To begin tonight's story I'll need to begin with another story, and then another story, and then another. And first, I'll need to make a few things clear.
Let me be clear. Yeah. Like Obama.
A lot of people want to change the world. Those people are narcissistic assholes, and I'm really not one to talk, but, yeah. Fuck them. My position, rather, is that the world ought to change, whether I have anything to do with it or not. I'll offer what I can to the cause, but I won't go out of my way to be a self-promoting fuckwit like those smegma slices from Socialist Alternative who sell copies of Red Flag at every demonstration and hop on the megaphone at every opportunity. And they don't hop on the megaphone to propogate their views, which, as they express publicly, are usually pretty decent. They hop on the megaphone because they want to be the one on that megaphone, play-acting their idols, Lenin, Trotsky, Che, and the like. Fuck them.
And I'm not The People's Front of Judea railing on against the Judean People's Front. That's the job of the other trots, like the Spartacists, or the Socialist Alliance. I've nothing to do with them, other than make the occasional joke at their expense. They're trotskyists; leninists. I'm an anarchist, and anarchists in this city outnumber them probably two to one.
Now that this is out of the way, I can get into why I'm so happy I got my phone back. And why I'm not going to be drinking for at least the next week.
And to do this, I'll have to get into a few other things. I don't remember how I planned this blog exactly, because I might still be quite drunk, but I'll do the best I can. No, not that. The best I feel like.
It all starts with this girl called Jenny. And as always, I won't use any real names.
I was volunteering for a shift at the local anarchist cafe/library/bar when she walked in. She hadn't been around there much before. She, like myself, had a lot to say about pretty much everything, which was great. You see, a terrible symptom of the disease called being me is that I'll constantly go on about everything until someone else starts going on about it. It's rare that people do, so I do unintentionally tend to dominate conversations, even when I make an effort to keep this in check. She had my problem as well, so she kept going, and I kept going, and it was great, for about three or four hours. Until she had to go to work.
I didn't see her for about a month, when I just kind of walked by her on the street. She suggested we go to a bar, where we had a few drinks, on her dime, mostly because I didn't have any dimes (or dollars or cents of any kind). Then she suggested we go back to her place, after she stopped at the methadone clinic, and the supermarket for some fruit, because she's into being healthy like that.
She was incredibly affectionate and empathetic, probably too much so for anyone's own good. She expressed what seemed like deep and sincere concern for the vaguest problems I may have had with anything, which I didn't consider great for my own mental health, but appreciated nonetheless. Given her history with incredibly abusive boyfriends and a traumatic family life, it's a strange miracle she was held together at all, especially so well like this.
At her place, which was a complete brilliant mess with spare cigarettes all over the floor, we watched Russel Brand's big fucking standup show. She was a huge fan of his, and I, not having seen much of him, had never been convinced he was any good for anything much. But it turns out he's basically a socialist, not a liberal, and overall it does seem he's probably a net benefit to political discourse, even if he hasn't read any of those big fucking leftist books. Halfway through this she started taking off my clothes and I started taking off hers, and we had some fairly great sex, by my nonexistent standards anyway. I was very late to work but I didn't consider that a problem.
I feel like this should be mentioned somewhere, but I wasn't sure where to fit it. She's 41, which is twice my age plus one year. Also she's kind of a prostitute, in the literal sense of the word. I'm not sure why, but these were the only things that felt kind of odd about it.
Now my life doesn't generally have any downs or ups. It's mostly just okay. The only time I feel I've actually accomplished something is when I make progress studying Russian or Arabic, or when an activist type action I was a part of has success. That's good. I didn't necessarily accomplish anything being with this girl, but something about her (other than the sex) made it feel worthwhile anyway. I'm convinced most of the people I spend time with more tolerate or put up with me rather than accept me, mainly because I know if I met someone like me I know I wouldn't be able to stand the fucker. This girl actually genuinely seemed to like me, which must mean something was wrong with her, but it does seem like the best person to hang out with is anyone who enjoys your company. She said she'd call me the next day, and that was just about everything I was looking forward to.
Other than the massive fucking party I heard about that night.
You see, even if they're all communist-anarchists, most of my friends aren't excessively empathetic to the degree that Jenny is, I tend to have a good enough time with them and they seem to have a good time with me. Especially if I drink, and especially if they drink more than I do, which is rare, but that's irrelevant. What was relevant is that we heard about his house party down the road from the local punk house.
