Category Archives: Issue #123: spring to action 2017

Berkeley Burns

By A. Iwasa

On Wednesday February 1st thousands of people participated in the successful shutdown of so-called Alt Right speaker, editor and writer Milo Yiannopolous at the University of California-Berkeley (Cal).  As a witness of the events, I strongly believe that what actually shut down the talk was the dozens of people who attacked the building Yiannopolous was supposed to speak in. We sent the message loud and clear:  his anti-immigrant and anti-feminist views are not welcome in the East Bay.

As should probably be expected, Yiannopolous, one of the Berkeley College Republicans and local corporate media reporters all denounced the direct actionists as repressive, and bemoaned that this happened at the home of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) on the evening news.

This is a very interesting way to try to flip the script considering the FSM was started in the struggle to spread the word about the Civil Rights Movement.  Many of the participants in the FSM were later involved in a direct action campaign to kick a Navy recruiter off campus starting with a sit down protest around the recruiter’s table and culminating in the 1966 student strike.

Studying the rise of fascism in Europe and what it led to indicates why people of conscience should feel moved to stop events such as the Yiannopolous talk, part of a tour that was also shutdown in Los Angeles and Davis, California.

Much like the Tinley Park 5′s participation in shutting down a white nationalists’ economic summit in Chicagoland, I think Cal’s Black Bloc are heroes and should be given awards for helping make February 1st the most beautiful night in Berkeley so far this year.

As Chris Crass wrote the next day in “The Time of ‘Never Again’ is Now” for the Anarres Project, “It’s crucial to remember that no one looks back at Germany during the rise of the Nazis and says, ‘well at least they respected the Nazi’s freedom of speech’. They say, ‘Never Again’.”

Calendar: spring flings

March 3-6

10 years since the bombing of al-Mutanabbi Street, Baghdad. Global events including San Francisco

 

March 7 • 7:30pm

The Case against Sugar 2286 Cedar St., Berkeley kpfa.org

 

March 8

International Woman’s Day (and maybe General Strike of women – date is TBA as of press time)

 

March 9-12

Extreme Appalachia Conference appalachianstudies.org

 

March 10 • 8pm

East Bay Bike Party. 2nd Friday each month

 

March 19 • 7pm

Slingshot new volunteer meeting 3124 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley

 

March 23-25

The Promise of Ethnic Studies Conference. San Francisco State University ethnicstudies.org

 

March 29 7:30pm

We Were Feminists Once. 2286 Cedar St., Berkeley. kpfa.org

 

March 29 • 6pm

San Francisco Critical Mass, meets at Pee Wee Herman Plaza (foot of Market Street) sfcriticalmass.org

 

April

Take Back the Night protests internationally against sexual assault takebackthenight.info

 

April 4

Liverpool Anarchist Bookfair

 

April 7-13

Sacred Peace Walk to Nevada Test Site

 

April 7-9

Balkan Anarchist Book fair-zagreb.org

 

April 8-9 • 10-5 pm

Punk Rock Flea Market trentonpunkrockfleamarket.com

 

April 14 – 15 All Day

“Engendering Change” Conference, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

 

 

 

 

April 15

Protests planned on numerous topics everywhere

 

April 15

Article deadline for Slingshot issue #124 3124 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley slingshot.tao.ca

 

April 19 • 7:30 pm

Omar El Akkad author of the “American War” 2727 College Ave., Berkeley kpfa.org

 

April 22 CHANGE SINCE SLINGSHOT WENT TO PRINTING PRESS

EVENT POSTPONED and will not be on April 22 – postponed to September, 2017 –  Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair bayareaanarchistbookfair.com

 

April 22

March for Science on Earth Day. Washington DC and other locations marchforscience.com

 

April 23 • 10-6pm

Berkeley Anarchist Students of Theory, And Research & Development conference sfbay-anarchists.org

 

April 23 – 29

Mass Mobilization to Stop the Drone Wars Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. shutdowncreech.blogspot.com

 

April 28

Chicago Critical Mass chicagocriticalmass.org

 

April 28-30

9th Brooklyn Folk Fest St. Ann’s Church

 

April 29

Pagan Ritual Beltane Magic Meadow. San Francisco bayareareclaiming.org

 

April 29

Humboldt Anarchist Bookfair humboldtgrassroots.com

 

April 29

People’s Climate March, Washington, DC peoplesclimate.org

 

May 1 • 6pm

May Day Anticapitalist March Space Needle, Seattle, WA (and elsewhere). General Strike may also be on the menu.

 

May 1

Application deadline Worcester Artist-Activist Residency worcesterartistactivistresidency.weebly.com

 

May 13

11th NYC Anarchist Bookfair anarchistbookfair.net

 

May 20 • 10-6 pm

Sheffield, UK Anarchist Bookfair sheffieldbookfair.org.uk

 

May 27-28 • 10 – 5 pm

Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. Montreal, Quebec anarchistbookfair.ca

 

May 28 • 10 – 6 pm

LA Zine Fest California Market Center lazinefest.com

 

June 2-6

Left Forum John Jay College, CUNY NYC leftforum.org

 

June 10

Stockholm Anarchist Bookfair Telefonplan 3, 126 37 Hägersten Stockholms Län, Sweden

 

June 10 • 12 – 10pm

2017 San Francisco Free Folk Festival. 450 Church St

 

June 20 • 7:30pm

Pagan Ritual Litha/Summer Solstice Ocean Beach, San Francisco bayareareclaiming.org

 

June 24

London Radical Book fair Goldsmiths – University of London

 

July 4

Rainbow Gathering welcomehome.org

 

Compost Rape Culture

By Emma Ain’t Dancing

While living as an activist in the Bay Area from 2013-15, I experienced intense harassment and unwanted sexual attention from four individual people in different radical communities. I outed them every time, and then left the community for a while to nurse my sadness and trauma. During the time just after I’d leave, the person would throw a big ugly tantrum about me—“That woman’s crazy!” Then, sure enough, within a few months, others who had been assaulted and harassed by the same person would speak out.

10. 3. 4. 2. Those are the numbers of other people in my communities who experienced assault or harassment from the same guys who’d harassed me. Of the 19 of us who came forward, one was a cis-man. The rest had been gendered female at birth.

I have come to accept that I am “a canary in the coal mine” when it comes to sexual violence. I am an abuse survivor, and I’m also what some people might call “empathic,” meaning I tend to be emotionally receptive (something I can’t turn off), so, from what I’ve found, folks tend to feel pretty comfortable expressing their “honest self” around me. This is usually awesome, and leads to really neat interactions with a majority of people I spend time with. But sadly, for about 1 in 100 people, when they encounter an emotionally responsive person, they respond by harassing the woman in front of them.

It is very scary when that side of a person comes creeping out. Like the book “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” What sucks is when no one else has seen the person turn into Mr. Hyde, so they don’t believe that he could possibly be like that. They think you’re crazy when you start freaking out around the “mild mannered” man.

What’s frustrating is that, since women’s oppression is a huge part of our everyday lives, a single incident against a women can trigger memories of all the unprocessed gender trauma everyone carries, and if that trauma isn’t also addressed in an open and compassionate way, the weight of it can feel like community psychosis.

