Adam’s Fantasies

I run almost every day of the trip. Lately it’s been barefoot on the long beaches of the Atlantic. While I run, I think. Sometimes I fantasize. Sometimes it’s about revolution.

I am a panther.

I am a panther.

This particular fantasy is not meant to be realistic. It’s an anarchist creation myth. Like any creation myth, it’s more about helping us understand what something is than how it comes to be. So, to be clear, if we ever achieve a much more free and equal society, without private property, that could be described as anarchist, it certainly won’t come about in the way presented here. This is revolutionary bubblegum literature that also serves to highlight the differences and similarities between the world we have and the world we could have. So come, strap on your shoes, get this blog into an audio MP3, and fantasize with me. 🙂

It’s the culminating day of years of popular struggle for non-capitalist direct democracy. State authority has collapsed as a result of mass defections to the revolutionary cause and the people consider the egalitarian general assembly the most just and effective way for managing those affairs that require large-scale coordination.

On the first evening, the people take the first step. They agree to public policy (a recommendation, the compliance with which is based on trust, cooperation, and reason, rather than the threat of force) eliminating the use of money beginning the following day. The recommendation is to go about your day as you would, but leave the money out of it. The teachers don’t notice much of a difference, but the bank tellers have a pretty odd day.

On the second evening, the people take the second step. Those who don’t have enough of basic necessities are encouraged to take what they need. A child eats kale instead of Cheetos. He’s a bit unhappy with the revolution at the moment, but probably less likely to die of diabetes. A foreclosed family moves back into their home. The doctors are launched into weeks of chaos.

On the third evening, the people take the third step. Those whose jobs are useless are instructed to find something else to do, and those who are overworked reduce their labor to what they deem appropriate. A single-mother goes home to read to her daughter after her shift at the solar panel factory. An Ameriprise account manager takes over that mother’s night shift at their neighborhood Starbucks, where he used to begin each day with a purchase. The coal miners call it a day at 2:00 and plan a meeting to discuss whether or not they should continue mining coal. The Wall Street bankers end their two days of mindless wandering and get to work organizing the relocalization of the economy. A sugary cereal advertiser stays home to play video games.

On the fourth evening, the people take the fourth step. They release the non-violent prisoners and recommend all military personnel return home. The police are only to protect people from violence. Christopher puts on his own clothes and meets his family for dinner. A soldier dismantles her gun, but chooses to remain in Afghanistan for awhile to help build schools for girls in the mountains there. The borders open to human travel. A deported mother reunites with her kids at their soccer game in Galveston.

On the fifth evening, the people take the fifth step. They reprioritize the economy. Large numbers of workers who have stopped doing useless construction, advertising, and nothing begin the rapid transition to renewable energy and more localized infrastructure. Rust belt factories start modernizing and reopening to produce necessary goods without relying on exploitation of desperate workers elsewhere. Styrofoam production stops forever. Automation is pursued wherever possible, to reduce the amount of human labor necessary and expand time for leisure and education. A process is laid out to train hundreds of thousands of new teachers, plumbers, and doctors. All adults are encouraged to attend socially and personally useful university classes.

On the sixth evening, the people take the sixth step. The food and medicine immediately needed in less wealthy parts of the world are sent there. Raw materials in the developing world remain there where workers make shoes and salads and soccer balls for themselves, not just for us. The ships crossing the Pacific, now half as many, stop bringing disposable junk to California and instead deliver anti-malarial bed nets to Southeast Asia. For the first time, a family in Honduras eats three meals in one day.

On the seventh evening, a bunch of people throw a crazy party, some meditate in the woods, and a family plays scrabble, using the dictionary as arbiter of challenges. It’s anarchy.

– Adam (w/ Jesse)
from Fort Lauderdale

Anarchists

Anarchists.

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Life on the Outside

After an epic set of days in the capital, it’s hard to resist the urge to elaborate on our experience here. But in an effort to remain chronological while giving time to process before immediate reflection, we’ll pick up where we left off in the last entry.

