Last stop: The end of my teens

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Plenty of twists and turns are now behind me in the space between the beginning and right here. I’ve reached that milestone, and I think by now it goes without saying.

Our lives aren’t as captivating or provocative as we like to think they are. Not to brush this off by saying we’re ultimately human. Instead, I think the finality of our lives’ content pulls the veil back from a central and sobering reality: We just kind of exist and do things. We fill empty things with what we like, and a lot of people do this so many times over that nothing is truly it’s own distinct substance positioned on any winning side beyond our own invention.

I think when we try to make sense of life, we’re bound to distinguish between experiences accounting for circumstance (cause and effect) and setting. I use “distinguish” in a very precise way; to underscore contrasting elements of substance that certainly went through the wringer, but impact differently depending on who encounters them. Doing this normally leads us to conclude that the individual experience is as close to relative certainty as we can get. And that seems to always be the goal. To continually overcome uncertainty, being necessary to secure some inner peace. Contentment.

Considering life this way, I’m more inclined to accept how little I’ve done up to this point. I’m more at peace with the conclusion of that period and where it left me. At least my shortcomings existed in a sort of vacuum. But while things in the end are meaningless, this doesn’t mean it’s pointless to look for reason in the madness, or to create it. The absence of meaning is probably a reason to create your own.

So, you’ve acknowledged that coherence will never be given to you on a silver platter, and ventured to derive some from your own experience. Here lies the catch. Personal experience isn’t always pleasant, especially when it’s of the existential sort measured in birthdays, changing shape every five to fifteen years.

There aren’t any answers toward the end to expect. Only angry moments of disappointment and frenzy in real time. Bills. Rent. Why you can’t think straight. Your health problems. There is no time whatsoever to pause and investigate. None of these moments work well with each other, they don’t form a larger whole, and no discernible truth has come from the experiments so far. The cycle eats itself. At the end, you’re really just gravitated to live out the hypotheses without method. That I’m told, is a very liberating point in your life. Where uncertainty becomes the exhale of your whole life, and your desires outlast everything (as far as you know.)

To me, this is the sum of existence. Or at least one way of imagining it.

But I’m not at that point of relief, and I can’t just keep reminding myself that I’ll get there someday. You don’t get a break from hunger by the idea of tomorrow’s lunch. So how do you face the reality that 240 months of your millisecond flash in eternity has gone by? Not disappointed by what you have or haven’t done, but unnerved by the simple fact of time passing and what that could mean for future experiences?

Getting off the brief adventure that was my teenage years feels like the last stop on one or two of a series of travels. A final chance for something significant. An urgent and narrow opportunity to grab something before it expires on me. I’ve talked to so many people who recall chaotic teenage years right the middle of a great social hysteria, while my own are spent at home, all year every year. Alone in small towns, isolated and bland. Mortified of the uncertain. It feels like making up for that in my twenties will bend the fence of my character compared to those I’ll associate with going forward. Should I be ashamed of this, or embrace it?

For whatever reason, I think of Trainspotting (1996) Who am I most similar to: Renton, or Spud? How might I reconstruct this point in life?

Resolving this intimate gloom is different for each individual. It depends on the trades you find yourself invested in, the people you bite your lip for, or the words you write that nobody else reads. For some, this is the end for one set of adventures, probably one where nothing was restricted. For me, it’s a curious glance at what I’m willing to go through for a few tranquil moments before my 30s going on 40s, and where to seek refuge afterward.

None of this is to advocate an obvious point of deterioration. We all rot into oblivion at different rates, but every person has a point in time where they shine brightest. I think it’s worth talking about it, always curious if we’re living it now while admiring the brevity of everything we can ever hope to know. Roughly ten years of elapsed time is good enough for me to reflect on, to chart where things are going; if only for the hell of it.

When you carve a statement into prose about yourself, it’s hard to fool anyone. At least, anyone who matters. You can lie and have everyone know it, but you’re always honest to yourself in the moments between thinking and speaking. You’re the only one who has to bare that emotional labor. You might even take comfort in coming back down to earth. One way or another, truth that only comes from the person living the life in question slips through, heard or not.

I endured new ruminations on what is “ultimate” or “final” in the course of all this. Although I’m not drawing up a final testament before my death, I value the graceful closure of one stage of my life and what I see in it looking back. Maybe I’m just afraid of important moments slipping away, even if I know better ones are bound to come along later. Maybe I genuinely like getting lost in memory, telling myself points A, M and V were the best three out of the others. All neatly sorted with the knowledge that I’ll never have these a second time.

I might have an opportunity to hold my present and future selves accountable to one another, while using past excursions and blunders to hold it all together in the hope of doing better. Though I never want one point in my life to hold every proceeding experience to, there is no safety net of contentment better than leaving a trail for the future self back to a trusted place if things go bad.

After scrawling a few different prefaces, I’m giving myself at least one week of time to collect these scraps of thought and synthesize them into streamline prose; giving the illusion of a consistent and clear thought process behind this article’s production.

I’ll just go through some highlights.

Who is right, who can tell and who gives a damn right now?
Until’ the spirit, new sensation takes hold, then you know

I don’t consider thirteen to have been a fruitful first year of my “teens.” While it was probably the peak of my desire to sort and document things, it didn’t resemble much of the road I still travel, nor is it fully relevant for it.

That said, I like to pay it tribute it for a weird scholarly phase when I learned the basic definition of philosophy. The first name I steeped myself in was Kierkegaard. Either/Or specifically, from Books-A-Million with the money I saved up that summer. At the time, I couldn’t hope to really grasp the concepts of Christian existentialism or Angest and interact with them significantly. But I did gain an impression of the fragility of the charted world’s framework, and it’s poor foundation in the surface level of our minds. Søren’s melancholic charm was also something of a treat for my young feelings toward men.

I’d give it two more years before getting somewhere familiar. I had a number of these impressions stored up with a bit of constructive interaction going on between them. It was just enough to give me a sense of real perspective, first emerging in the social and interpersonal spectrum of issues. I picked these up somewhere between Marx, Kropotkin, Tolstoy and Thoreau. It was exciting that these things had more to do with why things were happening now and how the past informs the present, rather than asking questions about “god” and eternity. The shift from existential and speculative, to immediate and foresighted. A slow, personal divorce from sanctity and a gravitation to realistic projects. This played out at different times: Commending Aaron Swartz and his legacy in online organizing, Internet legislation and the “modern web.” Supporting Edward Snowden’s revelations of global NSA surveillance. Advocating for free culture. My energy had more in common with the present than the present forcing itself on me.

It’s interesting when I think about how my social/political energy redirected over three years. I used to have all my passion stored into Internet freedom: The idea that the Internet is the one thing that people should control and be responsible for, not authorities of any kind, state or private. I think that was a good starting point for my overall philosophy, which meant that it would have to grow out of whatever box it started in. It would eventually find itself side-by-side with ideas that critique capitalism, stratification, expectations of conformity and power imbalance on a variety of axes.

At eighteen, this was changing form through the course of politics that year. Shortly after I stopped taking Bernie Sanders and the election seriously, I was changing political labels and buying different leftist and anarchist literature every three months. Internet freedom was soon meshed with a more general perspective of social change.

Now, just replace the Internet and people’s electronic possessions with every part of life. Whether it’s the joys and spoils of material excess, or the most basic necessities of survival, we have to own all of this and interact with it indivisibly, freely and equally, and establish clear habits to make this arrangement the most agreeable reality. It’s not up to any master to enforce their will upon us at the expense of what we love. At least, it isn’t desirable; yet the conversation gets caught up in whether that thing is or isn’t what someone claims it is. As far as I’ve unearthed, people who advocate against this are in an abusive relationship with something not out of the question to be overcome someday by future generations. Generations of people who had to put their lives on hold for the failures of those before them.

Every logic to the contrary offers nothing. Not a better idea, not a more lasting method. It only wants to pull us back into the tired old misery. It tells us the same thing we oppose in a different way. We have to discard things like this and keep answering to ourselves against all odds. Seeing how right and wrong, whether on a scale of “morality”, “practicality” or “efficiency”, is totally fabricated for the benefit of a variety of elites with only their accumulation of power and wealth in mind, it proved to me that life is kind of awful most of the time. After a while, some questions go unanswered for so long that people can’t hold any self-respect ignoring them anymore. They’re compelled to prove that they’re better than that. To do what feels obvious.

So ends my noteworthy evolution in that regard. The most recent development is probably my gravitation toward an anarchism without adjectives, spelled out nicely by Aragorn! and Voline. One that disregards excessively prefiguring a hypothetical future world. Instead, it favors proactive engagement with the present and associations of individuals living out their desires. It values anarchist projects equally for whatever reasons those involved decide on, and whatever methods are necessary for their common interest. But this has more to do with widening or obscuring boundaries than moving beyond something. A pattern I found myself falling in and out with.

Maybe the emotional sphere of my teens hasn’t been as constructive as I’d like in that sense. There is nil to gain from widening those particular boundaries, reducing oneself to one or two jaded emotional gears after seeing too much of everything. As much as the individual’s contrast with life itself is admirable, it’s often painful. My early to mid teens comprised a web of introverted strains that I’m still working to untangle.

Leaving school in my early adolescence was rough. Although I was being spared a long and grueling few years of bullying, I had little in the way of validating my deepest thoughts and feelings. My refuge was in the imaginative assortment of reality that different writers strung together, telling myself “maybe.” I used those as indicators toward the likelihood of a better day, but I didn’t consider that a better day isn’t synonymous with any kind of redemption.

New relationships built on honesty and intimacy conflict with my adjustment to solitude. If I’m not ungrateful, I’m easily weary of the emotional warmth that I need at different points, only to be overwhelmed by them after a few days of their use. While I need the embrace of my partner, the voices of my friends, and my ever-changing interests, I don’t need them to become the same centerpieces of my conscience as melancholy was. Retreating back to scenes from my old neighborhoods at early morning hours, outraged at the vast emptiness of every day, is one way of reminding myself how stagnant, if not worse, things could be.

“Intense” is one of a few words I think succinctly describe having senses and emotions. Intensity makes or breaks. I fully understand the desire to cease interacting with this reality. But I think there are ways we can get by, if only to numb the pain with vague reassurance. For instance, the belief that being hopeful is reasonable is also incredibly difficult. This difficulty is then artfully expressed through a culture, defiantly mad against the absurdity of it all, understanding that doing so is the means toward accumulating reason to illuminate hope. There is self-evident action in these ideals, and questions only answerable by the one asking them.

What I was hopeful for and what I’m presently hopeful for are steps in the unique process of myself, doomed to cycle back to each other without connecting or forming a stable whole. The chaotic pattern I’ve become accustomed to. I fully recognize the anguish on almost stereotypical levels of romantic sentiment, but I don’t see why anyone should exhaust their energy to cover up the simple fact of life being overwhelming and strange.

