On The No-Gender Drag

“Reading this may cause you to think “Oh, I see where they’re trying to get. They’re a trans person. It’s all over the media now. I’m well informed” and although you’re not mistaken (I am talking about misplaced gender roles and you could easily be right) this one specifically is not about trans identity. It’s about something that’s even less talked about and understood.”

From Nathan There

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Photo by Ahmed Carter

“As far as I’m concerned, being any gender is a drag.” – Patti Smit

Ever since I was a young child I felt something’s inherently different about me. I never felt I could fit this invisible but already established role I was supposed to fulfill. Humanity chose to shove people in these tight boxes so they can feel comfortable and experience the sensation of something recognizable (consequently safe). This can stretch to several categories of human conditions but here I’m talking about one in particular: the chart which people are obligated to follow when it comes to identity and gender. Reading this may cause you to think “Oh, I see where they’re trying to get. They’re a trans person. It’s all over the media now. I’m well informed” and although you’re not mistaken (I am talking about misplaced gender roles and you could easily be right) this one specifically is not about trans identity. It’s about something that’s even less talked about and understood. I’m talking about non-binary gender. Now, while you may think I will try and give you a crash course on the matter, even if I educate a bit here and there, this time I’ll tell you about something palpable.

When I was about seven, I had my first kiss. It wasn’t very glamorous, it wasn’t particularly memorable. It was a regular kiss between a seven year old child and a girl about the same age. It didn’t feel right or wrong, so I jumped to the next girl, then the next one until I was seventeen, never quite filling a void I could feel existed within me. At first, as taught by Brazilian culture, I assumed it was something to do with my sexual tastes. This is tricky, so I’ll elaborate: society burdens us with the assumptions and choices of our ancestors. If your society is structured to believe that blue is for boys and pink is for girls, you’re undoubtedly expected to abide by these rules. In this case, binary rules. So, if you’re a “boy” (Which specifically here means having a penis – assigned male at birth), and you like pink, then you’re a sissy at first. If you happen to identify as a female, the burden is not lifted, so you are still a sissy boy, with just further need of attention. If you’re a girl you’re not even entitled to have an opinion so let’s not get into male privileges just yet. So, back to my past – this void lead me to believe I was gay. And being a gay boy in the 90s was the most dreaded thing in Brazil. You’re not a capital letters MAN (Male) and you are not just unlucky to be born under the fragile gender (Female) – you’re choosing to misbehave, you’re choosing to go by the pink book. That’s just despicable, so you can imagine I was terrified.

At the age of seventeen, I kissed my first boys (Yes, two. That’s a story for another time), this way I could follow the role I understood I was obligated to follow: the gay one. That didn’t quite feel right either because it was crystal clear to me I was into girls too. I assumed I was bisexual and felt content with that even though I could feel there was something still uncanny about myself and I couldn’t quite grasp it. By that, I don’t mean bisexuality is something out of fairy tales. I just understood, later on, it does not apply to me.

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Photo by Douglas Barros

Now fast forward to a few years later (Yes. I quoted Alanis Morissette. I’m entitled to have musical preferences). I started reading, debating, and I became an activist on the matter of human and animal rights, understanding that I should raise awareness to the issues I fought for. Then I came across a concept that literally changed my whole perspective on life and shaped the way I would understand myself from that point on. In an article about Judith Butler, I read the terms queer and gender performativity. At first, I couldn’t quite grasp it, but that is expected. My body and mind were always colonized, so I had to strip myself from the prefabs of past generations to actually understand what I was reading, and when I did… everything changed. It was a mirror. Not the hazy one I always saw my shapes and colours reflected on but a true mirror. I existed. It was the most freeing experience I have ever felt so far and I would understand more and more about myself and the restraints I put myself under all the years prior to that moment. I wasn’t bisexual because I had no gender to identify with nor needed to. That is an amazing feeling if you ask me.

After a few years of tweaking this and that on my understanding of my life and my relations with others, I understood that my sexual tastes are entitled to be fluid and that does not constrain me inside any “sexual orientation” category. So, if I decide to exclusively have sex with women from now on that can’t make me straight because I’m not a man, or lesbian because I’m not a woman. Consequently, if I choose otherwise, same idea applies but in reverse. OK? Ok. The thing is, there is such a thing as gender performativity. People still perceive me as a male, no matter what I say or do so I have implications on that matter. The fact that I am conformed under certain male performativities (eventual beard, no makeup, pants and tank tops, some normative male mannerisms and the fact that I view myself as a cisgender person) makes people question my gender. While this is reinforced by the media, the problem is further structural rather than individual. If the media allowed people like me to exist through narrative and storytelling, if the fact that we are non-binary was not treated as exotic or eccentric (in other words, sensationalist material), if through narrative we were given stories outside our identities or if non-binary people were cast to play non-binary characters, society would be acknowledging me. Making normative people’s inability to fit a person in a gender into jokes or belittling non-binary people’s experiences contributes to this invisibility, and therefore to a confusing and negative journey throughout life.

My experience led me into some conclusions – First, I understand that no theory or self-perception must ignore my “male” privileges. For this reason, I can’t pull the “non-binary card” to bend situations in which others can’t grasp non-binary concepts. Example: I’m not either man or woman, but I can’t go into the “lady’s room” under this premise. They’re not obligated to understand me as anything else other than a male performative person and a potential rapist. Male oppression. Not difficult to understand at all. Second, it’s my understanding that non-binary people are not oppressed. The LGBTQI+ community is oppressed. I’m not killed for being non-binary. I don’t lose my job for being non-binary. I don’t get raped, molested and abused for being non-binary. I don’t get beaten up or excluded or shunned or threatened in any way for being non-binary. I suffer all of the above because I fall under the category of LGBTQI+. This oppression is towards our community and engulfs all of us. That’s why I’m oppressed, not because I’m non-binary. And that’s actually a blessing. Although invisibility is a form of oppression, when people start talking about us, we’ll probably get there. Third, there is such a thing as non-binary invisibility. That is the reason why people don’t understand my gender (and why I must understand I enjoy male privileges) and it is also the reason why my gender is oppression free (To an extent. I only mean by that what I discussed in the second topic). Fourth, being non-binary is an innate sense within a person. It’s not a lifestyle choice, a trend or a phase. It’s something that resonates inside you and makes sense when you put the pieces together. In my case, I understand how gender roles are burdened upon people, I understand some people are gladly abiding by and fitting into those categories and I understand that they’re not inherently bad per se (its praxis is). I just can’t relate to the category. In most cases, other people’s perception of my
gender won’t be something that bothers me in any sense (sometimes even the opposite). Sometimes it will but not because I can relate to it, but because I understand their concept and/or can apply the experience of the concept negatively in my life. For instance, you can call me a sissy and I’ll enjoy it, but I can understand how belittling being called a “good girl” can be while being a bottom during sex, because of the way women are belittled (even in oppressed niches such as the LGBTQI+ community).

All in all, the subtleties between gender, gender identity and gender performativity must be understood and stressed enough before people can understand non-binary existences, maybe even fitting into one of the multiple categories this gender understanding comprehends. But that’s for another time.

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Nathan There

2Nathan is a musician from Brazil, a queer non-binary vegetarian person with interest in game design, tattooing, and combating social disparity issues.


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

The Democratic Party Is Not What You Think

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Hillary Clinton speaks at the 2016 DNC. Image: Wikimedia Commons

At first, my friend didn’t realize he was a professional Democrat. When he got a job canvassing for “progressive causes,” he took them at their word: they raised money for nonprofits so they could do community work.

During his last week there, we got coffee during his lunch break. He told me how once a year, they received a list of candidates to fundraise for – not from the NGOs they contracted with, but from the Democratic National Committee. The “DNC push” meant higher quotas and heavier pressure from field managers. Now, most new hires couldn’t take the extra heat. Those who could, though, would have a chance to rise through the ranks, eventually becoming Democratic Party “bundlers” (functionaries responsible for persuading wealthy Democrats to write checks for thousands of dollars). Officially, the canvassing firm was independent. In reality, it was integrated into the Democratic Party, following the Party’s directives and funneling its most promising employees into Party careers.

If you listened to political common sense, you’d get the feeling that the Democrats are hapless, incompetent, and disorganized in the face of Republican discipline. Supposedly, they’re a loose coalition, with little in common besides opposing the GOP.

That’s false. On the ground, the Democrats are a tightly organized party with strong central discipline – much stronger than either their critics or most of their supporters realize. And unless US leftists learn how the Democratic Party actually works, their organizing will continue to fail.


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27th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Two concepts undergird this analysis. The first, drawn from Marxist-Leninist theory, is the cadre party. High school civics is wrong. Neither major US party is actually a heterogenous coalition. The tight-knit Leninist vanguard model describes them much more usefully.

The second concept here is the social and political base. Now, journalists often say “Democratic base” when they mean “Democratic voters.” However, a base is both more specific and more expansive than that. It isn’t simply the individuals who happen to support something. A base is a durable, organized community, capable of directing itself in a coordinated way. It’s brought into being by the set of social institutions whose day-to-day activities structure their constituents’ collective life.

What Is a Cadre Party?

According to Leninism, working-class revolution doesn’t happen spontaneously. It requires years of careful preparation, carried out by revolutionary leadership – dedicated Marxists who organize political struggles, spread revolutionary ideas, and (above all) establish a disciplined and militant organization capable of fighting and defeating the capitalist government.