Additionally, it is very troublesome when the men who are emotionally receptive in the community take on the shame for the behavior of another man. This leads to a strange behavior pattern in which many man-dentified people in the community start fixating upon the idea they must defend the perpetrator, otherwise, somehow, they are also responsible for his actions. They haven’t seen him turn into Dr. Jekyll. If they had, they would recoil from the idea that he is “a man like me” and rather understand this man is a separate individual person who has behaved monstrously without implicating anyone else but himself.

When a community has to deal with a case of sexual harassment or gender violence, it brings everyone’s unprocessed gender-related tensions to the surface. This is always a bumpy process, but it can bring positive growth when folks are ready to hold space for it and work through it together. The women in the community are likely going to be reminded of aunts, sisters, and female friends who have been raped and gender-oppressed, along with the uncodifible feelings of terror that brings. The trans-women will likely be grieving in different ways than the cis-women, since they usually came into womanhood later in life, but their grief is just as real and important. Likewise, transmen may find themselves dealing with stuff through the unique filter of their memories of having once been gendered female. The male allies of women will also grieve, thinking about strong women they have known in the past who were torn apart by the violence embedded in gender relations. Gender-related grief is also often going to be expressed differently by those of differing racial and cultural backgrounds. Holding space for this grief is huge, and will only bring growth to the community!

So, it is important to hold space for the general gender-related grief that will undoubtedly emerge when an individual incident is revealed; however, we also must address every individual incident specifically: You can’t reset a broken bone by getting worked up about all the bones ever broken in the history of the world, but rather, you have to focus on the specific injury in front of you. It is through addressing individual instances that we can reframe the 5,000 years of gender oppression—(an oppression so old, it is even found in the world’s oldest book, the Epic of Gilgamesh)—and create an occasion to churn, compost and finally move past this systematized oppression.

That said, I don’t think people who have been sexually harassed should ever be pressured to disclose the details. Ever. Retelling it can put you back into a state of trauma, especially if pressured to share before you’re ready. But I do want to share some details of what happened to me because I’m ready. Also, I feel it is important every once in a while for someone in the community to clarify what is meant when people use terms like “gender harassment” “assault” and “threats of sexual violence.”

Other people (especially those not of the female gender) might have detached, abstraction-based reactions to the incidents found below. Part of what made these incidents so terrifying to me and (potentially triggering to other females—you have now been TWed) is that there are the underlying gender relations & power dynamics at play, which meant I lost my power the moment these things occurred.

Incident 1: One dude was just a friendly face in my favorite anarchist community space. Until one day when he randomly informed me that “he liked the way we flirt.” I was confused by this because I had never once flirted with him. When I informed him of this, he claimed “we were always flirting” and began to threaten me with sexual violence, repeatedly, hedging it under the language of “you secretly want me to…” and would not stop when I said the conversation “needed to end – stop stop stop” until I had to flee. Some terms for this: threats of sexual violence, harassment.

Incident 2: One person at an farming project where I was an intern grabbed my ass, hard, like with his fingernails digging into my buttcheek (for a second I thought I was being attacked by a wild animal!). This happened in the dark while I was walking alone to the outhouse to pee (he was crouched in a bush, I guess). After this happened, I locked myself alone in my tiny house and spent the next two days dealing with panic attacks, afraid to go outside. Finally, I confronted the individual, who was a founder of the project. I told him I did not enjoy what he did and would like him to never touch my body again and that I likewise did not want him touching anyone else in the community the way he had touched me. With that, he spent an hour yelling at me, spiraling all over the place, saying everything from “I was expressing my natural self—I’m a touchy person!” to “I’m the victim here—I was sexually assaulted as a child!”—he kept getting louder and louder, as he rattled off excuses and blamed me for having not wanted to be touched. Terms: physical assault—sexual? Definitely non-consensual.

Incident #3: In a co-op house where I lived, a dude moved in who really didn’t like being ignored by women—he would bully the other cis-ladies into giving him back rubs, but I was the only one who ignored his random, forceful proclamations of his shoulders hurting. Then, one Friday, after everyone else rolled out of town for a music festival, he violently attacked me while I was making tea. “Please leave me alone!” I kept saying as he backed me through the house. I spent six hours hiding in a closet, shouting “I have a knife and will stab you!” every time he tried to force the door open, until finally he left for work. I spent a week staying at a friend’s house, lying on her floor, unable to get a sentence out without crying, before I finally emailed my housemates to tell them what had happened. …They didn’t believe me until he’d done this kind of thing to two other women (!), and was actually caught in the act of pinning a female housemate to the ground while she begged him stop (!!). Terms: gender-based sociopathic behavior, assault, harassment, serial abuse

Incident #4: Finally, I had just moved into a new apartment, a live-work space for progressive artists. A few days after moving in there, one of my new roommates said he was bored, so I suggested we watch a movie together in the living room (because why not?), but he kept trying to talk during the movie (like, random ranting about his day or something), and after fifteen minutes of this, I was like “Ya know, I haven’t seen this movie yet, so is it cool if we don’t talk until after?” At that moment, he rather violently ripped the TV cord out of the wall and said, “This is my TV anyway!” and carried the TV into his room, and then he came back out into the living room and broke a lamp and started throwing things. I left the house, deeply alarmed, and spent the night sleeping in the woods nearby (I hadn’t been able to grab my phone before leaving, unfortunately). The next day, I snuck back into the house to gather my vitals and texted the other housemates. I learned that this guy had a “weird habit” of “latching on” to women, and that one of the other female housemates had caught him lurking outside of her boyfriend’s apartment in the middle of the night a few weeks before. Terms: stalker, gender-related harassment.

None of these people were close to me. They were just people who had randomly been in my milieu, folks I’d see in passing, and then one day I saw this really terrifying side of them, a side that only came out once they perceived themselves to be alone with a woman.

Of the 4 above-mentioned cases, outing the person either led them to be forced to leave, or led the community to have a discussion which placed the person’s behavior in the spotlight, leading the person to realize they wouldn’t be able to get away with it again. I am thankful for the women and women’s allies who facilitated these community actions to address what happened while I was off healing. I helped those allies as they organized those communities discussions as much as I was able, but an important part of my healing was to not feel like I had to confront my attacker. That would have traumatized me even further (emotions can’t be “solved,” only healed).

Ultimately, after the initial fallout after the community actions, the communities got bigger, stronger, and continued to thrive thanks to women feeling more empowered to speak out should things become unsafe for them. But initially, I get a lot of blowback. Here is a sampler of things people actually said to me when I outted these men:

“But he reminds me of my big brother!”
“He is an irreplaceable part of this movement!”
“But he is a minority!”
“But I think he’s mentally ill.”

None of these things are excuses. Yet, in the first few months after outting a person, it’d be an endless, frustrating non-communicative loop of “He violently attacked me” versus “But he is so ________!” It’s a strange, fucked up, illogical cycle. It usually wasn’t until the 2nd or 3rd or 8th victim stepped forward before the community finally woke and took action.

Being the first to step forward takes a lot of courage. But how could I not step forward once someone had shown themselves to be dangerous? Each time I stepped forward, it wasn’t out of concern for myself (if I’d been thinking only about myself, I would have simply left and never spoken to any of these communities again), but it was out of fear for the next bright-eyed person who might step into the perpetrator’s path. I wanted it to end with me—or at least make life a little better for the next crew of ladies coming through.

But being the first person to step forward about a person, unfortunately, means you will experience a shitstorm from the community. After I stepped forward following the above cases, random people who weren’t involved gave me threats of violence. People I’d never met said they were going to sue me. I even had someone send me a harassing, illogical email accusing me of being “a spy for the NSA.” What the fuck does that even mean? People of all genders blew up at me—in fact, the most vicious and hurtful bullshit I fielded was often from other women.

