Pulling out of Escondida was exciting and nerve racking. The anxiety hadn’t subsided a bit even though the bus was rolling down the road. Final good-byes were quick though, since we had been a month making them. The excitement for what new adventures lay ahead was running high though. And after 100 miles. some of the anxiety started to slip away.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, the landscape and scenery in New Mexico are pretty breath-taking. Unfortunately, we were unable to get any pictures along the way. We hadn’t charged the cell phone (no cell phone service were we were headed) and the batteries in the camera were shot and we didn’t know it.
We headed South down I-25 to a dot on the map known as San Antonio. Their claim to fame is a small diner with “the worlds greatest burger”. We didn’t stop for one of those things though, but it was full of people. Cars, trucks, and RV’s lined both sides of the one road running through the village. Just down the road from there are two “ghost towns” that only exist as memories today, Tokay and Carthage. But also in that area are the remains of two Native American pueblos, Qualacu Pueblo and San Pascual Pueblo. When Don Juan de Oñate came through the area in 1598 the local natives provided him with life saving supplies and assistance and he re-named the pueblo (as only the righteous superiority of the Catholic Church would allow him to do) Socorro. Translated it is “succor”, which is assistance in a time of distress. In other words, without the assistance of the native people, Don Juan de Oñate and his group would of died. It also became the site of a concentration camp for the native people.
All through the United States these concentration camps existed, many of them are the modern day “reservations”. All part of the “final solution” to the Indian Problem. From the 1500′s through the 1800′s, 150 MILLION natives were killed off. The treatment of and containment of the native peoples became the models for Nazi treatment of the Jewish people and South African Apartheid. Not that US school children are taught this. In the public school system they are taught about “manifest destiny”, about European diseases wiping out tribes, and maybe a paragraph or two on the “Trail of Tears”. The native people are presented as blood thirsty savages, the equivalent of modern day terrorists, who had to be “tamed” and “civilized”. But the largest genocide in the history of mankind happened here in the US, and continues today. Today kids are bombarded with the evils of Nazi Germany and Apartheid, and rightly so, but the evils of European expansion into North America are glossed over, painted over, and repackaged for easier digestion. Today it is nothing to hear people say stupid shit like “they should have fought harder”, or to try and dismiss the past and present conditions on reservations with things like, “they get free college”, “their housing is paid for”, “look at their casinos”, and “they are just a bunch of drunks”. I double-dog-dare one of these assholes to show up where a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp is speaking to show up and tell them to quit whining about it. Remind them they got “free housing”.
We traveled from this area and headed for Lincoln, New Mexico, made famous by Willam H. Bonney, better known as “Billy the Kid”. Here is another piece of American History Revisionism. It is presented as a war between cattle barons, when the truth is it was a war between rich land owners who had the backing of the state and the politicians they held in their pocket, and their compatriots who had a monopoly on trade and information. But the story is always deeper than history tells us. John Chisum was a rich cattleman and backed the McSween faction of the war, the faction Billy the Kid belonged too. It wasn’t out of a sense of high regard for the poor folks that wanted to have the freedom to trade where they wanted, or who wanted to break the stranglehold on information for the area, but because he wanted to make money. While the McSween faction might have had ambitions to break the stranglehold, Chisum just wanted to make some more money. When the tides turned and he was able to freely get his share of the pie, he dropped the poor folks like a hot potato. This is when the Lincoln County Wars actually hit full swing.
As we made our way through these historical areas, the transmission on the bus started acting up. The bus would slow to a crawl going up the hills and the engine would rev on the way down. By the time we made Lincoln, the transmission was on it’s last leg. We stopped and tried to figure out what was going on, but lacking x-ray vision we couldn’t tell what was up. We hoped back on the bus after a bit of sight-seeing and headed down the mountain towards Roswell. And it is a good thing it was mainly downhill, because top speed was 20 miles an hour. A drive that usually takes about an hour ended up taking several hours. We had to stop and let the transmission cool down just so we could get a little further down the road.
We finally limped into Roswell in the wee-hours of the morning. We pulled into a spot that was supposed to have a mechanic on duty, but he was off hunting and wouldn’t be back until the end of the weekend at the earliest. We braved a trip further into town and found a Wal-Mart parking lot. By the time we hit the parking lot, we were rolling only on momentum, the transmission was shot and the bus wasn’t going another inch.
Next week I will tell you the story of living in a Wal-Mart parking lot and the people we met there in similar situations as us.
