4 – From Portland to the Philippines – disinformation for global fascism

By R.B.

I open Facebook to a new post from my grandmother – it is an article with a link to a website that reeks of spyware, stating that Nancy Pelosi is diverting funds from Social Security to fund the impeachment trials. My grandmother lives in the rural stretches of the Philippines and I wonder to myself, who the fuck managed to send the message. My family in the Philippines by and large posts this type of fodder, and I subjugate myself to awkward, half English, half Tagalog spats about what I understand to be nationalism and lies, and they understand to be loyalty. Mahal. The posts range from Donald Trump putting “China in its place”, to our beloved Pilipino president -Duterte “cleaning up the Philippines”. sometimes it’s more QAnon flavored content about Trump and Duterte fighting a war against international warlords who are invested in maintaining a lizard run, sex trafficking ring. Regardless, they are always bullshit, usually linking to sites with popup ads for CGI pornography or black market vape pods, with articles reading no longer than 300 words categorized in a word space that exist so far beyond lies it feels more accurate to call them anti-truths. It isn’t too hard to imagine that the Four Chan incels also highly favor Duterte who is infamous for bragging about raping women during his presidential campaign and calling for impunity for those who commit extrajudicial killings in his name, bearing striking similarity to his U.S companion.

Sadly, this is the reality of the working poor of the Philippines – being fed right-wing conspiracies for breakfast and patriotic subservience for lunch, all to remind our people s that we never stopped being a colony of the American empire, and to keep us coddled in the comfort of having American fascists choose our President. Some people would say it is random and bizarre how American political disinformation hits the Philippines sometimes harder and earlier than it even reaches the mainland, but when you think of how the American military tests teargas and rubber bullets on Palestinians prior to employing them on Black Lives Matter protests, it is understandable that they do the same to Pilipinos with misinformation dissemination and surveillance technology.

In the Documentary “A Thousand Cuts” Maria Ressa the Editor in Chief of Rappler, the foremost publication invested in combating right wing media brainwashing in the Philippines, explains why the Philippines was chosen as the premier testing ground for media disinformation and surveillance. She explains that the only population that spends more time on cellular devices and social media than Americans is Pilipinos — probably due to the nature of our diaspora, fueled by the trans-continental need for service labor, of which the Philippines is a top purveyor, and thus to remain connected to loved ones we are always plugged in. Ressa notes that both Trump and Dueterte’s campaigns collaborated with entities such as Cambridge Analytica to run targeted campaign ads, and “independent” media personalities who effectively campaigned to misinformed, rural, and poor populations. They invested in spreading propaganda and dissuading people from believing the word of media outlets who discredited their campaigns and ran stories highlighting their hate and violence inciting message The usage of media misinformation and targeted surveillance technologies that utilize personal data to create algorithms that spread this misinformation more effectively was a linchpin of the successful elections of both Duterte and Donald Trump. With re-elections brewing and the spread of global fascism accelerating alognside the rise of wanna be politicians shaped in the image of these fear mongering models, we must dig deep to understand how these tools are being used to shape a political ethos that stretches far beyond single figureheads.

While the dissemination of right-wing propaganda is an injusticeunto itself, there is another layer of imperial fascism that underlies the intention of its dissemination. Due to poverty and lack of access to information or technology, political lies have the power to spread like wildfire and keep entire generations of the Pilipinos, who had no access to their decolonial history, brainwashed. This is a powerful tool of mobilization that the right employs internationally, and the Philippines is no exception, The fascists governments from Ferdinand Marcus and Duterte monetarily and politically gained through the imperial exploitation of Pilipino labor and natural resources. They, the rich, the political figureheads, have everything to lose if the working classrises against the socioeconomic inequality, the environmental degradation, and the militaristic occupation that is entrenched in fascist, U.S backed regimes.

Yet, there is a class of people that fight against this misinformation, fascism, and continuance of imperial regimes in the Philippines — these people span from indigenous community members unveiling the genocidal attacks and brutal murders of tribal leaders, journalists who cover the contradictory claims of Duterte such as the regime’s corroboration with American government, military, and corporations, and working class Pilipinos who are being murdered in the thousands in the name of the Duterte’s “War on Drugs” that should be more aptly titled, the “War on the Poor”. These whistleblowers have forged a powerful movement against the fascist regime, many of whom have garnered international attention from NGOS to international anti-imperialist, pro-Communist organizers, especially those invested in the liberation of indigenous, working class peoples of the world. And all this attention has been harnessed into international pressure on Duterte.

This pressure has led the regime to violently retaliate against liberation protesters, journalist, and activists in the form of the unholy “Anti-Terror Bill” – a piece of legislation that labels activists who organize against the regime , and journalists who publish writing that could be considered slanderous or “inciting”, as criminals who can be imprisoned or killed with impunity. Language of the bill criminalizes “seriously destabilize(ing) or destroy(ing) the fundamental social, economic or political structures of the country” which is especially dangerous to those who are organizing for a Communist insurgency to take place in the Philippines and for indigenous, farmers, and working class Pilipinos to take arms against the current political system and reimagine a nation built on indigenous sovereignty and collective ownership of the land.One that refutes American and other Western nations’ exploitation of the natural resources and land that the Philippines sits upon. At this time, the Anti-Terror Bill has stated that pro-indigenous, Black Lives Matter, and anti-imperialist sentiments all fall under “violence inciting” language, and are punishable by means of imprisonment and death.–

Liberty and freedom of speech are waning in the islands, and fear is sinking deeper into the psyches of liberation activists, as what started as friend requests from junk accounts laden with their personal information and creepy hits on the internet from anonymous hackers, became bodies on their front door steps, and violent lynchings in village centers, reminding one that maybe we are better off misinformed than dead and dismembered.

It is frightening to think that if the American government uses the information dissemination and tracking systems that the Philippines uses — we too must be cognizant of the potential insurgence of an American “Anti-Terror Bill”. In a similar fashion to the killings of indigenous leaders in the Philippines, we have Black Lives Matter protesters being pushed into unmarked vans, and being held hostage by the Department of Homeland Security in cities across the country, from Portland to Brooklyn, New York. While America too has a rich history of imprisoning and executing insurgents, from Fred Hampton’s CIA backed assassination and Assata Shakur’s detainment, to the disappearance and arrests of the Indigenous leaders of the No Dakota Access Pipeline (No DAPL) protests. We can only imagine that this type of hunting of activists to uptick with the growth of private companies such as Facebook stating that they will sell our information to the highest bidder, all while proving their willinness to hand over our identifying information for political power grabs of fascists. Our information lives on Facebook, White Pages, and the depths of the dark web – we are identifiable, discoverable, and plugged in with our locations and appearances being updated in databases every time we let Yelp use our location or we update a selfie onto Instagram.

