put them on display for tourists. This not only diminishes biodiversity to an angle in marketing strategy, it also does real damage to preservation efforts because it provides a fraudulent remedy for the issue of deforestation (we might as well sell ivory to raise money for an Elephant sanctuary or advocate for the bottling of water because we believe recycling is good).

This landscaping style is also adopted in the context of people’s personal homes and neighborhoods, even when they don’t have the resources to buy replacement plants. A biology professor active in Brazil’s South East region told me that people ask her to sign off on urban planning permits that seek to chop down trees for the most ridiculous reasons: birds poop on cars, fruit falling damages cars, fear and/or distaste for the animals the fruits attract, youngsters go under that tree to make out (!), and so on. Showing an even more disturbing aspect of this government-issued urban planing strategy, she told me that it turns out that while these officials take down trees, they also issue grossly overpriced seedling reports where they most certainly keep the difference as hidden personal assets. For me, the most tragic aspect of this type of corruption is that, in the end, Indigenous people are the ones who earn the reputation of being opportunist (as I’ll discuss in the following section).

Rescuing Indigenous Heritage

24174496_10155972259522372_4202911249489047862_n
The Rock of the Indian in Icaraí beach, Niterói, Brazil (Photo by Douglas Barros).

Itaipú (the neighborhood of my childhood home) is also a site of Indigenous heritage. It’s located around the Itaipú lake, which unites Itaipú beach, and Camboinhas beach. An upper class wave of Rio de Janeiro’s real estate developers decided to turn some land around the lake (Dunes and such) into a fancy beach condo complex. The problem is that there was an Indigenous tribe living there, and it’s a Sambaqui, meaning- a sort of sacred Indigenous burial ground where no people are buried, but are massive piles of molluscs and shells on which ancient humans lived. These Sambaquis exist all across the coast of Brazil, and they are evidence of human life in the region way before colonial occupation, because these clustered artifacts were the leftovers of what people were eating. This Sambaqui in Camboinhas in particular is the oldest of the state of Rio de Janeiro, dating back over 7 thousand years.

Exactly 10 years ago, in 2008, the Indigenous settlement was set on fire, literally, in the sort of slash-and-burn technique we’ve seen be used before. No one was hurt, but they were forced to move. Now they are in Maricá, the next small town on the coast, after Niterói. I’ve been there this year, they are happy to deal with less harassment at this location, although Maricá’s politicians still argue fiercely about how much financial aid to provide them with (if any). Activists still struggle to save the lagoon, which is a sort of swamp rich in bio-diversity with crabs, frogs, and birds. Some say that the land on which my childhood home was built was once lake, that’s why there were crabs around sometimes (and why I have a crab tattoo).

Unfortunately, the resistance is well organized but at a disadvantage. In the past 10 years the government has made a tunnel through a giant rock, established a special (and expensive) ferry boat network, and is in the process of making an express bus lane to enable a much faster connection between the Itaipú/Camboinhas neighborhoods and Rio de Janeiro. It’s a matter of time until the condos are built. Furthermore, much of the public opinion in the area is that the Indigenous tribe was only in Camboinhas because they were interested in the high value real estate which they were occupying, as if they had some type of financial interest in being there. These are also people who claim that the arson case was a hoax to earn sympathy. Most people don’t even know there ever was an Indigenous tribe in the area, much less that arson happened, they just think that the tunnel is convenient.

22687822_500275187016084_6056478229329519085_n
A grassroots action to Save the Lake.

Lies, Lies, and more Lies

The ability to manipulate public opinion is a technique Europeans mastered during colonialism, and, as you can see, still use today in the form of capitalist interests and corruption. In a previous article, I mentioned that my great-great-grandmother was an Indigenous woman that was “caught by lasso” to marry my great-great-grandfather. Though maybe not literally by lasso, consent between a white man and a woman of color was far from a worshiped value.

She was Caeté, a notorious tribe for forming an alliance with the French and becoming enemies of the Portuguese. More notorious was the story that the Caetés practiced cannibalism (this part is true), and ate a Portuguese Bishop called Sardinha (which means Sardine!). After the Portuguese won against the French, the Caetés were enslaved, and fantastic stories of the savagery of these people traveled throughout Europe, to even be illustrated by the Dutch artist Theodor de Bry.

Indios-Antropofagia-Canibalismo
Theodor de Bry, 1592.