OH YEAH!!!…..We are also trying to raise some money to pay for the transmission repair. If you have a couple of bucks you can help chip in, please do. Here is a link…
Anyone that has spent any time doing nothing knows that doing nothing is boring as hell. I prefer a non-hierarchical society or community that is based on the idea of, “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.” People so in-trenched in the idea of capitalism, sometimes even those people who don’t particularly care for capitalism, often offer the argument that in a communist society “people just won’t work”. Those people have never sat on their ass with absolutely nothing to do. Not to mention, they don’t fully understand what that saying actually means. But I digress…
The air-lines and wiring that had burnt were all repaired. As far as I could tell, being that I am not much of a mechanic, everything was good to go. The bus was running good, there was no smoke coming from anywhere, and the brakes were fully functional again. And we were still out of funds. And the title loan on the car had come due. And…And…And…
Well, really, “and” nothing. We knew we weren’t taking the car with us on the road, towing a vehicle is just out of the question for us right now anyway. Even if it was something we wanted to do, which we really didn’t, the extra cost made it out of the question anyway. And money is already an issue, one that I don’t see getting any better. Watching the car go was a trip though. It was the last connection to anything outside of the bus. From this point forward, our entire lives were contained in one old sixty passenger school bus. The entire logistics of life have changed. And still we sit.
When you are sitting around the RV park, with time on your hands, you find stuff to do. The kids scour the park and lake for trash. The bus is clean. The dogs have plenty of exercise. And there are only 20 more hours in the day left to fill. There is no television reception, so sitting around rotting our brains is out of the question. Lots of reading gets done. Doing “school-work” with the kids is full-time, but not time consuming and always a blast. You can also find out that, despite how it might feel, we aren’t the only people to take to a life on the road.
With time to spare you rediscover a long lost tradition, probably the most important tradition for humanity, talking to your neighbors. Our neighbors here in the park are transient, like us. Sure you get the people who pull in for the night, or for the day, or for the weekend, but you also have the other people that live full-time on the road. Most of them skip around between parks and campsites, staying till the scenary gets stale, and some of them are parked for the long haul. There is a guy named Al here that worked here at the campground for many, many years. He pulled his RV into the camp a few years ago when his health failed and he was forced to retire. He spends his time now fussing over details about the place with Gilbert, the guy who is in charge of the place now.
There is also Daryl, a disabled veteran who until a few years ago was in the same shape as a lot of veterans, living on the streets and trying to fight to get benefits. After five years on the streets, bouncing between homeless shelters and VA hospitals, he finally got back benefits and ended up with enough money to buy an RV. He traveled after that, hitting the National Parks and other cheap and off-grid campsites, until the price of fuel and food combined to slow his travels to a crawl. And so he sits, waiting. I am not sure what he is waiting for, I am not sure he knows what he is waiting for.
The sitting is a killer though. It is nice to have some idle time, and hard as hell to fill it up and not go crazy. The whole idea behind the experience is to find places full of people actually doing something. To find places where the idea of from each/to each is actually in action. To find the “real left” on the move. But for now, we are sitting.
The work on the bus was going slow. The desire to hit the road was growing strong. So just like the typical voter, we suspended reason and took a leap. No, the plumbing wasn’t done. No, the electrical hadn’t been completely finished. But we could live with the small inconveniences those things presented and just work on things as we went. The first few stops on the trip were going to be parking outside different family members homes, so the few odds and ends that weren’t done would be no problem. Everything was going to work out fine and we were going to live happily ever after, roaming the roads, meeting new people, and hopefully networking with other like minded individuals and groups. And also, just maybe, Obamaney would be the President of the USA and world peace would reign supreme. Just suspend reason and everything will be just fine.
We hadn’t registered the bus yet either. For years I had gone with no drivers license, no insurance, no registered vehicles but hitting the road full time would be a pain in the ass if every time we got pulled over and asked for “our papers please” we didn’t have government permission to be on the roads, it would make for a hell of a problem. Experience has shown that it is always a very expensive problem too. I have had cars towed away by the police, not to mention being thrown in the back of cop cars for various stupid excuses that they like to throw in the mix when I interact with the cops. So I secured the stuff on the bus and hit the road, bound for the DMV.
The dread of dealing with government officials was the only thing on my mind as I started down the long dirt road that led to our house. That is until smoke started pouring out of the dash and the bus died. For a few seconds I just sit there as a wire from the ignition to the solenoid smoked and bubbled and fizzled into nothingness. Being the eternal pessimist I began to see all my plans go up in smoke. We were going to be stuck forever in the box, trying to scrape by and hoping to make it through another winter in the high deserts of New Mexico.