While this is terrifying, the answer to how we escape this technological circle jerk of surveillance, misinformation, and fascism doesn’t lie in burning your phone and deleting your social media. It lies in organizing smarter: using Signal, not taking photos at protests, leaving your phone at home when you organize, and not being a fucking snitch. It lies in fighting disinformation with the spread of powerful, liberating information – writing to your friends and family that are posting political lies, and falling into the depths of the hate mongering crevices of the internet. It is reminding those that we live in community with, by place, identity, or any sense that could create belonging with you and another, that the lies on the internet are just that, and what supersedes the faux “community” of the online underworld, is a tangible collection of people that stand together and united against the evils that keep us mutually subjugated . So often we falsely mark the people who fall under the influence of disinformation, such as followers of QAnon or other false prophets, as simply, idiots – that we could never be them or be in community with them. And while this terror of misinformation has taken hold, we must look to the powerful tools of humanization and education so we can ultimately find our mutual liberation to fight against private ownership of information, against the surveillance state, against the misuse of media, and ultimately against the fascist propaganda machine.

5 – Pandemic as Practice Run – we don’t want to get back to normal – burning fossil fuels is suicide

By Jesse D. Palmer

I woke up late because it was still dark long after the sun should have come up. When I looked outside, the sky was a dark orange and streetlights were on like at twilight, even though it was the middle of the day — sort of beautiful and like a movie. I had no idea the sky could look like that. I knew it was wildfire smoke, but on a pre-conscious level I just felt fear and dread and doom. Anyone who saw it felt humbled and changed.

Mega-fires and hurricanes. 120 degree heat waves and power cuts. Flooding and drought. People ask, “Is this the new normal?” The scary answer is probably not — we would be lucky if this is as bad as it gets. Climate chaos is likely to get much worse soon if we don’t immediately stop burning all fossil fuels and cut other greenhouse gas emissions like methane. If we continue our present ways for even a few more years, just breathing air, eating food or seeing blue sky will be a luxury or impossible. Rather than 2020 being the hottest year in the last 100 years, we need to start thinking about it as the coolest year in the next 100 years.

Our species doesn’t have to end up this way — destroying itself and taking most other complex life systems with it. None of what we’re currently experiencing is a surprise — it is exactly what scientists have been warning would happen for 30 years. We have alternatives available, but taking them will require massive political and cultural will, right away.

It is an odd twist of timing that the pandemic offers so many lessons relevant to addressing climate change — if we understand and learn from them.

Immediate action or suicidally timid gradualism?

The speed and breadth of the initial global pandemic lockdown in March proved that rapid, dramatic, global change is possible. At least for a short period, planes stopped flying, roads emptied of traffic, and the supposedly unstoppable industrial machines paused. We saw before our eyes that we’ve been told lies about climate our whole lives — the lie that only very gradual change is possible.

The powers-that-be have been setting absurdly mediocre goals — small reductions in fossil fuel dependence by 2050. They are protecting the oil industry, not our lives. Rapid, global, widespread change is possible and can happen if those in power and everyone else wants it to and does something. We can address climate now by abruptly ending combustion of fossil fuels — we don’t have to wait. Just like every sector of society rapidly came up with creative and previously unconsidered alternatives in response to the pandemic, if we wanted to stop emissions we could find a way. There would be a period of disruption and adjustment as we’ve seen with the pandemic. The best historical example of such a rapid change is when most of the world mobilized for world war II — auto factories converted production to tanks and everyone’s lives changed direction in a matter of months.

Systemic change vs. personal change is a false debate

A lot of discussion about climate change is finger-pointing between the need for personal action vs. corporate and government action. As the pandemic has shown, it is a false debate — both are essential simultaneously for a rapid, dramatic, widespread shift. A lot of action to stop the virus, such as mask wearing, has to happen on an individual personal level. And yet social structures are also crucial — individuals cannot invent or deploy tests and vaccines.

A single individual wearing a mask obviously isn’t enough, but if most people do it, then it can make a difference. When wearing a mask, no one will be perfect and wear it all the time, but the more you try, the better. For climate change, just because your personal emissions reductions cannot alone solve the problem, and just because you may not be able to reduce all your emissions all the time right now, it still makes a difference to do your best all the time right now, rather than waiting for others or social structures to change first.

Just like it is more important to wear a mask in a high risk environment like a store or a crowded subway car, individual climate adjustments should be targeted towards the biggest emissions reductions. Knowing and using data is crucial in making everyday decisions. In the US, transportation accounts for 28% of emissions — about 60% of that is private cars. That means the greatest emissions-reduction choice individuals have control over is driving less. You don’t have to be perfect to make a difference — driving a smaller car, driving less miles, driving less often, not idling the engine while you’re looking at your phone — all helps.

Electricity emits 27% — and that is both personal and social, since the decision to burn gas to make electricity vs. use a windmill is beyond individual control, but the decision to leave lights on, run a clothes drier vs. use a clothes line, and waste power is individual. Pressuring the 100 highest emitting companies to switch to zero emissions technology is necessary, but those companies are often filling consumer demands for emissions dependent stuff, so we have to change our behavior, too.

Reducing emissions is like wearing a mask — you do it for other people, not just yourself. Maybe even mostly for others. It doesn’t work unless everyone does it, but it cannot work unless you do it.

The buck-shifting debate between personal behavior and corporate / political action is just an excuse to avoid any change at all. Individuals don’t like change because it is uncomfortable, and systems don’t like change because it’s expensive and more complex than continuing what has worked. But with the climate, burning fossil fuels is suicide. Change is inevitable one way or another. We can make change now, or nature will make the changes for us by wiping us out.

Ignoring science won’t work

Pretending a natural / physical / chemical / biological crisis isn’t real won’t make it go away — and will almost certainly make it worse. The US’s magical thinking about the pandemic has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, whereas other countries that paid attention to science have had much lower death rates. If the US had treated Covid-19 seriously in March, we wouldn’t still all be on lockdown. We could be like the rest of the world — our kids in school, living with some safety measures, and able to be with others in public.

Even from a mainstream, money-focused perspective, the economic cost of ignoring science is higher — for both pandemics and climate change. Idiots argued it was more profitable to open businesses back up quickly, but it is now obvious that the longer-term costs have been far worse.

With climate change, those who want to pretend it isn’t real or is “too expensive” to address now are making the same mistake, except with much higher stakes and more tragic consequences. Human-caused climate change is real and every day we wait to address it now will cost lives later.

So what now?

