Category Archives: Issue #124: Summer 2017

Organizer Price Increase

It is with mixed feelings that we announce a price increase for the 2018 Slingshot Organizer which will be out in October, 2017. It’s the first price increase for the pocket organizer since the late 1990s, and the first price hike for the spiral organizer since 2007.

Your purchase of the Organizer provides 99% of the funding source for the Slingshot Collective, which publishes this newspaper and the Organizer. Over the years, the cost of printing and mailing the organizer has crept up as has the cost of producing and distributing the Slingshot paper. We currently print over 60,000 copies of the paper a year and distribute it free of charge to infoshops, bookstores and cafes around the country (and even some outside the country) as well as to 2,000+ prisoners. We are a 100% volunteer collective and run a tight ship financially but we have had significant deficits the last 2 years and cannot continue much longer without reconciling this disparrity.

While we are against raising prices for philosophical reasons we also see our project as an opportunity for the community of radicals who loyally use the organizer to support the paper (and a good part of the Long Haul infoshop’s overhead). We want to make the relationship between the organizer and the project clear,.. organizer purchases are what make it all possible and we are very grateful to the amazing and loyal universe of Slingshot supporters! You are the engine that makes the little Slingshot train go, toot toot!

The nuts and bolts is that we will raise the wholesale prices $1 for the pocket and $2 for the spiral organizers. This will be reflected in retail prices (which we don’t have any say in).

To soften the blow, we’re going to keep the old retail prices at the Long Haul Infoshop (3124 Shattuck in Berkeley) if you can make it there and will offer a reduced wholesale price to non-profit radical projects like infoshops so they can keep the retail price lower as well.

Thanks for everyone’s amazing support of the Organizer and the Slingshot Collective over the last 29 years! We love you!!

 

Active autonomous disengagement from the state

By A. Lacran

We are approaching a critical period of history. The environmental crises of extreme climate change (Anthropogenic Climate Disruption – ACD) brought on by capitalism, industrialism and a philosophy of anthropocentrism has created monumental threats to the existence of life on earth as we know it with the onrush of the sixth mass extinction. In fact, the very nature of the earth itself has become molded by what is now known as the Anthropocene. The human footprint is now everywhere upon the biosphere – for better or worse.

Moreover, capitalism, itself, is on the verge of another historic and fundamental change of its technological structure based on the digital revolution and its byproducts of robotics, genomics and artificial intelligence. The social reconstruction that capitalism will employ may well threaten the very existence of masses of people above and beyond the longer reach of climate change. The demand for cheap abundant human labor that created the modern working class may no longer be the primary focus of capitalism.

Unfortunately, the leftist movement and, in particular, anarchists are not addressing these developments. Ignoring them and relying on the old tactics of bygone eras will no longer suffice. While movements such as neo-primitivism may be a prescient warning of a dystopian future, the decision to become hunter-gatherers foregoing husbandry and agriculture may alter the course of human kind in that possible future, but it doesn’t appeal to the present in any way that will win over people to the anarchist perspective, aside from survivalists and romantics.

The reality is, “regular people”, if not the left, are beginning to sense the bleak future that the technological changes are bringing cannot be undone. The fear that is inherent in electing false capitalist saviors such as Trump is an indication of the growth of a reactionary movement that will grow if not countered. Jobs and money for the lower and middle classes are not coming back within the present globalist or national capitalist economic system. Now the question remains, what happens when they realize they’ve been lied to and fed false promises?

The Trap of Reformist Politics

At this early juncture of the Trump Presidency in the US, the overriding tendency for the more progressive movements is to call for resistance to the emergent fascist movement within the extant political system. The weakness of this call for resistance is that it is not a call to end or combat capitalism and empire, instead it is a call to strengthen the capitalistic republic and its empire by demanding an inclusive “representative democracy” to strengthen the American capitalist system and its empire and hence, re-enforcing its hold on the American people and the peoples of the world.

What we are faced with is the era of “take away.” It is the end of the reform period that began in earnest following the Great Depression. Programs like the New Deal and The Great Society, the Women’s suffrage and rights movement and the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s are quickly becoming passé. What the Reagan years portended for a Corporate State dominated by the one percent is now in full swing.

Since the 1980’s there has been a concerted effort to build up the corporate/ military/surveillance/police/incarceration state; the rulers feel they do not need to buy people off to keep them from rebellion – no more crumbs! The ruling elite are no longer amenable to economic or social justice as an act of acquiescence to “scofflaws” of any sort.

The reason is that workers in capitalist societies are rapidly becoming, not what Marx termed “surplus labor” waiting for the next great boom in capitalist production, but rather “superfluous and expendable.” This is due to a massive reshaping of the capitalist reality that is taking place through technological innovation of robotics and AI. They know they do not need our numbers any longer. Capitalist society has gone through several transformations that have deeply affected society in ways that many of us have not fully understood.

The digital revolution with its proliferation of the technology of robotics and, ultimately, of artificial intelligence signifies the end of the working class as we know it and the growth and proliferation of what has been called the precariat. “In sociology and economics, the precariat is a social class formed by people suffering from precarity, which is a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare as well as being a member of a proletariat class of industrial workers who lack their own means of production and hence sell their labor to live.” This new formation merges disintegrating elements of the middle and working class with the lumpen proletariat.

The development of the precariat is also arising out of the final destruction of the peasant societies of the Third World. The confiscation of land by the transnational corporations and elites coupled with climate change and, now, continuous war has escalated the destruction of peasant society to the point that the growth of the precariat in the cities has grown exponentially. Worldwide, we can see that the merging of the lumpen with the elements of the former peasant population and the squeezed working and middle classes present very dangerous possibilities for the ruling elites and their imperialist allies whichever direction the new class embraces.

The direction of this new class formation is not yet decided. It is possible it can be turned to a totally reactionary movement embracing fascism. It is also possible the state will attempt to exterminate a potential dangerous and revolutionary class that is unpredictable and volatile for a hierarchical shrinking society. But, without a doubt, the revolutionary potential of this class is high. The political development of this new class depends on the ability of the precariat to develop a class consciousness of itself and for itself. It must be able to thrust itself into an active revolutionary role in order to defend itself from the onslaught of the ruling class.

Many in the precariat have already politically disengaged from the system either by choice or circumstance, but their disengagement is not necessarily active, rather, many times it is primarily demoralized, passive, cynical and/or pessimistic. The reasons are numerous and diverse, ranging from progressive to reactionary. The intrinsic feelings are obvious: it is understood that no one cares about them, that politics is a lie and the rich get richer while the rest of us are thrown onto the garbage heap. The truth is obvious – the state serves the rich and powerful! We are at a stage that has the potential for great disaster or great change. The time is ripe for tyrants and dictators or an alternative revolutionary way of thinking that allows us to build and defend a new paradigm. Unless the autonomous left can offer something different for the majority of us, the options are dire indeed.