It was only recently that the truthfulness of this story has been called into question. Bishop Sardinha was definitely killed, but apparently not by the Caetés. He might have been murdered by the Governor-General and his son, because he was not happy about how the colony was being run, and was planning to return to Portugal to share his criticisms with the Portuguese King (the bishop was much more religiously strict than other Jesuits; he opposed smoking and inter-racial sex, for instance).

The Governor-General, and especially his son, were certainly engaging in spiritually dubious behavior and did not want the gossip traveling back to the Portuguese royalty. So, they killed the bishop before he could return to Portugal, and framed the Caetés. For the Governor and his family, this was a win-win situation. The King wouldn’t find out what they were up to, and public opinion was shifted towards supporting the enslavement of the Caetés. The simple reason why it’s so difficult to find out what actually happened is because, with the Bishop dead and the Caetés extinct, the only people left to tell the story were the ones who had an interest in lying.

If we look back at 2017, particularly the frantic shift in public opinion over the world stage of politics, we can see this is very much still happening. From a reality show star being in charge of the biggest army in the world, and calling everything ‘fake news’ while giving fake information to journalists, to social media undeniably participating in extremely influential and politically relevant misinformation and censorshipit is evident that they are the ones with an interest in lying.

We’ve only got each other, and I believe the best way to make 2018 as good as it can be is by sticking together and listening to the voices that have an interest in uncovering the truth, as opposed to obscuring it. My article next month will expand on this topic by discussing the modern-day genocide and State terrorism the media enables by evading truth.


Mirna Wabi-Sabi

23844610_10155972276622372_5754996345436383112_n

Mirna is an intersectional feminist and decolonial activist from Brazil currently investigating Indigenous heritage. She publishes zines (Something Printed for Reading), and organizes educational events (DIY Workshop).


The Pre-Sale for Anthony Rella’s Circling The Star is here.


TRADUÇÃO

ALJ_5285-2

Lamentar uma Árvore e Denunciar um Sistema

Depois de 15 anos morando no exterior, voltei para minha casa de infância para encontrar o jardim sem árvores. A casa não era grande; um andar, 2 quartos e um jardim de 30 por 15 metros quadrados; em Itaipú, Niterói. O quintal tinha muitas árvores: manga, jamelão, cajá, acerola, banana e vários tipos de arbustos. Tinha. Primeiro, os arbustos foram embora para dar lugar pra pavimento. Depois, um quarto extra substituiu a bananeira e a aceroleira. Agora, uma mangueira existe só, engaiolada em concreto. Chorei. Não chorei porque sou apegada à coisas em geral. Depois de viver em 3 continentes diferentes e eu-não-sei-quantas cidades, me acostumei a deixar coisas pelas quais tenho carinho pra atrás: casas, discos, animais de estimação, livros, rotinas, pessoas queridas, línguas familiares, culturas, e etc. Então, se a perda de algo verdadeiramente quebra meu coração, é porque ha um significado extremamente profundo.

As árvores de manga, cajá e jamelão eram enormes. Imagine essas árvores de 40 anos de idade (pelo menos) formando um triângulo e entrelaçando ramos como companheiras em resistência pacífica e épica. Costumávamos colocar 2 redes entre os 3 troncos e sentar o dia inteiro conversando e bebendo suco de manga. Quando criança, eu pensava que era atleta radical quando escalava nos ramos espessos para apanhar mangas antes que elas caíssem no chão (e se machucavam ou rachavam). Isso foi até que eu encontrei uma já rachada ainda pendurada, com suco escorrendo e uma pequena aranha com pernas gigantes e coloridas sugando. Foi assustador e confuso. Como uma aranha pode cortar a casca grossa de uma manga? Quer dizer, a rachadura era maior que a própria aranha. Deve ter sido o Chupacabra. Toda noite, eu via as rápidas sombras pretas de morcegos de frutas, e me convencia de que era o monstro alienígena chupador de sangue de cabra nas notícias. Claro, era a década de 90; nós tínhamos o X-Files e shows sensacionalistas de “notícias” brasileiras com testemunhos de pessoas reais (você provavelmente pode ver que eu ainda quero acreditar). Quando perguntei aos novos moradores da casa por que cortaram todas aquelas árvores, me disseram que era porque tinham medo dos morcegos (eu também tive medo – quando criança, isso não significa – matar).