The thing I learned from these experiences is, when you are outting an abuser who is involved with a project, people think you are pissing on their project. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. You are trying to save the project from a parasite—from someone who is sucking up the project’s positive energy and turning it into trauma.

There is a common saying in activist communities that “Accusations of harassment damage the community.” This saying is simply not true. It is not the accusation that hurts the community, but the silence that proceeded it. Yes, it seems like “more bad stuff is happening” when female victims start speaking up, but it was all there before, it is now just coming to the surface.

We live in an anti-women culture, and gender violence is a key way women are kept in check. Gender violence is in every corner of society—from the most elite conservative prep school to the most radical wingnutty anarchist co-op. When sexual violence happens in your community, it is not because your community is sick, but because our society is. When someone outs a consent-violator, they are doing the most good they can for the community. Consent-violators are what keep amazing movements small. When women can’t be assured of their basic right to safety, they will not stay in your movement.

Sexual violence is a big part of what keeps women clinging to capitalist spaces rather than thriving in community spaces. Joining community space is already an energy suck under capitalism because you still have to interact with capital to cover your basic needs. So then, if there is a violent person in that space targeting people because of their gender, the community project goes from being a sometimes fun energy suck to a nightmare scenario to be avoided at all costs.

Based on the numbers of people who came forward after I stepped forward, I am increasingly convinced that it is gender harassment, and communities’ failure—to address it—that pushes out a majority of those who leave radical community. Currently, gender harassment causes too many people to give up on the idea of community and go back to devoting their energy exclusively to sustenance under capitalism—and the ecocide capitalism entails.

When you speak up about gender violence, the only thing that gets hurt is people’s delusions about the world we live in. And those delusions must go. We must move beyond gender-violence-blind sexism. We must see it to heal it. We must make space for it to be real to heal it. We have not yet achieved gender freedom or gender equality, but we can get closer by learning to hold space for the reality of gender violence when it happens in our communities.

I hope someday women are able to share when stuff like this happens without community backlash. I hope that someday, victims of gender-related violence are able to have our words received in a rational way. But until gender becomes equal, this is what we’ve got.

Shit people say to survivors

By Joan

Rape is horrible. It should never happen to anyone, for any reason. Rape is also not a choice. And yet, when people hear that someone they know has been raped, they respond in really strange, often irrational ways. It can be hard to accept that someone you know was raped. But the way you respond to them will make a great deal of difference as they struggle to reclaim their life.

The following list of responses has been compiled based on a decade of conversations I’ve had with rape victims. This is all real shit people hear when they have tried to come forward about being raped, and is also shit I heard when I came forward with my truth.

All of these responses are a way to avoid listening, and ultimately put blame, guilt, and shame upon the victim. That said, if you experience rape, not everyone in your life is going to get it, and you are probably going to hear a lot of these idiotic responses and just going to have to forgive your friends and community members of their ignorance.

“Stop being so sex-negative!”

Let’s say someone has been forcibly fed ice cream again their will. When they tell you about this, the thing they are upset about is not the ice cream, but the forcible imbibing of ice cream. After an experience like that, it’s going to be extra weird to deal with the prevalence of ice cream everywhere in this society. It is likely to remind them of the moment when ice cream was used to make them feel powerless. Being called “ice-cream-negative” for being triggered is going to make then feel extra shitty.

On the other hand, they might have the opposite reaction: eating lots of ice cream in a detached way as a mode of self-harm, and becoming somewhat aggressive about putting ice cream in everyone’s face. That’s a perfectly normal reaction too.

Everyone heals from trauma differently. Don’t make assumptions.

“Are you trying to sabotage our organization?”

This a mindblowingly common response when rape happens between members of the same organization. It takes on many forms: Activists: “Are you trying to destroy the movement?” Business people: “Are you trying to ruin the business?” Gamers: “Are you trolling our group?” Military: “Are you trying to hurt the country?” Etc.

It blows my mind that anyone would say this to a rape victim—or worse: say something like this publically to everyone in the group the moment they learn someone has been victimized. Yet, for some people, it’s the first thing they can think of: that the person got raped strategically to harm their project. WTF! Time to set the project down or a second, and acknowledge that something very sad and outside of the logic of the project has happened—but something that is a huge part of the underlying logic of oppression in our society.

“You’re letting the rapist win.”

If a rape victim tells you they can’t go back to a space, or eat a type of food, or need to leave the party now, don’t respond by saying: “You’re letting the rapist win!”

This person is dealing with trauma.  Trauma isn’t a battle. Trauma is the aftermath of things you can’t control. To continue to do things that evoke trauma causes even more harm. Rape survivors who have this figured out often seem “flighty” because they suddenly get triggered by something, and have to end the conversation and leave. That doesn’t mean they are any less powerful, or that they are letting anyone other than themselves win. Stepping back means they know what they need to do to heal. Respect that.

“You need a protector… like me.”

I wish I didn’t have to explain how utterly inappropriate this response is. Shouldn’t it be obvious? Either this is gross because you are using someone being raped as an excuse to hit on them. Or maybe you believe in your heart of hearts that you actually want to give up your own life to become the protector of a woman and follow her around keeping her safe, never excepting anything in return. ….Are you sure you’re not expecting something in return? This specific response to rape and rape culture is at the core of the dissociative narrative that has allowed women to be reduced to 2nd class citizens. Rather than addressing the rape problem, many men would rather profiteer off the rape of women by becoming “protectors.” Thanks, protector dudes, for capitalizing off of sexual violence to turn my people into unpaid emotional laborers!

“What I would have done if I was in your shoes is…”

…killed the rapist?

…called their mom?

…turned into a magical unicorn and flown away?

Firstly, you’re assuming I didn’t do all of these things. Secondly, this isn’t about what you would have done. This is a story I am telling you about something bad that has happened to me. Stop trying to solve it, and just listen.

“What did you learn from it?”

That’s like saying “What did you learn when that tornado that destroyed your home and killed your dog?” Rape is a thing that happens to you without your permission. It is a disaster. Not a “learning experience.”

“What were you wearing? Doing? Saying? What color was your shirt? What was your childhood like? …GIVE ME ALL THE DETAILS OF YOUR LIFE.”

Okay, this is such a shitty thing to do. It comes from the impulse to analyze the rape so you can try to create a story for yourself about how the victim did something to deserve it, so you can pretend you are safe. That is classic “victim blaming,” and it is really hurtful and obvious when you are doing it.

Just a quick refresher in case you forgot:

Rape is never the victim’s fault. To invent a story about how the victim did something to get raped is a way of saying “rape is an appropriate response to [x].”

Rape is never the appropriate response to anything. Someone could be lying naked and unconscious in the middle of the road. Is the correct response to rape them? No. Don’t be a Victim Blamer. Don’t empower rapists. Don’t be part of the problem.

“Let me tell you about something worse that happened to someone else in some random place in the world.”

I’m sorry. Did you think I was telling you I have it off worse than everyone on earth? No. I was telling you I got raped. We are having a real conversation about something specific that actually happened to a person in this conversation. Don’t try to smooth it over. Just hold space for it, okay?

“Buck it up. Be strong.”

I’m sorry that your response to other people’s hardship is to tell them not to feel. You must have very low self-esteem and that is sad.