We must not let the dramatic disruptions of the pandemic go to waste. The pandemic has been stressful because all our routines are disrupted, we’re facing danger, and none of us know what will happen next. But with the pandemic, it will eventually subside. With climate change, once the climate is too broken to grow enough food, there will be no light at the end of the tunnel and no going back to normal. So the pandemic is an emotional and social preview of what life looks like when everything goes to pieces. It’s a red alert warning that there’s not much more time before it is too late. 

Immediately stopping emissions now gives us a tiny change of averting greater chaos and destruction, but the window may have already closed, and if not, it is rapidly closing.

A fundamental problem is psychology. Climate change is much less immediate and in your face than the pandemic. Regarding the US’s failure to handle the pandemic compared to other countries, it has been scary how many people take pride in not wearing masks and how many subscribe to conspiracy theories or baseless miracle cures. This will all be a factor addressing climate — there will be plenty of people clinging to gas guzzlers and claiming windmills cause cancer — but we need to try anyway.

The pandemic started as a health crisis, but triggered an economic depression that is on the verge of unleashing mass evictions. Given all the disruption, there is a desperate need for progressive collective action with a positive, hopeful, inclusive and compassionate vision to heal not only bodies, but the economic and social landscape. Rather than bailing out polluting greedy businesses, now is the time to shut them down, retrain their workers and re-purpose their machines and buildings towards supplying the things people need without burning fossil fuels.

The idea of a Green New Deal is not just building windmills, solar panels, and new green infrastructure — its about employing people who have lost their jobs and re-directing work away from unjust, unsustainable industry and towards a future worth living in.

We don’t want to get back to normal.

The GDP has fallen dramatically during the pandemic and we don’t want it back. Rather, let’s all have more leisure time and redistribute the work that has to get done. We could all be working 20 hours a week if we got rid of bullshit jobs and stopped consuming stuff we don’t need. The 40 hour week was won during the Great Depression 90 years ago — its been obsolete for years. At least during the initial phase of lockdown, you could hear the birds and take a moment to reflect. That seems like a vague memory now, but it’s worth remembering that life doesn’t have to be this hectic all the time.

I don’t know how it is all going to work, and maybe it won’t. But even if we are not successful, fighting for a world worth living in feels like the best way I can think to spend the time we may have left. Now is the time to do something, or better yet, stop doing something that is emitting CO2. We cannot keep living the way we are living.


Sidebar on cutting emissions

Everyone can take an inventory of emissions — personal and social — and figure out what to reduce first.

The EPA’s Annual Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions breaks sources down like this:

Transport 28%

Electricity 27 %

Industry 22%

Commercial and residential 12%

Agricultural 10%

So the highest priorities are transport (60% are private cars) and electricity. Electricity generation is beyond individual control, but economically and technologically it is already possible to cut emissions to zero by generating power with wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and wave energy, and existing carbon free sources like hydro-power and nuclear. All these sources have environmental problems on their own — there’s no free lunch. But many are less harmful or easier to manage than emitting CO2. For instance wind power kills some birds, but engineers were just able to reduce bird deaths by 70% by painting one of the blades black. Many more innovations like this are possible. With fossil fuels, their harms feel invisible because they are familiar, but the harms are always higher than alternatives.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that households accounted for 21.8% of total energy consumption in the US in 2014. In 2019 electricity accounted for 41% of household end-use energy consumption while natural gas accounted for 44%. While electricity can become carbon free, natural gas combustion will always emit CO2 as well as a lot of methane when it is fracked, drilled and transported. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

So on an individual level, a high priority project is to get rid of all household appliances that burn gas, and replace them with electric. Electricity is already getting less carbon intensive every year almost everywhere as wind and solar comes on line. In the San Francisco Bay Area, 86% of electricity is already generated from carbon free sources.

The EIA breaks down US energy use like this:

43% heating

19% water heating

8% air conditioning

5% lighting

3% all other

For many houses, the two biggest uses are fueled by gas and can be converted to electricity very easily right now. In the case of water heating, its relatively cheap and easy to switch to solar. I installed solar water heating over 10 years ago and the system has already paid for itself with energy savings.

3 – Beyond the Superhero – The Rise of the Superweaver

Beyond the Superhero: The Rise of the Superweaver

By The Indigenous Futures Collective

The year is 2020.

For nearly a century, superheroes have been policing the planet. In their incessant hunt for villains, the heroes have destroyed ecosystems, decimated communities, left countless dead and millions imprisoned.

As public attention and investor funds keep flowing towards the superheroes, escalating cycles of violence continue…

But from the shadows, a different lifeway is beginning to emerge, a different way of knowing…

Enter the superweaver.

Where community is thriving—

Where bellies are full and the old teachings are revitalized—

Where lush biodiversity is blooming—

You’ll often find a superweaver there.

She is sometimes hard to spot because she never works alone—she partners with communities, with nature, with seen and unseen parts of the weave. She sets about her tasks skillfully, her keen eyes focused on what she knows needs to be done, her many arms (both seen and unseen) reweaving social and ecological well-being.

Who is this unmasked woman?

Superweavers hold together the social fabric, working across communities to understand and meet their needs, building dynamic, reciprocity-based networks. 

A superweaver has no need for “good and evil.” Rather, her universe is dynamic and rich, impossible to parse into neat polarities.

She has a special talent for identifying individual and systemic needs and helps organize dynamic infrastructure to address the troubles she perceives.

Superweavers aren’t always indigenous women, but more often than not, when a superweaver is standing in front of you, it’s going to be an indigenous woman.

She flexes fluency in the latest technology, even as the ancient elders whisper forgotten languages in her dreams.

Superweavers can be found across the globe doing their dynamic restorative work.

A superweaver does not hide behind masks, uniforms, or alter egos. Rather, she is radically herself, radically situated within her own culture and environment, entangled with and bound to community. At the core of her work is the process of becoming more and more herself, a process that she knows cannot happen under self-concealment.

Superweavers do not believe in “self-sacrifice.” It is from her generosity towards herself that she builds a healthy set of expectations for others. She is quick to intervene if someone is using self-denial as an excuse to deprive others. A superweaver sees self-sacrifice as a tragedy, not an aspiration. 

She is skilled at holding space, at helping stories find a home, and helping the unheard feel listened to.

She is careful to avoid attracting attention to herself unless she needs it, but she also isn’t afraid to be seen.

A superweaver refuses to be transformed into a “savior,” and she knows that if this happens, she has failed in her work. A superweaver wants to be part of communities in which everyone is empowered to play many roles, meaning that no one person or group monopolizes the “savior” role. She understands that any time someone disproportionately presents themselves as a savior, it is because violence is holding their ability to play that role in place.

A superweaver will never tell you to be brave, but rather, let you know it’s okay to be scared.

As she works, she doesn’t just think seven generations in the future, she thinks seven millennia.

A superweaver knows that “A stitch in time saves nine”—that if we build sustainable infrastructure now, it will save us from great suffering in the future.

