Freedom or Death
So, today I had a conversation with a celebrity. I won't mention their name, but I will say that I admire their work and grew up admiring their work. Even after our conversation, I can still say I will continue to enjoy what they do professionally.
I'll dispense with the introduction and background and get right to it.
Here's our conversation, redacted for clarity and anonymity.
It all began with me responding to their post which basically said that the best way to suppress the vote is to convince people that their vote doesn't count.
Sounds about right. The usual wip wap about voting... but I respectfully dissented thus:
The easiest way to keep this sham government going is to continue to give it your power.
They then responded with the familiar:
"What's your alternative?"
I was shocked that they actually responded to me, but I took this ball and ran all the way to the end zone because I might not have another chance.
And, I replied:
Thank you for asking. I really am honored and I always appreciate an honest query.
In the simplest terms, revolt.
Real and true uprising and/or refusal. I side with refusal, myself. Nonviolent resistance.
This system is diseased not just flawed. I know you know that.
We cannot continue to feed this system and expect that it will yield to us and shed its oppressive nature and stop the harm it's causing -to us (here & abroad) and the planet.
Just like in a relationship with an abuser, the party receiving the abuse is typically the one who must stop it by ending the relationship.
We have to get creative in how we divest this system (and by 'system' I mean global white supremacist capitalism) of its power and authority and legitimacy.
Either we stay in the abusive relationship with supremacist capitalism (and those persons who are selected and positioned to keep it in firmly place), or we end it in whatever way we can.
I am by no means saying the task ahead is easy or even simple. But, inasmuch as the micro mirrors the macro and vice versa, we do have some templates on the interpersonal scale to follow.
What I am definitely saying is we must act with clear decision and determination to regain our power as sovereign beings with the inborn right and ability to be our own best governors. (...well some of us, at least 😉)
We need to refuse to work.
Refuse to buy.
Refuse to prop them up.
Re-educate ourselves and our children.
Unlearn the lies they've been feeding us.
Relearn our natural power.
This means all the things that any survivor of an abusive relationship must do...
First decide that you can and will take care of yourself outside of this relationship.
Find a 'place' to land, then get out.
Next rebuild your life on your terms.
And all the while protect yourself from their potential backlash and attempts to draw you back in.
Tricked out on a social scale, I'm not sure exactly how this looks, but I am sure of this one thing...
If we do not - and by "we" I mean folks who can see the cliff we are dangling over as a species - if we do not take serious action (or serious non-action) to end or neutralize the power of the ruling classes, as Dr. Amos Wilson admonishes, we will suffer their fate with them and our own eventual demise... however long that takes.
And we can't reclaim our power by negotiating with terrorists, sleeping with the enemy, or otherwise continuing to act as if we can reason with them or use their rigged abusive systems to garner some small slice of justice for ourselves. Abusers don't yield.
No planet, no us.
Nothing will survive global supremacist capitalism. Not even the capitalists.
I'm sorry this was so long.
Thank you, again, for taking the time to ask.
I appreciate you.
I thought this would be the end of our interlocution, but alas, they replied again:
"What are you going to do until then?"
This was a bit puzzling, and then not at all. I am used to brush-off pseudo-questions and always respond to them genuinely, because the last thing anyone trying to brush you off or expose your assumed ignorance ever expects is a genuine well-considered answer to their brush-off.
So I said:
Until then... Refuse to continue my participation as best I can.
I understand I'm in a trap (we all are) a double-bound catch 22.
So, I'm trying to understand to the best of my ability all of the corners of this trap so I can navigate my way out, preferably without being killed in the process.
When Harriet and Fredrick and Nat and so, so many nameless others found themselves in a not-so-dissimilar trap, they found a way.
So, XXXXX, I'm doing my very best to find a way. Frederick didn't make it the first time. If we decide to try to end this abusive relationship with supremacist capitalism and the ruling classes of people who run it, we will have to try different things -- some will work, some won't. But when you're committed to real and actual freedom, and when freedom is the only thing that will suffice - no more half-measures - then you keep trying until you're free.
I understand that while we all are in a trap, we walked into it. By hook or by crook, these people have - as Noam Chomsky puts it - manufactured our consent. We must, at the very least revoke our consent and refuse our participation.
I know what this means practically. I know it means facing the terror and the very real possibilities surrounding how to eat, drink, clothe ourselves, and survive.
But this is the same quandary that any person who has ever found themselves ready to leave an abusive relationship has been in. One may be ready but there's always the looming thought that you're not able. So, you stand that thought down and you step into your readiness and you look square in the eye your responsibility - your power - to feed yourself, to provide yourself clean water, and to provide clothing and livable spaces for yourself.
