EMPIRES CRUMBLE 6: Egregores

What’s an Egregore? What’s an egregore got to do with America? And what really happened to the dude who made KONY2012? In the sixth episode Alley Valkyrie and Rhyd Wildermuth discuss how the ingredients of the ritual that manifested American make it impossible to change, and discuss how an egregoric understanding can inform resistance and magic against the State.

You can listen to the episode on Soundcloud, download it via iTunes, listen on Stitcher, add our RSS feed into your favorite podcast player, or listen by using the embedded player below.

About Empires Crumble

Empires Crumble is the new podcast by Gods&Radicals founders Alley Valkyrie & Rhyd Wildermuth, on history, culture, politics, and magic.

To see a full list of episodes, go here.

EMPIRES CRUMBLE 4: “The Witch”

Why is being a “witch” suddenly popular? What does the rise of the witch identity mean for actual witches? Why are capitalists trying to sell us stuff? And what are the dangers of this trend?

In Episode 4: The Witch, Alley Valkyrie and Rhyd Wildermuth look at the questions (and try to keep their focus while ravens call, a dog barks, and a door randomly opens while they’re talking about the dead…)

Listen via: (iTunes) (Stitcher) (Soundcloud) or in the embedded player below, or find more episodes here.

You can now support this podcast on PATREON.

New Podcast: Empires Crumble (from Alley Valkyrie & Rhyd Wildermuth)

The two co-founder of Gods&Radicals have a podcast!

Empires Crumble is a twice-a-month discussion on culture, history, politics, & magic with Alley Valkyrie & Rhyd Wildermuth. Episodes will be posted here on Gods&Radicals as they are released, or you can subscribe by Stitcher, iTunes, or by RSS feed to catch them before they are available here.

Three episodes have already been released:

Episode one: The Security State (69 minutes)

How has the security state changed in the US and Europe in the last 20 years? What were the effects of the Green Scare and the Patriot Act on resistance movements? Why do French radicals still take to the streets to resist their governments while Americans do not? And what can we do about all this?

Episode 1: The Security State addresses these questions. Listen via: (iTunes) (Stitcher) (Soundcloud) or in the embedded player below.

Episode 2: Capitalism’s Crisis (63 minutes)

In this episode, Alley Valkyrie & Rhyd Wildermuth discuss this current crisis of Capitalism, how Trump and other opportunists exploit this crisis (and are much smarter than you think), and how all of this has created the material conditions for civil unrest, fascism, and its socialist opposition.

Listen to Episode 2: Capitalism’s Crisis via (iTunes), (Stitcher), (Soundcloud), or in the embedded player below.

Episode 3: Fascism…Really? (54 minutes)

So, what exactly is Fascism? Is Trump really a Fascist? What about the Alt-Right? Is is possible to be Nationalist and not fascist? What do the actually-existing fascism of the 20th century tell us about what we’re seeing now? And how precise do we really need to be when we’re talking about Fascism?

Rhyd & Alley discuss all this in Episode 3: Fascism…Really? Listen via (iTunes), (Stitcher), (Soundcloud), or in the embedded player below

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Future episodes will be posted at Gods&Radicals. You can also follow the Empires Crumble Facebook and Twitter feeds.

 

 

All That Is Sacred Is Profaned: a course offering from Gods&Radicals Press

All That Is Sacred is Profaned: A Pagan Introduction to Marxism

What exactly is capitalism? How did it arise from the severance of people and land? What was Marx on about, and is Marxism still relevant? In this five-week distance course, we’ll study the Marxist framework through a Pagan lens.

Designed and instructed by Rhyd Wildermuth, participants of All That Is Sacred Is Profaned will learn through videos, texts, and online conversations:

  • What Capitalism is, how it works, and how it came about through historical processes.
  • How Capitalism relates to slavery, colonization, and other forms of exploitation.
  • What is meant by class and class struggle, and why your boss needs you but you don’t need your boss.
  • How wages work, and why we are never paid what we’re “worth.”
  • Who Marx was, why his work still matters, and how Marxist materialism enhances Pagan thought.
  • How Race, Gender, Sexuality, and other oppression categories are understood through Marxism.
  • What the differences are between Autonomous Marxist thought and Totalitarian Communism.

This course is specifically designed for those with little background in Marxism or academic environments.

General Information

Course Length and Schedule: The course will last for five weeks, from 29 April, 2018 until 2 June, 2018

Time Commitment: Participants will be expected to devote a minimum of four hours each week (20 hours total) to the course. This expectation includes time devoted to reading course texts, viewing video lectures, and engaging in conversation with other participants.

Cost: $40 US per person. Subsidies are available for low-income participants.

Maximum participants: 25

Course Requirements: Participants need have no prior knowledge of Marxist theory nor experience in academic settings. Physical requirements include internet access, a computer or smartphone capable of accessing course materials and viewing videos, and each participant will need to create a login (free of cost) for Discord.

