All posts by slingshot

Sex work is not human trafficking

By Mistress Liv

SESTA and FOSTA are both bills signed in recently by Trump as well as the Senate and the House that allow the federal government to prosecute anyone who helps sex workers advertise. These bills equate creating a platform in which to find and screen prospective Johns with pimping. This is hugely problematic for sex workers for many, many reasons. First, if we cannot advertise, we starve. Second, if we cannot find clients online, we may need to turn to the streets. Third, when we turn to the streets, we die.

For the past year and a half, I have worked as a professional dominatrix. During this time, I have met some of the smartest, most emotionally aware and hard-working people I have in my entire life. Many people think that being a dominatrix is easy: we just get to kick rich dudes in the balls all day, right? It is not. It is, in fact, incredibly difficult work. The work of all those that sell sex, be it “sex,” or be it an erotic experience, is primarily empathic. There is also a lot of skill involved. Many that see pro-dommes do so because they want to experience something different with someone that knows what they are doing. Would you really want some random person to stick needles in you, or whip you, or insert a large metal rod in your urethra? Or would you want someone you met at the bar to call you racial slurs, pretend to be your mother, or turn you into the perfect pet? Of course not.

We make ourselves adept at understanding these taboo desires, at knowing how to practice them safely. We intuit the needs of others, smile a sexy smile even when we have a cold, take care of one another and spend hours working our own hustle, unpaid. We answer emails, vet if someone is a “wanker” or not, answer questions, and tell people that it is okay to have such desires a thousand times all in effort of getting some cash. We front our own costs, take on our own risks and make difficult decisions every day. We get death threats from deluded clients. We come into contact with bio-hazardous fluids. We hear every racist, sexist entitled thing you might imagine. And we smile.

I don’t even have to let the Johns touch me, but for the majority of my fellow sex workers— they do. I have tried full service before and shied away when an aging leftist I met over Seeking Arrangements bragged to me that he was “more radical” than I was because he personally knew members of the original Black Panther Party and did some shit back in the day. Evidently his analysis fell short, or was put on pause by his boner, when given the possibility that he might get to fuck a much younger anarchist for a few hundred in cash and insult her politics in the process. Despite my brief foray into full-service, I am part of a privileged subset of sex workers. I am white, cis-, educated and have enough means to front my own costs (photos, shoes, lingerie, make-up, etc.), making it possible for me to be a dominatrix. The bills that I am about to talk about will likely affect me less than many other sex workers. The majority of these other sex workers in the United States are women of color, trans, and/or of a less privileged background.

After backpage.com was shut down by the federal government, St. James’ Infirmary reported an increase of around 400% in street walkers. After craigslist’s erotic services was banned, Baltimore reported a significant increase in femicide. Closing down methods of advertisement does nothing to decrease prostitution — it simply makes it more dangerous, potentially deadly.

So why are so many people signing off on these bills, or nodding their heads in agreement? The language of these bills always revolves around “human trafficking,” or “sex trafficking.” These are ominous sounding, to be sure. But if the problem is coercive labor relations and human traffic, why shut down an entire industry? When thirty-some illegal immigrants died due to unsafe work conditions in a fishery, did we talk about shutting down the seafood industry? Why shut down the entire sex industry, making it harder and more dangerous for the most vulnerable workers in it?

There are currently four distinct political levels of legalization of sex work, with distinct implications and results:

— First, full criminalization (the John, the purveyor and the worker) leads to a situation in which the worker has absolutely nowhere to turn to if met with violence, they cannot advertise and the John is ultra-wary of entering into any kind of deal.

— Partial criminalization can mean that while we can advertise our services, we are met with many of the same problems. Maybe we aren’t on the streets, but there is no real way to protect ourselves. Why call the cops when they will probably rape you?

— Full legalization allows for a few privileged people to be able to jump through the legal loopholes, medical checks and tax forms needed to make it on the up-and-up, like in Amsterdam or Nevada. This does absolutely nothing to help those who need help most— the poor, marginalized sex worker. This is why legalization is often referred to as “backdoor criminalization,” since most sex workers will still practice in a way that is considered illegal, and be met with all the same problems as full criminalization.

— The only country that has completely decriminalized prostitution is New Zealand. It is not illegal or legal there, much in the way that it is not legal or illegal to eat a sandwich in the United States. There has been no significant increase in prostitution since decriminalization. There has been much less violence. When you talk to sex workers, this is what most of us will tell you we want.

Perhaps a new level—currently waiting to go up for Senate vote here in California, SB 2014—we could call “ultra criminalization.” If this bill passes, it will make things like handing out condoms to sex workers or housing them if they are homeless, prosecutable as pimping and pandering. Most sex workers are poor, precarious and need access to services like health care and safe sex supplies. Maybe this bill sounds like an effort to prosecute pimping more harshly rather than the sex workers, but that is not actually what it would be in effect. It will be a crisis.

Decriminalization is perhaps a long way off for sex workers in the rest of the world, but further criminalizing it in the US will only make things worse, for many that you might not expect. Many of my fellow sex workers are very closetted about their “side gig.” We are nannies, preschool teachers, artists, baristas, bakers, students and hairdressers. Many of us are in the service industry. We are adept at serving the needs of others, intuiting them, making fantasies come true. It is why we are here. Our work is not valued. It is not even considered work by many.

It is my conclusion that this is no coincidence. Women (as well queers and the occasional man), have been doing this type of work for a very long time. We did it as slaves and serfs. Now, rather than allow us to find some form of empowerment from it by actually getting paid a living wage, we are being further marginalized and oppressed. Some 30% of men in the US report seeing a sex worker at some point in their lives. And I am certain that they would love to get it for free, or cheaper. These bills were signed by a President involved in a legal dispute with a sex worker, Stormy Daniels, after all— a man known for his sense of entitlement to women’s bodies.

To be fair, Bernie voted for FOSTA too, which might go to show you how broad sweeping and multi-faceted the oppression of sex work is in this country. Many people see sex work as demeaning. I will not lie— it can be. But it is absolutely no less demeaning than any other kind of work. At times, it actually feels like a blissful, empowered escape from the exchange of money for labor. I have worked many other types of service industry jobs and I can honestly say that for the first time in my life, I feel truly happy to work. When it is bad, it is terrible. When it is good… I know that I have given someone a memory that they will take to the grave. The money feels like an afterthought and I love that.

For me, my work is primarily about the emotional and psychological exchange. But I do need to eat and pay rent. It is ironic that something so transactional can feel so much more empowering than getting paid minimum wage at a chain coffee shop. I am not ready to have this way of life taken from me yet. I do not want to see so many of my friends thrust into peril. I do not want to read about another one of us dying. The vast majority of us are not being trafficked, we are not being pimped… We are just trying to have safe, dignified work. Until sex work is fully decriminalized, I fear that these problems will persist and we will continue to be raped, killed and tossed aside.

 

What is the color or anarchy

By Sarang Narasimhaiah

 My personal path to anarchy has been long, winding, and confusing, to say the least—and a strange part of me is grateful for the route I have taken.

I’m admittedly ashamed of my (neo) liberal phase, during which I wholeheartedly embraced every fixture of multicultural representative politics: the façade of diversity, cosmetic modifications to the “free” market and “free” trade, “dialoguing across the aisles,” “getting out the vote,” the works. I’m far less ashamed of my postcolonial phase, although I will concede that I hung on to the above-mentioned liberal fetishes for quite some time—and vestiges of them at the very least later on.

Thankfully, I was surrounded by grounded, brilliant, and endlessly compassionate mentors / comrades / friends who tolerated me and drove me to question my pseudo-leftist faith in prevailing institutions of power. Their anti-racism, anti-fascism, intersectional feminism, radical queerness, Indigenuity, disabled, neurodiverse, and/or disability-focused outlooks, and deep anti-colonialism began to chip away at my self-important Amerocentric, cisheteropatriachal, able-bodied, good middle class immigrant delusions. While my cherished co-agitators didn’t try to convert me to anarchism, the fundamentally anarchistic underpinnings of many of their interventions made a lasting impression on me.

Fast forward through three years filled with direct actions, community presentations, and graduate school frustrations, and I’m having breakfast and talking revolution (as you do) with another cherished fighter-in-arms. As we discuss how we aspire to engage with the communities we care about, I mention—for the first time, to anyone—that I think of myself as a decolonial anarcho-communitarian.

I’m writing this piece because I want to unpack that moment and its significance, both for me and the living beings with whom I strive to operate in solidarity. My self-reflection since that sunny morning has revolved around a question I’ve been asking myself and my peeps for a few months:

What is the color of anarchy?

“Black, maybe with a red accent” is perhaps the most instinctive, common, and commonsensical answer to that question—and this answer isn’t unjustified. Black, above all else, tends to embody anarchy’s negation of all hierarchies. It lends its name to countless black blocs around the world. It may hearken back to piracy’s swashbuckling influence upon early Eurowestern anarchist thinking and writing. It could and, in many quarters, does symbolically unify diverse anarcho-revolutionaries. A lot of anarchists also identify as communists, which is where the red might come in.

