On Depression, Revolution, Anarchy

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It’s difficult for a person to hear themselves when they’re depressed. That’s why listening is more effective than any advice you might give, and why telling them you love them, or how much they are valued–only makes things worse.

In being heard, in being listened too, it becomes possible to hear one’s own voice–to hear, as others hear, the deprecating voices… and recognize what they are saying as distortions of the truth. It’s how we find our own way back.

The deprecating voices are external images of self that we have assimilated. No external voice will lead us out of their traps, because it’s our susceptibility to them that caught us in those webs, and to find freedom again to breath on our own, resistance has to rise from the depths of our own being. No one can do it for us, and no one else can show us how.

Keep that in mind when you offer reassurance, and are refused. The refusal is not a symptom of the malady.
Listen! Listen with such depth of attention that the person you would help, hears in their refusal, their own assertion of a will-to-health, and the means to restoration of their freedom

I think there is an analogy here to what we have to do to free ourselves from oppressive social forces.

No one ‘out there’ can save us. No Moses can come to lead us out of Pharos’s Egypt. There are no ready-made maps or instruction books or revolutionary plans. The first step, always–the beginning we need to return to, endlessly–by turning to one another, in such intensity, with such attention, such listening, that we will hear, and summon together, the creative power that has always been there: the power to create a new world–a world worthy of the struggle it will take to build it.



Gustav Landauer: Art and Revolution

“In our times, an artist is defined as someone who has a vision: someone with visions and rhythms that form a separate inner world: someone who can manifest this world on the outside; someone who can create a new, an exemplary, their own world through imagination and creative force; someone whose ideas leave their inner being like Pallas Athena left Jupiter’s head; someone who then, like an Italian trader of plaster figures, packs the result in a basket and hawks it in the “the other world,” ordinary reality, where they sell the figures of their dreams and sacred desires to the goblins and caricatures of their artistic mind, all the while advertising, calculating, haggling, arguing, cheating. This is the contemporary artist’s mixture of detachment and participation.
But mine is another: I want to use reality to create; I want art to be the process of imaginative and communal social transformation, rather than the expression of individual yearning.”

Gustav Landauer, REVOLUTION and Other Writings: A Political Reader. Edited and translated by Gabriel Kuhn. PM Press.

I changed the masculine, personal pronouns.

I was probably 22 or 23 when I read the essay on Landauer, in Martin Buber’s Paths in Utopia; it would be hard to imagine how any, indirect meeting with any thinker, could have a more powerful, influence, than the ideas in that essay had for me—over the course of whole life. Three years later, I was living in a commune—where expenses were covered, each according our means. Though it would be 45 years before, my involvement with Occupy Philly, led to the next experiment in communal living, I never gave up my search for a means to realize my ideas on communal living, and this time—I’m sure there was something of Landaur’s ideas of art and revolution, what freed me, to return to what I had been doing when I read that essay: making art.
I only last week bought a copy of this book, and in reading it, began to discover how much—from such minimal acquaintance–the seeds Landauer had planted, have meant to me over the years. The perplexity I feel, and have expressed in posts on this blog and elsewhere, on how survive as an artist in this capitalist wilderness–and as a revolutionary–without losing one’s freedom to create, or submitting to slavery of the market–I didn’t learn from Landauer, but, as in the above quote, I find, this too, I share with him—if from another side, as an artist.

Revolution is an act of imagination

Revolution is action.

Revolution takes place in the present. Now, and now, and now, or never. There can be no waiting

for the “right conditions.”
Revolution is an ever present necessity.

Revolution is every act of the imagination, made real in every present moment.

Solidarity, Love, Imagination, RESISTANCE!

What is to be done?

Genocide and capitalism are inseparable, and inevitable.
If you pose a serious challenge to the order of the capitalist state–you will be marked for extermination.
I suspect that any STATE, any order dependent on coercion and violence, will degenerate into authoritarian, elitist rule. For a capitalist state–that will take the form of fascism.
As capitalism founds itself on a claim to representing an order of Nature, it follows–as sure as natural law–that all opposition will be declared, whether by eugenics, or other theoretical justification for the extreme inequality created by capitalism, as pathological–necessitating the extermination of those carrying the disease.
Genocide and capitalism are inseparable, and inevitable.
If you pose a serious challenge to the order of the capitalist state–you will be marked for extermination.
In a pseudo-democracy, it will come about it stages… but it will come about.
Understand, that if you are serious about challenging the capitalist state–they want you dead. And will find the means to satisfy their desire. There is nothing you can do to change that.
The question, as always… what is to be done?