Course Materials: Each participant will be given a printable pdf that comprises the primary textbook for the course (written by Rhyd Wildermuth), as well as access to five ten-minute video lectures. In addition, a guide to using the private Discord server for participant discussions will also be provided.

Venue: Weekly course conversations will occur on a dedicated Discord server, where participants will engage in discussion with each other and the instructor, as well as be able to communicate directly with the instructor.

Cancellation/Refund policy: Full refunds of payment are possible up until the end of the first day of the course. After that, the course is 50% refundable until 12 May. No refunds can be given after this date.

Other policies: In the very unlikely event that a participant creates a hostile environment for other participants or the instructor, and if attempts to address the behavior do not correct the problem, the instructor reserves the right to end a participant’s participation. The above cancellation/refund policy will apply in such cases.

Enrollment process: To enroll, remit payment by purchasing the course access at this link by 22 April. On 25 April you will receive links to course material and the private Discord server. Links to video lectures will be provided weekly during the course.

Subsidized enrollment: If you would like to request one of the 5 reserved slots for subsidized enrollment, please send us an email at Distro@ABeautifulResistance.Com. You do not need to explain your income situation to us, only let us know how much you will be able to pay instead. (Please note: these slots are on a first-come, first-served basis).

About Académie Hérétique

Académie Hérétique (Heretic Academy) is a series of online course offerings from Gods&Radicals Press. Académie Hérétique‘s focus is on political theory, philosophy, esoteric and occult studies, history, and tactical skills for people with little to no academic background or previous knowledge of the subjects taught. Instructors are committed to accommodating varied learning backgrounds, styles, and abilities as much as possible.

Académie Hérétique courses are priced at the lowest rate possible that still enables us to fairly compensate our instructors for their labor, and subsidies are available for those who cannot afford them.

To stay updated on upcoming course options, please subscribe to the Gods&Radicals Press mailing list.

Paganism™

We are pitted against an industrial industry which fabricates our dreams for us and insinuates them through our culture and our language. How can we dream when our vocabulary of symbols has only the nuance of newspeak? These are spectres of desire and though marked for sale, remain unattainable.
–Peter Grey, Apocalyptic Witchcraft

“But what if God himself can be simulated, that is to say can be reduced to signs that constitute faith? Then the whole system becomes weightless, it is no longer anything but a gigantic simulacrum – not unreal, but simulacrum, that is to say never exchanged for the real, but exchanged for itself, in an uninterrupted circuit without reference or circumference.”

–Jean Baudrillard, Simulation and Simulacra

ONE: CIRCLES FOR THE STONE

Fast past villages with both English and Welsh names he drove us. She sat between us. I tried on her hat. It amused me. It amused them.

And then we were there, the top of an ancient high hill still wet from recent rains. We walked, speaking. I missed some of the threads of our conversation, distracted by the distant vistas. Eyes constantly drawn north: Gwynedd, Snowdonia, over which dark clouds gathered. The wind echoed a promise reminded, an oath I gave in one of those valleys.

In the remnants of a cromlech we stood, its stones worn down near nothing by wind and rain. From the centre to the tallest a line formed, extended towards those mountains. It felt important, that stone, that direction, a prehistoric compass directing the eyes to a place wherein something older than stones breathed and waited.

By the “offerings” arrayed at its base, others had thought the stone important, too. Baubles, pink plastic fairies, bracelets, a few slivers of quartz, the coins of empire.

“Neopagan trash,” my guide said, sweeping the offerings up in his hands. His eyes burned with something deeper than disgust, and something older. He flung them from the circle with a deft, calm rage. My eyes followed their flight through the air, then met his, then quickly turned away.

“They leave this shit everywhere,” he said.

Something about the innocence, or really the pinkness, of the proffered plastic fairy moved me. I imagined some child leaving it, or one of those addled-but-loveable Goddess-type women who are always telling you “we are all-one.” Misguided and naive, but their gesture of offering felt at least benign, harmless.

I said so.

I think I said, “There’s hope in their search for something authentic. They just don’t know what to do yet.”

My companions did not answer. They did not need to. As the words spilled out of me, the unbidden image of low-wage Chinese women stamping pink plastic into the form of cartoon-style fairies answered my objection.

TWO: DO WE DARE?

“People lose the ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy. They also begin to engage with the fantasy without realizing what it really is. They seek happiness and fulfilment through the simulacra of reality… and avoid the contact/interaction with the real world.”

Jean Baudrillard

A little more than five years ago I stood in an open field, staring into an abyssal sea of stars circling about me, speaking aloud the answer to a question.

Do you dare?

“Yes,” I said, losing the ground below me. “I dare.”

I cried. My mind shattered. I slept, I didn’t sleep. The smell of earth choked me, the stars above my tent screamed distant songs, wheeling as I tried to cling to the wheeling planet upon which I supposedly belonged.