And yet, despite all these valid and valuable justifications, I don’t know if my flag is or can be (just) black and red.

Let me begin by addressing the colors I have already mentioned, so I can try to do them justice at the same time as I question them.

Anarchy cannot be black if the Blackradical tradition, in all its various manifestations, is absent from its conceptualizations and operationalizations. Maroon communities were arguably some of the first and most multifarious anarchistic (that is, anti-colonial, anti-racist, and anti-statist) communities consolidated after the colonization of Turtle Island and Abya Yala. Domingo Passos could, did, and does apparently go toe-to-toe with Bakunin. The Black Panthers’ autonomous learning/teaching, feeding/eating, and self-defense/community-building efforts exemplified mutual aid in many respects. Many committed Panthers later became committed, self-described anarchists in order to circumvent what they perceived as the BPP’s (perhaps partially realized) potential for hierarchical macho leadership and personality cults. Today, black folx are some of the first ninjasto shut down white supremacists, rapists, homophones, transphobes, and the other scum of the Earth.

Red, meanwhile, takes on a whole new significance for the Indigenous peoples of the so-called Americas. Notwithstanding their appalling racialization by white Euroamerica, many Native “Americans” entered battle wearing red (and, yes, black) war paint, prepared to fight their displacement, extermination, and assimilation by any means necessary. The Red PowerMovement of the 1960s and ‘70s, like its Black Power counterpart, channeled black-and-red power at several points; for one thing, it lent legitimacy to (re)occupations of Indigenous land in ways that the Occupy movement of movements by and large couldn’t and doesn’t. Indigenous redness further laughs at the United States’ sickening, shameless, futile border imperialism: the Zapotec and Mixtec womyn who blessed, conscientized, and provoked me with their wisdom while I was in southwestern Mexico use the rich red color derived from the cochineal beetle to dye the stunning tapetes (tapestries) that they exchange for economic autonomy.

However, the Black radical tradition and anarcho-Indigeneity are not just black or red—or, for that matter, black-and-red. Like virtually all anarchistic perspectives, communities, and movements, they stem and draw their strength from (if you’ll pardon the pun) a virtual rainbow of intersecting lived experiences and worldviews. The Combahee River Collective’s landmark “Black Feminist Statement” works from the standpoints of its legendary Black lesbian womyn as it calls for total and absolute liberation through “the destruction of all the systems of oppression.” I will not attempt to impose colors on these luminaries or the lived identities, communities, and movements to which they belong; that said, I still feel the need to recognize that they may not have restricted themselves to a black, Black, or black-and-red palette for good reason. In a similar vein–and despite its appropriation by the so-called post-neoliberal Bolivian nation-statetheWiphala, a square emblem that displays all the colors of the visible spectrum, continues to be deployed by equally if not even more multifarious Indigenous grassroots mobilizers across the Andes.

I wonder if one of the most beautiful and important aspects of red-and-blackness—in word and deed, in our communities and on the streets—could be its grounding in or transformation into other colors entirely. Or maybe its ability to disappear so that these other colors can perform the same functions and more, in accordance with their respective lived experiences, viewpoints, and visions.

Back to “rainbow flags.” In recent years, progressives, liberals, moderates, conservatives, and members of the far(ther) righthave all proudly flown rainbow flags at their militarized, cis- and homonormative, white (supremacist), nationalistic, corporatist Pride parades. These distinct-but-not-really-different luminaries of the hegemonic political machine have also sought to show off their “tolerance”1 during their “political [non-]revolutions,”their dinners to collect a little sumthin’ sumthin’ extra for Zionist pinkwashing, and their campaigns and rallies to unite the other, rather unaccommodating, and less-than-revolutionary wretched of the Earth. In selling their false sensitivity and savvy to a mostly oppressed captive population while preparing to betray the vast majority of its members, they spit in Miss Major and SylviaRivera’s faces. Against Equality spits back, and then some. The collective’s wide-ranging queer thinkers, writers, and artists boldly go where the Human Rights Campaign has never gone before by challenging one of the state’s plainer but nonetheless sacred cows, marriage.

Is Against Equality, then, reclaiming the QUILTBAG+ rainbow flag? Or is the collective burning that flag and replacing it with its black-and-red superior? Is it flying both flags side by side or combining them into a single flag? Could it throw up some purple and/or pink flags for good measure?

On the other hand, do Against Equality and its movers and shakers have or need to have any flag, color, or color combination at all?

The assignment of colors to perspectives, communities, and movements arguably echoes the iron cages of gender and sexuality. Certainly in the latter cases–and maybe in the former as well–we need to ask ourselves if and why we behave as though we need, are entitled to, and/or can get a singular, straightforward answer. Do our mobilizations depend upon fitting ourselves and each other into one or some other limited number of categories and paradigms? If so, why, and should we maintain this dependency to any extent? And do our mobilizations, then, reflect, reaffirm, and strengthen the complexity, richness, and dynamism of the living beings involved in them?

At the end of the day, a rainbow flag—especially when uncritically accepted and deployed—seems to run the risk of turning a radical movement of movements into Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition instead of Fred Hampton’s. Lumbering, professionalized, compromised and complicit movements-turned-industrial NGOs/NPOs are just one of the many nasty surprises waiting for lapsed anarchists and other radicals at the end of the (neo)liberal multicultural rainbow. We can and must work through and with our and each other’s identities and lived experiences—not around them, to be clear—without resorting to collusive, self-destructive, self-deceiving, and ultimately futile “identity politics2.”

Given that many perspectives, communities, and movements seem to operate in liminal spaces, some sort of neutral color (apart from or in addition to black, red, and black-and-red) seems to be in order. Unfortunately, the supposedly neutral alternatives to rainbow flags, flags of other colors, and colors in general don’t bode too well, either. Black, red, and black-and-red are limited and limiting, but they have nothing on white and its widespread signification of the cult of nonviolence, surrender and submission, the illusions of “non-partisanship,” and, well, whiteness. A clear flag, then? But would it then signify the fundamentally ableist and variously problematic notions of blindness—color-blindness, gender-blindness, and so on—that allow for dominant systems of power to prevail behind John Rawls’ ironically named “veil of ignorance?”

Okay, so, back to colors, then? Well, what about green? Many consider it the color of the Earth and, by extension, environmentalism; we know (at least I hope so!) that we can’t fight as and with the Wretched of the Earth if we devalue the ecosystems that make humyn existence possible. Nonetheless, the Earth isn’t just green, to state the obvious; neither are “environmental” movements,for that matter, especially when they resist the ecocide precipitated by ecological racism, cisheteropatriarchy, classism, and ableism. Green is also Black, brown, beige, and every color in-between and beyond, from Standing Rock to the Niger Delta to the Narmada Valley.

Furthermore, “non-white / decolonial greenness” is sacred to many. Numerous anarchist, anarchistic, or otherwise radical ecological interventions made by Indigenous peoples and peasants do not take up “environmentalism” or even deep ecology, diverging from conventionally defined green politics in the process. And they don’t necessarily take up black, red, or black-and-red flags, either, even though their interventions could very well fly under any of these flags. The limitations of hegemonic greenness stand to do quite a bit of damage to Indigenous and peasant persyns and peoples. “Environmentalism,” especially as it has been articulated at the centers and semi-peripheries of the world system, tends to presume a sharp division between human beings and their surroundings that simply does not resonate with many Indigenous and peasant worldviews.

“The environment” does not exist apart from “the economy,” “the polity,” “culture,” and/or “religion”—as well as the mind, body, heart, and soul—as far as innumerable Indigenous peoples across the world are concerned3. Living spirit or energy, also conceived simply as “livingness”—Sa’ah Naaghaii Bik’eh Hozho for the Diné, sumak kawsay for Andean Indigenous peoples, shakthi and prakriti for many South Asian adivasis and peasants—runs through and binds all of these existential spheres. Securing and creating conditions for the regeneration of this livingness—with the Earth and non-human living beings, not for them, and certainly not against them—is thus the goal of many radical Indigenous and peasant interventions. In my opinion, these holistic interventions provide a much surer footing for autonomous, just, equitable, and resilient ecological communities than “environmentalism” ever could. Non-Indigenous anarchists and radicals cannot and should not, of course, appropriate the worldviews that inform these interventions, but they nonetheless have much to teach us—much that we must know—as we do our parts to decolonize all colonized Indigenous land. We should be as unwilling to buy into the cult of Eurowestern scientific “greenness” as we are to put our faith in green partiesand their candidates.