“You’re lucky you weren’t also killed and ground into sausages.”

….uh, aren’t we all?

“Not you! I don’t know how I’m going to survive how bad this makes me feel…”

Oh great, now you’re dumping on me with your emotions about how my rape makes you feel? Like I don’t have enough on my plate already! This is absolutely the worst response.

“At least you’re feeling better now!”

Feeling better even though now I have lost my sense of safety around other humans? Riiiiiight.

“I will kill the person who did it! I will murder them good!”

Thanks for making me into a token in your fantasy of beating someone up for a “just cause.” Yeah…You’re a real hero.

Sarcasm aside: I don’t need your rage right now. I’m recovering. And now you’re putting me in this really complex space of having to make decisions about the physical well-being of my rapist?

This kind of response is a huge part of why victims remain silent: it is really troubling to have people deflect from what you are trying to communicate by imposing their visions of heroics and violence over it.

Seriously, the only heroic thing you can do is, in a non-punishment kind of way, work to get the rapist out of the physical spaces of the victim’s life so she don’t lose her community over what happened.

“Why don’t we just have you and the rapist work it out?”

FUCK NO! Would you make someone “talk it out” with a dog that bit them? Any trauma survivor shouldn’t be put in contact with the source of their trauma unless they feel ready, otherwise they will be re-traumatized.

Yet, somehow, the most common response when someone reports a rape to a group in which both the survivor and the rapist are member  is to try and force the victim into negotiations with their rapist. THIS IS INSANE. It is just going to re-traumatize the victim, whose emotions are probably going to verge on psychosis by the time the night before “the negotiations” come around. Hasn’t a rape victim already been through enough?

Thanks to this group behavior, a pattern of “power rape” has emerged in organizations in which a serial rapist or gender abuser will use sexual intimidation to remove female competition. They know they can do it because they will be forced into negotiations with the woman—even though they have already won by taking the woman’s power away from her by violating her consent. Likely, the victim will leave the community to avoid ever exposure to the person who raped them.

Reporting a rape is not an argument. There aren’t two sides here. If you want to stay friends with the rapist, that’s your call, but any contact the survivor has with that person will be hella traumatic.

“Are you sure that’s what happened?”

Well gosh, now that you mention it, I’m not sure anything has really happened…ever. Hell, since nothing is real, why don’t we just start prying your eyes out with this grapefruit spoon!

“It was bound to happen to someone like you.”

And if I murder you right now, it was likewise bound to happen to ….someone like you?

Sorry for the cynicism. Okay. Calming down.

So, if you try to essentialize rape victimhood by saying “Some people just have the personality of a rape victim” you are going to make that person feel crazy.

It’d be like saying, “some people just have the type of personality that causes them be randomlly pushed onto the BART tracks strangers.” It’s just a weird, nonsensical thing to say.

Yet a lot of women, especially those who came of age in the 1970s or 80s seem to think this is a valid response when a younger women tells them of a rape. My theory is they are all suffering from mutual insanity after all living through the 70s and 80s, a period when the rape epidemic was so bad, it was treated as a positive thing when it happened to women in movies.

BELOW ARE SOME BETTER WAYS TO RESPOND when someone tells you they’ve been raped or experienced sexual violence:

Many rape victims often leave their circles or communities to avoid further trauma that is often caused by loved ones who don’t get it. You can help break this cycle by being present and ready to listen.

Listening means hearing the person out without trying to force their narrative one way or another. By accepting rape when it has happens, we begin the transformative process of healing as a culture.

“I hear you, and I will keep listening.”

If you aren’t ready to respond, that is okay. When rape happens to someone you care about, things really hit home. And your emotional response might not be a helpful response to the victim. It is okay to say:

“I’m really sad this happened to you. I need to take a moment to feel my emotions about this. Can we talk again next week? Can we schedule that talk right now?”

So take a week. Do some journaling. Sort your own stuff out. But make sure you get back to the person. Your response will help the person feel okay again.

More good things to say:

“What are things can I do to support you right now?”

“I don’t have the same experience as you, and I know that. So you’re going to have to let me know what I can do to help. And if you can’t think of anything right now, that’s okay. Let me know when you do.”

“I would like to help make sure the rapist can’t enter the spaces I have power over.”

Any trauma survivor shouldn’t be put in contact with the source of their trauma unless they feel ready, otherwise they will be re-traumatized. This means it is on their friends and members of their organizations to clear that person from the space. This is the #1 thing you can do to help a rape survivor because it means they will not have to lose their public and groups simply because they were raped. But this is a way to show that .your support is more than just talk, but that you care enough to help the rape victim regain a sense of safety and well-being.

Imposing a people’s carbon tax – A list of pipelines & other threats

Compiled by Jesse D. Palmer

We need to impose a People’s Carbon Tax that slows down fossil fuel projects and makes them more expensive. The vulnerable weak links are everywhere. Most fossil fuel infrastructure has toxic and dangerous local impacts and brings little if any local benefit, so while the struggle against emissions is a global struggle, the People’s Carbon tax is easiest to impose locally.

Human emissions of CO2, methane and other gasses are rapidly destabilizing the climate and acidifying the oceans, despite anyone’s attempts at distracting us, denying science or spreading lies. 2016 was the hottest year in recorded history, second only to 2015 and 2014 . . . People everywhere aren’t just mourning — we’re organizing to block the types of short-sighted investments in fossil fuel infrastructure that lock the world into more emissions for decades to come. We demand zero investment in fossil fuels so money can be available to build cleaner alternatives like solar and wind power.

With the government and corporations pushing global extinction, regular people are putting their bodies on the line everywhere and in greater numbers. The inspiring protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline are the most visible right now, but we don’t have to all go to North Dakota to join the resistance. The fossil fuel monster is so huge that you can find a pipeline, oil refinery, coal mine, drilling rig, rail line shipping fossil fuels or shipping terminal close to home that would look great redecorated with protest signs and shut down.

Here’s a very incomplete and preliminary brainstorm of places where people are resisting fossil fuel projects — email Slingshot the ones you know about in your area and we’ll publish a better list next time. This list focuses on native-led protests, although not exclusively, because of help from rebelrebuildrewild.org and mediacoop.ca in making this list.

Trans-Pecos pipeline and Comanche Trail pipeline – Texas-Chihuahua, Mexico
The Trans-Pecos and Comanche Trail pipelines would carry fracked gas from Texas into Mexico, where it will supply the Mexican energy grid. The Two Rivers camp is a native-led resistance camp erected in the face of the Trans-Pecos pipeline.

Jordan Cove Energy Project – Oregon
The Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline project is a proposed 232-mile, 36-inch diameter pipeline designed to transport up to 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from interconnects near Malin, Oregon, to the Jordan Cove terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon, where the natural gas would be liquefied for transport to international markets. The pipeline would cross under the Klamath, Umpqua, Rogue, and Coos Rivers as well as about 400 streams and require destruction of old growth forests. The project would be the West Coast’s first export facility for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). The LNG terminal and pipeline are opposed by Coos Bay residents and members of the Hoopa, Yurok and Karuk Tribes.

Longview Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export facility – Washington
The proposed project would permit up to 44 million tons of coal per year to be exported by sea. The coal would arrive via rail and involve trains moving along the Columbia River Gorge. It has been opposed by local residents.