However, it is not the state alone that is the problem. The state is the apparatus of control over the people by those who control the economic system of capitalism – the ultra-rich and their minions. The system of capitalism has obtained much more control over mass consciousness than the state. It is true that the idea of “representative democracy” has a great hold on many people, but it pales in comparison to the value system of capitalism that has been perpetuated upon the masses. While it is difficult to disengage from the state, it is twice as difficult to disengage from the capitalist ideology. The values of private property, profit and loss, greed and accumulation, hierarchy and domination with class distinctions based on one’s bank account or lack thereof, sexism, racism, homophobia and a view of the world that reduces everything to a commodity and a “resource” all serve to demean, degrade and alienate us from nature and each other from the cradle to the grave.

Disengagement from capitalism and its state is a herculean task that requires a break with the dominant mental paradigm and the creation of something that captures our imagination and allows us to imagine a world without either capitalism or the state. Autonomous disengagement is a strategic move to prepare the groundwork for a new phase of the struggle against capitalism and for a communal system.

Developing a new World View

We need to visualize a new reality separated from capitalism on a daily basis. We need to recognize it in ourselves and others; the need to communicate with each other to break down the alienation that dominates life under capitalism and work together through mutual aid and cooperation. The very things that hierarchy tries to convince us are not a natural state of affairs. They attempt to convince us that competition, ambition, greed and meritocracy are the natural states for humans. Only by creating a new world view within and without ourselves can we begin to break through the isolation that serves to perpetuate this nightmare that hierarchy, statism and capitalism have brainwashed us into believing.

Further, the belief in anthropocentrism that humans are the center of the universe, viewing the Earth as a “resource” to be used indiscriminately for profit and greed; seeing all living things as inferior and there for human needs; the intrinsic belief in hierarchical structures led by superior being where all others are expendable; the view that material possession is the only criteria for worthiness – all are methods of alienating us from each other and all living things and the earth. Unless this world view, that dominant society has implanted within our minds, is supplanted by a new world view, we will not be able to construct a future that doesn’t lead us back into the same traps of life and environmental destruction.

Developing a biocentric nature based philosophy that rejects speciesism and addresses panpsychism (the notion that a life force is in all things) is vital to a world view that disengages us from the world of capitalism and hierarchy. Embracing ideas such the Gaia Hypothesis, put forth by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis and Kropotkin’s “Mutual Aid,“ then beginning to imagine and conceptualize a different world view; a vision that does not place humans at the center, but rather integrates our species into a more egalitarian and communal system of existence that does not elevate concepts of “survival of the fittest” and “top predator” as an end in itself.

Imagining the Commune

The Commune has an historical context throughout human existence. It is founded in the communal relations that humans needed in order to survive as we struggle to find our place in the world. It has never disappeared during the 15,000 years of civilization’s hierarchical domination. It always reappears when the people rebel against the powers that be. The Commune is characterized by a belief that the people can decide for themselves what is in their best self-interests apart from the influence and guidance of leaders, gods and masters. The Commune surfaces wherever and whenever rebellion against oppression by the lowest levels of society, be it slaves, peasants, workers, students or citizens who take matters into their own hands and decide for themselves the time has come to resist the power of the rulers. The Commune surfaces as Spartacus during the Roman Empire, peasant revolts, the Luddites, the Paris Commune, Nat Turner’s Rebellion, Makhnovshchina in the Ukraine, the sailors of Kronsdadt, the anarchists of the Spanish Civil War, the Hungarian workers committees of 1956, the student and worker uprising in Paris in 1968, the reformation of the Zapatistas into a more horizontal organization, the Oakland Commune during Occupy and the Kurdish communalism of Rojava in Syria. The Commune always resurfaces, be it in small groups or mass movements that decide to work together without leaders, using direct democracy to make decisions and direct action to resist the dominant paradigm – The Commune never dies.

The next step in the struggle for Autonomous Disengagement is developing the inner consciousness of the Commune. It is the act of overcoming alienation from each other and the world around us. The recognition that we need each other to not only survive, but we need each other for meaning in our lives. Communal consciousness is the realization that we only know we exist when others recognize us as themselves and we recognize them as ourselves. Capitalist society has made a fetish out of competition turning us against each other in order to succeed and commodified all social relations by defining them by “use value” and “exchange value.” The Communal consciousness knows these things are at best false and at worst dehumanizing.

Actively Building the Commune

There are two vital aspects of constructing the Commune. The first part is the mental/subjective aspect of the Commune. The second aspect is the material objective reality of the Commune – bringing it into actuality.

Once the consciousness of the Commune exists, every action therein becomes a struggle to realize the Commune in objective fact. This begins by creating the Commune with anyone one comes into contact with; wherever one is, whatever one does, whomever one speaks to about the Commune while acting with Communal consciousness without leaders through direct democracy creates the foundation for the Commune.

Objectively, the Commune is an intentional social organization that is based on communal use of property, horizontal decision making through direct democracy and egalitarian social relationships. It is defined only by the philosophical and practical agreement of those that form it. Whether the commune defines property as communally owned or in a more earth centered philosophy that the members are merely caretakers of the land and no one owns the commons is dependent on its participants.

When we have begun the active construction of the Commune, be it cooperatives, collective living situations, small group activities, movements like Occupy, or land occupations, we have begun the process of physical disengagement from the system. We are building our own future within the reality of the system but outside of our sense of trying to either reform or take over the state.

Defending the Commune

The Commune must be defended at all costs. Self-defense is not violence. It is the basic life force instinct for survival. We have come to a point where the endgame for survival has begun. If we do not recognize that ACD, the sixth mass extinction, corporate statism and economic strangulation is an assault against us all by the powers that be with their methods of repression and their aberrant philosophies, then we are lost.

Those that preach compromise and long-term reform are not only fooling us, they are fooling themselves. The long term has ended. Time is of the essence. We must begin the process, now. Fighting back and resistance are not euphemisms for “donate money to our tax deductible organization” or “vote for me” or fawning over another pontificating leftist icon protecting her or his tenure. We must claim our territory and defend it against attack, because we will be attacked, make no mistake. We must take back the night and build a new day. Remember, you are the Commune, pass it on.

Who grows your food?

Compiled by Charis

Here are some voices from the fields where much of our food is produced, in this case, the farms near Salinas, California. These farmworkers are from various parts of Mexico and primarily work producing lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and strawberries. The fear of deportation has hit their community hard and we heard some workers are staying home on days when immigration raids are rumored.