So we showed up and none of us knew anyone there. No problem. There was an unattended bottle of vodka on the kitchen counter which I took a swig of and passed on to the next patron. Pretty soon Jim was making out with a girl I'm not sure he said a word to (he's more of a thinker than a talker) and Mac and I were shooting the shit about whether or not we could have called Lenin a comrade of sorts even though as anarchists we'd both have been sent to his gulags. I don't remember the rest so well, but I did find another bottle of vodka, which was also distributed freely amongst the people, and then me and Mac were kicked out.
Mac says we should get back in around the back. We show up to find Jim and Kyle kicked out as well, when I realize I've lost my phone inside. Mac tries to get back in.
"I'm just getting my friend's phone," he says.
Suddenly ten of them fucking jump him. Kyle and Jim join the fray, and I might have, I forget, but I do remember providing artillery cover by throwing bottles at our assailants. Not long after one of our foes is bleeding all over the face do we realize that we aren't getting back in. Jim's girl, apparently the girlfriend of one of the hosts, tells him we can come back and get our phones tomorrow.
So, the anarchists. We'll show up at your party uninvited and steal your booze and your girlfriend.
About five minutes later we're on our way home and a police van pulls up beside us. I didn't see what happens next because suddenly I have pepper spray in my eyes and they arrest Mac and Jim seemingly arbitrarily.
Those two are another story I'll get back to, but for now, I'm left with Kyle and I feel like I should explain Kyle.
I first met Kyle at one of the four or five May Day parties the various anarchist crews throw. He's someone like me and Jenny in that he talks past people a lot, until they talk past him. We had a very long conversation about just about every political issue of the day, as well as quite a share of other days. There were very few issues on which he was less knowledgeable than I. He was also very militant; he'd just returned from Europe, where he fought neo-nazis and fascists on the streets of Germany and Russia, earning a few quite visible scars on his face, and he had a certain disdain for the tendency for much of the left to wave banners and not actually do anything. After the party, him, I, and this Argentinian girl we were also talking to went to this bar where he almost started a fight. I asked him if he knew much of the place I frequent, which I won't name here, but the people who tend to operate out of there do tend to actually do things and attempt to stoke militancy at any action they're involved in (generally meaning they aren't afraid to break the law if it means getting something done; de-arrests, for instance). He hadn't heard of it, but he did start showing up quite a lot after then, and has since been involved in just about everything. He's someone who knows what he's doing is right and is as dedicated to the cause as anyone else. So now he's been around for a few months.
So that night, we'd both had some kind of shame that we were free and two of our comrades were in cells. The least we could do was ask about their situation at the police station. We arrived, and asked when they'd be free. While we were waiting we noticed some monuments to cops shot in the line of "duty" on the wall. We read them and loudly congratulated their killers, laughing, in full earshot of the cops. It was like something out of a good movie. The cops came out, straight-faced, and told us Jim was in the hospital and Mac wouldn't be out until at least the next day. So we went to the hospital, on our way out, chanting like the drunks we were, "I'd rather be a maggot than a cop".
On the way something quite unsettling happened: I was out of cigarettes. So the first smokers we ran into, I asked if they had any spare. They did, and it was great. So they asked us what we were doing that night, and we explained the situation. "Yeah, fuck the police," was the general response. Then Kyle asks them what they were doing that night. They say, "not much," essentially and leave it at that. Right when we should be going, Kyle is still there, just kind of staring at one of them.
The girl asks, "What are you looking at?"
"I'm looking at you." And he didn't stop for a few more seconds.
"OOOookay." And they walked off.
I didn't comment. Maybe I should've.
We got to the hospital to find Jim with a massive wound across his forehead. The nurse said he'd probably have a scar. "I'll live," he said. That went as good as it could have. It was four against ten, and we fucked them up worse than they fucked us up. We went back to the punk house for some brief sleep. The next day there was a rally for Palestine, organized on short notice, what with the recent Israeli bombings (now a ground invasion). Every flag you could think of was flying there; Hezbollah, Syria, the Greens, the Communist Party, even fucking Al Qaeda. And of course we were there with our red and black.
