Tag Archives: Anti-Capitalism

Post the Thirty-Forth or On Rewriting Myths

Myths surround and inform our existence. From the myth of the American Dream to the myth of how George Washington cannot tell a lie. In many, subtle ways they imbue our subconscious with the values and ideals of American society. However, many, if not all, of those values and ideals are oppressive. Because this country was founded on colonialism and the backs of brown and black people, the values and ideals that spring up from that foundation are bound to be rotten. From the ideal that hard work always pays off (you can ask the people on the Rez if thats true) to the value of profit over people, its obvious that the framework that America operates under is flawed.

Much of the work that we do challenges and attempts to transform those ideals. We use a variety of tactics to ameliorate the damages that those ideals cause, such as create community centers, get stolen wages back, and provide free therapy. We used education and leadership engagement to enlighten folks to the reality of the world we live in and give them the tools to change it. Which in turn leads to a lot of work to create change systemically so that those direct services are less necessary, such as direct action, protests, and grassroots organizing. We use those tactics to create a more equitable world. And while many of these address the underlying issues that cause inequity, I believe that we a missing an important element. That is, we aren’t challenging the framework, the myths, that inform and support the inequitable society that we live in.

How, then, do we challenge that framework?

We challenge this framework by challenging and changing the myths that inform that framework.

Take, for example, the myth of Thanksgiving. The myth states that sometime in November the pilgrims had a grand feast, back when the pilgrims were new arrivals, and invited the Natives. They threw this feast because they were thankful for the Native people for teaching them how to survive in their new and harsh environment. They joined together in peace and harmony and parted as friends, in happy coexistence.

The reality is that, after the Civil War, Lincoln wanted a holiday that would bring people together, especially a holiday that would help reintegrate the North and the South. So, he produced the Thanksgiving myth to foster a sense of community. However, its clear that the “event” that inspired Thanksgiving is a fabrication. Did Native people help out the pilgrims when they first landed here? Maybe. But despite that, the pilgrims were harbingers of a colonization and genocide of those  Native people. A colonization and genocide that is still going on to this day. And it is essential that we recognize that. Otherwise, this false ideal of “everyone can just get along” will be given currency when its clear that oppressed people cannot “get along” with colonizers because of that history of colonization.

So, how do we reclaim Thanksgiving? We must first recognize that we can’t divorce the holiday from its history; indeed we can’t divorce anything from its history because it is that history that gives the thing form. Instead, we need to acknowledge that history and endeavor to change it, moving forward. In the case of Thanksgiving, we can say that the holiday is about getting together with queer familia and not about pilgrims and Native people. We can say that Thanksgiving is about the radical action of gratitude, because capitalism has taught us to always want more, more, more. We can say that it is about honoring our madre tierra for supporting and sustaining us. In short, it can be about whatever we want it to be, as long as we remember the history.

It is by remembering our history that we can move forward and rewrite our destinies.

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Post the Twenty-Sixth or A Call to Action for OccupyAustin

I have gone down to Occupy Austin several times and what I have seen is truly dismaying. I saw a whole lot of white folks holding drumming circles (problematic), doing yoga, talking about meditation, worrying about hurt feelings and cooperating with the police. I saw a lot of white, cisgender, men leading and facilitating. I saw a whole lot of standing around, a whole lot of disorganization and a whole lot of complacency.

You know what I didn’t see? I didn’t see a whole lot of people of color. I did not see a whole lot of visibly trans and queer folk. I didn’t see a lot of people who are disabled. I did not see a whole of critical analysis and discourse and I did not see a whole lot of action. What I saw was a bunch of white folks, hanging around and socializing.

This is unacceptable.

Don’t get me wrong; I like meditation and yoga and other forms of self-care, but if we are going to build up a movement that creates lasting social change then we need to be checking our own shit. We need to be examining our privilege and make sure that we have equitable representation of folks that hold different identities. And this means more than just inviting them. This means that we are building a culture of inclusion and radical celebration. It means that we are making room for people of color. We are making room for queer and trans people. We are making room for women and mothers and poor people. It means that we are making room for oppressed people. Equitable representation means that we are examining the effects of white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy. It means the we examine the actions that we take and makes sure that we are not unconsciously perpetuating those systems of power and oppression. This examination must also include our language.

For example, the language around the very name of the movement. Occupy. We need to examine how this word and the language that surrounds it is oppressive language. This is because this land is already being occupied. This land has been occupied since the first colonizers landed 500 years ago. We need to be examining colonialism and our participation in the continued colonization of this land and the Third World. Moreover, we need to realize that indigenous folk and other folks of color have been trying to decolonize their land and their bodies from white supremacy since the beginning of European Imperialism. We need to realize that they are still fighting this. We need to realize that economic growth in the US usually means the suffering and exploitation of the Third World. We need to realize that the US is still pursuing global empire by getting the Third World to be economically dependent on the US. And its going to take more than issuing a solidarity statement to understand and change these things.

We also need to examine our relationship with the police. The police are NOT allies to oppressed people. They work to defend the status quo and defend those in power. The police has a long and bloody history of brutalizing people of color, queer and trans people, people in poverty etc. They do not exist to defend your “first amendement rights” because once you start getting out of line, they beat you down and arrest you. Any movement that seeks to upset the status quo by bringing true equitable power back into the hands of the oppressed will find no friend in the police.