The oversights and failures of Eurowestern greenness and environmentalism and the sacred power at the heart of Indigenuity bring what I would consider contemporary, (by no means exclusively) Eurowestern anarchism’s biggest areas of improvement into sharp relief:

First of all, we must recognize productivism, industrialization, commodification, economic growth, and the urban-rural divide in and of themselves as oppressions begging for abolition. Diverse contemporary anarchists typically recognize the misery induced by capitalist consumerism and overproduction but, in mapping and realizing anti-capitalist alternatives, they overlook the past and present violence involved in stripping “raw materials” from the Earth and converting them into monetized products. Worker-owned-and-operated maquiladoras—and worldwide factories in general—might eliminate the rampant gendered, racialized, and class-based exploitation and abuse that define these modern-day Victorian workhouses; however, they run the risk of continuing and even worsening the metabolic rift between the never-ending demands of productivism and the life cycles of the Earth. If you want my two cents, factories can only exist in a world in which many worlds fit if they operate as locally grounded, ecologically resilient and autonomous cottage industries, for all intents and purposes.

We need to grow interconnected living communities, not insulated economies or the “industrial sector” and definitely not the GDP, GNP, or any other P. Similarly, cities—which are indispensable to civilizational modernities around the globe—can only persist if they cease to be metropoles, colonial or imperial, industrial or post-industrial. As long as “global cities” like Mumbai, Nairobi, New York City, and Mexico City are distinguished from their respective rural regions and the rest of the world by the accumulation of “resources” from near and far, neither can survive. Steel grey, brick red, and tinted blue could be important to a global anarcho-society’s subsistence, but their predominant applications as of now have got to go.

Secondly, institutionalized religion may well be the opiate of the masses now as much as it was in Marx and Kropotkin’s day, but secularism is an equally, though differently, dangerous drug, even when it is adopted by well-meaning anarchists. Hindu nationalists have been able to build a stronghold in India’s chambers of power since the late 1980s precisely because they could and still can ride the tide of popular discontent with Nehruvian / Congress Party secularism. Authoritarian fundamentalist factions, organizations, movements, and regimes across the world—from Amerikkka to the Middle East and North Africa to Western and Eastern Europe—have provided the likes of Prime Murderer Modi with ample company over the years for comparable reasons. If anarchists are not careful, we could reproduce the very failures of the nation-state system we claim to oppose by failing to oppose its secular dogmatism. We must do everything in our power to (solidariously) decolonize a number of major (and minor) religious and spiritual traditions and communities across the world; however, religious/spiritual decolonization is not, cannot, and should not be synonymous with rash, headlong disassemblage and disposal, nor accountability with pseudo-anarchist (re)missionization.

No gods, no masters!” chant anarchists everywhere; perhaps we need to revise that well-heeled battle cry to, “Many and/or no gods, but no masters!” That revision needs to be revised for catchiness and practicality for sure but—in a world with billions of devotees of all stripes as well as agnostics, atheists, and everyone in between and beyond—an “and/or” clause may not be a terrible idea. By inspiring the horizontalization of and voluntary participation in religious and spiritual praxis, radical but not fundamentalist or exclusionary responses to Orientalismand other cultural imperialisms, and inter-faith dialogue that moves well beyond liberal CoeXisTence, this reformulation could prove invaluable. Global anarcho-communities and societies do not need to be secular to embrace, respect, celebrate, harmonize, and draw strength from conceptualizations of autonomy, dignity, equity, justice, and sustainability rooted in diverse beliefs and lifeways (sorry, not sorry, Ayaan Hirsi Ali). In fact, they may want to avoid secularism like the plagues of yore.

***

When I began thinking about addressing the question that serves as this essay’s title in writing, I was concerned that I would end up producing cheap, obnoxious, tedious Sesame Street anarcho-fan-fiction—an asinine commentary on colors of little use to any of the comrades I have yet to meet. If that is what I ended up doing, I apologize for wasting your time, and I hope that Elmo gives you what I didn’t.

I decided to write this article in no small part because I believe that discursive materiality and material discursivity lie at the heart of anarchist, anarchistic, and otherwise radical thinking and action. The symbols that we choose and use have a profound influence upon the ideas that we realize, and vice-versa. This reciprocal relationship runs through the plurality of perspectives that I strive to engage, and it seems to inform the plurality of actions that these perspectives inspire. The burning limo from the #DisruptJ20 protests is more than just an image or a symbol. This pigmobile was material in and of itself, it produced wide-ranging material impacts inseparable from its symbolic resonances, and it is part of a long history of symbolic-material anarchist counter-inaugural action.

I chose to analyze the color—or, as I might as well say at this juncture, colors–of anarchy because colors are among the most noticeable, influential, and, in my view, telling symbols that we deploy as budding co-creators of another world. Our deepest convictions shape the colors we brandish as we make some noise, take back our streets, lock horns with our adversaries, and commune with each other and the oppressed peoples we love. These colors, in turn showcase and shape how we think of ourselves and our roles in the struggles we carry out. I will never forget the first and subsequent times I saw the anarchy symbol on a black and red background—the mixture of curiosity and inexplicable exhilaration that spiked me the first time and the hope, courage, and warmth that flooded me when I understood a little more a little later. I still feel the reverberations of those moments when I read, hear, or meet one of us—one of you, if I may be so bold.

All that said, I think that a black-and-red world would be rather drab. Such a world would also betray anarchism’s core commitments to learning from the failures of other leftist and radical frameworks and movements, to complementing the negation of all hierarchies with the cultivation of lasting horizontality, and, more than anything, to hosting the otherness of many “Others” as they define it themselves.

Anarchy is—anarchy must be—brown, beige, pink, purple, rainbow-colored, red, invisible, striped, translucent, polka-dotted, yellow ochre, grey, all shades of green (though not Green), black, Black, and black-and-red (though never white) all at the same time. As a bipolar depressive whose mental condition has molded my personal-intellectual-political positionality in important ways, I guess the anarchy I practice is blue as well—maybe yours is, too.4

The beauty of anarchy is that it is not contingent upon doctrinal knowledge of anarchism as an explicit critical/radical philosophy. You can be anarchistic—and innumerable individuals, communities, and societies have been and continue to be—without calling yourself an anarchist, just as you can be an intersectional feminist or a queer revolutionary without calling yourself either. Anarchy’s potential for transformative beauty hinges, in a sense, upon its compatibility with all other possible color combinations—and the embodied viewpoints and daring futures that underpin these combinations.

Black, red, and black-and-red have served and continue to serve anarchists (myself included) well. But the time has come for us to move them away from anarchy’s global centerstages to make way for other colors that are just as vital, if not more so.

All power to the Earth and to the Wretched of the Earth. May our revolutions be colorful as hell.5

1 Possibly one of liberalism’s most popular yet weakest trademarks, “tolerance” is a fragile placeholder for true solidarity and communality, as well as cover for the powers that be across the mainstream political spectrum.

2 My time in Amerikkka has made me hate this grossly misconceived, misapplied, and misunderstood term / concept. Radicals, especially anarchists, have every reason to be wary of the multicultural tokenism, individualism, and lack of collaboration, coordination, solidarity, and/or communality across diverse radicalisms to which this term should apply. Nonetheless, we cannot and, moreover, should not try to discard our lived experiences and identities for the “greater good”—not if we care about reflexivity, accountability, and radical hospitality in the movements we articulate and the communities we cultivate. I can’t become a disembodied abolitionist spirit—no one can, and no one should be forced to do so.

 

3 I am not “romanticizing” Indigenous peoples and peasants here. “Romanticization” is another term I have come to despise for its mainstream political usage and yet a legitimate danger for non-Indigenous (and some Indigenous) agitators who are disconnected from the living communities about whom they wax lyrical. Nonetheless, a host of Indigenous intellectuals, philosophers, community leaders, and community organizers have testified to the holistic, interwoven, and spirit-suffused nature of Indigenous worldviews, communities, and movements. The womyn of Standing Rock, for instance, are fighting a deeply spiritual battle that is misunderstood as nothing more than an “environmental,” “political,” or “economic” movement.

 

Please check out the works of Gregory Cajete (https://nas.unm.edu/faculty.html), Taiaiake Alfred (https://taiaiake.net/), Robin Wall Kimmerrer (https://milkweed.org/book/braiding-sweetgrass), V. F. Cordova (https://uapress.arizona.edu/book/how-it-is), Makere Stewart-Harawira (https://www.ualberta.ca/education/about-us/professor-profiles/makere-stewart-harawira), Smitu Kothari (http://sacw.net/article776.html), Pramod Parajuli (http://www.jsedimensions.org/wordpress/content/author/pparajuli/), Madhu Ramnath (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4129415.Madhu_Ramnath), and Frédérique Apffel-Marglin (https://www.smith.edu/academics/faculty/frederique-apffel-marglin), among many others, for more information.

4 You could call me a bischolar depressive.

5 Thank you for bearing with me. Feel free to leave colorful comments about any part of this piece, especially my awful puns and obnoxious self-awareness.