Soon afterward, a meeting to discuss what to do about a fascist meeting over in the next neighborhood next week and some white nationalist scum protesting Ramadan at a supermarket. From a twenty-person meeting, to a twenty-person postering crew (about 500 posters were printed, we might have posted about 300 of them (there were really too many)), to networking with the socialists, student groups, and general friends and comrades, we got about a hundred or two people to show up when it happened the next week.
And for all of that week, I didn't have my phone. I couldn't wake up on time, because my phone is also my alarm clock. I couldn't refresh the Al Jazeera homepage every five minutes to find out how many more were dead in Gaza or wherever else people were dying. And if Jenny called me, I had no idea.
At one point I resolved to return to the house and see if they'd let me have a look around for it. Fat fucking chance, the lawyer (one of the anarchists is a lawyer, ha (we also have a doctor, ain't that something?)) told me. I was likely to get arrested like Mac. I told him he was probably right but that I was a short-sighted idiot. I went, against absolutely everyone's advice. But Kyle and Josef decided they wouldn't let me face them alone, in case something happened.
Nothing really did. Since Josef wasn't at the party, we decided he'd make out best representative. They told him they'd turn in anything they found to the police. We went to the station, to find nothing. Josef had to go to work. So me and Kyle decide to check the other police station, and on the way is that house, again. I devise a new tactic; I'll call my phone, with his phone, so it's easier for them to find, and then this can all be over with.
I open the door and there's a pair of police. The people inside stare at me like I'm eating a kitten whilst pissing on a baby and kicking their grandmother's head into a curb. I'm told to stay away from the house if I don't want to get arrested.
On the way back to the anarchist library/bar/cafe Kyle asks me why I'm so obsessed with getting this phone back. I tell him about the Jenny situation. He tells me he hasn't had a girlfriend since he was 18, about five years ago.
Bullshit; the revolution is his girlfriend.
It's not mine though, even if it should be.
So today were the anti-fascist actions. I slept in, because no phone, and was late to both of them. A comrade was arrested after a fight with a nazi. The eight or so white nationalist anti-muslim protesters were stopped by a crowd of hundreds before they could get close to the supermarket, by no force more than mere shouting. We delayed by about two hours the fascist conference on how foreign students (such as myself!) are apparently genociding white people. One total victory and one modest victory. So those nights spent wheatpasting posters up around town weren't wasted. Cool.
After, there was the irregularly scheduled People's Kitchen at the bar/library/cafe. We all went there. The food was great, and for once, not vegan. I had about four beers, and someone shared with me some whiskey, which left this good warm feeling. Then someone bought me another beer. Then I needed to use the toilet, but there were people in the way, so I decided I'd rather go around on the table than ask them to move. The table fell over. Fuck. After cleaning that up, I got up there, opened the door, and knocked over a cup of pens. Fuck. After cleaning that up, I reached for the doorknob to the bathroom, and managed to miss by a few inches and touch Kate in the ass. Fuck.
She's one of, if not the, smartest people/person I know, and unlike the others, probably because she's so much smarter than them, she's been noticeably sick of my shit since the first or second time I walked into the place almost a year ago now. I realize I've truly fucked up, and quickly close the bathroom door and have a look in the mirror.
I have this irritating grin on my face I can't seem to remove.
I overhear her saying she needs to go out for a walk.
I have another look in the mirror. Where there should be horror, solemn regret, whatever, there's just that stupid fucking grin. I try to manually reconfigure my facial expression. It doesn't work.
I get out of the bathroom. I tell Kelly, who's on shift at the bar, not to serve me alcohol anytime over the next week, and to kick me out if he sees me drinking. I go out for a smoke. I ask Nate which direction Kate went, so I can stand on the opposite side so she doesn't have to walk past me. He says he doesn't know. He also does a lot of bar shifts, so I also tell him not to serve me alcohol for a week. He starts talking about how "we're here to support you" about the whole alcoholism thing, and I take a few steps off to the side and take out another cigarette. And another and a few more.
I'm not an alcoholic. That's kind of the problem though. I know a few alcoholics, and they're mostly pretty cool. I might not be an alcoholic, but I might have an alcohol problem. No, that's not right. I'm just a problem, alcohol or not.
Word gets around that there are boneheads (neo-nazi skinhead thugs) in the area. They might try to start some shit tonight. People decide they're going to sleep inside the building, in case they come and fuck it up, and sleep in shifts to look out. I don't know if Kate's back inside or intends on returning so I don't know if I should be there.