And not only must we be doing direct action, like protests and bank bombs, but we also need to be establishing sustainable communities. We need to be banding together to support one another, whether that be through skill shares or through popular education or even better permaculture. We need to supporting our activism by having active, vibrant, sustainable communities so that we not only have sustainable leadership but so that we also continue to have momentum and not burn out.

We have an opportunity here to help usher in a new era of social change and social justice. We have a chance to make this world a better place for everyone. Now is the moment in which the 99% can be truly and equitably represented. In this moment we can change the course of history.

Don’t fuck it up.


Post the Twenty-Third or On #OccupyWallStreet

A revolution is coming to this country. A revolution the likes of which this nation has never seen, both in scale and in non-violence. And it’s spreading. Quickly. What started as a midsize protest of Wall Street in New York has quickly been taken up by many cities including Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, with many more being organized and started. A few hundred have rapidly expanded to a few thousand and more people are joining everyday.

For the first time in a generation people are standing up and saying No to corporations.

People of all stripes are rebelling against those systems and organizations that keep us downtrodden. They are rebelling against banks and corporations that have almost complete control over our country and that pursue global empire. They are rebelling against those forces that have made a mockery of the democratic process and make our lives so much harder to lead. They are rebelling against those institution to revolutionize this world and make it fully equitable. They are gathering and participating in a revolution that is consensus based with voices for all.  This is a grass-roots movement at its finest.

More importantly, however, is its effectiveness and the reaction it is eliciting from mainstream America. For almost the first week of the Occupation, there was a total media black out. None of the major news networks were running the story and even now, 13 days into it, very few are talking about it. This blackout speaks volumes because who owns the major news networks? They know that the revolution is starting and they are hoping that a media blackout will stall us. It seems that that is not the case. Not only that but its interesting to note that those same news stations were quick to speak on the populist revolutions in other countries like Egypt. They were quick to applaud those people who were throwing off the shackles of tyranny and creating for themselves the country that they envision. A country that they created on their own terms. The hypocrisy is galling.

The other thing that is very interesting is the police response to non-violent protestors. I’m sure many of you have seen the videos, and if you haven’t please go here, of a white collar police officer macing a group of protestors at point black range. Not only that but there were over 80 arrests that day, most of which were overly aggressive. There are photos and videos of folks being slammed against the ground, of getting dragged into the middle of the street by the hair, and one instance of someone being arrested merely for having a professional camera.

On last thing to note is how this movement reflects in many ways the movement here at Out Youth to change things. Young people and community members are using consensus-based decision making and grassroots organizing to revolutionize how Out Youth is run and to change the dynamic to put the power back in the hands of the young people. Like those at Wall Street, we are trying to revolutionize the systems so that they work for us and not keep us oppressed.

For the first time since the 60s, people are mobilizing and saying enough is enough. And its happening everywhere. I would encourage all of my readers to join their city’s Occupy movement so that we can change this world to make it a fully equitable place. It is going to take all of us working together in solidarity to revolutionize this world. And we will succeed.

We are too big to fail.


Post the Sixth or On how Poor People aren’t Lazy

This is the status that I’m seeing posted around Facebook these days.

Thank you Florida, Kentucky, and Missouri, which are the first states that will require drug testing when applying for welfare. Some people are crying and calling this unconstitutional. How is this unconstitutional? It’s OK to drug test people who work for their money but not those who don’t?… Re-post this if you’d like to see this done in all 50 states.

And it pisses me off! What pisses me off about it is the underlying classist assumption that poor people are lazy. The underlying classist assumption that all you have to do to be successful is work hard. That if you are poor or struggling that all you have to do is pull yourself up from your bootstraps and give it the ole’ college try.

This is an incorrect assumption!

Its incorrect not only because poor people are the most hard-working people but also because all their hard work amounts to little. People who are poor NEED to work hard because otherwise they go hungry. People who are poor have to do the shittiest jobs because they don’t have any other choice. They need to work their shitty jobs to get by to pay rent, food etc.

Some might cry at this point, “But Morgan why don’t they just go get and education! That’s the way to get ahead!” To which I would reply that going to school is all well and good and education is the quickest path to liberation. However, people who are poor often can’t afford to go to school. Either because the high school they were educated at was unable to educate them properly due to lack of resources or because they have a family to support and literally can’t afford to go school because if they do they aren’t able to work the hours they need to pay rent, food etc.

The capitalist system that we live in keeps these people trapped in a vicious cycle where it’s all they can do to survive. And in this state of desperation we wonder why they do drugs. Why does anyone do drugs? For amusement, for escape. For people who are poor, drugs are often the only way to escape the despair that so often surrounds their lives.

And while I recognize the importance of taking responsibility for ones own actions and the fact that it’s a lot easier to deal with life and escape poverty if one isn’t addicted to drugs, I still think that legislation like this hurts poor people more than it helps. I would argue that we should be funding schools and MEANINGFUL job opportunities. I would argue that we should be organizing a grass-roots campaign showing people that drugs and alcohol are tools that those with privilege use to keep us oppressed. We need to foster a culture that show compassion for the downtrodden not by telling them to work harder but by working with them to liberate all of us.

And most of all we need to BUST the apocryphal nature of the American Dream. We need to educate those around us and show them that the American Dream is unattainable for most people for reasons that involve privilege and different forms of oppression. That it is the exception and not the rule. We have to liberate people from the delusion that the American Dream is real and show them instead how to organize and fight for their own liberation.

Liberation won’t come if we fuck other people over. Liberation won’t come for anyone if we continue to oppress each other in these small little ways. The bottom line is only this.

We all need to work together for liberation.