Se as pessoas podem se identificar com a minha tristeza no microcosmo de um jardim pessoal, espero que possam imaginar essa tristeza no contexto do país com maior biodiversidade do mundo, também como o país com maior índice de desmatamento. O que leva as pessoas a querer cortar árvores? As técnicas de corte-e-queima utilizadas para fazer ranchos de gado, com a ajuda de plantações de soja, foram responsáveis ​​pela obliteração de 13% da maior floresta tropical do mundo, simplesmente assim. Tudo isso por causa de bife? Tem que te fazer querer chorar, ou falar palavrão, ou os dois.

Não há necessidade de ir para a Amazônia para ver esse tipo de horrorosa destruição acontecer. O parque do Flamengo no Rio de Janeiro é um bom exemplo da maneira brutal em que o paisagismo é feito no Brasil. O morro de Santo Antônio foi desmantelado com água de alta pressão para dar lugar a uma estrada, o que descrevem como “evolução urbana”. O estrondo foi usado para o aterro, no qual o Parque do Flamengo foi construído. A flora deste parque foi cuidadosamente selecionada de um catálogo pelo paisagista mais famoso do Brasil, Burle Marx. As únicas coisas que sobreviveram o desmantelamento do morro foram um convento e uma igreja, porque são consideradas “obras de arte excepcionais” da era colonial do Rio. O lago que estava naquele morro, e o local de uma das primeiras favelas do Rio não eram dignos de preservação. Desta forma, Burle Marx foi pioneiro, ou devo dizer, pavimentou o caminho para o estilo de paisagismo modernista do Brasil, onde combinamos o desenvolvimento urbano industrial com uma preocupação superficial com a preservação da biodiversidade da floresta tropical. Em outras palavras, podemos transformar os lagos em aterros, destruir montanhas e construir estradas, assim que também compremos plantas exóticas para colocá-las em exibição para turistas. Isso não só reduz biodiversidade a um ângulo na estratégia de marketing da cidade, mas também causa danos reais aos esforços de preservação porque fornece um remédio fraudulento para a questão do desmatamento (como poderíamos também vender marfim para arrecadar dinheiro para um santuário de elefantes, ou apoiar o engarrafamento de água porque acreditamos que a reciclagem é bom).

Este estilo de paisagismo também é adotado no contexto das casas e bairros das pessoas, mesmo quando as pessoas não tem recursos para comprar novas plantas de um catálogo. Uma professora de biologia que atua na região Sudeste do Brasil me disse que as pessoas pedem para que ela assine licenças de planejamento urbano que procuram cortar árvores pelos motivos mais ridículos: pássaros fazem cocô nos carros, as frutas quando caem danificam carros, medo e/ou a aversão aos animais que os frutos atraem, jovens ficam se beijando em baixo da árvore (!), e assim por diante. Mostrando um aspecto ainda mais perturbador desta estratégia de planejamento urbano emitida pelo governo, ela me disse que enquanto estes funcionários derrubam árvores, eles também emitem relatórios de compra de novas mudas como se fossem mais caras do que realmente são, para poderem ficar com a diferença como bens pessoais. Para mim, o aspecto mais trágico deste tipo de corrupção é que, no final, os povos indígenas são os que ganham a reputação de serem oportunistas (como falo na seção seguinte).

Resgatando Patrimônio Indígena

24174496_10155972259522372_4202911249489047862_n

Itaipú (o bairro da minha casa de infância) também é uma area de forte herança indígena. Está localizada ao redor da lagoa de Itaipú, que une a praia de Itaipú e a praia de Camboinhas. Uma onda de classe alta de desenvolvedores imobiliários do Rio de Janeiro decidiu transformar algumas terras ao redor da lagoa em elegantes condomínios de praia. O problema é que havia uma tribo indígena que vivia lá, e é um Sambaqui, que significa uma espécie de cemitério indígena sagrado, onde não há pessoas enterradas, mas são enormes pilhas de moluscos e conchas em que viviam indígenas. Esses Sambaquis existem em todo o litoral do Brasil, e são evidências da vida humana na região antes da ocupação colonial, porque esses artefatos agrupados eram os restos do que as pessoas estavam comendo. Este Sambaqui em Camboinhas em particular é o mais antigo do estado do Rio de Janeiro, com mais de 7 mil anos de idade.

Exatamente 10 anos atrás, em 2008, o assentamento indígena foi incendiado, literalmente, no tipo de técnica de corte-e-queima que vimos ser usada antes. Ninguém foi ferido, mas eles foram forçados a se mudar. Agora estão em Maricá, a próxima pequena cidade na costa, depois de Niterói. Estive lá este ano, eles estão felizes em lidar com menos assédio neste local, embora os políticos de Maricá ainda discutam ferozmente sobre quanta ajuda financeira lhes proporcionar (se alguma). Ativistas ainda lutam para salvar a lagoa, que é uma espécie de pântano rico em biodiversidade com caranguejos, sapos e pássaros. Alguns dizem que a terra em que minha casa de infância foi construída era uma vez lagoa, por isso havia caranguejos às vezes (e por que eu tenho uma tatuagem de caranguejo).