And in those moments as if we’re seated comfortably on a hill watching the vibrant blaze of social life in all the cities and towns on earth, we look for a few simple words to decorate the obvious. But why spoil those moments? I’d rather say what I would if given the full opportunity to elaborate on a few scenes from these last ten years. To attach my own reason to a couple glimpses back that meant something to me.

It’s time to go ’round
A one man showdown
Teach us how to fail

For the foreseeable journey, all of my genuinely creative energy is invested in this medium, which specifically entails the pattern of tone one would expect from an author’s usual spiel. I feel like I should consciously tend to that or let the tyranny of legacy set the standard for me. The common themes that fall into place are the first things people read on an author’s wikipedia page; their appraisals, and the verdict of public opinion. It’s the checklist of things likely to be twisted or exaggerated about me. That’s a crucial point of communication left out of my control, if I allow it.

I consider much of this to be necessarily detached from the intimate experiences and influences of the author. The basis of criticism is pointing out and stressing the divide between one perspective and another, always highlighting impression instead of deeper intention, which can only be assumed. This isn’t to say all criticism is faulty because it lacks that insight, but it could probably do well for itself to acknowledge this. Adapt, maybe.

How to actually steer a medium is hard to visualize. I guess it depends on what I’m interested in burning energy over. This particular set of paragraphs and epigraphs isn’t guaranteed to stick the landing and I don’t care. Getting to the destination I set out on is my prime concern. Getting there gracefully is always someone else’s concern. Looking at what I want out of all this, the sacrifices I haven’t made and won’t make, I should preface any attention I get with a disclaimer of impulse: I write the bare minimum notes and do the least possible outlining before steeping in the intricacies of what I want to relay. Only after I judged it in my best creative interest do I go back to overly producing a frame for my prose.

Unless my active project isn’t sorting my personal thoughts, I don’t feel the urge to be scientific about this. I consider it a “moral” duty to transgress as much of the bourgeois how to be a successful writer culture as possible. If I must brave this swirling concrete void, soaking up our decomposing dreams in the humidity, I only ask that my words are laminated before being swallowed by the ocean.

So I prefer to separate that noise from “writing.” I think “medium” is akin to a vessel that makes ideas more engaging and open to scrutiny, while “writing” refers to free acts in the form of text: A few pages of monologue. Two verses scrawled on a napkin. Graffiti lamenting industrial society. With or without attribution, every act of writing is a willful blow to an imposed social fabric (sometimes woven by highly formal mediums), with every pause giving time for new parts to be developed and applied.

Does it follow that mediums lack the spontaneous energy of writing? Probably not, if you build one out of what inspirations come naturally and immediately. Fixing the same revised narratives to a publishing or marketing scheme is just another thing to be avoided when pursuing impression while making a clear case for intention. Most of us are aware of Medium.com publications (especially with the expanded partner program) that invest excessive creative effort in aesthetic, leavened with trademark micromanaging analysis on culture that hardly makes a case for anything beside completing the look.

The question is not if mediums make us less sincere, or if writing has to take on an insurrectionist vibe for us to have it at its most raw. The question is how the author relates the sum of their work to an overarching profile or aesthetic, and how to change it to fit, if at all. We should ask if we’re actually reading someone’s words, or just admiring the medium.

I prefer to make the medium’s aesthetic from what one might contrast it with, simply because it wouldn’t feel like my own craftsmanship otherwise.

Whatever helps you get by.

I guess I should incorporate the setting I work and live in. There are separate ventures from my personal medium based on such willful acts of writing. Local newspapers and the handful of college zines. While their range is limited, I think that’s exactly what a consciously written medium deserves. A small and manageable project, if only for a short time. At least it could be an opportunity to critique workshops, prepare notes on how to collaborate better and open to participants.

Probably half of writing is just listening to yourself talk or think. Getting familiar with how you think and what habits to exploit. Highlighting a few keywords when brainstorming, slowly building an idea for something. But this process enters new and difficult realms when it’s time to translate to a structure. Align the scattered thoughts into something you can read back to the point of origin. There’s always disappointment in what you read, which is the function of ourselves being our worst critics. This is where it becomes a tightrope.

One might lack a coherent stream of thought. It might be the wrong weather. One’s access to helpful substances might be broken. This is where we get irritable and it becomes paramount to find the right order of words, if only to be rid of the stress.

There have been grueling nights at the looming hours of my own deadline where I’m sitting over my fourth cup of coffee at 3 am working on another draft, hating every word I put into it, nauseated over every paragraph. Why do I do this!? Persisting is the only thing that feels right, making little investment in mental breathing room. I am the pawn of my medium, but only because the landscape uncovered by continually reshaping my writing is one of the most enticing and urgent self-realizations I ever experienced.

Dadda and surrealism were probably manifestations of surrendering to this impossibility, handing control over to anguish. Not expression as science or pulpit, but as a scream or plea.

Bukowski gave his own advice, now beat to death by creative writing students.

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.

I think the safest and most appropriate bet is to work on something according to how much you want out of it. Blogging removed the publishing mechanics of a book from the author’s concern, so people now have a much wider range of options than what he had. A more potent sense of constructive rage is probably to blame, common with “not getting published” during his time, which is now “not getting read.” Still, the basic idea remains.

unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.

I don’t plan to formally publish a book: I’m going to stitch things together as I see fit and throw it at people’s heads for free whenever I can. That said, I’m not opposed to tip jars. Consistent sources of income aren’t as immediate and manipulable as writing, so I think both will be happening simultaneously. Some writers think we should survive on this, but at what cost can this be promised?

Adopting the identity of a writer is an angle (if not a reach) into some intricate sliver of life, either presented by a medium or inserted through writing.

I’m not going to suddenly do more worthwhile things or make smarter choices in my second decade of life, and taking this opportunity to carve out a fragment of a memoir isn’t going to do much beyond leaving a personal record. I feel compelled to do so because the subject exists in the same environment as the creative process. A particularly useful reach into how to make sense of it and leave behind some documentation. When I find myself in the middle of the next leap for the anarchist movement, shift in society or in myself, I’ll consider the opportunity and act on my own terms.

I don’t feel like I need to be compensated, because the part we each play in all of this is a reward in of itself.

We’re off the streets now
And back on the road
On the riot trail

There’s a basic idea underlying most of what I create. I like to think we can imagine that idea in basic terms, knowing it won’t be perfect. That idea is that none of this should have to be complicated.

Every day we could wake up and physically build on our desires, discover new ones, share in the necessary labor for what a group of people agree to maintaining, and find the wherewithal to point out and remove the gunk from life. Sadly, people had to ask if this is idealistic or sensible, falling into the trap.

The more we interact with a toxic web of displeasure and confusion, the more we become the thing we hate: We get into situations where complexity is mandatory, the only thing that space is made for. We meet complication with more of it, playing into it’s own game and recreating the nutrients for social, emotional and existential disarray. We build brick walls around ourselves and keep building higher to try to escape.

Ultimately, nothing is secured in place by our own diluted sanctity. Everything is recycled around the impersonal changing nature of social stratification. But in the moments before that, we can get better at consciously disassociating from its ideals and patters of social organization to make way for our own worlds, becoming more and more familiar with how to overcome.

The prospect of overturning the nightmare is endearing. Perhaps a little more hopeful than I’m comfortable with, but a worthwhile standard to act on. But in the meantime, the suffering and limitations imposed on us inspire more ways to attack. We’re continually inclined to overcome, which seems like a fact of this world being unsustainable on all fronts.

Living a life is more akin to a radiating, shifting mass of energy than a hopeless journey of submission on a straight line of time mapped onto a hollow notion of “progress.” If we enable individual actualization over the blank frame of reality, we can outlast imprisonment in all its forms.

Until then, we’re all basically slowdancing with reality, awkwardly grinning at the horrors staring back at us, catching a few brief glimpses of something interesting in the background, until the music stops and the lights go out.

We all just want to surpass the constantly current mode of “average.” I’m glad to be moving in some direction with people doing the same in their own unique ways.

Twenty years. Huh.

To erase everything from the slate from one day to the next, to be new with each morning, in a perpetual revival of our emotional virginity this, and only this, is worth being or having, to be or have what we imperfectly are.

Last stop: The end of my teens

Pass Me By, 2017

New year. Here again. The late December cold surges once more through the neighborhoods. Jack Frost assaults people at bus stops in Midwestern cities on cruel weekend schedules. The neglected Christmas tree and ice skating rink downtown stand below the overcast and gentle descent of flurries. Corner liquor stores are cleared of champagne. Dirty white tents selling fireworks set up in empty parking lots. Sticker-covered trash cans and thirty-five year-old concrete walls sit where they were yesterday and the day before. Ambulance sirens.

More importantly, it seems, people find things to write about on this occasion; at this uncertain turning point.

Five alarms on my phone wake me up. One after the other, an intemperate decision made four hours and sixteen minutes before crashing. I knew that one simply wouldn’t do it if I was serious about being up. This is perfectly normal.

11:45 am. 11:50 am. 12:05 pm. 12:10 pm. The same android alarm I changed to when I moved into the apartment. I find my way out of bed. To the bathroom, then the kitchen for coffee. My clothes are laid out on the couch next to my backpack, bus fair and wad of bills.

A few essentials are packed for the first trek out in my city after returning from visiting family. When living off two-hundred dollars or less a week, Christmas gifts become apparent as genuine tools for life being a little more bearable.

A pear beckons me from the produce drawer of the fridge. Part of a fancy snack box of fruit, mixed nuts, cheese and summer sausage, a gift from my partner’s dad. I add one to the backpack along with coffee from the french press in a new black thermos, both gifts from a week ago. It feels like trying on new colors for everyday routines.

My familiar Dr. Martens, the creases in the leather coated in dry crusted balm and the dust attracted to it, are then straight-laced tightly. Jackets layered. Scarf tossed over my neck. Down the stairs and out the door into the snowfall, crunching on the pear.

This day is flooded in a particularly pleasing shade of overcast. The sky a distinct pale blue, its brightness subdued by grey clouds. Ear buds connect my phone to my head, playing the same playlist on the same bus route. Indifferent community members fill the seats. The usual people, the usual business.

The same as any winter day. No watermark at the corner of every glimpse that reads “New Year 2017.” It takes me a moment to realize this when I glance at the date on my phone.

Am I dreaming? Is it all really that insignificant?

I go forward, coming home to the one I love when all is said and done. The rest of today will be totally boring and I will love it. I pour some coffee, take necessary pulls off the usual substances, and get to typing an offhand account (for a change) of a lived experience back in town before the seven-to-eight transition, just for the hell of it.

Here we are. The world is the same. It might stay this way next year — tomorrow. Annual life feels less like a spectacular reset of 12 seasonal points of planetary alignments, and more like the expected repackaging of time and events by people who aren’t you or me, gradually set in place over 72 hours of morning news and Trump’s latest tweets.