The superweaver teaches that there is no such thing as a zero-sum game. She knows it is a myth that “one person must suffer for another’s gain.” One person’s suffering is everyone’s suffering—it tears the weave. Life on this planet is a collective project, “We are all in this together, and when we weave our ways well, everybody wins.”

When things are seeming dull, she stirs the pot by bringing together old friends.

When someone is losing motivation, she knows just when to nudge them, to bring them a plate of food and check in on how they are doing, about the project they were trying to get off the ground. But she knows that if she lets herself get stressed and overburdened, her nudges will stop being helpful and become a form of harm. This is why taking care of herself is such a big priority. She understands the value of rest.

Rather than thinking she must rescue the world from some future calamity, the superweaver understands that the calamity has already happened in the form of genocide, ethnocide, ecocide, cultural erasure and colonization. Her work is about removing systems of blight that hold asymmetrical power-relations in place. Her work is to repair social relations so that what is left of the ecologies and cultures of the planet can recover and heal. In this way, superweaver narratives might be considered part of the “solarpunk” or “hope punk” movement.

She brings a richness to everything she touches.

She is someone who inhabits many spaces, who moves between worlds.

She acts from a place of mutual aid: “Your liberation is my liberation!” Those she works with aren’t “victims” to be rescued, but rather have their things of their own to teach and offer. She is likewise acutely aware of the way asymmetrical power relations are forced upon Black and Indigenous People of Color, and because of this, her most common accomplices are those who are not privilege-blind, but rather, understand the BIPOC from within.

She is constantly challenged by those with whom she works towards co-liberation, as she builds reciprocal relationships that constantly gain new layers of meaning. She understands that the process of decolonization is messy, but that you have to be present for the mess of it if you wish to truly repair the weave.

The notion of the superweaver pushes back against colonial binaries of hero/victim that privilege white supremacy and hetero-patriarchy. Instead, the superweaver recognizes that often the work of weaving is one that builds towards sustainability and resiliency through a generative structure, wherein those who have been harmed or “victimized” are allowed a path toward healing, as are those who have perpetuated violence towards an individual or community. Only in this way—through a restorative form of justice—can we truly reweave our relationships to each other, our communities, our ecologies, and our planet.

In places recovering from the most harm, you’ll find her there, doing the work to push back the disorder, making the world luscious again with the threads of her loom, reweaving the wealth of community.

In the shadow of the superheroes, superweavers do their work, tirelessly building relationships between their communities, environment, and traditions, reinventing the economy in their quest towards making a lush, prosperous reality in which everyone thrives for seven thousand generations to come.

Towards seeing and celebrating her.

We celebrate superweaversof the past, like Changunak Antisarlook Andrewuk, aka “Sinrock Mary, Queen of Reindeer,” (1870-1948) of the Inupiat people who defied sexist, racist colonial laws to build infrastructure to support herself and her community while preserving land and traditional ways.

We celebrate superweavers of the present, like Tehontsiiohsta, aka Meadow Cook, (b. 2004) of the Mohawk people, who has been building youth-led infrastructure to decelerate climate change while working to develop food sovereignty and bring attention to the superfund sites on Mohawk land that are poisoning her people.

We celebrate the superweavers of the future who will be forced to contend with the world we set in place for them.

Hear her call.

We call upon artists to lift up the stories of superweavers, to draw attention to the superweaver archetype, and to carry us into the new paradigms that emerge when we center her story and her way of knowing.


The Indigenous Futures Collective is David Michael Karabelnikoff, Laina Greene, Lee Francis IV, and Samara Hayley Steele.

2 – A message to our incarcerated subscribers

What we do: We provide free subscriptions to incarcerated individuals in the US who request them. We only publish 2-3 times a year, so there will be up to a 6 month delay between when you request a subscription and when you get a paper.  We do accept submissions of art and articles from incarcerated subscribers but we only publish a very, very tiny fraction. We don’t publish poetry or fiction, and only run personal narratives or stories about your case if they are framed within radical analysis.

What we don’t do: we are unable to provide penpals, legal aid/advice, financial assistance, literature besides Slingshot, or respond to requests for other kinds of help. Usually, we can’t write you back. We cannot use JPay or other inmate email services.

Comrades on the outside: We receive 5-10 letters from incarcerated folks every day. We welcome help reading them and processing subscription requests! — Love, Slingshot

2 – Disarm Defund Abolish the Police

Defunding the Police- A Tool for Abolition

In the previous six months, the slogan “defund the police” has buzzed around every corner of the land. Becoming much more prevalent with the surge of BLM protests across the country, many are left with an inconsistent or jaded definition of what defunding the police means or what it hopes to do.

The general idea of defunding is to divest funds from police and reallocate them to tackle solutions for other areas of community like mental health, education, homelessness, etc. What should be clear is that police defunding at its core is a radical concept and practice that also requires tackling the unjust economic and social relations we exist in

Police and prison abolitionists are concerned with the destruction of policing and surveillance. In the US, these concepts are historically rooted in the oppression of the poor and people of color. Abolition includes the destruction of prisons, jails, the military — any and all institutions that uphold policing and surveillance on marginalized communities. Rather than seeing these punitive measures as solutions for every problem in society, abolitionists hope to build upon intra-communal resilience and regenerate systems of care for all community members.

Much of the confusion around what defunding means comes from both the right and the left. Neoliberal co-optation has twisted it to mean funding alternative various police reform methods like diversity training, body cameras, community police boards, etc. An abolitionist understands that police reform has and does not work — the police can NOT be reformed. What abolitionists hope to do with divestment is the reallocation of funds and power. Abolitionists use divestment as a tool to decrease the reach of police and the Prison-Industrial Complex (PIC). The divestment of funds goes towards the implementation of alternative methods of community care. While such is occurring, abolitionists work towards the decriminalization of areas like drug use, mental health, homelessness, and sex work. Not only to keep vulnerable communities safe, but to destroy the viewpoint that police and prison is the solution for these areas. This work continues until police and prisons no longer serve a purpose and can be superseded by the community systems.

An abolitionist framework is transformative and incredibly imaginative, as abolition itself can take many different forms. Organizations like Critical Resistance and Anti-Police Terror Project are tackling prison abolition and taking police out of Oakland schools. With the idea of care at its center, abolition truly challenges what “rehabilitation” means if it is currently occurring in jails and prisons across the nation. Divestment is only one facet in the larger network of abolition — but it is absolutely necessary.

2 – Black Lives Matter

There is no doubt that the Black Lives Matter protests over the last six months have been historic. For many folks from small towns and suburbs, this was the first social justice protest they had seen or participated in. The collective fire was lit and we saw many BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color) organizers and activists funnel that energy into creating grassroots organizations for racial equality where they did not exist before. All of us who work with Slingshot saw each other at the huge protests across the Bay — at times choking on gas while marveling that this was happening on such a scale, everywhere all at once.