They were asked “What do you want consumers to know about you and your work?” and these are some of their answers:

 

Elena: I wish people took into consideration the work that we do. For example, this president talks about the undocumented, but doesn’t talk about farm workers because everyone actually needs us to do this job. Americans might try it but won’t last a week. Working in an office or McDonald’s is much better than working in the fields. People say the undocumented are stealing jobs but they won’t do this work. I’ve never seen anyone else but Latinos/Central Americans in the fields. No one else. There’s no option but to increase wages.

Lupe: We all need a job to survive, but those bosses, what would they do if we decided not to work? In this company they don’t want to let the lettuce rot because there weren’t enough workers. I would like to ask that boss [by this she means a farm manager we had talked to earlier] “what would you do if every worker stayed home for one week?” They would lose more than we do.

Miguel: They should know how we work and work to make food come to their tables with a lot of love and sweat on our faces.

Rosa: People see the lettuce in their sandwich and think how yummy it is going to be, but they don’t think about the work to produce that lettuce.

Carlos: It all depends on Mexicans, even though they don’t want us. If we don’t work any more, who is going to cut and pack?

Maria: Latino people are the ones who work in the fields.

Pedro: There should be someone who films a commercial about us and shows it nationwide, like during the Superbowl, and also put people like us in the commercial. We would like to see people like you be the one to start it, since you have taken the interest and the first steps to try and help.

Antonio: Before buying, we should take into consideration how hard it is to make that produce possible to buy. Don’t throw any away! You may think it doesn’t matter because it only cost a dollar, but it isn’t just the price, it is the life of the worker.

Jose: If I had a magic wand I would give every person who actually works an opportunity.

 

These are excerpts from interviews that were conducted as part of a UC Berkeley class applying human centered design to food topics (Eat.Think.Design!),

 

 

‘Zine Reviews

 

As one comrade from Station 40 Food Not Bombs pointed out in San Francisco, at the same time many ‘zines are becoming something you look at on your phone, one of the ‘zines we reviewed this issue has recently reversed the trend and become a print project that started with something you did on your phone.

Even in the middle of the information technology beast’s belly, we continue with our commitment to print and celebrating others that do so also. Hopefully you dig these ‘zines as much as we did! (A. Iwasa)

 

The Abolitionist #26, Summer 2016

C/O Critical Resistance

1904 Franklin St., Suite 504

Oakland, CA 94612

As a testament to this prison abolition group’s writing and editing, and the depth of the problem that is the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC), the newspaper was still well worth reading months after publication.

Sharply laid out with great photographs and art, completely translated into Spanish and connecting the struggle against the PIC in the United States to other places such as Palestine and Argentina, this is a must read.  Perhaps best of all, it’s free to people in prisons, jails and detention centers! (A. Iwasa)

 

Turning The Tide: A Journal of Inter Communal Resistance.

Volume 29, Number 1, January-March 2017

Anti-Racist Action

PO Box 1055

Culver City, CA 90232

Tired of knowing what we’re against but never seeing the materialization of what we’re for? The need for proactive action is perpetual. Turning The Tide: A Journal of Inter-communal Solidarity (TTT) focuses on the necessity of radical organizing, education, and analysis in the face of white supremacy, colonialism, ecological devastation, fascism and the perils of empire. This journal has been published for 29 years and is produced by Anti Racist Action- LA (ARA-LA) and People Against Racist Terror (PART).

Starting as A Journal of Anti Racist Action, its name was later changed to highlight the recognition that in order to effectively organize for the liberation of all, we need to be clear about what we stand for as opposed to what we stand against. This is true for coalition building and networking across ideological lines. It’s for this reason that at times, TTT may publish articles that are contradictory along ideological lines, but remain consistent that POC and Indigenous liberation is the goal, and that capitalism and white supremacy are intertwined and work to undermine that goal.

Over the last 29 years of printing, TTT has published a 24-page tabloid. Often on a bi-monthly basis, with 6 journals being published

per year. They are distributed both in the streets and to prisons.

At the moment, economic hardship has become an understandable limit to the scope of the journal’s distribution. Postage alone costs around $1,000 for every issue. That’s why they’ve cut down to an 8 page journal published 4 times a year. They’re kicking off a campaign to get 100 people of means to donate $100 dollars a year, or $10 a month, to help spread their work further.

Check them out, and if you like their work and want to see more of it in your community, you can donate to their gofundme page by going to http://gofundme.com/eugzgg. Or, if you like to keep it old school, you can send cash, a check, or a money order to Anti-Racist Action. (Forest)

 

Slaughterhouse and Prisons for People and Animals by A. Rayson

South Chicago ABC

PO Box 721

Homewood, IL 60430

Slaughterhouse is a very biting, intricate, and widely-scoped criticism of capitalism in our society, artfully discussed in a frame of comparison between modern societal issues and industrialized animal brutality. Rayson describes and details their views by drawing connections between the corporate farming and meat industry and the natural damage done to human society by capitalist institutions’ deterioration of basic rights — the connections made are, in my opinion, understandably passionate and well-written, though a bit dense for it to be considered light reading by most. Rayson details the intensity of effects on economic, sociological, and political justice with ambition, bringing both the violent shift from indigenous anarchical societies to colonialist domination and that shift’s modern-day echoes to their discussion. I found this piece to be very well-done and dense in a way that makes sense for the huge net of topics Rayson discusses. Recommended for anyone who likes re-reading paragraphs a few times over. (dog food)

 

510 BAD SMUT

C/O Absolutely Zippo

PO Box 4985

Berkeley, CA 94704

The San Francisco Bay Area’s premier events hotline, BAD SMUT (1-510-223-7688 for those with phones too fancy to stick numbers 2-9 with three or four letters each) is now a print ‘zine!

For those of us stuck in the ’90s or worse, this is quite a positive development.  Not just shows like the old Cleveland Mosh Team’s Mosh Line, BAD SMUT includes political events and the print edition has scene reports not just for Bay Area punx, but also Humboldt County and the non-show or political Leona Canyon. (A. Iwasa)

 

Self Liberation: Join the Resistance

by Scott Zirus

dist. by South Chicago ABC Zine Distro

PO Box 721

Homewood, IL 60430

This zine is a short, informative publication about how to assert your autonomy in the various governments of the world. The zine includes an introduction to self-liberation as well as a list of the Universal Laws of Self Liberation, and is extremely accessible. Plus, it’s anti-copyright, so buy one and spread it around! (GoGo)

 

Health and Safety at Militant Actions

by On The Ground

dist. by Sprout Distro

PO Box 68271

Grand Rapids, MI 49516

sproutdistro.com

Health and Safety at Militant Actions is a must-have for any protester in this day and age. With the increased use of “less-lethal” weapons by the police, more protesters are being hurt and are unprepared. The zine gives info on how to protect yourself while protesting — including what clothing to wear, techniques to lower the risk of injury from tear gas and pepper spray, and basic protest first aid procedures. Available for order or in pdf form. (GoGo)

 

Thoughts on Squatting in the Francisco Bay Area: from 1970 to 2015

compiled by A. Iwasa, $2.00

Little Black Cart books

PO Box 3920

Berkeley, CA 94703

Here is the great idea: this zine is a call for submissions to compile a book on Squatting! (Interested people please write to a.iwasa@riseup.net)

Thoughts on Squatting… is an inspiring first step for this project. A. Iwasa not only compiled a lot of thoughts but even more questions on squatting.