Not a problem though. A comrade comes out and tells me,
"Look, umm, it looks like you're more of a liability than an asset in this situation."
I nod. "I should fuck off."
More of a liability than an asset. That's exactly the term I always use to describe myself in my head. Fuck, how did he do that? Actually, I wouldn't doubt if those words managed to slip off of my tongue at one point or another. Fuck. But at least I know other people are doing good work. What's important isn't that I'm participating in it personally, even if it's the least I could do. What's important is that it's getting done.
So anyway, on my way home I stop by the police station. They had my phone. I had two or three missed calls from Jenny. I'm going to need to call Jenny sometime tomorrow, or, today now. I want to be around someone where I don't have to think about any of this kind of thing. And maybe have a few drinks.
Until I see her again I'll have to try and see if I can make the revolution my girlfriend like Kyle did. I'd be a lot happier that way.
it's all going wrong Posted on June 03, 2014 at 17:36
Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.
I've figured it all out.
The aim of all thugs, thug aim,
It's been won.
I've won it.
It was me.
You can all go home. But stay around anyway, because this could well be important. Even if it probably isn't.
It all started months ago. But I won't start then.
Sisi has been declared the next president of Egypt. Putin continues to be elected in Russia. What does this all mean? It's something very simple. Political machines.
The opposition in Russia is full of shit. The last major popular figure against the ultraliberal (and in this context I mean ultracapitalist; nothing to do with libertarianism on a social level (rights for minorities, women, gays, etc)) establishment was essentially nazbols. National bolsheviks. Google them. They're full of shit, the remnants (of sorts) of the communist party of the USSR, and they were only barely relevant fighting Yeltsin. Now they're nothing. The social-democratic, even so-called "democratic socialists" were huge fans of Medvedev, of all people. Putin's Robin to his own Batman. A waste of time.
Sisi, in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood was essentially a politicized Salvation Army. Between their commendable services to the poor, and their usual bullshit propagating of islamic (and, that said political islamic - Erdogan's motherfuckers - inoffensive to western sensibilities, willing and able to work within a bourgeois democratic state, etc) they seized political power and were a liability to the military stranglehold over Egyptian politics - so of course they would lose out. Not only out of incompetence, but out of genuine vested interests (as in they were trying to prop up their own interests, not those of the people in Egypt, and not those of interests already established - so with limited base, they stood no chance. Now the coup has found a legitimacy of sorts in a so-called election. Many boycotted. Many more were plainly disqualified. The one contender was the famed Nasser fetishist, the famous Hamdeen Sabahi, who stood no chance. Hell, he may well be controlled opposition; from third place (second place if the military candidate were rightly disqualified, as the constitution stipulated) in the first "democratic" election in Egypt two years ago, to conceding only 3% in the latest race - he truly is a waste of time.
It's as they say; if voting truly changed anything, they would make it illegal. And here they actually did, for what it was worth.
So here, here in my short months active in Sydney, I've seen the worst of the worst. The best of the best. The same you could likely see anywhere.
Tonight, this very night, I'll go back to. This is the most important thing I've heard, and I've heard it all around.
"I don't give a shit about politics," she told me.
And she shouldn't. The politicians, on both sides of a capitalist so-called democracy, only look out for two things: the capitalist class, and how much they can bribe the working class.
"But this shit Abbot is doing. I can't stand my job. I'm going to have to go soon. And to wait six months for centerlink [Australia's unemployment benefits]?"
Now, she was great. So was her friend. I may be saying this mostly because they were constantly buying me drinks and giving me cigarettes, the two of them.
The newish Prime Minister of Australia is trying to impose Greek-style austerity measures on an economy in the midst of a global recession. That's one thing. But to do so whilst this economy has very much weathered the storm - by a combination of smart capitalism (keynesian economics - still capitalist, so fuck them, but smart in a capitalist context anyway) and Chinese demand for mineral wealth is a true question of sanity. Of sound economics, even capitalist economics.
None of it makes any sense from a pragmatic standpoint, but of course pragmatism is not the question here. The point as always is that the piggest of capitalist pigs can always profit off of these measures, and of course will do what they can to tip things towards them, no matter the suicidal cost.
So I have seen the worst this, this world has to offer, and that does not yet scratch the surface.