At least for now, I’ve stopped cursing the informal obligation to offer up thoughts in the form of prose before the new year, as my first thoughts of this year elaborate. I simply decided to act. To observe the moments before and after. Take from them what I might, but take nothing too seriously. Along the way, maybe construct a bumper for my medium.

The calendar starts over. Air traffic controllers and data centers begin the first of their monthly operations. The final digit in date fields of IBM and Windows NT embedded systems changes. The same minute and specific continuation of mass industrial society, constantly directing us toward large-scale ecological collapse. Everyday life.

Whatever happens involving Trump, the anniversary of Disrupt J20 and the whole host of deaths, scandals and social abuses to take course in society, we’re mostly in the same spot we were 365 days ago.

The same people we lose in 2018 — not accounting for their specifics — will be interchangeable with those we lost in 2017, looking from the macro perspective of the closing few years of the decade. The same for the street battles between fascists and anarchists, the oil pipelines and the legal repression.

Thats how most people after us will see this point in time, to interpret and utilize for future efforts. Not much to be worked up for. It doesn’t feel much like a choice. The same uncertainty embraced again.

What can you do? I cursed myself for documenting the first moments of the new year. For not make better use of energy on something that everyone else wasn’t doing. It was useless to be so hard on myself. I realize now that its just more liberating to let things pass you by. To go forward and do it offhand.

Don’t force anything. That isn’t my resolution that everyone advocates against, but probably something I’ll take away from 2017.

We go on in our own ways. I document the one perspective I have control over. Almost like letters to myself, but spaced out between the years and publicly displayed. Like we share in the general idea. I like to think we do.

Pass Me By, 2017

Internet Feudal Barons and Our Lack of Surprise

_net-autonomy

(Subversion News, Itsgoingdown)

December 14th is the congressional vote to repeal Title II classification for Internet service providers, which regulates them as public utilities and mandates equal protection for all Internet traffic, fulfilling the concept of Net Neutrality. It seems that I’ve been here before, and nothing feels different aside from this issue in the grand scheme of things. That, and maybe my level of cynicism.

Three years ago, in my social democrat days, I dove into all that so-called “Team Internet” could really do. The late Obama years were a push to ensure progressive policies would withstand after election season. Everything except physically organizing was what I did when the FCC was urged to adopt clear net neutrality rules. We knew that consumers were just waiting to be fucked over by broadband companies if reclassification didn’t beat them to it, so it was a big deal for most of that year.

Outreach was rather grueling when trying to bring the issue to everyone who uses the Internet. The aggressive lies about “innovation” being at stake if broadband speeds didn’t remain a competitive market seemed as convincing to many as the reality of Internet connections being universally jumbled with the stablest ones concentrated in the hands of those who could pay.

Initially, I didn’t think writing/calling congress and having the situation explained in full would matter much. What felt like this loose network of hackers and nerd-activists seemed to be no match for the landlords of broadband and their lobbyists, so my hopes for victory were modest. But in time the decision to reclassify was sealed, thanks to enough noise against the idea of paying premiums for different connections. There was a sense of accomplishment in banding together within the “safety” of government that my white skin affords me.

This, of course, was before the political jolt that was Trump’s presidency. Around an administration that has been one clique power-grab after the other, Ajit Pai’s flagship decision as newly-appointed FCC chairman was to crash and burn protective Internet regulations, similar to our health care system or public water treatment.

What distinguishes then from now is [my understanding of] what I want out of putting time and energy into an issue. I realized the inherent limitations on what could realistically be won through this perpetually circular politics of appeal and compromise. Self-described “radicals” are engaging in a battle for leverage in a situation that affects what they should realistically be forcing out of the hands of the few. Its not exactly overcoming or progressing (notions that liberals have always suggested) if you’re constantly fighting for the same reforms in different political eras. I arrived at the conclusion that working within authority can only push it to change its tactics of constraint. It has to be deconstructed, physically disrupted and abolished by obsolescing its relevance through new social habits.

This is ultimately no more of a surprise than Trump doing anything else. When you have a president with this kind of hubris, uncharted influence and a tattered but intact support base with various reactionary formations, this is just a drop in the bucket. I was convinced that the definitive sign of more (and worse) to come was the early rhetoric around immigration and “America first”, so its hard to be surprised or significantly upset by any of this.

Let’s not take all this to mean this situation isn’t a problem. Bludgeoning Internet access to guarantee that Telecom giants can exert restraint on consumers as a business strategy in this particular time of polarization and turbulence — especially with most organizing happening online — is going to prove difficult for radicals’ playing field.

But do I clench my heart and cry “Oh, the humanity!” No, because whether we have European-style net neutrality regulations or the same model we have for health care, we are ignoring the relationship at play. The entities people are out to win over cannot have the same conversation. There are mutually opposing interests that are the final say, and accruing their sympathy will not do anything if it conflicts with them. You always run the risk of having any concessions revoked when they’re mere options for appeasement within the negligence of impersonal democracy.

Net neutrality is a false distinction in a society where access to anything is fundamentally broken, let alone the Internet. Nonetheless, liberals will prioritize the things within reach to middle-class whites and avoid the overarching motive behind it all. This is going to be a pain, no doubt. What isn’t in this world?

Hashtag resistance is officially canceled.

What the Internet has demonstrated is among the most effective means of collaborating and opening up new and powerful means of expressing, sharing, reinventing and decentralizing. But that ethos can never reach its fullest potential when Telecom property owners can pull the plug whenever they please. They will never cease control of our access so long as there is any base for them to stand on.

The airwaves are a commons. Every tool and beyond should be, but this will never be adopted as the reality so long as monopolizing or mediating capabilities exist anywhere, be they state or private.

Internet Feudal Barons and Our Lack of Surprise

Reflections on Being Bi

September 23rd marks Celebrate Bisexuality Day, on which in 1999, Wendy Curry and friends with BiNet USA created a day of celebration to foster non-monosexual (not strictly gay, lesbian, etc.) pride and solidarity in the post-1960s and 70s gay rights movement. During a period in the movement of bisexuals patronized as “going through a phase” or reduced as “half gay,” constantly lugging behind rainbow banners hoping to be recognized with as much dignity, Curry gave non-monosexual queers a day to get loud and proud without being vouched for by their rigidly gay older siblings.

A little over a decade, new grounds on identity and community have been broken. The “gay or straight” dichotomy is increasingly decommissioned in favor of a fluid, shifting idea of sexual, romantic and emotional orientation. The strict roles of man or woman are replaced by individuals defining their presentations free from strict qualifying castes. Angry queers are on standby to take direct action against the oppression and bigotry that persists, despite liberal appeals for assimilation.

While bisexuals and other non-monosexuals still endure misconception and stigma around their identity, there are strides made in deconstructioning mythology and tapping into pride as a change-making tool. In Curry’s words, “If you really study civil rights/diversity acceptance, you’ll see that people start to respect people once they respect themselves. As long as we were in this endless begging for inclusion, we weren’t addressing the respect issue.”

For me, bisexuality laid a path of self-identity that has been a strange and reassuring force. Well before digging into all the complexities, I had a sense of there being more to it than “liking guys and girls” through lived experience. Emotions beyond romance and sex coupled with self-esteem and existential chaos provided me with the texture of this still young, still uncertain life. Seeing the way people in-between’ed expression gave me a sense of deeper possibilities even before I saw them put down in theory. And ultimately, seeing where I am right now with a truly wonderful and life-saving partner, I don’t ever want to let where I came from lose its influencing power on where I go from here.

In the years of bi voices being amplified, the positivity shared by those who endured community changes, and my own doings around who I am beyond sexual identity, I think now is a good time to lend my own perspective to the conversation, given the occasion.

Growing Up

Don’t worry, there won’t be any irrelevant life story. Though I will say that I grew up kind of hazy, in memory and in what I felt during life-defining experiences. Even if that’s how it should be, it still feels abnormally tangled. The sentiment of things not needing to make perfect sense was always kind of endearing for me.

Considering that I’m at the last stop before my twenties as of writing, we’ll be backing up to the point where a lot of these testimonies qualify as life stories.

I was weird. I still am. I knew I was weird, and I told myself this everyday. It didn’t really become an unhealthy thing until I was about eleven or twelve years old. My weight, personality and learning disability became the foremost things plaguing my nerves when I was in school or around kids my age. I think I tried to build my personality vicariously through the images I got in media, which is a terrible thing to do. Overly romanticized situations don’t serve as a good primer for the all-too real awkwardness of pre-adolescent social exchanges. With that facade toppled, I was on my own.

When I realized I wasn’t as “cool” as I thought I was, the only way I could avoid a breakdown was by repeating apologies in my head to people I had to talk to. “I’m sorry you have to interact with me.” Whenever I could calm myself down and think of something “funny” or “witty” to say, they would kind of just grin, smother a cringe and turn to their friends to snicker. After so many of those over and over again, all my effort to be likable wasted, I finally decided to just shut my mouth for good. I would have asked people straight-up if they would prefer not to talk to me before I even said my name, but that would pretty much defeat the purpose. People were no-go zones.

Around that time I was pulled out of public school after a year of bullying that I left bottled up became known to my mom, and I continued through online courses officially registered as homeschooled. At the time I felt luckier than ever, especially with new methods of education available to me. The school system served, and continues to serve, a dual purpose of devaluing students’ capabilities for making them useful to a boss somewhere down the road, and encouraging an atmosphere of strife and petty indignities among each other. The last part made me not pay a second thought to being removed from easy access to socializing. I was convinced that everyone in my age range hated me anyways, and anyone a few years older than me would always find ways to exploit my social shortcomings for a sick laugh.

By then, the stage was set for my personality to follow. A lot of confusion and angst was baked into my young perception, so I wasn’t really lonely so much as angry and dismissive. A lot of time alone in that conviction made me comfortably numb, reassuring myself with “fuck everyone” whenever I felt envious to the contrary. But everything only worsened with time, and soon I had to come to terms with myself and the world.

Isolation

I knew what being bisexual meant fairly early, but I had trouble considering myself that. With all the self-hatred going on, I determined my identity based on how “likable” I was; how and if I could relate to others regardless of gender. So for a while, with what juvenile information I had, I considered myself asexual for a brief period. I thought it was the most fitting justification for being asocial more than anything, but I couldn’t deny that I was misusing the label. Then I called myself straight but that I “didn’t like sex,” and then I kind of just stopped trying to name it, letting it be whatever.

All my time at home let me figure out how to transform hobbies into meaningful work. A lot of effort was funneled into writing and learning programming, which is responsible for everything right now. It was humble beginnings and I’m still proud that I made the most of my time alone in my own world, but it also did a great job of keeping me at a distance from things I wanted to go further in. I was too comfortable in front of a keyboard, and couldn’t see how to change that with minimal effort.