Protesting against racist police brutality is not new. It is what animated the Black Panther Party in the 1960s. The Rodney King uprisings in 1993 were also national, huge and based on videotaped police abuse. That was almost 30 years ago and police violence still disproportionately targets BIPOC. There is such a long list of Black “say their names” — stretching back for years and years. This movement continues the fight and legacy of radical movement work led by Black people.

As the months progressed and the demonstrations have decreased, we must ask ourselves how we can stay plugged into the struggle. Especially for white folks who posted, donated, and attended protests — how does this moment transform from a secular self-gratifying time into a commitment to anti-racist work?

For many non-Black folks, the past few months have revealed their own complicity in the systems that kill Black people. Social media flooded waves of info-graphics about different facets of anti-blackness. Yet the work can’t stop there. There are only so many words that can fit on a screen and it would be idealistic to say that all of our political education could come from engagement on social media.

Race is an arbitrary social construct, but what comes out of it — racism, white supremacy, discrimination and oppression — is real and complex. Below what is visible on the surface are layers upon layers of a historical process that all find their center in anti-blackness. The murders of unarmed Black and Brown folks by police are only one culmination of this incredibly pervasive system. This system is built into every single aspect of society. If we truly want to see Black liberation we need to be plugged in for more than a few weeks.

To continue in the struggle, folks have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Acknowledging your position in perpetuating anti-blackness is key to understanding how to dismantle it. For white folks, this means recognizing and accepting how you fully benefit from white supremacy. For non-Black people of color, this work is similar, but not the same. You recognize the oppression under which you exist, but you also must accept that you too benefit from your proximity to whiteness. This self-analysis is also not confined to race, and must include analysis of gender, sexuality, and class to be meaningful.

The education that we take upon ourselves has to transfer over into the discussions we have with family and friends. These discussions aren’t comfortable either, but are necessary. If we as non-Black folks fail to do that labor — who are we leaving it to? It is up to all of us to step in and continue this (re)education.

With all the physical, emotional and intellectual labor that has been provided by BIPOC, we owe it to everyone to put in the work (on) ourselves.

Participation in anti-racist work is participation in transformation of the system. This takes no set path and for those of us who have not done this work before, it can be pretty daunting to try to find a practice when we have been so conditioned. Aside from individually educating yourself, there are various other ways you can join the movement. Other issues like gender equity, climate change, houselessness, immigration, and everything else ALL intersect with anti-racist work! The options of how to plug in are truly limitless!

Anti-racist work is not optional; silence is complicity with anti-blackness and white supremacy.

2 – Introduction to issue #132

Slingshot is an independent radical newspaper published in Berkeley since 1988.

For people of conscience, life in the US is an ongoing nightmare. Making Slingshot is just one way to address the myriad issues. Yet the issues rarely get better and a question persists how much our efforts are changing things and if at all.

We’re not smart enough to figure everything out and we’re a tiny collective so we don’t have the resources to cover every issue that’s important to us. We have no magic solutions for all the world’s problems. No one does. During these post-reality times, it is important to say that out loud and be humble about what any individual or group of people can do. Because to pretend otherwise just makes us all feel even more paralyzed, anxious and isolated. Nevertheless, we decided to make this paper.

Publications like everything are judged by their worst qualities. Publishing half ass shit written by people who only have a partial grip on their subject is a Slingshot tradition. It is grassroots and allows unheard voices to be heard and sometimes is cute, but to some it feels tone-deaf and disconnected now given the risks and stakes we’re facing.

The anxiety and uncertainty of the pandemic, wildfire smoke and rising fascism made it hard for us to concentrate on making this issue. We’ve needed more time for self-care, which takes time away from writing and editing.

Because it has felt like everything around us is coming to a head while we were making the issue, it was hard knowing the paper would be tragically incomplete and imperfect — missing so many topics and so many voices. We’ve been gripped with doubt and we kept putting off finishing perhaps in the hope that if we waited, some of the missing pieces might magically be filled. This isn’t the last word or the full statement of what we’re thinking about. Slingshot is different from the internet — there is a months-long gap between us writing something and anyone reading it. We can’t respond to each twist and turn. We couldn’t talk about the election (or post-election fascist coup?), because by the time the paper got mailed, it would all be different.

Because of the pandemic, a lot of our normal distribution channels are not working. So if you like what you see in here, you could really help us by emailing us places we can send our paper. Also, more and more stuff is read on-line, so it would really help if you can link to articles you like in your internet world. They are all on the Slingshotcollective.org website.

Shout out to Mike Lee & Aragorn!, people we know who died since last issue.

We dropped the ball on certain key topics, namely, demonstrating how we show up for Black lives. We believe this is indicative of Slingshot priorities, or lack thereof. There is a lack of new and diverse voices in the collective. As our reality becomes more and more dire, we want and need your voice to capture the multiplicities our movements require.

With this issue done, we reprioritize the challenge of how to engage the voices that have been few and far between — namely those of people of color who spearhead paradigm shifting movements. If we are real about our dreams for revolution, it is incredibly clear that we cannot go back to normal, and thus neither can Slingshot in the way we move forward.

We’re a collective, but not all the articles reflect the opinions of all collective members. We welcome debate and constructive criticism.

Thanks to the people who made this: Alexis, Alina, Caroline, Cleo, Dov, egg, Elke, Fern, Gina, Hannah, Jesse, Joey, Juhlz, Kathryn, Rachelle and all the authors and artists!

Slingshot New Volunteer Meeting

Volunteers interested in getting involved with Slingshot can come to the new volunteer meeting on January 17, 2021 at 7 pm at the Long Haul in Berkeley (see below.)

Article Deadline & Next Issue Date

Submit your articles for issue 133 by February 6, 2021 at 3 pm. (we might do a fascist coup emergency issue, too, and if we do we’ll announce a deadline on-line)

Volume 1, Number 132, Circulation 20,000

Printed October16, 2020

Slingshot Newspaper

A publication of Long Haul

Office: 3124 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley CA 94705

Mailing: PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703

510-540-0751 slingshotcollective@protonmail.com

slingshotcollective.org • twitter @slingshotnews

instagram/ facebook @slingshotcollective

Circulation information

Subscriptions to Slingshot are free to prisoners, low income, or anyone in the USA with a Slingshot Organizer, or $1 per issue. International $3 per issue. Outside the Bay Area we’ll mail you a free stack of copies if you give them out for free. Say how many copies and how long you’ll be at your address. In the Bay Area pick up copies at Long Haul and Bound Together books, SF.

