Monday, July 27, 2009

V3, Almost Done



Our Relationship to the Commodity is Like This Son:
On My Need for Class Fellowship
by crudo

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.

5 comments:

  1. you know, it's been suggested by some that MAC could have expressed criticisms or input to the convergence in a more nuanced, timely and comradely fashion prior to unfurling the "trust funds" banner. i did in turn suggest yall might have been busy, but i still think it's a fair point.

    ps. haha the captcha for my last comment said "proodle".

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  2. I thought that the convergence was pretty good, I mean all the parts were there. People tabling, people speaking, people mingling. My biggest critique I had was that there seemed to be a lack of talk about what struggles were going on in Santa Cruz that people were working on. I wasn't an organizer with the gathering and I don't live in Santa Cruz, so I don't reall;y feel a reason or drive to tell people in Santa Cruz what to do.

    I don't see how the 'trust funds' banner was an attempt at critique. It was meant to be funny - we know that hardly anyone in Santa Cruz has a trust fund. Also, in my and Cody's workshop I think we brought up some critique however.

    What would have been more comradely of us prior to the gathering?

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  3. i mean, i took it that way and i don't really want to be the bearer of other peoples comments or perceptions. it's just become clearer to me since then that people took it that way. maybe they were being thin skinned, i dont know. but at the same time do you really not see how that message could come across as carrying an edge of, "you're all spoiled rich kids, we are the real proles so f you, all we wanna do is BANG BANG take your money"?

    obviously i had a lot of critique regarding the conv myself. one of them being that it wasn't actually directed at santa cruz but at anarchists. but i think as far as it makes sense to have events like this, sc makes sense as a place to have it. and it's a very different social terrain from modesto but you obv know that.

    as i said i have championed the perspective that yall probably have better things to do than sitting around elaborating constructive critiques about some anarchists in a city hours away. (like, you know... drinking under a bridge.) that said it would be cool if inter city anarchist dialogue could develop in a more positive and communicative direction and with less sense of people just taking jabs at each other for whatever reason.

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  4. “i dont know. but at the same time do you really not see how that message could come across as carrying an edge of, "you're all spoiled rich kids, we are the real proles so f you, all we wanna do is BANG BANG take your money"?” -

    There's a lot of truth in that last statement. Also, how is a gathering that seems to base itself around being insular supposed to look to working class people?

    The banner got the thumbs up from other working class people that I talked to – all because we were on the same page and thinking similar things.

    “as i said i have championed the perspective that yall probably have better things to do than sitting around elaborating constructive critiques about some anarchists in a city hours away. (like, you know... drinking under a bridge.)”-

    Oh man.

    You're right. Perhaps one day we'll be able to articulate ourselves in a way that makes sense to you. Until then I guess we'll continue to drink under bridges. Seems that we can both talk in class generalizations.

    For what I remember, we did that after we went 2 ½ hours out of our way to pick up someone so they could perform at an event in Modesto.

    “that said it would be cool if inter city anarchist dialogue could develop in a more positive and communicative direction and with less sense of people just taking jabs at each other for whatever reason.” -

    I feel like we've done that. Either by putting out publications that explain what's going on in our area and critiquing anarchism in general, giving workshops, and also spending time in other cities.

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  5. duder, i hoped you'd know i was teasing - obviously, your articulations do make sense to me (and i drank under the bridge with yall)! and as i said, i also feel pretty similarly to you about both the convergence, the banner and the a cafe (none of which was my idea).

    whatever, i'm just going to shut up.

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