Grim in a different way this week, but with perhaps a thin glimmer of actionable hope?
In the olden times of this newsletter we talked about safeguarding yourself and your home against the soon-to-come packs of roving fascists. That information is still pertinent, unfortunately, even if most of us haven't seen the goosesteppers in our neighborhood (who'd have thought I should have warned the Capitol?). But beyond securing your front door with a heavy piece of furniture, there is a lot more one can do to help keep safe from the rising tide of Christo-Fascism, and a lot more to worry about.
The Recent Context
Before we begin the lesson, let's briefly remind ourselves why we need it: weeks ago, before I wrote this letter, the FBI raided Mar-A-Lago, which naturally infuriated Trump and his followers. At first the response was one of incredulity–how could the Dems sink so low as to [follow the law/do what the GOP wanted to do]? But quickly enough the tone changed to one of violence, with thousands and thousands of users tweeting with a #civilwar or #Rubicon hashtag, and screenshots of forums passed around which urged violence. Now, everybody is a warrior behind a keyboard, but relations across the divide in our country are frosty, to put it mildly. The rhetoric that the far-right puts out, particularly in defense of Trump, is more than enough to incite violence even when it doesn't openly call for it. Should the darkest omens turn out false, we still live in a country that is made of irreconcilable parts–at least for now.
There's a term for this you've probably heard before: stochastic terror. When you look it up in the dictionary, you see a picture of Trump on his phone. The right basically lives in a stew of stochastic terror these days, and the raid on Mar-A-Lago was enough to send a particular individual to an FBI headquarters in Cincinnati, where he attempted to break in and kill, I assume, everyone. He failed. Similarly, a group of armed MAGAts surrounded the FBI HQ in Phoenix, to no particular end. Now, these acts and Christo-Fascism generally aren't exactly intertwined, though it's a safe bet the folks involved are fine with it. But what we're going to talk about most today is not how to stay safe while we're actively engaged in internecine conflict. Civil war is not what we'll be prepping for today, not only because I don't think this is what touches it off, but what presages it is likely to be difficult enough for some of us, and the remainder should chip in and help.
You'll remember, I suppose, the letters on the Cold Civil War. Touching that off was the Supreme Court's leaked decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The brushfires of that spark are still spreading, with Indiana, most recently (as of this writing) passing a complete abortion ban. Weeks earlier, a very young Ohioan, paradoxically, went to Indiana for an abortion. Indiana pursued an investigation into the doctor who performed the procedure. In Nebraska, a cop obtained records of Facebook messages that suggested a young girl and her mother bought and used abortifacient medication. Both have been arrested. Our country may have a short attention span, but the law does not. Bodily autonomy is being stripped from more and more people. Florida has just peeled back coverage under FL Medicaid for all treatment of gender dysphoria, including hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and "any procedures that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics." This is for adults–not children. And, while we're on the subject of Florida, DeSantis wants to loosen regulations for teachers so military veterans can teach without a degree. That's probably fine.
To put a very fine point on this, though, is the latest out of Louisiana: the state government–the governor in particular–has delayed the release of funds meant for flood mitigation to New Orleans because the city of bon temps has, until this point, refused to enforce the state's abortion ban. This is precisely the kind of thing I was talking about when I wrote about a cold civil war: islands of blue are held fiscally hostage by a right-wing state or federal government, effectively starved over ideological differences. It may not be militiamen at checkpoints, but if your goal is to get your way or drown your opponents, you don't necessarily need men with guns.
The Usual Tune, Remixed
As the country continues to slide into the fetid mire of Christo-fascism, the main thing I can think of to combat this slide–or perhaps just to keep ourselves from the muck–is to build our base. I'm not talking about creating an entire counter-movement (necessarily); I mean get you, your friends, and like-minded people together, and start figuring out what you're good at doing, and do it. I beat this drum every week: the solution to our problems is community, and this week is no different.
A long while back we talked about pods and affinity groups, and we talk about mutual aid all the time. This is, basically, what I'm talking about now. As the situation becomes more and more dire across the country, and particularly so for everyone who isn't cishet, male, and white, we need to be able to establish networks of care and solidarity to replace what used to be a government that (almost) functioned for (some) its citizens. This means that we start looking at establishing dual power structures for food, shelter, medical care, education, and defense–as a start. Which seems like a lot to do, but it doesn't have to be. You, reading this, do not need to be in charge of anything, for starters, nor should you be. Acknowledge the need for these things with your friends, your support network, your local punks, etc., and think about what you, personally, are good at or interested in. Whatever that thing is? Do that. If it's food, then let it be food. If you're good at construction? Get to work with houseless camps and build shelters. And so on. These basic necessities imbue real power in a community, because people that are fed and sheltered are able to spend time thinking about other issues–namely, how to improve our conditions further.
As you seek out and begin these tasks, commit yourself to anticapitalism and mutual aid in your pursuit wherever and whenever possible. If you're able, whatever thing it is you're doing should be local, involve as few purchases as possible, and be committed to principles of independence rather than charity. For instance, if you're helping rig up solar panels for a camp, teach some folks how to do it, or let them help you. If you're distributing food, try to make connections that allow you to get food sourced for free. Fostering independence, teaching skills, and encouraging participation in these actions is how the movement builds and how we all become less dependent on the state, and less brittle in response to shock.
Doing Your Thing, Safely
Historically, mutual aid has a fraught relationship with the law. The state sees mutual aid for what it is–a threat–and usually deals with it accordingly. But the benefits outweigh the risks, especially when they're our only way forward. You can expect resistance to all long-term acts of mutual aid, from building shelters to feeding people, for supposedly above-board and legal reasons. Keeping yourself and others out of trouble means keeping some of your work quiet, moving frequently, and knowing what you can and can't get away with, legally.
There are many great models for this behavior across disciplines. Food Not Bombs has a long history of feeding people while being harassed and arrested. Four Thieves Vinegar Collective has devised a method of transporting abortion medication virtually undetected. In Dallas, the Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club showed up armed ahead of an attempted encampment sweep, and the sweep was called off. These acts, and many others, can be carried out by you and your comrades and have an almost immediate effect on your community.
Before you go off, I want to stress that we've got to be more careful. Organizing like this, whether that be to distribute food or what have you, can put a target on your back. Minimizing your exposure is going to be critical to whatever you choose to do. This is hopefully old news for all of you, but start by downloading Signal, and making sure that whatever other apps or DMs you're getting are end-to-end encrypted or strictly for sharing puppy dog memes. Discuss nothing with even a whiff of illegality on your phone. Begin these actions with people you trust completely, or do your diligence when entering into an extant group. The FBI may have raided Mar-A-Lago the other day, but they have been fucking with leftists for years.