Once the immediate feeling of panic passed, I got down to the business of replacing the wire that had burnt. At least, replacing the obvious wire that had burnt. I did a quick trace of the ones around it and replaced or repaired them as I found them and when I thought they were all fixed up I fired up the bus and started down the road. There was a whistling sound coming from under the dash and it didn’t take me long to realize that one of the hoses running to the air brakes had been burnt through too. Now back to panic mode. If I missed that, what else did I miss? Just a couple more miles down the road the bus died again. No smoke this time, just no fire to the plugs. And this time, instead of breaking down on a nice wide open stretch of road where everyone could see me, I was broke down in a blind curve on a back road where everyone thinks the speed limit is 80 instead of 35.
When we first moved to this area we had big plans. We had ideas for a couple of small businesses that would allow us to spend time together and pay the bills. We left Albuquerque for this country setting, were we thought people would be easier to get along with and a person might be able to spread their wings a little bit without too much interference. A place were the friendly locals would welcome organic farming and massage therapy. We had talked with a landlord in town and he had a house we could move into on Monday, and so we left the big city on Friday with plans to camp for the weekend out in the National Forrest and move into our new house after a fun weekend in the mountains. The weekend was fun, but come Monday the landlord had already rented the house to someone else. So, homeless, we returned to our camping spot out in the woods to try and figure out what our next move would be. The place we were camping is a rugged place. There are no kind of amenities there, other than an outhouse type bathroom. Despite the misleading name of “Water Canyon” this is no water there, not even in the campsites. No running water of any kind. The nearest place to get water was 15 miles away and you better be prepared to pay out the nose for it. One day we asked someone who owns a hotel there if we could fill up an empty gallon jug with their water hose. You would think we had asked to eat their children, and they looked at us like that might have been our real intention. With a pound of disdain in her voice the lady told us that water was too expensive to spare any. Should have been a sign. And to top off all of that, you are only allowed to stay in those campsites for fourteen days. We knew we had to get out of the forest but we still needed somewhere stay. By this point the money we had set aside to get into a new house was near the zero mark. We packed up our camp and started into Socorro to see what we could find out.
On the edge of Socorro there is a little “town” called Escondida. And in Escondida there is a little pond that they call a lake. And on the edge of that “lake” there is a small campground. We pulled in there and met the lone worker at this county owned facility, Gilbert. He showed us to a camp spot and asked us if we needed anything and then helped us set up our tent. That tent, on the edge of that lake, became our home for the next two months as we started the process of saving up what little money we got in and working towards getting into a house before the cold desert winter hit. Incredibly it was one of the best times of our lives. It also planted the seed that maybe, just maybe, we could live on the road. And maybe, just maybe, we could do that in a bus.
Nearly two years later, I am sitting in a broke down bus, in a blind curve, across the field from Escondida Lake. And too the rescue comes Gilbert. He towed the bus to the campground, asked if we needed anything, and sat and reassured us that everything was going to work out.
So, here we sit. Right back were we started in this area, but a little better off then when we got here maybe. Still broke and broke down, but eventually getting there. Although, I still haven’t found the short in the electrical, we did get the brake lines fixed and can at least get the bus started, now we just have to get more money in the coffers to try and start out again.
When I was pretending to grow up, one of the biggest influences on me was my perception of Ken Kesey. I say my “perception” because of course I didn’t know the Kesey of reality, only the Kesey of my reality, filtered as it was through stories, articles and his own writings. And more importantly through my own imagination.
Kesey was a man out of time. By that I mean, well, he said it best, “I was too young to be a beatnik, and too old to be a hippie”. That was exactly how I was feeling. Well, not exactly, but the feeling that the society I lived in was not the society I belonged too. A feeling I have described as “missing the bus”, to which I was usually greeted with strange looks and that little smile you give when talking to a crazy person. The reason it was an inside joke is because the community I belonged too would have no reason to associate me with anything about Kesey, even if they might have had some peripheral knowledge of who he was. When someone asked where I was going and I said “Further”, they just ignored it.
I was already in my mid-twenties when I met someone that knew where I was coming from. He was a hippie back in the day, after involuntary servitude to the flag, of late transformed into your everyday worker under the rigors and demands of the capitalist system. His name was Mike and I could wax poetic on the many conversations we had, but those images are mine. My last image I will share. It was Mike, standing next to a bus, with the worlds biggest smile on his face. He was hitting the road.
Even though I was in my twenties at the time, I actually already had quite a bit of life experience of “life on the road”. Years worth of experience as a matter of fact. So much experience that it was hard wired into who I was, even before I was hard wired into who I was. At the end of my fifth grade my parents hit the road. Kids in tow.
I am still not 100% sure what sent my parents onto the road. Also in my fifth grade year I discovered marijuana, so there seem to be long stretches of my life where I wasn’t really sure what was going on around me. Actually, now that I try to think about it, I am not even sure it was my fifth grade year. But, for the sake of ever getting around to spitting out the story, lets call it fifth grade.