I say five years ago; it might have been forty, the length of my life thus far. I stopped being able to count after that; calendars make no sense any longer, the procession of hours no longer relevant. Only season after season repeating means anything, but even then I cannot clutch to their movement like I once could. Time itself changed, or my place within it. I changed: broken, reforged, broken again, remade, remade, remade.

Before all this I was a chef and a social worker, a partner to a man, a citizen of a city, a denizen of a home. Before all this, Pagan was an identity, like ‘gay’ or ‘gamer.’ Paganism was something I liked, a shared interest, an aesthetic. After this, it became the only way I knew how to describe why I slept among stones, sat long nights on fallen trees in cold wet forests. Why I stood shirtless in winter upon a rock as dragon fire shone through a drop of rain falling from a branch, knelt in circles of crow feathers, bled upon an ashen blade, knocked on shields, lay down across rivers, pulled the beards of giants and fucked in moon-silver shadow of antler and branch.

Paganism is the word I’ve used to explain why I have sat at council with dead hooded men around fires, flew past a guardian into the blood of an enemy and there clotted those hidden streams, turned great edged wheels to grind down the mind of a dangerous fool, stood upon hills watching how some worlds end, why I stole glimpses of toads impaled on pencils and turned that sorcerer’s malice into his catastrophic downfall. It is the shorthand for why I have awakened a forest and watched smiling as strangers brought in their gods, ran barefoot through nettles alongside a river of blood, been summoned by children to a tomb across an ocean, argued with the angry hearts of mountains, learned to walk invisible through city streets, and spoken the names that plants call themselves.

But for all the wisdom I’ve since gathered from bodied and unfleshed teachers guiding me through thick bramble or dark forest, I still didn’t know why I called any of this Pagan.

THREE: PAGANISM™

Every word is an utterance for the inexpressible, but once uttered can become the thing itself.

To name yourself happy is to leave the moment happiness is meant to describe. Every mystic knows the moment words are found for the vision, the vision is over.

The land and stars which initiated me into the Other scream of a thing for which Paganism is mere translation. Like all sounds given to the pre-literate, pre-vocal thing-ness below what we call things, its expression can ossify in our mind, wall us from its world. So to name what I have lived and seen and been these last five years “Pagan” has been in some way to betray it.

Yet words waken. A call to arms, a shouted warning to watch out; “I love you” whispered in the trembling of night, “I’m sorry: she’s dead” from the lips of a doctor, “fuck you” and “help me”: these open gates to new existences even as they close others.

Were it only up to the poets and mystics, the word Pagan would always evoke, always call us outward. Were it only up to me, Pagan would be the sound I make to initiate desire into others, a beckoning into realms of vision and connection.

But it is never up to the poet or the mystic.

Like land that has become property, work that has become labor, and art that has become commodity, Paganism has been enclosed. Paganism is now mostly product, sign without signification, representation without represented. You can go to Pagan conferences, listen to Pagan music, buy Pagan products made by Pagan artisans in Pagan shops. You can read Pagan blogs written by Pagan writers published by Pagan publishers. You can apply Pagan like a label upon any thing you do or say or think, investing by every action and transaction into a Global Brand through which the “Pagan” capitalists draw dividends.

By calling all that I have seen and learned, all that I have written and created, and all that I have known as truth “Pagan,” I have inadvertently fed into this branding, improved its market reputation, and helped increase the profits of those for whom Paganism is a thing that can be sold, not become.

Yet under all this are still my experiences which cannot be sold, the moments of the Other inexpressible, for which I have no other word except Pagan.

The Pagan of the hotel dress-up convention or the pink plastic fairies littering ancient stone exists. We can point to such things, such brandings and say—here! Here is a Pagan thing. We cannot do the same for the trees at which I stared at as I first began to type this, trees beyond which lie the last remnants of the great Celyddon once covering much of Yns Prydein. That cannot be bought. That cannot be branded.

The Witchcraft of the glossy books or online-teachers can be regarded with certainty: this here is “witchcraft.” Not true, however, for the moments which I know as witchcraft. A few days ago on the Isle of Skye, encountering my accidental initiator ‘by chance’ upon a street corner just after thinking his name, both of us six thousand miles from where we last lived—that is the Witchcraft I know.

But it is not a thing I can show to you, nor is it a thing I can sell.

A refrain of a song never before sung yet we already, somehow, know the words. An echo from a past we have not yet lived, dreams which speak truth by measures for which we will never find metric. The reflection of sky in water which displays an additional dimension of perception in which we can not move except in dream: all these things I call Pagan, all these things are my witchcraft. All these things cannot be bought.

Witchcraft and Magic and Paganism exist. But they cannot be found through the very means by which we lost them.

FOUR: “THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH”

Perhaps because they refuse to shake off their Protestant culture, American Pagans are fond of speaking of the “big tent,” under which all the many of “us” gather: Heathens, Polytheists, Occultists, Wiccans, Reclaiming witches and Feri witches, Unitarian-Universalists and solitary practitioners, all crowded under a massive canvas  painted blue with white stars like some hokey wizard’s hat or, closer to the truth, a U.S. flag without the red- and white- stripes.

