Has the world become more radical or is just my change in senery? The bay area harbors more fringe elements than the five boros; it's more sheltering in that way. On a good day I like to call it spaceship San Francisco. On a bad day I feel scared that so many are so bloody-minded. On most days I feel restricted by my square-world occupation; electoral politics. It's not like I have to wear a suit to work, but my activities of late have led to a great deal of self-censorship, and often I find myself feeling a little illegitimate.
But it's a long story, my struggle with trying to meet the rest of the world halfway.
I've been involved in way-out circles most of my life. I know from hippies and anarchists and would-be revolution. There's something different, sometimes sadly sour in the air out here. Maybe I just didn't move in the right circles back east, but it seems like every other person I meet out here is talking about making plans for the collapse of the system, for the "inevitable imposition of martial law," for revolution of the decidedly non-velvet type.
Sometimes it's frightenlingly attractive. Frank and I were at a Reclaim the Streets party a few months ago, ate a couple pot cookies some nice hippie girl sold us -- two for five dollars -- and after lazily circling the laconic SFPD on our bikes ended up at the Anarchist protest, where the legions of red and black were displaying solidarity with striking grocery workers. It was allright as protests go; no great shakes, but there's some good energy. I've more or less had my fill of these kinds of things, I'm thinking, when a real livewire organizer takes the megaphone, a young black man stalking the line in cammo, solid deliver, crisp diction, chants the crowd knows and loves. He's got the touch.
And sitting on the outskirts with my bike -- a spectator if there ever was one -- I'm just about buying it. "There are more of them then there are of us." You're damn right. But then so what? What are we here to do? Dismember the police, tie up the managers and burn down the store? It feels like a possibility, but I don't think it serves anyone's purpose. Obviously it's not what was going on, but in that moment I was ready to do something drastic. Potential for mob action? distressingly high.
Every now and then it cuts the other way. Every now and then maybe I pull someone back towards the sunny-minded way. I know my optimism is infectous. I know that it's no fun believing the world is fucked and that billions must perish before a balance is struck. That's a really depressing way to look at things. That people carry the notion with a measure of grave pride seems to be distinctly American. There's tough times ahead, but it's gonna be them what falls to the flames. They deserved it, ho ho, right.
Dig, yo. The Ice Age doesn't discriminate, and you may not believe in voting, but unless you're stockpiling guns in the woods -- and even if you are -- the idea of resisting the powers that be with violence is a fool's errand.
I'll tell you what we need. We need some damn information revolutionaries. People who machine-gun the truth of agency into the population. We've got a way to do whatever we can get people to agree to do; democracy is a good idea and we aught to take it more seriously. People get hung up on money, myself included, but the real action is in what people can do to one another. Relationships outvalue dollars by orders of magnitude, and the tragedy of the modern era isn't that there's such a great disparity between the rich a poor, it's that people have so few meaningful flesh and blood realtionships and put so much stock in flickering images, ghosts and simulations.
I remain optimistic about the chances of people, if not the state. I tend to think that lacking any pressing animal need and given good information, people tend to do right. People don't naturally attack one another unless there's scarcity, and as a world we've got plenty. The tricky part is realizing this, because it threatens everyone's line of business. Personally, I look forward to the time when we know, and everyone can relax.