I'll go on with an anecdote. A brilliant one. The day was May 1st, 2014. Just over a month ago.
A cynical comrade of mine calls the thing Leftist New Year. It's brilliant.
On this day, a famed anarchist comrade, veteran of every struggle for the past twenty years at least, Justine [note: I never use real names] , was born. On the day of the famed Haymarket strike. On May Day. The International Day of Workers, all of that. Whatever.
A Thursday. Or Friday. Something like that; a work day, so the milquetoast unions of course refused striking of even symbolic gestures. The parade was reserved for the weekend. This night, essentially, was for the anarchists. The squat bars were all open and would be until everyone either passed out or went to sleep. Of course, the streets were as ours as they always were. The streets were paved with beer bottles and the gutters ran red with wine.
Of course this was the greatest opportunity to run into the tankiest of tankies. A fixture of the local Wikileaks Party; in fact, the thing is registered in her name. Not only that, but she was largely responsible for the Wikileaks twitter feed, something I've followed for years simply out of its constant finger on the pulse of legitimate and well-sourced analysis of world events. It was truly beyond sad.
Here I found the true essence of journalism.
"The Syrian rebels are all foreign invaders." Well, some of them. Especially the most extreme of the islamists, but they don't have the numbers, they only have the weapons....
"Assad was elected democratically" - Not r e a l l y , he was confirmed by referendum, by a suspiciously large margin, with no credible competition...
"The upcoming election in Syria [which happened today] is legitimate." This is problematic on two levels, quite like the last one. One: winning an election, especially one on which the state (because you control it) and the media (which is controlled by the state) are on your side, may not necessarily be very legitimate. We do run into analogous problems in the west, especially the United States (in which it is virtually impossible to compete without major corporate sponsorship), but again, being just as bad as somebody else doesn't make you good. This on top of areas not controlled by the government being (naturally) excluded from the elections (where the people traditionally disenfranchised by the old government, as bad as the rebels may be), as well as anyone who has not lived in the country for the past ten years (which includes not only candidates but also voters), makes for an atmosphere of severe manipulation, to say the least.
But these people have seen the Potemkin Villages firsthand. This woman had spoken with the Syrian president himself. The closest thing to a concession that could be found with her - not from just me, but the other anarchists in the room - was that he was fighting imperialist powers (Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, and some elements of the USA) we opposed, and for that deserved our support. Never mind that he was a representative of certain other imperialist powers (Russia, Iran (and their stooge Maliki in Iraq), and some elements of Lebanon kind of).
She thought I sounded smart. She said if I had any thoughts on international affairs I could write them up and email them to her for publication on Wikileaks Press. I could get published and reach hundreds of thousands.
And this is the best I have.
Now today, every order is falling.
Both Russia and the United States have resorted to mobilizing ultranationalist, even neo-nazi groups to further their goals in Ukraine. De-facto international boundaries are changing every day in Eastern Europe once again. Here are some as of May 24th (about two weeks ago):
The world is fucking falling apart. As always.
I'll fail a fucking journalism class. I might pass another class on globalization. I'll definitely fail the class on modernity/postmodernity.
University was probably a waste of time.
But of course, at the moment, everyone in town comes to Rick's. To the squat punk shows and the demonstrations to be assaulted by police. All of the best and worst people I've ever met. And where this country's at, whatever happens, can't be the end of it. We've all already seen this shit in America first. We've seen it at its most vicious in Greece and Spain. The rest of Europe is next.
The recent EU elections give us something terrible to fear.
I don't have a lot of hope for us. For us who'll be working the no-skill minimum wage jobs until we die in our thirties.
Crap. This tankie wikileaks woman is probably the best lead I have out of this. I've already been teaching myself Russian for months. I've already taught myself Spanish. I guess Arabic is next.
Just, just fuck.
These jobs will run out. The dumpsters will run dry. The wheat and grain fields of India, California, and Ukraine will always be fertile, but one day we won't be able to afford to eat anyway, even if we'll have our fucking iPods (and on that, sub-saharan Africa actually has some impressively high rates of cell phone ownership).
Something has to fucking happen. And nothing seems very promising. Hel once said we were the heirs to a crisis. Years ago. When it looked like it might go away. And maybe this time it won't.
I'm just lucky I might not live that long; this blog was sponsored by a bottle of wine, a million beers, and a trillion cigarettes. .