Sabal Trail pipeline – Alabama – Georgia – Florida
The Sabal Trail pipeline is a 515-mile natural gas pipeline being constructed from Alabama to Georgia to Florida. It threatens one of the largest freshwater aquifers in the world. The Sacred Water Camp and Water Is Life Camp are ongoing camps opposing the pipeline, along with Bobby C. Billie, spiritual leader of the Council of the Original Miccosukee Simanolee Nation Aboriginal Peoples.

Line 3 pipeline – Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin
The Line 3 pipeline expansion is designed to transport 760,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil from the mines of Hardisty, Alberta, to Superior, Wisconsin, through the heart of Anishinaabe territory and some of the most beautiful lakes and wild rice beds in the world. The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs among others is challenging Line 3.

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline – Alberta to British Columbia, Canada
The expansion of Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline would transport tar sands oil from northern Alberta to the British Columbia coast. The Sacred Trust is an initiative of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation with a mandate to stop the project.

Pilgrim pipeline – New York and New Jersey
The Ramapough Lunaape Nation, a community in the Ramapo Mountains, currently face the threat of the Pilgrim pipeline, which would transport Bakken crude oil from Albany, New York, to Linden, New Jersey. Resistance includes the Split Rock Prayer Camp. Spectra Energy also continues to expand its pipeline network so that more fracked natural gas can be transported and ultimately exported.

Petronas/Pacific Northwest Terminal – Prince Rupert, British Columbia
The Petronas/Pacific Northwest Terminal is a proposed liquefied natural gas plant on traditional Lax Kw’alaams territory Lax U’u'la (Lelu Island) at the mouth of the Skeena river near Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Plans call for a 48-inch diameter submarine pipeline to be dredged into estuary sediment to supply fracked gas from Treaty 8 territory. Ten Indigenous nations and 60,000 people in the Skeena watershed rely on fish there for food, commercial fishing, and cultural identity. The Lelu Island Camp on Lax Kw’alaams traditional territory is fighting to stop the terminal.

Diamond pipeline – Oklahoma – Arkansas – Tennessee
Arkansas Rising is a collective of guardians working through direct action to stop the Diamond pipeline, a 20-inch diameter pipeline that would run 440 miles from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Memphis, Tennessee. The pipeline would cross more than 500 waterways, including five major watersheds. Construction has already begun.

Atlantic Sunrise pipeline – Pennsylvania
The Atlantic Sunrise pipeline is a proposed high-pressure 42-inch diameter pipeline to carry fracked gas from Marcellus Shale to US markets to the south. Members of Lancaster Against Pipelines and supporters have built a blockade, nicknamed “The Stand,” on a farm in Conestoga in Lancaster County in the path of a proposed route. They are refusing to grant right of way to the project and have said they will occupy it if construction begins.

Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline – Pennsylvania
The Sunoco Mariner East pipeline is a proposed natural gas pipeline that would cross four states and facilitate fracking.

Bayou Bridge pipeline – Louisiana
Bold Louisiana is organizing to stop the proposed Bayou Bridge pipeline in Louisiana, a state that is experiencing climate devastation and coastline loss at an average rate of one football field of land every hour. This pipeline, a sister and end point to the Dakota Access pipeline, would run from Lake Charles to St. James, Louisiana.

Unis’tot’en Camp – British Columbia
For seven years the Unist’ot’en Camp on territory of the Talbits Kwah has stood at a site where a number of fossil fuel pipelines carrying tar sands or fracked natural gas (Enbridge, Pacific Trails Pipeline, Northern Gateway . . . ) want to cross the Wedzin Kwah river. It is located between Prince George and Prince Rupert in northern British Columbia. So far, no pipeline has crossed the site.

Cherry Point SSA Marine coal export terminal – Washington
If built, the $665 million project would be the biggest coal export terminal in North America, able to load up to 487 ships a year to carry coal abroad, mostly to Asia. A new coal terminal would bring thousands of railcars filled with coal to Washington from Wyoming’s Power River basin. The Lummi tribe and local residents oppose the project. [note: since publication, we have learned that this project was killed thanks to the efforts of the Lummi people.]

Fracking fields – California
Fracking has been documented in 10 California counties — Colusa, Glenn, Kern, Los Angeles, Monterey, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Sutter, Kings and Ventura. Oil companies have also fracked offshore wells hundreds of times in the ocean near California’s coast, from Seal Beach to the Santa Barbara Channel. In Kern County, California’s major oil-producing county, 50 percent to 60 percent of new oil wells are fracked, according to estimates by Halliburton. Oil companies are increasingly interested in using fracking in the Monterey Shale, a geological formation under the San Joaquin, and the Los Angeles basins that may hold a large amount of extraordinarily dirty, carbon intensive oil. Time for a protest!

Oil trains to Valero refinery – California
Valero Oil wants to build a railroad terminal at its refinery near the Suisun Bay to connect the refinery to Union Pacific’s rail line so it can bring in up to 70,000 barrels of crude a day. Residents along the rail line oppose the plan, saying it poses too many environmental risks and increases the threat of injury or death from a derailment. The refinery already imports crude by ship and pipeline. Valero plans to haul two trains a day pulling 50 tanker cars a piece through Sacramento on the way to the refinery.

North Dakota Nice to Mississippi of the North?

By Tracey

White people from North Dakota like to refer to their congeniality and Midwestern values as North Dakota Nice. I’m a white North Dakota transplant in the Bay area myself, and long ago, I began to treat that idea of Midwestern “niceness” with suspicion as I became critical of attitudes and stereotypes about Native Americans prevalent in ND. So, even though my NoDak community of friends and family have a long list of complaints about the negative effects of the oil boom, I was not surprised by the derisive response they had to Native Americans standing up to Big Oil. I was, however, surprised by the swift and violent escalation by the state. Even with a pretty good bullshit detector, I overestimated the sheriff’s North Dakota Nice and underestimated the lengths he would take to protect the state’s oil profits.

The out of state oil corporations have very little interest in investing in the well being of communities they operate in. They are there to wring as much money out of us as possible and cannot be trusted to clean up their messes. One only need look at the boomtown sex trafficking, dangerous unregulated working conditions and hundreds of oil spills that have already happened to see that.

I began following the developments in Standing Rock mid-August and was intrigued by local law enforcement’s response. I watched as compassionate North Dakota State Troopers tried to figure out what their role was in this protest. Yes, Berkeley knows about protests, but not my quiet state of North Dakota. I was proud of the way they handled themselves and treated water protectors with respect for their rights and as people. Sometimes shaking their hands, dancing and praying with them, and even were moved to tears themselves. This was North Dakota Nice I could be proud of. I held my breath, wondering how long it would last.

Then Governor Dalrymple quickly escalated the situation and changed everything. I watched over Labor Day weekend as Enbridge intentionally moved their equipment to destroy historical, sacred artifacts before the state could conduct the proper historical and cultural investigation of the area. I watched my state use an illegally permitted security company to attack women, children, elders, and horses with dogs so poorly trained they turned on each other and their handlers. This was the first image that sent the world the message that our North Dakota Nice was being replaced with the moniker Mississippi of the North.

At this point, it was clear a heavy hand was in charge, supported by private security companies employed by Big Oil as I began to see tactics never before employed in my home state. An undercover DAPL employee pretended to be a water protector while aiming a firearm at them and a brave Native American veteran used his training to de-escalate the situation, talking the highly agitated provocateur into handing over his gun without anybody getting shot. You can imagine how horrified I was when the veteran was then arrested and charged while the person wielding the firearm was released without charges. Justice is not blind to the politics of oil interests in North Dakota.