That organization is the cadre, or vanguard, party. This party pursues the long-term interests of the entire working class, agitating for revolution while leading day-to-day struggles. It doesn’t let just anyone join – party members must not only commit substantial time and effort to the party, but also adhere to line discipline, enacting and defending all of the party’s positions (even those they privately disagree with). They become professional revolutionaries (also called cadres), completely dedicated to making revolution. Sometimes, that means literally working for the party full-time.

Now, there’s a contradiction emerging here. On one hand, the party has to inspire the support of as much of the working class as possible. To effectively engage in class struggle, it needs to bring as much of the class into its orbit as it can. But, it restricts membership to those who meet very high standards. So, most of the people it wants to win over aren’t actually eligible to join.

Leninism solves that by creating a second level of organization. The party proper forms a hard core of committed revolutionaries. At the same time, it directs a network of mass organizations (or, less charitably, front groups). While they follow the party’s lead, they have a much lower barrier to entry. So, the party can incorporate a large number of people without watering down its membership requirements.

When Leninist parties have historically been most successful, those mass organizations would lead to something greater than just a pool of supporters. They’d create a base.


 

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Protestant flag outside the Christian Right organization Focus on the Family. Image: Wikimedia Commons

What Is a Base?

Evangelical white Protestants – the Christian Right’s core demographic – only make up a quarter of the US. But somehow, the Christian Right exercises an outsize influence not just on government policy, but also on the overall social fabric of the areas in which it’s concentrated. Where conservative evangelicals are strong, they shape culture and dictate norms – but even in a place like Texas, where their influence is hegemonic, they’re less than one-third of the population. So where does their power come from?

In the 1970s, very few people were out as gay. Gay Liberation was a fringe movement, even in places with comparatively large gay communities. However, where gays were concentrated, they began to exercise influence – they sent Harvey Milk to the San Francisco city council, and over the years gay and countercultural values came to define the city’s image. But, San Francisco has always had an overwhelmingly straight majority – how did gay people get their influence?

In the 1800s, Irish immigrants were economically and politically marginal, even in cities with large Irish communities. But, they came to exercise not just electoral power via urban political machines, but also social and cultural clout – Boston has never been majority-Irish, but St. Patrick’s Day and Irish Catholicism have become integral to its identity. How did that happen?

Even in their core areas, each of these groups has always been outnumbered. In the latter two cases, they started out categorically excluded from social and political power. Yet, they all became highly-organized forces, dedicated to pursuing their interests with vigor and discipline. That let them grow powerful.

Each of them became a base. Conservative Christians aren’t simply individuals with private beliefs. They’re constituted into a base by a network of institutions: churches, charities, para-church groups, media outlets, and even businesses (anyone who’s been to the small-town South has seen the Jesus fish on everything from auto parts stores to restaurants). Those institutions then coordinate the community’s overall activities and goals, allowing it to act in a unified way. Because they’re integrated into the day-to-day lives of their participants, to opt out of them is to opt out of the collective life they facilitate. The same analysis holds for San Francisco’s gay bars, bathhouses, publications, and activist organizations, and for Boston’s Irish churches, mutual aid societies, labor unions, and social clubs.

With a coherent infrastructure of institutions, a disjointed population can become an organized and powerful base.


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Image: Polk County Democrats

On paper, the Democratic Party is a broad coalition. In practice, it is a cadre party.

It is controlled by professional Democrats – activist NGO managers, politicians’ staffers, “political operatives,” etc. These cadres set the Party’s priorities, oversee its day-to-day work, and keep any potential leftist competition under control. Some of them work for the Democratic Party proper, but most don’t. Officially, their “progressive nonprofit” employers aren’t Democrat-affiliated. Materially, they are the Democratic Party’s front groups. The small, self-selecting core uses them to bring in supporters. It’s not coincidence that the same person grant-writing for Greenpeace one year is working for Emily’s List the next. It’s the same people. They are their Party’s cadre structure, and they keep their front groups in line.

Sure, they align with different internal factions. Their competition is important enough to keep plenty of political reporters employed. But the drama of Bernie vs. Hillary obscures a deeper, more important reality. The faction fights and power struggles never step outside the overarching ideological boundaries of the Democratic “party line.” Sure, Berniecrats want comparatively more social programs, and Hillary supporters comparatively fewer. However, none of them deviates from the Party’s core program:

  • A capitalist economy with some regulation, but very little state ownership;
  • Collaboration between the government and businesses for “job creation” and social services provision;
  • Social liberalism, expressed through moderate affirmative action, anti-discrimination laws, official statements of support for oppressed demographics, and a few changes to police codes of conduct;
  • An expansive military through which the US enforces its global hegemony;
  • Nominal support for immigrants’ rights, but without full amnesty or open borders;
  • Opposition to expanding ballot access for minor parties;
  • A day-to-day political practice of lobbying, running campaigns for office, and symbolic “expressive protest.”

No member of the Democratic cadre structure would dare deviate from that framework. If they did, they’d risk losing their job; certainly, their career prospects would vanish. Do they always interpret the core program the same way? Of course not. But they do always uphold it.

Why does that matter, though? What, concretely, does their discipline mean? Well, nearly every activist organization in the US is a Democratic front group. After all, even if they didn’t want to be, their commitment to “conventional activism” demands it. When you spend your time waving signs and, perhaps, lobbying officials or supporting candidates, what’s your mechanism for enacting change? The only way you can bridge the gap between protest and power is through the support of Democratic politicians – and you can’t get that support if you won’t align with their Party. And, of course, activist groups don’t typically want to be independent in the first place. After all, their leaders and staffers are Democratic cadres. Their careers will take them across the whole extended Party structure.


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Image: Greater Seattle Neighborhood Action Coalition

The Democratic Party and its fronts don’t just have passive supporters. They’ve grown an entire community and social scene around their institutions. Because of that, they shape the social and cultural fabric of the places where they’re strong, wielding influence disproportionate to their numbers. In other words, the Democratic Party has a base, constituted through its fronts.

That base doesn’t overlap with the activist subculture – it is the activist subculture. There is no distinction. The activist scene exists because the day-to-day activities of the Democratic Party’s fronts bring it into being, providing an anchor for the informal activities and social networks that surround it. To participate in the activist subculture is to join the Democratic Party’s base.

That doesn’t just go for consciously Democratic liberals. Anarchist affinity groups form out of protest-based social scenes; concretely, they need protests in which to operate, and large protests only happen when the Democratic Party uses its fronts to mobilize people.  The anarchist scene emerges from the Democratic base and relies on the Democrats’ institutional infrastructure.

Leninist organizations run fronts of their own, attempting to imitate the more successful Democratic ones. However, they also depend on the Democratic base. They draw on the same pool of activists, advocate for the same causes, and usually show up at the same demonstrations. So, they only attract support when they hide their Leninist affiliation and follow the Democrats’ lead – as Refuse Fascism (a Revolutionary Communist Party front) discovered in November, when it called for protests without Democratic support and nobody came.

Of course, occasionally radicals do start an organization with the potential to break away from Democratic control. When that happens, Democratic cadres work very hard (and sometimes very ruthlessly) to co-opt it. Because of its institutional position, the Democratic machine can recuperate nearly anything that emerges from the activist subculture. Just look at the Greater Seattle Neighborhood Action Coalition. Founded after Trump’s election by an ad hoc left-liberal coalition, GSNAC explicitly took inspiration from the Rojava revolution. Officially, it committed to practicing direct action and mutual aid while abstaining from electoral politics. With that program on offer, GSNAC initially attracted several thousand participants. However, within a few months, a clique of professional Democrats seized control of the organization by undemocratic means. Without consulting other members, they not only began committing to liberal lobbying campaigns in GSNAC’s name, but also unilaterally filed incorporation papers, naming themselves as GSNAC’s officers. Within a couple of months, the overwhelming majority of participants left. They’d been promised something different than conventional activism, but the Democrats made sure GSNAC didn’t deliver that.

The US Left may not realize it, but nearly all of it is part of the Democratic Party’s extended machinery. However, leftists are excluded from the Democratic cadre structure; they can’t actually direct its course. That leaves them with two options: embrace the Democratic line, or marginalize themselves.

Do you support leftist politics? Leave the activist subculture.


The task of radicals, at present must be digging in deep to the class, going “to the masses,” building long-term relationships with layers of oppressed and working class people, and organizing in our neighborhoods and workplaces. This is the punishing, demoralizing grind work that activists prefer to avoid, but it constitutes the only way forward.

Tim Horras

The Left shouldn’t take part in conventional activism. But what should it do?

Well, what does the Left want? Strategy follows goals; tactics follow strategy. For revolutionaries, the goal is to literally overthrow the government. Revolution means replacing the existing political and economic system with a better one, based on the mass cooperative control of economic, cultural, and political life. The working class carries out all the activities that sustain human life and society. However, it’s excluded from power and subjected to oppression by the capitalist class of business owners and investors. So, it has the ability to carry out a revolution – the capitalists need it, but it doesn’t need them. Further, because of its position of exploitation, it stands to benefit from the abolition of class distinctions.

But how, exactly, can it go about that? If revolution isn’t on the menu yet, what’s the path from here to there? Well, the working-class must become a well-organized social force – so well organized that it can exercise power and assert its interests, even when the the ruling class uses violence to try to stop it. So, carrying out a revolution means first developing an institutional infrastructure capable of directly combatting the capitalist state. In communist lingo, a structure like that competing with the government is called “dual power.”