In his introduction he lets us participate in his Travels and introduces us to a lot of different squats, collective and co-op houses mainly in the San Francisco Bay Area and some other places. He also draws our attention to two books: An Indigenous People’s History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz and Nine-Tenths of the Law: Property and Resistance by Hannah Dobbz.

He shares a lot of connecting thoughts, experiences and observations.

The following two articles in this zine are a starting point for the book project.

Heather Wreckage’s article called ‘Questions of Race and Resistance…’ is inviting us to re-visit an unusual event in the swatting movement. I was disturbed to read how this incident played out with mixed up roles. It led to a lot of questions about privilege, and questions of property definition when not banks or investors are involved but a family home. Heather calls for deeper questioning and exploring those kind of contradictions. She ends with “It’s very easy for a community to become divided, but I think through sensitivity and honest communication we can keep a community strong.”

The other article gives us a quick tour through history, focussing on capitalism, landownership, and the owning classes. Samara Hayley Steele points out that to really let capitalism collapse there should (or must?) be other different “new social spaces in which post-capitalist identities and practices can evolve.” She describes the roots of the squatting movement in the European Autonomous Movement that quickly spread to the United States.

Samara has the curious question in mind if and how far the living reality in squats might be a practice of those post-capitalist social spaces. The question carries on when she ends with “everyone seems to have a different idea about what squatting is, what it could be, and how it should be represented.” (eoh)

Radical spaces

 

Compiled by Jesse D. Palmer

Here are some corrections to the Radical Contact list published in the 2017 Slingshot Organizer, plus a few new spaces we’ve heard about recently. Radical spaces invite us to live life according to our own priorities, not the narrow boxes dangled before us by corporations and mainstream culture. We want something better than fun — we’re creating joy which is an experience we create communally and have in relation to others. Please send us your suggestions and corrections for the 2018 contact list, which we’ll be compiling in June and July. Due to computer problems, we haven’t been able to update the on-line version of the list at slignshot.tao.ca, but we hope to soon.

Counterpoint – Roswell, GA

An anarchist hackerspace for sharing knowledge and tools that hosts events and has literature. 625 Colonial Park Dr. Suite 203, Roswell, GA 30075 counterpoint.info

Bexley Natural Market – Bexley, OH

A non-profit cooperative grocery food. 508 N. Cassady Ave. Bexley, OH 43209 614-252-3951

Info-Lounge und Mediathek – Goerlitz, Germany

They in a rather small town but seem to be very active in political education, critical history. They have a library and a communal living project. HausundHof e.V., Hospitalstrasse 30, 02826 Goerlitz

Hambacher Forest Infoshop – Buir, Germany

An infoshop at the site of a five year blockade of the expansion of the largest coal mine in Western Europe that features tree sits and barricades throughout the Hambacher Forest. Broichstrasse 79, 50171 Buir, Germany hambachforest.blogsport.de

La Serafina and Aireana – Asunción – Paraguay

La Serafina is a LGBT meet-up space that caters primarily to lesbians and is open at 8:00 on Fridays as a social space. Aireana is a rights organization that provides legal support to LGBT folks in Paraguay. Being LGBT is very stigmatized in Paraguay and our contact reports that “the fact this place exists is quite radical.” Eligio Ayala 907 c/Tacuary Asunción – Paraguay Tel. 595 21 447976.

Manuke Guesthouse – Tokyo, Japan

A new radical guesthouse/cheap hostel. Fudeno bldg. 4f 3-8-12 Koenji-kita Suginamiku Tokyo 1660002 Japan, +81 (0)3 3330 5163, manuke.asia/english/home.html

Slingshot loves New Jersey!

A friend sent a list of safe spaces in New Jersey including the following:

• Cedar Ridge Cafe: a LGBTQ and vegan-friendly bakery that hosts events. 410 Ridgewood Rd, Maplewood, NJ 07040 973-327-2286.

• Gallery Aferro: An art Gallery and community space. 73 Market St., Newark, NJ 07102 973-353-9533

• Human Rights Institute: an art Gallery and research Institute at Kean University. 1000 Morris Ave, Union NJ 07083 908-737-4670.

• Java Love: a coffee Shop and acoustic space. 244 Bellevue Ave, Montclair NJ 07043 973-744-2122.

• Index Art Center: 237 Washington St., Newark, NJ 07102 862-218-0278

• Meatlocker: A multipurpose basement, 8 Park St., Montclair, NJ 07042 908-433-3380

Changes to the 2017 Slingshot Organizer

• We think the Tannex in Albuquerque still exists, but you can’t send snail mail to the address we published. Email us if you can confirm they still exist.

• Oops we published the wrong address for La Coche / Ovaria Psychos Bicycle Brigade. The correct info is: 2628 E. Cesar E Chavez, LA, CA 90033 323-285-2019

• Hallongrottan in Stockholm, Sweden is closed down permanently.

• Bokkafe Vulgo in Gothenburg. Sweden is closed down permanently.

• Bokaféen Jaap in Oslo, Norway is closed down for the time being due to fire. It is being rebuilt.

• Assata Autonomous Bookstore in Nijmegen, Netherlands no longer exists.

• Chat Noir Toulousain in Toulouse, France no longer exists.

• Kiosk Arnaud-Bernard in Toulouse, France no longer exists.

Slingshot Issue #124: Introduction

Slingshot is an independent radical newspaper published in Berkeley since 1988.

The elephant in the room as we go to press is the increasingly pitched series of battles between antifascists (antifa) and white nationalists in the streets of Berkeley. Nationally reported dustups happened while we were making the issue and more are expected right after the issue gets back from the printing press. Slingshot is more effective with analysis, questions and ideas rather than news, which quickly overtakes a quarterly paper and is the main reason we don’t have any articles on this topic in the issue. We welcome a variety of submissions on this topic for next issue, so get out your writing pens.

We’re anxious about the rise of nationalist violence — hate crimes, arson attacks and armed militias as well as provocative nationalist media stunts in Berkeley. The real question is how can radicals be strategic in responding so that our actions isolate, divide and weaken nationalists while unifying and strengthening tolerance and freedom. Acting strategically requires reflection and willingness to use a wide variety of tactics to achieve particular goals.