The tone and response got uglier and more violent as local law enforcement agencies became embedded by private security firms hired by the oil companies, compromising the integrity of and trust of the Morton County Sheriff’s Department. Unnecessary militarized equipment were pointed at Native Americans and protesters engaged in peaceful, non-violent resistance in the act of praying, while Enbridge illegally dug and laid pipeline.

Most disturbing is that North Dakota has spent its entire rainy day fund to foot the bill as a training ground for out of state law enforcement agencies so they can learn how to become their own oil police when this stand for environmental justice comes to their state. State health care providers are being asked to pay 5% more of their own benefits and other agencies that provide crucial services are being looted for funds. Neighboring states are rushing to help so they can learn these same tactics when they need them.

Media have been targeted and arrested and drones are shot out of the sky in order to suppress information about state actions and illegal drilling activity of Enbridge.

Then there’s the illegal use of less than lethal weapons. Do you know how Sophie Wilanski lost her arm? Medical evidence tells us it was not a propane bomb, as the Morton County Sheriff’s Department claims, but concussion grenades taped together with duct tape to create a blast. Countless pieces of evidence show us that law enforcement agencies are misusing less than lethal weapons by aiming at people’s limbs, groins, faces, and heads to cause injury and bodily harm.

North Dakota’s legal system is being used to target and arrest Native Americans, allowing law enforcement officers to manufacture evidence and concoct false charges with no evidence. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department has and continues to lie to the public about their actions. They publicly claim law enforcement officers did not shoot water cannons at people, despite clear footage publicized by major media outlets showing MCSD aiming directly at people with water cannons. One of these water cannons took the sight of a woman in one of her eyes.

There have also been some amazing acts of unity as the movement at Standing Rock unfolds, particularly in Indian Country as tribes have come together to lead the way to protect our environment in the changing landscape of energy use. Many Native American entrepreneurs are leading the way in the use of renewable energy. These same entrepreneurs are showing up at Standing Rock to build a model of how we could be living.

In an example of reparations in the form of apology, Reverend John Floberg of the St. James’ Episcopal Church in Cannonball, ND gathered over 500 clergy to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery, recognize the validity of Native American religious practices, and support Standing Rock and Native American’s sovereignty rights.

Reverend Floberg also spoke at a public forum at the Dakota Resource Center in which he described Governor Dalrymple’s initial reaction to the growing movement in the Fall. He described a heavy handed response in which the governor very quickly escalated the situation so he felt as if his only action was to continue to escalate. Governor Dalrymple was quoted as saying he couldn’t back down now or he would look bad.

Dalrymple was just replaced by a new governor who cannot deny that North Dakota looks bad, not just because of the state’s continued militant response to civil disobedience. North Dakota has become the Mississippi of the North and will continue to be on the wrong side of history if laws such as the ones being debated on the legislative floor right now are passed. Laws allowing people to commit vehicular manslaughter against protesters (HB1203). Laws diminishing rights and allowing police to target whoever they want by making it illegal to cover your face in public (HB1304). Laws showing an utter lack of historical understanding about the founding of this state and this nation, calling for the “return” of the Missouri River and mineral rights to the state of North Dakota to reimburse the costs of the overblown militarized response to Standing Rock (HB1281).

Radical spaces

Compiled by Jesse D. Palmer

Here are some additions and corrections to the radical contact list that Slingshot publishes in our organizer. DIY liberated spaces provide show venues, zine libraries, meeting and event space and a place to plot the next action and wash the pepper spray out of your eyes afterwards. These spaces are an evolving community effort, as is the Slingshot list. Let us know if you have additions or corrections.

In the wake of the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland that sparked a government crackdown on many underground art and music spaces, we’ve been especially treasuring all of the effort that goes into carving out hand-made space against the odds and under the radar. Give these folks a hug and pat yourself on the back. Slingshot’s online contact list could have updates to the printed list, except that some computerized thing is preventing us from updating it, and our tech friends won’t email us back . . . but check there anyway for kicks: slingshot.tao.ca/contacts

 

Simon’s Rock Zine Society – Great Barrington, MA

An infoshop collective at Bard College. At Simon’s Rock 84 Alford Rd. Great Barrington, MA 01230

Ideal Infoshop – Jacksonville, FL

They provide meeting space and host events, screenings, poetry jams, and a free skool. Also books/zines, coffee, tea and snacks. 42 West Monroe St. Jacksonville, FL 32202 904-999-8974

Flemington DIY – Flemington, NJ

They have a gallery, performance venue and work spaces for art, music recording and rehearsal and a free library. 90 Main St., Flemington, NJ 08822 flemingtondiy.org

Bishop Dingman House – Des Moines, IA

The Des Moines Catholic Worker Community includes five houses in the River Bend neighborhood. Like Catholic Worker Communities all over the world, the DMCW tries to connect the struggle against militarism with the struggle against poverty. Aside from free meals, they also provide showers, clothing, phone usage, guests can receive their mail, canned goods and toiletries are available upon request and free groceries as available. 1310 7th Street Des Moines, IA 50314 515-243-0765

Flying M Coffeehouse, Nampa and Boise, ID

For-profit cafes that host events. Describe as “a good refuge for alternative folks in our very non alternative state.” Let us know if you visit and think we should list them in the 2018 organizer or not. 1314 2nd Street South Nampa, Idaho 83651 208-467-5533; and 500 West Idaho Street Boise, Idaho 83702 208-345-4320

SHRUB Swap & Reuse Hub – Edinburgh, Scotland

A “wonderful community hub,” primarily a swap-shop with a zero waste goal but also hosts lots of radical community workshops. 13 Guthrie St, Edinburgh EH1, UK

Changes to the 2017 Organizer

• People’s Book Co-op in Milwaukee, WI has gone out of business.

• Rainbow Bookstore in Madison, WI, a long-standing project, went out of business.

• The New Direction in Fargo, ND lost its space and closed.

• Barricade Inn in Dublin, Ireland was included by mistake – it was evicted last year.

• Flux Capacitor in Colorado Springs, CO still exists, but you can’t send mail to the address listed in the organizer.

• The correct mailing address for The Base at 1302 Myrtle Ave in Brooklyn is: 113 Stockholm Ave Storefront 1A Brooklyn 11221.

• The Minnehaha Free Space in Minneapolis lost its space due to an 83% rent increase, but they are fundraising to move elsewhere.

• The Cosmic Beauty school in Lawrence, KS closed in early 2016 according to informed sources.

• We printed the wrong address for Yeyo Arts Collective in St. Louis, MO – it should be 2807 S. Jefferson Ave. St. Louis, MO 63118.

• Le Local Remouleur in Bagnolet, France may have moved or closed — mail we sent them got returned.

• Social Center Adelante in Sofia, Bulgaria lost their space.

• We got a report that the Social Center Xaspel in Sofia, Bulgaria does not exist but we’re still trying to verify the information. Let us know if you know.

Ghost Ship fire aftermath

In the Bay Area, long-lived punk show-space Burnt Ramen was closed by the City of Richmond, and many other spaces have faced landlord evictions, City inspections, and hassles from insurance companies, etc. We’re not aware of any spaces on the Radical Contact List closed during this crackdown — we don’t have the capacity to list every underground venue and artists warehouse. All these projects are precious and should be preserved. Now more than ever we need more spaces for artists and underground music, more affordable spaces, more liberated zones.