Slingshot free stuff

We’ll send you a random assortment of back issues for the cost of postage. Send $4 for 2 lbs. Free if you’re an infoshop or library. slingshotcollective.org

1 – Unidos en la Lucha (united in Struggle) – Residentes Unidos: A tenant Union Story

By Leslie Valentine

I wrote this in order to archive the process that took place in organizing a tenants’ union in hopes that you will learn something from our mistakes and successes. I believe all stories of resistance serve as a catalyst for a better world, helping us sharpen our methods. This story takes place on stolen land, the land of the Creeks and Cherokee peoples, currently known as Atlanta. 

As I swung the front door to leave my apartment, I found a red letter taped to my door and read the words capitalized in bold: “$350.00 patio fine; we will only accept a certified check or money order; we will not under any circumstances accept next month’s rent if it does not include this amount”. I lit up with fury and came to the conclusion that this must be a mass eviction, as there has been construction noise every morning from the green, gentrification paved walking path at the steps of our apartment complex called the Beltline. It had already demolished and flattened much of Atlanta’s Black elders’ homes in the name of “eminent domain” for so-called progress. As if we hadn’t been slapped by gentrification hard enough this year, with tech’s ‘live work play’ industry taking over and most of the Los Angeles film industry relocating to Atlanta for the tax exemption the city offered them. Not to mention, the Super Bowl that was hosted here in February. 

As I chain smoked outside, I thought of what my next steps were going to be. All of a sudden I noticed a lot of people in the parking lot with their red letters, and some were asking for help with translating. Even though roughly 97% of the neighborhood did not speak English, every red letter was written in English. A lot of the community members here, off of Buford Hwy, are originally from Mexico, Central and Latin American countries, China, Korea, and Vietnam.

We all came to find that we were all frustrated with the landlords long before the fines and threats of evictions happened.

After some more shit-talking and beers, I went back inside to start digging deeper. I read through the lease agreement looking for any information I could find about fines and I researched tenants’ rights in Georgia.

There’s a knock on the door, who is it so late? At the peephole is my neighbor Yami and they have some exciting news. Yami had mobilized residents at the apartment complex they lived at last year. That tenants’ union had worked alongside the grassroots tenants rights’ organization called Los Vecinos de Buford. Yami called their friend in Los Vecinos and we started to devise a plan. 

Morning came. Yami and I had some coffee while creating forms to go door to door with. The forms were to gather information such as a contact, if they were given a red letter, what they planned to do about it, and issues or repairs needed in their unit. We started with our building, and gained a few helpers along the way. It took us almost into the evening to even get through a third of the doors, as the complex consists of buildings A through K and each building has anywhere from twenty-four to forty-eight units. Not to mention, people had a lot to share with us. Neighbors were so happy to hear that someone cared enough to ask, even letting us in to show us the disrepair their unit was in. Folks here were paying $1100+ a month for these units and most of them are riddled with mold, have no A/C, no heat, no running water, broken water heaters, broken appliances, exposed beams, clogged water pipes, torn flooring, flooded areas, leaks, windows that don’t open or no window at all, and/or worse issues. Some folks have been living here for 5, 10, even 15+ years, some because they didn’t have the documentation to sign a lease anywhere else. And because of gentrification, rent steadily increased from $650-1100 in just under 5 years! 

After canvassing, we decided to call it a day and met up at my place to put together everything we just witnessed over some dinner. We looked into who owned the property and what other properties they owned. The company is called FifeCo Properties and Fife is the owner’s last name. Yami and I decided that night to call ourselves ContraFifeCo, set up an email account and start a hashtag with it for social media purposes. We organized all of the data we compiled that day and transferred it into a Sandstorm account under a trusted server. We continued to reach out to others for guidance, and brought more friends along with us who had experience around tenant organizing and unions. Some were from IWW, and others from a group called Housing Justice League.

As exhausted as we were, the next morning we continued to canvass, posting flyers on all the doors about this evening’s first tenant meeting in the center of the apartment complex. In the afternoon, a march we planned went through the streets of the entire complex with drums, noisemakers, and megaphones in hand to show solidarity and promote the meeting. Announcing in Spanish to the onlooking neighbors on their porches, two neighbors in the march shouted “Don’t be afraid, come out and defend yourselves!”, “Fight back!”, “Unidos en la lucha!”. For some of the neighbors, it looked as though they were shocked to see us marching down the streets. After all of the work and support, it still seemed as though we had very few people from the apartments physically on board. However, at the park for the meeting, there were probably about 20 people at 6pm, and then it seemed that every five minutes, another twenty people had trickled in. By about 6:30pm we counted more than 120 people there! 

It was at this first meeting that we decided to start an official tenants’ union and call ourselves Residentes Unidos (Residents United). Those who went door to door explained how exhausting it was, so instead we collectively decided that there would be 2-4 ambassadors for each building, and those delegates would ensure that info about the next gathering would get out to everyone in their building. Furthermore, we agreed to a list of demands, for the fines to be expunged, and the repairs to be made swiftly. It was also at this meeting where we devised an action for the next day, or Monday morning, when the office would re-open. Folks wanted to involve the media, so a press release was made. We rested better that night, feeling inspired and empowered. 

About 30 of us in the neighborhood were able to meet up as planned, and with us were several crews of reporters. We bore rent checks in hand, marched into the leasing office, and made note on camera that the landlord was refusing to take our rent. This gave us the legal upper hand to fight against the eviction while not actually paying rent. In Georgia, if a tenant withholds rent, that is grounds for immediate eviction. The property management at the leasing office was particularly hostile this morning, shouting at us to get out and mocking us.  One of the leasing agents said that they would call the cops and another said that they would contact their lawyer if we didn’t stop filming them. And then the cops arrived. 

We were 30 deep and most had children, and/or were undocumented. In a quick response of compassion, we made sure everyone knew that it was perfectly alright if anyone had to step back, go home, and that there would be no judgment. Everyone nodded in agreement as we could hear the cop car doors slam just around the bend. And as they inched closer, to our surprise, nobody flinched. All of the residents stood grounded, feet planted, and chins high. We linked together arm and arm, and smiled at each other. It was an honor to be here experiencing this moment where solidarity was with us and it didn’t really even matter to us what happened next. And then silence broke. Folks arm in arm started shouting at the cops that what is happening here is injustice, some explaining the outrageous fines, and another stating that property management had blamed the issuance of the fine on the city. Neighbors asked why the city had fined the apartment complex for having children’s toys, non-metal patio furniture, and bicycles on the porches. And then a cop actually responded that the city doesn’t have the authority to fine residents on private property for their porch items. Residentes Unidos were lit with validation and rage!