Now, obviously, a dual power situation can’t be willed into being overnight. Its constituent institutions must be built, piece by piece, however long that takes. Since the process of doing so means organizing the entire working class to act for itself in a coherent way, the working class must become a base. So, the “dual power strategy” for revolution is fairly straightforward: you develop autonomous institutions of class confrontation and mutual aid, through a process of base-building. Eventually, you reach a “critical mass” and can challenge the government directly.

When leftists engage in conventional activism, they pre-empt their ability to do that. Do you go to protests and wave signs? You’re competing with the Democratic Party on its home territory. You’re going to the Democratic base and telling it to stop being pro-Democrat. But it can’t stop. It only exists in the first place through the Democratic Party’s fronts. You have to go somewhere else and build a revolutionary base, instead.

Now, base-building is slow. It’s a grind. It’s not sexy and it’s rarely cathartic. You don’t get the high of being one of thousands of people in a big demonstration, chanting and raising energy. You don’t get the quick gratification of networking with established activists and feeling like you’re part of an “authentic social movement.” Instead, you spend your time serving the people: creating constituencies by creating institutions and knitting them together, struggle by struggle, project by project.

The dual power strategy is not for the impatient. This work is too important to rush. There are no shortcuts. The activist subculture may look like one. And sure, taking over a ready-made base looks appealing, next to the difficulty of creating your own. However, it’s a pipe dream. The Democratic base can’t be separated from its Party. It only exists through that Party’s institutions.

Now, the human cost of capitalism grows every day. And thanks to climate change, there’s an ecological clock ticking. Slow and patient, on the face of it, hardly feels appropriate. The need for change is urgent; can we afford such a protracted approach? The dual power strategy is an uphill fight, sure, but at this point it’s the only possible shot. There’s no more time to waste on dead ends.

So stop protesting. Build a base instead.


 

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

What does calling Brazilian women “sexy” actually mean?

An article on the impact colonialism has in the lives of Brazilian women today.

By Mirna Wabi-Sabi

 

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Photo by Douglas Barros, set in the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC), iconic architecture by Oscar Niemeyer, in Niterói, Brazil.

Niterói is the city across the bay from Rio de Janeiro, and its name means “hidden water” in Tupi. The leader of the now extinct Temiminó tribe, Araribóia, founded Niterói in the late 1500’s. It’s the only city in Brazil to have been founded by an Indigenous person. In the 16th century, Portuguese settlers married Indigenous women and rewarded Indigenous leaders, such as Araribóia, with expensive gifts and prestigious positions. In return, the Indigenous tribe would join the fight against other Indigenous tribes, and European settlers from France and the Netherlands.

These other European countries that fought Portugal for control over the colony were not as successful in collaborating with the locals. This was because they preferred to preserve the racial, religious and cultural segregation for racist reasons. Despite the Pope’s claim that Indigenous people had a ‘blood defect’, Araribóia eventually converted to Christianity and changed his name to Martim Afonso. Portugal’s ability to convert the Indigenous to Christianity, and to have mixed marriages and offspring, lead to ‘successful’ alliances in war and land development. Of course, these alliances were not motivated by sentiments of equality, but instead by patriarchal capitalist interests.

Today, the few people in Niterói who remember Araribóia consider him a traitor for converting to Christianity and for allowing the Western domination of his tribe. It’s becoming widely known, though, that Indigenous collaboration with Europeans was done ‘at knife point’, and was also a survival strategy that allowed for the preservation of a small portion of the Indigenous population. My great-great-grandmother was an Indigenous woman who was ‘hunted down by lasso’ by the much older white man who was my great-great-grandfather, and I can safely say this is a common tale among Brazilian families. Whether this story can be taken literally or not, Christianity, marriage, sexual assault, and slavery were a brutal reality for Indigenous women nevertheless.[1]

Statue of Araribóia in Niterói. Photo by Mirna Wabi

Mixed marriages, or miscegenation, became an unavoidable part of Brazil’s sense of identity. It’s been considered a weakness to be fixed through racial cleansing, or a source of power, beauty and pride if well managed. Unlike the United States’ ‘one-drop rule’, white Brazilian men tried to claim that they could genetically ‘fix’ the ‘lower’ races. This concept came from white European men who wanted to justify their sexual relationships with women of color, and their emotional attachment to the families they were creating. “The sexual fantasy of the erotic encounter with the Other is simultaneously the fantasy of whitening/browning the nation by eliminating “Africanoid exaggerations”” (Alvaro Jarrin, 2010). This was the beginning of Brazil’s mingling of medical research, race, and beauty.

“Cosmetic citizenship” is a term used by Alvaro Jarrín in 2010 to describe Southeastern Brazil’s relationship with beauty in connection to race, class and gender hierarchy. We still struggle with the white supremacist ideology imposed on us during hundreds of years of colonization, and we hold the Brazilian working class (economically) hostage to white bourgeois beauty (and behavior) standards. We associate beauty with health, wealth, white(er)ness.

Too many people talk about the plastic surgery phenomenon in Brazil and the sexualized exoticism of Brazilian women as something we brought upon ourselves, claiming Brazilian women have nice asses and are wild in bed because that’s what they are ‘by nature’, as if that statement was an objective fact (the neutral gaze). This idea is reinforced by the media and by popular culture, which is dominated by white capitalist patriarchy in Brazil and abroad.

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The view of Rio from Niterói, over the Guanabara Bay. “Guanabara” comes from the term ocean-breast in Tupi. Photo by Nicolas Prieto

Whoever makes claims that Brazil is past colonialism because we’ve become some kind of superpower needs to stop listening only to the Brazilian elite, and start listening to the Brazilian masses. We have an incredible amount of resources, and we struggle every day to seize control of them. We are not an American style imperialist power, even though the Brazilian elite might want that. They are mesmerized by the American dream of financial success and by the European dream of white supremacist racial cleansing, while the majority of the population is held financially hostage and struggles to survive.

Even though the Brazilian elite participates in this oppression, it doesn’t mean Western powers aren’t responsible. In fact, they are responsible for the destabilization of all of Latin America for hundreds of years, and still are today. Brazilian women should not and will not be reduced to the stereotypes of being sexy and spicy, nor subjected to exoticism and harassment. As a Brazilian woman, I’m tired of white Western Europeans trying to educate me about my own country, and even on how I should perceive myself.

Niterói is my hometown. Much of our Indigenous heritage has been devalued, destroyed and forgotten. The legacy of this destruction defines us today. The white supremacist sexual assault of Indigenous and African women, the slaughter of Indigenous peoples, languages, spirituality, and culture; these are all still part of our lives whenever we see a Christian church, whenever we forget what the names of our neighborhoods mean, whenever a woman feels pressure to conform to an elitist and racist beauty standard, whenever we reject our Indigenous blood and heritage, and whenever we worship foreign currency over nature.

So, next time you see the “Brazilian Issue” of something with a picture of a big ass on the cover, see it for what it really is: the colonized female body being dissected, analyzed, criticized, sexualized, and sold.

(Additional references: bell hooks, Angela Davis, Gloria Wekker)

Footnotes:

[1] TW: rape. This is not only true in Brazil. “Indigenous women in the US experience some of the highest rates of sexual assault in the country” (Aljazeera). See Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast on Pocahontas and Rape Culture.


Mirna Wabi-Sabi

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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).


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The Beginning – The Land

We are all connected to the land. It is, at the very least, the one commonality we all share, whether we realise it or not. We are all of this land, of this earth. We all have nature in common. We all have that animating spark, the fire of the gods, within us.

From Emma Kathryn

 

My garden.

It’s large, at least in comparison to my neighbours. It stretches around along the side of the house. It has two wild cherry trees, a small Cotoneaster, a huge common lime, two elder trees and a thick wall of ivy (it has taken over the fence that separates the front garden from the back). In the middle is a shrub I do not know the name of. Along the edges, beneath the trees, it is semi wild.

I awake early most mornings, am usually up and drinking coffee at about five in the morning – I don’t know why, I just wake up. I usually get up, make a coffee, chuck on some clothes, usually a pair of joggers and one of my partner’s jumpers – they’re massive on me, like a dressing gown, and I take my coffee outside.

It feels so different at this early hour, no matter the time of year. The lack of people, the feeling that it is just me, alone with the trees and the birds. It’s so quiet. Different than in the day, when the sound of traffic on the bypass, kids in the streets, dogs barking all drown out the birdsong. The quite whisperings of life unseen.

At this time of year, close to Yule, it is still night at this time in the morning. It feels like a different world entirely. Perhaps it is because the sense that we as humans most rely on is at a disadvantage, and so you are forced to rely on your other senses. Perhaps it is this that makes me feel as though I am closer to the natural world, to the otherworld.

Further from my garden, but not by much, is the playing field. We played here as kids, though back then, the field itself was bordered by more wild meadows. There was “the gypsy field,” so-called because every year Romany travellers would set up camp there for a few weeks. Us kids from the estate would watch them from the edges. They were so different, like us but not, the children so free. That meadow is now a housing estate, the trees pulled out, the earth flattened and concreted and tarmacked.

On the other side, there is still a small meadow. We called it the horse field, though really it was much like the gypsy field, but with no road access. People kept their horses tethered there to graze during the summer months. Before the industrial estate expanded onto much of this ‘waste’ land, there were dykes and ditches, and we would go frog spawning, or climb the monkey trees, so-called because they had low branches we would swing from.

