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Hurt People

The state cannot destroy us the way we destroy each other

by Bobby London / March 29, 2018

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London, B. (2018, March 29). Hurt People. The New Inquiry. https://thenewinquiry.com/hurt-people/

There is an untold story of what happens away from the streets, the rallies, the skillshares, and the gatherings. When our attempt to hold onto the connection has failed, and dirty dishes become as destructive to movements as state co-optation. The wave of insurrectionary hope has reached a lull, and another world no longer feels possible.

That social fallout, which nobody warns you about, shows us that the revolution is about tearing down not just the hierarchical systems that control us but those within ourselves. When people caught up in a movement are unable to do that collectively, or when we have trouble being our best selves, the communities we attempt to build devolve into something else. Bonds are broken, and there’s a new layer of trauma you must deal with.

The way that we have internalized systems of hierarchy means that we hurt each other in familiar ways even when we claim to strive for the same political goals. We are hurt people, and in this world where we are born and taught violence, it is important to remember that no matter how much you try to deconstruct, the ways we have absorbed power dynamics mean that we do and will continue to cause others harm.

This is not an excuse for people to treat each other in fucked up ways, it just seems to be what happens. We throw political labels loosely; at this point, what do “radical” or “revolutionary” even mean? I regret ever allowing myself to be labeled these things. It’s almost like a self-sabotage, a level or an idea that one can never truly live up to. There’s a lot of back-patting when people christen themselves radicals or revolutionaries, and too little self-reflection.

by Bobby London 6 months, 2 weeks ago

There is an untold story of what happens away from the streets, the rallies, the skillshares, and the gatherings. When our attempt to hold onto the connection has failed, and dirty dishes become as destructive to movements as state co-optation. The wave of insurrectionary hope has reached a lull, and another world no longer feels possible.

That social fallout, which nobody warns you about, shows us that the revolution is about tearing down not just the hierarchical systems that control us but those within ourselves. When people caught up in a movement are unable to do that collectively, or when we have trouble being our best selves, the communities we attempt to build devolve into something else. Bonds are broken, and there’s a new layer of trauma you must deal with.

The way that we have internalized systems of hierarchy means that we hurt each other in familiar ways even when we claim to strive for the same political goals. We are hurt people, and in this world where we are born and taught violence, it is important to remember that no matter how much you try to deconstruct, the ways we have absorbed power dynamics mean that we do and will continue to cause others harm.

This is not an excuse for people to treat each other in fucked up ways, it just seems to be what happens. We throw political labels loosely; at this point, what do “radical” or “revolutionary” even mean? I regret ever allowing myself to be labeled these things. It’s almost like a self-sabotage, a level or an idea that one can never truly live up to. There’s a lot of back-patting when people christen themselves radicals or revolutionaries, and too little self-reflection.

by Bobby London 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Everyone comes into the movement with all of their previous baggage, feeling isolated and abandoned by this world, and is happy to meet people that make them feel like they are no longer alone in recognizing the madness. Like a church that has helped you find sobriety, you baptize yourself in radical thought, letting go of old sinful habits as well as the unenlightened. This is your new life, this is your new self.

There’s an inner change that happens the more you begin to deconstruct the assumptions embedded within our social arrangement. You begin to look differently at the people in your life and the things that once brought you joy. You lose yourself in a hypercritical takedown of the world, but you tell yourself it’s okay, because you’ve found people who are also growing and changing and deconstructing. 

The attraction of movements is like the pull of the moon, a strength that cannot be seen except by the end results of its magnetism. It draws in, creating waves that are filled with sand, shells, and various other life-forms. For a moment we are one, a part of something bigger than ourselves. Then the inevitable crash happens, and like currents we are pulled apart. Some return to the shore; some get dragged into the next wave; some drown.

Mass street movements like those that have gathered in the past decade have followed this pattern, all eventually collapsing under their volume. We are not all one, nor do we share the same struggle; “we” does not exist. Instead, resistance is a layered network of struggles, and we coexist within those layers. Just because a bunch of people can shut down a freeway together doesn’t mean our goals are the same, even if some of our identities overlap.

At the present, it is hard to imagine that my desire for liberation and autonomy will amount to more than just a collection of moments, instead of my full existence. This is why despair is so heavy. Participating in so many waves only to see regression has left me feeling washed up. There’s an idea that those who have reached despair have given up, and perhaps that is true to an extent. Being in resistance culture has changed and scarred me. It is not only the police who have left me with trauma, but relationships and experiences with others who were also participating in these various spaces. 

So much of resistance culture and rhetoric is about sacrifice and martyrdom. “Organize!” they shout. “We must sacrifice ourselves for a better future, and if you’re not organizing towards that, then what are you really doing?” This guilt-tripping reveals a weak analysis for how we value each other’s labors, and also shows how capitalism, ableism, and other systems of oppression still conceive what we consider to be activism™. It encourages burnout and rewards overextension while belittling anything less as a failure to do “real work.”

by Bobby London 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Everyone comes into the movement with all of their previous baggage, feeling isolated and abandoned by this world, and is happy to meet people that make them feel like they are no longer alone in recognizing the madness. Like a church that has helped you find sobriety, you baptize yourself in radical thought, letting go of old sinful habits as well as the unenlightened. This is your new life, this is your new self.

There’s an inner change that happens the more you begin to deconstruct the assumptions embedded within our social arrangement. You begin to look differently at the people in your life and the things that once brought you joy. You lose yourself in a hypercritical takedown of the world, but you tell yourself it’s okay, because you’ve found people who are also growing and changing and deconstructing. 

The attraction of movements is like the pull of the moon, a strength that cannot be seen except by the end results of its magnetism. It draws in, creating waves that are filled with sand, shells, and various other life-forms. For a moment we are one, a part of something bigger than ourselves. Then the inevitable crash happens, and like currents we are pulled apart. Some return to the shore; some get dragged into the next wave; some drown.

Mass street movements like those that have gathered in the past decade have followed this pattern, all eventually collapsing under their volume. We are not all one, nor do we share the same struggle; “we” does not exist. Instead, resistance is a layered network of struggles, and we coexist within those layers. Just because a bunch of people can shut down a freeway together doesn’t mean our goals are the same, even if some of our identities overlap.

At the present, it is hard to imagine that my desire for liberation and autonomy will amount to more than just a collection of moments, instead of my full existence. This is why despair is so heavy. Participating in so many waves only to see regression has left me feeling washed up. There’s an idea that those who have reached despair have given up, and perhaps that is true to an extent. Being in resistance culture has changed and scarred me. It is not only the police who have left me with trauma, but relationships and experiences with others who were also participating in these various spaces. 

So much of resistance culture and rhetoric is about sacrifice and martyrdom. “Organize!” they shout. “We must sacrifice ourselves for a better future, and if you’re not organizing towards that, then what are you really doing?” This guilt-tripping reveals a weak analysis for how we value each other’s labors, and also shows how capitalism, ableism, and other systems of oppression still conceive what we consider to be activism™. It encourages burnout and rewards overextension while belittling anything less as a failure to do “real work.”

by Bobby London 6 months, 2 weeks ago