Infelizmente, a resistência está bem organizada, mas em desvantagem. Nos últimos 10 anos, o governo fez um túnel, estabeleceu uma rede especial (e cara) de barcas, e está em processo de fazer uma via de ônibus para permitir uma conexão mais rápida entre os bairros de Itaipú/Camboinhas e Rio de Janeiro. É uma questão de tempo até que os condomínios sejam construídos. Além disso, grande parte da opinião pública na área é que a tribo indígena estava apenas em Camboinhas porque estavam interessados ​​no alto valor imobiliário que estavam ocupando, como se tivessem algum tipo de interesse financeiro em estar lá. Estas são também pessoas que afirmam que o caso de incêndio criminoso foi fabricado para ganhar simpatia. A maioria das pessoas nem sabem que já houve uma tribo indígena na área, muito menos que o incêndio aconteceu, apenas pensam que o túnel é conveniente.

Mentiras, Mentiras e mais Mentiras

A capacidade de manipular a opinião pública é uma técnica que os europeus dominaram durante o colonialismo e, como você pode ver, ainda usa hoje em forma de interesses capitalistas e corrupção. Em um artigo anterior, mencionei que minha bisavó era uma mulher indígena que foi “caçada a laço” para se casar com meu bisavô. Embora talvez não tenha sido literalmente a lasso, o consentimento entre um homem branco e uma mulher de cor estava longe de ser uma coisa praticada e valorizada.

Ela era Caeté, uma tribo notória por formar uma aliança com os franceses e se tornar inimiga dos portugueses. Mais notória foi a história de que os Caetés praticavam canibalismo (esta parte é verdade) e comeram um Bispo português chamado Sardinha. Depois que os portugueses ganharam contra os franceses, os Caetés foram escravizados e histórias fantásticas da selvageria desse povo viajaram por toda a Europa, inclusive foram ilustradas pelo artista holandês Theodor de Bry.

Indios-Antropofagia-Canibalismo

Foi apenas recentemente que a credibilidade desta história foi questionada. O bispo Sardinha foi definitivamente morto, mas aparentemente não pelos Caetés. Ele provavelmente foi assassinado pelo governador-geral e seu filho, porque ele não estava feliz com a forma como a colônia estava sendo executada e estava planejando voltar para Portugal para compartilhar suas críticas com o rei português (o bispo era muito mais religiosamente rigoroso do que outros jesuítas, ele se opôs ao tabagismo e sexo inter racial, por exemplo). O governador-geral, e especialmente o filho dele, certamente estavam envolvidos em comportamentos espiritualmente duvidosos e não queriam que as fofocas chegassem a realeza portuguesa. Então, eles mataram o bispo antes que ele pudesse voltar para Portugal, e escravizou os Caetés. Para o governador e sua família, esta foi uma situação duplamente vitoriosa. O Rei não descobriu o que eles estavam fazendo, e a opinião pública se enclinou em apoiar a escravização dos Caetés. A simples razão pela qual é tão difícil descobrir o que realmente aconteceu é porque, com o bispo morto e os Caetés extintos, as únicas pessoas que sobraram para contar a história eram aquelas que tinham interesse em mentir.

Se olharmos para 2017, particularmente a mudança frenética na opinião pública sobre o palco político mundial, podemos ver que isso ainda está acontecendo. De uma estrela de reality show gerenciando o maior exército do mundo e chamando de tudo “falsas notícias” e ao mesmo tempo fornecendo informações falsas aos jornalistas, as mídias sociais que inegavelmente participam de desinformação e censura extremamente influentes e politicamente relevantes – é evidente que estes são os que tem interesse em mentir. Nós só temos uns aos outros, e acredito que a melhor maneira de tornar o 2018 o melhor possível é se unir e ouvir as vozes que têm interesse em descobrir a verdade, ao invés de obscurecer-la. Meu artigo no próximo mês expandirá este tópico ao discutir o genocídio contemporâneo e o terrorismo de Estado que os meios de comunicação permitem por evadir a verdade.


Mirna Wabi-Sabi

23844610_10155972276622372_5754996345436383112_né co-Editora de Gods and Radicals.