Calling all psychopaths

By Isobel and Kalia

Let’s take back our brains, our perfectly bad brains. We are mental but we’re not ill. We refuse to be told were sick or crazy. We’re not sick, we’re sick of it!

Sick of being drugged, made to conform to society’s standards of emotional stability and narrow perception of reality. Sick of the money driven psychotropic drug industry that is said to be “science” but is actually a capitalist money making machine.

Psychiatric diagnosis is not evidence based. It is a tool in dehumanizing us, alienating us from our emotions and instincts, and perpetuating the stigma. Misdiagnosis leads to treatment of nonexistent disorders, leads to an array of side effects, leads to correcting the side effects with another pill.

Sick of putting trust into “doctors” because they’ve gone through the “higher education” system. University: birthed out of capitalism to standardize knowledge, vomiting out PhDs, perpetuating the social divide and elitism in education. So I say, fuck doctors, fuck professionalism. I’m sick of it.

Because prozac caused “mania” so he prescribed me a mood stabilizer. Because the pills zombified me, dulled my senses, left me flat and emotionless. Because when i fought back he tackled me to the ground, cuffed my wrists and ankles to the bed and stuck a needle in my ass without consent. Is this how you treat a “sick” person?

Sick of sexism and racism in the mental health system. Because electroconvulsive therapy still exists in the US and two thirds of people who receive electroconvulsive therapy are women. Because a person of color in the us is 200% more likely to be diagnosed as schizophrenic than a white person.

Because when a teenage girl feels deeply, when she rebels, she is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Borderline of what?

Every one of us is holding onto generations of trauma. The modern version of homo sapiens is twisted so far from nature, our roots, our hearts, the animal that we are, here now.

The amount of people diagnosed with depression is increasing exponentially every generation. This is a symptom of the growing consumer culture in the Western world.

Our basic human needs are being forgotten, we’re losing track of the narrative, in a society rooted in artifice. The mental health system is counterproductive in treating our trauma and healing humanity. The priority is not to heal but to oppress.

The psychiatrist assists the patient in putting shackles on their neurons. The mental health system represses free thought and is equivalent to the modern day stoning of the witch. We must deprogram society, unlearn what we’ve been taught. We must call bullshit.

I feel the earths rotation and see that we’re living. I hear what you feel, it is valid. Every little neuron in our brains are perfect, perfectly bad. I want to talk about emotions, the fantastical and horrific. I want to experience my emotions fully without being shamed, without being dismissed as the “crazy girl”, without being chained down, locked up.

I want to create a space where we can openly discuss our experience of being survivors of demoralization and the mental health system. Where we can discuss healing, outside a doctors office, on our own terms.

Let’s talk about it! Let’s continue to revolutionize the way we see mental health. Let’s de-medicalize “mental illness”, view it as a social issue. Let’s talk about the psych ward. Let’s talk about our trauma. Let’s share our most soothing herbal tea recipes.

Because maybe the illness is not personal but an epidemic of Western culture. The system is sick, capitalism is sick, consumerism is sick. And we could be the medicine.

This is call for submissions for a zine “calling all psychopaths” open to absolutely anything! Send me your art and stories to isobelandkalia@gmail.com!

Be realistic – demand the impossible

By Jesse D. Palmer

This is a moment of tremendous opportunity for social progress — as well as significant danger. It’s up to us to articulate alternatives to authoritarianism that unify and inspire enough people so we can resist our rulers’ fear, bigotry, and divide-and-conquer tactics. To do so, we need to stand for economic fairness for the 99%, social inclusion, ecological sustainability, humor and pleasure. We need to avoid being drawn into a series of reactions organized around someone else’s agenda, and instead sustain our own actions that knock the authoritarians off balance — which might be easier than one might think to the extent the great leader is crazy.

Somehow, radicals need to break our self-marginalizing habits. Now is not the time for endless in-fighting that saps our strength and disconnects us from being able to address regular people. Now is not the time to be timid and retreat to what is “possible” — assuming that radicals will always be on the fringes. Now is the time for big demands. The improbable rise of authoritarian buffoons worldwide shows that seemingly impossible things can happen more easily than we think.

The authoritarian assault may end up unifying various threads of popular movements that haven’t been able to unify themselves. To seize the initiative, we need to go beyond refusing to normalize a single authoritarian leader, and reject a much larger illegitimate and unjust system. A tiny minority should not run everything at the expense of almost everyone — this crisis didn’t start in November and plenty of people were sick of the unjust system even before recent events. Let’s refuse to normalize people owning the earth; let’s refuse to normalize the 1%.

A glowing sense of possibility, a good sense of humor along with our outrage and stubborn refusal to go along with this shit is what we need. Succumbing to fear, confusion or an overwhelmed resignation will only make us depressed and empower our oppressors.

We need to work hard on having empathy, too. It’s easy to be angry at people who took the bait and supported racist authoritarianism. While it’s essential to fight nationalists, it’s equally important to have empathy for the many relatively powerless people who’ve supported them. We need to figure out ways to communicate with these folks and ultimately work together for all our our common interests, rather than demonize and dehumanize people because they’ve been taken in. There is way too much dehumanization going on and it is an ugly and endless race to the bottom. We need to take the personal risks to listen to other people, try to understand them, and recognize that fear is the root of anger.

Capitalism, high-technology, urbanization, and looming ecological collapse — all of these factors have put tremendous pressure on all of us. The fear of displacement, change and the loss of cultural structures is highly disorienting — and not just to the “white working class” — but really to everyone. We don’t want to go back to a mythical, monocultural 1950s culture but the rapid pace of change hurts.

People worldwide who have been injured by the corporate speed-up have been trying to reject the status quo for a while, and it hasn’t been working. A few years ago, many people voted for polite liberals hoping they would stand for change — but the liberals never took on the status quo because they were part of it. No bankers went to jail and class inequality just got worse. The Occupy movement failed to turn our really good slogans into less inequality. Parts of the 99% grew ripe for a demagogue promising to fight the status quo.

Which leaves the regular sources of mainstream order remarkably vulnerable to radical alternatives. The elites have been displaced and discredited — unable to control the spread of ugly, clumsy right wing populist authoritarianism even when, by the normal rules of their game, it should have been easy to do so with overwhelming media control, more money, and sensible reality-based arguments.

The authoritarians want to be the only ones to fill the void, and they want to fill it with hate, racism, sexism, fear and violence.

We need to offer a better alternative — neither right-wing authoritarianism nor a status quo in which the 1% control the power and we meekly beg for crumbs. The elites in the media and polite society who have been overwhelmed by the right wing tide are getting what they deserve for, paradoxically, being out of touch with reality. They built an unsustainable system — economically and environmentally — based on their own forms of “alternative facts,” and it is falling apart.

The only question is whether this crumbling will bring an apocalypse of torture, ethnic cleansing and oppression that empowers new crueler, ignorant and ruthless masters, or opens space for a different kind of social order organized around fairness, cooperation, freedom, diversity, solidarity and love.

Unlike authoritarians, our alternatives come from the grassroots and bring with them an authenticity and do-it-yourself spirit that is lacking in an increasingly computerized, homogenized world. We need to maintain our humility, modesty and openness so we can continually discuss, refine, debate, demonstrate and embody what we are for, not just what we’re against. We’ve been practicing for this moment in our community gardens and our coops, but now we need to be beyond our comfort zones. We need to learn to hold multiple complex truths together at the same time, even though they seem disparate. What we’re for isn’t simple, it can’t be reduced to a single law or a slogan, but it isn’t a fantasy and we shouldn’t be embarrassed to ask for what we really want and refuse to settle for half-measures.