I have a pretty good idea today of some of the problems that might have made it an attractive alternative. The economy of what was once my hometown was crap. My dad was a carpenter and chasing work was a big thing for construction work at the time. We went from the deserts of New Mexico to the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. I still remember the cool breeze coming off the Gulf early in the morning as the sun rises. The smell of salt was heavy and the air was wet. It was amazing.
I could go on forever on all the places we “lived” over the next several years. I could tell stories of good times and bad times, fun times and scary times. What matters from those stories will surely be told again. But those stories, like those images of Mike, are all stored up in my head and sometimes I am jealous with them. Besides, this isn’t about those stories. This is about new stories. My new stories.
The other day a couple of years ago I finally realized that society at large had little use for me and that I felt pretty much the same way about it. I have blown a fortune trying to be part of society, all along knowing that there was nothing in the concept (as far as I understood and understand it) that appeals to me. There were things that had me tied to that concept, but the main chains holding me down were just in my own perceptions. I could easily say, “Well, the kids need stability. They need school and friends and blah blah blah.”, because it is easy to blame things on the kids. And just like for everything else in life, there just isn’t enough money. There is this really good job that makes it just possible to be high enough above the poverty level that you can’t catch a break, but not high enough above it to be able to afford luxuries like healthcare and food.
Work your fingers to the bone so you can send your boss on vacation. Give up part of it to send your politicians over to scout out countries to invade. Spend a few hours numbing your mind in front of the T.V., trying to convince yourself that your crap is as good as the crap in the commercials. Waiting for the late-night comics to come on and hopefully send you to bed with happy thoughts. Rinse and Repeat.
Despite having worked hard, and having made several attempts at living the dream, I was never quite able to “own” that little piece of heaven that would fulfill my soul and make me grow healthy roots into society. I was pretty much always a “renter”.
Most of the places I could manage to afford were not what most people would want to call home. Roach infestations. Faulty wiring. Nasty water. Bitchy neighbors. Slumlords. Mice. Anything needed repaired, better whip out the tools and get busy. And in my mind, I dreamed of getting out into the country and raising a garden and some animals and living off the land. But once again, money was an issue. The same problems with housing in the city was actually even worse in the country. Some rundown part of the country, probably next to the dump. Where nothing but stickers can grow. And still the tentacles of society start to strangle you.
And always, the road was calling me home.
So finally one day, I started getting rid of all my crap. I quit worrying about the kids having roots in “society”. I quit caring if the landlord was going to come fix the dripping water under the trailer house that was attracting local wildlife. I re-defined what “poor” means. I started to set my priorities straight. I really realized what “dropping out” could mean and why some, not that long ago, had considered it a revolutionary act.
And I bought a bus. I named it “How Far?”…
Next Article - On The Bus: Falling Stars
Utter the words police and excessive use of force in the same context, and most people will instantly think of the US. Then in the same breath of air, mention journalists and censorship, and most might instead refocus to China. That is what I’ve experienced; reading comments on news sites, following discussions on forums and on Twitter and when talking with people regarding such topics.
Excessive use of force by police is often attributed to the US while silencing the media is attributed to China. It’s a stereotype, an unfortunate one.
Wednesday last week, 16 May, changed that perception regarding such presumptions about the US and China. The use of excessive force and silencing the media can happen anywhere.
A group of Indigenous Australians had set up a Tent Embassy in Musgrave Park to protest the lack of rights they have in their own country – which were taken away from them in 1778 by the British.
The day before, Tuesday 15 May, they had been served with a final notice by Brisbane City Council to move-on and disassemble their Tent Embassy. This refusal was met with a warning that on Wednesday 16 May the Tent Embassy would be removed and disassembled by Queensland Police Service.
6 am on Wednesday 16 may it had been announced the police would move-in on the Tent Embassy.
At around 6 am about 200 police officers surrounded the Tent Embassy in Musgrave Park with 50-60 protesters and few journalists that had managed to enter before the police started their blockade.
Musgrave Park, which the Tent Embassy was located in, and its surrounding streets were closed and blocked for all access. You could leave, but police would not allow entry or re-entry to the Tent Embassy. Telling journalists, that if they would try to enter or didn’t comply with police orders, they would be subject to arrest.
After a two-hour long negotiation between the Tent Embassy and police, the police decided to evict people from the Tent Embassy and disassemble it. During negotiations the police offered less and less to the point the Tent Embassy felt they weren’t given any choice than to stand their ground.