Nothing ever felt fair. I rarely got a break from being sad or anxious. There’s nothing to complain about family-wise, but emotionally — in the realm I never spoke about to anyone — I was always in a rut. As far as simply getting people to know and respect me, I was completely lost. A local church youth group was a decent enough sandbox for finding common interests, but sure enough, the same impressions I got from school were rediscovered there. At this stage anger was dissolved into mild acceptance. I was fully prepared to be overlooked, but disappointed nonetheless.

There wasn’t much refuge alone. Oftentimes I would see a close bond between two men in a film and I would feel the worst reeling pain of emptiness and envy I could imagine. Or I would see a bond between a man and woman and feel the same way. I couldn’t make sense of the inconsistency, losing the grasp on reasoning with it in the haze of everything else. Puberty at its finest. I often reminded myself with Wizard’s line from Taxi Driver: “Don’t worry so much!”

Internet friendships and communities were a blessing, a monumental tool for being real with someone dealing with the same things and giving me at least some reassurance that generations before have been dealt this same shitty roll of the dice. Around that point, going through different causes of my misery, it dawned on me that my frustrations had a connection to sexual and romantic orientation worthy of examination.

That particular case was reopened, but investigating it was delayed. It was in the middle of moving to another state that confusion was transplanted in a new environment, stripped of my familiar home town and nothing but long car rides to dwell on things. Temporary residence in a rural area gave me a tranquil place to reset for a little while. A forest to merge with in spirit, a sunny field to get lost in thought staring at — dumb little sentimental touches that were really needed for my weary mind. I think I was trying to reassure myself that it was okay that I didn’t belong in the castes of heterosexuality and conservatism; that I had to put my own convictions first or risk being the same fake type of person I detested.

Eventually we settled in another town, where I resumed my self-examination online with a new outlook. It didn’t take long for me to accept that whatever I was, I certainly wasn’t straight. It might have been the queer gamers and furries (yep) that had my back, but soon I came to embrace it quietly, uncertain of my family’s reaction if they knew.

I must be a magnet for ruining everything, because I couldn’t keep myself from inventing new problems. With some newly won self-confidence, I made attempts at distant relationships which were predictably failures. In my own defense, both parties were young and trying different things with different persuasions, so it wasn’t a foolproof excursion in retrospect. But at the time it meant as much to me as anyone in a face-to-face relationship. Once again, I was crushed. I secured the pain in place with such adages as I’m uglyI’m boring or Its best that I’m not known.

It wasn’t abnormal to find myself fantasizing about draining all my blood via slit arteries or Google searching the highest point near me to jump from. I have to admit these still plague me sporadically. My mom finding out I was self-harming for reasons I kept vague made me want to put every possible thing in existence in one place while I walk away from it all. Torment on top of torment, I dragged on mindlessly. I’m honestly surprised I survived those hectic times.

Getting Out and Coming Out

I got over the bumps in the road. I still don’t know how, and even now when I face similar problems I forget how to start recovery. I think the mind just lets go of things when its ready to, at least in my case.

I latched onto new things and found myself in a refreshed mindset. At this point I was openly bi online for two years, amassing all the advice I could get and looking to generally improve on my existence. I wasn’t free from anguish, but I poured as much energy as I could into my blog and programming to keep myself busy. Working my first job helped disperse a lot of that energy too.

I didn’t stop looking for someone who could care about me, but I played it safe. I was done being desperate about it. I used that familiar misery as the force that brought me back down to earth whenever I could feel myself flying too close to the sun. My teens were spent alone from the start, and I felt like I deserved someone to build prospects with. Nothing dramatic or specific, and in fact I dreamed of an understated but palpably close bond that would become dramatic when it needed to be. I was out for anyone: friend, lover, something in-between — anyone.

A week before thanksgiving, I started talking to someone. At first I rested assured that we wouldn’t go far. That was my mechanism for staying intact. I prefaced our first night of conversation with something along the lines of “I’m not looking for anything sexual or whatever. Just someone to talk to.” If only I could guess at how short I was selling myself. The things we shared were surprising, how well we clicked and understood each other was something I never felt with anyone else. Day by day, good morning and good night texts, I knew I found the one I would take refuge in when everything else felt wrong. It didn’t take more than four months for us to officially begin dating, and two more for me to save up for a plane ticket for us to finally rendezvous.

Minneapolis, summer of 2016. That was when I finally broke from my past and started a new beginning. A solid week of my doubts and fears melted away by love, honesty and adventure in Minnesota. It was a totally alien sensation; all those years of self-doubt healed in such a short time. But even then, questions about ourselves and the future weren’t over. My partner had time to think things over, and affirmed that she was trans. This presented us with new questions to ask ourselves; for her as an individual in a shitty society, and us as a couple to be perceived by others.

Along with worrying for her health, safety and the respect she deserves in the years to come, I was concerned with how I was going to be looked at: As a bisexual guy, or an assumed straight guy, with a girl at my side. This particular revelation opened a new part in the … I became invested in her through the gender I first perceived her as, and now it was a matter of channeling this kind of inertia in a positive and constructive way. I knew that my feelings for her were unaffected, I was just too used to the idea of being seen with someone of the same gender. It was up to knowing the changes, holding on to what was most important and respecting this person who I love above all else.

The trip home was the worst. I never walked through an airport trying not to cry before, but the flight home gave me time to contemplate this new beginning and what it would take to make it flourish into something tangible. A couple weeks passed and I was alone in my room binging on netflix and something unhealthy. My mom checks on me and tells me I haven’t been very talkative lately. I tell her that I’m fine, but that we should take a drive. It was completely spur of the moment, I just felt the urge to get this over with.

We get coffee and sit in the starbucks parking lot. I’m already panicking when she asks whats up. I know I’m not going to tell her everything, certainly not the gender identity of my “friend”, but only the truth of who I am. I shake off the worst-case scenario thoughts of being disowned and get it out: “Mom, I can only hope you don’t hate me, but… I’m bisexual.”

I immediately begin to cry, terrified. “Okay” she replies. I keep crying.

“Its okay!” she repeats. I piece myself together as much as possible, explain my relationship, neglect all the necessary details and retire back to my room after gaining the approval of my mom, the rest of my family to follow. That feeling in your gut, like you took off a lead vest: I felt that for the rest of the week. A long stretch of uncertainty amounted to my experiences translated into a newly public fact about myself. I felt like my reality was acknowledged, giving me my first sense of self-validation.

A year later, after the right planning and timing, my girlfriend and I are living together, making the most of our passions and bringing them to life with our friends in our community. The rest is history, but one that drives doing better everyday, looking for something at the end of it all worth resting on.

Appraisal

I never liked talking about myself. I think I always neglect the richest details that could be compressed into a perfect couple of sentences to save your time and mine, and instead I gravitate toward droning recollections of times that may or may not paint an accurate picture. But there are times when you have to do your best in that to avoid yet another stuffy academic review of sexual identity and derive from lived experiences. I think being real at the risk of sounding sentimental is a lot better than being a jargon machine from one’s favorite armchair.

I think two things determined how I went about self-discovery: Autism and internalized self-restraint, or, more formulaic: my perception of the world multiplied by the effects of the world on me in return. In this light, this applies to a lot of different stories with different names given to the variables. For me, one thing was very good at fortifying the results of the other: I had a preconception of people, I had a preconception of the right ways to act, their responses were things I held too sacredly, and I instilled them in myself because I trusted others’ judgment far more than my own. This bolstered the whole cycle during new periods in my life when I felt like trying again, more or less giving new reasons to stop again because of responses following preconception. Putting it simply, I was hopeful, disappointed and confused in that order. My naive belief in better things over the horizon sabotaged by the realities others lived.

Self-discovery happened in different parts in different places. A lot of it took place alone with what I had to dwell on. It wasn’t healthy, but it was the only option when I didn’t want to risk a panic attack. I mostly just hated bothering people, but every once in a while I could refresh what specific types of interactions had the most effect on me. This included how shy I was around masculine people compared to feminine people, how intensity changed with people’s age, and the personalities that I felt threatened by.

Soon I noticed that boys my age with relatively outgoing personalities caused me the most tension, while girls fitting the same descriptions were just a hair more fear-inducing. I can easily see connections to who these people reminded me of during negative interactions in the past, e.g., girls telling me that I’m “gross”, or boys telling me I’m “stupid”, but further down the road it went from simply “bothering people” to the likelihood of never being able to make a bond with anyone. Now it was a question of who I desired bonds with the most.

I was always juggling who held sway of my preference when I was realizing myself as bi. Before that, I had a boundless admiration for anyone with the right amount of charm, wit and kindness. It didn’t connect with sexuality and take on a certain form until I hit puberty, where I was mixed up by everything I started feeling. I never got to be face-to-face with any of this until meeting my girlfriend, but I think years of observing and stewing alone from a distance was ultimately worth it.

I eventually judged myself to be a four on the Kinsey scale, essentially saying that I prefer people of the same gender while maintaining a fair attraction to those who aren’t. My girlfriend’s identity gave me an interesting lesson in what you’re attracted to and who you love; not as things that necessitate each other, but as things that indicate one’s sexual capacity separate from long-term emotional standpoint, and what you do to consolidate those feelings in a healthy way. I didn’t surrender my attraction to men, but I arranged my committed relationship and my expression of attraction as non-conflicting spheres with every parties’ consent.

A lot my tribulations can rightly be blamed on hormones, but I’m not going to deny that for most of my life, and as it continues now, I’ve always taken emotional responses and the meanings in things I can’t fully grasp very seriously. Overlaps with social anxiety, uncertainty, self-disgust and feeling bad for everyone I talked to made me more conscious of my interactions. They held me accountable, and I think even if they made me more self-conscious than I need to be, it made a thorough process of knowing who I was without much left to guess on.

It wasn’t a way to say “I know I’m bi because…“, but a way to show the inspiration behind the style of bisexuality I invented for myself.

Why Bi Day Matters

“Pride already happened.” This was one person’s response to me advertising a bi day celebration in my city. Aside from the baked-in aggression against queer voices, it reflects one of the reasons why sections of the queer community value their sovereign days of celebration, sometimes more than the massive annual parades and festivals of rainbow capitalism.

There was no serious usage of “LGBT” as a unified group of people in solidarity until the late 90s. Even afterward, the appearance of a cohesive community of non-heterosexual and gender non-conforming individuals is a pretty new thing. I think in the wake of bigotry expressing itself in neoliberal America, LGBT sections urgently crystallized in a way that shrugged off past injuries, and pardoned new ones in the name of “progress.”

Before this, there was a lot of conflict in legislative and community organizing that cut deep into trans and non-monosexual hidden figures, whether it was after Harvey Milk’s death or the damage control after the stonewall riots. Today that tradition graduates from negligent organizing behaviors to the ongoing assimilation of gay people into state apparatuses of domination and mediation, who expect the rest of us to go along with their victories as trans and non-binary people of color are assaulted or killed by the same cops they march with at pride.