What is an Anarchist?


I keep reading comments about protests, where peeps blame everything they don’t like, everything they think excessive, violent… on ‘anarchists.’

When they know nothing about actual anarchists, but what the enemies of actual anarchists have always said about them.

There is a rich history of a very diverse stream of anarchist ideologies.

It can be complicated. For me, it’s complicated only in the doing… which is always actions and decisions made with others.

No gods, no leaders… no representatives” … Nehil de nobis sin nobis… nothing about US… without us. We are capable of taking care of ourselves, and one another, without hierarchy, without institutionally mandated leaders.
I am an anarchist.
That is my manifesto. Read it well, read it with care, turn it and turn it, cause everything is in it.

As for how we get there?

Solidarity, Love, Imagination, RESISTANCE!

A Revolutionary Artist Collective

I have this dream… of a collective of artists, who don’t “sell” their work, but … sort of… ‘rent’ it. That is, Someone who makes a contribution (sliding scale) has right to the work in perpetuity… but not ‘ownership.’ the collective, legally, retains ownership. What that means, is the one who takes the work, agrees never to sell for profit. They can exchange for another work, or accept an exchange at current value, if they want to offer it to someone else–ok…but wherever the work goes, the collective retains “ownership” rights.
The idea being, to prevent a work from becoming a commodity, an item of exchange value taken in expectation of profit by future increase in monetary value.

A network of such exchanges–drawing in more artists, removes more and more art from the fucked up , utterly corrupt gallery to investor gatekeeper system we have now.
The idea–however this might actually work out, is that artists take control of the distribution of our work, withdrawing our work from the market system, but creating together ( I envision networks of these collectives), a system outside the capitalist system.
No artist has any hope of bucking the system alone. This can only happen if enough artists come together, and work out a system of distribution, and sustainability–by consensus. By USING OUR CREATIVE IMAGINATION for how we LIVE IN THE WORLD, and not exclusively in devotion to our work.


Anarchy, Black History, Excess… and hope


There’s an invaluable lesson we can learn from the history of black people in this country. Counter to many distopic movies–which play on the assumption that need, and scarcity of resources will set people against one another. An idea planted as a seed of capitalist ideology–by the elite’s fear of the people, fear of real democracy.
But if we look a their history, we see how black people, survived by mutual aid, preserving what what was possible to preserve, and so much more– creating a new culture, new music, new art. A history that refutes that dytopic fear. The Lord of Flies fear.
If there is violence in impoverished neighborhoods now, it’s not scarcity, but excess that is to blame–the seductive promise of excess wealth and power, the omnipresent propaganda absorbed by living in and under a consumer capitalist driven ideology.
Poor people learn how to take care of one another–or they die.
The greater the wealth, the more that ability deteriorates. The billionaire elites are damaged–and damaged in ways that puts human survival itself at risk. The disposition that motivates mutual care, is lost. Excess corrupts… and at some point, corrupts absolutely. John Woolman understood this. Few have understood it better.
I’m not setting up an argument for the virtue of poverty. That’s not the conclusion I draw. But I am making an argument for the corrosive power of excess, where some have more than they need, and many have less. We have enough food and material wealth to house and feed every person on the planet–and much more. The problem is, and has been since the first neolithic farmers cultivated grains and rice, that could be stored and accumulated, and did not need to be consumed as it was harvested, how to use the excess… other than providing the means for kings and priests and war lords to rule over the lives of others… invariably, over the ones who produced the excess.
The problem didn’t begin with capitalism. Capitalism systematized and automated and dehumanized the machinery that had been at work since the first cities in China, the Indus valley, the fertile crescent.
What starting me thinking about this, was watching a neighbor caring for an invalid aunt and grandmother.
We are good at this, we humans. It isn’t scarcity that is destroying us, but excess… and how to deal with that without destroying those deep rooted communal habits we are so good at creating. Inequality is the symptom… a symptom that itself can destroy us. But there’s a deeper cause. Something we have never been able to learn.
I think that the anarchists… some of them, began to get this.
I think that’s our way to the future… if we’re to have one.