The police moved-in en masse on the Tent Embassy, first targeting the media; telling journalists that if they did not move-on they would be arrested. When most of the media had been cleared out and stood far away the eviction started.
Wednesday 16 May was a day Australians were reminded that the government still doesn’t really care about the rights of the Indigenous Australians. It is also a day that should not only remind Australians, but also the world, censorship and threats directed at the media can and will happen anywhere – even in western democratic countries.
That day, silencing a minority and the media, happened in Australia.
When I started writing this piece, the focus was on how Occupy Brisbane absolutely fail with their PR. They can criticise the public all they want for being brainwashed; but if they can’t win the support of the public, that is failure – no matter how you try cover it up with hippie-speak.
Why don’t you and other go seek the information [...] or do you need some one to hold your hand, like a politician, corporate spokesperson, ideological / theological informer?
But that all changed after spending some time on their very interesting Facebook page.
I admit it, I was supportive of the Occupy Brisbane movement in the beginning. Seeing someone protest with so much passion is rare here in Brisbane – and Queensland in general. But as I was covering the movement for a local paper I had to stay objective. Not letting my personal views corrupt what I saw and experienced when visiting their camp.
Something happened to the movement after they got evicted from their first camp in Postoffice Square. To be honest, I’m not really sure what happened – did something scare them during the eviction?
There is now two Occupy Brisbane movements. The original Occupy Brisbane followers are occupying in Musgrave Park, far away from the city centre, far away from anyone to really take notice of them. Which is probably why they are left alone now by the police. While Occupy Brisbane 2.0, as they call themselves, are only occupying cyberspace to re-group.
It’s not the split that is worrying me, it’s how some of the supporters of the movement act on the Facebook pages of both Occupy Brisbane movements. If you support them, they will shower you with admiration, but if you dare to question their intentions, motives or even just ask what they are really about – prepare yourself for a shitstorm of vitriol flung in your general direction.
Unfortunately it gets worse.
Occupy Brisbane claims to be a supportive protest for the main Occupy Wall Street protest. Which is all nice and well, but that sentiment ends up in the shadow of the craziness they allow to be posted on their pages under the Occupy Brisbane name.
A few anti-vaxxers are starting to spruik their views on how dangerous they claim vaccines are. Trying to back up their claims with their own personal opinions and experiences. Their camp also has 9/11 truthers and supporters; and allow posts on their Facebook page about conspiracy theories regarding Tesla and his writings, that has been allegedly confiscated by the CIA. Not forgetting a person who believes and claims to have proof that Obama went to Mars once as a teenager.
Do these [hopefully] few represent all in the Occupy Brisbane movement?
Of course they don’t, but being part of the movement and spruiking their fringe views under the Occupy Brisbane banner they will be seen as speaking on the behalf of the group.
This is what the public sees and is most likely why they are hesitant to support Occupy Brisbane.
Sorry to say this, but this is what democracy looks like – the public has been given an option and has made their choice. Deal with it! Forcing people to follow and support Occupy Brisbane has nothing to do with democracy. That is more in the lines of fascism.
Those who don’t like the occupy movement need to buckle up tho, because according to a self-claimed genius at the Occupy Brisbane camp, Wayward Septic, this occupation will go on for another ten years.
Dokter what ever change happens, it will be more likely over the next ten years, and from many angles. But unsurprisingly after many generations of advertising et al, the majority of consumer mindsets out there, have to have it today.
I’m not a religious man, but if this chaotic indecisiveness will go on for that long,
God help us all.
A few words on getting politically active from Henry Rollins
By Shawn Blevins
You are mad as hell and you are not going to take it anymore. The clowns in congress have done something so heinous that you have decided to put down the remote, get out of your recliner and take action. But wait, you have never done anything more political than going into the voting booth. So how do you get started? We here at Gonzo Times went to one of the preeminent authorities on do it yourself politics and punk rock, Henry Rollins, to get some sage wisdom.
GT: When and how did you first become politically active?
HR: I come from Washington DC. My mother was very left, my father very right. I would spend time with both. One turned me onto Bob Dylan, the other told me that “Marvin Foodstamp” was the problem in America. I went my mother’s way.
GT: What was your first experience with the do it yourself approach to punk as well as politics?
HR: I started going to shows and became part of the DC music scene. Our scene was very small but very political. I didn’t know much about the workings of that machine but started learning more when Reagan came in. The older I got, the more I saw, the more I understood, the more that kind of thing meant to me.
GT: What advantages/disadvantages are there to protesting individually rather than in a group?
HR: There is sometimes a safety in numbers but groups have a life of their own and I tend to stay away from that. Mobilized crowds are pretty intense and I can’t get in them.