The Damage Inflicted By Standing Up Against “McTexAssTrumpLandia” Part 1

By the Reverend Eggking

 

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” ~Not Plato

 

Disclaimer:  I have been homeless multiple times.  I know what it’s like to see a tasty slice of pizza on the filthy pavement and break out in remorse as I walk away from it.  I have also begged for food and change all over this beautiful continent.  The best hustle my main road dog ever showed me was to take all our change, spell out an “L” , part of an “O”, and surround it with flowers.  Then as folks walked by, we would ask them to “Help us make love on the sidewalk!”  I can plainly recall nights of wolfing down rich folk’s half eaten leftovers, as well as their backwash laced near empty glasses of alcohol, both in this country and abroad.  By comparison, the story below about going deep into debt for things that cause suffering for those involved in their production, is a quite fucking luxurious problem to have.  I fully understand that.  But that doesn’t make it any less real for me.  I have never had access to credit before the last few years.  I am now 42 (Don’t Panic!) and this past year alone I went into $60,000+ of credit debt.  That is more than every preceding year combined.  The following is a somewhat brutal self examination of this ridiculous way to live.  Also, as an added bonus, fresh sarcasm has been sprinkled liberally throughout the piece.  Enjoy……

Every time I inadvertently start to fantasize about the latest “must have” commodity, there is a section of my brain that feels an abnormal sense of loss.  There is also actual physical pain.  I can only equate this pain with someone trying to bail out water on a ship that is sinking faster than the speed of Disney buying up every hero that I have ever turned to.  Next, my mind uses a significant portion of itself to figure out how best to manipulate the Rubik’s Cube of my current finances.  Then, and only then, can this “must have” product find it’s way into the gaping hole of debt that I have dug for myself over this past year.  Looking back, it seems that I had no choice but to pimp out my future paychecks for both my third iPhone in the past 4 years and my second Samsung Galaxy (it came with a magic pen, damnit!) in less than a year.  Apparently, I also couldn’t sleep at night until I finally got my grimy fingerprints all over the largest iPad screen known to man.  In 2015, I went massively into debt to get my first Prius, but snagging the new 2017 model was worth it!  By plunging deeper into this particular indentured servitude, I am able to continue enjoying the honor of celebrating my uniqueness with the other 5,287,317,842 Prius drivers in the Bay Area.

As you can plainly see, generic awareness of the world wide suffering that goes into these “must haves” was not enough to stave off my perfect storm of consumerism these past 11 months.  I know that children all over the world are an indentured labor force for the many products that I have purchased.  I know that cobalt is a key component in the lithium-ion batteries that power so many of our “must haves”, and that child labor is heavily utilized for the cobalt mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  I know that there is currently well over a trillion dollars worth of lithium found within the borders of Afghanistan.  I know about the estimates of over 360,000 human beings whose lives have been cut short in Afghanistan, due to indirect causes related with our “War on Terror”.  I know that our country’s collective murderous impulses have been raining down upon them without mercy since 2001.  But guess what else I know?  Slaughtered innocent civilians and lithium are not all that is found there.  Trillions of dollars of other minerals and natural gas are also found in Afghanistan.  I am certain that my lack of acting upon awareness supports the world wide suffering for those hit hardest by humanity’s relentless greed for these supplies.  And last, and certainly not fracking least, we have 90% of the world’s current opium supply found in this fabled land.

That is just a few of the reasons why the “Owners of All Things” are willing to spend so many billions on the media blitzkrieg that is required to justify the fuckery they continue to unleash.  All of this carnage just so Wall Street can continue to be the gift that keeps on giving.  How quaint.

Quick 9/11 reminder: If you are one of those who doesn’t believe that it was an inside job, fifteen of the 19 hijackers were citizens from Saudi Arabia, and the others were from the United Arab Emerites (2), Egypt, and Lebanaon.  There is nary an Afghanistan citizen involved in 9/11.  And yet, here we are, well over a decade and a half later, still blowing up their people, land, and dreams to smithereens.  And that’s right folks, for those of you paying close attention (shout out to Big Brother), my consumeristic tendencies are also imbedded deeply into the endless “War on Drugs”, which was lovingly set up to obliterate as much hope as fuckkking possible.

The “War on Drugs” is one of the main driving forces of our country’s not so subtle caste system.  This caste system insidiously winds it’s way throughout the granular details of our healthcare, environmental assaults and the vicious entrapment factory better known as the industrial prison complex.  Just think about everything that goes into it’s daily operations.  Prisoners in the San Bruno Jail in California have no yard time to gain access to fresh air or feel the sun and wind upon their face.  Countless prisoners country wide slave away for pennies on the dollar so that the companies who continue destroying the last remnants of “Mom and Pop” shops can cash in on the billion dollar prison labor industry.  Even “Whole Foods” was guilty of this practice, until they got called on it.   And don’t forget about the massive disenfranchisement of voters, infinitesimal opportunities for gainful employment upon release, and the endless hell that is unleashed while they are behind bars, often for being guilty of nothing more than a pathetic lack of opportunity where they were raised.  You think it’s a coincidence that crack and meth houses have replaced former neighborhoods where, just a few generations ago, hardworking families had economic opportunities that were legal and a source of pride?  This caste system has grown from the seeds planted by the genocidal slaughtering of between 30 – 130 million indigenous human beings (so many estimates, but they seem fall between that range) who were a part of this continent long before any cracker ass cracker ever stepped foot upon it’s shores.  This caste system took those ol’ Jim Crow laws and evolved them into more than their inceptors could have ever fathomed within their most pyschotic of fantasies.

OBVIOUSLY, I am as much of a cog in this fourth Reich powered machine (hail hydra!) that we call home as the next asshole who feels the need to feed their greed and watch it force their conscience to concede victory to capitalism’s juggernaut.  This bloodlust based monstrosity keeps picking up more steam with each and every new birth upon this planet.  We deserve better, and so does the rest of the world.

Now we can get into a whole other crate of canned serpents that I just had Amazoned to me straight from Costco.  Wait a second.  Fuck Amazon and Costco.  They both denied my credit application and actually want me to pay for what I purchase before I check out of their respective stores.  Don’t they know who the drunk I am?  My long suffering wife knows who I am.  I am a gutter pissant addict in recovery with a clean and sober date of August 31st, 2009.  Can you believe that shit?  Just because I would black out nightly, and wake up in a bed stained in psychedelic urine samples doesn’t mean I have a problem does it?  What about all of the fecal matter that was accustomed to having its way within my pants as I walked home, and the bar, bathroom, and bedroom walls where my projectile vomit would work it’s magic?  Fun, fun, fun.

I am not going to get too much deeper into the trials and tribulations resulting from the endless sedations that I administered to my heart, body and soul during my sanity’s vacations.  Suffice to say, I have never met anything that I am not capable of abusing.  And that includes the patience, financial security, and faith of my incredibly intelligent and beautiful wife, Mariposa Loca.  Just imagine her stress, if you will, as she watched my spending habits this last year, fully aware that I am still employed for a non-profit organization based in San FranSpending Cisco.

But I am making amends to her right now as we speak.  I am seeking solutions on a daily basis.  I have redoubled my efforts to be more cognizant of each purchase I make.  I have stopped purchasing technology.  It has been at least four months since I bought something that brought my wife pain and discomfort.  I no longer shop at Safeway, Whole Foods, or any other corporate store, to the best of my ability, I seek out family owned retail opportunities by investigating a business’s history.  I seek to make amends to my wife by actually paying off all of my debt in a timely manner so that I can actually be the provider that she deserves, all while living in a city where the succubi never sleep, honoring their programming to drain every penny found in my bank account.

I am continuing to get deeper entrenched within the RESIST Community that has so many branches throughout the incredible Bay Area.  I am the event coordinator for both a non profit Soto Zen Japanese Buddhist organization comprised of multiple temples throughout California, and the only Anarchist Collective Bookstore in San Francisco which has been volunteer run for over 40 years.  I facilitate a weekly open showcase there on Thursday nights that has everything from 18 year Non-Binary identifying poets to 75 year old living encyclopedic jukeboxes of every protest folk song known to humanity. I am seeking to take advantage of all of the ecstatic bliss, genius, and pure unadulterated power that the Bay Area has to offer.  And I am thriving.

Now we can get down to the sub-atomic molecular structure of what this article is all about.  I am calling myself out to live according to the principles that I claim to hold dear.  I have not been respecting them with my rampant consumerism, and that needs to change, pronto.  “McTexAssTrumpLandia” wants to be the air that I breath.  It wants me to swallow the lies that so many believe and ignore the totality of why I ever grieve.  “The Owners of All Things” do not pledge allegiance to any flag.  All the flags of the world are butt toilet paper for the digestive systems, I mean “governments”, that they place in power by any means necessary from sea to toxic sea.  Saddam Huissein was put into power through a C.I.A sponsored military coup in the late 1970’s.  Osama Bin Ladin and his boys received tens of millions of our tax dollars from the late 1980’s until just about a month before the events of 9/11.   I don’t care if you don’t believe me.  In fact, I could give a fuck.  I am so tired and broken down physically, mentally and spiritually from trying to figure this all out.  After all, as my lovely voices are reminding me right now, what I really care about is my quest for the meaning of meaning.  Meanwhile, I am fucking sapped like a tree in a haunted forrest that knows the chainsaw is all gassed up and waiting in the shed while the master sleeps.