One has to begin to devise the ways that one will take care of themselves and those around them.
All abusers want you to believe that you cannot survive without them. This system - global supremacist capitalism - and its handmaids want nothing more than for you to believe that you cannot survive outside of it and them.
So I'm disabusing myself of that lie and learning as much as I can about how it is these people in this system operate.
With that understanding and knowledge I will do what so many abused people have done which is find my way out and hopefully take as many people as I can with me.
And, to that end I'm looking for the others. Others, like me, who understand the dire predicament we're in and who are also ready to end this abusive relationship so that we can come back into right relationship with ourselves and with the natural world.
I don't have the exact answers to what "out" means. But that has never been a reason for any oppressed people to stop looking for a way out of their oppression.
There are as many different paths out as their are creative minds seeking freedom, and I won't disempower you anyone else by professing to have "the way" out.
What I am sure about, however, is that this entire state of affairs under any and all systems and relations based on supremacy must come to an end.
And if we refuse to take responsibility to do so, it appears Nature will do it for us.
Meanwhile, another person decided to jump into the fray and post his opinions as well.
They chimed in with:
"All sounds good in the abstract, but I didn't see an answer to the question. The only (in)actions you proposed were "refuse to work", and "refuse to buy", which for a lot of people correlates with refuse to eat, and refuse to feed your family. Beyond that, I'm right there with your "alternative". I admire your vision, but revolution, whether as uprising, or otherwise, requires resources, and action plans. Otherwise, its just stimulating conversation."
I dispatched his queries and comments thusly:
The plans are already extant. We don't have to reinvent the wheel, but we do need to take the wheel and drive this bus where we need and intend to go.
Amos Wilson, Marcus Garvey, Jeffrey B. Perry, David Graeber, Malcolm X, Walter Williams, Harriet Tubman, Chancellor Williams, Charles W. Mills, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Gene Sharp, Chairman Fred Hampton, Walter Rodney, Thomas Sankara, Steve Biko, Amilcar Cabral, Berta Caceres, Michael Parenti... The plans are out there. So many, with so many different methods and potential workable plans.
At some point we have to enact them.
No ready-made kit will ever really exist and even if it did it wouldn't seem like enough anyway. As Alan Watts has said, we are never able to gather enough data before making a decision.
But what I know is we must at least decide.
Freedom or eventual, certain death.
That's where we're at.
Again, I thought the celebrity poster must be getting bored with me and would surely just ignore me at this point, yet apparently I had, indeed, struck a nerve.
They retorted with:
"Your refusal to participate won't change the system. As you say, this is the same quandary we've always faced. But, unless and until you're ready to effectively revolt, you gotta play the hand you're dealt, not wish you were "trapped" in a different game. Because, not voting could very well help make the noose tighter for generations than its ever been. National Jim Crow on a scale unimagined before, codified into law, openly acknowledged, elected by the will of the people who voted. Playing this game."
I hear you.
And revolt doesn't always look like violence or even like fighting.
Refusal is a powerful form of revolt and resistance.
And you can't change this system.
You have to starve it of power.
And the power this system has is us. The power we have is to say no - this far and no further.
I don't wish to be trapped at all. Not for myself, not for anyone else.
And being faced with a malignant narcissistic system run by sociopaths, I say what is worse is condemning future generations to a continuing string of lesser evils rather than actually devising ways to strike out on our own using our own will and beginning to exercise our own (albeit atrophied) power...getting stronger with each re-assertion.
I refuse to believe that we have to play this hand versus leaving the table - however that needs to play out on the ground.
What you've described as a worse-case scenario has already happened here in this country. And if past is, indeed, prologue, it's coming back around to see what we've learned.
Yeah. It's a bind.
But continuing this abusive relationship is not the way forward and definitely is not sustainable in any way for the generations to come.
I could feel the end of our conversation advent and threw in:
One more thing... Inasmuch as a "public mandate" means anything (which we know it doesn't in an oligarchy) why haven't we tried, en masse, to deprive this 'leadership' of their mandate?
I also took a moment to simply thank the person for hearing me out and for taking the time to discuss with me directly.
They then, finally tiring of me, rebounded:
"I don't have the luxury of philosophical debate about life and death matters. If allowed to continue, this administration will kill many people. For starters. So, I voted. Do you. I'm out."
As we rounded the final corner, I ended our chat with:
I certainly understand.
Unfortunately, this debate is not merely philosophical. It's real and taking tolls right now, as you know.
Yes, Ma'am. Do you, as well.
If you made it this long and have read what I've had to say and can hear me at all... please, decide today to choose freedom, because death is all-too-near.