GT: What advice would you give to an individual who wishes to protest something, as an individual rather than part of a group, who has had little or no experience in the political arena?
HR: Learn. If you want to have an opinion, have an informed one. Getting informed takes time and you have to be ready to really think things through. The protest part is easy. Before I protest anything, I always know what is wrong, what caused it and always am prepared to offer a solution.
There you have it folks. Get informed, get involved, and be responsible.
Tell someone you want to get rid of government, and they will immediately ask you about police, firemen and teachers — you’ve just branded yourself as a proponent of crime, chaos and ignorance.
Tell them you want to get rid of property, and they will immediately label you a Bolshevik intent on reducing the entire society to poverty and totalitarianism.
Tell them you want to get rid of labor, and they will ask, “But, how will we make things. Where will our food come from?” The very suggestion to them that we can live without labor almost always comes down to, “But who will do things like collect garbage.”
People have a real hard time with garbage collection.
Everyone is anti-statist to one extent or another; they are conditional or arbitrary statists who take exception with one or another feature of modern society.
Marxists, for example, hate inequality, private property, and the concentration of wealth. So, they see no problem taxing wealth away, and even confiscating it. Libertarians, are advocates of property and have an intense dislike of all government interference in individual property rights. So, they are not averse to eliminating the minimum wage, public education, unions (especially public unions) and so forth.
Both Libertarians and Marxists share some common features, however. If you really press a Marxist, soon you will find she is hostile not to property in general, but only private property. She will cogently explain to you why this private property must be replaced by public ownership of the means of production. And, if you really press a Libertarian, you will soon find out he is probably not against all government but just those functions identified with “the welfare state’, i.e., the social safety net erected after the Great Depression to protect society from the booms and busts of the business cycle, and from the greed of the wealthy.
Each, despite a hostility to the agenda of the other, nevertheless wants to retain some features of the existing society expressed in the others ideology.
There is another feature both sides agree on: in my experience both seem hostile to the idea of ridding society of labor itself. While a Marxist might be willing to adjust labor on the margins — say, by some minimal reduction of the work week or flexibility in those hours — the idea that labor itself can be done away with entirely appears to her altogether a fantasy. A Libertarian, if he thinks about labor at all, only thinks of it when he considers the impediments to the freest possible exercise of the property owner’s rights — in other words, only when he advocates to eliminate the minimum wage, unions, mandatory overtime pay, and workplace safety regulations.
For the Marxist, there is some willingness to consider a reduction of hours of work, but only on condition that wages remain unchanged. For the Libertarian, there is some willingness to consider a fall in wages as long as there is no limitation on hours of work. The idea that both wages and hours should go to zero — that all paid work should be abolished — is so inconceivable as an option for society, that even the most determined and radical opponents of the present order find it, at best, Utopian, and, at worst, a recipe for social collapse.
Both ideologies, however, have a profound hostility to empire. militarism, and the imperial adventures of Washington. While they may violently disagree with each other in terms of their positive program for the reorganization of society, they tend to be on the same side with regards to many issues related to the empire and its global machinery of war and repression. I recently came across a Marxist in the ‘net who initially became radicalized under the influence of Libertarianism at a very young age. He tells a fairly incredible story about how he and a friend once invaded a Republican Party meeting to introduce one resolution after another against US involvement in Central America:
… before I was an anarchist, I was a libertarian. As in the Libertarian Party. As in Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and Murray Rothbard. As in the Koch brothers who fund the Tea Party. I was raised in a left-liberal academic family, attended anti-war demonstrations as a kid, generally identified with anti-colonial struggles around the world, at the age of 9 cheered AIM when they seized Wounded Knee, read Malcolm and Che in junior high, and got involved in anti-nuclear power activism and the Citizens Party (an early version of the Greens) in High School. And then at 16 I became a libertarian and got deeply into that for the next several years.
I was more or less done with the libertarians when on a lark I convinced a friend to attend a Republican precinct caucus with me in the early years of the Reagan administration. We combed our spikey hair down, wore ill-fitting suits that we had bought at church sales and even a couple American flag pins and I introduced resolution after resolution in solidarity with the Nicaraguan Revolution, the armed struggle in El Salvador, the ANC and so on with my buddy seconding them and forcing a debate before each one was voted down 38 to 2. When the time came to elect delegates, my friend nominated me and some other guy seconded after explaining that while he disagreed with everything I said he was just glad to see young people “getting involved.” There were ten nominees for ten seats, five delegates and five alternates. I came in tenth, making me the last alternate. That proved good enough to get me called to attend the County Republican Convention where there was a big fight between the grassroots anti-tax crazies and the more respectable moderates. There was a rabid anti-tax resolution and the moderates were offering a modest amendment of support for law enforcement charged with enforcing existing tax laws, a matter on their minds in the wake of a recent local shootout between some far right anti-tax activist and the FBI. I rose to speak against the amendment, arguing that as our taxes were going to support U.S. policy in Central America we should applaud any actions that would starve the imperialist beast, suggesting incongruously that the posse comitatus nut was some sort of anti-imperialist hero. After I had spoken, a few of the anti-tax people came up to me and urged me to go back and run for precinct captain, but I wasn’t prepared to take that particular stunt any further.
