“there must be some way out of here!”, said the joker to the thief. “there’s too much confusion. i can’t get no relief.
businessmen, they drink my wine. plowmen dig my earth. none of them along the line know what any of it is worth.”
As an anarchist, being politically engaged looks very little like the way most people understand political engagement. Political engagement typically brings to mind all kinds of activism, handshakes with the rich and powerful, and emotional speeches about why some candidate or policy is the ultimate good, but anarchists don’t like to play that game. It’s a losing game for all parties and for every living being on this living planet.
Anarchism precludes something wholly different from political engagement, and that is political non-engagement. Under a system which dominates and oppresses all aspects of our lives, all acts have been rendered political. Where you buy your food, who you bank with, what clothes you wear, what shoes you wear, where you work, how you worship, these basic aspects of life are all deeply political – perhaps even a great deal more political than the ballot you cast or the petitions you sign.
“In the slave wage economy, who will your master be?” is the question that politics asks. Politics never asks you if you’d like to be a slave, or suggests that you may not have to be one. The question of politics is indeed a loaded question, as the questions of “which slave masters will you serve” and “what color would you like your shackles painted?” are presupposing that you have consented to being a slave and are more concerned with the particulars of your slavery.
The anarchist ideal is grossly misunderstood because it presents the idea of walking away from the ballot box and, discontent to live shackled by an abusive system, declaring “No gods! No masters!” Yet, for those who have never thought that there may be another way, who believe that one of those ballot boxes must be checked, they look at the anarchist’s empty ballot in confusion, for they can’t seem to understand why someone wouldn’t want to choose how they would be dominated. The anarchist makes little distinction between the patronizing master and the domineering master. She says that she will have no master.
Good cop, bad cop. Left wing, right wing. Your abuser in a good mood and your abuser in a bad mood. It’s all part of the same psychological or sociological game. Two faces of the same system, oppressing and dominating the souls of humanity and our nonhuman sisters and brothers.
But sometimes the abuser goes too far, and the formerly weak and ignorant victim finally conjures up the strength and the courage to walk away. Only once they’ve begun to walk away do they begin to realize the extent of the abuse that they’d been living in. It often takes years – decades even – for a victim to fully understand how abusive the relationship was. Victims of ongoing abuse are usually the blindest to their own abuse, to the horror of the victim’s friends and family who can see the situation so clearly. In the same way, the human victims of the abuse of society are largely blind to the abuse and even believe that they are happy within it.
Finally, we’re at a point in our human history where the abuse has gone too far. The masters have taken every freedom away from nearly all of humanity and have violently oppressed every living thing they’ve encountered, to the point where victims are now beginning to wake up in mass numbers and, fed up with replacing fascist dictators with fascist presidents, and iron shackles with paper ones, have begun removing the shackles altogether and walking out of this prison built of human bodies.
However, every person has endured a different level of abuse and oppression. Some have had more skillful abusers who blocked out all hope of life outside the prison. Most people, in their desire to please and their ignorance of the possibility of life beyond the dark walls, have deeply internalized the abuse and hold it as an integral part of themselves. Some are still open to the call of the wild and will fight to save themselves, their species, and their planet, and still others have been pushed too far, where they may never in this incarnation find the heartbeat of mother earth and follow it to freedom.
“no reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke, “there are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
but you and i, we’ve been through that – and this is not our fate. let us not talk falsely now. the hour is getting late.”
The revolution happens when an individual somehow breaks past the illusion and decides to live in freedom. This prison, built from human flesh, is weakened every time someone, declaring that they will no longer play their part in oppressing the community of life, their human family, and even the life force within them, walks away from their post, walks away from the ballot box, walks away from the capitalist slave economy. The walls, the bars, the fences, the guard posts, the guards, and even the warden, are all humans who have somewhere inside of them this animal drive for freedom and for life. The good news is that the revolution is inevitable, because the prison complex itself is comprised of living beings with a propensity towards freedom.
. . .
Political non-engagement, therefore, is not a specific thing. It’s everything that makes us human- running wild and naked through fields of wild and naked flowers, making love at midnight under the sensual blue moon, splashing paint on a canvas, flinging words into a poem, gazing into the eyes of children, swinging from vines high in the trees of an old-growth forest. It is gardening, meditating, making music. Anarchists are those humans who feel that mother earth created us just like every other living being she supports, that we may live free and part of nature. That is our political stance. That we may live as though the ultimate purpose of life is simply to live – and live to the fullest.
all along the watchtower, princes kept the view. while, all the women came and went. barefoot servants, too. outside, in the distance, a wildcat did growl. two riders were approaching.
and the wind began to howl…
Yet for those who have decolonized their hearts and live free as the flowers, there is a voice on the wind which cries that we are all one, we are each cells of a single living organism, and as such, we can never be fully free until our sisters and our brothers are also freed. The wind whispers that we were freed that we may return in order to, in the ultimate act of sedition, tickle those who still bear upon their shoulders the weight of this great poisonous system, that they will, one by one, shrug the weight of oppression off of their backs, withdraw from their role in maintaining its structure, and come to join the world of the free, the world of love, the world of life.
When someone inquires as to the political and societal role of an anarchist, what can be said? We’ve quit the world of roles and politics and society altogether, in favor of just being human. We’ve quit in favor of following our own hearts and our own dreams. And we’re finding as we follow our own hearts, that we’re actually listening to the collective heart. We’re going somewhere together.
So, the next time someone asks you what you do for a living, what your role is in society, or how you’re politically engaged…
Throw your head back in wild laughter and start tickling them!