On the edge of something
Updated: Aug 4, 2022
[This was written soon after the Buffalo & Uvalde shootings and the leaking of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court memo.]
It's been almost a year since I decided to make more of my thoughts public in a blog, and it's been hard to get started. I have a lot to say - too much to say, so much that every one of my half-written posts feels like the one to start with, which means none of them get chosen.
I'm watching the U.S. fall off the edge, into the collapse that my activist parents anticipated for a long time and prepared me for as I was growing up. As often happens historically, this moment where repression accelerates is also the moment when enough people start collectively agreeing that what's going on is unbearable, a critical mass is reached and a mass movement grows. That's where repressive movements and regimes expose themselves to risk; they ultimately push enough people too far, and people get so fed up that they become powerful.
The movement for Black lives led the way, as Black movements are forced to do in the U.S., and now even people who couldn't picture themselves taking the streets in 2014 or 2020 are looking at their reproductive freedoms stripped away, and breathing in this whirlwind of mass shootings, and people are going to tip.
But repressive movements, at the grassroots and in the high echelons of politics, have already advanced really far. We don't know if the resistance that grows now will succeed in pushing back their advance and reclaiming ground on which to plant democracy, or if it will itself be ultimately forced underground as those repressive movements continue to grow.
The thing I want people to know who are entering this new landscape of resistance is that we have to do things in a different way than we have been. Whether we end up publicly turning things around in this country for the better, or we end up without above-ground power in the coming period and just fighting to protect each other in much more shielded ways, either of those situations are going to require that we operate much more like the most high-functioning working-class movements of the past, and less like how the internet-era Left has been functioning until now.
We need to reground ourselves in how movements act when they know who is with them and who is against them. We need to remember how to protect each other and protect our ranks, even when our ranks are full of flawed human beings who get things wrong on a daily basis. Part of my motivation for starting this blog is to share some glimpses of what it was like for me to come of age in a movement that operated differently than today; a movement that, despite its flaws, had valuable lessons for the years we're headed into. Wish me luck picking some of these drafts and getting started.
photo: Pascal DeBrunner via Unsplash