The “big tent” is supposed to be about inclusion or some rot, but since it’s the same phrase the Democratic Party has used to justify why anti-capitalists, environmentalists, and pro-corporate war-mongers should all be in the same political gathering, there’s likely something else happening here. Perhaps what they’ve always meant isn’t ‘tent’ at all, but corral, wall, or internment camp.

Because ultimately, the “big tent” benefits only the vendors of pink plastic fairies, the sleek white gaywitches with their laughable invocations to “The Dark Goddess,” the dottering old racist uncles hailing the ‘folk’ in Alt-Right rallies, the altars photographed and filtered in devotion to the #instawitch hashtag. It does not benefit you, but instead the right-wing Christian corporation that runs a Pagan blog site, the ‘community news’ organisation constantly skewing capitalist, nationalist, and ever-so-libertarian, and all the pay-to-pray traditions eager for your money and attention.

The ‘big tent’ isn’t a shelter, it’s a Market. Within the tent, Paganism isn’t a belief or a culture but an interest, spirituality just another thing for you to buy in a world that already has too much shit anyway.

But the story of how Paganism became a product is not just the story of opportunistic women and men seeking profit. It is the story of disenchantment itself. It is the story of displacement and colonization, the wakened horror from which spawned Empire and Nation, Race and Identity. More than anything it is the story of our divorce from land and ourselves, a sickness for which Paganism is sold not as cure but placebo for a necrotic wound we really ought to get checked out.

People seek Paganism to find magic or gods or authentic ways of being and meaning. But the magic and gods have never been gone: they are only buried deep below the asphalt over which they drive, the concrete upon which they walk, the steel and cement in which they live. The gods of rivers are buried beneath the cities, poisoned; we wipe our asses with the corpses of forest gods. The magic of human will and sense is psychologized, medicalized: “aberrant” perceptions of the myriad are disciplined or drugged out of us, then sold back to us on spiritual retreats.

The search for authentic meaning and ways of being which draws people to Paganism springs from a rejection of what else is on offer, a malaise of what is available to us by mundane, Modern means: 40-hour work weeks, concrete housing blocks, relentlessly mediated life in which too many of us only see breath-taking views of forests or communal celebrations on screens. Those depictionspixelated, fed and filtered through Instagram feeds; or used as mere backdrop for mythic television series like Vikings or Game Of Thronesserve not to draw us closer to what we seek, but push us even more distant from the world we have lost.

FIVE: MAGIC IS EVERYTHING BUT WHAT YOU CAN BUY

“And so art is everywhere, since artifice is at the very heart of reality. And so art is dead, not only because its critical transcendence is gone, but because reality itself, entirely impregnated by an aesthetic which is inseparable from its own structure, has been confused with its own image. Reality no longer has the time to take on the appearance of reality. It no longer even surpasses fiction: it captures every dream even before it takes on the appearance of a dream.”

Jean Baudrillard

We search for the authentic in the only place it cannot be found. We seek the gods and spirits not in the land around us but in empty symbols, poorly-written books and “mystery traditions” led by leaders for whom their unwitting initiates are their only way of getting laid.

We scroll endlessly through blogs promising to teach us how do magic, purchase special oils and candles to stave off the terror of modern life and maybe make us not feel so lonely. When none of that works, we try again, and again, forgetting that magic has nothing to do with what you buy or which online-tradition gave you a certificate of completion.

Magic has nothing to do with the teachers of magic, the vending tables at the con’s or the Etsy shop, none of which are much different from the pink plastic fairy left at the base of a stone.

Magic is you.

It has always been you, you and the world around you. Magic is the breathing forests, the scream of owl and raven as you wander alone through darkness. Magic is in the stars above and the stars you see after your eyes close, the wind from distant mountains and the loamy breath of the grave.

Magic is the stone, and it is also the circle, and especially in all the forgotten wisdom with which ancients living millennia before anyone called themselves ‘Pagan’ raised them.

Magic is what it has always meant to be human, before the makers of the pink plastic fairies and the ringmasters of the Big Tent set up shop.

Magic, connection to the earth, the experience of the Otherthese things the merchants of Paganism™ cannot sell us, and the fact that they try is proof they have never experienced those things themselves.

Let them be honest. We are all only selling books and candles, art and skills. Let these things be judged on those qualities, without the false promises and dishonest marketing.

And let us all be honest: The real magic is the world the capitalists have been selling off from under our feet, the real connection is our reclamation of the earth, and the real Paganism is resistance to all commodification of what it means to be human.


Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd Wildermuth is the managing editor and co-founder of Gods&Radicals. He trucks with Welsh gods and lives in Bretagne, or Dublin, or old Scottish port cities, or pretty much anywhere he feels like it. He’s a theorist, punk, nomad, anarchist, and all kinds of other stuff.