Gay has become a trademark with a standard set of attributes, and if you aren’t “gay” or “straight”, you’re certainly queer in one sense or other. We, obviously, are looking to make the gay community militant again — not to shun every monosexual as a liberal traitor. But with the circumstance of it all, rebuilding ourselves requires amplifying those who are left to the back of the parade line or asked silly questions about their identity.

Bi, trans, non-binary, intersex, asexual and other days of celebration are all occasions to hold our communities proud and independent from the history of liberal assimilation into rigid legalistic frameworks. Its about having the self-respect to determine one’s own sense of pride specific to their identity and how its expressed to others.

A Better Relationship with Sexuality and Gender

The relativity and fluidity of gender content is something that can’t be dismissed for much longer in today’s world. As the gendering of behaviors becomes increasingly brittle with each person living them, its clear that laying down a basic idea of contouring ourselves with others is easier and more fruitful than everyone trying to fit into something that won’t budge.

I’ve often been asked the question when talking about gender followed by my own sexuality: “If gender is about self-identity and not ‘how many genders there are,’ how can you call yourself bisexual? Doesn’t that imply that there are only two?”

When thinking about bisexuality, most people jump to the conclusion of quantities meaning “how many genders this person is attracted to” instead of considering what quantity even relates to. Dealing with quantity is more or less visualizing people’s scope and flexibility, using quantity to refer to points that start and stop boundaries. It should be obvious that nobody should submit to any elementary analysis and surrender their identity just because there are differences on what quantifying adjectives mean.

For a basic example, we can think of two (bi-) poles that start in one place on a spectrum and terminate in another. These poles encompass a specific area of presentation that an individual is attracted to, instead of having two mutually exclusive types of people our inclinations will be limited to like the traditional idea of bisexuality suggests. Its more like covering all bases by looking at the two ends of a region, which are sometimes simplified as masculine, feminine and what is between them.

This model might work accordingly with other non-monosexual identities too: Polysexual individuals might envision multiple sections encompassed by multiple sets of poles, while pansexual individuals have no visible divides at all, embracing the entirety of identity spectrums.

I think this is key to expressing any sexuality without coming off as binary about gender. Bisexuality is a way of people defining the scope of their attraction in relation to the sum of their preference, and not so much the “number of genders” they prefer. Even with straight or monosexual people, there is no correct way to be any of those things; identifying the areas of attraction doesn’t take any prescribed form of roles or numbers. Its about presentation and who it resonates with.

Going Forward

We decide what life looks and feels like. There are collective and individual aspects of that reality; people can get together to make societal changes, and individuals can establish the facts of themselves through which to interface with life. Joining or conflicting, relating potential to each other accomplishes more than we think. Its all in knowing ourselves, what we want and what it all means in the end. Doing our best and staying relentless.

Happy Bi Day. Remember Scout Schultz.

Reflections on Being Bi

The Religion of Civility

(For Subversion News)

Two weeks after the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the geniuses of sacred non-action are still at it.

Between “an-tee-fuh”, the “alt-left” and “violence on both sides“, we’re back to J20 and Pikeville as everyone crawls out of the woodwork to talk about the “violence on the left” and circulate their ready-made expertise on anti-fascism, all while dodging what lit a fire under them, or fighting the actual philosophical meat of it and broader anarchism with condescending outrage.

I’ve been focused on this since I got back, since this was my first major action since being physically involved in such things. Not only that, but the discussion has been going on for longer than expected. Charlottesville was the tamest anti-fascist demonstration I’ve ever seen. We came into a small town and ruined a white nationalist rally before it can even start, without many arrests and without much trouble from the cops, and yet this might be the one event of this decade’s anti-fascist activity that garners the most commentary from the right and center.

Those in the combination of their sheltered media chambers and traditional social litanies, instead of being on the ground in front of struggles, always get the loudest mic to speak into. Not like this is surprising: They get to be pampered by the social byproducts of others’ subordination, and simultaneously defend their legitimacy in all corners of life. Nonetheless, it peeves me when we continue encountering the same angry questions under a different name, and someone is expecting a new answer.

I think, along with someone being killed, the legalistics of permits and free speech coming into this really set the popular stage, allowing the white panic of preserving the current structures to coming into conflict with the larger goals of anti-fascism. Beyond that playing out as usual, I certainly think we’re on track toward a civil conflict for better or worse. Thats precisely why anti-fascists are going all out, we intend to win.

And with the “why” absolutely cleared just now, the heavier baggage of attacking assembly and working outside the perimeters of the law remains. Particularly, the use of violence.

We are always denying ourselves the reality of violence when talking about disrupting social systems. For Industrial Society 101, violence has been monopolized for generations through the state. This is the crux of the issue when looking at how smashing a corporation’s window stacks up to letting thousands of people go uninsured each year, and so on. People have an instinctive way of judging those scenarios with a set of obfuscated, reproduced norms that totally demonize one act while not paying a second glance to another.

Getting to where people see that and understand why its like this involves rediscovering history through a different lens, one that demonstrates how people then and now are affected and repressed. Even trickier is explaining why civility in these conditions is instantly surrender, and how developing our own strategies and coming together on our own terms is the best way to win a better world.

Civility, in how society is presently arranged, is the effect of the privileged accumulating the complacency of the ruled. Alternative social patterns are simply unthinkable or collectively hammered into our skulls as impractical and dangerous, so generations typically reproduce an atmosphere of things being stable the way they are, or disseminating spirituality as a coping mechanism for life being unbearable. Coupled with familial castes and popular media, we have the central nervous system of capitalist state society: a populous that is comfortable and obedient in the limits they were told are the infinite expanses of life.

Resistance happens when the requirements for capital and privilege (subordination, stratification) build up into distinct social groups. With what freedom of thought the ruled have to themselves, there is capacity to design alternatives and nourish its growth while in bondage. Cultures that solidify around exploitation always secure their dreams with a rich and resonating community. Slavery in North America and a class of African descendants carried on a particular consciousness that lives in the changing face of racism and white supremacy. From Nat Turner in 1830s Virginia plantations, to the Black Panthers in 1960s Harlem, to Black Lives Matter in contemporary liberal America, the consciousness that intersects with other struggles (workers’ and queer struggle, etc.) finds the very channels that mediate or propagate oppression and grow beneath them.

Over time, however, incremental reformism has proven to be the most hypnotizing buffer between the dissolving of bondage and the securing of privilege. After trade unionism was legalized, participation in social movements became increasingly perfunctory and symbolic, crystallizing the aversion to direct action in favor of seeking legitimacy from higher authorities. People’s self-confidence in their own actions were, and have increasingly become, disarmed and filtered into a singular, designated political sphere that was reinforced by the doctrines of civility.

Those who cling to this model do so for varying reasons. Commonly in the United States, its liberals whose political identity was forged solely out of this model and know nothing beyond it, or its conservative-right people who find this model to always be a stepping stone toward a real instance of their ideals. The sanctity of what they’re familiar with, the desperation in avoiding what requires fundamental restructuring and demonizing the interests of the exploited always play a synchronized part in propping up a confused warning of danger to further influence civility.

What makes for an obvious double-standard but a opportune entryway is how people who declare that life is savage and that things like markets and speculation are rooted in a human instinct toward savagery can’t at least reconcile this with anti-fascists acting in such a way. The doctrine of “tough shit” is always hammered into those with social grievances, but suddenly the lecturers are shaking in their boots when the act of brutality expands inward on the whole framework.

Undoing this ritual requires understanding violence and the relationships around it: whats is considered violent, how it is regulated, how it is ultimately relative and where to go with that understanding.

Violence is a character of life, a means of dispensing power. But more deeply, violence as a social phenomena isn’t a defined, tangible thing as we might envision it. The underpinnings of force are typically applied to an inherently political situation and manipulated depending on the actor. This covers everything from breaking the windows of a bank that evicts people from their houses, the police arresting protesters, to any form of speech that resonates in society.

Expression has long been painted in the light of reducing the consequences of what people say. On one hand, people today seem to allow racists as well as far-left radicals to say what they please in equal measure. But on the other, they reserve their rights to “disagree” with whomever. These reactions are the modifications to consequences in the light of mediation. They acknowledge an idea of consequences of speech, but only in the form of their own reaction and its relationship to discourse. The possibility of any consequences outside of this are left up to pacifying or quelling forces, like the police. So long as an authority rests on top of these transactions, and as long as they are imbued with trust in stopping anything that deviates from civility, there can only be popular displacement from the genuine consequences outside of upper middle class communities. So while a racist spreading lies about marginalized communities means little to a well-off liberal, it means a hell of a lot to those who will see and live through the consequences of that speech right in front of them.

This is probably the summary for why free speech isn’t so much “opposed” by anti-fascists and anarchists as much as its just a terrible reduction of what language is. Language is a tool as powerful as cutting individuals off from your life or starting rumors. Such things have intention and weight, they accomplish things whether explicit or not. If we can imagine what such things mean for tight-knit social groups of single-digit amounts of people, think of its impact on anything from towns, to cities, to whole continent populations. But again, as long as quelling authorities rest on top of these intimately human transactions, they will always be reduced down to the ins and outs of politics while the genuine consequences play out unaccounted for. Disconnected from any social importance.

So in this framing, the features and levels of violence are anything but unanimously agreed on. Political actions are commonly measured by the weight they carry and how forceful or affective they are, but the affiliation the action is bound to is always the deciding factor for whether its violent.

But the relativity of violence doesn’t imply a disregard for what it accomplishes. For anti-fascists, it isn’t unitary violence that is examined as much as whats behind the violence, who is doing it and to what ends. Violence is expected from the opposition as much as it is from the bindings of today’s society, and so which violence we oppose is made clear because it enforces what we want destroyed. Regardless of seeing the word violence and knowing that people will imagine vastly different examples, it describes an emotional reality underneath the vagueness, and it can be used to align our intentions properly.

Denouncing violence is like denouncing the force required in tackling anything that works against you, but we cannot take this to just mean “in self-defense.” Reducing all of self-defense down to immediate physical protection neglects what violence and preserving oneself entails, especially in a setting where the lifeblood of society is constant threat. The end goal is to eliminate structures of violence: coercion, domination and the like, which comprise forces decidedly not relative, and perform concrete functions such as capitalism, state repression and social bigotry that build a reality of suffering.

The instinctual disregard for criticism from the right and center comes from their dependence on what social emancipation requires destroying. By relying on “its not that bad”, “haven’t you learned anything from Stalin?” or “you hate free speech”, we meet at the same starting point over and over. All that time wasted trying to explain our case just for it to be thrown out could be spent organizing and arming around worthwhile goals.