I know that I have a part to play in all of this.  My daily decisions ripple to the ends of infinity’s patience with being ascertained.  I vote each and every goddamn moment that I spend a cent and it is high time that I hold myself accountable for these reckless decisions.  I take part in a goregous revolution each and every time I offer kindness and compassion to anyone, whether or not I feel they deserve it.  For that judgement is not up to me.  There is a sacred force which is so beyond my ability to encapsulate it within the confines of the written word(or typed:).  All I ever need to be reminded of this awesome unknown is to try and listen to a motherfucking dog whistle.  How dare anyone, especially myself, ever think that our pathetic explanations of anything can be considered an absolute for all of time.  We need to evolve past the fear of the unknown.  I am going to start right now.

Be well my friends, and know that you are loved.  You can trust me on that……

 

Zine and book reviews

Book Review

 

“Street Farm” – Growing Food, Jobs and Hope on the Urban Frontier

by Michael Ableman, Chelsea Green Publishing, $ 29.95

or read for free at the Long Haul Info-Shop

Review by elke

 

Author Michael Ableman is one of the early visionaries of urban agriculture and co-founder of Sole Food Street Farms.

The colorful, expressive pictures alone were soul food to me.

The book describes the struggles, set backs and lessons learned in pursuing the vision to establish a farming project in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, a neighborhood that was lacking healthy food and jobs. It tells the heart- (and soul-)warming stories of a lot of the person(alitie)s working hard to grow the project. I was touched by the openness and honesty of these stories about how the connection to food also was changing people’s connection to life, a sometimes challenging process.

This is an inspiring and, at the same time, very practical book for people who want to get involved in urban farming or start their own project even outside the city. It also contains numerous tables and side notes, turning it into a valuable handbook for future urban farmers.

It is a beautiful book, even if it didn’t fulfill my hope of presenting a way out of our disconnected agricultural and economic system: The farm is heavily dependent on the high end restaurants that it serves (it also sells some of it’s produce at local farmers markets).

Much of the money generated by Sole Food Street Farms stays in the community and gives meaningful work to people who have been socially and economically marginalized.

Though I admire the folks involved with this project very much, the image of these fat cats dining on this beautiful produce in their 5 star restaurants made me want to throw a pipe bomb! You know that feeling, right?

 

ZINE Reviews

 

So we were cleaning the Slingshot loft and discovered this pile of fucking zines from like years ago that we probably should have reviewed but well, we’re activists, so like we’ve been busy with freeway shutdowns and putting on punk shows, and all sorts of other stuff that seemed more important than reviewing your zine (sorry). (seriously, sorry!!) We wish we could review everything that is sent to us, and it totally keeps us up at night, all these great zines that just keep piling up for us at the infoshop. The zines we don’t review still get added to the Long Haul zine library, where they will live until someone steals them—so at least that’s something, right? Shit. Anyway, sorry. Here are some hella belated zine reviews:

 

GREEN-EYED MONSTERS: My Report on Jealousy

By Lacey Johnson

www.etsy.com/shop/CreamyThighs

 

This terrific zine is a very courageous personal exploration of the intense jealousy Lacey experienced in a romantic relationship. She responded to a crippling episode of jealousy by reading about, researching, and analyzing jealousy. Being a professional illustrator and writer, she wrote the zine as a therapeutic tool for herself and others struggling with the primal experience of fear, anger, and sadness that can be triggered by a partner being attracted to or involved with someone else.

While brutally honest about the pain and the sometimes less than stellar behavior that jealousy can cause, the zine is hilariously funny. Even better, every page is brimming with amazing graphics and comics including everything from Miss Piggy and her rival pig Denise, to Beyonce with the baseball bat, from Homer Simpson to Oprah, to Bob Ross painting your emotional landscape, and more. Despite the heavy topic, she doesn’t take herself too seriously. The disclaimer on page one says, “This was born from snot and confusion and a failed love project and turning on the light to look in the mirror. I am not a love doctor, I am just a Pisces with an Aquarius moon.” The whole zine has that same humility and humor, and whatever your experience with jealousy, you are likely to find it educational and entertaining.

It is filled with great advice and specific tips on coping with and reducing your jealousy, in very bite-sized chunks and and a very welcoming format. She includes a bibliography with books, websites, and videos for those who want to learn more about jealousy. “Green Eyed Monsters” can be ordered from etsy.com/shop/CreamyThighs. You can find Lacey’s other comics at: tumblr.com/blog/whaleribbed and her artwork at: laceyjohnsonxoxo.com.

(Review by Kathy Labriola, Counselor/Nurse)

 

The Anarchist’s Guide to Travel: A Manual for Future Hitchhikers, Hobos, and Other Misfit Wanders

By Matthew Derrick

www.squattheplanet.com

 

Whether you’re a seasoned train-hopper, an urban explorer, or a homebody who likes to occasionally pick up hitchhikers, this book will make you smile and nod your head. It has the feel of sitting at a campfire and slowly sipping a forty with Squat the Planet founder Matthew Derrick, while he spills all his tips, knowledge, stories, and personal philosophies from over 15 years of being a migrant.

It gets a little preachy at times (spoiler alert: the Golden Rule is do your own damn dishes), but Derrick’s earned it. Like the dude has seriously figured out how to live a pretty decent life while traveling the country and living in tents and cars and squats and shit, and he wants you to know that you can too.

I especially appreciate that he included a bunch of interview questions with other travelers, so you get to hear stories from folks of other backgrounds and orientations in regards to what their experience has been like. Also, seriously, don’t hop a train until you’ve really thoroughly read the section on train hopping like ten times at least. Whether you just want to do your first off-the-grid road trip, or actually plan go all in and start rubber-tramping, bike touring, or become a boat punk, grab a copy of this book, hit the road, and unplug your ass from the capitalist machine. (Review a. Cat)

 

Restless Legs: A Photo Zine

www.cargocollective.com/bryanbrybry

 

If you’d like to venture through Portland, trash dive a punk art festival, and train hop to Pennsylvania alongside a crew of ruggedly inked friends, this could be a ride for you.

The true love of zine making as archive blooms in this collaborative photo zine.  The epigraph reads: “Nobody sees a flower, really. It is so small. We haven’t time—and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”

The artist’s friends appear in vivid color photographs that capture a certain and sincere care that the photographer puts into each relationship. Whether the subject is smoking a cigarette, grinning wildly, or reaching their hand into a trash can, the shared devotion of time between artist and subject—both past and present—throughout the transiency of space, paints a warm portrait of solidarity among radicals.

Capitalism’s colonization of time has endangered time as “the ultimate scarce resource”. Our allocation of time is a matter of justice. (Shippen, Nichole Marie “The Colonization of Time: Production, Consumption, and Leisure”)  This zine is in itself a fight for time, a political response—using moments and travel to nourish friendships, to create community, to support one another.

The diligent printing and care in the craft complement the zine’s beautiful simplicity. At second and third read, its deeper complexity moves the reader to go outside, call a friend, and take back one of the most precious resources—time.

Find this and other works by the artist at www.cargocollective.com/bryanbrybry.

(Review by H. Sabet)

 

No Gods. No Dungeon Masters.

Text by Ion O’Clast. Art by Rachel Dukes. Cover by Andy Warner.

www.silversprocket.net

(2015)

 

Anarcho-nerds rejoice! Behold an anti-capitalist riot populated by ents, druids, and Dr. Who! Gawk at a group of anarchists who disguise themselves as a Katamari ball-o-garbage cosplay to sneak into Comic Con! This zine is brimming with hella geek soul food punctuated by philosophical reminiscings about how radicals and nerds ought to team and rule the galaxy together. “Out of the Ether! Into the Streets!” +2 damage against cops! Check out their website for more of this ilk. (Review by a. Cat)

 

 

An anarcha-social-materialist’s review of Star Wars Episode VIII

By Catakin P. Parkwalker

The key difference between the Jedi and the Sith is the difference between experiential and authoritarian teaching styles.

The Sith teach through authoritarian obedience, with apprentices unwaveringly obeying the dictates of masters who lie to and manipulate them.  Rather than asking questions of those more powerful than them, the Sith either obey an authority unquestioningly or murder and replace it with themselves. It is this type of pattern that replicates empire. It is a pattern that will tempt revolutionaries to merely throw rebellions, a pattern that tempts revolutionaries into directing their energy towards narrow visions that are simply regime changes rather engaging in true revolutionary overhauls to the system. It is because of this that Sith spirituality lends itself so acutely to empire —the building of structures for the sake of replicating a structure, rather than the wellbeing of those interpolated by them.