You can follow him on Facebook or Instagram, read his primary blog here, read his true sex stories here, and if you really like him you can support him on Patreon.


Looking for our journals and books? They’re over here.

Witches In A Crumbling Empire: Part Two

Below is the second part of Rhyd Wildermuth’s three-part presentation, Witches In A Crumbling Empire.

The first part is here.

The third part will be posted next week, or can be watched now on his Patreon (subscription required).

Rhyd Wildermuth

unnamedRhyd’s the co-founder and managing editor of Gods&Radicals. He also writes at Paganarch, Fur/Sweat/Flesh, and posts a near-daily “Friendly Anarchist Thought of the Day” on Facebook.

His entire life is 100% crowdfunded by readers like you. Find out how to help him here.


We’re currently hosting release parties for A Beautiful Resistance: Left Sacred! Find information for our Portland, Seattle, and Baltimore events on our Facebook page, and order your copy (print or digital) here!

Witches In A Crumbling Empire

Below is a video recording of Rhyd Wildermuth’s presentation, “Witches In A Crumbling Empire.”

This is the first part. The second and third parts will be posted in the following months, or you can watch all three parts now on his Patreon (requires subscription).


Rhyd Wildermuth

rhyd-wildermuthRhyd’s the co-founder and managing editor of Gods&Radicals. He also writes at Paganarch, Fur/Sweat/Flesh, and posts a near-daily “Friendly Anarchist Thought of the Day” on Facebook.

His entire life is 100% crowdfunded by readers like you. Find out how to help him here.


 

Editorial: Post-Truth Capitalism and Pre-Truth Revolution

You can’t miss either of the two operative buzz-words being bandied around like so much meaningless noise in the last few months. The media rails about it, politicians whine over it, activists shout it: we’re now in a ‘post-truth’ world, drowning in ‘fake news.’ The election of Trump was blamed on it, the rise of the alt/new/fascist right is a sign of it, and the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom happened because of it.

Really, though? Does no one care about truth any longer? Are lies suddenly masquerading as journalism? Is there some new scourge of deception and delusion sweeping across the Western world, making it impossible to tell what’s really going on around us?

Nah. This isn’t new. And it’s not what we’re told to think is happening, either.

Let’s look at some news stories of this last week in the United States, shall we?

  • A few nights ago, Meryl Streep criticized Trump and called herself and other Hollywood actors ‘the most vilified segment in America.’
  • Two days later, the new president of the United States engaged in this exchange with a reporter for a news company owned by the third largest media conglomerate in the world:

All these examples I mention were news stories, reporting on actual events which occurred. It’s true that Meryl Streep gave that speech, it’s true there are claims about that video, that Trump argued with that reporter. Tanks moved into Germany to protect against Russian invasion, and also C-Span’s live footage was interrupted by Russian Television.

But in each case, truth was utterly irrelevant to the stories. Let’s look at them all again.

Meryl Streep is currently worth $45 million dollars. While there are certainly some who probably think Hollywood is full of degenerate reprobates, unless she meant that rich people are the most vilified people, it’s hard to imagine she wasn’t just engaging in one of her award-winning performances.

The second of these stories is a bit more complex. Watch Trump’s exchange with the reporter again if you can (I’ve watched in over thirty times now, it’s so fascinating).  

The reporter is the chief White House correspondent for CNN. A couple of things you probably already know about CNN: they’re owned by the third largest media conglomerate in the world, are worth $10 billion dollars, likely turned a 1 billion dollar profit in 2016, and were the first media outlet to break a certain story Trump was understandably upset about.

That story, of course, was of the piss-video. Or, less sensational but potentially more-damning (c’mon, it’s just piss) is the dossier which claims such a video exists. That document, by the way, is available to you on Buzzfeed, the same quality news site that keeps you up-to-date on J.K. Rowling’s twitter feuds and quizzes about the Kardashians and whether or not you are devoted enough to chocolate. (I’m not, apparently).

Read the dossier if you like. You won’t find the video (and probably wouldn’t want to see it anyway) because no one’s certain there actually is one. The dossier suggests it, but before you go trusting that, there’s some stuff you should know about who wrote it.

It was written for a private intelligence firm by a private investigator originally commissioned by a rich Republican customer who wanted to stop Trump. But then, according to the New York Times:

 the Republican interest in financing the effort ended. But Democratic supporters of Hillary Clinton were very interested, and Fusion GPS kept doing the same deep dives, but on behalf of new clients.

And from Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept (a reporter hated by both Democrats and Republicans alike for his whistleblowing activities:)

ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AFTER it was published, the farcical nature of the “dossier” manifested. Not only was its author anonymous, but he was paid by Democrats (and, before that, by Trump’s GOP adversaries) to dig up dirt on Trump. Worse, he himself cited no evidence of any kind but instead relied on a string of other anonymous people in Russia he claims told him these things. Worse still, the document was filled with amateur errors.