Now though, it’s mostly just the playing field that’s left, and even that is in the process of being sold off by the local council, no doubt more houses will be built on it. It’s quite a large field, and at the edges it has been left to go semi wild. Blackthorn, hawthorn, elder, hazelnut, plum and apple all grow along its edge. In one corner, there’s a small wild patch, like a miniature wood. I used to think it was huge as a kid. Rabbits and foxes live on this field, as well as long-tailed tits, blackbirds, thrush and many other species of bird. At the back, there is a tree where one of the branches has grown horizontally so that it’s like a bench. I can remember the first time my mum showed me it, I thought it was magical! I used to show my kids when they were little too. Sometimes I still stop there, take a seat, and just sit.

If you take one of the alley ways that lead off the field, it brings you out on to the industrial estate. A five minute walk takes you to Devils Woods. Again, we used to come here as kids. When I come here alone, it always feels sacred. There’s an old air raid shelter somewhere, though try as I might, I cannot find it now. There are more foxes and rabbits here, and quite often kestrels can be seen hovering overhead. Hawthorn and silver birch grow here, elder too. I love to walk amongst the trees, the lichen covered trunks, the branches bare,reaching up skywards, my warm breath clouding in the cold air. If it’s dry, the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot. These are my woods, or I am theirs, or perhaps it’s a bit of both.

Ten minutes from the woods is the river Trent. Wild Datura grows here, wormwood and mugwort too. There are more hazel nut trees, more blackthorn and even sweet chestnuts and oak. There is so much wild life here too, swans, ducks, moorhens, geese, kingfishers, huge damsel flies to name just a few. The river isn’t huge, though many have died in its dark waters, and as kids, many a summer’s day was spent along its banks, a load of us kids from the estate enjoying the kiss of summer. The lads would jump in, and some of the braver girls too.

I guess what I’m saying is that the land is always there, always has been. We are connected to this land and I always feel this connection most at this time of year, at Yule. I know others may feel this connection more in spring, and summer still even more, but it is in these darker months when I feel the call of the wild most, the call of the land.

When everything else is said and done, the land will still be here. It might expel us first, kill off the self-destructive pest it has helped spawn, but I have no doubt the land will still be here long after we are gone.

In this modern life, sometimes, or even quite often in fact, I feel like even some Pagans forget the land. They may worship this or that God or Goddess. They practise their tarot and meditate and burn incense and light candles and all of the other stuff, the glitz, if you will, of the pagan lifestyle, but quite often, the land is forgotten.

This life throws so many distractions up, things that draw our attention away from the sacredness of the land, things that muddy the water, that just get in the way. We have to work so many hours, sell ourselves to live, when the earth provides for free. We argue amongst ourselves about politics. We hold grudges and judge others, other people and act on those judgements, even when they are foolish and quite often, downright dangerous. We organise ourselves into classes, into castes, into races. We argue over oppression, when we all agree it shouldn’t happen, we get caught up on the semantics, nitpicking over what others say, looking for any weakness we can use to rubbish what they have to say, all the time never getting anywhere in the battle for equality or for human rights, or animal rights. Never getting anywhere.

If you do anything this Yule, or whenever the connection to land is greatest within your soul, act upon it. Go out, walk, meditate or sit in those wild places where you live. build on your connection to the land in your locality. Remember what it was like when you were a kid, those wild places, those secret places that adults seem to forget or overlook amongst the chaos that is everyday life.  You don’t need to take a bus or a train to find somewhere wild, or even semi wild, heck, just going out is a start.  Become a steward of the land. Care for it. Love it.

The Earth is first. The land is the beginning.

When we truly respect this land on which we live, that gives us life, this land from which we all come, I truly believe it will help in the fight against injustice. We are all connected to the land, it is at the very least, the one commonality we all share, whether we realise it or not. We are all of this land, of this earth. We all have nature in common. We all have that animating spark, the fire of the gods, within us.

The land is the beginning.

However you celebrate Yule, whatever you call your festive season, have a good one, fellow seekers, rebels, witches and pagans!


Emma Kathryn

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

You can follow Emma on Facebook


You can help us pay Emma and other anti-capitalist Pagans and witches at Gods&Radicals here. And thanks!

Letter from Catalonia

Gods&Radicals is pleased to host this communique from a comrade in Catalonia. [Any errors are due to editorial translation]

There’s a lot of talking about Catalonia these days; a country that, not so long ago, few would have been able to place on a map.

Now this will be a long writing, for the Catalan struggle has been going on for quite a long time.

Catalonia is a small territory, but nevertheless has its own language, culture and traditions. A heritage that has been way too often threatened by Spanish authoritarianism.

Spain is a country that has had a deep legacy of fascism, that these days had resurfaced and awakened. It may be odd, that, while acknowledging it, many have not fully realized it until now. Fascists are not a minority in Spain, though in many cases it’s a kind of disguised and sweetened fascism, one that only shows its true face in anger and rage when the unity of the empire was at stake.

That would be why we are seeing such a huge amount of Spaniards these days who are justifying the riot Police strikes that left almost 900 injured.

Now, would you for a second be able to imagine the German Nazi party having a voice and a vote in the process of writing the German democratic Constitution after WWII? Unthinkable?

Well, that’s precisely what happened in Spain.

In Spain, over a million people went to pay homage to Franco when he passed, forming long queues to salute his dead body in a final tribute effort. In Spain, the ruling party is the heir of Francoist Association “Alianza Popular”, which barely changed its name to “Partido Popular.” The largest Spanish monument, ordered by Franco and built by slaved Republican prisoners, is still standing.

Valle de los Caídos, built by enslaved Republicans on Franco’s orders

This is the Spain that is now willing, quite literally, to crush the Catalan Revolution, yet it is also the very same Spain that caused it.

Now it’s worth noting that the Catalan people have historically been, who knows if because of their geographic location, remarkably open minded and defenders of freedom, so much that even on 1719, De Vayrach was writing about them:

“Their active and whimsical condition (that from the Catalans) leads them to being so zealous of their freedom that, in order to keep it, they do insolently disregard all law, being those divine or human”.

So much, that even with a centre-right ruling party, they passed laws in order to protect basics rights of all citizens, challenging the market laws. Unfortunately those laws have been void under the name of the Constitution.

The Spanish Constitution doesn’t seem to like equal rights for men and women; doesn’t like that helpless people have their water, electricity and gas supplies warranted, nor that they can keep their homes; doesn’t like the people to be entitled to decide via referendums; doesn’t like that nuclear energy pays for the risk it generates; doesn’t like fracking or torturing bulls being banned.

The will of the Catalan people is not to the taste of reactionary Spain, and the Constitutional Court has become the arm the structural Francoism uses in order to repress it, even disregarding separation of powers when necessary.

And so it has been, that without even realizing it, with their repression they managed only to increase the angriness of the Catalans, and with it, the number of independence supporters. Should a self-determination have been held a decade ago, no to independence would have probably wo,. Nowadays, those in favour of the status quo are, in worst case scenario, barely 35%. Mind you, ten years ago not even the party now promoting the referendum was pro-independence; they had to become so due to the popular pressure for that.

We even reached the point where anarchists not only went to vote, but they did so in favour of a new country. Unthinkable, isn’t it? Well maybe not, because what the Spanish government has achieved in doing, by systematically trampling on us, is to turn struggle for national rights into one for civil rights.

I was not myself able to understand how the Spanish government could possibly behave the way they did. I was looking for some kind of rational reasons and background to their strategy.

And I was wrong.

That’s something I eventually understood on October 1st, when I realized they attacked with specific ferocity and rage the polling stations where Catalan government members where expected to cast their vote, even if they knew that would never escape the eyes of the world. The cause for that behaviour is to be found in an attitude, a way of being, not in reasoning but simply in despotism. They want the Catalan people to be submissive and on their knees. Humiliated. Defeated.

Should they have any knowledge of history, they would have been aware that these people are the very same who, in the XVIII century, used to swear loyalty to their kings with this particular formulae:

We who are worthy as Thy, we swore in front of Thy who are not better than us, that together we are worth more than Thy, and that we accept Thy as King and Sovereign provided that Thy respect our laws and freedoms, but otherwise, NOT.

And as NOT came to be, so insurrection was born. A joking, peaceful and tolerant insurrection, but with an indisputable will. A revolt from virtually the entire Catalan society, that united fire-fighters, teachers, elders, youth, stevedores, anarchists, administration and civil society, parties, athenaeums and associations… all kinds of people aiming for one goal only. The people getting their government to obey.

From its organization to its compulsory defence, the Referendum included people of all origins and social conditions. Ballot boxes were dropped in France and hidden by private citizens in a completely clandestine way. Following a plan from which none of the people taking part were entirely aware of all the information. Avoiding use of telematics. In many cases not even the closest relatives of those people knew what they were up to.

All this, in order to avoid the State intelligence to intercept the ballots. And the ballots reached the polling stations without one being intercepted.

People’s ingenuity presented us with hilarious pictures of civil disobedience. Ballot boxes hidden, during Spanish Police raids, on roofs, graveyard tombs, or hanging from threes. In Campins, a single access village, citizens blocked it by turning down a few pine trees after Police entered the town. They had to leave on ungraded roads and ended up lost in the hills, until at 5 a.m. the following morning the “mossos d’esquadra” (Catalan Police), came to their rescue. Still in another town, they counted the votes in church, during the holy mass, so that it went unnoticed by the Police.