The Jedi are about learning things organically. They hold on to the names they were given at their births, and their journeys as individuals are woven intricately into their training. Jedi Masters don’t attempt to divert their claim to mastery to some abstract system but rather embody it, meaning at times a Jedi Master’s personal truth and personal experience will, by necessity, cloud their judgment. And the Jedi Masters let their judgement be clouded as such; they let themselves make mistakes because they are letting themselves be specific people with actual specific circumstances that are meaningful to them. They retain their connection to those very personal circumstances, and never, like the Sith, attempt to erase them. And that is why a true Jedi is always ever a revolutionary, without even meaning to be, as their very existence posits itself as a challenge to empire. When a Jedi is turned, something terrible happens to the way they use the force. One might say that they lose themselves to the force, or at least to the social power it grants them, and rather than defending what they love with it, defending what makes them who they are, they find the deployment of the force eclipses them, subverting their subjectivities.

True mastery isn’t about doing things correctly, it is about how you direct your attention. The force might be thought of as a metaphor for many things. Religious Star Wars fans think it is god. I think it is social power — systematized social power in the Foucauldian sense. Star Wars offers a universe in which that Hegelian fantasy is given a more tangible form, with the Jedi and the Sith serving as larger-than-life ideological figures around which the sometimes clownish social structures of daily life in the empire or rebellion form themselves. But yeah, the force isn’t real or you would have noticed it. This isn’t some kind of Kansas City Shuffle. No.

Women have always been in positions of high leadership in the rebellion, even in the original 1977 film in which Leia Organa and Mon Mothma play central roles as decision-makers in the assault on the First Death Star, which might also be thought of as an assault upon that empirical, Platonic impulse best described by T.S. Eliot as “To have squeezed the universe into a ball. To roll it toward some overwhelming question.” Perhaps we all have to blow up our own inner Death Stars sometimes, to destroy those overwhelming ego questions, that, if left unchecked, will destroy the everyday world of eating peaches, of being there for our friends.

It is exciting to see, in the 2017 Star Wars universe, there are more women in all levels of labor in the Rebellion, and to also see a woman on the bridge in a Star Destroyer. Hey, representation goes both ways! And no matter what side you work for, this conflict must belong to all of us, and be accessible to all of us, and so much so the pageant of it.  Good versus evil isn’t just a game for white men to play any more, thank goddess. But perhaps as Kylo Ren tempts us to speculate, there is more to “evil” than we, who shun the concept, might give it credit for. As Nietzsche argues in his Genealogy of Morals, evil is a category that can only be perceived by those who experience oppression. To those who are oppressors, there is only “good” and “bad,” which is to say that oppressors don’t see their enemies as evil, just as “scum” to be eliminated. Evil is a mask we put upon those who oppress us so we can hate them as we fight them. But as Ren’s shedding of his mask shows, it is in seeing our oppressors as human that their power over us is made complete, and in its completion, finds itself destroyed. When Ren begs Rey to join him by his side, it is no longer as an oppressor but a frightened creature who, in that fleeting moment before manipulating his way back into the structure of the Empire, is at his most human.

Among the Jedi and their rebel counterparts, individual lives matter. Among the Sith and their imperial counterparts, individuals are killed for failing because their lives don’t matter. To be among the Imperials and the Sith is to have been made into a type of human commodity, into a faceless, interchange thing, and publicly murdering their own who fail is a way of reifying everyone’s interchangeability within the empire, of showcasing to each other the degree to which, within the empire, individual lives don’t matter.

To those of the dark side, only raw power matters. They see the talent rather than the person. They are focused only on properly placing that talent within the pyramid-shaped hierarchy of their organizational structure and have no grasp of what it means to have a personal experience as an individual, which is why they so frequently deface individuals with masks and new names, erasing the individual’s past and future, erasing that person’s journey and any markers that might allow them to construct the narrative of being on a journey, and rather reduce existence to an ever-present state of completing tasks and obeying or destroying your superiors and subordinates. The dark side doesn’t afford its adherents things like sisters, lovers, and comrades. The only antidote for this despair is extreme obedience. Vader knelt before the emperor even as he commanded him to murder is own son, but in a reversal of the ancient story of Abraham, Vader’s unwavering faith in the force-for-the-sake-of-the-force is shattered by the command to end his son’s life and his humanity is restored.

As people on the internet have pointed out, the new film redeems the prequels, as unwatchable as they are, by reframing them as a time in which the Jedi Order became corrupted, with a pseudoscience of “midichlorian counts” overshadowing the spiritual underpinnings of using the force.

To turn someone from the dark side back to the light is to make their life matter again, to give them an identity with relationships and channels of meaning that matter to them and to others.

The rebellion offers no ready-made hierarchy between strategy and feelings, so at times, two groups within the movement find themselves at odds, talking past each other, one group saying “this is how it feels,” the other group saying “this is how it should be done.” This type of social messiness is tied to the basic human expression that they fight to maintain space for.

The Buddha is sometimes credited with saying, “Be your own light,” but to do that means you don’t get to have the sort of easy answers that only others can give. This is why Jedi Masters do not demand that their apprentices obey unwaveringly, but rather, as Master Yoda says to Master Luke after setting fire to the ancient Jedi texts, “We are what they grow beyond, that is the true burden of all masters.”

Master Yoda also tells us that fear is what turns people towards the dark. And this is what we see time and again in the lives of those who succumb to the way of the Sith. Sure, the Jedi also have fear and insecurity — they are plagued by it — but the Jedi manage their fear and insecurity as best they can, sometimes making wild, irrational decisions propelled by it. But the Sith have a very different relationship with fear and insecurity. Rather than managing it daily, they attempt to make it vanish by making themselves so powerful that they no longer have fear and insecurity.  In doing so, they erase themselves. Giving in to the dark side is guided by fear — fear that you aren’t enough — leading to the donning of a mask: you become fear itself. This embracing of fear to escape fear — of turning yourself into a thing to be feared as a way to avoid grappling with your own fear — is at the heart of any gesture towards fascism, of any turn towards the dark side, towards the rigid lines of empire and colonialism, it is self-erasure at its deepest form and it is this that guides members of our species towards organized, machine-inspired behavior that destroys all living things.

Like the Sith, the Jedi sometimes do conceal the truth from their apprentices. Old Ben lies to Luke about his father being dead, and Luke conceals the truth about Ben Solo’s turn from Rey. These lies come from the very flawed yet deeply human place of wanting to protect others, and perhaps oneself, from the truth. Does that make these lies any better then the types of lies Sith tell, lies inspired by the desire to increase the power and obedience of the apprentice? In words of moral relativist DJ, “Maybe.”

Luke’s end was so perfect for him. Yoda had long chided Luke for always watching the horizon — never focused on where he is, what he is doing. In his final act, Luke’s not-there-ness achieves perfection. Because Luke was never supposed to be “there” or “here now” or any of that 1970s Ram Dass crap. Luke Skywalker’s job was to be a symbol, to direct people’s attention, to direct it in all the wrong places, or in the right ones, depending on who you are. Yes, Luke Skywalker is a commodity, and what Episode VIII does so well is it acknowledges that. But Luke Skywalker, at least within the story world of the films, is a revolutionary commodity. As Jedi Master Gil Scott-Heron taught us, “The Revolution will not be televised.” But until capital falls as hard as Darth Weinstein did last October, perhaps, for now embodying the revolutionary commodity is the most we can hope to achieve. #OccupytheSpectacle

Even if the police, guided by the lifeless logic of capital, march in and crush our seedlings with their bulldozers, as they did at Occupy the Farm in 2012 and 2013, and even if they fence in People’s Park and harm and murder peaceful protestors as they did in 1969 and the early 1990s, and even if the FBI breaks into the Slingshot loft and steals our computers as they did in 2009 — even as they strike us down in so, so many ways, we only grow stronger. The more they tighten their grip… well, you get the idea.

The rebellion could be wiped off the map — we have been before — but as long children are born who can feel their inherent worth as living beings — and refuse to let anyone convince them otherwise — the struggle will live on.

Water is Sacred.

Occupy Everything, Demand Nothing.

Black Lives Matter.

May the Farm be with you.

May 1000 Parks bloom.

Another collective member’s opinion

Okay so other than being a big goofy metaphor for the “Bernie bros” screwing up the 2016 election through their, uhhhh, “tangential” direct tactics to confront the conditions that empower empire at the codic level, the new Star Wars movie was okay I guess. Worth the torrent. (Wendy)

The meat-prison-industrial complex

By Tom Crimmons

A victory! I fought for 3 years to get my veganism accomodated, including a drop of 20 pounds of body weight at one point with some weeks of getting as few as 3 vegan-acceptable trays a week (out of a possible 21 meals per week), the rest refused. In response to my complaint in the US District court, Tuscon, a vegan option is now available here at United States Penitentiary (USP) Tuscon, perhaps only the second Federal Bureau of Prisons (BoP) facility to make a vegan option available — the first being a facility up in SeaTac. The vegan option is now available for any inmate at USP Tuscon to sign up for, and as the menu develops, it will be a possible model for other BoP facilities.

