Monday, July 27, 2009
V3, Almost Done
Our Relationship to the Commodity is Like This Son:
On My Need for Class Fellowship
When I hang out with my friends, there is a certain dynamic that plays itself out. First off, we do all care about each other, regardless of whatever anyone who comes to Modesto and tells us that we're fucked up to each other says. We always generally ask how things are going on with each other, with work, (this is always important, because a break in work means bad shit), school (if that person is going to school), or just with life. Many times we ask each other how things are going on with our relationships – and we also talk about our political projects. One thing that is constant is that we are almost always together. Since we have a connection and we are tied down via work and other shit, we have to make the most out of being stuck in the Central Valley. We go out and take food because we cannot afford to pay for it. We appropriate clothes in groups because we cannot afford to pay for them. We organize and intervene in the tensions that directly affect us and our community. But what is always constant is the understanding of our relationship to the commodity form. We are always on the lookout for ways to gain paper. Always on the lookout for threats to our income. Always looking to come up on things. We did not become criminals out of just a hatred of capitalism, but the realization that the system has forced us to become them in order to get by.
We live in a totality of generalized class antagonisms. When jobs and hours get slashed we are affected. When school costs go up we are affected. Changes in police and store security or increases in surveillance are threats to us. We deal with not only what is done against us, but also what our parents and families go through. It's everything from your moms being threatened with losing her benefits at work to having your shit jacked for the third time. All of this, toppled with the ongoing daily pressures of just being a young person and dealing with shit, equates to huge amounts of stress. Stress makes people do lots of things, often times many of them bad. This is why me and my friends are always joking, always. Always fucking around, always. Always on the lookout for a way to get up in the game, always. Always trying to get fucked up and escape, always. Middle class people often have a hard time understanding this – as well they should. The pressures that we face as proletarians are not things that they often can come to know; they are lived experiences that define our lives.
But I appreciate my friends because in them they represent truly the proletariat; or the conscious body of working class people who resist their material conditions. When we speak and joke it is crude and basic at times, but we grow and learn and change and create our own history based on our activity, not (just) the escalation of an acquired theory. It does not matter how many times you read the Call comrade; as you try to sift through all those complex words of doctors sons and daughters, the ideas won't leap off the page and come alive for you. If anything, what matters is if the ideas will resonate with your desire to actively do something, or perhaps give new meaning to the actions that you already are engaged in. Sure my friends and I are rough around the edges, but that roughness is a reflection of the realities of daily life. I still would much rather base our level of sophistication and seriousness upon our practical activity, than ever on our ability to explain why we do the things that must be done. Furthermore, it is this reality that gives my most prized relationships meaning; in the fact that there is a passion and a beauty in the struggle. When passion comes out of misery, I find it more exciting and genuine. When creation comes out of the crushing force and alienation of capital, I find it more inspiring. Harmonize all you want to, but your songs sound hallow to me. You can smear yourself with dirt, but I can still see your fucking face.
I was recently at a three day anarchist convergence in California. Throughout the days there was the usual barrage of workshops and tabling. People mostly moving around and just chatting with friends. I spent my time getting fucked up under the oppressive heat and getting my notes for my workshop ready. I left the convergence thinking I was going to have to agree with Barry Pateman, I don't know if I see a point, nor do a have a desire, to talk to 'anarchists' anymore. On my way to the car one night, I saw a collection cup out for the “Laid Off Teachers” fund on the front porch of a house. It reminded me of a conversation with a teacher I had had earlier in the day about her experiences in Oaxaca. There, she said she asked teachers there why they were striking and rioting and they told her because the state wanted to put 30 kids in each of their classes. I thought about that each time I sit down to work in front of a room of kids way over the size of 30.
Class fellowship is important to me. No, more than that, it is a requirement for my sanity and happiness. I desire a reminder of my relationship to the commodity and our struggle against it. I don't feel like this is me just wanting to be comfortable. I just don't like forgetting who I am or my lot in this piece of shit. I don't like pretending I'm outside of it or above it, or that I've dropped out of it. I'd rather be in the shit and trying to bring it down. So it's not that I hate certain towns, or even that I hate certain people, I guess I just feel uncomfortable in comfortable places. I feel weird being around in cities full of people who probably would only talk or interact with me as a lawyer, judge, city council member, or a boss. I have a need for a true proletarian community – and it is a real one.