Diversity of tactics needs to go both ways — both a willingness to use militant tactics when they will advance our goals, and also openness to using other tactics when they are more appropriate to a particular situation. It may not always be to our advantage to participate in our enemy’s sideshow but neither is it acceptable to let rising fascism go unchallenged.

There is both beauty and strength in the many ways anarchists express ourselves in the world — worker collectives, community gardens, housing coops and protest affinity groups. How can we engage in self defense when we have to, while also avoiding the trap of militant rhetoric and images overshadowing and obscuring the complex, nuanced and fragile simplicity of our other projects that aim to build a world without rulers based on mutual aid and voluntary cooperation?

We need to look at the history of fascism and see the connections with the current rise of nationalism while balancing that knowledge with an understanding of the more traditional power structures that are destroying the world and enslaving her people. We need tactics that threaten the dangerous authoritarians who don’t wander the streets wrapped in flags but rather rule from fancy offices.

Answers to these paradoxes will be written in the streets and from the ground up. What is clear no matter what is that it’s time for all hands on deck and engaged in the struggle.

And finally, fuck the internet.

Slingshot is always looking for new writers, artists, editors, photographers, translators, distributors, etc. to make this paper. If you send an article, please be open to editing.

We’re a collective but not all the articles reflect the opinions of all collective members. We welcome debate and constructive criticism.

Thanks to the people who made this: Ashlan, Caroline, Dogfood, Dov, eggplant, Elke, Forest, Gogo, Hayley, Isabel, Iwasa, Jesse, John, Korvin, Mike, Talia, and all the authors and artists!

Slingshot New Volunteer Meeting

Volunteers interested in getting involved with Slingshot can come to the new volunteer meeting on August 20, 2017 at 7 pm at the Long Haul in Berkeley (see below.)

Article Deadline & Next Issue Date

Submit your articles for issue 125 by September 23, 2017 at 3 pm.

 

Volume 1, Number 124, Circulation 22,000

Printed April 28, 2017

 

Slingshot Newspaper

A publication of Long Haul

Office: 3124 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley CA 94705

Mailing: PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703

Phone (510) 540-0751 • slingshot@tao.ca slingshot.tao.ca • twitter @slingshotnews

 

Slingshot free stuff

We’ll send you a random assortment of back issues for the cost of postage. Send $3 for 2 lbs. Free if you’re an infoshop or library. slingshot at tao.ca

 

Corrections to Slingshot #123

Eliane Knorr and Paul Z. Simons translated The Many Coups in Brazil.

In the last issue of Slingshot there was a misprint: The actual name of the new publication being started by members of the Slingshot collective is: Subversas.com.

 

Circulation information

Subscriptions to Slingshot are free to prisoners, low income, or anyone in the USA with a Slingshot Organizer, or $1 per issue. International $3 per issue. Outside the Bay Area we’ll mail you a free stack of copies if you give them out for free. Say how many copies and how long you’ll be at your address. In the Bay Area pick up copies at Long Haul and Bound Together books, SF.

 

 

People’s Park: Not for Sale

By Robert Sparks

For decades, the slogan on the street when it comes to University of California Berkeley (UC) proposals to develop People’s Park has been “they try it, we riot.” Nevertheless, UC is testing the waters by including People’s Park as a potential site for a student dorm on a Housing Master Plan Task Force draft released this winter. The draft included 9 sites and indicates that a dorm on People’s Park would have 200-350 beds. UC calculates that it needs 7,000 new housing units for the growing number of students. While the plan is preliminary and no construction is imminent, now is the time to signal to UC: keep your bloody hands off People’s Park.

People’s Park is an occupation that’s been running for 48 years — constructed without permission in 1969 to create a beautiful community on vacant UC land. UC’s first attempt to seize back and destroy the park lead to rioting, police shootings that left bystander James Rector dead and dozens wounded, and a week-long National Guard occupation of Berkeley. The UC has always claimed to legally own the land on which the park sits on Dwight Way east of Telegraph, but since 1969 they have never been able to control it. Over the years, park users have practiced “user development” by building and tending gardens, trees and landscaping as determined by users, not government managers. It is a rare place in the city open to everyone, hosting a free speech stage and daily free food servings.

Each time UC has tried to mess with the park, its been like stepping into a hornets nest. Unable to take back the park outright, the University has periodically tested the waters to gauge continuing support — tearing up gardens, destroying freeboxes and bathrooms constructed by park users and attempting to build volleyball courts on the park against the will of park users in 1991, which UC eventually had to remove after years of unrest. The park is a symbol of past victories and is liberated land that still, amazingly, is mostly outside of the control of corporations and government. People’s Park exists for use by people, not for sale or profit.

The best way to protect the park and scare UC off from further discussion of development is to use the park as a thriving venue for radical action, alternative culture, art, music and life outside of consumerism. East Bay Food Not Bombs has served lunch at 3 pm Monday-Friday at the Park for the last 25 years. Defending the park will take increased outreach about what the park means and what it has to offer. More info at peoplespark.org. Meetings are Sundays at 1 pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Feeblest Head of the Hydra: Oil Spills = Occupations

By Loki Coyote

I started researching this article while at Standing Rock, after learning that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had approved a $7.5 billion pipeline project to replace Line 3. At the time, I didn’t even know such a proposal was on the table. In so-called Canada, the Kinder Morgan and Energy East pipelines have gotten the lion’s share of media attention.

My first thought when I saw the map of the pipeline route was that it seemed calculated to run through areas where the environmental movement is weakest and where anti-oil activism would be most unpopular. My second thought was to ask myself what I could do to help stop it. I think that in more hostile political climates it’s even more important that local organizers know that they have the support of a broader movement.

By the time I’d read a few articles I was excited about the possibilities of this campaign. Basically, Line 3 is an aging pipeline that has reached the end of its life-span. You could also call it a ticking time bomb. My point here is that if the Line 3 replacement project is stopped, and if Line 3 is taken off-line, then for the first time in the history of the anti-pipeline movement, we won’t simply be stopping them from expanding their capacity, we’ll actually be reducing it. We’ll be turning the tide.

This isn’t just about Line 3, though, nor even just about fighting the oil and gas. Stopping a new pipeline doesn’t make the world a better place – it just keeps it from getting worse. I don’t know about you, but I’m thirsty for something more. In the second half of this article, I’ll delve into some ruminations on the revolutionary possibilities of anti-pipeline resistance. I know attention spans aren’t what they used to be, but if you’re curious, come along for a ramble…

What is Line 3?

Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project is a $7.5-billion-dollar project, slated to run southeast from Hardisty, Alberta (near Edmonton), through Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North Dakota, and Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin, on the western tip of Lake Superior. The original 34-inch pipeline was built in 1968. The new pipeline would be 36 inches and could carry 760,000 barrels per day (bpd).

This project would be the most expensive in Enbridge’s history. The line is currently transporting about 390,000 bpd, far below its maximum throughput of 760,000 bpd. Its flow has been restricted for safety reasons.

Bizarrely, in this case Enbridge wants to convince regulators how unsafe Line 3 is. According to expert testimony the company provided to Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission, the corrosion and cracking is so extensive that further use could cause calamitous leaks.

How bad is it? Enbridge says that half the joints are corroding, and that it has five times more stress cracks per mile than other pipelines in the same corridor. It was originally made with defective steel and the welding was done with outdated technology. One worker called keeping it safe “a game of whack-a-mole.”

According to Enbridge, “Approximately 4,000 integrity digs [invasive pipeline inspections] in the US alone are currently forecasted for Line 3 over the next 15 years to maintain its current level of operation. This would result in year-after-year impacts to landowners and the environment. On average, 10-15 digs are forecasted per mile on Line 3 if it is not replaced…”

Enbridge is staring down the clock right now, as the US Justice Department ordered the company back in July to replace the entire pipeline by December 2017 or commit to substantial safety upgrades to the existing line. That decree is part of a settlement the company reached after a massive 2010 spill of 3.8 million litres (around 80,000 gallons) of oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River.

Although Enbridge is replacing Line 3 because they have to, they’re also looking to slip something past the public. Not only does the proposed “replacement” up the capacity of the pipeline, it also would allow it to transport tar sands. Currently, Line 3 carries “light” crude oil—which is largely drawn from Western Canada’s conventional oil fields—but a completed Line 3 replacement would allow Enbridge to carry diluted bitumen across the border. This project hasn’t had to jump the political hurdles of other border-crossing tar sands pipelines, like the Keystone XL, and already has a presidential permit.

The new line would run parallel to the existing Line 3 for most of its route, but would take a different route for the final 300 kilometres (around 185 miles) between Clearbrook, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin. And, oh yeah, the original pipeline would be decommissioned and left in the ground.

So, let’s recap. This “replacement” doubles the capacity for Line 3, changes the product to be shipped, follows a different route, and the pipeline that it will “replace” will remain in the ground. Don’t you love living in the age of persuasion?

Honor the Earth, an indigenous-led NGO based in Minnesota, ain’t having it. From their website: “Enbridge wants to simply abandon its existing Line 3 pipeline and walk away from it, because it has over 900 “structural anomalies,” and build a brand new line in this new corridor. If this new corridor is established, we expect Enbridge to propose building even more pipelines in it. We cannot allow that.”

Resistance in Minnesota

Thanks to the amazing work of Honor the Earth and other activists in Minnesota, things are looking good for the campaign against Line 3. Here’s a breakdown:

The conservationist group Friends of the Headwaters was formed to divert Line 3 from northern Minnesota’s wild rice lakes. They proposed a longer pipeline that would carve further south through agricultural lands. State law requires pipeline companies to submit a simple environmental review of proposed projects. Three years ago, when Enbridge first brought up the Line 3 replacement, they intended to study their chosen site only. Friends of the Headwaters insisted that they also study feasible routes outside the Mississippi River Headwaters area.

A lengthy lawsuit ensued, and in December of 2015 the Minnesota Supreme Court sided with environmentalists. Enbridge was ordered to complete a more comprehensive assessment, including alternate routes.

Minnesota is currently writing its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Line 3, after months of battle over what the study would include and who would perform the analyses. The draft EIS was scheduled for April 2017 and the public will be able to comment at public hearings. A final permit decision is expected in spring of 2018.

As soon as Minnesota’s Environmental Impact Statement is released, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy plans to continue fighting Line 3 in court. So, given all of these factors, for sure Enbridge will fail to meet the project’s December 2017 deadline. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Let’s be real, though. There’s a shit-ton of money at stake here. I find it hard to imagine regulators taking a 390,000 bpd pipeline off-line. I’m not aware of a major pipeline ever having been taken off-line because it is old and unsafe. One example of such a pipeline is the TransNorthern pipeline in Eastern Canada. Back in November, a trio of Quebecois women shut down this pipeline through a lockdown action. They did so to bring attention to the fact that even members of the National Energy Board (NEB) have recommended that this pipeline, which was built in the 1950s, be decommissioned. TransNorthern continues to operate despite its inability to comply with the improvements the NEB ordered the company to make.

It would be great if Line 3 were shut down by the state of Minnesota, but it is equally possible that Line 3 will spill, and that when it does an army of pundits will pin the blame on environmentalists for delaying Line 3’s replacement. Remember Lac Megantic? An oil train blew up a town in Quebec, killing 47 people, and the next day media spin doctors were using the disaster to argue for pipelines, since oil-by-rail obviously isn’t safe. These bastards have no shame.

This brings us to a reality that we will probably have to deal with in the near future. As pipeline infrastructure ages, the public will be presented with a new choice—shiny new pipelines or old, rusted-out, leaky ones. This is a classic double bind, a false choice designed to force acceptance of something undesired. You know, like democracy. Perversely, environmentalists may stand accused of causing oil spills. Activists will reject this logic, but it may be seductive to centrists and pre-fabricated-thought-thinkers. It might be wise to think of a counter-narrative to this.

The reality remains that Line 3 might spill before it gets shut down. My guess would be that Enbridge will get an extension beyond December 2017 and continue operating. And it’s certain that other pipelines will rupture.

A New Approach

What if, instead of occupying to stop a pipeline from being built, land defenders used the event of an oil spill to shut down a pipeline? Though it’s probably undesirable to occupy the site of a spill, this could be accomplished by occupying a site of critical importance for the functioning of the line, such as a pumping station or valve, and preventing workers from accessing it. There would be several advantages to this strategy.

First, when there is an oil spill, a pipeline is already shut down. Though a slew of recent direct actions targeting valves have shown that it is certainly possible to autonomously shut down pipelines safely, it would be easier and less psychologically taxing to keep a pipeline off-line than to shut one down.

Second, an oil spill packs an emotional punch. I maintain that it is emotion, not rational thought, that inspires action. To most people, the petroleum economy is so normal that it takes a change in consciousness to interrupt their acceptance of it. It provides a moment where anti-pipeline direct action will be broadly understood, drawing sympathizers and supporters out of the woodwork. Artful anarchist propaganda makes radical ideas seem like common sense, and this argument sort of makes itself: If a pipeline is disaster-prone, it should be shut down.