Sadly though, it wasn’t all fun. Spanish Police forced their way into the polling stations charging against anyone or anything in their path. They used tear gas, they tried to run over people with their armored vans, they dragged our grandmothers on the floor, they threw voters onto a man being taken care of after a heart attack… All this against peacefully resisting people.

They injured almost 900 of them. Caused over 300.000€ wreckage, smashing glasses, doors, furniture and all sorts of equipment, mostly without any reason to justify it, if there could ever be any. Anyone willing to go in depth into it can find hundreds of images with a quick search.

It could well be that Catalans should not feel that special, as those are probably aspects which are common to all popular revolts, it’s just that technology nowadays allow us to record and share them. However, watching the people organizing themselves in order to challenge the State is a picture worth praising. And remembering.

Remember, yes, and do not forget that many of the people now taking part in this revolution are the very same who endorsed or took part in repression to reclamation movements in Catalonia not so long ago. People who justified using Police in full riot gear, and brute force, in order to stop the protests. That Catalan media who now show themselves to be surprised and incensed by the Spanish media manipulation, did act in a very similar way on a number of occasions in the past. It might be that for many of them, what we are seeing these days led to some inner change and that it has taken them to the left-minded path, but it’s also certain that many were just dragged away by the tide, and as soon as things get back to normal they will quickly forget the times when they used to shout “the street will always be ours” and “Police tortures and murders”. That’s why those of us who have always been in the anti-establishment struggle, are having mixed feelings these days.

But amid all this mess of feelings and emotions for us Catalans, particularly for those of a libertarian mind, there is a clear certainty leading our path.

This revolution is to be triumphant, for if it wasn’t, the message for all world leaders, and all those having any ambitions to become one, would be that no matter how strong and just the will of the people might be, it can be bent with force and deception. And that is why the struggle for Catalan people’s self-determination must be that of all people fighting for freedom, no matter where they come from.

From Catalunya, we beg you have our story told, and let it be known, helping us wherever and whenever you can; for only the people can save the people!


 

Notes on Rojava

An opinion piece on the problematic aspects of the Rojava hype.
By Mirna Wabi-Sabi

The biggest hipster hype engine, Vice, has called Rojava “the most feminist revolution the world has ever witnessed” (1). Variations of this statement were widespread through radical media for over a year. We must be cautious with the media because it has the power to advertise political ideas that justify Western terrorism (11) and imperialism. We fall for it because it’s a story we want to hear: a force against ISIL that caters to the radical neoliberal audience. But we can, without realizing, be promoting the rise of islamophobia as a pretext for further Western military intervention in the Middle East.

Claiming Rojava represents a feminist oasis in the Middle East implies anti-feminism in its surroundings. This is islamophobic rhetoric. Carne Ross, writing for Vice, even went on to write that Rojava represents “the right of self-defense against all anti-woman practices and ideas, including those of traditional society, not just the extreme violence of Daesh” (1).

What kind of feminism are we talking about here? One where “women become worthy of respect as long as they turn into men of arms and sacrifice themselves on the battlefield” (5), just as American women become executives and earn almost the same as their male peers? It’s a kind of feminism that perpetuates islamophobic stereotypes, that fetishizes images of Kurdish women with guns (7), that justifies foreign military occupation, and the violent destabilization of a region by the West. We don’t see a real Rojava, we see a reflection of our own reactionary feminism.

Vice gives a glimpse of something no one wants to see when it states that the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces “currently enjoys US and allied military support”, while the “US and indeed Western governments are involved in a grotesque contradiction in which they permit NATO “partner” Turkey to attack the SDF”. Then they quickly distract the audience with another article called “We Need to Talk About Simon Cowell’s Jeans” (8)…

There must be another way to prevent Turkey and ISIL from crushing Rojava, other than to “loosen counterterrorism rules” (13), to deploy American forces to the region (4),  and to bomb civilians (12). Perhaps an alternative is to use NATO to rebuke Turkey’s actions, as opposed to using it for air-base access (14), or to stop selling billions of US dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia (15). We’ve been adding fuel to fire, thinking only conflagration could defeat ISIL.

Last year, Rojava had its own temporary embassy inside Oslo’s parliament, helping the city build its reputation as the ‘peace capital of the world’ (16). We should be able to support Rojava and Kurds in general, but are we able to show solidarity without making it about ourselves? Turning people into tourist attractions and tokens is not an act of solidarity. And when we engage in political propaganda, whose interests are we promoting?

After seeing islamophobic and racist speeches by politicians in the Netherlands about how Turkey will never join the EU (2), I can’t help but think that maybe the Kurds are being made into what Western Europe wanted the Turkish to be (10)(17). We haven’t stopped endorsing what the West wants, and manufacturing an ideological supply for our own demands.

We can still learn how to make better political affiliations, be critical towards the media, and continue to share information about this even if it contradicts things we’ve said before. If we are serious about anarchism and feminism, it’s important to focus on the anti-woman practices and oppression proliferated from your own communities.

We need to start listening to people like Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, the 22-year-old poet who said: “If you need me to prove my humanity, I’m not the one who’s not human” (6). Rojava isn’t the only place worthy of attention just because they have proven their humanity to us.

Yes, we support Kurdish autonomy and independence. Even though we respect everything they have done, fought and died for, we must also fight islamophobia in general with every bit of energy we’ve got. Let’s not forget and let it happen never again (18).

References:

1- https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/43dmgm/the-most-feminist-revolution-the-world-has-ever-witnessed

2- http://www.reuters.com/article/us-netherlands-turkey-wilders/dutch-far-right-leader-wilders-tells-turks-you-will-never-join-eu-idUSKBN0TN1UM20151204

4-http://www.thedailybeast.com/us-troops-18-miles-from-isis-capital

5-http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/08/rojava-libertarian-myth-scrutiny-160804083743648.html

6-http://www.huffpostbrasil.com/entry/suhaiymah-manzoor-khan-slam-poet_us_595d26c9e4b0da2c7326cf5c

7-http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-37337908?SThisFB

8-https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/ywweax/we-need-to-talk-about-simon-cowells-jeans

10- http://www.newsweek.com/turkeys-syria-intervention-sign-weakness-not-strength-501516

11- http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-civilian-deaths-syria-iraq-middle-east-a7649486.html

12- https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/22/world/middleeast/syria-us-airstrike.html

13- https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/12/us/politics/trump-loosen-counterterrorism-rules.html

14-https://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2015/07/economist-explains-21

15- http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/saudi-arabia-arms-sales-theresa-may-britain-extremist-funding-poll-public-a7843061.html

16- http://www.e-flux.com/announcements/78967/oslo-architecture-triennale-2016after-belonging/

17- Hamid Dabashi, Brown Skin, White Masks. New York and London: Pluto Press, 2011.

18- https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/davidnovak637850.html


Mirna Wabi-Sabi

Mirna is an intersectional feminist and decolonial activist.

You Have to Deliver

panthersicklecell.png
Black Panther Party free sickle cell testing in Boston, 1973. [Credit: It’s About Time BPP]

Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children.

Amílcar Cabral

The US Left is having a renaissance. It’s more visible now than it has been for generations. Left ideas have wide exposure and most Millennials oppose capitalism.

So why is the Left so weak?

The Left’s growth hasn’t translated into concrete power for the working class. It hasn’t developed a mass base of participation (at least outside of the pre-existing protest subculture and the “weird Twitter/Facebook” corners of the internet).

Now, some of that can’t yet be helped. After barely existing for decades, the Left has re-emerged into an environment dominated by neoliberalism. But ultimately, external conditions don’t excuse its failure. Yes, the rules of the game are stacked against it. You can curse that fact all day and all night, but in the end, leftists have not adapted to a situation that they know will remain hostile. Sure, they’re hampered by unfriendly conditions – but the Left’s internal problems are what prevent it from meeting that challenge. Unless revolutionaries change their political practice, they will remain what they are now: visible and ineffective.

But what can radicals do differently?


women2
Despite his ideas, this man is not being taken seriously. [“The Morning Ride,” James-Jacques-Joseph Tissot, 1898]
Your ideas do not entitle you to be taken seriously.

Socialists know their theory and they know their Russian history. So what? That by itself does no one any good. Nobody owes you a hearing – the people you want to organize don’t owe you a single thing.

How many times have you seen socialists show up for something they have no prior connection to, thinking that they’ll “explain the revolutionary perspective” and then, somehow, be welcomed as leaders on the sheer strength of their ideas? Activists keep hopping from cause to cause based on whatever’s currently getting media attention. Does that develop collective power for anyone? Political ambulance chasing is fine for NGOs (and the micro-sect fronts that impersonate them). Unless they’re on top of whatever’s in the news, they’re at a disadvantage in competing for donors. Besides, the lack of deep and sustained community work lets the activist scene’s big fish keep their pond nice and small. But revolutionaries aren’t after careers in the nonprofit-industrial complex. If you want a mass revolutionary movement, you can’t afford that provincialism.


leftysymbols
Are these symbols outdated? That isn’t the right question to be asking.