My own story is similar to this person’s, except I was moving from the other direction: I was a Marxist who was strongly influenced by the “anti-tax crazies” in the late 1070s and early 1980s. Although I could not put into words what puzzled me about this movement, I knew they were on to something and the Marxists were missing an important opportunity. It was only in conversation with another Marxist, as I tried to argue for the importance of the anti-tax movement, that it suddenly dawned on me why it was significant: “Why do you care whether they are against paying more in taxes?” I asked her, “It isn’t your government; it isn’t your state — it’s the capitalist state and people hate it.”
That conversation sealed a moment for me. All of a sudden I could see the hidden connections between the arguments both the Left and the Right were making against government in a way, I believe, did not confine me to the ideological prejudices of either side. It has not been easy — honestly it has taken another 20 years to shake off the muck of ideology and realize both what the Left and Right have in common both in positive terms and negative.
Today, for me, the question has become: “What does it take to create a humanist anti-politics?” I want you to notice that I deliberately write the term, humanist anti-politics”, in lower case letters, here. I am not talking of, nor imagining, a movement toward something greater than us as individuals, but something completely subordinated to us — its only over-arching theme is that it has no theme and seeks only to let each of us create our own particular theme alone or in free voluntary association with others. It is movement which puts people — as individuals — in place of things.
A humanist anti-politics doesn’t ask for amnesty for illegal immigrants because governments do not own the earth, we do, and no government has the right to control our access to it.
A humanist anti-politics doesn’t argue for the right tax policy or the right fiscal policy or the right monetary policy for the economy, because we care only about what is right for people not the economy.
A humanist anti-politics doesn’t ask how Washington can protect us from terrorism, but asks how we can protect ourselves from the terrorism of governments around the world.
A humanist anti-politics doesn’t ask how government can create jobs to end unemployment, but how we can end wage slavery.
A humanist anti-politics doesn’t ask how government can improve the education system, but how individuals can be freed from Labor, Property and the State to develop their own capacities as complete human beings.
Humanist anti-politics is humanist because it seeks everywhere to put the liberation of society, as individuals, at the center of social discourse; it is anti-politics because it asks for nothing from government except that it cease to exist.
Is this possible? Can a consistent anti-statist movement be built out of the competing ideologies who each seek to impose their vision of the future on us?
The masses want a fix to their problems and a resolution for areas they are discontent. They listen to politicians. They think they can walk up to a voting booth once a year and by choosing the ‘right person for the job’ they will see the changes in their lives. The politicians preach a utopia. They succeed by convincing voters that they are the one with answers and solutions. The sad reality is that no politician has the answers. They make promises to give the public what they desire. Most often they can not fill those desires.
We find that we are stuck with people chasing impossible dreams choosing individuals who lie to them making promises they can not fulfill. Those liars are placed in power and use this power often to benefit personally. Real solutions are not found by filling a check on a piece of paper but from direct action. The political action is a great big game we have played for centuries with little to no resolutions. It’s either the blind leading the blind, the gullible following the liar or the stupid leading the ignorant.
Then they tell you that you have ‘no right to complain’ if you raise your voice. This is Bullshit. If anything you have no right to complain if you choose some carpetbagger at election time and sit on your ass at home waiting for them to fix the world. You have chosen your rulers and your acceptance of the regime by not opposing it.
I beg of you all to withdraw your consent in any way possible and begin to reject their political games in favor of direct action. Direct action is not sitting at home watching the cable news outlets it is actively working to find, create, invent and implement true resolutions to the problems you face. It is not complaining about the inaction of the rulers, it is taking the actions to resolve those issues in your community.
Direct action is breaking from your comfort zone and pushing yourself to do what is hard. It is addressing issues that we care about. People in my neighborhood are homeless and starving. Inaction is sitting at home waiting for some politician to come along and help them. Inaction is watching as the Police round them up and criminalize the things they do. Action is stepping up and helping to find solutions that work for these people, feeding them, helping to find new ways to begin to work together to meet their needs and keep them safe from abuse of those that would exploit them or harm them like police and predators.