The cops then entered the leasing office, where property management was to explain their side of the story. Two minutes had not even passed before the manager opened the door and said, with a shaky voice and wide eyes, that the fines would be dropped. Someone shouted back, “What about the late fees for this month’s rent?” The manager replied that there would be no late fees, which by the way was $100 for each day that it was late. Folks started cheering about the dropped fines and feeling alleviated about not facing an eviction after all! 

We converged at the park to celebrate our first victory!

As the weeks passed, we continued to gather, chat on the thread, and gain comrades. We helped one another set up email accounts to give the apartment complex horrible reviews online and post the pictures of all of the many issues, one of which was a photo of the condemned sign that states no one is to be residing in this building. 

Residentes Unidos were emboldened now to demand that repairs be met promptly. Tenants’ rights organizers spoke about steps that the residents could take to ensure that the repairs are made, and that the property management be held accountable. By giving the leasing office notice that the repairs will be met within a “reasonable time”, which can be just twenty-four hours, the residents were able to file complaints to the local city code enforcement agency when they did not meet this reasonable time. The city would then fine the landlord for each day that the repair was late which could be upwards of $200 a day. That evening we convened at Yami’s place to create forms for this ‘notice of due diligent repairs’ (which were in Spanish, and did not have to be legally translated in English for the landlord). This was purposefully done as a jab, just as how the lease agreement was only provided in English. 

These complaints had to be supported by physical evidence, like photos and/or videos of the damages. It was also awfully specific about what constitutes a repair that can be supported by the city vs a repair that required assistance by the county or state. For instance, if one had cockroaches, they had to contact the health and safety department. If one had a sewage problem, this complaint had to be directed at the county. Furthermore, the tenant had to be available for a walk-through home visit. More often, there was very little prior notice given for the visit, and if there was any notice, no specific time slot would be given; folks were literally expected to just be available or start all over with this process. Not only that, but when they did show up, they looked like the fucking feds, they were literally dressed as and had the demeanor of police, I mean, they are called Code Enforcement after all. 

This was terrifying to many tenants. It was such an arduous process that rarely was followed through to the final step of reaching the landlords to actually make the repairs. Although, the few times this did actually occur, it was pretty satisfying seeing them scramble to make the repairs. And it kept them on their toes and busy enough for us to keep hitting them where it hurt and devise the next steps. The point was to never allow the landlords a moment of time to think rationally whatsoever, we want them making mistakes and fumbling at all times.

We met about 2-3 times a week from this point on and together we made everything happen. Folks posed questions on the thread and in the meetings when they needed help, and everyone was gladly willing to offer guidance. There was such a beautiful culture of solidarity in what became a compassionate community. When property management put up security cameras around the dumpsters to police the amount of trash each person threw out, the lines were mysteriously cut…twice. And when one of the most enthusiastic and outspoken people in the tenants’ union faced an eviction in retaliation, folks came to court to support when they contested the eviction. In this case, they won by proving that the timeline of exerting their rights with the tenants’ union against Fifeco’s violations was the catalyst for this retaliatory eviction. They settled for a good sum of cash, free rent until their lease ended, and then they happily moved. 

The tenants’ union still exists and is even stronger now than it was last year. They’ve joined forces with the tenants of the other Fifeco properties and have helped them in making similar demands. 

As soon as you move into an apartment complex, if there isn’t a tenants’ union, start one. Most likely, you or your neighbor will need one. And we would have had a quicker response and a greater advantage if all of the organizing aspects were already formed and not forming in the time of crisis, which was extremely stressful and left most of us without sleep. We got lucky in many ways that folks had been fired up individually for a long time and that so many of us were collectively affected. Secondly, don’t waste too much time looking for legal advice. There is so much you can do without it; direct action is really really effective. And lastly, always let people collectivize themselves. I provided helpful tools but I ultimately stepped back often. I hardly even spoke at the meetings, I just listened and supported. I had not even lived there a full year yet, and many others had been there four to nine years. They need to be the loudest voices, the ones that decide on the intensity of the resistance. 

“Unidos en la lucha!”

For inquiries, contra.fifeco@gmail.com 

1 – Live Wish / Death Wish – activism as spirituality

By Crow

I had the opportunity to participate in a Sun Dance in Mexico this summer which helped to purge the negativity that I’ve been carrying for a long time. When I am at my best, my activism is purely an expression of my spirituality, and I feel very much recharged. I am hoping to bring some positive energy.

I have the feeling that a lot of people are very drained of their libidinal energy. The meaning of the word libido is life-wish, and I think that right now the political mood is more one of a death-wish.

I remember many times where my passion for my activist work was very much akin to the passion that one carries into an exciting new romance, an energy that comes from a seemingly inexhaustible force coming from within, yet not coming from oneself, but from a source much greater than oneself. In the moments I identify with this source of energy as my true nature, rather than the person who is desirous. Essentially my desire in these moments is to be of service, and in this is the true joy that sustains me, for it is desire born of love, the desire that is fulfilled in giving of myself for the benefit of the Great Other, who is really no Other at all, for we are all ultimately one, and all illusion of separateness is born of ignorance of our true nature. And this is what I return to, and what I must return to, in order to maintain my hope in a world that seems dead-set on destroying itself.

What I was taught, and what I took to heart, is that prayer and ceremony must precede action, and that the intention that inspires action will create results corresponding to that intention. And so I believe that this movement needs spiritual guidance, needs to be guided by love, and the wisdom that comes from a practice of love, as a way of seeing and perceiving and understanding the world. I have been fortunate enough to have had this guidance in my own life, and to me it seems like it is the only way that we will break out of the divisiveness of us-and-them thinking that perpetuates oppression and the repetition of the cycles of abuse that have defined history (or at least Western history) for millennia. And I believe that this is the fundamental message (or at least one of the messages) that underpinned Standing Rock and recent indigenous uprisings.

But there is a taboo against discussing spirituality in anarchist circles, with certain exceptions granted. But I believe that unless we internalize that message, we as a movement will keep spinning our wheels. Really, I believe the many crises — ecological, economic, and political — stem from an underlying spiritual crisis, the result of generations of oppression and alienation. For so long, religion has been used as a tool of social control, and the result has been the suppression of true, authentic spirituality. The very people and institutions that were supposed to offer spiritual guidance, to help human beings orient themselves spiritually, served to turn them against themselves. And so as we became more able to think for ourselves, we turned from religion, recognizing it for what it is, tools for oppression.