This isn’t about branding. Should radicals say “communism,” “socialism,” or a euphemism like “economic democracy?” Should they drop 20th-century leftist iconography? Who cares? The issue isn’t which symbols the Left uses. Rather, it’s the way radical organizing so rarely commits to specific communities, stays for the long haul, builds up useful institutions, and lays the groundwork to expand them.

Sure, it’s better to have compelling rhetoric than not; neither talking down to people nor academic obscurantism does leftists any favors. The dichotomy between impenetrable theory-speak and over-simplified sloganeering both proceeds from and reinforces the distance between most socialists and the constituencies they seek. Those are bad habits not only of speech, but also of thought. If you don’t talk like a human being to people, it doesn’t matter if what you’re saying is true. It ends up irrelevant to real life, and it makes you sound like a jackass.

In the end, though, language and presentation aren’t the root issues. Your ideology isn’t necessarily what you believe. It’s what you’ve internalized through practice. If that mostly consists of debating on Facebook and reading articles, then your language and thought patterns will reflect that. Intentionally or not, you learn to think and speak in the way that works best for what you’re actually doing. Similarly, if most of your activism involves going to protests with liberals, then you’ll learn to be concerned with how to make radical ideas sound good to moderate ears. Why wouldn’t you bend over backwards to avoid scary words like “communism?” (Of course, that does mean other activists will think you’ve got something to hide. They aren’t fools – if you aren’t quite saying what you mean, then people will treat you accordingly. Trying to dodge the stigma attached to radicalism rather than confronting it just comes off as dishonest.)

That said, though, revolutionary leftism does still carry a lot of stigma. Most people’s default attitude towards it is skepticism. But if innovative rhetoric isn’t enough to push past that, what is?

What does get taken seriously?


tcd

You have to deliver results. You have to prove that when you act on your ideas, your community’s life gets better. You have credibility only to the extent that when you organize a project, it gives people more power and a better conditions in a concrete, tangible, material way. If you put that off until after the revolution (or after your socialist candidate wins), your revolution will never arrive. No one will support you besides a few political hobbyists – and why should they?

Are your ideas insightful and true? Prove it. If you can’t deliver, your ideas are wrong. No one will or should listen to your arguments unless you show, in practice, that they mean something (no matter how hostile the external conditions).

In Washington State, Tacoma Clinic Defense believes that anti-abortion fundamentalists should not be allowed to picket in front of clinics. Its participants began claiming that when anti-choicers are marginalized and isolated, life improves for the whole community. So, they went out to prove it: they physically placed themselves in front of the protesters at reproductive health clinics. By providing a calm, positive, and visible pro-choice presence, they functioned as a “lightning rod,” drawing the anti-choicers’ attention away from their intended targets. They did so every time the fundamentalists showed up – and, over time, the picketers got demoralized. Fewer and fewer of them turned out, and those who did became less bold. Now, after several years of attrition, the fundamentalists no longer come to the clinics at all. They’ve been reduced to holding small, silent prayer circles several blocks away, out of sight of the patients. People respect Tacoma Clinic Defense and its ideas – it got results. It went into the field and proved its ideas true.

How many socialist groups can say the same?


And a lot of people will tell you, by the way, Well, the people don’t have any theory, they need some theory. They need some theory even if they don’t have any practice. And the Black Panther Party tells you that if a man tells you that he’s the type of man who has you buying candy bars and eating the wrapping and throwing the candy away, he’d have you walking East when you’re supposed to be walking West. Its true. If you listen to what the pig says, you be walkin’ outside when the sun is shining with your umbrella over your head. And when it’s raining you’ll be goin’ outside leaving your umbrella inside. That’s right. You gotta get it together. I’m saying that’s what they have you doing.

Now, what do WE do? We say that the Breakfast For Children program is a socialistic program. It teaches the people basically that by practice, we thought up and let them practice that theory and inspect that theory. What’s more important? You learn something just like everybody else.

Fred Hampton

Why do so many working-class people align with Protestant fundamentalism?

Christian Right churches give them reasons to join. Their safety net often out-competes the government’s; they offer food and clothing and shelter, community, existential purpose, social support, help with childcare and elder care, and even mental health services (through pastoral counseling and 12-step groups). That’s how the Christian Right has gotten such a massive and well-organized base. Its network of parallel institutions allows it to wield disproportionate power. In Texas, for instance, the Christian Right dominates state politics – but only 31% of Texans are evangelical Protestants! There is power in a base of autonomous institutions.

The revolutionary Left doesn’t offer much competition. Why not learn from the enemy? Radicals can prove through practice that they can build programs that not only improve people’s material conditions, but also operate according to participatory democracy (which Christian Right churches do not). If that alternative was there, how many more poor and working people might become radical? Most people don’t choose to become socialists because socialism isn’t offering them anything they need. It’s perfectly reasonable to reject an ideology that talks big but isn’t actually improving your life.

If you want support, build something that works.


Nothing better defines Trump’s appeal, nor Obama’s before it, than a feeling of finally being heard. Though Trump made some memorable campaign promises (the wall, the travel ban, etc.), he offered participation in an affect — despair where Obama once offered “hope” — more than he appealed with plausible political proposals. And the liberal reaction to the Trump presidency continues in this political mode. When liberals insist that the point of protest is to “have your voice be heard,” they are actually describing the fascist mode of political participation. To be satisfied with “feeling heard” in and of itself, as the goal of political activity, without pointing that expression toward building real material power, is to be a contented fascist subject.

Willie Osterweil

Ideas come from social practice. Whether or not you’re conscious of it, your worldview is made of the lessons your practice has taught you. For instance, most working-class people reject electoral politics not due to revolutionary theory, but because it’s shown itself to be useless – no matter which politicians win, things keep getting worse. Until revolutionaries start delivering actual results, the class they want to organize will not embrace their ideas, either. All the rhetoric in the world means nothing if it can’t help feed your kids.

The approach most US leftists take isn’t working. However, a few groups have found success by taking a different approach:

Don’t believe it when people say that there could never be a mass revolutionary movement in the US. It won’t be easy to create one. The Left will be struggling every step of the way, since larger political conditions do make a difference. But so do conditions within the Left. The US Left may not succeed. But, if it adopts a strategy of institution-building through confrontation, construction, and deep organizing, then it will, at least, stand a chance.

The only alternative is to keep failing.


Sophia Burns is a communist and polytheist in the US Pacific Northwest. Click here to support her on Patreon.

 

Asatru’s Racist Missionary: Stephen McNallen, Defend Europe, and the Weaponization of Folkish Heathery

 

“…while the Alt Right is the U.S. and Europe were singing the identitarian’s praises, a celebrity in the U.S. pagan community was capitalizing on this to renew his call for racial tribalism.”

From Ryan Smith & Shane Burley

As they headed out into the Mediterranean, Defend Europe had the plan of interfering with humanitarian NGOs attempting to provide medical aid to refugees crossing the seas after years of war-torn violence.

After raising $200,000 through crowdfunding websites like WeSearchr, Defend Europe chartered a 422-ton ship, determined that they would block refugee boats, putting families at fatal risk so that they could prevent the “Islamization of Europe” they believed to be taking place. Heading into the Libyan “search-and-rescue” zone on August 4-5, this meant intending to block Doctors Without Borders as they desperately tried to save the lives of children floating.

Defend Europe is an extension of the “identitarian” movement in Europe, made up of controversial nationalist groups like Generation Identity that the Alt Right in the U.S. have been desperate to imitate. Defend Europe’s direct-interventionist approach is hoping, desperately, to find that there is some evidence of these NGOs practicing “human trafficking,” bringing in refugees for “forced” resettlement.

Throughout the formation of the organization and its project on the high seas, North American Alt Right figures have been active in their support. People like Lauren Southern, formerly of the caustic Rebel Media, had her Patreon suspended from her stated support.

But while the Alt Right is the U.S. and Europe were singing the identitarian’s praises, a celebrity in the U.S. pagan community was capitalizing on this to renew his call for racial tribalism.

Viking Revival

For people in the pagan community, McNallen’s name is well-known, a collage of veneration and horror. The heathen revival, particularly Asatru in the United States, comes from McNallen’s construct starting in the 1960s, bridging over a friendlier version of the racialist Odinism found across Europe. After being drawn by the stories of heroism found in the Eddas and Sagas, McNallen formed the Viking Brotherhood in 1969 with the Viking Manifesto, an ode to a young-male obsession with the warrior cult media interpretation of Norse Vikings.

Taking on a more serious tone, and adopting the magical flavor from Iceland, he created the Asatru Free Assembly in 1976, using the same meta-genetic tone of Else Christiansen’s earlier Odinic Rite, yet eschewing the harder edged racialism. For McNallen, this was to be a religion of the Northern European people, their true spiritual practice, and he could use the language of post-colonialism to argue that it was their right–just as it was that of the Tibetans to be freed from the hands of the Chinese Communist Party or for the Navajo Nation to be allowed to have ethnically-exclusive Pow Wows. This was not a new argumentation for the right; European New Right academics had been taking this turn for a few years, arguing that the wave of national liberation movements was in line with their own battle for an “authentic” European Ethno-state.

McNallen

McNallen can be best understood through his actions and ideology. The core of McNallen’s Folkish ideology is the belief in a concept known as metagenetics. Metagenetics claims culture is passed on genetically within specific groups of people. Such genetic connections to culture also determine what deities one can connect to. McNallen’s ideology also shows strong influence from Carl Jung’s Essay on Wotan written in 1936. In this essay Jung argues, based on his theory on archetypes, certain Gods are carried in the lineage of different cultures and certain people can invoke these Gods into their community. In the essay Jung claims Adolf Hitler is such an individual, asserting Hitler archetypally embodied the God Wotan.