On a fundamental level we’re struggling over which values should organize society. We want a society based on sharing, self-determination, diversity, pleasure and beauty because we perceive that human beings are fundamentally kind, generous and able to make our own decisions.

Authoritarians believe people are naturally greedy and that relationships should be organized around competition and power, with some people controlling other people. They point to the way people act within the capitalist economy — which demands competition and is organized to reward greed and emphasize material acquisition — as proof that people are naturally materialistic, greedy and competitive.

But this is circular logic — it looks at a result and claims it is a cause. Their goals aren’t happiness, pleasure or freedom, but rather to pile up fancy stuff — houses, cars, trophy wives. They see life as a zero sum game — a war of all against all in which if one person gets something, another must give it up. Their worship of things leads them to think of and treat other people as objects — tenants to be removed, workers to be downsized, consumers to be cheated, women to be owned.

But even in a capitalist economy, most human interaction is selfless, generous, and cooperative rather than competitive. Most people focus their real talent, passion and energy not on their jobs, but on their families and friends — selfless, generous, cooperative pursuits. Jobs and the economy are just the means to an end — getting enough resources from a harsh economy to sustain and protect personal life from the competitive realm. We freely give our time and resources to our lovers, children, parents and neighbors not because it provides a competitive advantage, but because that is what is really important and meaningful about our lives.

Authoritarians claim that people can’t take care of themselves — that people are naturally bad and need to be controlled by the church, bosses and police.

But most social interactions work not because an outside power is forcing everyone to obey the rules, but because both sides are cooperating to achieve a result that benefits everyone. It isn’t a zero sum game with a pie that gets split up. Like love itself, the pie expands so there’s enough for everyone.

Articulating a vision for society organized around love, solidarity and experiences that make our lives meaningful — not just around getting more stuff — is ultimately more powerful than an authoritarian rule based on fear. The capitalist high-tech world of instability and disruptive change has created a crisis of isolation and meaninglessness that gentrifies neighborhoods and replaces community with fake commodified McCulture and facebook friends. The world we’re building counters sterile, distracted emptiness with intense, poetic, emotional, polyamorous, communal connection.

Although people evolved as social creatures, the economic system reduces us to efficiency-chasing robots, alienated from any sense of history and stripped of hope for the future or time to appreciate the present. Our technology decimates the planet’s life-support systems — not only the climate but bees, soil, clean water, and the oceans. We demand a sustainable existence as part of nature.

There are real struggles over wealth and power under capitalism, but they are struggles between people who work to create the wealth, and a tiny class of people who suck up most of the resources through their ownership of property, investment funds and businesses.

The 99% need to struggle for redistribution of resources by all means necessary — be it through unions, minimum wages, redistributive taxes, by forming cooperatives, or seizure and collectivization of workplaces. It is obscene that 8 men own as much wealth as one half of the world’s population. For these 8 guys, these are just numbers on a computer print-out because they have too much money to actually spend it. Under these circumstances, cutting taxes for the rich, eliminating the safety net, and weakening workers’ bargaining power is exactly the wrong response. An authoritarian rule of billionaires is an obviously false populism and can only be sustained with lies and racist attempts to divide workers on tribal grounds. We need to welcome our differences and struggle against white supremacy while still uniting for our common interests.

The future is unwritten. In a crisis, doing nothing for sure won’t work. We obviously can’t be sure anything will work — we might be doomed — but when your back is up against the wall, the only reasonable alternative is to fight. Authoritarians depend on fear leading to mass resignation. Even a massive police state doesn’t have the resources to police everywhere all the time, to imprison everyone, to bomb everything. Instead, police states use violence against a few people to frighten and silence everyone else. The best response to a police state is mass disobedience because when it comes down to it, there are more people than police in even the most brutal context.

So in this moment, our first and most important challenge is psychological: we need to avoid succumbing to fear, resignation, depression, disorientation, or isolation. The next response is social and cultural: we need to come together and be there for each other in overwhelming numbers. It has been happening — we can win.

A key point is that neither of these imperatives are burdensome or unpleasant. To the contrary both of these actions will make our individual, personal lives better — more fun, more meaningful, inspiring, engaged and rewarding. Occupying an airport can end up being a huge party. We don’t have to choose between the personal and political — they reinforce each other. Each of us has their own part to play in fighting oppression and building a world worth living in. It’s been inspiring to see mild-mannered park rangers and scientists go rogue, and many other people will get their chance to shine.

The Women’s March was powerful because it showed how quickly a dark mood can brighten when a few million people pour onto the streets — an outpouring inspired by fear ended up being remarkable for its beauty and joy. What might have seemed like a chore ended up being a pleasure. Afterwards, it was easier to laugh at the clowns and their alternative facts.

Oppressors never expect the oppressed to fight back and we have to remember: the best defense is a good offense. We’re the majority and we’re not backing down — this is about the 99% vs. 1% and love over fear and hate. They want to keep us divided and fighting amongst ourselves. We won’t be divided.

 

Michael Israel 1989-2016

By Alisa Jacobs

Michael Israel was killed by a Turkish bombing of Syria in November, 2016. He was 27 years old. Over one year ago, he left his home in Jackson, California to fight ISIS with the People’s Defense Unit, or YPG in Kurdish acronym.

He visited friends and family in the United States for some months in 2015, then returned to Syria, stating, “This is not only a war against the spread of fascism by ISIS and their supporters in the Turkish government… the YPG is creating a revolutionary environment in Rojava, where liberated communities are not treated as conquered peoples but are instead empowered, allowed to self-govern and be the masters of their own destinies…

“The long-term aspirations of the revolution are to put a stop to the exploits of capitalism and imperialism that generate fascist, racist, and sexist belief systems as byproducts of their spread…

“YPG/YPJ have done incredible work liberating cities and villages in Rojava so far, but they are a poor army and the amount of destruction ISIS has left behind is indescribable. They need all of our support.

“I’m encouraging all of you back home to read about the situation here and how YPG/YPJ is making a difference.”

While Michael was articulate and outspoken in his battle against the many faces of fascism, he lived in a quiet sort of radiance, sometimes dressed in button up shirts with holes in them, often eager to pay for his friends’ meals, and, at one point, filled with deep concern over an injured deer he found in his backyard.

He was not one to brag about missing his own graduation when he was completing a peace walk from California to Washington, D.C. And, while he was unabashedly passionate about working class solidarity, he would neglect to mention that he was a founding member of the Sacramento Industrial Workers of the World. Members of the IWW, commonly known as the wobblies, peaceful anarchists with a strong focus on working class rights.

A few years ago, Michael gave me a book about the transition from feudalism to capitalism, and the struggles of the peasant class during that time. Upon discovering his death, I pulled the book out of my backpack. It smelled like many miles of travel, musty with old canvas.

An old bookmark was placed in its pages, and the bookmark proclaimed the words of Paul Monette, “Go without hate, but not without rage — heal the world.”

Michael was a volunteer, therefore he died with no funerary funds.

If you would like to donate to help Michael’s family afford the expenses of his burial, as well as the shipment of his body back home, you may do so at: www.youcaring.com/theisraelfamily-706143