So the dossier exists, but the tapes probably don’t, and the whole thing is likely false and was paid for by people who wanted to prove that Trump is being manipulated by Russia.

Which brings us to the last two news stories. The report of the tanks rolling into Bremerhaven, Germany was short but chilling:

The deployment — which also includes 3,500 U.S. Troops — is to protect Eastern Europe against a potential Russian invasion.

In the dock area of the German city of Bremerhaven all around is American military hardware just off the boat — everything from Humvees to tanks. The official name for this display of military muscle is Operation Atlantic Resolve. 

Its purpose is to reassure America’s nervous European allies that the U.S. military will stand with them against any aggressive moves by Russia.

Sounds scary, huh? And it should be a bit scary. But what the report doesn’t mention is that Operation Atlantic Resolve was initiated in 2014 and started its primary roll-out in April 2015. That is, the tanks rolling in to Germany from the US are definitely an escalation in military tensions, but not a spontaneous one. In fact, they happened before the Russians were accused of meddling in the US election, and might even help explain a Russian motive for hacking the pro-war Democratic campaign of Hillary Clinton.

The last story is the easiest to resolve. RT (which is, again, a Russian-funded media organisation fully doing the government’s bidding, just like American news companies usually do) didn’t hijack C-Span. According to C-Span, they themselves made the error.


Guardians at the Gate of Truth

IF YOU’RE feeling a bit dizzy with all this, don’t worry. I’m done deconstructing news stories. But it’s worth returning Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech. After the bit about being vilified, just before talking about what a privilege it is to be the voice of empathy to the world, she urged everyone to support the Committee to Protect Journalists because, as she said,

“they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”

Need who, though? Not actors. Don’t get me wrong, I actually really like Meryl Streep. But I don’t get my truth from her. And anyway, she was talking about the media.

But what truth is possible in such a world where both political parties pay private investigators to come up with a story about piss-play to stop Trump? What truth is possible in a world where a company worth $10 billion dollars is seen as a victim against another billionaire? That same news company, by the way, who made $1 billion partially due to election coverage and campaign advertisements? Truth probably isn’t going to come from Buzzfeed either, though according to Dan Rather, Teen Vogue seems to be doing some cutting-edge reporting of late. (omg #couplegoals!)

All this is to suggest that yeah, we are in a fake-news, post-truth world. But the problem isn’t Trump or the rise of the alt/new/fascist-right, or Russian meddling in elections. If anything, they’re symptoms, and the real problem’s not even new.

We’ve mostly been taught to think of news companies as some sort of independent check upon the government and corporations. They’re supposed to investigate things, to bring stuff to light that the powerful don’t want to see, report things to us, inform us.

It’s a pretty story, sure, and it happens that way sometimes. And perhaps it happened more like that in the past, though with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the legacy of ‘yellow journalism,‘ it’s a bit hard to prove such a nostalgic idea is any less propagandistic than Trump’s “Make America Great Again.”

News shapes the way we see the world. We call it ‘the media’ as a shorthand (the news ‘media’: that is, newspapers, television, etc.) but it’s more accurate to employ the other meaning of that world, ‘middle.’ News is the mediator between the world and our understanding of it, the narrative which shapes how we view politics and power. What it tells us about a story determines how we understand not just that story, but the sorts of people it reports on and what is relevant.

Need an example? Consider the relationship to race and crime in news reporting. Black suspects are almost always described by their race; white suspects very rarely are. Decades of news stories where a murder or rape suspect’s race is only included in a story if they happen not to be white has the obvious affect of associating Blackness with criminality. Worse, because we are told to think of journalists as ‘objective,’ we tend to see the facts they report as objectively-selected facts. It’s easy to forget that it’s actually the reporter, and the editor, and the publisher who decide what’s relevant to a story, not the story itself.

We naturally omit details we think are irrelevant and emphasize things we think are important. If you ask me what I’m doing right at this moment, I’ll tell you that I’m writing an essay for God&Radicals. I wouldn’t mention that I’m also waiting for tea water to boil or happen to be shirtless, because that seems irrelevant.  But now that I’ve mentioned I’m shirtless, you might have just envisioned me as such while reading this.

The point, then, is that narrative is selective, and what gets included or excluded shapes the experience of truth. I’m shirtless, waiting for tea water to boil while writing an essay. I’ve just shaped how you experience me.

Expand that on a large scale, and throw in two things we very often forget about news. The first? Well, capitalism. CNN, Buzzfeed, the New York Times, etc. etc., they’re capitalist enterprises. They need to make money. They are in the business of shaping narrative, telling you stories, giving you ‘news’ (or telling you how many times you’ll get married according to your choices in cheese–in my case, three). To make money, they need your attention–they need you checking back, seeing them as reliable or entertaining, the place you look to when you want to find out about the world.