His Asatru Folk Assembly further codifies these beliefs in the AFA’s Declaration of Principles. In it they claim only “the Peoples of the North” should practice any form of Germanic Paganism. This is further justified by claims of. Those who do not have the right ancestry are told to “drink from their own well” and leave. Folkish Asatru holds no consistent standards for what is the right or sufficient amount of ancestry to practice. In theory access to the Norse Gods, according to this form of practice, is dictated by blood heritage so anyone of the right descent should have access including a lot of non-white people. In practice the most consistent standard for determining the appropriate background is the paint swatch test.

Tribe and Tradition

McNallen has a long history with the far right. It is unclear exactly when he got involved in extreme right politics though there is little question his flirtation is decades old. The first bit of evidence is when he started his first Asatru organization, the Viking Brotherhood, in 1973 which he advertised in the pages of Soldier of Fortune magazine. The Asatru Free Assembly, his next major project, was started shortly after and lasted around a decade before imploding over the issue of overt white nationalism in the organization. In 1985, just before the old AFA disbanded, McNallen first published Metagenetics.

Between publishing Metagenetics and founding the Asatru Folk Assembly in 1994 McNallen worked as a freelance journalist publishing articles in magazines like Soldier of Fortune. One such example is a piece published in the fall 1994 issue claiming the end of apartheid meant South Africa would soon be consumed by race war where all whites would perish. His dressing up of these concerns in the cloth of anticommunism is a perfect example of his messaging strategies ever since.

McNallen, until his recent removal as head of the AFA, would utilize such methods very consistently. He dresses up his philosophy under the banner of diversity, claims he is focused on protecting the unique heritage of all groups, invokes Judaism, Shinto and Native Americans as justification and brandishes his support, on purely ethnocentric terms, of the Karin and Tibetan separatist movements. All of this is meant to distract from the basic white nationalist foundation of the organization.

McNallen’s ideas were rooted in tribalism, that allegiance to one’s people was bound by blood, and that brotherhood was defined racially, even if he utterly rejected the vulgarities of the neo-Nazi movement. It is this clash in concept that largely destroyed the original AFA, but it only took a couple of decades for the white nationalist movement to evolve into using the same language as McNallen.

As the Alt Right developed, McNallen was right with them with his newest formation, the Asatru Folk Assembly, where he had firmed up his own arguments about the meta-genetic Jungian roots of Asatru in the psyche of the spiritually distinct Nordics. He contributed early on for AlternativeRight.com, joining Richard Spencer on episodes of Vanguard Radio to discuss the first Thor film and the heroism of the Icelandic explorers, coding the language he used well enough to avoid finger pointing from the right and the left. The AFA helped to popularize the “folkish” interpretation of heathenry, that it was an ethnically exclusive religion, and McNallen traveled the world talking to de-colonization movements attempting to woo them into common cause. As many heathens can attest, McNallen helped to set the tone for what heathenry was, especially in the U.S., as he helped to flesh out rituals and theology, adding much of the aesthetics and depth needed to create a multifaceted tradition.

Wotan Network

McNallen currently holds a purely ceremonial office. Day to day affairs is handled by a new triumvirate of individuals who, by some accounts, are far less subtle in their politics. There are rumors his retirement was not voluntary and he was forced out due to a shift in the AFA’s internal politics. Regardless as this was occurring and in the immediate aftermath the AFA’s increasingly open support for white nationalism inspired a backlash in the Heathen community.

In January of 2016 McNallen publicly posted his desire for the Freikorps, the infamous far right paramilitaries who formed the backbone of the Brownshirts and the SS, to come back to Germany and deal with Muslim immigration. These comments inspired immediate backlash against McNallen and his defenders.

After McNallen’s exit, AFA social media posted that the AFA was for “white men and women,” not for transgender people, and even found allies in movements like Deep Green Resistance. Their open racialism came in concert with a new commitment from heathen organizations to stand against the folkish tendency, and the Declaration 127 campaign was born, drawing from the 127th verse of the Havamal that cites the courage to stand up for what is right.

Major organizations, like the Troth, finally cut all ties, and the AFA was relegated to the only crowd left: white nationalist. This made sense since members were attending the National Policy Institute conference, hosting neo-fascist bands at Stella Natura, and helping to build much of the meta-political culture of the burgeoning Alt Right.

Part of McNallen’s separation from the AFA was his renewed commitment to white nationalist politics, doing videos for Red Ice Creations and starting the Wotan Network.

“It’s no secret that it’s my life purpose to awaken European peoples from their sleep,” says McNallen in his announcement video for the network. “This is why my heart beats, this is why I breathe.”

“Agile, hostile, and mobile” is how the decentralized network he is creating, named after Wotan who he believes distinctly motivates the white race. McNallen, though a hard polytheist, wants whites to think of Wotan as a Jungian archetype, a racially distinct machination in the minds of Norther European stock, a mode that they can tap into so as to become a warrior in defense of their racially-exclusive tribe. McNallen has made it clear that the Wotan Network was not an issue of promoting his religion, but instead about the “existence and the destiny of our people.”

In reality this means a culture war headed by racially-motivated memedom, except using the language of terror cells to play into the eschatological machinations of the Alt Right. While he expressly says it won’t be a religious project, he is calling white followers together for a sacred Blot, this one a statement of racial awakening rather than a mythic spiritual call.

The most obvious of the projects from the Wotan Network is Operation Erwache, intended to support those in Europe who are fighting the resettlement of refugees, which they believe is the “Islamization of the West” and redefine the genetic make-up of the continent.

Defend Europe and Operation Erwache

The Wotan Network’s involvement in Defend Europe is as a supporting role. Stephen McNallen posted a call to action shortly after the Wotan Network’s Facebook group was created called “AN EXERCISE IN APPLIED MEMETICS”. He put out a call for members of the Wotan Network to create memes, advertisements and propaganda material to promote Defend Europe.

The support is not surprising given McNallen and the AFA’s explicitly anti-migrant stances. This is the logical conclusion of decades of advocating racial holy war, dehumanizing migrants and leading a white nationalist organization shares parallels with broader trends in society. Trump’s election has emboldened white nationalists and the far right like nothing else, as shown by the surge in hate crimes since November 8, 2016. The surge in far right activity parallels McNallen’s removal from office at the AFA, his own increasingly militant public statements and similar surges in Alt Right activity.

Operation Erwache is a plan to seed the Internet with Wotan Network propaganda, target specific populations who McNallen feels can be won over and build their credibility with the Alt Right. Based on McNallen’s history and pattern of behavior, there is every indication that this goes beyond simple support for his ideological fellow-travelers. By spreading his influence in the he would gain greater support, publicity and visibility in the movement and society and would flood the Heathen community with activists. In one stroke, if all goes according to plan, he would secure both of his bases of support.

In many ways Defend Europe is an outgrowth of low-level neo-Nazi violence, assaults on immigrant communities and other related activities. It also fits with the existing pattern of fascist openly filching tactics, imagery and trappings from the Left with Defend Europe showing strong similarities to the activities of Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Defend Europe, in spite of all the money and publicity it received, has devolved into a total farce. Beginning with being stopped in the Suez Canal for lacking proper documentation and members of the crew detained in Turkish Cyprus for human trafficking Defend Europe’s entire operation has veered from one spectacular screw-up to the next. Their troubles only continued when Tunisian fishermen successfully organized Tunisian ports to deny use of their harbors for refueling, repair and resupply. The whole tragicomic affair climaxed with the vessel adrift at sea due to a critical mechanical failure and the freezing of funding by Patreon, leaving them at the mercy of the very aid ships they sought to impede. One has to wonder if the entire thought process behind hiring the C-Star in the first place was hanging a right at the waterfront, approaching the eye-patched bartender of the first seedy dive they found and inquiring loudly with their new friend if said disreputable fellow could help them contract a trustworthy ship for engaging in piracy, kidnapping, general mayhem, murder and assorted crimes against humanity.

The credibility and money poured into the operation strongly suggests that, for now, there won’t be any similar attempts in the immediate future. Over $100,000 was sunk into this maritime comedy of errors which succeeded in setting itself adrift at sea, humiliated and in legal jeopardy. If the intent was to mobilize public support, build positive publicity and create a brand of direct action similar to Greenpeace’s famous fleet then Defend Europe was a total disaster. Yet this clear defeat should not make those engaging in antifascist work complacent or assume the Identitarian Movement and their Alt-Right allies are beaten. If anything the history of neo-fascism has shown those people are as determined as a bloated tick.

McNallen, to his benefit, does not appear to have been a central figure in organizing Defend Europe. He has also shown a consistent ability to deflect such charges and prevent them from sticking to him. After all this is the man who continued to lead the Asatru Folk Assembly for well over a decade after the Kennewick Man debacle, an episode that would’ve destroyed a less capable demagogue. Ideological setbacks are not going to be enough to upend the Wotan Network or McNallen’s goal of installing himself as Pope of the Alt Right with Folkish Heathenry as the official dogma of the movement.