Obedience to currently acceptable ideals has driven the left away from debate, because the requirement to be taken seriously is to lie down and submit or risk being named “alt”. And every time a glimpse of our case is made, the reaction is simply angry defense of political essentialism or flipping the narrative.

So speaking calmly and acting how we’re told has been proven fruitless, a spectacle for the media facade and self-service repression. We’re over playing pretend. As spontaneous action finds its way in the streets and communities, as the structures of privilege and coercion are discredited, we’re reaching a trying time of discovering our strength and wielding it together, or once again rebranding the game of domination.

Non-violence can only persuade authority to take a new shape or expand appeasement, but it can never mend the relations of exploitation and violence that anarchists will always oppose. Autonomy and dignity in our lives will always be sacrificed so long as we act obediently in the shadow of power.

We might have landed on a particularly stubborn generational spot for the next social transition to happen, as most people still don’t see how we went from Kings and Surfs to Bosses and Employees. Its always difficult to attack the conscience of the population without seemingly devaluing the whole of their character. In doing the latter, we become just as bad as our enemies in allowing material mechanisms to segment us from the whole of humanity. It takes reminding oneself of the values they inherited and the vessel that expresses them, seeking only to revise one of them for everyone’s wellness.

We don’t desire or get anything out of talking down to everyday people, but the frustration and outrage that is perpetuated through popular channels creates the only audible tone. As much as we would prefer diverse and colorful images of anarchy and vanquished white supremacy as a gift to all, a rich connection between the individual, the world, and what fills the space between them, those would be dismissed as utopian in a heartbeat.

The monotone black [and red] of militant negation appears to set the stage well enough for what we have to deal with presently. We appear to be assholes because we’re backed into such a corner where we only have so much to work with. And with what is available to us, we consistently build up our conclusion.

Nazis are for shutting down and putting down, not assimilating and regulating as you would anyone else. Free speech is a political right afforded to you by the same class of elites who arrange the wages of starvation, mandate ritualistic appeals to higher-ups and draw out who suffers and who dispenses. When people aren’t separated from consequences, it isn’t a social axiom that anybody abides by even in their most intimate setting.

We’ll soon be forced out of our screen-lit rooms and into the world we’ve abandoned, reeling at what we left to fester. Popular conscience will experience a thermal shock of reality when people understand that mediating fascism, whether by trademarked Rational Centrism over twitter or the holiness of legislation, is a joke when the bodies start piling up.

So, whats the solution? Social revolution.

The Religion of Civility

Charlottesville is Barely The Start

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(For Subversion NewsIts Going Down)

Our group of four stood at the crosswalk, flagpoles in hand and bandannas around our necks. Off in the distance, the park is teeming with black-clad people with clubs, shields, respirators, flags, banners, signs. Any form of message delivery, all with the same idea. Looking down the street to see if there’s a quicker way to get across, we spot the first of our enemy: Identity Evropa marching in a single column down the sidewalk across the park, their distinct blue and white flags waving above them. Before they round the corner to face the anti-fascists, we already hear cries against them, cries unlike at any sporting event; cries with sincere disdain on every level. “Nazi Scum Off Our Streets!” The column leaves our sight, and we cross the street. This is at 10 AM.

Over the next two hours, we move from park to park, checkpoint to checkpoint encountering the sections of this new wave of terror and fervor of racial fantasy. At the same time, we encounter some of the most courageous and selfless individuals who put themselves in danger to aid their comrades. Street medics tending to those pepper sprayed and injured by the enemy. Redneck Revolt giving armed protection to the mass of anti-fascists. Camp sites out in the woods providing legal info, mental health support and weapons training before the action. Every bit of this would contribute to our victory over the enemy in Charlottesville, but also set the paradigm for what to do from then on.

After the police declared Emancipation park an unlawful assembly for the white nationalists, we regrouped at our initial rendezvous. We eat, rehydrate and plan our next moves. Reports from communications come in and out, that the fascists are approaching us. A couple right-wing stragglers cross the street, get punched in the mouth and get their confederate flag expropriated, which is later burned.

We make our way to McGuffey park to rejoin with people we got separated with. When we arrive we get word that Richard Spencer was arrested and celebrate accordingly. Soon after, we get reports of fascists en route to harass a black, low income neighborhood. As armed bike-runners are dispatched to confirm the situation, the need to gather all the counter-protesters to have the whole town on watch becomes obvious.

We set our sights for the busy roads around the pedestrian mall, a mile out from Emancipation Park. An improvised chant invigorates our numbers down the road leaving McGuffey. “Everywhere we go, pigs wanna know; Who we are — so we tell them: ‘We are the People! The motherfucking people! Fighting for Justice. Black liberation, brown liberation, queer liberation, trans liberation, native liberation, workers’ liberation!

Soon we reach an intersection, and we are greeted by red communist flags and black lives matter banners. Cheers signal them into the mass of people united against white supremacy. We wave our flags and continuously declare these streets to be ours, as they are. But just after clearing the intersection, at Water and Fourth streets, I hear faint screams up the road. I grab my partner and a comrade and rush us to a sidewalk in the opposite direction before the screams culminate in a roaring smash with people tumbling over windshields. The rush of victory and camaraderie is instantly replaced by terror; fear for what the toll of injuries and deaths will be reported on in the news later that day. I clutch my partner, knowing that someone is dead. “This is fucking class war!” we shout.

Paramedics arrive in minutes. One of our group members is missing, and our anxiety peaks when riot police begin stepping in, advancing ten feet per minute. To our greatest relief, she makes it back to us having been trapped on the other side when police cleared the street. For fear of being kettled, we rejoin with people from our state and get somewhere safe.

After the attack, activities on all sides are fragmented into a free-for-all. The give a little, get a littleconvention is thrown out the window. Hospitals caring for injured anti-fascists are circled by cars belonging to Identity Evropa. Reports of drive-by shootings by nationalists put everyone on edge. Sporadic reports of mass arrests send us to ultimately barren locations. Cooling down at a local coffeeshop, we decide that we’ve done our part. We make it back to our car and debrief at camp before getting on the road for home. We get the outside world’s view of the situation in the car. It feels almost insulting, after what we’ve seen firsthand.

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Charlottesville as a city is now tainted to me. I can never get that first impression healed, and that city will always be bookended as where I was on August 12, 2017. Every bit of stonework, every street and every shop can only play a part in mentally outlining the vessel for what arose on that day from devotion to the myth of “blood and soil.” Regardless, a few facts need to be repeated.

We outnumbered them. We shut their event down before it could start. We were lucky enough to have the cops turn on them. But they will step up their game. They will celebrate the murder of Heather Heyer and twist it into a repetitive in-joke, encouraging their fantasy to be built on further. They willkill more of us, and they will try to win. The fascist rise to power is always prefaced in the streets.

The analyses of late show all and more I could say about the situation: This is a testament to this generation’s resurgence of nationalism; the point where everyone agrees that they’ve moved out of the Internet. Where mere disgruntled young white men are organized into formations capable of terrorizing vulnerable communities and securing the already prevalent structures of oppression as the core mode of society.

Charlottesville as some grand call to action was a laughable failure, yes, but I can only speak for the impressions I got in the streets. Personally, it was a declaration of class war that was secured when Heather Heyer was killed. Each side had a sense of this being something momentous, probably not as profound when knowing that it was built up over the weeks prior, but it was there and it meant something more.

And now in the aftermath, as white nationalists announce more rallies over confederate statue removals across the US, threatening posters put in low income neighborhoods and random acts of racist violence, we are seeing that sentiment spreading and coalescing into a real conflict beyond protests. With liberals saying their routine denouncing of violence “on many sides”, its made clear once again that only we will protect us.

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We have to come to the realization of peace and love being an outcome. A result, and not a means of maintaining itself. You can stand up to hate with love, but what vehicle of action is love driving? Certainly not more and more “love” until it somehow forms an effective weapon to literally kill white supremacy. You don’t “love” a fascist to death or make your love out to be deadly if it can’t hate and kill when it needs to.

Our relationships need to break away from appeasing the exploitation of non-violent complacency, monotonous popular dialog, and taking to heart the acceptability of liberal pats on the back.

If anyone cares about standing up to hate, they won’t prioritize “taking a stand” and announcing support while backing down at the first sign of physical confrontation. They will speak last while organizing, arming, training and fighting alongside the marginalized. They will understand the need to raze the shackles of state mediation, working to the crossroads of autonomy or autocracy. It is possible, and day by day it becomes our time to decide.

[Image Credits: Anonymous]

Charlottesville is Barely The Start

National Socialist Movement to join “Unite the Right” in Virginia

(For Subversion NewsIts Going Down)

After the American Renaissance conference in Tennessee, its seems clear what to expect from the Unite the Right event in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is due in one week.

We anticipated the conference to be a sort of ideological warm-up for the alt-right’s journey through the Upper South and Appalachia, met with moderate opposition outside the Montgomery Bell Park Inn. Despite the predictable impressions of the attendees and the laughable enticement of minor physical violence from the far-right side, it remains a far cry from a simple disconnected meeting of nazis.

While international figures convened in Tennessee, the gathering in Charlottesville has its sights set for a very real goal in the communities of those in the US: To preserve the commemoration of genocide, slavery and the prevailing sentiments of white domination over the marginalized, wrapped in the myth of “preserving history”. Even then, there seems to be a deeper goal considering the nature of the right coming together in such a time.

Along with figureheads Milo Yiannopoulos, Richard Spencer, Neo-Confederates League of the South, Strasserists Traditionalist Worker Party and assorted kekistanis wielding stale memes and embarrassment, the National Socialist Movement, led by Jeff Schoep, has announced their partnership with the attendance.

The NSM joining more or less summarizes the drive of the entire event. Yes, whether in swastika’ed bomber jackets or suits and ties, they’re advocating white supremacy. But while Spencer and those like him will definitely make attempts at keeping a civic profile, the attraction of the out-and-loud white supremacists is not as innocent or unintentional as it appears.

Uniting the right is pointless without a good reason. There isn’t much purpose if the right historically has always been divided into their own subcultures ranging from neocons enforcing poverty, to disenchanted rural militiamen defending the constitution; or something. The right in all their incoherence always finds ways to isolate their own strands while fighting for the same side of the spectrum. E.g., an attack on a neo-nazi is an attack on the first amendment, and therefore the constitution and the values of America. Undermining whiteness is a perpetuation of a literal white genocide, and equally an attack on white christian property owners that conservatives bend over backwards for. The outline of similar interests becomes more shared when framed just right.

It takes a big issue, or a bright shining abstraction, to bring together such interests.

The major media scare of anti-fascist resistance and ground-up community action has no doubt played a role in drumming up emotions from all corners of the right and center. The typical suburban household to the local red-lace chapter has adopted and customized the outrage as a political wedge. The pox of white defensiveness has become the current paradigm — a delicate bridge separating the ways this tension will conclude. Opportunism hasn’t been this stirred up since the 1960s.