Capitalism isn’t the whole story, though. Because news shapes how you see the world, because media outlets are the fastest way to get a narration out into the world, and because we have a desire to understand things, the media is in a position of immense power over our behavior. Advertising is an obvious example, but every facet of our relationships to government and each other is an open playground to their whims. As in the example of racialized crime reporting, journalists shape the way we see Black folk, or Muslims, or immigrants. But more so, they shape the way we relate to the government and to other countries. They often act in the service of the government, but always act in their own interest.

Whether or not Russia is really actively meddling in the political affairs of the United States is quite impossible to tell. What’s more important is whether or not we think they are, and some political powers have more interest in us believing this than others. For a different example, consider the lead-up to the war in Iraq: there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction, but every capitalist media company in the United States reported the government’s story as if there were.

Were they then and are they now merely trying to keep our attention? Or did the rich who ran those media companies have an interest in seeing the US go to war then and possibly go to war now? Are they being manipulated by the government, or are they trying to manipulate the government? Do some want us to go to war with Russia, or are they trying to fight off foreign intrusion?

These are questions we can’t really answer, but that brings us anyway to an even more important question:

Why are we letting capitalists decide what’s true for us?


Post-Truth Capitalism and Pre-Truth Revolution

MAYBE you’re feeling what I’ve been feeling. It’s like quakes shuddering through our pysches, the ground slipping beneath us. A friend described it as ‘giants throwing rocks at each other.’ When I was a kid, I watched my baby-sitter’s boyfriend fight with another guy, and I hid with my sisters behind the couch until the fighting was over. It feels like that.

Something does seem to have happened to the truth, but it’s not that it disappeared. The truth was never actually there in the first place, and we’re only now just starting to see this. Everything we thought was solid seems to be melting into air. Everything we held sacred seems like it is being profaned.

There’s a war for truth being fought, the same war that has always occurred between priests and kings. Who gets to decide what the people believe, who gets to hold ultimate power over the minds and souls of millions?

If it seems like this is a new war, it’s probably that one side won for awhile. The truth was occupied, colonized, an imperial subject too beaten down to throw off its oppressors. But now? Now the empire’s starting to crumble. The capitalists are fighting each other, political alliance against political alliance, media conglomerate against media conglomerate, government against government. Liberals or Conservatives, Russia or US, CNN or Breitbart, it’s impossible to tell who’s going to win, who will capture the throne of meaning and truth.

Maybe they’ll all lose, and that’s actually the best thing we could possibly hope for. In fact, this is the opening we need, the opportunity we’ve been waiting for, the potential for a revolutionary change in the entire realm of truth-creation.

While they fight each other for dominance over the truth, the rest of us can see more clearly how subjective truth really is. When news companies publish fake news and teen style magazines publish in-depth analysis, everything’s gone into flux, the truth is slipping, going where it wants to go, and might just escape back into our hands.

Because in all those battles, certain things aren’t said. None talk about the environment, climate collapse, extinction. There are natural limits to capitalism, and we’ve probably hit them. Dwindling resources, melting ice-caps, degraded soil, economic collapse–these are the truths we see in front of us, things those closest to the earth don’t need a screen or smartphone to tell them. The truth is in front of us, under our feet, in the eyes of the panicked people around us.

Everything else is just distraction for the profit of the rich, the same people causing this crisis in the first place.  Fortunately, they’re pretty distracted themselves at the moment. They won’t be for long, and they might even try their greatest weapon against us to hold onto truth–an actual war.

In capitalism’s post-truth moment, our chance has arrived. The revolution is not yet a truth, but it can be. The same media who tells us it’s impossible told us there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and a video of Trump covered in urine:  they’re losing their grip on our narrative. The same politicians who assure us that empire will last forever are fighting as we speak to keep their thrones from toppling under the weight of capitalist in-fighting.

Anarchists and Marxists both insist on seizing the means of production back from the capitalists. It’s time to expand this: we must seize the production of meaning back from them, too.

How?

By no longer believing their stories about the world while also creating our own. By ignoring their narrative while crafting a new one. Be it newspapers or books, radio shows or podcasts, we can must tell our stories against theirs, make ours more beautiful, more compelling, more intoxicating than their flashy yet shallow truths.

Most of all, we must refuse to take either side in the war the rich are fighting against each other. Neither Liberals nor Conservatives, neither the media nor the president, neither Russia or the United States. They depend on us to fight these wars for them, to take one side or another.

If we withdraw, they will have to fight these wars themselves, and while they’re distracted, we’ll make our own truth and build our own world without them.


Rhyd Wildermuth

img_0967Rhyd’s a co-founder and the managing editor of Gods&Radicals. He writes here and at Paganarch, or you can also read about his sex life on Fur/Sweat/Flesh, or read his near-daily “Anarchist Thought of the Day” on Facebook. He lives nomadically, likes tea, and probably really likes you, too.


