Relax, Sweetheart! Revolution’s No Rat Race

Sometimes revolution seems impossible. Focus on one thing and another fucked you thing happens. You go to a meeting advertised on a cool flyer but everybody there is weird and seems smarter than you. After a beautiful sunset, you ride your bike down to check a possible action target, but you end up running into your friend flipping out on drugs.

But even when everything seems insurmountable, there are targets within reach. Because the web of oppression is so complex, there is good work that can be done anywhere, on any scale: self-work, work with our families and friends, dismantling oppressive systems and rebuilding interpersonal relationships and physical infrastructure.

Revolution is a mindset, a way of approaching the world. It’s much more that the products of our work— the Food Not Bombs, the anarchist newspapers, demonstrations, covert actions, “living for free,” the shows and zines and reading groups. All these trapping of the “anarchist” life frequently happen in completely unrevolutionary, boring, fucked-up ways. It matters very much that all these things do happen, but it matters equally how they happen, how we relate to and care for the people we work with, including our own selves. Revolution is not a bundle of accomplishments, but a process. We can’t just run with a few black blocs and call it a day— we have to do the work of destroying and creating within a context that helps us feel fulfilled and happy now instead of exhausted and burnt.

The war we’re waging on the outside also has a front within our own hearts and minds. Sometimes the inner struggle takes more bravery than facing a line of riot cops— rooting out oppressive programming, deciphering and responding to our own needs, even when they are against the grain of the fast-paced activist life. Resting is subversive.

We can’t “get it all done,” because revolution won’t ever be finished. Nature, and therefore humanity, and therefore the system of states and hierarchy, has been changing since the beginning of time. There was not some primordial, Garden of Eden-esque state if radical perfection, from which we all fell into this pit of hierarchy and oppression, and which we might attain again someday if we open the right number of infoshops. Natural life is a process of growth and decay, and someday the United States Empire will fall, just like the other empires have come and gone. We are here now, and we have to actualize revolution now. We have to manage the change, exploiting the cracks in the state apparatus as it settles, ages, and falls apart, while strengthening our own lives and relationships against the unfriendly decay of burnout and self-destruction. Ultimately, our relationships with other people are the framework of a new world built of hope, trust, and love. This is our strongest revolutionary tool.