It seems to come down to lines becoming more and more visible, sides becoming more one or the otherWith us, or against us in the desperation of the political base abandoning party lines. The far-left has always held the line, encouraged crossing it, in the face of growing polarization and instability. But like routine, its often the right that quickly steps up to the plate ready to see how this particular game will go. Our culture wars coming out of our isolated social media chambers and into the streets signifies a very uncertain round of society reconfiguring itself, liberals playing insufferable mediator.

Its time to get fucking real. For those who haven’t already, its time to shake off party-based activism and legislation and look to our own potential: in our own towns and backyards. Its time to subvert the state buffer between the marginalized and the smirking scourge of white supremacy and defeat it where it stalks closest to home.

The fascists must not have the streets. We call on all anarchist, anti-fascist and anti-authoritarian groups in Appalachia and East South Central North America to converge at Lee Park on August 12th at 3:00 PM EST, and carry on the active resistance against white supremacy. We intend to win.

National Socialist Movement to join “Unite the Right” in Virginia

Lexington Anti-Racist Action Shuts Down Homophobic Protesters at Pride Festival

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(For Subversion News)

Attendees of the 10th Annual Lexington Pride Festival in Kentucky were treated to a host of music, food, vendors, live performances and other delights that come with LGBTQ gatherings in celebration of the community and the pursuit of social equality.

Not among these was a welcoming from their local assholes on the corner of East Main Street where a small group of christian fundamentalist protesters gathered with signs advocating “repentance” for “homo sex”, logically inconsistent ramblings over bullhorn about the doom of loving someone in particular, and other cowardly forms of harassment directed toward the queer community behind a wall of cops.

With only the East Main Street entrance to the festival being muddled by the religious hecklers, the early afternoon went on as over thirty vendors and activities continued in the farther regions of the Fayette Circuit Court.

It was only after 4 o’ clock in the afternoon that things began ramping up. The hecklers gained a larger reaction, mostly comprised of sporadic liberal attempts of chanting “Love trumps Hate”, obscuring the speaker’s face with a pride flag, and couples raising their joined hands in the air and cheering over the sapless, unoriginal preaching. After this had run its course, about ten members of the festivities joined in a circle around the protesters while police began barricading the onlookers from the agitators.

After several attempts by the rainbow-clad resistance to fight with love — still under the pungent screeching of the fanatics, several attendees with the Lexington Anti-Racist Action chapter assembled as one defined body and took on a simple, but next-level direct action to end the noise.

The ARA attendees distributed paint sticks to as much of the crowd as possible, adding cymbals to the mix and began a noise demo. With howling, chanting, and plenty of clattering wood and clashing brass, the repetitive sermon was quickly drowned out, rendering the fundamentalist presence pointless.

After five minutes of engineered pandemonium, the chants faded into more specific political cries, bringing a much-needed broader consciousness to the corporate sponsored festival. One person slammed a paint stick on a cymbal while shouting “the first pride was a riot!” referring to the Stonewall Riots. After a few more minutes, the chants grew in directness toward the police in the aftermath of the Philando Castile verdict.

“No justice, no peace!” while a minority followed through: “Fuck the police!”

In the heat of anti-fascist calls and bewildered liberals, the agitators disassembled their step-latter and PA system, packed up and went home with their tails between their legs. The chanting concluded with a victory song. “Na na na, na na na, hey hey-ey; Goodbye!”

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Lexington Police assess the aftermath of the confrontation.

While none of the protesters or counter-protesters were arrested, one scuffle between two apparently uninvolved people caused the police to tackle them when they fell to the ground punching each other.

It was rumored that the primary fundamentalist speaker has a history of enticing people to get physical, at which point he sues and reaps legal settlements. Regardless, the radical sections of Lexington demonstrated themselves well in going beyond “fighting with love” when facing dialogs of violence and shame poking at the gatherings of disadvantaged communities.

Lexington Anti-Racist Action Shuts Down Homophobic Protesters at Pride Festival

The Sentiment Market and Killing It

After a little way’s into USA network’s premier of Mr. Robot in 2015, the feeling began to crystallize for me and probably others.

I just began restarting a personal blog. My political tendencies were taking shape around my commitment to Internet freedom and the greater hacker community influenced by the threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Scared shitless that copyright goons would seize my parents’ router, I immersed myself deeper in the culture to build up a pseudo-militant persona.

I got the first four episodes after an Internet friend kept pressuring me. Before that I only saw one image, later to be seen on different cringe threads. “OUR DEMOCRACY HAS BEEN HACKED,” superimposed over Rami Malek’s hooded face.

Not long after walking away having enjoyed it well enough, I published the first real article on the blog. It seemed like a cozy blend of opposition to intellectual property cut with an acceptance of money being a concrete social thing, simply declaring that media isn’t a tangible item to be commodified. It can’t work. This made me feel steadfast and edgy but grounded and practical, probably engineered to take solace in being looked at seriously enough by everyday people, not needing to engage in significant explanations.

That was my mindset for a while, in that light of Pirate Party support and free culture vigilance. Of course, I grew to see why things I love are being threatened: Why open content and the desire and tools to expand it was scaring the shit out of the entertainment industry, weaponizing their dollars. The problem was the whole structure, the whole interwoven combinations, as well as the narrative of protecting them and ensuring their appeasement.

But looking back on that brief stint of not fully knowing where I stood economically, nor having a conception of a social stance being integral to an economic one, it brought back memories of what was dispensed my way. In them, I found an uneasiness distinct in the artificial tones playing out casually; like they couldn’t afford to pretend anymore, so they needed to adapt themselves by wearing plastic sentiments.

Mr. Robot did so by sprinkling a Fight Club rewrite with cult jargon about onion routing, GNOME, KDE and “hacking”, with a layer of corporate critical, post-Snowden conspiracy fantasy and a slice of appealing to those with emotional problems. Basically all the qualities of the cyberpunk communities I would frequent.

The conversation it must have taken beforehand seems obvious. “That linux-hacker computer-thing has a pretty sizable community online. Lets tap into it by making a TV show about hacking, evil businessmen and social anxiety.”

Immediately, its easy to know what I’m talking about in total, but it seems like this particular feature has more depth to it. There is a sincerity in things like Mr. Robot and countless other media, normally when dealing with trends or niches. But its not an advocacy of the content, instead its a mesh of (plastic) sentiments as a vehicle for richness, of allure when the intensity in scenarios is coated with a positive or heroic representation of the protagonists. The intent is normally for the same reasons as any TV or film undertaking, using these subcultures for spectacle.

However, it also attempts to sabotage the potential in politically-oriented subcultures by using their dialog and ideals for the reverse purposes. And indeed they accomplish them when million dollar documentaries about whistleblowers make their budget back, or when coverage of outcry sends ratings into the stratosphere. When it isn’t the hacker or the guerrilla fighter depicted as heartless and chaotic, their heroism is livened to such a proportion that it accomplishes a mutually opposing interest in the real world.

We can boil down the marketing of sentiments, isolated from the total spectacle, by its power in subtlety. You won’t find intimately relatable people on any TV network or social media anymore, since their only role is distraction. A break from the busy mind. But when the distraction becomes toxic complacency, and those who acknowledge it want a feeling of rejuvenating empowerment like the young beginners of social awareness and political identity, you can find little bursts anywhere that reconcile two halves which ultimately serve one. The Market, then the sentiment: the illusion of a message.

This is one of advertising’s basic survival mechanisms. People won’t care about whats being offered if it feels disconnected from their own world, so it targets as many specific types of people it can for net turnout. It used to be that popular behaviors were copied, or even lived by advertisers, and rewritten to sell. But now they’ve infiltrated deeper, attaching as many timely embellishments as possible, applying research on general social dissatisfaction within these subcultures. All to sell not only representation, but commonality, which is consequentially monopolized.

What makes the end result so plastic is how impersonal the words and images are. For things so integral to personalities, they are shouted off from unfamiliar places and meant to entice those who recognize them. For those observant of this process, it has an Uncanny Valley effect: Relatively agreeable dialogs or situations depicted in contrived environments, rather than playing out in our most familiar collectives, muddles the original texture. For others, when facing the monopoly on cultural representation, there is little choice but to consume its products and enjoy the most of the stories possible, instead of feeling right about the representation in equal measure. To watch yourself be played out by another instead of grasping the actions yourself.

To put it all together, the traits of socially relevant subcultures are accounted for and implemented into commodities and advertisements, which have a corrupted similarity to their source material. We are subjected to deeply engineered versions of our own passions. This is probably why those who enter into a subculture through the contrived channels experience higher fascination when entering the personal spaces, even experiencing feelings of inadequacy, limited belonging.

Inversion of the market by some degree of non-profit causes are not exempt from this. They have the same stench, coming from the same batch of trendy gloss. The framing is distinctly impersonal, held at a distance between viewer and speaker with a long cord of familiarity traveling the length.

The adverts by TruthOrange made it perfectly clear to me. I knew of the typical picture of suits in a boardroom calculating loss and subdividing, but their anti-smoking ads made up entirely of twenty-year olds and Trap music in the background allowed me to peer into those rooms and almost taste the words on their lips. Beat for beat, I knew the formula at the first second.

“If we make our characters young, black, sassy and loud about social issues, talking about ‘recent studies’ and ‘the supreme court’, we can hook onto that burgeoning niche with an appeal to realness.”

It becomes obvious that its not a matter of changing the approach to creating media “for” or “about” such interests. There is not any adequate means of offering groups what they want that can’t generate plastic sentimentality. Its a consequence of market necessities mass filtering socially relevant passions and dispensing hollow spectacles. The sentiments must be well earned, derived from the groups alone.

The gap between the continuation of hierarchies and people’s needs and desires soon becomes marketed. Something new becomes obvious, so they bank on it — possibly a quelling tactic. Resistance itself, the concept, is now a casualty to advertising and plastic moving images, totally displaced from intimately building transformation on a given scale. In its place are those plastic tones in the form of hashtags and mass produced protest signs. Now they’ve run their course for so long, that we begin living them.

You see democrats calling for “resistance” to Trump, but in the fashion of Love not Hate without any praxis whatsoever.

You see people in the streets demonstrating for minimum wage increases with an attitude only suitable for toppling the wage system entirely.

You see clenched fists implemented in political parties and safe, impersonal non-profits.

Of course, its foolish to suggest that large scale, genuine sentiments can break through under capitalism. Its for that reason that “indie” media or other highly contained items are distinguished from all the rest, always proving the model of the adorable little hundred dollar movie that tried. From this, we can derive that fully realized passions not debased by market intrusion is tightly bound up in social revolution.