I hope other federal inmates reading this, who are going through similar trials, will be helped knowing that some change has taken place. They might wonder, as I did, why veganism is (or was) resisted in the BoP. I’ve been vegan since February 1982, with my long-term veganism noted in my pre-sentencing report. I’m vegan because of deeply held beliefs rooted in empathy for animals and concerns for the world, beliefs which I can put in terms of my Taoism. I’d think most people would think such things should be positively reinforced. Why would BoP policy discourage such efforts based on the higher aspirations of inmates?

Here, the refusal to accomodate my veganism even went so far as instructions to the inmate servers to put nonvegan items on my trays, even after nearly three years of me refusing such trays and my complaints about weight loss. These instructions were necessary because the inmate servers normally had the common decency to leave nonvegan items off of trays intended for me. It would have cost the BoP nothing to allow inmate servers to continue doing this. It was hard for me to understand this active hostility to my veganism.

. . .

It’s apparent that much of what happens here is simply the following of old patterns – old traditions – some of which go back thousands of years. Realizing this, I had to concede that the people who are the gatekeepers of the BoP bureaucracy, who ignored my complaint, my rights, my wellbeing and my potential for positive contributions, are generally not conscious of the patterns and their origins. While these patterns didn’t begin with Constantine, they reached a certain stage of violent maturity in his actions.

When Constantine prepared his premeditated cruel murder of the Pythagorean Christians, there must have been a smell to the molten metal, and Constantine’s victims must have felt the radiant heat as it was brought close. There was perhaps one last opportunity to concede to the will of Constantine, who threatened a horrible death for refusing to eat the meat — meat brought into the empire by the slaughter done by Constantine’s armies. Constantine would have known of sources, like Plato’s republic, making the link between the warfaring of empires and the consumption of meat by their people, so he could consider it rebellion to this co-opted Christianity or simple ingratitude when the Pythagorean Christians refused to eat meat, and this he would not tolerate. His victim’s mouth would be pried and held open — no way to agree anymore — and the molten metal would be poured. What was the sound of attempted screams in an instantly-seared throat? Does the next victim still refuse, so core to his or her beliefs was refusing to eat meat?

The essence of that devil Constantine’s actions continues within the United States today. His premeditated cruel murder of the Pythagorean Christians has become the bureaucratized cruelty of the United States Penitentiary system, and an inmate’s passion for life can still get a life-threatening response.

There are at least two basic ways that human-on-animal violence leads to an increase in human-on-human violence:

1. The geo-political pressues, that Constantine might have learned about from Plato’s republic, come from the much larger ecological footprint required for a meat-centered diet, such that concentrated populations on such a diet are unable to live within the means of their region, thus they’re required to war with neighboring populations to obtain control over their neighbors’ agricultural production areas. This principle continues to play out as Americans, generally with one of the most meat-centered diets on the planet, have the largest military spending and reach.

2. There are cognitive processes where the way we treat animals is a training ground for how we treat other people. Becoming more comfortable with the killing of animals can make a person more comfortable with the killing of people. Some cultures have constructs to mitigate against this tendency, so that a pleasure in killing animals doesn’t become a pleasure in killing people, but warfaring cultures tend to exploit it. The “enemy” is dehumanized with racist or other characterizations that equate the “enemy” to animals, making killing mentally easier.

. . .

In the BoP prison system, we’re at a nexus between these principles. An imperialistic society requires subjugation of its people. So if a meat-centered diet requires imperialistic reach around the world, it will also require the willingness to imprison some high percentage of its people. And the high-security status of a prison like USP Tucson requires the guardianship by people who are willing to kill people under the right circumstances, so it’s no surprise to find a high percentage of hunters and ranchers among the corrections officers – and so no surprise there would be responses to veganism ranging from indifference to hostility.

The system is very costly and unsustainable, so change is inevitable – and it has begun. The ghost of Constantinople will continue to fade away.

Post contemporary consumer forensic anthropology

By Darryl Lick

Post Contemporary Consumer Forensic Anthropology (PCCFA) is the study of the immediate artifacts created from exhausting the perceived value of a consumable commodity, including forensic analysis of such objects in an attempt to ascertain what place/function/value the commodity had in the life of the consumer and why it is no longer useful or valuable, ownership rejected.

This study tries to include only objects that were abandoned without any expectation that they would be recycled or otherwise reused such as ‘gifted to the street’ items like books, clothes or anything that would not go directly to a landfill. These items can contain much or more of the original information of the product consumed in that the consumer imparts their own ‘fingerprint’ (haha) to the examined object (consumer demographics, habits, etc.) as well as the OEM encoded info (composition, function, place and manner of manufacture). One trend chronicled post anthrax scare in 2001-2002 was that 26 months later Cipro started showing up in a few ‘upscale’ dumpsters (Cipro is an antibiotic that is supposed to protect against bacteria like anthrax and has a shelf life date of aprox 2 years). Highly touted in the mainstream media, Bayer AG sure made out well. transforming Cipro into the most sought-after pharmaceutical since Viagra. (some high government officials supposedly began taking Cipro weeks BEFORE the USA weaponized anthrax germs were discovered in the post-Hmmm… ) Was the appearance of this PCCFA in the trash of the well-to-do related to the terror scam?

Another example could be the proliferation of discarded electronic devices from TV/computer/phones to wifi Internet of things dog poop scoopers. Moore’s law suggests that the complexity of of quite a few of these devices will increase at near expotentality. What becomes of the obsolete?

When laptop computers started getting better in the late 90′s the desktops started showing up on the street. Not so much anymore. Maybe people caught on to the fact that Computer circuit boards have gold and other precious metal traces in densities comparable to mined ore.

When LCD monitors became widely available there was a proliferation of toxic CRT monitors dumped on the street. Now the trend in this area seems to be flat panel screens LCD and LED, although most of the LCD screens examined still function…

A recent discovery has shown that most advanced microprocessors manufactured in the last 20 years (in computers , smart phones and most everything else containing a microprocessor that uses “speculative execution”) have an unrepairable security defect baked into their silicon (haha).

Will this be a new tsunami of E-waste when all these machines are replaced?

A different case is jetsam found in the street. This researcher’s most commonly discovered items now include: gloves (3 to 1 right handed), used condoms (don’t pick those up), lighters (40% are functional), money, phones, and of course the ubiquitous cans, bottles fast food trash, ciggy butts and plastic bags. Interestingly, now in CA, marijuana accouterments are beginning to show up, plastic baggies, bottles and tubes, plastic blunt wrapper packaging and dumped tobacco contents.

Yet another example is food production. In the United States alone it has been estimated that that 30-40 percent of food production is tossed before its intended application (getting munched).

What is the ownership of these objects? Who owns these things once the perceived value is depleted and they become regarded as waste, garbage, rubbish, trash. Who owns the pollution, and environmental degradation due to ‘outsourcing the cost of production’?

(hint: everyno/one).

The illusions of ownership and commodification are some of the foundations of capitalism and imperialism made manifest usually through violence or threat thereof.

Are the discarded artifacts of 10,000 years ago that different than the artifacts of 10 minutes ago? Who ‘owns’ any thing really? The oxygen, the water, the earth, the universe?

Nature seems to have evolved interlocking systems of life cycles where one organisms waste becomes another’s essential resource. When a group of organisms outstrip their input of these essential resources or produce more waste than can be consumed by something else they tend to starve or drown in there own shit like the yeast that lived in your beer. Did they ‘own’ the sugar? Will worms ‘own’ our silly arse’s when there time comes?

I’m sure if the reader just stops and takes a good look around, vast and fascinating fields of PCCFA’s to examine can be discovered on hand!

The forensic anthropologist seeks to construct models of life and values from the debris of the distant past. The PCCFA tries to do this for the immediate past with the after effects of consumption and over production. Also, its a good line to lay on the a$$* getting in yer face for exercising a right to the commons.…

So remember kiddies, when the man or some mindless trash talk’in capitalist consumer tells ye “git out of dat garbage scumbag!!” tell em “I’m with the PCCFAS and you can go take a flying fuck to the dumpster on the dark side of the mooooon!!”

 

To the trumblers!!!

 

Viva la trash!!

Organizer update

Thanks if you purchased a 2018 Slingshot Organizer — selling ‘em is how we pay to publish this paper. We still have copies of the spiral bound version for sale.

If you want to help draw art or otherwise create the 2019 Organizer, contact us now. We include the work of over 30 artists from all over the US and internationally in each organizer — it could be you this year. The schedule this year is:

• Edit and add more historical dates in May and June.

• Update radical contact list in June and July.

• Make art for the calendar starting June 24 with all art due July 22.

• Make the organizer July 28/29.

Once we get returns from stores in February, we’ll be giving away bulk quantities to organizations that distribute them to prisoners, immigrants, homeless people, or others who wouldn’t otherwise have access. Contact us if you want to participate.

The Slingshot Organizer smartphone app has been available for a few months and a handful of people are using it. We need help publicizing it. Tell your friends. Right now it only works on Android phones, not iphones and a number of people have asked for an iphone version, but we don’t have an iphone programmer. If you can make us an iphone version, email Slingshot.