A Post-Charlottesville World

In the U.S., the Unite the Right rally on August 12th defined the conversation on the far-right for weeks as the Alt Right planned to “defend” the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia. As speakers like Richard Spencer, Mike “Enoch” Peinovich, Christopher Cantwell, and Augustus Sol Invictus lined up; it began to define itself by its unwillingness to “punch right” and to include everyone from Identity Europa to the National Socialist Movement and KKK organizations. This was a solid break with the more moderate Alt Light and Patriot sphere that has been surrounding the, severing where the fissure was created during the “free speech” rallies.

McNallen jumped on board with his support for Unite the Right, promising to join the crowd in Charlottesville to stand up for “white identity.” After the image of the torchlight march from August 11th came forth, where white nationalist protesters chanted “Jews will not replace us” while surrounding a church and finally attacking protesters, McNallen put up an image of the protest with the line “where there is light, there is hope” emblazoned atop it. This was signed off on with the hashtag “#wotannetwork,” owing to his penchant for branding. The next day, one woman died and nineteen were injured as a Vanguard America associate plowed his Dodge Challenger into counter-protesters before hitting the gas in reverse and running the scene. It was both one of the largest white nationalist gatherings in twenty years, and one of the most catastrophic.

In the weeks that followed these declarations, Huginn’s Heathen Hof, a well-known Heathen blog, put out a call for a joint declaration denouncing the Asatru Folk Assembly, its doctrines and its leadership as a racist organization. Since then over a hundred Heathen organizations from all over the world have signed the statement. This has isolated the AFA from many of their former allies, lost members and pushed them into a more openly white nationalist direction. Their increasingly overt white nationalism also parallels with the broader surge in far right activity across the globe. As further splits occur after the Alt Right’s violence in Charlottesville, McNallen and the AFA’s choice to continue supporting the white nationalist contingent should further be a marker to disassociate them from the heathen community they desperately want to define.

What will do the job is quarantining his followers, support network and those advancing his ideology under other names. Declaration 127 is a powerful example of how collective action can contain such groups and lay the foundation for effective confrontation of their politics, ideology and works. Even with this potent precedent more needs to be done. The Asatru Folk Assembly is, sadly, not the lone example of Folkish Heathenry or fascist ideology active in Paganism.

Anti-Fascist Pagans are uniquely positioned to counter ideologues like Stephen McNallen, Augustus Sol Invictus and any others who spring up in the coming days. We live in times that are a greenhouse for fascism yet they are not the only ones who benefit. The scales have fallen from the eyes of many as the greed, exploitation and disregard for human life at the root of Neo-Liberal Capitalism is made plain for all to see. Just as these conditions have given rise to fascism they are also providing potent fuel for a Left that has been deprived of oxygen and space for far too long. In society and spirituality an understanding of ethics, practice and values centered on human needs over human greed has become more possible than it ever has at any point since 1917.

Even with the opportunity at hand victory is not assured. Organizing, mass education, and mutual aid projects plants the seeds of the new society, providing a vision that can really unseat fascist resurgence. The danger of fascist groups, ideologies and organizations, cannot be underestimated either. At one time this movement was used as a dagger to plunge into the heart of the left and humane alternatives to the status quo. Its steel was wielded to keep the people in line during the Cold War. Now, facing either exploitation or barbarity, there is an opportunity to change the dynamic. In and out of our spiritual communities we can transform how people view human relations, society and community. That can only happen through confronting fascism’s threat, and a movement that goes beyond its insurrection and heads to the roots of the system that birthed it.


Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith is a Heathen devoted to Odin living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the co-founder of Heathens United Against Racism, a founding member of Golden Gate Kindred, is active in the environmental justice and anti-police brutality movements, and recently completed his Masters in modern Middle East History and economics.

Shane Burley

Shane Burley is a writer and filmmaker based in Portland, Oregon.  He is the author of Fascism Today: What It Is and How We Stop It (Forthcoming 2017, AK Press). His work has been featured in places like In These Times, ThinkProgress, Roar Magazine, Labor Notes, Make/Shift, Upping the Ante, and Waging Nonviolence. He can be found at ShaneBurley.net, and on Twitter @Shane_Burley1

We Are Not In Charge

From Judith O’Grady


I was at Pagan Brunch last Sunday (2nd, 4th and and any fifth Sundays at Busters in the West End of Ottawa, purveyors of classic breakfast. Come if you’re in the area.) and I realized that the other end of the table had drifted onto that Pagan chestnut ‘what animal would you be?’

Our end was discussing mob violence and the small number of people able to work inside consensus management—— ‘Rarely Speaks’ (who has some sociological background, I believe) asserted that the maximum number was 15, and ‘Cogent Thinker’ agreed. It seems small to me, but then it also supports the smallness of the Grove I am Senior Druid of….. I don’t know.

‘Talks a lot about her Boyfriend’ (you see how this works, I’m not good at remembering people’s names) wanted to be a wolf or tiger; ‘Admires the Irish’ wanted to be a hawk. I was too far away to enter into the discussion without shouting, but I laughed. It’s a trick question: the answer is “I would be a scantily-haired primate with an abnormally large brain”…..

Not that I’m all that gung-ho on primates in general or Homo sappy in specific; we’re a loud, vulgar, pushy bunch that tend to rank according to obnoxiousness. But that’s what I am, will-I nill-I. It’s what we all are and rather than complain about it or wish ourselves different we should (I feel) get going with the refinement of the raw material. For example, look at another trick question— “How can we protect women from being raped?” Change their clothes/ mandate group travel/ nighttime female curfew/ …….. “Stop raping them.”

Or, to look at a governmental kind of solution: I live in a country with Universal Health Care, so it would be extremely difficult for me to create more than one persona; the documentation necessary for just the one is voluminous.

My country also has and scrupulously maintains a registry of people prescribed dangerous drugs. At one point some years ago, my doctor peered at his computer (he too has a lot of paperwork and documentation requirements) and said, “You DO realize that you’re addicted to morphine, right?”

“Of course.” I responded. He nodded his head (box checked off) and we rolled on.

My sister lives in the United States. She has to go to the doctor’s office each month to obtain a month’s refill, sign a yearly ‘contract’ about drug abuse, participate in urine testing, listen to frequent harangues, and have her dose arbitrarily lowered. But she’s not the problem. In her country, though, she suffers through the ineffectual constraints that trouble her but leave the actual criminals untouched. In my country I’m not considered a problem—- although to be fair I must disclose that my son has warned me that if he finds me planning to jack up a gas station to buy street heroin he will forcibly restrain me.

What’s the message? Focus on the actual problem. Primates tend to group and rank. Violence is a part of that. But wait!! It’s not an integral part of the process.

Although we are in the primate family, we are not Baboons. Baboons have sufficient sexual dimorphism as to allow non-consensual sex, and actual fighting is a large part of their hierarchy system. Much as some humans admire these traits, we are genetically more like chimpanzees. They rely heavily on screaming and bluster for rank and (as has been discovered in the wake of advanced test methodology) the ‘alpha male’ is not actually the father of the majority of the baby chimps. The conciliatory good sharers and compliant groomers (who waste no time on posturing) actually have more offspring. Even they get the idea. But we are not even chimpanzees, close as they are. We are humans. The large brains, the tool-using, the transmission of culture, in the image of Jehovah: Are we the apex of the Earth’s Children?

No, that is not the case. It’s a part of the same flawed perception of creation—- Not too long ago a Christo-Pagan (don’t ask ME how she reconciles that because I don’t know) asked me if I believed in “Design”. “By which you mean we were made in one step? Assuredly not, because then the Creator did a piss-poor job. Were knees designed on Munday after a week-end drunk?”

We must necessarily be a work-in-progress if we are not a failed experiment. If we see the Gods as humanoid I believe it is a seeming taken on by the Deity-inQuestion in order to make Themself more understandable to our limited comprehension. Creating Gods don’t have maleness, or whiteness, or dominance as attributes. Those Gods embody conception, making-out-of-‘nothing’, originality—- in my limited comprehension I see this as female. My creator is Mother Earth, working with primordial soup and natural selection.

But (this is the other hand) I am not necessarily right. My opinion is just my opinion. My opinion with yelling; my opinion with weapons; my opinion with governmental supports—— still just as good or not-good. What works remains whatever works whether enhanced by yelling, weaponry, or laws or not. Making it difficult for my sister to manage her pain has absolutely no effect on street drugs; blaming woman’s clothes does not lessen rape…… By our uncontrolled use of resources, by our failure to share, by our insistence on privilege we have messed up our home-place.

 

On the gripping hand, I believe that it is our refusal to perceive ourselves as one species, our demands for unequal standards of living for some, our reliance on power and dominance for leadership selection that push us towards ‘failed experiment’. The systems we are currently using do not work. We are not in charge; we are not the solution. It is not to us to fix things, to save the Earth. It is ourselves we must fix. If we do not find the way to sharing economy and consensus government we will fall with capitalism and democracy. We must fit ourselves into the non-apex space of Gaia Ecology that is actually ours and learn to accommodate each other within that limit. I look to my Gods for solution; I hope that humanity will quit fucking it up. Step out of the driver’s seat and don’t man-splain what actually indistinguishable from the rest segment of humankind the problem is— the problem is all of us.


Judith O’Grady

judithis an elderly Druid (Elders are trees, neh?) living on a tiny urban farm in Ottawa, Canada. She speaks respectfully to the Spirits, shares her home and environs with insects and animals, and fervently preaches un-grassing yards and repurposing trash (aka ‘found-object art’).