For gaining the strength to build a true, militant culture free of interference, my hopes are in the inner-city apartment blocks. In the neighborhoods behind the construction sites. In the rural clusters of homes in Appalachia. Where material sorrows exist, there is a young person working to relay anarchy to the dejected. Where there are obscure inclinations toward a better personal network, there is a community who shares them. There is no place or people where trust is stronger, where faith in self-determination and actualization is more defined, and certainly more plausible.

The act of uprooting planned culture through self-organized media outlets, cultural hubs and social structures in the present is probably the right start for revolt entirely. Not simply to keep it healthy for a time, but also to nourish its roots now so they can grow deeper when the scorched earth is removed. And even then, it certainly goes a little deeper as I see it.

People actually building a society within the current one with its own priorities and decisions, negating the ones issued to them, is the general direction. I think people should get to a point where they aren’t working jobs or paying rent or bills or taxes pertaining to the outer, private and public society, but pursuing their existence contextual to what communities they themselves have erected. If they can fend off repression and infiltration sufficiently, they can grow out and revitalize what they keep from the old world.

Among their defense networks and coordination assemblies, there are well-earned, non-contrivedsentiments springing from people’s intimately connected expressions in the pursuit of autonomy. They become the social vessel for what is being enlarged by the voices in the streets. The voices are critical and hopeful, the adapted essence of the situationists for what they themselves adapted to.

Our challenge, this particular one, is in the monopoly on commonality. The brands, TV and Internet markets hold the reigns of trust, given total guidance over our passions (themselves not in our control) or warping what we’re slowly realizing. Meanwhile, we distrust those who most deeply share the ills of class society or the significant issues in a common area.

The continual pressure doesn’t offer many options without dressing up the same melancholy. We wallow in the romantic misery of being oneself in a society of strangers who walk and talk kind of like us, inventing a new pride in being the real thing. Or, we dethrone the channels of impersonal adaption which alienate our passions and aspirations from ourselves and our experiences in the hope of total self-determination.

The Sentiment Market and Killing It

The Fate of The Radical Internet Community

Our communication avenues are killing us, and we’ve turned them on ourselves. In this sense, I mean that the foundational object for communicating between each other in leftist and anarchist spaces is becoming a mere excuse to make inter-community conflict the primary engagement.

This isn’t to suggest that people only use politics for an excuse to participate in drama nowadays, but our sense of importance in specific things oscillates in a terrible and counter-productive way that maintains a loose connection with our politics to justify itself. The lines between a minor schism and the fate of our persuasions blur, speedily producing a community hysteria that is fully realized when our comrades become estranged in the fractures of the situation when it reaches critical mass.

In the events leading up to late last year, online leftist communities did a very good job of stoking its flames to burn themselves to the ground in hopes of building themselves up.

The frustration against the dominant political and social hierarchies tends to create an inner and outward act of aggression. This means that in the process of attacking one’s enemies, the allies — the comrades, are also significantly harmed or indistinguishable. The body of power-wielders executes decisions in such a careless and frantic manner that all are caught in the crossfire.

The socialism subreddit (/r/socialism) made a perfect example of this in late 2016. Through top-down word policing that included paternalizing the health and conduct of neurodivergent and disabled people, they managed to become a sort of online DPRK, interestingly. By squeezing language and conduct so tight that nobody could clench their anus wrong without receiving a ban, they closed themselves off from the very source of their purpose and did an outstanding job of ensuring that nobody will want to participate there again.

The model of decentralized pockets of speech and assembly is the ideal and perhaps essential approach of self-organized communities. This counters the notion of free speech everywhere, which even ardent advocates would be horrified to see realized.The actions of /r/socialism, however, were hopelessly irresponsible for such a model.

For one thing, in the present hierarchies, people are generally familiar with a sort of wide-open “market” of communities, for lack of better words, wherein different sections offer different things, but within the general market there is a custom of “people can say what they want.” While in this custom, there is a crucial period of weening people away from an all-encompassing obligation to servicing everyone’s ideas, and bringing them to an important suggestion: “would you allow anyone at all to say anything at all at your own party or gathering? If not, thats exactly what we’re doing here.”

This is crucial because it really changes what curious newcomers thought about discussion. It easily shows that yes, you wouldn’t like someone with opposing ideas always allowed to badger you and your friends who think differently. This is not to say that you would never debate that person or step outside your own community, but you would default to doing so in a place that explicitly facilitates or welcomes such activity. Always being welcome to do that anywhere is simply annoying.

How we coordinate this in vision and fact is to think of it as an actual community, and to take it seriously as such. The way to make this work on mainstream platforms is to use moderation and administration roles in the same rotating, limited and retractable ways as delegation in physical assemblies. This way we can enforce the agreed, democratically managed statutes of the community through trusted members occupying a subsection of the total membership, and not a specialized tier of managers.

This is where /r/socialism failed. They’ve always appeared to operate on a sort of vanguardism that made party-like tiers and higher sections necessary. It was relatively tolerable, however, until new moderators came aboard and began enforcing strict and ridiculous rules regarding ableism and catgirlswithout community clearance, essentially alienating contributors from overseers. This put everyone in an awkward and uncomfortable place. Neurodivergent people like myself, who were pressured into conforming to the speech mandate, became so stressed over the change in environment that the expressed idea to be welcoming became an inverted, bastardized idea of what doing good looked like. “Just change who you push away and everything will be fine.” Even though you’re just shuffling which disabled people you’re kicking out.

This is precisely why feedback needs to be continuous between participants and those entrusted with certain positions like administrators and moderators. And sadly, if not a sweeping act of frantic autocracy, we end up manufacturing multiple frenzies that interlock and build a multifaceted body of decay. A kind of microscopic shredder for a once good community overtaken by whatever everyone is screaming about, influencing a migration or even a dropout from the total cause.

This is probably the most unfortunate fact of the Internet. With so much possibility, it doesn’t always work in our favor, often pushing us into awkward positions. But if anyone knows anything about me, they know this is all to say that our direction is tremendously off course, not that we should abandon platforms on the Internet.

The problem as it seems to me is that we’ve centered our hope in the Internet following the changes in our world, which is an awful tactic for such a massive social vision as anarchism or leftism to adopt. The Internet, as both an advantage and a detriment, is fundamentally separate from human nuances. To think for a moment that we can exchange ideas sufficiently through dehumanized arrangements of letters is absurd, let alone manage an effective movement.

Communication online is a convenient yet faulty device for our language, and language, words, are somewhat disconnected from overall communication. With real and genuine conversations, we find essential indicators of tone, gesture, emotion and fixed context that make one sentence or phrase mean totally different things under minuscule differences. This is the disparity between online and physical interaction that cannot be rightfully fixed under the current direction. Online communication is the provisional answer to distance and language barriers, yet the eventual gain in numbers and actions demands a physical realization of what we’ve developed over the Internet.

From this approach, if we want to escape our problem, we require the use of online spaces to act as an extension to a greater center of engagement, rather than the Internet being that greater center while physical engagement is the extension; a reversal. I suppose I could dial this back as well. If using them in tandem becomes too difficult or just devolves back into the same problem, we could consider using them reciprocally. What was left undone in one sphere is noted and completed in the other.

Ultimately, we need to reclaim a self-discipline of what is functionally important to the cause of anarchism and anarchist communities, and what is merely inconsequential and sometimes destructive quarreling over something disconnected. The discipline needs to take place in getting a hold of ourselves: not to close off discussions for change, but to get face-to-face with them, thoroughly measure whats going on, and not just initiate a referendum out of custom. To limit what enters our directing community sectors like the decision-making process or the general assembly based on the situation and the number of perspectives on it. Sometimes a disagreement is just that, and needs no such advancement into a rule of the association. Acting in this way is the best bet for creating new conflicts and tangles to resolve later.

This involves distinguishing the levels of overall community action on an issue, leaving certain scopes of engagement up to individuals alone, and actually utilizing our commitment to non-hierarchy even in services that run on hierarchical features, such as forums, group chat platforms and social media (don’t use those top-down features. Ever.)

At this point we start to see a need to reevaluate our self-governance. The issue is not just the vehicle for our communication and its downfalls, but our own downfalls too. We acknowledge oppression and trade methods of combating its appearance in our communities, but we often fix those methods to inflexible actions propped up by the dehumanized face of digitalized language. A whack-a-mole of moderation. In the pursuit of adjusting ourselves for others, we end up swapping out who is disadvantaged rather that making balanced compromises.

Call-out culture just makes our own brand of coercion to act proper before peers instead of actually learning from mistakes and feeling comfortable in what we do. If we’re to look at the minor blunders of comrades and resolve them while staying friends, we need to take on a smart approach to making a solution essential to the problem. Disciplinary solutions in their scope and aggression need to be proportional to the offense given, not a fixed action.

The call-out only appears to be effective, or at least justified, if we’re dealing with someone in power or someone expressly bigoted. In simpler terms, you have to know who your friends are. Who you can tap on the shoulder, talk to in a heart-to-heart way and point something out; a call-in. And then there’s knowing who aren’t your friends: who you can loudly condemn to the same extent they’ve caused harm; calling them out. You simply have to make those distinctions and really look at the offense to determine what is the right action. To quote Asam Ahmad:

Paying attention to these other contexts will mean refusing to unleash all of our very real trauma onto the psyches of those we imagine represent the systems that oppress us. Given the nature of online social networks, call-outs are not going away any time soon. But reminding ourselves of what a call-out is meant to accomplish will go a long way toward creating the kinds of substantial, material changes in people’s behaviour — and in community dynamics — that we envision and need.

Default aggression only fosters the strain and friction later to come, and in a way it is privileged in of itself. People who have real issues with communication (on top of speaking on the Internet) often seek human connections and validation online, where they feel safe and can adequately make friends. Here, their impairment can still slip through and create a misunderstanding. Things like these are important to keep in mind when finding something objectionable, as well as the context which can indicate if the offense is intentional or a mistake. Again, this is where calling in is useful.

To encourage mindful evaluations of certain speech and ideas, be conscious of context and actively oppose unilateral policing is how we create not only the ideas but also the facts of our future. To reiterate, this is not the approach to everything. People still have a fundamental right to dismantle grossly bigoted or authoritarian speech as the need arises, but to suggest that such aggression and vigilance is required all the time is what creates the tensions that scare away honest comrades who are capable of the same mistakes we all are.

To do all this that does justice to our tendency, we need to exercise this power in a horizontal, flexible manner.

Its all our cross to bare. No single class of admins or mods can be blamed, we all need to take initiative and be the change. Afterall, we did all this. We built the communities, shared the ideas, brought people in. We let it fall into disrepair, inverted what we preached, let irresponsible people take central power.

Its our choice, we must decide if we’re up for idiotic schisms to fragment us until our only option is resetting or death, or if we want to approach issues and the very nature of our engagement differently, humanely; and quite possibly save ourselves and the world in the process.

The Fate of The Radical Internet Community