Slingshot is working on a policy regarding either inclusion in or removal from the Organizer of radical historical figures who were racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise bigoted when looked at through today’s standards, but who nonetheless made important contributions to collective liberation in their own day. We have received a number of emails asking us to remove particular people from the organizer and it isn’t always clear what we should do. If you have ideas or suggestions, please let us know. If you see individuals included in the organizer who you think should be removed, write us about it. We might include your comments in a future issue of the newspaper on this topic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead soil means dead oceans

By Teresa Smith

Somewhere in the Central Valley of California, a commercial farmer is preparing to dump many tons of nitrogen upon her soil. This is because the soil is dead due to sloppy farming practices like direct sun exposure and harsh chemical pesticides. It would take only a few summers to nurse the nitrogen-giving microbial life in the soil back to life, but this farmer is trapped by the system of capital, and she must make fast decisions, thinking only one season at a time. So she dumps chemical nitrogen on her soil, allowing her crops to survive the season, but the nitrogen doesn’t stay put: it quickly washes from the field into the creeks and rivers, steadily making its way to the sea.

Once the nitrogen reaches the ocean, a tragic cycle begins: the sudden boost in nitrogen causes the algae population to swell, creating massive algae blooms that soon die and sink, feeding microbes that rapidly suck the oxygen from the water. This creates an oxygen-depleted area of water known as an ocean dead zone. When they enter an ocean dead zone, fish and crabs are knocked unconscious within minutes and die of suffocation. Likewise, slow moving sea creatures like clams, lobsters, muscles, starfish, and anemones all suffocate and die.

There are at least 405 known ocean dead zones in the world—in 1960, there were only 49. Ocean dead zones are often seasonal, as they are directly related to bad farming practices, but in places with high levels of nutrient pollution like the Baltic Sea, they stay year round. These dead zones kill a staggeringly high amount of marine life. The Chesapeake Bay dead, for example, zone kills an estimated 75,000 metric tons of ocean life each year. In the Gulf of Mexico, 212,000 metrics tons of marine life are killed annually by the massive dead zone that emanates from the mouth of the Mississippi.

Ending ocean dead zones is as simple as changing our farming practices. For example, in the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, chemical nitrogen became too expensive for farmers, and the dead zones in the Black Sea vanished, and marine life there began to recover. Because of this, we know that ocean dead zones can be healed, but only if the bad farming practices are put to an end.

This is one of hundreds of direct ways the ecology of our planet is being assaulted by capitalist practices of producing things only for profit and consumption, rather than in harmony with the beautiful biological systems our planet already has in place. We could grow all the food we need without doing it this way. Market competition is the only thing forcing farmers hands.

Dead soil can be nursed back to life by keeping it covered to prevent sun exposure, by feeding it compost tea, and by avoiding harsh chemicals. Once it is alive again, it will be just as productive as with the nitrogen, in fact, more so.

Farmers and the public must be educated about the relationship between chemical nitrogen dumping and ocean dead zones. There must be a demand for food created without nitrogen dumping—a demand for food grown in healthy soil with thriving microbial life.

All life on this planet is interconnected. Bringing the soil back to life is just one way to help the seas. We also need to reduce carbon emissions and the chemical dumping that leads to ocean acidification. We can do it. We can make these changes. But we have to demand better practices across the board.

Maggots in the business district

By Carrion Baggage

The news lingers over the community in a darkness that equals the winter nights. KPFA and its parent organization is $2 Million in debt to a real estate company…with another $6 Million still owed other places. The reality sets in that the resources built up by the community can be confiscated and given to the vultures. For once it seems like studying the issue won’t be of much help. To anyone. When encountering someone from the activist scene It’s hard to not mention the bleak tidings. One of whom has these wise words; “Well they are anti-capitalist — it makes sense that they’re bad with money.”

That’s being a bit generous, crediting the listener sponsored radio station that started in 1949 with being uniformly politically orientated. A few programs critique the way things are but most rarely disrupt the power structure. For example, when shit was brewing in downtown with protests raising hell about killer cops the programming on KPFA would be about distant struggles, and only report on the flashpoint later when crowds had dispersed. The original mission statement of the FM radio station seeks peaceful solutions to conflict by means of having opposing viewpoints air out their message publicly. This was shortly after World War 2 and the surrounding atrocities of that conflict, from racist death camps to racist atomic bombs, were still fresh issues for people. Most of them did not want to return to the conditions that created war and gross economic inequality.

KPFA and its umbrella organization Pacifica has made it through several decades and through various mutations of oppression. Their existence is a testament of the space that can open up when people gather their forces to make change. Very few left wing organizations have that distinction and the ones that do — like the Nation magazine — exist in an obscurity far from mainstream reality. The UFO economics of raising rents and the price of living being a monster to contend with have kept most people from political activity. The world is simply no place to be poor in though most of us on the planet are anything but. Weird then that the quarterly fund drives on KPFA are hyper-focused on being a home shopping network that caters to smug progressives who may be well-intentioned, but ultimately victim to having disposable income and not enough sense where to spread it. Books for $75, flash drives with video or audio of a some celebrity public speaker for $150. This has been quite lucrative for it allowed the station to exist in the black while almost any other community project eats shit and dies a premature death.

More news came in with the New Year worthy of rethinking about the merits of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Boxcar Books in Bloomington, Indiana closed from being suffocated with rents that went up 700% since it opened in 2001. An idealistic venture created during the bleak days of George Bush Jr.’s reign over the world and the commencement of “Never Ending War.” Settling near a college, they provided a space of resistance in the heartland of the US.

Recently Berkeley’s Long Haul Info Shop was host to a student from New College of Florida whose central studies is info shops. Savannah Hawk made a point to visit the space each day it was open and observe and interact with the various crowds. Much like Boxcar Books it would seem the primary users of the Long Haul are street people (calling them homeless is an outdated term). Both Long Haul and Boxcar Books opened to resist gross oppression. Treatment of “homeless” and issues of poverty being no more or less important than war, racism, sexism, homophobia….yet somehow this is what the fight is being boiled down to.

Should we blame the internet? Where is everybody? Long Haul was once the meeting ground for people who were between bouts of fighting the system — often planning where to shift the battle next. Boxcar Books made a public statement astutely noting that new projects tend to get more interest than in sustaining existing projects. Much of their statement exalts how the space provided a free toilet, free coffee and a space where people can charge their devices. It begs the question just what makes up the current definition of “Resistance”. Maybe our organizations shouldn’t advertise workshops that espouse ripping off corporations, squatting, un-arresting friends from cops and the finer arts of billboard redecoration — doing so will only invite state oppression. Still its kinda sad that people fight so hard to make a space and its essentially a drop-in center.

People new to the scene are not always burdened by what the space used to be or even what it is. For young people they are gifted with a vision of how the world could be. When asked to respond to Boxcar Books statement Savannah had this; “Reading this reflection immediately makes me think of that ridiculously corny phrase: ‘don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.’ And while this phrase is stupid and ambiguous, the essence holds true. For to be alive and co-create as a radical space or a collective entity, simply existing is an act of resistance. And I think it’s really easy to think of a closure as a failure; and maybe that’s because that’s what we’ve been taught to believe in this capitalist culture based on competition and exploitation. Whereas the reality is that existing in the first place is a triumph. To think that Boxcar existed for 16 years in the face of a warping ever-gentrifying landscape is a mighty feat in and of itself! Just thinking of all of the volunteers that were active participants in their own life; having to figure out how to deal with real challenges and share a space with others is no small task. Who knows what resonance and reassurance someone fighting depression or an eating disorder was able to find in the pages of zines displayed at Boxcar. Who knows what person was exposed to collective practices and the course of their life was shaped. Who knows what person needing to feel heard and valued was able to walk in and meet others needing the same comfort. And in reading Boxcar’s final reflection I am hopeful that this will not be the end of their collective journey but rather the closing of one stage to make room for another project somewhere down the line. ”

Boxcar Books’ farewell is a reminder how it is essential that people renew their sense of what the fuck they are doing. It would seem that the idea was to run a bookstore that would help keep open the space as a community center and organizing space for activism like prisoner support. That model seems untenable with the shifting game changes of capitalism. The KPFA model of fund drives relates back to the centuries old tradition of community barn raising — where various folk converge and invest their resources to collectively make something. That model seems remote to modern people. But it is something we all might have to consider necessary in order to make radical space. Its essentially what happens with this publication Slingshot every 3 months. There’s a need to create radical space, drop what you’re doing and help make it a reality.

In many ways what is needed is to make the new world while the old world dies. This year will mark the 20th anniversary of Seattle’s World Trade Organization meeting. Thousands of people converged from the grass roots in part to show opposition to the WTO. More so people saw themselves able to make their dreams a reality; from smashing a Starbucks window to frustrating a suit and tie on his way to a meeting intent on global dominance. From setting to motion an independent media organization to making an autonomous space that teems with imagination and personality. More dreams are needed when next we meet to speak our mind.