New Jersey warranted little worth mentioning beyond its fabled stank-lore that pretty much everyone is already aware of. Worthy of note, still, is the remarkable landscape of cookie-cutter corporate chains amidst a vast swath of concrete and industrial monstrosities shat out upon a landscape once known for its agricultural richness. Ah well. We’ve all seen the tele. Strip malls, like fake tans, remain the fresh standard for beauty in our misguided culture.

On the border with our evening’s destination state, we stopped off in Frenchtown- a quaint and quirky breath of fresh air along the Delaware River and home to What’s Brewing at Maria’s. Seeing we hadn’t earned any money yet on the trip, we thought it time to propose bartering something unconventional in exchange for a coffee, indoor warmth, and wifi.

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Adam did the brave work of ad-libbing his way through a sheepish request. “Soo- we don’t have any money. But we were wondering if we could trade you a book or two for some coffee?”

“You can just have some coffee,” replied the lady behind the counter matter-of-factly before turning to her left to continue a conversation in Italian. We were taken aback. We gushed our thanks, learning through a brief chat that she was Maria, as in the Maria; yet another example of a business owner not bound to notions of dog-eat-dog, compassionless capitalism.

After taking in the nifty European-looking architecture and the river, we set forth to Grantville, where our friend Romeeka left us the keys to her place for the night. As the next 24 hours drizzled along cold, damp, and gray outside, we laid low indoors and made some dinner for our host to come home to.

Jesse met Romeeka through Couchsurfing and she epitomizes the CS ethos. When she’s not playing music or working for her solar energy consulting company, she spends a lot of her time writing letters to prisoners. She writes to men and women either serving short sentences or life sentences; she doesn’t check what the lifers are in for because it “doesn’t really matter now anyway.” She discovered that people in jail are often more interested in talking about her life than their own and she says most people write back and stay in touch quite diligently until, for whatever reasons, they tend to stop writing once they are released.

These pen pal relationships help the prisoners feel like they’re still worth a damn to the outside world, the importance of which we probably have trouble grasping as free people. Romeeka told us of many things that never occurred to her to even consider until her letter exchanges. One woman, in prison for life, has a husband she can only see for occasional conjugal visits. They never had a wedding and will never have a date in the outside world. They’ll never pose for a cute smooch to nauseate their friends with on Facebook. So the woman had her husband take a photo of himself with his arm out to one side, and she asked ‘Meeka to photoshop it with a relatively recent photo she had from her previous life, so that she could hang a picture of them as a happy couple on the wall of her cell.

These exchanges can do wonders for those inside, and certainly benefit the writer on the outside as well. What better way to drive home our common humanity than to share it with people shunned and removed from our society, routinely belittled and regarded as horrible? So many awful things happen in the world because of the facile classification of people into worthy and unworthy, good and bad. As with terrorism, it’s easy to ignore our own role in creating the social contexts that foster these problems when we regard these people as naturally evil and inherently different from us. Convincing ourselves that everyone in prison is a “bad person,” solely responsible for their condition, is about the only way to ignore the pressing contradiction of a “land of the free” that has the world’s highest incarceration rate. Tack onto that an astonishingly high recidivism rate and it seems clear that our societal problems aren’t being solved by our penal system.

Simply developing a written relationship with a prisoner seems like a relatively easy way to better our understanding as well as their situation. As Adam’s grandmother D-D pointed out, “There is no one so good that there is no bad in them, and no one so bad as to lack goodness.” As we continue to wander aimlessly, it’s humbling to remember this. Not long ago, we’d have been wrangled up for vagrancy and put to task for a year or so of slave labor. Maybe we’d be the ones you see picking up garbage on the side of the highway. In fact, that’s how some of the highways we’re driving on now may have been built in the first place.

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After some epic billiards, we spent the night singing songs about Romeeka’s cat, Theo.