Like this piece? You will probably love our print and digital publications, including our journal A Beautiful Resistance and Christopher Scott Thompson’s new book, Pagan Anarchism! Find out more here.

Left-Sacred: an introduction

A Beautiful Resistance: Left Sacred is the third issue of the Gods&Radicals journal. It will be released on 1 February, and presents the work of 16 writers and 4 visual artists.  It’s currently available for pre-sale.


On the 19th of June, 1937, an exhibition opened in the city of Munich. Called Die Ausstellung “Entartete Kunst,(1)” it housed paintings, sculptures, and other works carefully curated to warn against the scourge of degenerate art. Amongst the stated goals of the exhibition was the “deliberate and calculated onslaught upon the very essence and survival of art itself,” along with “the common roots of political anarchy and cultural anarchy.” (2)

Included in the collection were works by the Swiss painter Paul Klee. One hundred and two of his paintings had been seized, though a rather famous one survived in the hands of the Marxist mystic philosopher, Walter Benjamin. The piece was called Angelus Novus, and Benjamin would later write about it, without revealing that it was in his possession. Its angular and stark depiction inspired his famous conception of the “Angel of History.”

Before Walter Benjamin’s attempted escape through Spain to the United States, the mystic had entrusted the painting to his friend, the student of the transgressive Sacred, Georges Bataille. The painting itself is transgressive, an incomprehensible Sacred, wishing, as Benjamin wrote, “to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed.(3)” But the angel cannot: its wings are caught, it must continue on this new wind, leaving the wreckage of history behind, progressing not towards some great evolutionary goal, but merely away from the ruins of the past.

That the painting was seen as degenerate makes the Angel of History more fascinating. The Fascist current of history, the one which awakens strongly now in our present, cannot abide degeneracy and sees it everywhere. Fallen, fallen are we, decadent pale shadows of our once great glory. Our blood is too mixed, our house too messy, our genders and sex too confused, our borders unfenced, the land crowded with foreigners, our children dirtied by the melanin of others. Make America Great Again, restore the Empire, save Liberal Democracy, uphold the rule of law, return to us an innocence that never was.

Where the Fascists see former glory, the Angel of History, passed hand-to-hand by degenerate leftists, sees only wreckage. Walter Benjamin would not survive the Nazi attempt to restore Germany to its mythic former glory, but the Angelus Novus did. One even suspects the Angel of History did have time to awaken at least some of the dead. Benjamin haunts these pages, as does Bataille’s search for a transgressive Sacred, as does the Angelus Novus itself, all collected in the messy, fierce, resurrection of a degenerate left sacred.

What is a sacred left? What is left of the sacred? What is the left sacred? These are the interweaving themes of this third issue of A Beautiful Resistance, watched over by the Angel of History, its wings forced open by a wind from another world.

  • A goddess of the poor and outcast speaks in Erynn Rowan Laurie’s Brig Ambu.
  • Gods topple off thrones in Rhyd Wildermuth’s Awakening Against What’s Awakened.
  • An office window opens and love awakens in The Necromancer, by Left Eye
  • The wild fights with fang and claw in After Procopius, by Lorna Smithers.
  • Rot is decomposed and grown into new life in Nina George’s Modern Sin-Eaters.
  • Nimue Brown explores a line-less cartography in The Druidry of Mapping.
  • William Hawes sees in pre-linear time the path to the future in The Reawakening of Tribal Consciousness.
  • In Bell Unrung, Lia Hunter mourns the toll of what we do not embrace.
  • Anthony Rella’s Gods of My Ancestors contemplates the messy history of blood and deity.
  • An Angel whispers, a carpet is stained, in Hunter Hall’s Yellow Tape & White Carpet.
  • Chimeras and hybrid monsters lead us to the world outside of fences in Finnchuill’s The Impure Object of The Left Sacred.
  • Revolution smells like swamp rot and rum in Dr. Bones’ Fear & Loathing At The Crossroads.
  • All the beauty of the many-gendered dead sing in Rocket’s Prayer to the Mother(s).
  • A writer scribbles final notes to the future in Yvonne Aburrow’s The Safe House.
  • Sean Donahue dances with the Angel in Against the Winds of History.
  • And in Solidarity Networks, we outline a strategy for all those wondering ‘what next’ as fascism rises in the nations of the world.

This issue was co-edited by Lia Hunter and Rhyd Wildermuth, foreworded by Margaret Killjoy, and also proudly displays the artwork and photography of Lois Cordelia, Marion le Bourhis, Christopher Delange, and Brianna Bliss.

May all that is messy, degenerate, unrestrained, and feral about you awaken, and may you dance in the winds of history.


  • 1 German: Degenerate Art Exhibition
  • 2 From the introduction to the exhibition.
  • 3 Thesis IX of Walter Benjamin’s On the Concept of History

You will probably love our print and digital publications, including our journal A Beautiful Resistance and Christopher Scott Thompson’s new book, Pagan Anarchism! Find out more here.