Third, if we’re shutting down active pipelines, we’re not merely stopping the expansion of the oil and gas industry, we’re forcing its shrinkage. We’re seizing the initiative away from the capitalists. We are busting the operative myth of statecraft—that we do not have a choice.

Fourth, this switches the focus away from the sort of thinking that presents one issue as the be-all and end-all of ecological activism. There are over 200,000 miles of pipelines criss-crossing Turtle Island. There is a potential front-line just about everywhere. This shifts focus closer to home, and also ideally would lead to situations where there the tactic becomes normalized, because it is happening all over the place.

Lastly, everything that we can do to increase the political and economic risk of pipeline ruptures to corporations is good. If spills come with higher consequences for companies, they will have more incentive to prevent them. Some famous squatting graffiti in Spain read EVICTIONS = RIOTS. In two years, could we say OIL SPILLS = OCCUPATIONS?

From Temporary Autonomous Zones to Permanent Autonomous Zones

I am hoping that the Line 3 campaign leads to something akin to the resistance at Standing Rock, but which draws on some of the lessons of that fight. It’s long been my belief that resistance to industrial capitalism should go hand-in-hand with the creation of autonomous communities able to survive and thrive independent of the fossil fuel economy, and that blockades provide a moment where the impossible suddenly becomes possible, where we can strike at the heart of capitalism by collectively defying the illusion of property that holds the whole system in place.

My political goal is the creation of a federation of autonomous communes able to meet their own needs independent of the fossil fuel economy.

For that reason, I went to Standing Rock in hopes that others felt similarly, and there was a will amongst many people to reclaim treaty land and to create a permanent autonomous community on the site. Alas, the site wasn’t ideal, both because the Oceti Sakowin/Oceti Oyate camp was on a floodplain, and because it was on a sacred burial ground.

Some settlers will feel uncomfortable with the whole notion of approaching moments of opportunity created by indigenous-led resistance campaigns with any agenda at all. Aren’t non-native allies supposed to take direction from native people? To this, I’ll reply with a story.

Unbeknownst to most people, after the anti-fracking movement in Mik’mak’i (in so-called New Brunswick) was successful and most people went home, the occupation continued. There was a small group of extremely committed people who tried to do exactly what I am advocating here—to turn a resistance camp into a permanent eco-community. Some of those people were native, some Acadian, and some settler. They made it through the winter and the spring. My partner and I were there in the spring and we started a garden with the help of a Mi’kmaq elder. It was a beautiful moment, in a beautiful place. A beautiful dream.

The local support was overwhelmingly evident, if passive. When the camp needed money, they’d simply do a road block fundraiser, allowing cars to pass one at a time and asking for a toll. Most people, native and settler, would donate. One day, in the weirdest busking experience of my life, my partner and I added a fire show to the whole bizarre spectacle. I remember thinking, Goddamn I love this corner of the Maritimes—where else in the world would this even make sense?

In the end, the dream was given up because of interpersonal conflicts, but by that time it had already stopped advancing because the occupiers didn’t have the know-how or the resources to build permanent structures. They didn’t feel that other people, who had been so active in the camp when it was the place to be, cared enough to help them build their dreamed-of community. To them it was the natural next step, and it hurt them that others couldn’t see that. It still saddens me that that dream remains unrealized, and in my memory it will go down as a missed opportunity that strengthens my resolve to be prepared for the next moment of unforeseeable potential.

As a side note, some of the Acadians who were involved in that did go on to start a land project in the woods of Mi’kmak’i, which they started in large part to acquire the skills that would have allowed them to succeed in the first place. That place, located within the legendary Cocagne vortex, is, to me, one enduring legacy of the resistance at Elsipogtog.

Also, realistically, most people who come to a front line aren’t going to decide to live there long-term. For the revolutionary movement that I envision to emerge, folks would have to be willing to actually continue to live in a liberated zone after all the action has died down. This part of the theory’s untested. Do enough people actually want to live in off-grid communities throughout the four seasons?

Well, surely when the crisis deepens and matters of survival become much more pronounced, we’ll do what we need to do. That’s the best hope I’ve got; that we will succeed where so many previous generations of radicals haven’t, not because we’re smarter or braver, but because we have to. The survival instinct is a powerful thing.

As the ideologies of liberal democracy and infinite growth show themselves to be the shams that they are, more and more people are going to be looking for answers. I don’t have many answers, but I see the creation of autonomous zones as a realistic goal. We can start now. Standing Rock is an autonomous zone. The ZADs in France are autonomous zones. Such liberated territories give us opportunities to learn, to experiment, to put ideas into practice, to make connections based on shared values, and to inspire ourselves and others through direct experience. It’s only though experimentation, through trial and error, through blood, sweat, and tears that we’ll learn how to be free. Standing Rock provided thousands of people with hands-on experience in a laboratory of freedom. Such experiences are transformational, and are preparing us for what is to come.

Rapid Response

My goal is to connect the current political moment with the vision that many eco-anarchists hold—that is, the creation of interdependent autonomous communes able to survive and thrive independent of the fossil fuel economy.

So, let’s start thinking about how we might get to that point. What would it take?

At Standing Rock I put a ton of energy building and winterizing shelters, as did many other people. Many shelters were later abandoned and had to be cleaned up. I think that it would make a lot of sense for front-liners to think about acquiring and building mobile homes and various structures that are relatively easy to set up, tear down, and transport. The Standing Rock model is a game-changer, but there’s a lot of room for improvement, too.

When I was at Standing Rock, there was a lack of strategic action undertaken. Many people would probably see this as being due to a lack of leadership, but I see it as a lack of coherent affinity groups. An action plan requires a group to carry it out, and the more elaborate the plan, the better coordinated the group needs to be. A sophistication exercise involving diversion and multiple flanks, such as what would be required to take a heavily guarded site, such as the drill site at Standing Rock, would require multiple teams sharing a certain level of training and confidence.

So when I think about the future, I imagine affinity groups comprised of full-time activists for whom the activities of the group are their primary focus in life. How can we make it more realistic for more people to be able to do this?

We need bases. I think that we need a combination of urban collective houses and rural land projects that eco-anarchists can use to launch actions from. We need a culture of people who see revolution as their calling in life, their vocation. That’s what I think it will take for this movement to become revolutionary.

Where Are We Going as a Movement?

Back to Line 3. Look, it’s a pipeline. You’re against it, I’m against it, and we can stop it. To me, the more interesting question is: What will be achieved by victory? Of course the land and the water will be defended, and that is enough reason to fight—but all of these pipelines, mines, prisons, and schools are but the visible, manifest symptoms of a disease called capitalism. So long as we are dependent on capitalism for our means, we’ll still be biting the hand that feeds us.