There is a great spiritual hunger in our times. I believe that as economic, political, social, and cultural conditions deteriorate, this will become an increasingly defining feature of the zeitgeist, and I have no doubt that movements will arise which speak to that hunger. Some of these movements will be revolutionary, some will be reactionary. Some will seek solace in memories or romanticized notions of the past, some will speak to the urgent need to radically transform our relationship to nature, to one another, to the cities and territories we inhabit. Those of us who have long wished for a radical transformation of society may well live to have our wishes granted, though there is no guarantee whatsoever that it will be what we hoped for, or even an improvement to the current social order. But I feel certain that a great change is coming, that many more people will come to feel that we have come to the end of the road for the materialist paradigm currently defining Western civilization.

We must learn to revere the Sacred again. We must learn to highly value that which is worthy of profound respect. We must learn our place within the great web of life within which we live, which we are a part of, and value ourselves and one another as belonging to it, as being worthy recipients of the gift of life. We must learn to be humble, to be willing to listen and to learn from the perspectives of others, even those of people we are opposed to, to work towards understanding why others feel the way they do. I see too much self-righteousness in activist circles these days. Activists are often judgmental, fault-finding, and narrow-minded. We keep doing the same things that we’ve been doing without honestly asking ourselves if it is working.

I have been highly involved in the anarchist movement for a decade and I have seen countless people driven out of radical scenes, and at least in the area where I live, it doesn’t seem to me that new people are coming in at the rate they are being driven out. And all of this in a movement that purports to create more inclusive society, where people are freer to be themselves, where police and prisons would be unnecessary because everyone would have access to the support that they need. To believe that this is possible is to place tremendous faith in the power of love, kindness, and acceptance to change human behavior, and if we are to convince the people that such faith is a viable political approach, we must demonstrate its effectiveness by practicing it ourselves.

1 – Calm Down and Fight – values for the End Times

By Jesse D. Palmer

Please take a deep breath with me, and try not to freak out. A lot of people are getting paralyzed with relentless scary apocalyptic news and too much social media exposure. This constant level of negative distraction is causing anxiety, depression, and preventing us from focusing on making coherent plans to fight back. This is not an accident. Those in power want to terrify us. They want to dominate the narrative and framing of what’s going on. They want to keep us focused on reacting to the latest outrage so we’re constantly off balance. Computer companies make money the more we stare at our phones, and so these tools manipulate our emotions to keep us hooked up.

We do not have to live like this – in a world organized around fear, division, scarcity, control and dehumanizing technology. We can create structures based on cooperation, justice, harmony with nature, freedom, generosity, playfulness and connection, not alienation.

The most important shift is psychological – calming our minds and believing in our collective power. The slogan “we are the 99%” is still right on. The unjust system serves a few thousand billionaires at the expense of everyone else. Without our labor, our consent, our going along with the machine, this rotten system can be swept away.

Even though ecological collapse seems overwhelming and too far along to resist, giving up in defeat, resignation and sadness will not help – doing so throws away any slim chances we might have. While the current system is suicidally unsustainable, it might not be too late to save some things. We have the knowledge and technology to get along without destroying our planet – but those in power make so much money and get so much power from the way things are that they are sacrificing the future while we watch, feeling grim and helpless.

Since our collective psychology is the key out of this mess, our first task is to ground ourselves – calm our minds – and think our own thoughts rather than reacting to hypnotizing bad news from our cell phones.

We need to shift our focus to what we want, not what we’re against. And beyond our interior thoughts, we need to articulate our values and discuss them widely with our friends, our family, our neighbors.

It is crucial to recognize that life, other people, the earth, and the experiences our lives offer are good, pleasurable, beautiful, worthwhile and meaningful. While politicians and media emphasize fear, division and hate, most parts of our un-mediated lives are not like that at all.

The people we actually know and interact with day-to-day are mostly okay – spending lives caring about our friends, our pets and gardens, and our family and neighbors. Sure, there are some mean and abusive people out there, and not everything goes great all the time, but overall people are doing their best, taking care of stuff around them and giving a shit.

So when engaging with the ways in which things are apocalyptic – the earth is threatened, the economy is collapsing, armed racists are killing people – we have to balance the awareness of being in a time of unprecedented danger against our lived reality. What type of risk are we really in today? When danger is immediate, one has to jump out of the way, but facing generalized risk means there is a little time to think and plan.

We cannot know what crazy things the world will throw at us next. What matters is not so much a specific 10-point plan, but developing and practicing values that can help guide us no matter what comes up. Caring about other people – being generous not selfish – being creative not boring and grim — and supporting each individual to pursue what pleases them are good places to start. These values lead to mutual aid, cooperation, and relating to others without ownership or rulers. Communities and systems can be organized from each according to ability and to each according to need. We can cooperate to get what we need without exploiting others or concentrating power.

Environmentally sustainable values focus on using land and resources mindfully and only for what we need, not for greed or profit. We need to value beauty and fun more highly than cheapness, speed or efficiency.

Power grabs, increased repression and chaos are related to a dam breaking — releasing pressure built up over decades of wealth being concentrated at the top while regular people’s income and wellbeing has stagnated and declined. The pace of technological and social change has finally become unmanageable, and a way we individually experience it is that everything feels out of control. But this hasn’t come out of nowhere – we’ve been the frog in the gradually warming pot. We’re realizing — I hope before it is too late — that we’re about to get cooked.

The rulers causing these unsustainable conditions are trying to turn ordinary people against each other lest we all unite against them – intentionally stoking divisions based on race, urban vs. rural, employment sector, and other made-up divisions.

When you’re in pain, you want to lash out at someone, but what we need now is solidarity in the biggest sense. Not within groups that are already culturally and mentally cohesive — activist-speak solidarity — but across sharp boundaries. Solidarity with people you don’t feel much in common with based on common humanity, shared suffering and mutual interest. It is hard to know how to get this going — it won’t be possible over the internet which favors echo chambers and antagonism.

The corruption and cruelty modeled by those in power is encouraging sloppy individual bad behavior. Perhaps a response is to be extra compassionate in traffic, in communal houses, in collectives, in families, to folks on the street or at the store. A time of collapse and instability is not the time to tear up our personal bonds when we need them as strong as possible. Experiencing and expressing gratitude for things that are still good rather than focusing on resentment and shit-talking is personally healing and socially helps nurture resilient and empowered communities.

Early in the pandemic lockdown as commerce was put on hold, local and grassroots community, solidarity, and mutual aid suddenly re-emerged. Despite the unfortunately named social distancing, I began feeling closer to those around me than I had before. There were people spontaneously singing and dancing in the streets all over the place. And while a lot of things went online, a lot more people around here are still walking on the streets and often saying hi. A lot has happened since the early days of the lockdown, but that wide collective feeling is something to hold on to, build upon, and harness.

The constant dislocations of the pandemic, economic meltdown, rightwing attacks, wildfires and general chaos are not the revolution we imagined, but we need to recognize moments of rapid and dramatic change when they happen, seize on them, and turn them into something positive.