I was talking with my wife the other day about the government, as we are wont to do, and she jokingly spoke at her cell phone, to the imaginary (?) FBI agent who would be listening in. We both quickly realized that the possibility of surveillance was probably more grave than that. Not literally our phones, necessarily, but certainly our entire digital presence. Later we were discussing whether or not the government was afraid of the people anymore, which brings me to the thesis of this post. Fascism isn’t the only enemy of democracy as the State sees it; we are an enemy as well.
It’s no mistake that the media has thrown around the “anarchy” label of late—mostly at insurrectionists—as we enter a new political era, one in which the left has a greater presence than usual and the far-right is ascendant, plain socialism becomes less of a boogeyman. The centrist media then requires a new monster, and if they can paint both sides with one brush, so much the better. We, the “far left,” are it.
No matter which flavor of leftism you ascribe to (or, if you're like me, and you're still finding your way), we need to understand, and quickly, that while most of us tried the half-measure of voting for the lesser evil, the Democrats are not “our” party. They don’t have our backs. By wanting an equitable world, we endanger their livelihoods. We’re a threat to the status quo, and the Democrats are the party of status quo.
Hopefully by now you’ve noticed that a lot of what has changed between Trump and Biden is the window dressing. We have children in “immigrant child overflow facilities” instead of cages. We’re fed a line about the minimum wage, deportations, about COVID relief and unemployment. The Dems are mysteriously powerless to pass impactful legislation (they did grind out relief finally, after weeks of cutting it back), while four years ago Trump and his cadre did as they pleased. Biden already carried out two attacks on foreign soil, and it’s only March.
The crux of the two-party system is that it creates an “other” dependent upon your political leanings upon which your favored party can always lay blame.
This isn’t just a matter of lapsed promises, though. The Democratic party is, at its best, trying to reform a system that we know to be inherently corrupt. Before Biden took office, while more COVID relief languished in Congress, a $740 billion dollar defense bill was passed on a bipartisan basis. And now, the House has passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which throws more money at police in the name of reform. And to be clear: it is without a doubt a good thing that the bill addresses issues like qualified immunity, but when a class of people charged with serving the public routinely murders those they are supposed to serve, we cannot be satisfied by a government response that says, “When they murder you, they might be charged,” instead of saying, “They must not murder you.” Already this year, at least 23 Black people have been killed by police. We can’t get caught up in the little gains when the system at large is still utterly wrong.
It’s long been the truth, but the Dems must now see themselves as the party of the lukewarm center. They’re here to eke out votes from “sensible” republicans and from the left who are time and again forced to vote for no one or the least-offensive candidate. But what this means for a party in power, with the potential to remain in power if they play their cards right (they probably won’t, but it’s a possibility), is that they are surrounded. They have a familiar enemy on the right, and an rising enemy on the left that threatens to upend the tug of war match they’ve had going for years, which has kept the military-industrial complex happy.
Because of this, there are two likely outcomes: before they have much of a chance to do anything about us, the Dems lose power to the GOP (their very favorite thing); or, they dig in on their territory and vilify the left as they’ve already done over the last year. As more democratic socialists seek office, they’ll double down on calls that we’re too extreme, want to defund the police (as though that were wrong or bad), cut the military, and, as they would frame it, end American energy independence (you know, by saving the planet from climate change).
This is a lot of talk to simply say this: just because the State now has (D) behind its name does not mean that we should relax. The State is not our friend, they do not have our backs, and they still actively mean to do us harm. Everything done that seems to be a boon in our favor is done in the service of deception to keep this big machine of theirs rolling.
The crux of the two-party system is that it creates an “other” dependent upon your political leanings upon which your favored party can always lay blame. This allows the broader attentions of the public to be drawn away while the kleptocrats are searching your pockets. And this mechanic will not change just because a third (or fourth) party enters the fray. This country has been partisan for so long that if we were to change the two-party dynamic we would still be susceptible to fascism, which can rear its head wherever there is exploitable difference, wherever there is a vilifiable other. And there will always be a vilifiable other in these circumstances because this country is founded upon principles that inherently create them: racism and the exploitation of the working class.
What to Do About It
- Don’t get complacent. The media is going to pull a Fox News and look the other way when the Biden administration does something awful or gets called out, so we have to be vigilant. We can’t let these actions go unanswered, either. Portland protesters, as linked above, are still out in the streets every night, getting teargassed and shot with pepper balls. That’s the kind of action we should aspire to because it’s the kind of action that will get attention—but clearly not enough when in a single city. It's become an old story, and they can conveniently ignore a leftist uprising thanks to that.
- Consider what the government does to its enemies. There’s no need for paranoia, but it’s important to remind ourselves that the internet doesn’t forget, and everyone carries cameras these days. Particular protestors (and insurrectionists) are found by labels on bags, by their plate carriers, gun mods, all manner of minutia. While we exist in this shitty framework, our views and actions can be used against us. Be mindful.
- Talk to each other about each other. What I mean is, in your discussions of the future with other leftists, don't center the enemy. Talk about your needs, your wishes. You'll find that in having a conversation based on your desires for a future, you'll become energized to bring that future into being. We can't posit the status quo as an impervious monolith and expect to wake up feeling good. So think about what we can create in an ideal future.
- Gather and focus your community around a beneficial idea. We can take this step in two directions: anti-capitalist or anti-state. This could be a community garden, a food and supply drive for the houseless, a continuous (but not static) protest, a non-capitalistic market cooperative, and so on.
Meet Some Other Preppers and Good Folks
Rather than include a regular prep today, I thought instead I would lend this space to some other leftists who are making content relevant to our cause.
I was very fortunate to have Margaret Killjoy include this newsletter on her list of resources for leftists and the survival-minded, which is why a whole slew of you are now receiving this newsletter. Margaret has an excellent podcast that you should listen to (in addition to a wild amount of other creative work).
Red Star Defense is a worker-owned cooperative that makes their own ballistic armor and sells tactical gear on the cheap. I recently bought some items and highly recommend them.
The Anarchist Library is a great resource for all manner of subjects, from theory to protesting techniques.
Heating Up Podcast shares prepping tips along with climate change news—my kind of content.
The Indigenous Anarchist Federation is a great resource and a great hub for relevant causes. They have a really in-depth guide to arming yourself in their “Skills for Revolutionary Survival” series, and indigenous anarchy is a philosophy from which we should all be taking lessons.
We’re entering a period of time in this country that feels both exhausted and optimistic. The alt-right hasn’t done much goose-stepping, and we may actually be rounding the corner on COVID. So long as you don’t lose sight of what we’re fighting toward and preparing for, it’s okay to take a little time to breathe. Just don’t get so relaxed that you don’t stand up when the State acts out.