The environmental movement is not inherently revolutionary. What can we as anarchists do to nurture the revolutionary tendencies it contains? I’m not interested in making capitalism more sustainable; in helping the machine perfect our enslavement. The fact that it is unsustainable may be humanity’s last chance for liberty. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life fighting different heads of the Hydra unless at the end of the day we’ve fundamentally transformed the way that we live.

So I ask: Where are we going as a movement? I ask, because if we want to make it somewhere, we’d better have a clear idea of where we’re headed. What vision do we have to offer? What can we invite others to believe in along with us? What spirit can we summon forth into the collective consciousness? What songs can we sing with our whole hearts when we’re on the front lines?

Nothing’s more powerful than an idea whose time has come. Look at Standing Rock. Who could have imagined such a thing just a short time ago? Who would have taken this article seriously if I wrote it a year ago? Our movement is growing, it is expanding, it is stronger and stronger by the day. We are winning the hearts and minds of more and more people, and bigger and bigger goals are becoming more and more attainable. It’s time to articulate a program of revolutionary social change that sees resistance to pipelines as a starting point.

 

Less Resist More Exist

By Jesse D. Palmer

Our response to the daily tsunami of distraction, lies and contradictions has to go beyond just resistance, because that gives our oppressors the power set the course, and puts us into a defensive and ultimately inferior position. History is about stories and what we desperately need isn’t just to gum up the works of petty tyrants and fools. What we really need — and what has been hard to formulate — is a powerful, clear, inspiring counter-narrative that meets fear with hope, hate with love, confusion with calm, and selfishness with community.

What got the world to this place with nationalism on the rise is a striking vacuum of vision and positive options. While it can seem like climate change is off the political radar and almost invisible in the US, perhaps on a subconscious level the dying world is preventing us from believing in the future itself — pushing people towards giving in, isolation and tribalism.

Or maybe it’s the way capitalism and high tech keeps a lot of people very busy but can’t supply the psychic and spiritual things humans need. Gentrification, smart phones and all the rest of it systematically tears up our neighborhoods, our time to sit and think, families, culture and traditions — and we get no sense of meaning, place or direction to replace what we’ve lost.

Whatever is missing that is driving so many of us to lose our way, our best defense against these forces is a good offense — and that is mostly about ideas, the conversations we have and the communities we build, not about protest marches or scuffles with flag-carrying morons.

I don’t have the answers and I strongly suspect no one does right now. Sitting with so much uncertainty is profoundly uncomfortable. I hope we can stay present with our fears and confusion rather than running away or trying to distract ourselves, because staying present may lead to growth and insight. It’s also an important time to hold those close to you and find community, find time to talk to each other, listen, pose questions and try to figure things out as best as we can. I hope we can have compassion for ourselves and those around us when we feel lost, scared, or hopeless, but let’s not succumb to these emotions and become paralyzed with despair.

We need to be much better at saying what we’re for because you can’t beat something with nothing. This was where the Occupy movement in 2011 hit a wall — many of us had pieces of a program but we couldn’t articulate it clearly enough so that it could become a viable alternative. We weren’t focused enough, numerous enough and socially diverse enough to put the solutions we were able to articulate into practice.

The slogan of Resistance is helping people unify, but there are fundamental limits around organizing against a single distasteful individual. We can start by understanding the social forces that are on the rise and then follow through to see how they relate to the colonialism, racism, patriarchy and economic

inequality that have plagued us for centuries. Out of this, we can offer both general and specific alternatives and solutions.

It has been pathetic — sad — to see certain politicians’ deep insecurity around the idea of masculinity. They’ve tried to mask their fear by seizing on simplistic macho signifiers — increasing the military budget, building walls, dropping the biggest bomb — and attacking anything they associated with women — “weak” things like healthcare, food for kids and the elderly, science, the arts, the humanities, schools and anything that reeks of tolerance, cooperation, empathy or caring. There is something paradoxical about the most powerful and privileged feeling so threatened and under siege.

Perhaps our counter-narrative can address the psychological aspects of what’s going on by providing more cheerful alternatives to the deeply unhappy and unsatisfied — unsatisfiable — world view of right wing movements. There is still a lot of joy we experience in the world even amidst so much inequality, oppression and environmental damage — I want us to own that, breath it and broadcast it. Perhaps our positive life force — our existence, our communities and connections, and our creative actions to make the world a better place — can counter our oppressors’ insecurity and emptiness. The best way to defend diversity, liberation and sustainability may be to live it, make it and grow it.

On a concrete level, our articulation of what we’re for needs to engage with wealth inequality and injustice — concerns that transcend political divisions but have been harnessed by nationalists to divide rather than unite people. The threat of environmental collapse is a secret, invisible core of the spiritual collapse that has opened doors for fear and hate. It is no coincidence that right wing movements love coal and pipelines, and deny climate science. The realization that we’ve reached ecological limits is scary and it’s relatively recent — we’re still adjusting to the idea. Some people have achieved acceptance and are seeking ecological sustainability, but many others are in various states of denial, anger or bargaining.

There will be comeuppance. While it may seem as if those in power are acting with impunity and control all the structures of power, the status quo cannot be maintained. There are too many contradictions between fact and fiction, promises made and promises broken, the interests of those in power and the interests of regular people. Industrial society as it is currently organized and endless economic growth under capitalism are incompatible with the earth’s survival.

The fight against capitalism pits the 99% against the 1%. Nationalists and their supporters from the capitalist class are eager for the 99% to fight amongst themselves — race against race, nation state against nation state, rural vs. urban, coasts vs. flyover states — division and polarization are a goal in and of itself.

We need to stop playing into this game by unwittingly escalating false divisions, and try to focus on unity, listening, healing and solidarity. When we’re tempted to dehumanize people with whom we disagree by assuming we understand what’s motivating them or what’s in their mind, maybe it’s time to step back and see each person as an individual capable of change and growth, and deserving of empathy. A lot of people who may have picked up right wing ideas are suffering from disorienting social and economic change and our love might help them change more than our hatred.

If solidarity has any meaning, it doesn’t just mean solidarity within a tiny politically air-tight clique eager to give the middle finger to everyone who hasn’t learned our code language. Solidarity is big, broad, messy and hard because it means working out differences that threaten to divide us so we can focus on the real enemies and the more fundamental contradictions and problems confronting human society and the planet.

Ideally, we need to unite and bring new people into our communities while those who defend authoritarianism and the status quo fractionalize in their struggles for power.

The existing structures are crumbling around us in ways we can’t predict or control. Something will replace what is being destroyed so now isn’t the time for despair or retreat, which turns decisions about the future over to corporate and governmental authoritarians. It’s up to us to exist and create for beauty, sharing, justice, freedom, sustainability and love with all the fiber of our beings, while still retaining our modesty, willingness to listen to others and time to experience wonder.