Direct action is not waiting for your politician to end taxes, but to begin to pull away from taxation through Agorism. Direct action is not hoping that Monsanto is somehow punished or regulated by the state, but it is in the form of creating and finding food that is not from corporate giants like Monsanto. Direct action is not waiting for an audit of the federal reserve but in removing yourself as far from this through alternative agorist means of trade outside of the fiat money system. Direct action is to begin to address issues where problems occur and changing society to begin to socialize in new manners.
If you are waiting for some politician or law to save the day you will be waiting your whole life. Join us in creating true change by action not by complacent acceptance of a failed system. If your idea of action is voting then you have made no action. You have succeeded in not being active to bother the rulers in their efforts to rule you. Break from this and help to build the society you truly want with direct action over political games and empty promises. Help us to Obtain Anarchy, a system that truly works over a system of exploitation.
I am joining the ‘Vote for Nobody’ movement this November, but I am urging others not to stay home. It occurred to me that we can reach more people outside of our niche milieu by showing up at the polls and standing outside promoting our views. When you go to vote there are democrats and republicans pushing their candidates on the voters who are going to vote. It is time our views and beliefs are also present.
We will be more effective if we are reaching out peacefully and friendly to an angry voting public than to politicians. These people are voting because they want a change. We will help them see this change will not be found in deciding between two tyrants of the ruling class.
We may have varied views, but we can unify on many. I will be posting materials to pass out in November that you may freely use. I urge others to join me in Kansas City on Tuesday the 2nd of November. I will be posting more information soon. I will be posting updates on the Kansas City Anarchists Facebook Page, as well as here.
I am really looking for your support in this. I would like to find someone with a video camera who may be able to record our demonstration, as well as others to join me there and reach out to others.
I strongly urge you who can not make it or who live in other parts of the country to begin to organize your own demonstrations this November.
How do we even begin to address social Justice in a stateless society? We do it through direct action not political action. Something like social justice is vast and many changes and issues need to be addressed. Is there a final point to reach? Will the work ever be done? The state has failed to eliminate racism, sexism and other forms of injustice. There have been some advances, but overall there is a great deal more work to be done. What about battles lost? Groups for social justice will often advocate to change the law of a state, and when the money has been spent on lawyers and politicians many victories are lost. All that effort has given little back in return. What about the wins? Was the civil rights movement a win? If so did it end racism and actually create equality? I can look around at what I hear on many blogs and certain conservative news channels and tell you that it did not eliminate racism.
But without the state how will we win any battles?
I strongly support groups like the ACLU, NAACP and NOW. These are just a small portion that are relevant in society. In a society without a state we are not talking about a society without organization.
In a society without a centralized state groups that exist to fight for social justice will still continue to advocate for justice and changing systems that exist but in a more direct manner. The resources will not go to politicians and courts but to interact in the voluntary systems that exist. With a direct interaction these groups shall be able to reach individuals much closer to where they are and not in centralized courts that are segregated from society. The impact of dealing directly with groups will have a closer impact on the individual.
I do not see a utopia ever existing. I do believe the biggest changes will come with the education of people. When you have reached the micro-systems that many of my fellow anarchists argue for you will be reaching the audience directly free of the fox news filter and other lenses of distortion. The individuals who seem to be the problem people or the oppressor will not be looking at laws of tyrant states to try and work around in achieving their segregation. They will now have to face the existing problems free of the filter they pay the state to be.
The convenience of the state is wonderful for prejudice. People can blame the state and move to alter a system without truly facing the issue. With direct action over political action the individuals are now dealing with such issues, not an elected official who is acting out of self interest for political and financial gain.
Politics helps one remove themselves from the problems. Direct action brings it to someones doorstep. No more will we have to move the leviathan. Change will be more like what the popular political culture would call grass roots.
When ideas and changes do catch on they begin to move like wildfire through society. The resources wasted on the political will be used to cause direct impacts on society.
Just start to look at how many organizations exist for social justice. I discover more all the time. I will not condone the argument that some of the more conservative libertarians give that defend racism. I oppose all power over others. Injustices must be opposed and ended. If we end the state to create a world where power over others takes new forms we have failed. We are just as bad off with the state as we are with other oppressive powers. All are the same. We continue to fight the battle we are fighting, but the battle will take place directly on a more personal level. We will be more able to directly educate the masses. The battle does not change, only the battlefield. We no longer take on the empire, we go to other human beings and smaller systems to make change.
If you wish to learn more about the smaller voluntary systems I am speaking of we have a few article here at Gonzo Times that will help you get a better understanding. We will also have more in the future to help you grow a better understanding, so subscribe to our RSS feed.
Some articles I would suggest are: