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S1E62 – Janet on Sustainable Foraging

Episode Summary

Janet and Margaret talk about sustainable foraging, herbalism, wild tending, constructive ethics on why you might choose not to wildcraft, ways to impact your food intake in small but meaningful ways, unlearning extractive tendencies when harvesting food and medicine, and upholding indigenous wisdom around wild tending.

Guest Info

Janet (she/her) is an herbalist and teacher at the Terra Sylva School of Botanical Medicine. Janet can be found on wordpress at Radical Vitalism The school can be found on Instagram @terrasylvaschool. Janet does a podcast called The Book on Fire.

Janet recommends reading The Honorable Harvest by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Host Info

Margaret can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at


Janet on Sustainable Foraging

Margaret 00:14
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host today, Margaret Killjoy. And this week we’re going to be talking about herbalism and foraging and sustainable foraging of herbalism, and forage….[Trails off] That’s what we’re gonna be talking about with with Janet Kent, who you all have heard from before on another episode from a long time ago, about herbalism. And I think you’ll all get a lot out of this episode. But first, this podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network.

Margaret 01:12
And we’re back. Okay, so Janet, if you could introduce yourself with your name, which I guess I already said, and your pronouns and kind of what you do for a living as, which would help people understand why they should listen to you about this topic.

Janet 01:44
I am Janet Kent, my pronouns are she/her. I run a school of botanical medicine that’s located about an hour outside of Asheville, in southern Appalachia, and in so called Western North Carolina. And I’m also a clinical herbalist. And I also live in hardwood co [conifer] forest. And so I’m surrounded by wild plants. And specifically, like this region of southern Appalachia has a long history of settler wild crafting as a kind of hustle. And there were a lot of…when most pharmaceuticals came out of plants back in the day, this was a huge nexus of harvesting and distributing, and people extracted a lot of plants from the wild as a means of survival and sold them to the pharmaceutical companies. So, that is partially because this is a really ecologically rich place. But, I say all that just to say that I’m surrounded by plants that have medicinal value, even in like the larger market outside of the home forager or home apothecary. So, it’s something that like, we have to really think about here and are forced to. Even though we’re surrounded by the medicine, the ethics of that are something that I think about pretty regularly. So, I might be better situated than some to consider that. Yeah,

Margaret 03:13
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And that’s why I wanted to have you on to talk today, right? Because I feel like this is this question that is coming up more and more as foraging becomes a little bit more mainstream. Or? Well, I guess, actually, to start with, we were talking earlier, and you talked about how there’s sort of a foraging craze that’s coming from the pandemic, I was wondering if you could kind of talk about that, like what’s happening right now in foraging?

Yeah, I mean, while I do think there was a much more of a burst during the pandemic, when people were getting outside more. Public spaces, and parks became more visited once they were open again. And you saw just a lot more people out. I don’t know, like how much time you spend in public spaces. But, there was a huge increase in people national parks, and national forests, State Forest, all of those kinds of places. And even just in city parks and such. And I think that there has been a lot of social media content that’s being created around foraging. And it is like a way that people can get excited about gathering their own food. It can be a really nice, like gateway to like relationships with plants, because people start to learn to identify plants and learn what is food. And I definitely think that there’s no small part of this that is also connected to people wanting to spend less money on food. I mean, we have applicants for school sometimes even say, you know, like, I want to learn more about plants that are useful for food and for medicine, because I need to spend less money. So there’s like an economic incentive here, as well. And I should probably spend some time on that in a bit. But, also I would just say that over the last…I don’t know, it’s probably been more than a decade, there has just been a surge in interest in wild plants, including for food and for medicine.

Margaret 05:10
Yeah. And that’s either really good or really bad depending on who you ask, Is that what’s Is that what’s happening right now?

Janet 05:19
Yeah, I would say that there can be pretty binary of viewpoints on this. And it’s interesting, I mean, something that you probably see with a lot of people that you interview or with different communities that you might be in as there is a rise in awareness of just the colonial project that we’re all part of still. And so that this is still occupied territory. There are indigenous people here whose land settlers are occupying. There is a certain level of guilt that can come with that awareness…[interrupted]

Margaret 05:56

Janet 05:56
[Continues] If you are someone who is not indigenous to turtle islands, and the way that I see that play out sometimes, not always, is with people sometimes seeing kind of stark black and white ideas around what is good and what is not good, and relationship. And we see people who hear like, “We shouldn’t wildcraft,” or they memorize like this all wildcrafting, which is the word that herbalist and people who are into plant medicine will use to describe harvesting herbs for medicine specifically. I don’t actually hear ‘wildcrafting’ used to refer to food. Yeah, but so wildcrafting can be seen as strictly extractive and people just taking from the wild, because as I mentioned in the introduction, there is a long history of plants being taken en mass from the forests, to serve the pharmaceutical industry. And even now, there are certain plants that are threatened and endangered because they are used, even in European markets.

Margaret 07:03
Like what?

Janet 07:05
Black cohosh, specifically, is an herb that is seen as being helpful for some menopausal states. And it’s used in…So in Europe, it’s more license legal to be a doctor who uses plant medicine. And so you can prescribe herbs there. It’s more regulated as well, but definitely tons of black cohosh are sent abroad every year. And from what…I met someone who works, is sort of like from a root digging family, like a traditional Appalachian root digging family, but she said she’d been in warehouses where there was just like piles of rotting roots of black cohosh, you know, cause people…

Margaret 07:48
Oh, God.

Janet 07:48
Yeah, the work of, as in is usually the case, like the piece workers, the people who are gathering are paid shit. And then the stuff is piled up. It’s not stored very well. Some fraction of it will make it into medicine. And so there is very much a problem with extraction en masse of plants, especially when the root is what’s being harvested, because that kills the plant. Right?

Margaret 08:12
Yeah. Ginseng is like one that I feel like I hear about too.

Janet 08:16
Absolutely. Ginseng would be a great example. And interestingly, I mean, you may even live in ginseng country. I do, for sure. But, that’s something that’s, you know, has been historically, as settlers came into these mountains, have shipped abroad, because by the time the Revolutionary War happened here, already, there was a dearth of ginseng in China because so much had been wild harvested, and they hadn’t really put in cultivation yet. And so, as soon as the global market, people within the global market figured out that there was a similar ginseng here, they started shipping it abroad, and actually ginseng sales helped pay for the Revolutionary War.

Margaret 09:02
Oh, god. Uh huh.

Janet 09:03
Which is just so wild. Yes. So, there is very much history of extraction of plants.

Margaret 09:10
Yeah. For the extractive project that is the Revolutionary War

Janet 09:14
Yes, absolutely, a huge scale. So, when we are thinking about our own personal use or serving our communities or, you know, a lot of people will try to make herbal products as a side hustle, then we do need to confront our personal relationship with that legacy. That’s obviously really important. However, the amount of time and energy people spent in policing other people’s foraging and wildcrafting is a lot, as you may imagine.

Margaret 09:42
Yeah, social media is particularly good at getting us to level our weapons at each other. Yeah.

Janet 09:48
Right. So, we see a lot of that, and I feel like the the climate has not been very nuanced for this conversation, because what’s true, and this is probably a part of what you’re wanting to get out with this episode is that there’s a really big difference between digging up a 15 year old root of a plant in the forest that took that long to get that big and taking the whole root and killing it, than there is actually harvesting weeds or harvesting invasive plants or plants that are here in abundance. And actually, you can harvest some kinds of plants in a way that is supportive to the plant community that they live in, because they’re opportunistic or taking too much space. And so, I think when we have a black and white rubric around this, and much like all wildcrafting is extractive, we’re also forgetting that there is a way for humans to be in relationship with plant communities in a way that fosters diversity and richness in the ecology. And can be a form of wild tending. And that is how Turtle Island was maintained by all of the indigenous folks who are living in so many different plant communities around the continent before Europeans showed up and disrupted that.

Margaret 11:04
Okay, so what are some of the…I like, examples. It makes it really more concrete in my head. Like, what are some of the examples of plants that you’re helping that plant community by foraging or or by? Yeah.

Janet 11:17
Okay. Yeah, that’s, that’s a good question. And there’s, I’ll share with you a book, there’s a whole book on invasive plant medicines. And so I’m going to say ‘invasive’ here, I know that that’s a controversial word to some people. But, what I mean is plants that came after 1492, and are opportunistic and can take over spaces, and take up space. So, that’s what I mean when I’m saying that, and we can say ‘non native’ or ‘invasive’ or just ‘opportunistic,’ but I’m gonna say ‘weedy’ and ‘abundant’ plants here. Plantain would be a weedy and abundant plant, and mugwort can be quite opportunistic, and take over in some places. Mimosa tree, the really beautiful pink firecracker looking tree that grows in the southeast pretty abundantly is pretty opportunistic. It can take over spaces for sure, you know, and sometimes native plants are also pretty weedy as well. Yarrow is a plant that comes from Europe, that there are some native varieties too, but they tend to not be as opportunistic. A lot of garden plants that have escaped, like catnip or horehound you might find in other places, sometimes lemon balm goes feral, in some places, as well. So, those would be some examples. But, a lot of trees that you see…[corrects self ] well, it’s hard to say…Trees that were planted for landscaping, and then kind of move out like, Tree of Heaven is an example. There’s a lot of different trees that got brought in at various points that have spread out and can really out compete other trees. Yeah.

Margaret 12:57
This is really interesting to me for a lot of reasons…I mean, I’m kind of notoriously bad for someone who like often lives off grid or like, you know, I live mostly alone on a bunch of acres in a mountain or whatever in Appalachia. And I’m like, kind of notoriously bad at actually knowing the plants around me and how to engage with them besides being like, I swear, one year, I’m gonna be here in the fall and eat the acorns. You know, has been my plan for however many years. I’ve done every step of acorn harvesting at various points and never actually finished it and eaten them. But, so it’s just, it’s kind of interesting to me because as I walk around, you know, the place that I live, I become more and more familiar with some of these plants and it’s interesting to think about them in different ways. And then also think about, like, whether or not I have a desire or like, a role in sort of shaping what plants grow around me. And like, I don’t even know the answer that yet. Like, I mean, what I sort of in my head, I’m like, I believe both the pines and the Oaks near me are fairly, you know, native to this area, or whatever. But, I’m like, but I like the Oaks more. And so I’m like, Is it bad to start, like, kind of cutting back the pines and like trying to propagate more of the Oaks? Like, maybe the tree level is a higher level of thinking about because they take a lot longer, but is that something that like, people should be doing in the kinds of….should be is a weird question….but [people] could think about doing in the places that they forage or, like thinking about what the current plant environment community is and what it could be shifted towards? Or is that like, do you stay out of it? This is not a question. Sorry.

Janet 14:39
Yeah, no, I, I think I can pick the through line in there, which is that: what would a good relationship look like when foraging? And to me, you know, I wasn’t taught this way at all. I definitely came up in herbalism when this was not part of our conversation. But, I think in general, wild tending is the way to go where you actually have a perennial relationship with the plants that you live around or the plants that you visit, or the places that you’d like to harvest so that you can pay attention to when they’re healthy and when they need support. See which plants are taking up some more space, you know, I mean, depending on what pines you’re around, you know, those would have at one time been controlled partially through fire management practices, because they burn more than oaks. So, you know, that’s like…I mean, not that we’re trying to like, go back to some pristine era, because that’s not possible. There’s just sort of moving forward from where we’re at. But, but it is true that in a lot of places where there were mixed forest in that way, there would be periodic fire for….support hunting, which would have taken out the pine. I mean, I think that personally, preferential treatment of different plant communities and landscapes feels pretty intuitive. And also, if you look back through history, but also if you just look at different cultures that are living in a sort of a tending/stewardship relationship with the plants around them, there is usually preferential management practice, which that’s kind of like a boring way to say it, but yes, like favoring the plants you would like to see do better and favoring plants often that are useful to humans, and wildlife. You know, before the American Chestnuts went through, they’re blight, they’re not extinct, there are still a few left, but before the chestnut blight took out such a large amount of the chestnut trees on the eastern coast that was the dominant tree. And yes, they were taller and larger than most of the trees in the forest, but there was a level of preference for those because they made tons of food every year. And so humans and birds and other animals that like chestnuts, propagated the chestnuts by moving them around, even a squirrel burying a bunch of chestnuts is going to make more chestnuts come up, you know? So I think that that is a pretty natural way to relate to the plants around you, which is to favor some over others, you know. And when you start to pay attention to like, who’s just kind of taken over, which can be plants that are actually from here too. And you want….ecosystem’s tend to benefit from number of connections and number of members. And so you want to see richness in both of those numbers. You want to see more members and you want to see more connections. So, when you have any one member dominating, you’re having less of both. And I think if we can think of tending towards, you know, the word diversity is almost destroyed at this point for usefulness, however, I could say that ecologically, what I mean is like, yes, strengthen members and connections.

Margaret 17:57
Okay. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense to me. I don’t know, I’ve been really enjoying just like, you know, I have a dog now. So, I have to walk around a lot. And actually, like, pay more attention, because he’s always like finding all of the things and making me pay attention to it. I don’t know where I’m going with that. There’s cactus where I live. And it confuses the hell out of me. Yeah, I live in West Virginia.

Janet 18:21
Are they prickly pears?

Margaret 18:24
I don’t know. They’re small. They’re like low to the ground. They’re like big, round, green lobes kind of like hanging out on the ground. There’s not a lot of them. But, it confuses the hell out of me. I have no idea if they’re native to this area or not. I don’t understand. I don’t know why I’m telling you that. Now everyone knows I have cactus.

Janet 18:51
Dogs are wonderful for getting us out of the house and out into the world, you know, and then you start to pay attention to who else is around, you know, the dog leads you to the others. Right?

Margaret 19:00
Yeah, totally. It’s how I know about all the turtles on the property is my dog finds them in and hangs out with them and just sort of stares at them. And then I watch them.

Janet 19:07
Are they box turtles?

Margaret 19:08
Yeah, there’s some kind of. Yeah, I think they’re box turtles. They’re not, uh, they’re not doing so well. I looked them up. There’s not a lot of them. But, I live somewhere where there’s not a lot of roads. So they don’t die as much.

Janet 19:22
Right. I love box turtles. I actually wanted to bring up a different similar creature when I was thinking about this topic earlier, which is that I think that, while I can be like, it’s all you know, ‘we need to turn relationships, we need to be stewarding land,’ all of these things, it is worth noting that generally, wildlife and plant communities are under pressure when people get hungry. And you know, I was in Florida near some of the beautiful springs down there a few years ago, and I’ve also seen these In parts of the Gulf South, but there are these really cool tortoises called gopher tortoises. Have you ever met one of those?

Margaret 20:05

Janet 20:07
They’re kind of big. I just realized I’m using my hands and you’re able to see my hands on the podcast. However, they’re pretty big turtles.Tortoises. And, they’re so cool. One of the things they do is they make these burrows That’s why they’re called gopher tortoises, but they help a lot of different creatures survive hurricane flooding and other like vast flooding, because other animals will hang out in their burrows. They’re like, wombats or something. They’re like a helper species that makes habitat for other animals. But, I was reading about them when I was down there and in the Great Depression, the locals down on the Gulf South and in Florida, called them Hoover Chickens. Because they were naming after present President Hoover, who they were blaming for the Great Depression and just got….because they eating so many tortoises to survive, okay, and the tortoise population just like dropped out during that time, and they’re slowly getting back, but they have a hard time too, like the box turtles that we live near. And so when I read that I just, it made me really…it made me think about foraging honestly, and how much I had seen this like uptick, with the economic dip, and made me just understand the level to which we need to be emphasizing what’s abundant. And what you know…a tortoise….Tortoises are not abundant. They were not abundant even back then, probably. But like, what species are there a lot of? Which species does harvesting actually help the larger plant community? But, also with individual species, there’s plants where if you harvest in a specific way that helps propagate them, then you can help increase their numbers as well. And that’s going to differ from plant to plant. But, I think that what I would like to see with people getting more and more excited about foraging and wild harvesting of herbs in general, is that actual consciousness about what it is to help their numbers grow so that it’s not as much of an extract of relationship?

Margaret 22:14
Yeah, no, I remember reading one of the things that like really stuck with me, I read a long time ago, it was about how during the Great Depression, like squirrels and deer were hunted to near extinction in various places. And like….

Janet 22:29

Margaret 22:29
Yeah, exactly. And, you know, these are the things when I think of abundant animals, right, I think of deer and squirrels, at least where I live. And, and so that, that realization that we actually have an impact, you know. Like, the small amounts of destructive things we do really can add up. Obviously, we’re living through a, you know, climate level of all of that coming. But no, that’s, that’s makes me sad about the tortoises. But okay, so So what are some examples then of these? I know I just keeping like, give me more examples, because I like the stories of it. But like, what are some of the plants that you’re like helping? I can imagine, for example, like, I mean, obviously, chestnuts are very complicated right now. But, you know, harvesting chestnuts, of course, doesn’t necessarily negatively impact the tree. And earlier you were talking about basically being like roots are like much more complicated to extract, or there are like ways of extracting roots that are less bad? Would you mostly say to anyone listening to this unless you know, better just don’t mess with roots and work on some other stuff?

Janet 23:39
Yeah, you know, and actually, you’re reminding me that when I have been seeing a lot of like, more like virally popular foragers, they don’t tend to emphasize roots, which I feel grateful for. And yeah, I would say that in general, unless you have a perennial relationship with a plant community than just staying away from roots is a good idea. But with a lot of plants, there are ways to harvest where you’re not actually greatly impacting the plant. Let me think of some examples of that. I mean, I almost don’t want to bring up ramps because they are so over harvested in some places. Those are wild leeks for people who might not know, but what is true is that if instead of harvesting the bulb, the white bulb, it’s kind of like an onion, garlicky thing and each can just take a leaf and harvest leaves from a big patch instead of digging them up that’s gonna make a huge difference. Now when you see restaurants start saw offer foragers money for ramps, at least in my neighborhood, I started to see much more like big holes dug where they’re just digging up clumps of them at a time and then just taking them wholesale out to sell, you know, and so, I would say like, yeah, the above ground parts are always always gonna be more sustainable to harvest. But also, if you’re taking flowers from a plant, for example. I’m trying to think of like a good example of this. I love peach flower medicine, I love peach flower for grief and for hot agitated states and there are feral peach flower trees and, and there’s old orchards that are no longer sprayed. And when you’re harvesting peach flowers, you can actually support the tree because they need to not let all of those flowers go ripe and become flat fruit because it’s too much. So, if you selectively just pick a couple blooms off the into clusters, that’s actually going to help the plant overall, you know? Or I’m thinking of, I wanted to give another example of something in a more urban setting. but linden trees are plants, there are some linden trees that are native to this continent, they’re called basswood trees, that’s the name here. But there’s European lindens that are planted ornamentally There’s a bunch of them in downtown Asheville. But that’s like, where there’ll be a huge tree covered with thousands of blossoms and the flowers are the medicine there too. And they’re always covered with bees. Bees love them. But, if you see something like that, where you’re like, it’s impossible to even imagine how many there are, then you can take some flowers, and you’re not going to hurt that tree. You know, I guess if we all did that, that would be something we’re thinking about. And that’s why having a perennial relationship where you see the shifts through the years, see who’s getting hit. And, if an area is being over harvested, you can tell because you’ve been paying attention, that would be something to do. But yeah, I would say like there are a lot of like flowering trees where you can get the flowers or you could even prune some of the branches and have some of what you need. But also with urby plants, the above ground plant, you can kind of see the parts, the aerial parts is what we call them, and notice how much has gone. And usually you can tell if someone else has been there, right. So, that would be what I would say. But again, if you if you’re sticking to really weedy abundant plants, then this is going to just be less of an issue like goldenrod, for example, is a gorgeous endemic plant, or a plant that grows on a lot of parts of Turtle Island, which is a really excellent allergy remedy. Not so good for food. But they’re incredibly weedy. You’ll see a giant field of them right over the place, you know, and so if you just stuck to plants that were pretty weedy and abundant like that, even if you got as much as you’re going to need for the year, it would be very little in a dent of even one plant stand.

Margaret 27:45
Yeah. Okay, so I took a bunch of notes on what you were saying, because there’s so many pieces that I want to pick apart. And one of them is this, I’ve been running across this thing more, and I suspect you’ve probably run across a mortgage or rent more in these circles. But this idea that like, the concept of nature is sort of a colonial construct. This idea that like, when we create the idea of nature, we’re talking about something that is distinct from humans, and how that’s like, kind of this thing that like gets us off the hook. Like when we imagine like humans as only bad. It like lets us off the hook for being bad as compared to like, it seems like you could talk about either you show up and you dig up all the roots of these, you know, ginseng or whatever that’s been there forever, and you just like mess everything up, versus they’re like other plants that do very well for humans as part of the ecosystem interacting with them in the same way that they do very well for having bees in the ecosystem or birds in the ecosystem. Whatever. Yes. I don’t know, it’s really interesting to me. And I’m wondering if that’s like a conversation that…

Janet 28:46
I think that’s been a helpful conversation, I think, for people to have around not just having black and white thinking around it, which is what you’re gonna get, I think, which is that, if we’re actually in relationship, then we’re going to be able to care for the plants instead of just taking or just ignoring. I mean, there’s definitely, unfortunately, a pretty big segment of people who are into environmental biology who do have a very hands off, ‘don’t interfere, just leave it,’ you know, kind of perspective.

Margaret 29:21
The Star Trek approach.

Janet 29:23
Definitely, which is I mean, ridiculous given that there are no plants left on the planet who are not being impacted by human activity. So, you actually going in and maybe… So, part of, this is like, kind of an aside from what we’re talking about, but there’s this concept called assisted migration, which when you’re like, “These plants hate how hot it’s getting right here. We should move them further north.” You know, and so there’s all these people who are like, “No, no, we can’t interfere. We might ruin everything.” You know, it’s like time traveling or something like we actually, like do one thing wrong and everything will be, it’ll be a clusterfuck. And the whole system will collapse because we move this tree up there. And who knows who else is on there. But then there’s a lot of people who there’s actually like secret groups who meet to help with assisted migration and to propagate. It’s really wild. Anyway, I say all this just to say that, like I’m not on a never interfere with, because I think the interference is happening already. I mean, it’s not my life’s work to move trees around to places where they might make it. Right. But that is something that, you know, even the research we have about this extinction crisis is just that the loss is huge. And are there places where we could support life becoming, like diversifying and strengthening, plant communities as other trees are coming out? Like right now, where I live? I don’t know if this is how you’re where it is where you’re at or not, but the ash trees are all dying.

Margaret 30:56
The ash borer, whatever? Yeah.

Janet 30:58
And it’s really happening hardcore where we live. So yes, it is true that there will be other trees that are going to come in to those canopy gaps, to live. But we are seeing these forests change dramatically right now. And it’s just, it’s going to be interesting. Like, there are people who, because the hemlocks are dying out as well from the woolly adelgid along the rivers and streams, and some places around here, there are people who are like, “Well, what are the plants that we could put in here intentionally, that would help shade that would support the trout and support the life in here?” You know, and so those kinds of ecosystem design frameworks make people really uncomfortable because of the level of damage that has happened through the inadvertent introduction of certain species.

Margaret 31:48
Right. Well, it’s like, if we fucked something up so bad. And ‘we’ is a weird word to use in this context. But sure, you know, I mean, I’m a settler here and I, you know, reap the rewards of that in terms of like, the foods available to me at the store, whatever, tons of shit. But okay, we fucked this thing up so bad. I can understand people’s like, “Oh, no, we fucked it up. We just shouldn’t do anything.” But, but that’s a little bit like, pushing someone over. And then they’re like, “Help me up,” and you’re like, “No, last time I interacted with you, it went really bad. So I’m just gonna walk away.”

Janet 32:25
No, I mean, exactly. Like, we’re gonna just watch the destruction happen that is in the wake of this economic system, and not actually do anything to change it, because we might hurt something. I mean, it’s absurd when you actually lay it out that way.

Margaret 32:41
Yeah, we set the house on fire. And now we don’t want to run in and help people because we just make everything worse, so we should avoid everything. I mean, it’s because I think that it makes sense for people to not be like, wildly cavalier about deciding that, you know, they should just get to reengineer the way that ecosystems work. I like, Oh, that’s such an interesting tension that I don’t have any answers for but…

Janet 33:07
Well, I mean, there is a lot of tension with it. I mean, I think a lot of times when I see scientists who are taking a really hard line, ‘no interference’ stance, they are people who don’t study indigenous land management, and don’t understand the level to which humans normally play in ecosystem, design and movement, and construction. And so I think that in general, what would be the wisest thing to do for anyone would be you know, what, if you’re not indigenous to this place, what are the indigenous folks around you saying about what is wild tending? And what does support and stewardship of this land look like right now?

Margaret 33:45
Right. Yeah, though, that makes sense. What is involved in…you know, I’m not indigenous and what would be involved in trying to find that out where I’m at? Do I look for people who are like kind of talking about that publicly? I assume the answer is not just like, go find my friends who are indigenous and be like, “You there…”

Janet 34:05
Well, it depends. I mean, it really depends where where people live. I mean, there are in many places around the continent, I’m learning more and more about this, there are actually are cultural centers where you can talk to folks and be like…who are working on land management stuff, right then you know, within whatever tribal sovereignty they have in that situation. Here, this is unceded, Cherokee land, but you know, we are in contact with folks who are doing wild tending and talking about…a lot of the schools there in the Cherokee where the actual reservation is, they are actually trying to introduce more and more wild foods, you know, and so through talking to folks who are part of that project, we’ve been able to be like, “Okay, like, what, would be helpful for you to have more of?” Also, one thing that I would say in most places, there’s some tension between what indigenous groups…what land they have access to and in the Cherokee area, I mean, a specific part that they’re still have control over right now, you know, I know a grandmother who was given a $500 citation for picking herbs in the National Forest, for her daughter’s memorial, you know, and, at the same time, like they had to have…the Cherokee folks had to push through to try to get a permit to be able to pick this plant called sochan, which is a wild perennial green that people eat in the spring especially. And so through communicating around with those folks, like I’ve been able to, like learn, like what plants are being prioritized with them, but also like supporting them, you know, like, they had to petition the state for us to be like, “Can we pick herbs on this land?” Right? Yeah. And so actually, like, as annoying as it is supporting that getting the word out, making sure that there’s a shit ton of signatures sent to the State Forest, which are just like that this even a question is absurd, right? Especially because there are plenty of settler foragers just going out and foraging with no sort of impact. I mean, they’re having an impact, but they don’t have to deal with any consequences. So yeah, I guess I would say is like figuring out who’s just around you, you know, and usually, and the thing is, is I don’t know how the regions are all over the country, but it definitely in the west and southwest and in some parts of the southeast, too, it’s not that hard to find cultural centers, or people who are working on land and food sovereignty, where they’re at. And so I would just say, I don’t know about specifically where you are and that’s an interesting question. But, there are cultural centers in a lot of places that will have people working on food, wild food support, and often just like land tending and medicine ways. And I know, in the West, like, we’ve had a couple of students who actually are doing fire management, intentional fire trainings with with different indigenous tribes out there. And so they’re actually learning to do the fire management practices from the people on the ground who had that tradition. And I think that’s a fascinating way to learn to and to be like…because that can be somewhat dangerous as you’re learning, right?And so like, that feels like a pretty big service to me, to be like, “Could you help do that kind of work somewhere?” And you would learn as you went, what plants are being prioritized, which plants need support, what plants are problems, you know, through through that work as well.

Margaret 37:55
Okay. I liked that. I liked that’s…I feel like usually that kind of question the like, “Well, what can you do?” doesn’t have as good of a concrete answer as that I really appreciate that. One of the things you were talking about earlier, you’re talking about, you know, the ramps that are being sold to the restaurants and stuff, right? And I was just thinking about how it seems like when you’re talking about foraging, and when you’re talking about wildcrafting, obviously, scale matters, but also when money gets involved, it seems like it gets real messy. And like, I wonder how people like, like, is there any ethical wild foods that introduce into market environments? Or is it like pretty much, if you’re going to be doing foraging, you should be feeding yourself and your family and maybe your community but not doing it at like market scale?

Janet 38:49
Yeah, that’s tough. I mean, I don’t know. There’s definitely some folks around here who do like a wild food, food share even. And then there’s people who do wild food…there’s like a wild food booth at the farmers market because of this. That’s how it is around here. There’s just more people with that interest who are willing to pay the big bucks for foraged items. And so I can imagine…

Margaret 39:07
Which is just like ironic, but anyway.

Janet 39:09
Yeah, if you could see what’s on the table at this spot, it’s pretty wild. But um, anyway, but so that feels like a scale….it’s not that….I’m like, who’s actually….like, how much are they actually selling at the farmers market every week? Like, you know, I don’t know, it doesn’t seem like huge but once we think about like actually scaling up to like, say, like, provide for several stores or something like that, and it does get kind of out of hand. And I know that in some places, like mushroom foraging has gotten pretty wild in a way that can be destructive, but again, that depends on the mushroom. I mean some mushrooms, it actually helps them to have a lot of people in there just sort of disturbing the ground and like spreading the spores around, while some mushrooms when it’s not actually the fruiting body like Chaga or something it can be somewhat damaging harvest a lot of it. It really just depends. I think that, if, say like your product was something that was a really, a plant that’s causing a lot of trouble in a whole area? Like around here there’s there are people who are working really madly on kudzu root production and using kudzu root for for starch and using kudzu root to make paper. They have this kudzu camp every year and like dig a ton of kudzu root and just trying to figure out how many ways they could work with kudzu root. If that was what was entering the market, then that would be fine. Because as you know, having lived in the southeast, there’s no shortage of kudzu for people to work with. So, if we were actually making a marketable item out of opportunistic and aggressive plants, then that would be not a bad idea, actually. I mean, yeah, who knows? I’m sure it could get weird.

Margaret 40:59
Yeah. Right, because you could eventually enter the nonprofit trap. Like, I’m not anti nonprofits. But at some level, every nonprofit has a financial incentive to continue its problem existing.

Janet 41:10
Oh, yes. Right. Exactly. Yeah. So you’d be like, “Oh, God, we’ve got our kudzu. What are we gonna do?”

Margaret 41:15
Yeah, exactly. I mean, that’s a good problem for us to run into, right?

Janet 41:22
Yeah, definitely.

Margaret 41:23
And then, like, I was thinking about one of the other places I’ve been with the most, like intense invasive things, I think of like, the Himalayan blackberries in the Pacific Northwest, that will just like, take over every field. And, and in some ways, I’m like, “Oh, yeah, great, you know, blackberries.” And then I’m like, “Oh, I think if you’re just picking the berries, you’re actually just propagating.”

Janet 41:42

Margaret 41:43
We would need to instead like have the commercial product, ‘heart of BlackBerry root’ or something, you know?

Janet 41:50
It would need to be the root. Probably, yeah. Which is just so wild. If you’ve ever removed a lot of that stuff, it’s so intense.

Margaret 41:58
Yeah, I used to do landscaping. And that was, most of what we did is remove Blackberry, BlackBerry root balls or whatever. It’s been a long time.

Janet 42:08
I think also, since you brought the Northwest up again, I just wanted to say that like part of what I would want to just share here, since we’re giving different specific examples is that really, it just matters like place to place even weedy and abundant plants in some places can be a problem if you’re harvesting them other places. Like here, stinging nettle is like pretty aggressive. It’s abundant. There’s a lot of places where you can harvest a huge amount and make barely a dent in the stinging nettle patch. But, I know that there are places in the Northwest where there’s actually been a problem. And there are certain butterflies who exclusively lay their eggs, that have caterpillars that feed on nettles, which I don’t remember what kind of butterfly this is, and so those butterflies have become endangered because of the foraging craze around Portland specifically, because it’s a very small area that they inhabit. So, while I could be like “Nettles, great, just take the top third of the plant. It’s a huge patch, it won’t matter.” Like that doesn’t translate to everywhere across the continent, right? So part of what we have to do if we’re going to be foraging much for food or medicine is to actually know what are the conditions for the plant where we live? And not just have…I can’t give a list of what’s safe to harvest everywhere. That’s why invasives can feel a little safer. Because generally, if you know something invasive, then you already know that it would be helpful to right take some of them out, but other plants not so much. You know.

Margaret 43:41
That’s actually one of the things that’s really interesting. I think there’s a lot of topics that we talked about on the show where you kind of can’t learn from this show. You kind of can’t learn from this like: “Oh, I follow a forger on Instagram. therefore know all this stuff.” I mean, like, I’m sure you can learn a ton of stuff that way. I’m not trying to disparage that, or my own show. But it sounds like local knowledge will always be necessary in a lot of different fields that are the kinds of fields that we like, we as a species need to like learn or we as a culture or whatever, like need to learn in order to survive what’s coming anyway are a lot of these skills where we’re actually interacting with the places we’re at in terms of you know, whether it’s like making microclimates that the temperature doesn’t change as much or being able to continue to eat food on a regular basis or whatever. as we as we move more local, a lot of the knowledge has to move local. That’s really interesting to me.

Janet 44:35
Yeah, that’s definitely true. And I would also say that it’s something that like you have to kind of pay attention to over time, because we have local knowledge as of now, but the climate is shifting so quickly. And a lot of people I know are in zones that have changed already in the past five years. And so, we also need to be paying attention to like who amongst the plants is impacted by this shift to warmer and erratic weather, and who is thriving like that, you know, and so it’s also just paying attention to those changes. And and that’s something that it really just helps to be an observer over time or to speak to people who’ve been around for quite a while. And within that, I think it’s probably important for us to think of the concept of the shifting baseline from ecology. Which, the shifting baseline means that like…Okay, so my example would be like, when my dad was a kid, my dad’s 87. When my dad was a kid, there were so many more kinds of birds, there were so many more animals of all kinds all around like wild animals. There are a lot more specific kinds of like big birds that eat big insects, like Whippoorwills, there are more Bobwhites, there were all these….there were more birds that have now you know, I think the estimation is that there’s maybe some people say 30%, some say 50%, less birds than there were 50 years ago.

Margaret 45:59
That is so depressing.

Janet 46:00
It’s incredibly depressing. But when I was growing up, I would not know that if I hadn’t read that, or hadn’t talked to my dad about how many birds there were, or how many fish there were, or whatever, because I would think like this is how many how much of x there is, you know. And so when you grow up with less, you think less is normal. And we have generation after generation growing up with less and less and less. We have lost an incredible amount of biomass globally. And we don’t always know that. So, what I can say like locally living somewhere where there’s been like, I don’t even know how many herbs schools over the past two decades, there have been so many herbs, schools, and so many foraging schools and places where people….and it just draws and attracts people who are interested in doing that kind of stuff. But also, if you’re not already, you will probably will be if you stay here for long enough, I guess. Anyway, the impact on wild plant communities where plant walks happen often, where herbs schools take their students often has been very notable. And it’s because, you know, we have like, there’s just like, year after a year of alumni, of cohorts of students, of different people who have moved here who have gone and taken classes, and those people continue to visit those spots. Sometimes even if teachers have asked them not to. And they bring their friends, you know, and there’s this whole, exponentially more people harvesting plants of certain kinds, there’s certain ones that are specifically more exciting than others, probably. And so, just in seeing what’s happened since I moved here with some of the more accessible spots with specific plant communities, I’m thinking of pedicularis specifically right now, which Wood Betony is another name for that herb, that’s a plant that’s very cool and easy to identify, but also has like sort of a relaxing, muscle relaxing feel to it. So people really like it cause it has a little bit like, body relax, feel. And so those patches have just been decimated. And when I see that I’m like, you know, a lot of herb schools, at least in what I was taught traditionally, it was like people would be like, “Go in. And you can have like, you can take about one out of every 10 plants.” You know, and that would be like the maxim that we were taught at a certain point, 10%. And, but if everybody comes and takes 10%, what does that even mean? So, that is something that I’ve seen here specifically is like a cumulative effect of over harvest, over time. And it’s increased not just with the people in the field that I’m in, but just with an increase in learning about wild plants and learning what they do. Because people want to take care of their own health or they want to feed themselves, you know, like, I mean, it’s not coming from the worst place. It’s just that when we’re not in relationship and don’t know, the baseline of what that patch looked like fifteen years ago, then we don’t know that we’re in a decimated area, or where we’re with plants that are under stress. That’s something that you know, from yearly visitation.

Margaret 49:07
Okay, and so it seems like then the ‘answer,’ I hate saying the ‘answer,’ because I’m sure it’s more complicated than anything I could say after that. But like, is this thing that you’re talking about, about being in relationship with these plant communities, rather than a quick maxim about like, “Oh, go visit and just it’s totally chill to take this stuff,” versus like, knowing what’s actually happening there and how things are changing. That makes sense. And then as you’re saying, with like, a few exceptions, where you’re like, “Look, it’s fine to take plantain. Fuck it,” or whatever.

Janet 49:40
Yeah, right.

Margaret 49:43
Okay. Yeah, it ties into this thing that I keep thinking back on is like this concept of like, the wild feels infinite, you know? Well, of course, I can’t affect the number of…I mean, if you can even look at this, like in a negative sense, right? It’s like, :”Oh, I can’t affect the number of ticks in my yard.” But you actually can. I know the number of ticks in my yard, my yard in particular, feels infinite. How can I possibly have an impact on the number of ticks? And there are ways that I could impact that number of ticks and like, so like, if I had guinea hens or whatever, and they ate a bunch of ticks, you could actually create a notable difference, even though it seems like you’re digging from this infinite pool of ticks. This is a very gross metaphor. And so that makes sense that yeah, either these things that feel abundant, and as long as you take 10%, but you’re not thinking about how everyone does it. I mean, the whole baseline shift thing, I like…nothing is more depressing to me than thinking about the lack of biodiversity as compared to a hundred, years ago, even.

Janet 50:49
It’s so wild.

Margaret 50:51
Yeah. Which leads me to the sort of conclusion of like, I think I have a difference in opinion than a lot of my friends and a lot of my community, like, I have more of this, like, “Great, we all need to start growing food inside,” like, this very, like opposite method of solving it, or rather, specifically, because I think a lot of people are like, “Oh, well, we’ll all go forage,” right? You know, as this like, “Ah, well, nature will provide for us,” and it’s kind of like, well, nature did provide for us, and then our culture, our settler culture, like fucked that up real bad. But, I like this thing that you’re talking about, about like, one of the main ways to solve that, on a small scale, at least is to grow into community with the place that you’re harvesting from, to not be extractive.

Janet 51:42
I think that there has to be kind of a mix too. I mean, I agree with you, like, I encourage people to grow their own medicine and to grow their own food as much as they can. But, also, I can say that like as a…I’m a clinician, like, you know, I have a clinical practice with herbs. And once you actually see the volume of plant material it takes to keep even a few people on a formula, or on a tea, it’s really wild. Like if I was not using some grown plants with also some weedy plants that I can just harvest, like, I don’t know what I would do. And that’s just me. Like, if we were all doing what I’m doing, then the amount of plant material would be pretty enormous. I mean, I think about how, you know, in China, it’s amazing, they have still pretty intact herbal medicine tradition that’s part of their medical system. I mean, it got homogenized after Mao, for sure, and changed, although they’re still people who practice pre Maoist Chinese medicine, but they have an enormous amount of land given to a monoculture of growing herbs for that industry. And so, you know, when I have folks be like, “Well, we should just grow our own plants,” I’m like, “Well, when we’re actually, if you were actually talking about the scale of supporting a lot of people’s health, that is a lot of land.” And and for feeding, it’s going to be even more or land, because the caloric intake we would all require is more than that, that we need with herbs, right? So,how much land are we talking? You know?

Margaret 53:15
No, that that makes a lot of sense. One of the things you brought up at the beginning, that you said you wanted to return to and we’re coming near the end, you were talking about how like more and more you’re seeing maybe students coming to your school, because they’re interested in herbalism. And they’re interested in forging and wildcrafting out of economic necessity. Basically. Like, you know, I think about, you’re talking about, like, your wildcrafted table at the farmers market where everything is like wildly expensive. No pun intended. And, you know, versus like, kind of the whole point of foraging is that it’s free. Right? And I wonder if you want to talk more about that, about like…because I do think that there is even if I’m like, obviously there’s a million problems with foraging, it does seem like it still could have a way to be useful to help people on an economic level as like food prices go through the roof and wages stagnate or disappear. And all that.

Janet 54:11
I do, I do think it has a place. And I will say that like you know, just for the record in case my students are listening to that, there’s always a fair number of people who have come in like staunchly anti wildcrafting as well. So there’s definitely a pretty good mix. But, I but I’ve been noticing more and more every year there are more people that are like, “I think this is a survival skill,” with the economic downturn that’s happening, which is what you’re referring to. And so I do think that wild foods that are abundant and weedy can be a really helpful supplement to other food. For sure. I think that actually trying to live off of it is challenging. That’s something people will learn. But, you know, it is true that there’s some things we get with wild foods that we do not get from the domesticated food that we eat normally and I should just point out that I think that unless people can afford to eat organic foods, especially if it’s organic food with restorative agricultural practices, which is not a lot of organic food, we’re usually eating food if it comes from the grocery store, and in some cases, even the farmers market that is coming from extremely depleted soil, because the pressures of capitalism, of the market require people just to like, not ever let the land be fallow. They just have to continue to pump the land and extract that food from it in ways even though they’re growing the food. And so most of the food that we eat is pretty nutrient deficient, compared to what it would be in a more restorative agricultural system. Now wild food, if it’s not in a place that’s very polluted, that’s a whole other topic that we should probably mention, is going to be growing out of a place that’s not just having like a cycling of harvest over and over again. And so they tend to be more nutrient dense. So, if you could pick nettles in a place that doesn’t have a lot of toxins in the soil, it’s going to, they’re going to be nettles, that actually have a lot more mineral content than the greens you get at the grocery store. The same is true for dandelion greens. So, while you might not be able to really like, bulk up your diet with a ton of calories from the wild, although you could, it just honestly takes a lot of time and energy that not everyone has. You will, even by supplementing a little bit with dandelion greens or other wild greens, you are going to actually get more of a nutritional impact. You’ll get more minerals. You get this bitter flavor that’s been mostly bred out in the domesticated greens and lettuces. There’s not bitter any more. Bitterness actually has a purpose, which is that it helps the liver function, it helps with digestion. So, I do think that if people supplemented their diets with some wild food, it would be beneficial in more than just those calories and in more than just the money saved, because we are eating from such a depleted food system. So, this is all to say that as our budgets are being impacted by the level of inflation and how much food cost, which is just going to get worse is what it looks like, it’s also just true that we’re we’re buying food that doesn’t have as much nutrition as it should. You know? And so, you’re getting more than just like that handful of greens on your salad, you’re getting actually like pretty dense nutritional food.

Margaret 57:35
That makes sense to me. At the beginning of the pandemic, I basically like lived off of my prepper stash, supplemented by wild greens for like, a month or so, which I wouldn’t like immediately recommend anyone has like fun and joyous. But, I was really, really grateful, like none of my calories came from the wild greens, but the sense that I’m actually like taking care of my body came from the wild greens.

Janet 57:59
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. And that does change things. You know, I mean, I think that’s what I would say, is I’m not sure how much it’ll like reduce cost hugely at this point to be adding in a lot of other food, but that improvement in your health is going to be noticeable.

Margaret 58:22
Okay, well, we’re coming up on an hour. I’m wondering if there’s anything in particular that we missed that you wish we had talked about or like?

Janet 58:33
Oh, I do have Yeah, I do have one thing to talk about. So, this may also makes sense to you, having lived around here at some point, and it’s that I was going to recommend that people read this essay by Robin Wall Kimmerer that’s called “The Honorable Harvest” and I can send you a link to that because there’s PDFs of that online, but she admits I was….Yeah, I was reviewing it today and she reminded me of something and it’s that so, for a while, this is getting to be less the case, but for a while, within different herbs circles and foraging circles that I was adjacent to there was a sort of a nod towards respectful relationships with the plants you might be harvesting and Robin Wall Kimmerer says in her piece, like you know, “Always ask permission from the plant.” But, there’s something that I was seeing like pretty commonly in settler foragers and herbalist, which would be like just like a really quick like, “Is this okay?” to the plant and then they’re like, “They said, “Yes,”” and then they would just go ahead and harvest very quickly, you know, and like, just like I swear, like immediate, like plants they’d never hung out with before like, this happened in front of me, like I mean, you know. And so, I had always been like kind of turned off by the exchange, well it wasn’t really an exchange, but like by that whatever gesture, gesture towards pretending to have communication. Which it doesn’t mean there’s not communication but, there was this really awesome way that Robin Wall Kimmerer talked about it where she’s just like, “You have to use both parts of your brain for that conversation. You’re not just using the talking and listening, you have to also use the part of your brain that’s assessing that circumstances, assessing the health of the plant, attention over time. It’s not just about intuition and communication with the plant world. It’s also actually about empirical understanding and paying attention,” you know. And so to me, and what I’ve seen in my life is that like, I’m like, I sometimes know, it’s not even appropriate to ask. I’m just like, “This standard is not doing okay. I’m not going to harvest plants here right now,” you know. And so, the idea that all that we need is like a really brief exchange of like, “Is this cool? Cool. Got it,” you know and move in. It’s like, that’s still very extractive. But, it makes you feel like you did something.

Margaret 1:00:52
I mean, there’s a really obvious comparison here to like the way that consent culture and sex is like not handled incredibly well.

Janet 1:01:00

Margaret 1:01:00
Yeah, where people are like, “Whatever. I asked,” versus like, “I should try and figure out how everyone actually feels.”

Janet 1:01:07
Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So just to say that, like, it’s more than asking, like asking, and listening,. Listening means actually listening over time. It’s not an instant gratification listen, you know? Yeah, that’s my last note, which would just be like to actually learn to listen and pay attention and observe and not…Unlearning extractive tendencies. And unlearning the entitlement that we all carry, live and breathe in settler colonial capitalism is a lot of work. And it requires patience and time. But also, I will say that if you see someone else behaving in a way that you’re not that into, you know, understanding that probably yelling at them is not gonna make them change their mind or behavior very quickly. So, also to have patience with other people who were on different learning edges here with this, you know?

Margaret 1:02:05
Yeah, that, that makes a lot of sense. Well, where can people…do you want people to find you?

Janet 1:02:16
Yes, I have. So, I have a blog that’s called Radical Vitalism with my partner, Dave. And our school is Terra Sylva School, which we run with Jen Stovall. I can put that stuff in, I’ll send it to you to put in the show notes. And then we also have a podcast called The Book on Fire. And we’re about to start our third season. And we’re going to actually talk about the “Dawn of Everything.” So, that should relate…

Margaret 1:02:41
Oh, I love that book.

Janet 1:02:42
Yeah, so good. So good. So, it relates to kind of some of what we’re talking about at least.

Margaret 1:02:46
Cool. Yeah. Cool. Awesome. All right. Well, thank you so much. And I’m sure have you on again, at some point.

Janet 1:02:54
Yeah. Thanks a lot.

Margaret 1:02:55
Thank you so much for listening. if you enjoyed this podcast….Well, first of all, if you enjoyed hearing from Janet, I highly recommend that you check out the earlier episode with Janet and Dave about herbalism and herbalism for emergency medical needs and all of that. They have a lot to say. And if you enjoyed this episode, and you enjoy this podcast in general, please consider supporting us by telling people about the podcast and telling the internet about the podcast and telling algorithms about the podcast by rating, and reviewing, and subscribing, and all of that stuff that has a larger impact than one might expect. Much like killing ticks in your yard, you can also support us financially. This podcast pays its audio editor and the transcriptionist. And we’re very proud to be able to do that work. And we are supported in that work by the people who support Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness on Patreon, the publisher that publishes us. That’s what makes it a publisher. It’s called Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. We have another podcast called Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness that you can check out, that comes out every month and has different fiction, and memoir, and poetry, and essays, and all kinds of fun stuff that comes out once a month. And if you support us on Patreon, you’ll get a zine in the mail every month. Well, if you support us at $10 or more on Patreon, you get a zine in the mail every month. And in particular, I would like to thank Aly and Paparouna and Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, Theo, Hunter, Sean, S.J., Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Kat J., Staro. Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Michaiah, and Hoss the dog. You all make it possible, make the dream work. You’re the team work…anyway, I will talk to you all soon and I hope you’re doing as well as you can.

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S1E61 – Alissa & Alex on Surviving the Justice System

Episode Summary

Brooke talks with Alissa and Alex about horrors of the legal system. She walks through both of their legal ordeals from the circumstances of their targeting, arrests, court appearances, and current statuses. Alissa and Alex were both arrested separately in connection to violence from the far Right.

Guest Info

Alissa Azar (she/they) is currently in need of support to retain legal services. You can find her fundraiser at You can also find her on Instagram @r3volutiondaddy, or on Twitter @AlissaAzar.

Alex (He/him) can be found on Mastodon @betacuck4life.

Host Info

Brooke can be found at Strangers helping up keep our finances intact and on Twitter and Mastodon @ogemakweBrooke

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at


Surviving the Justice System with Alissa and Alex

Brooke 00:14
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m Brooke Jackson, your host for this episode. Today we are talking with a couple of wonderful leftists about their experiences with the American court system, and how they’ve been supported by their community and by mutual aid. Without revealing your names or any details, would each of you like to say, “hi” or “hello” to our audience?

Alissa 00:37

Alex 00:40

Brooke 00:45
All right, before we officially unveil today’s guests, you know I gotta show some love to fellow members of the Channel Zero network of anarchist podcasts. So let’s hear a little about one of those other cool pods. Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo.

Brooke 01:52
And we’re back. Friends, thank you for joining me today to talk about the injustice of our justice system. Would you please each actually introduce yourselves and share your pronouns?

Alissa 02:02
My name is Alissa Azar. She/They.

Alex 02:04
My name is Alexander Dial. He/him.

Brooke 02:12
Well, thank you. So both of these friendly, lovely folks have had to deal with, as I just said, the injustice of our justice system. They’ve both been arrested and charged with crimes. And Alex has been through kind of the whole system: jail, bail, going to court, living on probation, including having to do community service and reporting to a probation officer. And Alissa is kind of in the midst of that grinding system with some uncertainty in the future of what’s going to happen. So, why don’t we go ahead and you know, if each of you want to take a few minutes and kind of tell us a little bit about your backstory of, you know, the circumstances in which you were arrested and what happened there and, Alex, it’s your turn to go first.

Alex 02:56
Okay, yeah, I was arrested on August 17, 2019. At sort of a big deal to-do street event here in Portland, Oregon. Much Ado was made about this thing, by the far Right, mostly from out of town CHUDs you know. As usual, it’s pretty typical for most of the time for us to get invaded….Although it’s probably worth noting that they haven’t been around lately. I got picked up after a couple of well publicized confrontations. Probably the most famous one was the the bus incident, which I suppose we can get into in detail in a bit here. But, I was arrested that day, and taken into custody, released and then subsequently taken back into custody a little later under some, I don’t know probably typically shitty circumstances with regards to how our legal system works here, especially when it comes to cases that are media sensitive, I guess you might say. And today is actually kind of a special day with regards to all of that, which is something else we’ll get into I suppose when the time comes, but I’ve been put through the wringer and am just now getting out the other end here nearly five years later.

Brooke 04:21
Yikes. Okay, I’m gonna circle back to more details of the of the ‘bus incident’ in a second. But Alissa, if you want to tell us a little bit of your story, too, and feel free to throw in some more details to

Alissa 04:32
Yeah, so I probably should have said this in my intro, but I am an independent journalist. I don’t work for anyone but myself and the community and my situation, actually it was another, you know, fascist invasion. There was a counter protest to a demonstration that was going on countering the Proud Boys and I was there that day as a journalist. I was reporting and covering the event. And it was it was a pretty wild and scary day. I’ll get into more detail about that too, later. But anyways, I would say like, maybe five or six months or so after that day had passed, I had received an indictment in the mail notifying me that a grand jury found me guilty and that the DA was pressing charges, including felony charges. And, yeah, it’s been, it’s been really, really difficult, you know, that in conjunction with, you know, something else that happened more recently, just finding myself being targeted for the journalism and, you know, the coverage that I do provide, both by the State and by, you know, just citizens of the United States that are, you know, members of the far Right. And yeah, it’s been Hell to say the least, and not in a good way, not the good kind of Hell.

Brooke 06:12
Yeah, I should have said this more at the top too, just to really emphasize how grateful I am that you’re here and willing to talk about it when you’re, you know, in the middle of going through this hell. I mean, that’s I that’s got to be incredibly difficult. And I’m just really grateful that you were willing to make the time and talk about it with us.

Alissa 06:31
Thank you. Yeah, I really appreciate that. My my trial is finally set. It’s just a few months away. My trials in April. So yeah, definitely a mixed bag of feelings and emotions, for sure.

Brooke 06:45
Yeah, I can only imagine. Alex, I want to circle back to you.

Alex 06:52

Brooke 06:54
Because I think the details of the bus incident. People probably heard the story or will remember it. I certainly remember seeing the photo which was some what iconic. If you want to just briefly talk about what happened on that day.

Alex 07:09
Sure. Yeah, um, you know, it was a day like any other. I woke up, donned to my armor, stepped into the streets to confront an invasion of fascists from out of town. You know, regular Thursday stuff. That particular day, I mean, I’ve been to a lot of protests, I have been an activist for longer than I’ve been an adult and, you know, things do get sort of predictably hairy, but everybody remembers how the tone in the streets really shifted, probably starting right around 2016. You know, I don’t really remember that sort of ruckus, since like, the WTO stuff back in the day, you know, I mean, I mean, barring like a few other flashes in the pan, but the situation out there, just kept escalating, you know, for years, and I was down in Southern California, for the first part of that time, you know, and then I moved up here to Portland, and I was like, “Well, I’m still an American. So I guess I’m gonna get back out there.” So out there I went. And that day was a mess. You know, I mean, everybody remembers how….The way that the Right had been touting this event as like a ‘bloodbath.’ And I need it in their words, “Buy guns,” said Joe Biggs, you know, “Bring ammunition. Get concealed carry permits.” He was showing off a baseball bat covered in spikes that had Trump’s name on it, specifically related to this event. That day, August 17, 2019. You know, they were talking about like, ‘taking the the streets of Portland,’ and like, ‘cleansing’ them. I mean, this is all their language, you know, I’m quoting them. So we were, you know, understandably pretty alarmed out here. And, I wasn’t running around out there with an affinity group at the time. You know, I had been out in the streets before then. So people, some people recognized me, but

Brooke 09:28
You were doing group OpSec wearing your betacuck shirt too?

Alex 09:32
Well, you know, a lot of people ask me about that. And the answer I usually give people is, you know, I don’t think it’s always appropriate to make ourselves small and to shrink back from these threats. You know, there’s a time to present yourself and I feel like they were talking about coming here and murding us. And I was like, “Well, at least they’re gonna recognize me. They’re gonna know who they’re trying to kill,” you know?

Brooke 10:09

Alex 10:12
So, you know, the day really wasn’t too extraordinary. I mean weirdly enough. I mean, it’s crazy to say that now, but at the time, in terms of a Portland Street event, during those years, it was like, not that weird. In fact, kind of low key. There weren’t really that many really gnarly confrontations I was party to or saw. But, things got really pretty wild when the Nazi bus came back. A lot of people don’t know that they they left. And by the time I confronted them along with, you know, many other Portlanders up on the bridge. They had left Portland and had turned around and come back to reconfront us.

Brooke 10:59
And then for listeners who might not know, you know, talk about what specifically happened with you and them in that bus.

Alex 11:06
So, we should start, I think by talking about who was on the bus, because this has been, you know, contested information in certain parts of the internet. The people on that bus were primarily hardcore Neo Nazis, from a group called the American Guard. These were not just like Trump supporters or Second Amendment enthusiasts, although they were both, you know what I mean? These people were members of a hate group, tied to the Vinlinders Social Club, which is another group of Neo Nazis founded by Brian James. And they’ve been linked to a handful of murders here in the United States. So they’re very dangerous people. And I knew who they were. That’s the thing. I knew who was on that bus. So, when I saw them on the bridge, after having already watched them leave town, I was like, “They came back.” You know? There were some people down there with me in the streets, a couple of people I had, you know, sometimes just sort of snowball with people that you meet out there and your roll together for safety, you know? So I was out there with a couple of people I had met, and I saw the bus up there on the on the bridge, and we talked about it, and I was like, “That’s the American Guard.” You know, “They came back,” and we talked it over a little bit. And I said, “Well, let’s go get them.” And so we went up there. And we didn’t actually assault the bus, which was a popular meme at the time of Right wing media, espoused in particular by our very own fascists propagandist, Andy Ngo, we didn’t attack the bus, unless you count like a couple of thrown plastic half full water bottles and me flipping them the bird, you know, people stood around, they shouted at the bus, we heckled them. And then they opened the doors. And the first person who came out of that bus had an eight inch blade in his right hand. They had been brandishing both a pistol and a hammer through the windows before they stepped outside. So, we knew they were armed. The doors open, they came outside, and for better or for worse, an elderly man who was among us rushed to the doors, and apparently startled the first Nazi, the one with the knife, who fell on his ass just immediately.

Alex 13:55
Right, yeah. And a little tussle ensued between this old man and this Nazi. And during that scuffle, the man in the bus, one of the other Neo Nazis, an American Guard member named Mark Kwan, the one who had been brandishing the hammer through the windows, he stepped into the doorway above the fight going on in the door of the bus and started swinging this claw hammer down at the skull of this elderly man, who at that point was losing the fight that that he had gotten into, and was in the process of being abducted into the bus by the formerly knife wielding Nazi who had dropped his MAGA hat. I saw what was happening. I set down my water bottle, which was made of metal you know, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt. So, I ran up there and I seized the hammer in mid swing from Mark Kwan. Mr. Kwan. And together with some of my allies from Portland, we wrestled it away. The Nazis fell back into the bus. They released the elderly man. I tossed their hammer back inside, where it you know, allegedly glanced Mr. Kwan, although there are no victims in my case, and nobody was ever able to contact him for some reason. Yeah, it’s crazy.

Brooke 13:55

Brooke 15:34
Mysterious, Mr. Kwan.

Alex 15:35
Yes, it’s wild. Yes, that Mr. Kwan, if he exists, that was written in my case file by my attorney, “Mr. Kwan, if he exists.” And this prosecution never followed up on whether he exists. The door is closed. I kicked in one of the panels on the doors, you know, just having witnessed and attempted murder in process. My blood was a little up. I do admit it. And a nameless hero released a cloud of tear gas into the bus and the bus sped away down the completely open lane in front of them that they could have taken at any time. And yeah, that was the story. That’s the Bus Incident. The whole confrontation took, I don’t know, maybe six seconds, perhaps. And it’s informed my life for nearly five years.

Brooke 16:28
Yeah. Were you immediately arrested at that point?

Alex 16:30
I was not immediatly arrested. I was arrested nearly an hour and a half later.

Brooke 16:37

Alex 16:38
Yeah, I had an opportunity to help some other people.

Brooke 16:41
Yeah. So that’s interesting. It was still the same day, same event. But, a little while later in that, and at the time, were you arrested for the bus incident, specifically? Or for—[Alex interupts]

Alex 16:54
Yeah. So, that’s a really interesting contrast to Alissa, what you were saying because, you know, you went to the event, and you went home, and it was months later. So, I’m curious if you are able to talk at all about what actually happened the day of the event, and then what you were later accused of doing and charged with?

Alex 16:54
I’m assuming so. It’s tough to say. The the paperwork I got is a little unclear as to what the probable cause was. It cites reports that the Portland Police had received reports from people…. I mean, the truth is that Andy Ngo poached that footage from Elijah Schaefer. And they gave it directly to the Portland Police, who took it as evidence and snatched me up at the first opportunity. But, it might not have been that video that did it. It could have been something else they referenced. The paperwork isn’t really clear on that. And in my case, is closed now, so I can talk about it all. But, it’s tough to say really what it is precisely that got the cops to get me, but when they tackled me, this gaggle of bacon-backs, [Brooke and Alissa laugh] you know, and stomped me into the pavement and tried to tase me, but couldn’t because I was wearing a bulletproof vest, they told me I was under arrest for assault. So, you know, I mean, but that’s really all they’re gonna tell you. The cops are not really well known for, for knowing things.

Alissa 17:32
Yeah, I’ll share as much as I can without, you know, like I said, before, my situation is ongoing and my trial’s in April. So and it’s, you know, it’s not that I have anything to hide at all, but you know, we, we all know, here, how the State works and how they love us everything and anything against us. So yeah, as I mentioned earlier, the event that I was documenting and reporting on was a counter to the Proud Boys. And this was in September of 2021. So, it was during a time when things were really, really tense in the pacific northwest. This is after, you know, a lot of growing tension, a lot of escalated escalation from the fascists, you know, after being used to night after night at protests of them doing drive bys and throwing, you know, IEDs and pipe bombs at us and just, you know, just a bunch of shit that had been going on and in Portland and surrounding areas. So yeah, we were we were at a park. And also, I just want to disclaimer, my memory is like, pretty fucking shitty, especially since then. That day, I actually got punched in the head by A Proud Boy who’s an MMA fighter and like four times my size, and I got a major concussion that I’m like still dealing with. And then also, trauma hasn’t really been great for my memory. But yeah, we were all in a park. And the group of leftists who were there was not very large. I can’t remember off the top of my head, how many people were there. But, compared to other events, it was a relatively small crowd. And up until the point that I’m about to get to, there was just a lot of like, back and forth, yelling and whatnot. And eventually, the Proud Boys got closer and closer. And the group of leftist somehow ended up being surrounded. There was basically a circle of Proud Boys just trying to intimidate everyone and up to this point, even when everyone was circled, they were still just standing there in an attempt to intimidate everybody,. Just trying to look tough. And what really kind of sparked things off is I remember I was kind of standing like in the middle of the circle and there was like a group of people in front of me who allegedly…I don’t know if it’s a flag that they had or if they stole it from the Fasc, but I believe that it was an American flag, and they set it on fire on the ground.

Brooke 21:35
That’s what that flags for. [Laughs]

Alissa 21:39
And I was kneeling down filming and then it just like popped off so quick. As soon as they saw that the flag was on fire, they got so triggered. They came in and like pushed the people right in front of me and like, just, yeah, that’s when kind of shit hit the fan….Like, fuck, where do I go from here? There’s just so much that happened.

Alex 22:07
You know, the reason they did that…I mean, I don’t mean to interrupt your flow here, but they….

Alissa 22:11
No, go ahead.

Alex 22:12
The reason they did that is because they have their own camera people. They’ve got all these amatuer, you know, right wing Grifters trying to sell footage, and also the Proud Boys and their ilk, they sell this footage to each other to get each other to join. So, they see Antifa burning a flag. And if no one retaliates, they all look weak.

Alissa 22:38
Yeah, 100%.

Alex 22:39
Yeah, so that’s why they rushed y’all right there. You know? I mean, it’s not a justification, but that’s the deal.

Alissa 22:46
Yeah, they definitely have a game plan for sure. And yeah, I just remember things being really chaotic. There’s a lot of people that got injured that day. Yeah, at one point….I mean, before that, like, I was like walking around, filming, taking pictures. And like, I was just getting threats left and right. Like, for what? Like being a photographer?Like what? Like, yeah, this one lady kept being like, “You and me, we’re going to tango.” And it’s so funny, because it’s the lady who like, all the Right wingers and Andy Ngo, keep calling like an ‘innocent bystander.’ And she just kept, like following me, and she’s like, “You and me, we’re gonna tango.” And I’m like, “Girl, I’m not here to fight anybody. Like, just leave me alone. Let me take my fucking picture.” Things just. Yeah, things just got pretty crazy. Some of them were like, going after individuals to like, you know, attack them violently. Other people were going towards…It wasn’t a gazebo, but there was like this covered area where a bunch of people had stuff at. I had some of my stuff there, too. I remember having like a charger and I think my phone was over there. And like, people were going over there like, some of the Fascists were going over there and like stealing signs and stealing people’s shit and stuff. And yeah, it was just really bad. One of the last things I remember, like I said, I got punched in the head. I didn’t faint or anything, but like, it was a really bad punch. And I stood up right away. And at that point, the cops had like, come in. And they declared it and unlawful assembly, I believe,

Alex 24:45
After you got assaulted?

Brooke 24:48
Of course, as they do.

Alissa 24:51
Yeah, they declared it an unlawful assembly. It was really weird because the Leftist were trying to leave, like out of the park and go the way that the cops are telling them to go, because it was definitely not a situation where people could like stand their ground. Like, I think that was like the smart thing to do at the time. And I just remember, like, I was being escorted by a medic. And like, I think it was two medics actually holding me. I don’t know, I couldn’t really see much or like, whatever. But I just remember thinking like, “What the fuck is happening?” because, like, as we’re trying to get out of there, and the cops were coming in declaring it an unlawful assembly, it wasn’t any longer just the Proud Boys that everyone had had that confrontation with beforehand, like leading up to that moment. All of a sudden, there was this new group of Proud Boys, larger than the group that had already been there, all marching in together with like shields and weapons, like, coming towards us, like walking through the cops, walking with the cops. And it’s just like, it was just like, the perfect example of like, “Cops and clan go hand in hand.” And it was like they were coming towards the group together, even though they had just declared it unlawful. Like, these guys were still welcome to come in. And mind you, like, you know, most people were just like I said, they’re just trying to get out of there. Or you know, there was also quite a few people who were hurt that day. So yeah, it was just it was chaotic in the worst way possible.

Brooke 26:37
Yeah. And so then a few months go by, and I think you said it was a letter that came in the mail that let you know?

Alissa 26:43
Yeah, I got a letter in the mail that said I was indicted.

Alex 26:48
You’re a crimer now. [Laughs]

Alissa 26:54
[Starts] Sorry…I’m like, trying to separate my charges from like, my most recent, bullshit arrest.

Alex 27:00
Oh, God, no, I can totally relate to that.

Alissa 27:05
I’m being charged with Relony Riot, Unlawful Use of Tear Gas, and Disorderly Conduct.

Alex 27:15
Tear gas? Like ‘you’re’ deploying tear gas?

Alissa 27:18
And the best part about it is like my uterus is literally beyond fucked up because of the frequent exposure to the State’s deployment of tear gas….

Alex 27:29
[Interuptiing] Yeah, that’s right. I totally forgot about that. That’s like a thing.

Alissa 27:35
Oh, it’s definitely a thing. I know multiple people who…[trails off] Yeah, I’m the bad guy here.

Brooke 27:44
Okay, So after you get this letter in the mail, I assume it’s telling you have to appear at some point, probably or something like that? Yeah?

Alissa 27:52

Brooke 27:53
And so then you didn’t you know, didn’t have to go to jail. You didn’t have to post bail for that. But they did. You just got picked up by the police, right? They pulled you in and harassed you a time or two. Do you feel like talking about that? Can you talk about that?

Alissa 28:06
Yeah, you’re talking about the most recent arrest?

Brooke 28:14

Alissa 28:18
So yeah, that. Let’s see, I’m like “What is time?” That happened probably like just under a month ago. It was the day after Christmas. And I was pulling in to park in front of my place. And the second I parked, I see this white SUV. it didn’t look like a police vehicle. It was just a white SUV. It was coming towards me from the opposite direction. And as soon as I was opening my door, it stopped and parked right next to my car. The sirens go on. And then at that point, there was an additional four to five cop cars that were parked on the side of the street. All undercover vehicles.

Alex 29:14
[Exclaiming in incredulity] Four to five?!

Alissa 29:16
Yeah, yeah. And all of their sirens and their lights turned on. And I was super confused. I have no idea what this could be about. So yeah, they…[trails off] I’m like, how into detail do I go? Again, this is also like an ongoing thing. This is very recent. So…

Brooke 29:16
Yeah, I’m more just looking for like, what the experience of being you know, arrested was like, you know, like, I feel like if I was in that moment, I would be like, “Are they coming from the guy next to me? Is there someone over there?” because it would be hard to believe that that many police had shown up for a little old me

Alex 30:00
[Joking] You warrant that sort of turnout. I mean, come on. Wow.

Alissa 30:04
For sure. It was very bizarre. At the moment, I was kind of like, I would say I was mainly just really fucking confused. Especially because they would not tell me why I was like…First I was like, “Am I being pulled over? Like, what’s going on?” And then they had me get out of the car. They wouldn’t tell me anything. It felt like I was being kidnapped, which I was kidnapped. And, you know, I went to the precinct. Still did not tell me like what was going on. They said that they wanted to question me. I said, “Lawyer.” The questioning never happened. They didn’t like that. [laughs] It wasn’t until after….so we went to the precinct and then they took me to the Justice Center. It wasn’t until after I was booked that I even found out what my charges are, which got changed like a million times. But yeah, it was really scary. Because that was almost a full day. Because when I when they picked me up, it was quite early in the morning. And that whole day, I didn’t know, why I was in there. I didn’t know anything. I just knew that they had me and they have the power to do whatever the fuck they want. So I was terrified. I, you know, I was like, I have no way to like, contact anyone and tell them what’s going on. It was like, you know, my partner is probably trying to reach me, and is like, “What the fuck is happening?” Yeah, again, like, a very mixed bag of emotions and feelings. But yeah, that type of stuff is really scary. Especially when, you know, let’s be realistic, when you’re in that kind of situation we don’t really have any power to do anything. And it fucking sucks, feeling so helpless and hopeless. And you know, they know that. Yeah, yeah. Like where do I start?

Alex 32:10
I gotta tell you that, the story of that arrest there. That’s worse than I thought it was going to be. I wasn’t anticipating it to be quite so persistently merciless. I mean, they can just detain you and not tell you shit. But, a lot of the time, you know, they don’t hang on to you for the whole day and never say anything to you. I mean, because the other thing is that cops cops are cruel. But, also they’re like, apathetic, you know, like some, some ass wipe pig is going to say something to you, you know, or someone who’s just working a desk that day is just going to be like, “Oh, here,” you know, and say whatever. Yeah, and it’s wild to me that, um, that they were so dedicated to keeping you in the dark that day, the whole day. Yeah, it’s intense. It’s worse than I thought it was

Alex 33:06
Yeah, it’s bad.

Brooke 33:09
So, again, I’m interested in the in the contrast here, because Alex, if you want to talk about, you know, you were arrested that day, we started talking about that. So you kind of knew why you were being arrested. But, then you also got booked and I actually don’t know if you’ve spent some jail time right then or if you got out sooner or what happened. But if you want to tell yours?

Alex 33:35
Fucking Cops.

Alex 33:35
Yeah, yeah, the story of what happened to me on the on the day. That was the day. They didn’t really seem all that interested in me, actually. I mean, they kicked my ass a little bit, of course, like they do. Like the arrest was like six officers and they like stepped on my fingers and tried to tase me and got frustrated when they couldn’t and then, you know, knelt on my head and stuff. And I was like, “What am I under arrest for?” And they answered me with one word, and they just went “Assault” and I went, “Who?” because you know, I mean, it had been a busy day. So, they took me in that day, and I was stuck in holding. I never actually made it to jail proper, you know, I just sat. When they took me to the station, they stripped me down completely to my underwear. They put me in a paper jumpsuit. Oh, yeah, they got me. Oh, yeah. I mean, you know, they saw they saw at all. I have a bunch of boyfriends down at the police station.

Alex 33:44
No, no, no, no, it didn’t go down like that, I promise. But they stuck me in a cell. They left those plastic fucking cuffs on me honestly. Well, you know if I’m starting from the beginning, honestly, the first thing that happened was they they threw me in paddy wagon and let me sit in there for, I don’t know, an hour and a half, maybe. And they through a woman in the room next to me, because you know, those are side by sides. It’s like two long horse stalls next to each other. And you can’t see into the other one. But there are these vents, these corrugated vents, you know. So there’s air exchange, and you can hear everything, but you can’t see. And there’s someone in there who’s crying and screaming in pain. I mean.

Alissa 35:31
Oh my God.

Alex 35:32
Oh, yeah. Like somebody was hurt, you know? So, I started talking to her, and I was like, “Hey, hey, what’s happened to you?” You know, and she was like, “My shoulder. My shoulder is broken.”

Alissa 35:46
Oh, my God

Alex 35:47
I was like, “Are you sure it’s broken?” And she was like, “Yes.” And I was like, “Did the police do it to you?” And she said, “Yes”. And I was like, “Do they have you in cuffs?” And she was like, “Yes.” And I was like, “Okay.” Um, so I just started talking to her, you know. I told her my name, and I just started to talk to her, you know, and I was like, “Look, they’re gonna take us somewhere, and you’re, you’re probably going to get medical attention. But I mean, they might not give it to you.” So I was like, “The thing you got to do is stay calm and just breathe, you know, because the pain is not going to stop, but you can manage it. So you got to breathe.” So we sat there, and we breathed. And we drove eventually, I mean, after a long, long time, but she was in a ton of pain. And later I reconnected with her after a long time, nine months or something. And it turned out to be…Well, well, I don’t know that I have her permission to talk about her. But she made a name for herself twerking on the streets. She was twerking on the streets that day. And, you know, I doubt I doubt she would mind being brought up here, but I don’t have her explicit permission. So, you know. And she said, she’d been looking for me. She was like, “I didn’t know that was you that was talking to me.” And when we pulled over into the police station, I started yelling at the cost. “I was like, You need to get her out of here and get her help. She’s hurt.” And they just left her in there. They took me out and they processed me right away. And they just left her in there. And she’s in there. Like, I mean, practically screaming still, you know, she was a lot of pain. It was it was terrible. And we’d been sitting in there for over an hour. Yeah, and then I couldn’t feel my thumbs for a couple of days after that ride because they didn’t take the cuffs off. They didn’t take my cuffs off even after they brought me into the building and processed me and stripped me down. They left those fucking cuffs on me. They took them off, they put them back on and then they stuck me in a freezing cold concrete room in a paper jumpsuit. And Detective Clifton came in and asked me for my side of the story, and I said “Lawyer.” But actually what I told him that I wanted to wait for my attorney, and then he came in later with some other cop who was really rude to me. And then Clifton came back and spoke to me again and he was really nice. And I was like, “Oh, so you’re good cop, right?” They didn’t come back to talk to me again after that.

Brooke 35:57
Yeah, of course.

Alex 36:19
Call them out.

Brooke 37:56
So, you were in the holding you said for the whole day…

Alex 38:28
I was. I was there until the night time yet.

Brooke 38:42
Okay, and then did you get out after that? Or did they then move you over into jail or?

Alex 38:51
I walked out on OR, our I walked out on my Own Recognizance that day. They stomped my ass into the street. They put me in a paper jumpsuit. They zip tied me and then they and they immediately lost my shoes. Like when they let me out, they kept my clothes because my clothes were evidence you see. Yeah, I mean, I just think they liked the way I smelled. But they kept my clothes. They lost my shoes and then they turned me loose. My roommate at the time, he came to get me and I was dressed like an extra from Miami Vice. I had these giant like two big pants on, like jeans and this huge like vaporwave Hawaiian shirt, and and these orange prison crocs. You know they give you these like foam sandals to wear when you’re in jail. I still have those. Yeah, I use them to I use them when I shovel shit out of the barn. They’re perfect.

Brooke 39:56
Well, I have a person close to me who has been arrested many times comes in and pretty much every time there’s some piece of something that was on him: clothing, shoes, something that was in a pocket, whatever, goes missing.

Alissa 40:09
So weird. For me it was cash.

Brooke 40:13
Oh. Weird.

Alex 40:14
I got my cash back. I had like 30 bucks or something. I got that back.

Alissa 40:19
You know what’s fucked up too is some comments helped host a fundraiser for me like, a few weeks before my arrest for my legal fees for my trial that’s coming up in April. And I had around 2k in cash. And i didn’t realize this till recently, because I was searching every single space, and every single like drawer, and just wanted to make sure, but yeah, they when they raided my house they took all of that cash.

Brooke 41:00
That is the thing that they will do.

Alissa 41:02
Here’s the thing, though. They didn’t…It’s not listed on the evidence. They stole it.

Alex 41:07
Oh, that’s what you call, that’s what you call stealing.

Alissa 41:09
They actually actually stole that cash, along with intentionally destroying my camera and equipment.

Alex 41:16
That’s the old piggie discount. You know, now that I’m thinking about that day in particular, I’m recalling that, my partner just reminded me, that at first, the cops had said to my roommates that I was being held, and they were like, talking about, like, $3,000 bail or something, like a bunch of money to get me out, but here’s the thing, when they were having that conversation with them, I was already out and I was waiting to get picked up. I was just out there waiting for… But I had no phone and no money, you know, so I was just sitting there, but the cops were like, just wrong. Like either they’re full of shit, or they’re incompetent. Either way. So, it’s like.

Alissa 42:02
I mean both are true.

Alex 42:06
I’m standing out there in like, you know, my prison Crocs and my shitty clothes, but I still have those clothes too. Why would I throw them away?

Brooke 42:16
We should auction them off for Alissa’s legal fees.

Alex 42:21
God, you know, I mean, if anybody’s a size 49 in pants, and a medium in shirts then absolutely.

Alissa 42:31

Brooke 42:33

Alex 42:33
Gotta love them.

Brooke 42:35
You know, Alex, do I remember correctly though, that you did have to post bail at some point?

Alex 42:39
See, here’s the thing, when they released me on OR, the day of, they let me out that night, right. And it was like my charges were bullshit. I had like Attempted Assault II and Disorderly Conduct, or something like that. They were buccus , charges, nonsense charges, right. And I don’t have a criminal record. So, they were just like, “Okay, bye.” And I walked out. And then later, just before I was going to be arraigned. I got, like right before my arraignment, and this is a bit of a jump forward in this story, because a couple other weird things happened with the police like just coming to my house and unmarked cars and stuff like that.

Alissa 43:25

Alex 43:26
Yeah, it was real weird. You know, Alissa, the story you told me it kind of rings a bell. But, I got a call from my public defender at the time, who, this was the night before my arraignment about a month after my first arrest. And he was like, “Hey, your charges have been altered. And some of them have been amplified, and you have new charges.” And I was like, “Okay, what does that mean?” And he was like, “Well, here’s the charges.” And he lays them out for me. And it’s like Assault II, Riot x2, like it’s a it’s a litany of felonies and a Measure 11 charge. And I’m like, “Okay, what does this mean?” He goes, “You’re going to jail tomorrow.” Yeah, and so they didn’t tell him about this until like, 4:45pm just before the whole Justice Center closed the night before my arraignment the next day at like 9:15am. So I have like 16 hours to get my entire life in order to get ready for going away and having a bail of like, $25,000. And I was like, Okay, I guess this is like the story of what happens to me. Yeah, and then I was in jail. And while I was in jail, I was I was subjected to what’s called a ‘Secret Indictment,” wherein they were bring you into a room without your attorney and hit you with new charges. And anything you say during that process can be used against you in court if you go to trial, but you don’t have representation, but that’s okay for some reason. And also, you’re not in a courtroom, you’re in a tiny room with a phone looking at a TV screen at a courtroom somewhere else in the city. And that doesn’t violate Habeas Corpus, I guess? [sarcastically] And I got several new charges, two of which were also felonies. And my bail overnight became over $500,000.

Alissa 45:36
[Sarcastically] This country is so cool.

Alex 45:41
It was great. It was great. And I was like, “I love being an Oregonian.” Yeah, I think when you when you’re in jail, they don’t tell you anything, you know, like, so that morning, like 4:30am some guard is like shoving me in the side with a flashlight. And I wake up like, “Ah!” you know, because I’m in jail, and I don’t know anybody. And they go, “You got a meeting,” I was like, “What the fuck? like, I have a meeting,” you know, so they get you up, and then they strip you down and look in your butt. And then they send you out into the hall with a bunch of other dudes, and presumably, who all just had their butts locked in. So, you have at least that much in common. You’re butt buddies. And then you go down the hall to this big room, and you sit in there with there was like, I think 20 men in this room, and it’s just a big naked concrete room with a bench and these blistering fluorescent lights and a toilet. There’s nothing between the toilet and the rest of the room. Like if you need to go, you got an audience. You know, yeah. It’s your recital. And, I sat there. We all sat there for nearly two hours before anything happened. Just sit there. And you know, these dudes in there who like met and knew each other. They were like, “Yo, man, what’s up?” and they’re telling these hilarious stories about knife fights. And yeah, I actually, it was kind of a funny story, but it was about knives, so I don’t know how funny it was. And then eventually, this guard comes in, he opens the door and I swear this is true. He says this. He goes, so he must do this every time. I’m sure of it. Right. He loves his job. He goes, “Gentlemen, welcome to the busiest courtroom in Multnomah County.” And I’m like, “Courtroom? We’re in a giant urinal? We’re gonna latrine, dude?” So he starts…He grabs dudes two at a time. And it takes another several hours. So, we’re all just sitting in this room for…we’ve been awake all of us since like, 4:30. By the time I go into this tiny hallway and enter a carpeted room with a TV screen and a phone in it, it’s like 8. You know, I sit down, I pick up the phone, there’s some attorney there and a judge. The attorney does not represent me. He is in fact a fucking prosecutor. And there’s a judge who, I don’t even remember the judges name, it’s all my paperwork somewhere, Silver, maybe? And I got slapped with the several new charges, a couple of them felonies, one of them another Measure 11 charge. And then they gave me some paperwork. And they sent me the fuck out. And then my public defender contacted me eight hours later that night to say he just heard that that happened.

Brooke 48:30

Alex 48:31
It’s a good time.

Brooke 48:33
Man. Some wild as shit.

Alex 48:37
Yeah, right. Especially when you look at the severity of these crimes, right? It’s like, I mean, I still have all the paperwork. It says right at the top, ‘Secret indictment.’ And I’m like, “What the blue fuck is a secret indictment?” and all it really means is they don’t have to disclose it to defense before they indict you. They don’t tell your lawyer. They just do it. And then your lawyer finds out at their convenience essentially.

Brooke 49:01
Good. That’s got to be at least a chapter title in your autobiography.

Alex 49:04
Yeah, “Welcome to the Busiest Courtroom in Multnomah County.” Yeah. Yeah, and my bail that that morning went from around $227,000 to over $540,000. And I was like, Well, I thought I was fucked last night.

Brooke 49:28
[Joking] Now, you’re the secret son of a billionaire. So you made bail just fine, right? The illegitimate boy of an heiress or something?

Alex 49:41
[Laughing] All those things are true. Yeah, I may be the most interesting Antifa member there ever was.

Brooke 49:49
So you laughed at that half million dollars and lit it on fire and walked out?

Alex 49:54
I did. When I laughed, I didn’t make a sound, just an emoji floated out over my. Everybody got it. That’s how it went down.

Brooke 50:06
Oh, okay, so but more seriously, you did have to post bail? And you did post bail?

Alex 50:11
I did. Yes. I had to borrow a great deal of that money. And the rest of it was money that I had saved. It was my savings. So I became poor. I mean, I was already pretty poor, but I came like poor.

Brooke 50:27
Okay, did you have people in your life who loaned it to you? Or, you know, how did you…How were you able to?

Alex 50:33
I was able to borrow some of it from…an old friend of mine loaned me a great deal of it, actually, at no interest. So I mean, it really is who you know, I gotta tell you. And I mean, looking back, I don’t know where I’d be without her, because my hearing, my sentencing hearing was three years later. I’d have been just locked up until whenever.

Brooke 51:04
Yeah, if you hadn’t been able to come up with bail, you would just be sitting there that whole time?

Alex 51:09
[Sarcastically] I mean, you know, that’s justice.

Brooke 51:15
Yeah, that’s how that works.

Alex 51:18
It is, though, it is how that works. You know, when I was in there, I met a guy, I met…Well, I met a lot of dudes in there. But I met this one guy who had been in, just in County there, just right there, you know, in Inverness for 17 months for a DUI.

Brooke 51:37
Holy cow.

Alex 51:39
He was just in jail.

Brooke 51:41
[Sarcastically] I mean, people who drive drunk should be in jail forever. That’s my personal opinion. So that’s, that’s totally fine. Nothing wrong with our Justice system. That’s the proper way to deal with problems.

Alex 51:51
[Sarcastically] I suppose. Yeah, we can infer that from that. That sounds reasonable.

Brooke 51:57
No counseling, whatsoever. Don’t try and help them.

Alex 52:01
No, no, helping people is not what we do.

Brooke 52:03
No, not at all. Okay, moving on from that fun. So, you have both talked about having lawyers and I’m gonna flip back to Alissa here. Is your representation court appointed? Or have you been able to find a different private attorney? or what have you, to represent you?

Alissa 52:25
Yeah. So, for my upcoming trial in April, I was, I was able to, you know, get, get a private attorney, and, you know, pay for retainer, and I’m super grateful for that, especially now, because for, uh, for my new bullshit that’s going on, I have a public defender. And I’m very aware of, you know, the shortage right now and how spread thin that they are. And it’s really unfortunate, but also, you know, from, from my perspective of like, needing help, it fucking sucks. So, I am so grateful that I was able to get those attorneys on retainer. And honestly, if it wasn’t for this community, that’s not something that I would have been able to do.

Brooke 53:13
What do you mean by that? I asked as though I don’t know the answer.

Alissa 53:22
So, Antifa International was able to help me with a good portion of my retainer, and the rest of it came from fundraising from the community. And, you know, just different people in a Leftist space, different mutual aid groups, you know, boosting that fundraiser and all that, you know, that that was a huge help, you know, and it’s still something that I’m raising funds for. I owe my lawyer, fuck, over $22,000 as of right now, that’s a lot of fucking money that yeah…I’ve never seen that much money in my life. And so yeah, if it wasn’t for, you know, fundraising efforts and stuff….It’s, yeah, I would be fucked.

Alex 54:16
Huge. Same. You know, my private representation was secured entirely by community donations. All of it.

Alissa 54:24
Really incredible.

Alex 54:26
Yeah, I had a public defender until we set up the GoFundMe and raised the money to get the representation who ultimately got me the deal that I did. It was just 100% Community funded.

Brooke 54:43
Now, did you guys have to both put in a lot of time and work for yourselves to do the GoFundMes or have other people been a part of creating those and getting the word out there and such?

Alex 54:56
I was in jail for most of that. My partner and my close friends spearheaded the handling of all that stuff. I was like, completely incapacitated. You can’t do shit in jail. Everything that you need done in the outside world has to be handled by someone else. All of it. So, it was mostly my partner. And, you know…but I mean, word had sort of spread about what it happened to me. And of course, there was there was the footage and the picture. So, in a way, it was kind of a double edged sword that things had been so publicized about what had happened to me, for whatever it was I was involved in. Because people were like, “Well, fuck that.” And they sent the money. And ultimately rescued me. Really, when you get right down to it. That’s what, that’s what happened.

Alissa 55:49
That’s awesome. Yeah, even though, you know, I’ve been out. It’s been primarily other people. And for that, I could not be more grateful because just, I think people really don’t realize the emotional and mental strain that this kind of thing has on people. And it’s, I know, it sounds really simple and like such a minut thing, but like I, physically, mentally, emotionally just would, not am not capable of doing that on my own right now. You know, I’m able to boost stuff and make posts. But yeah, I’m definitely really grateful for the help that I’ve had.

Alex 56:35
Yeah, I hear that, you know, It’s intentional that the system is designed to crush your spirit to keep you from advocating for yourself. It’s part of why they they levy these immense fines. I mean, you know, $540,000, you know, they’re just like, “This guy. This is the guy,” you know. Yeah. Okay. I didn’t realize I was quite that dangerous to the community. But apparently, Mike Schmidt feels that way. He’s my hero.

Brooke 57:16
Yeah, Mike Schmidt. He’s your boy. So just like we do with health care in this country., if you need to get a decent lawyer to fight bogus charges, GoFundMe.

Alex 57:26
[Joking] Well like here, like don’t get sick, cucks. I guess you don’t deserve to be genes.

Brooke 57:43
Good times, fun times. Okay, we’re gonna end up running over our usual length of episode, but I’m totally okay with that. Because I feel like this conversation we’re having is really interesting and important. And we’re just starting to dig into some of the bigger community support aspects of it, which is, of course, what Live Like the World is Dying is all about is how we prepare as a community and live together in the end times. So Alex, you ultimately took a plea on your charges? Why? What if you hadn’t?

Alex 58:18
Well, so the short version of why I took the plea was my attorney said to me, “Your cases were,” because I had two cases open. That’s the thing. It wasn’t just the bus incident. There was this other thing with some dumb ass and he’s fine, right? I mean, I barely touched him. That ended up being another Measure 11 case, and the State….that was a stretch, even even by the state’s own standards of like, over prosecuting. It was a bullshit case. But, had we gone to trial, having two separate Measure 11 cases open would have made me a very vulnerable defendant, and would have closed the door for me to use a certain legal avenue to avoid the mandatory minimum sentence. And Wedge felt that the prudent thing to do, would be to take a deal and he felt he could give me a pretty good deal. Partially because he felt the state’s cases were actually pretty weak. And he didn’t believe that the prosecution knew what they were talking about. And that ended up being true as we all saw at my sentencing hearing with my daughtering, staggering, stuttering, fool of a prosecutor tripping all over herself, and then waddling out. Disgrace. That’s Nicole Herman. Shout out to you, Nicole. Loser.

Brooke 1:00:02
If you hadn’t taken a plea, you were facing some pretty substantial time, right?

Alex 1:00:08
Potentially, yes. The fear was that if I was facing anytime, I was facing a minimum of 70 months, hard time, no access to programs, no time off, regardless of any other circumstance, stuck in prison for all that time, and that would be the minimum. I would be like 46 years old by the time I got out, all for a pair of cases with no injured parties.

Brooke 1:00:43
Yike, So Alissa, on your charges that are, the trials coming up here in April, is there any chance they might offer you a plea deal on that?

Alissa 1:00:59
I was actually already offered a plea deal.

Brooke 1:01:01

Alissa 1:01:02
That we turned down, because it was a really shitty plea deal. They wanted me to plead guilty to everything. And do three years in jail. [Sarcastically] You’re so generous, thank you!

Alex 1:01:25
Oh, my God,

Brooke 1:01:26
Three years because someone gave you a concussion? Great. Yeah. That’s a gift with purchase. Except you didn’t even purchase the thing. So, it’s just bad. Do you think there’s any chance? Or does your lawyer think there’s a chance they’ll offer you another plea deal before this thing goes to trial? Or maybe there’s just no way to know?

Alissa 1:01:51
Yeah, I’m really not sure now.

Alex 1:01:55
It’s tough to say, you know. We were certain, before the first hearing, back when I had a bunch of codefendants in one of the riot cases, which that hearing took all fucking day, by the way, because that was COVID times. We all did it through video. It was a nightmare, but also very funny. We were certain that the State was going to offer us something, anything and they were like, “No.” We spent six hours on a video call and nothing happened. And I was still looking at all these charges exactly as laid out before despite the incredibly weak evidence for most of them. It’s wild, you know, like, even Wedge, at the time, my attorney, he was surprised. He was like, “Nothing happened, I guess.”

Brooke 1:02:47
Well, yeah, civil servants, they get paid for showing up for the day. So, they don’t give a fuck how much of your time it wastes.

Alex 1:02:54
Yeah, well, that prosecutor, he quit his job halfway through my case. He isn’t a prosecutor anymore. And he you know, I gotta be honest.

Brooke 1:03:04
I’m sure that was because of you.

Alex 1:03:06
Well, I like to take the credit, but he just he really had the air of a dude who was quitting his job. He didn’t care at all. It’s just to say, though, you never know how the State’s going to behave.

Brooke 1:03:22
Yeah. So, Alissa, I hate to ask this question, but what kind of time are you facing? If they don’t get a they don’t give you a plea deal and and they find you guilty?

Alissa 1:03:36
I mean, I don’t know off the top of my head.

Brooke 1:03:40
I don’t know if you had Measure 11 stuff in in yours or any of that?

Alissa 1:03:45
I do in my most recent arrest. I’m facing six extremely bullshit felony, but all felony charges, including one Measure 11 Charge. Yeah. But yeah, I’m trying to remember off the top of my head what the minimum is just for Felony Riot alone

Brooke 1:04:08
It must be more than three years.

Alex 1:04:10
Felony riot, I believe it is like three to five years. But, there’s different degrees of riot. Felony riot is you know, it’s bad one. I had two of them.

Brooke 1:04:24
There’s a lot that can happen of course in between now and then. I’m just okay. Let’s just back away from the worst case scenario, because that’s too depressing and awful to think of it, it’s not going to happen because you’re too awesome for that. So, you have the trial coming up in April. What kinds of things are you doing to get ready and how are people…You know, we already talked about the fundraising component but like, you know, I don’t know, other things psychological or getting life in order in certain ways. Or you know, I don’t know. You tell me.

Alissa 1:05:01
Honestly, for the good amount of like, this past year, my mental health was like, complete shit. Like, I was probably in, like, the worst spot that I’ve been in and like a really long time. And, you know, that’s for, you know, a few various reasons, you know, also a bunch of like, undealt with trauma that I hadn’t confronted beforehand. But, it was really, really bad. You know, I took a pretty long break from social media. And I spent a lot of time unfortunately stressing out about, you know, impending doom. But you know, the past few months, I don’t know if this is the best way to go about it or not, but I’ve kind of just been trying to not think about it and just kind of take things day by day and just, you know, enjoy the time that I do have. I don’t I, you know, I’m not saying anything’s gonna happen, but something very well might, you know, there’s definitely a chance that I do go to jail. So yeah, honestly, lately, I’ve just been trying my best to not think about it, and just kind of enjoy the time that I do have, trying to get better at reaching out for help and asking for help when I want and need it, because that’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life. But, you know, there’s, you know, there’s a community and a lot of people who have been offering their help. And, you know, it took me some time to, like, get it in my head that like, ‘No, these are people that genuinely care and do want to help and be there for you. So you don’t have to go through this alone’.

Alex 1:06:52
Absolutely, yeah.

Alissa 1:06:54
Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s made a huge difference too, you know, having that mindset and taking people up on, you know, different offers and things and letting people in and letting people be there for me. Yeah, it’s made a huge difference in a lot of ways, but predominantly, my mental health. Also, Lexapro.

Brooke 1:07:20
Shout out SSRIs

Alissa 1:07:22
I’m a huge fucking stoner too, which was like, my favorite way to decompress, but now like my pretrial conditions for this shit, I can’t do any drugs or a drink alcohol, including weed, even though it’s legal here, so I’m confused specifically for that one?

Alex 1:07:40
Yeah. Oh, yeah. I lived that life for three years. I was forbidden from entering bars.

Alissa 1:07:48
That’s fucked.

Alex 1:07:51
I couldn’t leave the house at night. It was wild. I was like, “What was I doing? Did they bust me do a night crimes?” I don’t remember that.

Alissa 1:07:58
They could take the alcohol away from me. I’m not I’m not really a huge drinker. But, I need my weed. I need to taste Mary again.

Alex 1:08:06
Well, I mean, how dangerous are the stoners really?

Alissa 1:08:10
Apparently, very.

Alex 1:08:14
You know, driving at a at a vicious 20 miles an hour…in a school zone.

Brooke 1:08:23
Yeah, you know, if they just freely passed out that shit in jails, I think you’d have a much calmer chiller population that would, it would be much easier to manage

Alex 1:08:34
It’d be better than the toilet wine that they were drinking where I was. I didn’t try it, but I could smell it.

Brooke 1:08:43
There’s so much more I want to get into, that I wish we had all the time for. Yeah, the mental health component seems really important. We hear Live Like the World is Dying recently did a whole episode that was on mental health first aid. And one of the big things that got talked about on that episode was the importance of community for mental health. Which, you know, not to be all nerdy and sciency, but from a biological perspective, it makes a lot of sense, too, because we’re mammals wired for community. So, I’m glad that you’re able to engage with community and that people are giving you that kind of love and support and helping with your mental health in that way. Alex, if you don’t mind, can I ask if….Well, I’ll ask. You don’t have to tell me. If you struggled with any kind of mental health, mental illness or anything around the stress of this?

Alex 1:09:48
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, without a doubt. IYeah, it was very difficult. You know, the circumstances around my situation were…I mean, my pretrial conditions were pretty…They put an ankle bracelet on me. You know, it was bad. I was really suffering for a while there, you know, it was not easy. And I leaned really heavily on the people closest to me, and you know, it’s taxing for everybody. And that’s it. That’s also by design. I mean, the State is doing it to you to, like I said before, to break your your heart, you know, that’s what they want, because you’ll acquiesce and you can be made an example of. And that’s….it’s really that simple. It’s just a brutal system. And it’s never clearer than when the Eye of Sauron is upon you, you know, because that’s what it’s like, it’s like, they could do this to pretty much anybody. But, when they’re doing it to you, you really get a taste of the unholy power that they wield over your life. Your whole life. Rvery aspect of it. You know, it is really wild, to just be told what’s happening to you, and what might happen to you. Regardless of actual circumstance, you know, I mean, really just have to look at cases like Alissa’s. If you’ve been following what’s been going on with her. What happened to me. What I what I actually did, and how the State retaliated. It was very difficult. I did not handle it very well at times. I gotta say. And I was it was hard for me. It was hard on people close to me. For a while. Yeah, for sure. I definitely had some maladaptive problems for a little while.

Alissa 1:11:54
Yeah, going off of what you said, too, about how it’s done intentionally. That’s something that I personally struggled with was like, on top of everything that was putting me down in regards to everything that’s going on, there’s like this other really weird aspect to it, where the State is actively inflicting psychological warfare, and it’s like, I’m aware of these tactics. I know what they’re doing. I know why they’re doing it. And, I kept going through this cycle where I was like… I just felt so stupid, and I kept getting so down on myself. I’m actively aware of this. So why, why is it still affecting me? Why am I still letting it affect me? Yeah. But yeah, it’s all intentional. It’s all by design.

Alex 1:12:55
Well, it’s a science. They have it down. So, you’re still going through this, and up until literally today, so was I. So I gotta tell you, I mean, just not to….

Alissa 1:13:10
No, what happened today? I want to know.

Alex 1:13:13
Well, I want to get to that in a second, but first I want to say to you, when you’re feeling down on yourself, when you’re feeling like, “Why is this affecting me? Why is this working? I know what they’re doing,” it’s because this is what they do. And it is a system designed around doing this and they’ve been doing it a long time. And you’re just another victim, you know? Knowing you’re being victimized doesn’t remove you from victim hood, you know? And I know that’s little comfort when you’re really going through the thick of it. I know, I’ve been there. But, just remember to give yourself the space for that suffering, because if you don’t, it will find other ways to come out of you when you’re not ready for it, you know. You’ll pay for it elsewise. Just try to make some space, you know?

Alissa 1:14:12
No, no, that’s that’s good advice. Especially because I’m really really….sorry not to like toot my own horn or be too conceited or anything. But, I’m really good at repression. Like I’m really good.

Brooke 1:14:32
Yeah, I think I hear Alex saying you can call him and talk to him, and hear all soothing his voice as he’s nice to talk to. Alex, what’s your good news?

Alex 1:15:04
Oh right, the good news! My attorney contacted me yesterday, and told me that we have movement on the case and I have….essentially what it boils down to is my probation is being terminated two years early and I’m receiving misdemeanor treatment for the terms of the deal we made, so I will very soon here, basically as soon as we get paperwork, I will no longer be on probation and I will no longer be a felon.

Alissa 1:15:35
Fuck yeah!

Alex 1:15:36
Yeah, yeah. So Andy Ngo is gonna cry himself to sleep tonight on his huge me-shaped anatomically correct pillow. I’m buying guns, Andy, guns.

Brooke 1:15:51
Yeah, baby. And I can bring mine to your house again. Because that’s something I used to do with you.

Alex 1:15:57
Yeah, totally, bring your pews-pews. [guns]

Brooke 1:16:03
Oh, man. All right. So, I think I’m gonna move towards wrapping us up here. But, I do want to come back to you, Alissa, one more time. Yeah, we’ve talked about the the mental health support you need and the, you know, ongoing fundraisers to help pay for attorney fees. And I wondered if you would just be willing to talk one last time about any specific fundraisers you have open or if there are things coming up and certainly to tell people how they can get a hold of you, you know, find you on social medias and whatnot to you know, learn more about what’s going on and to show their love and support for you, because everyone on Twitter is loving and supportive and will most certainly say nice things.

Alissa 1:16:52
No, Twitter’s so good, especially for mental health, for sure.

Alex 1:16:56
Never been better than it is now.

Alissa 1:17:02
So on Twitter, people can find me under my full name just Alissa Azar, and I’m more active on Instagram. And my handle on there is r3volutiondaddy, but the ‘E’ in revolution is a ‘3’. So, it’s “r3,” and then just spell out revolution Daddy. I’m also on Mastodon, but you know, if you go on to any one of those, I have the link tree in my bio, and all of my socials are posted there. I also have an active fundraiser now that’s also in my bio. So you can find my fundraiser on my Twitter or my Instagram. I’m also going to be planning another fundraiser soon where some stuff will be up for sale and whatnot, but I don’t have a date for any of that yet, so I’ll post that on my socials once I have all that information.

Alex 1:18:04
Hey, I want to sell the beta cuck armor for you. I’m gonna sell the armor.

Alissa 1:18:09
There are many many interested buyers.

Alex 1:18:13
It still smells like…

Alissa 1:18:16
Please don’t finish that sentence.

Alex 1:18:19
it did it, though. No. For real, though. For real though. If you’re listening and you want to look like a felon for a good cause.

Brooke 1:18:34
Thanks, Alex. Appreciate you throwing some some swag in the mix there. So how can folks find you on social meds? Or do you want them to, Alex?

Alex 1:18:44
No, I’m a ghost. You need a seance to reach me, these days. No, I got kicked off of Twitter when Elon Musk took over. So I’m not on Twitter anymore. I was in the first wave. It’s a point of pride. I got a tattoo. So, I’m on mastodon. You can find me at betacuck4life life as usual. You know, Mastodon users, they’re a lot more woke. So, people regularly tell me that my handle is problematic. And I’m like “It’s a thing.” You know, they don’t understand what I’ve been through.

Brooke 1:19:22
It is a very confusing handle to be to be fair.

Alex 1:19:26
Well, you know, I do love explaining things. Everybody wins.

Brooke 1:19:32
And y’all can find me personally on Twitter or Mastodon if you want to. OgemakweBrooke. No, I’m not going to spell my indigenous name for you, sorry. And you can find the Stranger’s Collective. We are the group that publishes this wonderful podcast. We are on Instagram and Twitter @ Tangledwild. We also have a pretty dope website. Have you seen our website, Alex?

Alex 1:20:04
Oh yeah, I check y’all out. Shit. We did business.

Brooke 1:20:08
Aw, thanks.

Brooke 1:20:25
All right. If you enjoyed this podcast, please give it a like, drop a comment, or review, and subscribe to us if you haven’t already. These things make the algorithms that rule our world offer the show to more people. This podcast is produced by the anarchist publishing collective Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. Like I said, you can connect with us on Twitter and on Instagram @TangledWild. And if you check out our website, you’ll discover we have a new book available for order. It’s called “Escape from Incel Island” written by the one and only Margaret Killjoy. The work of Strangers is made possible by our Patreon supporters. Honestly, we couldn’t do any of the work without them, without the support of Patreons. If you want to become a supporter, check out there are cool benefits at various support to tiers. For instance, if you support the collective at $10 a month, one of your benefits is getting 40% off of everything on our website, which includes Margaret’s new book. We’d like to give a specific shout out to some of our most supportive Patreon supporters. So thanks to Micaiah, Hoss the Dog, Cat J, Staro, Chris, Sam, Kirk, Eleanor, Jenipher and Chelsea. Dana and David. Nicole, Mikki, Paige and SJ, Shawn, Hunter, Theo, Boise Mutual Aid, Milica, Paparona, and Aly. Thanks for listening

Find out more at

S1E60 – This Month in the Apocalypse: Feb. 2023

Episode Summary

Brooke, Casandra, and Margaret talk about the war in Ukraine and how Russia is not doing great, the train derailment in East Palestine, anti trans bills, Adderall shortages and meth, the return of Big Chicken, long covid as potential auto immune disease, further bans on abortion drugs, drought, floods, earthquakes and the US’s top priority: shooting million dollar missiles at balloons.

Host Info

Margaret can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy. Casandra is just great and can be found at Strangers doing awesome layouts, and Brooke can be found on Twitter or Mastodon @ogemakweBrooke.

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at

Next Episode

A special episode will come out next week on March 17th on Surviving the Justice System.


This Month in the Apocalypse: Feb. 2023

Brooke 00:15
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. This is the February-March installment of our segment, This Month in the Apocalypse and I’m calling it the February-March episode because we’re recording in February and we’re talking about February but you’re going to be listening to it in March, most likely. I’m Brooke Jackson, and with me today, as usual are the quick thinking Casandra and the fast acting Margaret Killjoy.

Casandra 00:38
I don’t know if that’s accurate.

Margaret 00:42
Or at least fast talking sometimes, especially when I’m hyper. And today I’m hyper

Casandra 00:46
half of what I’m going to talk about today is brain fog and how it impacts me.

Brooke 00:51
Nice. Well, before we get into today’s episode, we’d like to share a little something something from another one of the swiftly streaming podcasts on the Channel Zero network of anarchist podcasts.

Casandra 01:17
And we’re back. Cas, Margaret, how are you feeling today?

Casandra 01:51
I just had my first sip of tea.

Margaret 01:55
I have been doom scrolling so hard that I didn’t sleep last night because of all the anti trans legislation. So I didn’t sleep enough and then I ate a protein cookie and pretended like it was food. So I’m great.

Casandra 02:07
And you don’t do caffeine at all. Not even tea.

Margaret 02:09
No, yeah, a bunch of sugar and protein in a cookie form is my equivalent of like making me immediately hyper.

Casandra 02:18

Margaret 02:19
Because I don’t fuck with caffeine. I’m straight edge, except for alcohol.

Brooke 02:24
Well good, you should take all that energy and tell us some things.

Margaret 02:29
Oh, okay, right. I’m first. Okay, February has been a big month for the apocalypse. The Apocalypse is coming in hard with a bunch of mostly really bad shit. I think that the biggest story, or whatever, the earthquake that happened in Turkey and Syria was really fucking bad. Everyone probably already knows this. As of when I’m recording it, the death toll stands at about 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria. Those numbers are still expected to go up. And a lot of it has to do with poverty and with buildings that are not built to withstand earthquakes. This is happening in a poor region. And that is absolutely affecting everything. I don’t have as much information about that to relay, but I just feel like it’s like the single most…like now I’m going to talk about the fucking balloons and I hate the fucking balloons. And I want people to know that like the earthquake is more important. But on February 14th, I think, I don’t remember, I wrote on February 14, but you think I’d remember that was Valentine’s Day. A surveillance balloon, there’s a Chinese balloon and the US shot it down. It was a really actually big balloon and it probably included some surveillance equipment. China was like, “It’s civilian.” The US is like, “No, it was military.” I’m not stressed about it because I expect the US government is surveilling me and I don’t really give a shit if some other country…whatever, I don’t fucking care. It may have been capturing cell transmissions and shit over the US. But then, of course, this sets off this like massive paranoia, where everyone’s like, “Balloons are trying to get us. Those Chinese balloons.” And the US like scrambled….

Brooke 04:20
I always knew it was going to be balloons. I’ve always said it, the balloons are coming for us.

Casandra 04:22
Doomsday mechanism.

Margaret 04:26
I mean…

Brooke 04:27
it’s the balloons. Clearly.

Margaret 04:30
They are creepy. Actually. This is funny, my my dad is phobic of hot air balloons. I’m sorry to reveal this about you, dad. And because he was always like, “No, they’re just there. They’re on the horizon. They’re creepy.” Like he’s not afraid of being in that. He’s afraid of them like on the horizon.

Casandra 04:46
One of my most traumatizing childhood moments was this hot air balloon show was like going over the neighborhood and I was spinning in circles staring upward watching them as one does and forgot that my mom had a whole like row of rose bushes. And then spent the whole afternoon having like rose thorns picked out of my ass. So, that’s all to say that I don’t think your dad’s insane.

Margaret 05:10
Yeah, so the US government scrambled a bunch of fighter jets to shoot down a whole bunch of other balloons, all of which, like the government is like, “We do not believe that they are surveillance balloons, but we don’t know.” And the reason that they’re saying we don’t know is because, well one they obliterated tiny balloons with missiles. So there’s like, not a lot left. There’s like like half a million dollar missiles being shot at these fucking things, one of which missed. They missed a fucking balloon over Lake Huron, and then it like, fell into the lake. And they’re like, “No one was harmed.” And I’m like, great, I feel so fucking good that the government is shooting missiles at the US. That makes sense. And so probably those balloons are like amateur weather balloons, like people like do this, where you’re like, I’m gonna get a balloon and like, put a bunch of equipment on it and send it up into the sky. And it’s cool, right? And because you can like see the stuff. And so fortunately, the US government is there to protect us against amateur weather and radio fans.

Brooke 06:11
You know, you know, our friends over that other podcast have been saying we should nuke the Great Lakes. So I think this was just a trial run to…

Margaret 06:20
Fuck, Robert Evans is like actually the one that got them to shoot missiles.

Casandra 06:24
Cancel Robert Evans.

Margaret 06:25
Yep. All right. Yeah. Or he’s a prophet.

Brooke 06:32
That’s what I was gonna say,

Margaret 06:34
Speaking of Prophets, but actually, in both mench versions of that word, there was a massive disaster on February 3, in East Palestine [rhymes with Springsteen], Ohio, because it’s not pronounced Palestine [rhymes with Stein], in which a train carrying a bunch of toxic shit had overheated wheel bearings, and derailed. It passed like a bunch of sensors that were like, detect overheated stuff. And then like on the last one, it was like, “Hey, you’re overheating,” and then it crashed. This overturned 11 Toxic cars at a…a bunch of more cars overturned, but 11 of them were full of toxic chemicals, including vinyl chloride, but also a bunch of other shit. 115,000 gallons of vinyl chloride, were let loose. And then they were like, “Slright, well, we better set the shutter on fire,” I’m not actually even going to like talk shit on the fact that they set on fire. It might have been the best thing that they could do in that circumstances. There is a lot of stuff that is implying that the government and you know, Norfolk Southern and all that are like downplaying the degree to this disaster. It is a massive disaster, it is a big fucking deal. And the people involved should be held accountable. And there’s like, all kinds of stuff about how a lot of the deregulation and of course, you know, the fact doesn’t help that Biden like stopped a railroad strike for better safety conditions, because that’s mostly huge part of what people are striking for. And they absolutely are like, the numbers are trending upwards. They’re like, “It’s not a big deal.” And they were like, “Hey, there’s a bunch of dead fish.” And people were like, “There are 4000 dead fish.” And they had a very specific number. It might not have been that number was like 300, 800, 3,850, or something. As of this morning, when I double checked, they’re up to 43,000 dead aquatic animals. That’s 10 times the previous claim. I understand why people are skeptical of these claims. They’re probably not forever chemicals. These are the sorts of chemicals that will break down. However, no one knows the long term effects of the exposure that people have already had to these chemicals. And it’s fucked up. Norfolk Southern stock has dropped, but not as precipitously as you would might like. It’s not even as low as it was last October, just like took a dip. So buy the dip, everyone go out and buy….don’t do this. Don’t go out and buy stock. Okay, that’s what I know about that. Other people might know more about it.

Casandra 08:56
Oh, I was just gonna say that….

Margaret 08:57
Next. Okay go ahead.

Casandra 08:58
I was just gonan say that the EPA seemed pretty like, firm with them, which I appreciated. It wasn’t the response I expected. Oh, were you wagging your finger at me? Or like…they were like.

Brooke 09:12
I was being the EPA. Yeah. Because we’re in a point of visual medium here, right with a podcast. So, everyone can see me doing that.

Casandra 09:19
I watched the recording and the guy was like, “If y’all don’t do this up to our standards, we will do it and then bill you and not just like, you’ll get the bill, but we’ll bill you a certain number of times the amount that it actually cost us as a penalty.” Yeah, it’s something I don’t know.

Margaret 09:37
I mean, that’s good. Yeah. Oh and then the other thing, when I when I lead with the transition of Prophets in both sense of the word. About a week before this disaster, I watched the Netflix movie “White Noise” based on the 1980s novel called “White Noise,” in which a toxic chemical train spill it In East Palestine, Ohio happens and fucks everything up. And it fucks with my head, just straight up. It fucks with my head that I watched a movie about a natural disaster and then… not a natural disaster, a manmade disaster. And then a week later, it happened in the same town of 5000 Fucking people. Or 4000 people.

Casandra 10:20
Maybe, you’re not a prophet, maybe actually. Your brain just determines all of reality.

Margaret 10:29
Oh, no, I’m not a prophet. No, no, no, no, I don’t think this is me.

Casandra 10:31
I think that what happens in your head is then what happens in the outside world. That’s more plausible.

Brooke 10:39
Yeah, that seems right.

Casandra 10:40
So, don’t think anything….

Margaret 10:42
This is a really good thing to tell someone who lives alone.

Brooke 10:46
I mean, it clearly anyone who reaches a certain level of podcasting, fame then develops a power to cause things to happen. Yeah, that’s what we’re saying here.

Margaret 10:57
Good to know. And then everyone lived in a happy anarchist society for all times in which everyone was equal, except Margaret was a little bit more equal and got like twice as much tea in the morning.

Casandra 11:06
You don’t like tea. We just went over this.

Margaret 11:10
Yeah, well, I shouldn’t have more of something I want. That would be fucked up.

Casandra 11:14
This is the like weirdest Catholic version of anarchist Utopia I’ve ever heard of.

Margaret 11:23
Hi, I’m Margaret Killjoy. Alright, so it’s speaking of other bad shit that happened this year, or actually, well, okay. The thing that happened in February is is the one year anniversary of the Ukraine war. As currently stands, it’s fallen out of the news, which means that no one is dying anymore, and everything is fine. Except that…

Brooke 11:47
PBS still does it. So to just throw a tiny amount of credit over there. But yeah…

Margaret 11:54
Yeah, well actually it’s funny because people will talk mad shit about mainstream news and for good reason. But like, overall, I think mainstream news is a little bit better of a job than like Twitter at like, staying attached to stories over time, rather than just like chasing the clicks, which is fucking saying something because that is what mainstream news was notoriously bad at. I just think social media is even worse at it. On the other hand, it’s not the job of the random Twitter person to….Okay, so, the Ukraine war is largely out of stalemate. As stands Russia holds 17% of Ukraine, an area twice the size of Italy. It’s less than they controlled at the beginning of the war by a decent amount, and specifically, almost all their holdings are in the east. And it’s been like slowly being chipped away at overall is kind of the general thing. Most foreign fighters left after a few months, it went down, there’s 20,000 foreign fighters, mostly like vets of various other countries who are like, “Well fuck an invasion.” And a lot of people were like, I think actually a lot of people were like, “Well, I fought in all of these like evil US wars, because they have like worked for the US government. Here’s a just war,” and people went like chasing a just war, right. It’s down from about 20,000 foreign fighters to 2000 foreign fighters as the war drags on. China is calling for peace talks right now. And more might have happened by the time you hear this, like this is like news from yesterday and today, and their position is…like I mean overall they’re trying to present themselves as neutral, but like overall they’re like, “This is a war of Western aggression.” You know? “This is a war of you know a Ukraine shouldn’t dress like that if it didn’t want to get attacked.” They’ve four times abstained….Thank you for laughing at my off color joke. And yeah, I mean, because that is what it comes down to this idea of like, we had to invade you because you are getting too close to our borders with your power or whatever. Like, you can’t fucking justify invading another country for that reason.

Casandra 14:03
They’re opposing US imperialism, Margaret.

Margaret 14:06
Yeah, they do.

Casandra 14:07

Margaret 14:10
Yeah. Yeah. And that’s China’s position. They’re with the US tankies. Or rather US tankies are with them. They have four times abstained from voting in the UN votes to ask Russia to withdraw its troops it’s possible also that China’s like trying to get in….and this is like everyone. This is the actual imperialism from my point of view about all this is everyone calling for these peace talks a lot of it is that they’re like they want in on the economic reconstruction aka they want like their economic interest in the capitalism to to do their thing just to China it’s slightly more state capitalism in the US it’s slightly more..

Casandra 14:46
China’s not capitalist Margaret What are you talking about?

Margaret 14:48
Oh, right. Sorry. I Forgot. They want to bring their peoples army… and I Love that It’s like the tankies pretending that Russia is fucking commie…anyway. The number of Russian soldiers Ukraine is killing is going up, which, you know, whatever, fuck them. 824 Such Russian soldiers a day are dying in Ukraine in February, which is the highest rate since the invasion started. Between 180,000 and 270,000 Russians have died in the war in the past year. And for comparison, Russia is this huge place. And we think about like how Russia just like, bled people during World War II, you know. Russia is only half the population of the United States. And so this is…so when you think about percentage wise, if you think about, it’s like, you know, the equivalent of half a million people dying in one year in a dumb fucking war. About 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died. They claim that 13,000 of their soldiers have died. Vaguely neutral observers from the outside of claims that 100,000 have died, which is like, their, their like, kill rate, oh, God, I’m not even going to pretend to put this in video game terms. That’s fucked up. And also another 30,000 or so civilians, Ukrainian civilians have died. Like directly, tons more displace. Everything’s fucked up. It’s war. I haven’t been able to get a recent number for the total number of arrests in Russia. But, it’s like worth really understanding how much a lot of Russians do fucking not want this to happen. There were 15,000 people arrested protesting against the war and like the first month of the war alone, and there’s thousands more at various other times, but I wasn’t able to find a total count. And, you know, in case anyone needs any reminding that nationalism is garbage. between half a million and a million Russians have fled, rather than be conscripted and fight in this stupid fucking bullshit. And 200 or so Russians are actively fighting for Ukraine. There is no out good outside guests. That is a guess from one of these Russian fighters. And they all have different reasons. I am aware of their being Russian anarchists. I was not able to find more information about that. Most of the anarchists that I know from other countries I think are more involved in directing solidarity goods, except for Belarus.. A lot of anarchists fighters in Ukraine. Anyway, of the 200 or so fighters, the the one I was able to find the specific motive for he’s is doing as his Christian duty to stop invasions. And let’s see, okay, almost done with the Russian war thing. Dutch intelligence reports that Russia is mapping power and gas infrastructure in the North Sea for potential attack. This came out like yesterday. So who knows what will happen with that. And then it’s also kind of worth knowing there’s like all of these, like anti war rallies happening around the war around the world. And most of them are like about trying to stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine, right? They’re like, “Hey, this war is fucked up, aka Russia is fucked up.” But in the US, we get a different kind of anti war movement, we get an anti war movement that’s a weird collection of tankies and Nazis…

Casandra 18:20
Margaret, that never happened!

Margaret 18:21
…coming together like a Molotov-Ribbontrop Pact to say stop the war machine.

Casandra 18:28
Stalin is the whole reason…..

Margaret 18:34
Yeah, no, I know.

Casandra 18:38
The reason the Nazis were defeated soley was because of Stalin, therefore, you know, the Soviet Union never never ever could have allied with the Nazis, even though we have historical records that it did blah, blah.

Margaret 18:53
Yeah, like at the beginning, Russia was like, “Hey, allies, can we hang out with you, Germany’s looking real weird.” And the allies were like, “I’m not sure.” And so then Russia was like or USSR was like, “Hey, Nazis, can we hang out with you? We know bad shits about to happen,” and they were like, “Yeah, but totally,” and the USSR sent them tons of aid, just literal material, tons of aid. And collectively, they mapped out which countries they were going to invade together and they invaded Poland together…It’s Poland. Am I getting that right? And then, Germany was like “JK, surprise attack.” And then the USSR was like, “Okay, we’re against you.” And then fucking millions of Russians died to defeat the Nazis and that needs to be understood and respected. But like Stalin was like making them…there’s like, reports from survivors…This is totally what this episode is about. There’s like reports from survivors who were like forced to charge Nazi tanks bare handed. And so like, the high numbers of Russian dead wasn’t because Stalin ruled. The high numbers is because Stalin fucking sucks. Anyway.

Casandra 20:08
And there’s also the whole like, the line that like the USSR saved with the Jews or whatever, when, which was just like totally. Anyway, we won’t talk about how Jews were treated in the USSR.

Margaret 20:23
When they signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact….Yeah. Anyway, USSR is not modern Russia, but there’s an anti war movement. So that’s okay. That’s Ukraine. Now, the trans laws, the thing that has me up all night. Yesterday, I believe the Tennessee House passed a bill. And now this was misrepresented. And I accidentally misrepresented this too, because I trusted a Twitterer who trusted a news article from a mainstream source that, okay, a Tennessee House did pass this bill. And by the time you’re listening to this, probably their fucking Senate and Governor have signed off on it. But the article was like, “And now it goes up to the governor.” It doesn’t it goes to the Senate first. And a lot of really shitty laws passed the House, but not the Senate in like, any given place. So there’s like, still hope. But I’m not full of fucking hope because a lot of these types of laws are passing right now. The type of law I’m talking about, this is an anti drag law. And these anti drag laws are similar ones proposed around the country and all the details are a little bit different. But the overall idea is that if anyone who is a male or female impersonator, AKA a crossdresser, aka, me living my fucking life, or a drag performer, if they perform, and if it’s like, in any way, like…some places it’s just like literally if they perform, or exist in public, and another one’s the Tennessee laws a little bit like, and they perform in a way that has any kind of like, sexual titillation, or whatever then that has to be the venue that is now a strip club legally, or like, needs to be a like 18+ adult entertainment, cabaret or whatever the fuck

Casandra 22:15
Like who’s deciding if something’s sexual?

Margaret 22:19
Uh huh. And it is. First cops, then judges, Two groups I trust to the bottom of my….nothing.

Margaret 22:35
Or the parents who call the cops.

Brooke 22:41
Don’t forget about he mob.

Margaret 22:42
Yeah, no, totally. They’re the first step in it. So that is the literal criminal criminalization of being trans in public.

Casandra 22:45
Yeah, there are nine anti trans laws on the books right now in Oregon. Yeah.

Margaret 22:52
Yeah. There’s 14 other states with similar anti drag laws in the works, including Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and Idaho. And I just didn’t find the full list, I found people like a couple different places giving like short versions of the list. South Dakota did just pass a law like not just the house or whatever, but like it’s fucking signed, that forces trans youth to detransition. And Utah passed a law against trans youth also, very recently, or against allowing trans youth to transition. But, I don’t believe it forcibly detransitioned. I believe that this one in South Dakota is the first one to force detransition, which from my point of view, pretty much means that trans…families with trans children who can’t afford to move are going to have their trans kids run away or kill themselves. Just like, frankly, I am not recommending. I am recommending if you’re a trans youth to in a place that is affected by this to get in touch with community to try and help you and your family get out of that situation. That is what I’m directly recommending. But, the the reason that doctors believe in gender affirming care for trans youth is that it lowers the rates of death substantially. Oklahoma is currently considering a bill to ban gender affirming care to adults, anyone under the age of 26.

Brooke 24:22
Fucking Oklahoma.

Casandra 24:22
I can’t remember which bill i was reading, but I was reading about one that was worded in such a way where gender affirming care also ended up including things like hormones for ciswomen dealing with menopause, like it was so broad sweeping that like, I just don’t think people consider the broader implications. You know what I mean?

Margaret 24:41
I don’t know whether this one was that one, but I…it wouldn’t surprise me and I feel like people pass laws like that all the time. And then just like, no one’s going to actually stop cis women from accessing hormones from menopause, you know, or like, you know, people dealing with prostate cancer often take hormones and you know, testosterone blockers and things like that, and like…All the shit is overbroad, like crazy, but not in a way where I feel like oh, it’s overbroad, and it gets struck down like no, it’s gonna get targetedly used against trans people against, the Left. And 5% of US people in the US who are under the age of 25 identify as trans or like nonbinary in some way, compared to point .5% of the rest of the population as a whole. And I would like to…don’t make me tap of the sign of the that graph of chart of left handedness as a chart of left handedness. Like once they stopeed. Once they started letting people be left handed, it goes up and caps itself, you know. And every major medical association in America recognizes that gender affirming care for youth saves lives. That is not a…I assume everyone listening to this already knows the shit, but it’s like worth fucking knowing. This is not a like, medically contested issue. You know, this is like, and I’m not like, “Man, you know, who I trust immediately, the medical institution, they always have our backs.” But, they do in this case, because they’re not fucking… Oh, God. That’s what I’ve got to talk about this week.

Brooke 26:20
Jon Stewart did a good piece that was on gender affirming care that maybe everyone’s already seen, because it was a little while ago, but was, you know, citing those…Just what you’re exactly what you’re saying, Margaret about every every major medical organization in the US.

Margaret 26:38
And honestly has been one of the only cispeople I’ve seen talking about it in public. The silence from cispeople has been deafening. And if your cis and listening to this, I’m hoping that if you’ve been silent about it, I’m hoping that the reason you’ve been silent about it, is because you’re afraid of taking up too much of the conversation. Because we do have this way of talking about social issues right now, where people are afraid to talk about issues that don’t directly affect them. And I think that that is a misstep. And that it will take cis people talking about this angrily, before anything will change. Because, when it’s just trans people, and sometimes their immediate families who are showing up to protest, everyone’s going to be like, “Well, fuck those pedo whatever,” fuck, whatever. Fucking bullshit, you know. So from my point of view, part of the reason this keeps me up at night is not because the Nazis want to kill me, they’ve wanted to kill me for a long time, they’ve sent me letters to this effect, with like, my parents address in it, you know, it’s that when I don’t feel supported, is when I feel the most lost about all of this stuff, just frankly. And so sometimes like that support is like, like, “Margaret’s guide to being supportive to your trans friends,” is like, like, sometimes, like random people messaging me to be like, “I see you, you’re valid.” I’m like, that’s great. I don’t I don’t need that from strangers. What I need from strangers is for people to talk to the people, they’re around and say shit about this, you know, I have a, I know I’m valid. I have a supportive family. And I have a supportive network of friends and all of that, you know? Yeah, sorry, this is…I mean, all of these things that we’re going to talk about are big deals. But you know, this one affects me very directly.

Brooke 28:45
Oh, no, I appreciate you saying more about it, because I was gonna ask follow up questions about like, you know, showing support and good ways to do that. So thanks for talking about that.

Margaret 28:55
Be fucking angry. Like, you know, and it’s like, and this stuff like, it’s also all part of misogyny. Like, because people want to control people’s bodies. And so transmen are affected by this because they’re, like, leaving womanhood behind and that’s bad or whatever. And then of course, transwomen are like, the reason that people don’t want us to exist is a weird protect the women thing, right? And so like, when cis women are loudly like, “No, I would rather have this transwoman in the bathroom with me then like I don’t know someone who’s like peeking under stalls to make sure no one has a penis.” Like people being loud about that kind of support. There’s this brilliant video of thus person who I believe is a cis woman who’s like getting gender policed by a Karen in a bathroom.

Casandra 29:47
I saw that

Margaret 29:48
And refuses to answer whether or not she has a dick. Yeah, it fucking…that gives me hope. So, I like.

Casandra 30:00
That’s like reverse Karen.

Brooke 30:02
I just bookmarked that so I can watch it after

Casandra 30:05
We should start a Nazis know our parents’ address club.

Margaret 30:17
And then like…it’s funny I try not to talk too much about my family on this podcast, I guess, but then again the Nazis already know where they live. Like my dad’s fucking ex marine with anger management issue who loves this trans daughter? How’s do they think this is gonnna go?

Casandra 30:35
I mean, my situation, my parent’s would’ve been like “Whatever.”

Margaret 30:41
Yeah, okay, fair. I’m sorry.

Casandra 30:43
Okay, who’s next?

Brooke 30:48
Okay. Can we talk about happier things?

Margaret 30:54
What podcast are on?

Casandra 30:57
I genuinely can’t remember who’s next. Is it you, Brooke?

Brooke 31:03
Allegedly. Although, if it’s something you have segues better for, I’m all for it. I had a good segue from the war thing. But then we then we start talking about the trans issue and I don’t know where to go from there.

Casandra 31:13
I think the world is shit. There are lots of them. They’re diverse, shitty things to talk about, you know?

Margaret 31:18
Well, and even the war thing, it’s like, you know, what, Ukraine is fucking holding on a year later. That is a fucking positive story. It is a terrible, horrible story. But they’re still fucking there. You know, like people thought Ukraine wasn’t going to be a country by last summer.

Brooke 31:36
That’s a really good point. Well, speaking of war, wars, the war on drugs. Drugs. Adderall. I did it you’re welcome. We did a, I think our August episode or something like that we did a roundup on like shortages, things that were in shortages. And I know we talked about Adderall at one point and being in shortage and why. And that started like last summer sometime I think August or so it was when people started talking about it. The FDA or DEA, I can’t remember which one it was that came out with the announcement. I think the the FDA came out like late October and said, “Hey, we have an Adderall shortage.” And everyone said, “We fucking know we’ve been dealing with with this for two or three months now.” And it’s gotten worse than it’s been in the news again, recently, because of just how much worse it has gotten. We talked about it previously, we talked about some of the reasons why the shortage was happening. And part of it is a production issue. It’s a very controlled substance. So, it’s not like manufacturers can just start pumping out a whole bunch more. And not just like the creation of the Adderall. But the ingredients that go into it are controlled substances as well, so they can only make so much of that. Allegedly, there’s enough supply of the base ingredients that we shouldn’t have this shortage. So….

Casandra 33:10
Sorry, I’m stupid about Adderall, is it it because meth. Is that the….? Okay, sorry.

Brooke 33:18
That’s where I’m going with this, but yeah, that’s that is that. That is part of the reason it’s such a controlled substance, because Amphetamine is, you know, main ingredient, it’s it’s people often refer to Adderall as being, you know, legal meth, or prescribed meth.

Casandra 33:33
I know nothing. Wow. That’s wild.

Brooke 33:42
So, there have been some reports of folks that haven’t been able to get their Adderall and have, in fact, turned to meth in order to get the substance they need, and there’s not a good sense of how like widespread this is, versus, you know, a couple of instances that hit the news, you know, there’s at least one story of somebody who died in an ER, because of meth. And they said they were taking the math because they couldn’t get their Adderall prescription. And, you know, meth, you know, historically causes no problems to the brain and doesn’t make people say things that are wacky and untrue. So we can trust that story. But, that’s what’s happening. But, the fun conspiracy theorh where I’m going with this that’s floating around is that the government is purposely restricting the manufacture of Adderall to force people to turn to meth to perpetuate the war on drugs. So there you go. Conspiracy theories are fun.

Margaret 34:43
Wait, So this is a new conspiracy. Okay. How the balloons tie in?

Casandra 34:48

Margaret 34:49
Is that where moving it? They’re getting the Adderall out of the country?

Casandra 34:52
They’re delivering it. If we would have let them come in farther, they would have just released it because everyone wants Adderall.

Margaret 34:58
Oh, yeah. That’s sort of true…the part where everyone wants Adderal.

Casandra 35:03
I do not.

Margaret 35:06
Yeah. No, I don’t want Adderall. I’m hyper off a cookie.

Brooke 35:12
That’s part of the issue is that the prescriptions for Adderall increased 27%. From 2019 to 2022. There were like 35 million prescriptions in the US, which is a fuck ton, in 2019. And then it went up to like 45 million by 2021 or 22. And I mean, shocker. Everybody’s stuck inside with a pandemic. Like we overprescribed, that are all for sure. And I and that is not to say there’s not people who genuinely need it out there. And I don’t mean to bash anybody’s use of of that prescription. But you know, one of the articles that I was reading they, you know how news reports like to pick a human interest story to tell their story, they were talking about this 16 year old female in Utah, who’s like in all of the AP classes, honors classes is getting ready for college and how stressed out she was and obsessed with perfection, and she couldn’t get all her stuff done. And then she got an Adderall prescription. And, and now she’s able to get all her homework done, and she’s acing all their classes, and it’s ready for college and blah, blah, blah. And it’s like, well, yeah, I mean, you just gave her gave her amphetamines.

Casandra 36:36
I feel like there’s a misuse potential. Like, the people I know, who have ADHD and take Adderall, it doesn’t impact their system that way, you know. And I also think there’s a certain, I see this with autism as well, there’s a certain amount of like, like the left handed thing that Margaret brought up, you know? Like, it might seem like, it might seem like an undue spike, but I’m sure a large percentage of that is people who are finally getting care they need.

Margaret 37:12
And then also, like, I think about it because I came closer to seeking medication for ADHD than I ever have. And what it was for me is that I built my entire life around the fact that I have ADHD, there’s a reason that I’m a freelancer, there’s a reason that I, you know, I travel, there’s a reason I work for myself. Like, there’s all these things that I’ve done, that have made ADHD not a problem in my life, right. But actually, the beginning of the pandemic, it made it more of a problem. It made it harder for me because like, I had to sit in my cabin and work on a computer in order to eat food, and stuff, you know, and so like, and I don’t thrive in certain environments, and so I was like, “Man, if I had something that helped me thrive in this environment.” So.

Casandra 37:56
Which then makes me wonder, like, how much of that need is attached to Capitalism, you know, lthe ike productivity. So? Yeah.

Margaret 38:04
Oh, yeah. No, totally. I mean. Totally. I had a day job for a minute.

Casandra 38:10
Sitting in a cabin alone with….That sounds like my dream.

Margaret 38:16
I know. Well, I was fine until the day job. Awesome.

Margaret 38:24
Okay, so,

Brooke 38:25
Again, I don’t want to like bash anybody that’s taking it. I don’t know. I don’t want to say that there aren’t legitimate reasons that some of those people didn’t need it. But, we we do know that it’s overprescribed, that you take you know, young people who are high achieving, and we’ve got them overscheduled and fucking Capitalism.

Casandra 38:41
Oh, everyone, I knew in college was….Adderall all the time.

Brooke 38:46
Yeah, just give them drugs. So, that’s part of the problem. Anyway, the DEA is trying to get you addicted to meth. x

Casandra 38:59
I thought it was the FDA.

Margaret 39:02
And that’s why they’re shooting down balloons.

Brooke 39:06
No, it’s the DEA because that’s the Drug Enforcement Agency. They’re the ones trying to perpetuate the war on drugs and they have something to do.

Casandra 39:14
I hope people know when we are and aren’t being sarcastic.

Margaret 39:22
I hope so too. But I’m not optimistic.

Brooke 39:27
Never take me seriously. That’s my answer. I have one other fun conspiracy theory thing. Okay, it actually came up right after the end of our last recording and it was kind of a bummer. We didn’t get it in there. But, it’s about chicken feed.

Casandra 39:46
Big Chicken!

Brooke 39:47
And chicken feed conspiracy, that something is….Yep, Big Chicken. Not and not Tyson. Not that evil chicken, but it’s actually a big big fooder you may have heard of this brand called Purina?

Casandra 40:01
Dog food.

Brooke 40:02
Are pretty well known for creating pet food. Yeah.

Margaret 40:05
They feed cats.

Brooke 40:06
But they also make more industrial feeds like chicken feed and guinea pigs and goats and I don’t even know the full extent of their thing, but they make feed for a lot of different kinds of animals. And people started reporting in July last year that their chickens and this is industrial level and you know, household people chicken in the backyard kind of people, crazies like me that their their egg laying productions seem to be going down. And then going through the winter, a lot of a lot of people have talked about their eggs production from their chickens being at or very near zero, which I also have been in this boat for a while my my four girls were not laying any eggs. And it wasn’t an old chicken issue, like they’re, they’re young, and they just started laying this last summer. And yes, production goes down in the winter, that’s normal, but doesn’t usually just completely drop off. So, people were posting about it on social medias and talking about it and started forming this conspiracy that there’s something wrong with chicken feed, Purina mainly because they’re one of the biggest suppliers not just under their name brand, but their sub brands as well. And that something is missing in the chicken feed that’s causing them not to lay as well. And then lots people saying “I switched to another brand, I started mixing my own,” blah, blah, blah. “And suddenly my my chickens are laying again.” And as much as I hate conspiracy theories and don’t want to feed into it, I have to say that I also was having the same issue of zero egg production. And then I grabbed a protein blend from a different brand and started mixing that into their feed and getting eggs.

Margaret 41:49
That doesn’t have to be a conspiracy. They could have just fucked up.

Casandra 41:51
Honestly, people have reported that they’ve had their feet tested. They’ve had their Purina tested and it contains the appropriate amount of protein. So there’s like, at this point a month later….I’m sorry, I was the one who brought this up because I was I raise quail. And so I’m on, I don’t know, poultry, social media. Yeah. Anyway. But yeah, so apparently people have gotten their feed tested, and it has the appropriate components, so now they’re like, “Is there something added to it?” That’s the new conspiracy.

Margaret 42:27
Well, I know what, I know what the problem is.

Brooke 42:29
Morgaret has the answer.

Casandra 42:32
Okay, good.

Margaret 42:32
Yeah, I watched this….No, it’s not gonna be the answer. No, I watched this documentary called All Quiet on the Western Front on Netflix last night. And in it, the Imperial German soldiers, while they’re occupied France during World War One, there’s they’re breaking into farmers yards and stealing the eggs. And so it’s actually. It’s actually Imperial German soldiers are breaking into everyone’s yards and stealing quail eggs and chicken eggs.

Brooke 43:10
Oh, okay.

Casandra 43:12

Brooke 43:12
There are a lot of other factors that genuinely influence chicken, like production, like the amount of light and the temperature. And, you know, our light levels are not particularly off. They’re low this time of year, like always, but it definitely has been a little bit colder on average this winter here for us, though. My mother…Hi, Mom, I love you was like you need to put a heating light on your chickens and they’ll lay more which I did for a month and it didn’t affect anything. Although that was also after one of those snows that we had too.

Casandra 43:44
Can I telll you one of the more wingnut versions of this I’ve heard?

Brooke 43:47
Yes, please.

Casandra 43:48
And who knows. But, the most like, you know, puppet master version of all of this I’ve heard is that Purina partnered with some giant egg company that I can’t remember the name of right now, who just opened a whole bunch of, starting last fall open several massive like egg production facilities. So, it’s in Purina’s best interest to add something to the feed so that our chickens can’t lay eggs. And that’s why egg prices are through the roof. And now you have to buy the eggs and it’s just ohhhh. Yeah.

Brooke 44:26
Yeah, that’s the other thing that’s feeding into the conspiracy theories I was gonna wrap this up with.

Brooke 44:29
Sorry. I’m taking…

Brooke 44:30
No, you’re fine. It’s perfect. Perfect segue. Excellent. Yeah. Is the prices going up on eggs is all feeding into conspiracy and you know, people not thinking about food prices in general have gone up and we feed chickens food things. And yeah, anyway, what Margaret?

Margaret 44:48
Oh, just there’s some, I was reading today, that there’s some guesses that we might have hit peak food inflation, specifically around eggs and meat. Because basically, no one can get enough money…because you can’t sell eggs at a certain…the way cap, the market works, you know, you can’t sell it at a certain amount, so fewer sell or whatever. And so wholesale egg prices have started dropping. And as of when the article I read came out this had not yet hit retail egg prices. Because people probably are like, Well, alright, I can buy them for cheap and sell them for just as much Fuck yeah. But wholesale egg prices are starting to drop and meat prices are also starting to drop on a wholesale level, because inflation reduced the profit.

Brooke 45:39
Okay. Well, the one upside, so that’s sorry…..

Casandra 45:48
I think there’s something about Purina feed, and we don’t know what and that’s fine. And that people seem to be switching feeds or making their own and it’s fine. I mean, there might be but like, I don’t really care personally, I’m like, I just want my quails to lay eggs.

Margaret 46:07
And it’s just not a conspiracy. They’re just fucked up their food.

Brooke 46:09
Right. Yeah, there’s other complicating factors. It’s not maybe not just this one thing. Like, yeah, you know, we hear where Cas and I live have had a colder little bit colder winter than average and that’ll slow down production. I don’t know for the US as an entirety but you know, just an example.

Margaret 46:25
Well, there’s there’s that saying “Never never attribute to incompetence. What can be understood…” No, wait. I know something isn’t…It’s Goddamnit “It’s not malice. It’s incompetence.” It’s more likely that it is incompetence than malice at any given thing that’s happening.

Casandra 46:49
I mean, yeah, it’s like very experienced people who are having this issue, like there’s something, there’s something wrong, right?

Margaret 47:05
Oh, that’s what I mean about…sorry, I don’t mean incompetence of the chicken keepers. The chicken lords.

Brooke 47:10
That is what we call ourselves, Margaret, chicken lords.

Margaret 47:12
I mean, the incompetence of Purina. The…like Purina fucking up the feed is probably because they fucked up the feed, not cause they’re like, “hahaha.”

Brooke 47:25
I mean, it’s entirely possible Purina switched to cheaper, lower quality components to create their feeds because of inflation.

Casandra 47:31
It’s not incompetence if it’s a giant company. Yeah.

Brooke 47:35
There’s something in that. The one upside of….

Casandra 47:40
Root cause. Okay. Yeah.

Brooke 47:42
There you go. Nice.

Margaret 47:44
Yeah, it might be greed instead of malice.

Brooke 47:45
Let me just say the happy thing.

Margaret 47:46
What’s the happy thing? What’s the happy thing?

Brooke 47:50
Is that people have turned to other feed sources. So, instead of supporting the big giant mega Corp, they’re supporting smaller ones, like I reached out to a local person who’s making their own blends. And I’m going to start using some of that. People have learned how to create their own blends and feed their things, which I think it’s always great to get away from the industrial manufacturers. So…

Casandra 48:11
I don’t know how to jump from chickens to this….

Brooke 48:17
Chickens. Avian Flu. Flu. Sickness. Bad. Long COVID.

Casandra 48:24
I raised quail because I’m allergic to chicken eggs, cause autoimmune disease. Did you know long COVID is kind of like an autoimmune disease?

Brooke 48:32

Casandra 48:35
Do either of you know anyone with long covid?

Brooke 48:37

Margaret 48:39
Yeah, part of the reason I don’t leave the house, not because I have it, but because I’m terrified. I mean, I’m making rational decisions around safety.

Brooke 48:48
I’m worried I’m having it.

Casandra 48:52
Oh, well, maybe maybe this will be easier. When I when I first heard about it. So, some of the symptoms I’ve heard include fatigue, brain fog, difficulty breathing, joint pain, chest pain, general like lower quality of life, gut issues. When I hear that list, I’m like, oh, that’s, that sounds like my autoimmune disease. And sure enough, they’re realizing that long COVID does have a lot in common with an autoimmune disease. I don’t think they’re classifying it that way. At this point, like the research is ongoing, but it’s just really interesting to me. So apparently, something like 11% of people who get COVID-19 will have long COVID, which lets you one study in “Nature,” I read said up to 65 million people are suffering from on COVID, which is apparently a 10th of the number of people worldwide who have had COVID. So , 1 in 10 people is kind of a lot. Yeah. And suddenly, you know, folks at the beginning of COVID, who were calling it, a mass disabling event make a lot more sense.

Brooke 50:01

Casandra 50:05
This is terrible and funny. I read a tweet where someone said “People went on about herd immunity. But now we have heard autoimmunity.”

Brooke 50:12
Oh, it’s funny and awful

Casandra 50:17
It is. Sorry, I’m laughing at that because I have an autoimmune disease. I think I should offer that context. So, populations impacted: Apparently 4% of folks with long COVID are under 12. Aside from that about a third are people under 50. Another third are 50 to 60. And then another third are people above 65. So it is impacting people who are our age.

Brooke 50:44
You can’t have three thirds and four percent.

Casandra 50:47
I said, in addition to that. Or after that.

Brooke 50:51
Okay, sorry. Math. Just slap me.

Casandra 50:53
I read so many studies to cobble this all together. Don’t judge my numbers. It’s more…I say that to bookkeeper. It’s more predominant in transgender folks and women, which is also true of autoimmune diseases. 75% of people with long COVID where never hospitalized. 75% of those people have not sought medical help for long COVID. And there’s also an assumption that a lot of these numbers are actually higher, because we all know how reporting has gone down in and how healthcare is expensive. And if people don’t have to go to a hospital or a doctor, they won’t, you know.

Brooke 51:35
Is there anyone out there that still saying long COVID doesn’t exist? Not like the you know, extremists but like, mainstream for a while was like long COVID is made up? It’s not actually happening. Is that still a common thought? Or is that finally going away?

Casandra 51:50
I don’t know how common it…so this is all really curious to me because I have an autoimmune disease and because last month, January 2023, two different studies came out about Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which I also have, and how it increases the likelihood of long COVID. And when that study came out, I started to see a bunch of people talking about long COVID and low dose Naltrexone being a useful approach, which is a medication I take, which I cannot get prescribed by a regular doctor. Because they deny that it’s a useful immunomodulator. Like remedy. And that’s all to say that like, I think I’m hypersensitive to the disbelief around these things. And one of the reasons this if fascinating to me. Yeah, one of the reasons this is fascinating to me, is because it’s opening up these conversations about these diseases that patients have been talking about for years, and have not historically been believed.

Margaret 52:56
Often as a symptom of misogyny, right?

Casandra 53:01
Yeah, Totally. I don’t know anyone who has, you know, something in the spectrum of chronic illness who hasn’t gone through, like literally years of doctor saying it “Doesn’t exist,” or “You don’t have it.” Or “It’s not that bad.” Like, I had to call my doctor and inform her of what I had, like, based on my labs, because she didn’t tell me. And so now there’s this like, sped up process around long COVID, right, where like, so many people are getting sick all at once that like, there was the disbelief and other people downplaying it. But like, research is catching up at a faster rate, it seems like, which has implications for the broader community, which could be positive. Even though it sucks that how many, how many millions. 65 million people….

Margaret 53:52
Well, it’s like mRNA caccines, like, it’s fucking cool, that we’re suddenly able to get vaccinated for so many more things than we used to. And it is absolutely fucked that it took this…It took so many people getting this before people were like, “Oh, maybe it’s just not like the modern version of hysteria,” the whiny woman disease or whatever, you know.

Casandra 54:20
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I think there’s….up until very recently, if you walked into a doctor and were like, even if you had a what’s the word I’m looking for, not a prescription when they tell you what your… a diagnosis, from a previous doctor saying “I have chronic fatigue,” or whatever. It’s highly likely that your new doctor will say that doesn’t exist. But now, suddenly, the only word…it’s like the only words that they have to describe long COVID are these words like chronic fatigue and autoimmune disease? So, suddenly they have to like view them as legitimate. But studies are coming out in these like, major scientific journals like “Nature.” “JANA,” what’s the other one? I was reading? Whatever, science. So people are taking it seriously. And that’s, not exciting because I wish it didn’t exist at all, but is good.

Brooke 55:27
Yeah, the friend that I have.

Casandra 55:28
I have a whole. Oh, go ahead.

Brooke 55:30
Oh, just the friend that I have that has long COVID he has faced a lot of that struggle with this belief. I think he got COVID earlier on, or at least not recently. And yeah, definitely has faced a lot of like disbelief and extra hurdles and trying to advocate for himself and get the kind of care that he needs.

Casandra 55:54
Yeah. And it’s, it’s I think maybe people need to understand how severe it can be. Because the umbrella of long COVID, my understanding, like, you know, they’re still actively defining this term, but my understanding is that it’s people who have at least two symptoms, at least, I think it’s two months after the acute infection goes away. But for some people that can be so debilitating that like, they need walkers, or they need you know, it’s life altering. Yeah. And I read one study that said that, as many as 4 million people are unemployed, because of long covid, which is a whole other conversation around, like, what counts as a disability in this country? And what doesn’t? Like I remember when I was first diagnosed with my autoimmune disease, and was way less functional than I am now. I was like, “Why? Why would I not qualify for disability?” And the answer is that there are a lot of bureaucratic reasons, apparently. But yeah, who knows, maybe that will change too.

Brooke 57:04
Part of it’s because…part of the bureaucracy is that they can’t take away the designation once they’ve given it. So, they don’t want to make it too easy to label you disabled, because then you don’t, you don’t get to go back from being disabled.

Margaret 57:22
Or we could just not means test care. And anyone who needs care, could just have care.

Casandra 57:31
We don’t think you’re sick enough. Do you want to hear some more interesting statistics?

Brooke 57:39
Always. Give me numbers.

Casandra 57:42
Yeah, I know Brooks excited. So, a study in Germany recently found that people who get COVID have a 30% or had a 30% increase in risk of autoimmune diseases up to a year after their acute infection. So, there’s active comorbidity there. And the people who go into COVID having an autoimmune disease, have a 25% increase in their chance of contracting additional autoimmune diseases. But that’s all significantly lowered if patients are vaccinated. There’s a like crunchy version of autoimmune communities where people are antivax.

Margaret 58:26
Oh, that’s why you’re making angry eyes as soon as you….

Casandra 58:30
Well, so these statistics are particularly important, right?

Margaret 58:35
I’m mad that there’s been a Lyme vaccine that they just didn’t finish studying. I could be wrong about this. I don’t remember all the details. I read a pop science article about it. But there’s like a…there’s been a Lyme disease [vaccine] that they can give to dogs, but they just didn’t finish studying it and people. And it’s been around for like 20 years.

Brooke 58:54
That’s infuriating.

Casandra 58:55
I don’t live in Lyme country. So it’s not like as big an issue here. But that’s wild.

Margaret 59:00
I got Lyme in Oregon. Like, where you live. But, and I and I live in fucking Lyme country and I’ve never gotten Lyme over here.

Brooke 59:11
Wow. Yeah. Got some anyway, family in Idaho that, about 15 years ago, were battling Lyme and one of them had it since he was a teenager.

Margaret 59:23
I want to fucking Lyme vaccine. It’s like, I think people who play D&D are going to be smarter around risk analysis, because anyone who’s played D&D knows that 5% chance of something happens means it’s gonna happen. Like…

Casandra 59:37
Yeah, eventually.

Margaret 59:39
Yeah, exactly. And because you’ve had that happen over and over again, when you play this, and you also realize that anything that you get, that’s like, a plus 5% safer, you always take it, right, like, and the vaccine is like a 90% safer, and people are like, “Ah, people still get sick, so therefore it’s bullshit,” but Like, if the vaccine made you 5% safer, and you play Dungeons and Dragons, you’ll take it.

Casandra 1:00:05
It’s actually, it’s 10%. It’s 10% safer.

Margaret 1:00:09
Wait, what is?

Casandra 1:00:11
If you’re vaccinated….

Margaret 1:00:13
Oh, about the autoimmune stuff. Okay.

Casandra 1:00:15

Margaret 1:00:15
I was thinking about like COVID itself, but yeah. Yeah.

Casandra 1:00:21
I just like kind of fantasy of my high school stats class actually being taught through D&D and like, maybe I would have understood math.

Margaret 1:00:27
Yeah, it like, it’s, yeah, you understand probability a lot better if you like, regularly….

Casandra 1:00:33
You’re actively practicing. Yeah. Yeah. Um, what else do you want to know?

Margaret 1:00:43
About long COVID?

Casandra 1:00:45

Margaret 1:00:46
I was hearing that….It…For most people does taper off. Is that being understood? Or is that like, like not to be like, therefore it’s fine, but just like, less of a like, “Oh, God, my life is over. This thing has happened,” or whatever. Like, I was under the impression that people….not that it should…people should feel like their life is over, even if they get it bad. But like, not that it’s…

Casandra 1:01:17
It’s not debilitating?

Brooke 1:01:18
It’s not permanent.

Margaret 1:01:19
It’s not necessarily…it’s not necessarily permanently debilitating to everyone who gets it and that it like a lot of people it’s about a way slower getting better, but not everyone some people it’s about a permanent effect. But that other people are like recovering just very slowly. Is that? Am I completely off? I’ve no idea.

Casandra 1:01:40
I’ve heard that empirically. But I didn’t find a study that like….I found studies acknowledging that for some people after a few months, they get better. Like even if they started out with long COVID, symptoms will get better, but I didn’t actually see numbers about…and I think part of that is that it hasn’t been long enough.

Margaret 1:01:57
Yeah, totally.

Casandra 1:01:58
And even if…so, so I keep comparing this to an autoimmune disease, but they haven’t actually said like “This is in fact an autoimmune disease,” you know, there are people who say it’s because of mast cell activation there are people who say it’s actually a neurological issue, like they’re still figuring it out. But if in fact it it does function like an autoimmune disease you would need years to see how it actually impacts people because people might have a slower recovery and feel better and then you know, their immune system could be triggered by something and they’ll get sick again. So yeah, we just don’t know.

Casandra 1:02:33
That makes sense.

Brooke 1:02:36
So I might not be fatigued and coughing forever is what you’re saying? Maybe.

Casandra 1:02:42

Brooke 1:02:45
Okay, that’s good.

Casandra 1:02:46
But if you are people are researching the efficacy of low dose Naltrexone

Brooke 1:02:51
And I’ll get my brain back. Maybe.

Casandra 1:02:54
I’d say some percentage of it.

Margaret 1:02:57
Have you tried yoga?

Casandra 1:03:02
You’re actually not supposed to do stretching flexibility things with Ehlers Danlos, that’s the antithesis of what you’re supposed to do. So, no.

Margaret 1:03:14
I hope that as we talked about, people not being able to tell when people are being sarcastic, I hope that I manage that tone.

Brooke 1:03:22
Okay, but I need yoga for my PTSD. Now I’m lost.

Casandra 1:03:27
You could just try the breathing exercises.

Brooke 1:03:30
Okay. Meditation that’s the one universal good.

Casandra 1:03:32

Brooke 1:03:33
Maybe. We’ll see the sleep disorder.

Casandra 1:03:38
I feel I feel like what we’re doing right now is like a small encapsulated version of what these like, chronic illness communities do on a larger scale. And at a certain point, I just, like, have to detach myself because I’m like, everything will harm you.

Casandra 1:03:52
How about we talk about other headlines.

Casandra 1:03:58
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Um, I found some fun ones. So, I don’t remember exactly what she said. I’m sure anyone on Twitter saw, but Marjorie Taylor Greene was basically like “The country should get a divorce.” Like, in my mind is civil war. That’s a fun one.

Margaret 1:04:19
Yeah, and I, I like that one also, because it’s like people talk about like, red states, blue states, and people are like, “Oh, well, you know, Oklahoma is banning trans people. Fortunately, no trans people live there.” Like, that’s not fucking true. And like, and even from a like, Democrat–Republican binary, the difference between a red state and a blue state is usually about 60/40 one way or the other. Yeah, you know, and like, and that’s what people aren’t acknowledging. Well, there’s a million things people aren’t acknowledging.

Casandra 1:04:50
Sort of what she wanted, she wanted to…part of that comment she made was about proposing that if people move to a red state from a blue state, they should have a period where they can’t vote. which would in fact make it so that they were purely red states.

Margaret 1:05:05
That’s true. As a….I am not a Democrat, but I live in a red state and I am far worse than what they’re afraid of with the Democrats. Yeah. Okay, my fun headline. Are we just doing like one headline back and forth for a moment?

Casandra 1:05:23

Margaret 1:05:25
Massive floods and mudslides in Brazil killed 36 people leaving 800 people homeless, displacing thousands of people, hitting multiple cities. Just massive fuck off disaster that didn’t even make it to my social media headlines.

Casandra 1:05:41
That makes me want to message Mena.

Margaret 1:05:43
Yeah, not a bad idea to check in with her. Friends. I mean, sometimes it’s like, Brazil is a very large country, right, and so like, you know, like, if someone something happens in the Pacific Northwest, and someone, my friend from another country is like, “Are you okay?” Then again, I wouldn’t actually be sad at someone for checking in, even if something…whatever, anyway.

Casandra 1:06:09
Federal Emergency SNAP benefits are ending March 1. Thanks, Biden. Yeah, for some people, that means the difference between like, $270 a month and $20 a month. It’s like, a huge amount of money.

Brooke 1:06:24
Yeah, for me, it’s the difference between like, being able to just buy the foods I need and knowing there’s gonna be enough versus like, having to really pay attention and budget of things to make sure I don’t run out by the end of the month. Like it’s not it’s not even a huge amount of difference for me, but it’s enough of like the difference between having to pay close attention and just being able to just buy food like normal.

Casandra 1:06:49
Yeah. I’ve seen a few different posts by food pantry volunteers who are like, “It’s already like wild in food pantries. And it’s not even March 1 yet.”

Margaret 1:07:01
Floods in New Zealand killed for at least four people and displace 9000 people. All these headlines, it’s like things show up in the head in the news when it happens. And then like this one in New Zealand, it’s like, killed at least four people and there’s 1300 people unaccounted for. And that article is from a while ago and so I didn’t find an updated article. The fact that I didn’t find it updated article probably means that 1000 More people didn’t die, but was really fucking bad.

Brooke 1:07:32
And then there’s 9000 people that got displaced and you probably don’t know what happened to them and where they went.

Margaret 1:07:41
Are we still ping-ponging or should I just go with the rest of mine.

Casandra 1:07:45
Oh no, I’ll go Walgreens recently caved to Conservative pressure and agreed to stop selling Mifo…I get the full names of miso and mife confused but it’s one of them.

Margaret 1:07:59
One of the main abortion drugs.

Casandra 1:08:01
Yeah, in a pro choice state.

Margaret 1:08:06
Wow, in a pro choice? I didn’t.

Casandra 1:08:08
Oh, yes, it’s Kansas, which is a pro choice state, and the you know, in case you needed the added kicker, Mifo is also used for completing miscarriages, so people will not be able to access that drug if they have a miscarriage. At least not in Walgreens. So, you know, change pharmacies if you want.

Margaret 1:08:31
Legally Walgreens.

Brooke 1:08:34
In Minecraft.

Margaret 1:08:35
Ah, in Czarist Russia, that’s what I’m pushing for is the new ‘In Minecraft’. They cracked Minecraft. Now it’s all about Czarist Russia. Warming oceans are cutting into the world’s widest glacier. They’re cutting like big trenches from the bottom into the world’s widest glacier, the Thwaites, ultimately these melting glaciers over the next couple 100 years will likely raise global sea level by 10 feet.

Brooke 1:09:04
Is that an Antarctic glacier?

Margaret 1:09:07
I don’t know.

Casandra 1:09:12
I’m assured by a friend who’s like a right wing researcher, who isn’t right wing but does research into right wing hate groups, that this is probably going to be a non issue, but apparently and Idaho hate group on Telegram has been calling for an ‘Antisemitic Day of Hate,’ this Shabbat and I have friends in the areas where this is happening who have said that their synagogues are canceling services.

Margaret 1:09:37
That fucking bums me out. Economic Research firm Moody’s looked at US cities most at risk for combined heat, drought and sea level rise over the next 30 years,, basically like what US cities are going to be most impacted by climate change over the next couple of decades. And the losers are the Bay Area, a whole bunch of Florida, New York City, Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona, and Wilmington, Delaware.

Casandra 1:10:13
Wilmington, Delaware?

Margaret 1:10:16
I think a lot of Delaware isn’t very high isn’t very high above sea level.

Casandra 1:10:21
I see.

Brooke 1:10:22
I feel like New Orleans….

Margaret 1:10:23
There’s no…there’s no cities that anyone knows the name of in Delaware besides Wilmington. And I’m guessing neither of y’all I’ve heard of Wilmington, Delaware. Delaware is mostly known as…Like literally when I would go to Delaware as a kid, there was a magnet on the fridge that was “Delawhere?” with a little question mark. Oh, but then the safest. Okay, I’ve got like one more, two more. The safest places are pretty much the Midwest, like the Dakotas and shit, unless you’re trans. Anyway, but, but basically like a lot of actually Appalachia and the Midwest are safest from like, drought because of large reservoirs. And some other climate change and sea level rise because they’re away from the ocean. Indian scientists are sounding the alarm of the first heatwave of the year. It’s February. And last year, they kind of didn’t have a Spring. And it fucked up their wheat production. Wheat production was down 10% For that reason, or 11 million metric tons less than they normally produce, which caused them to ban export of wheat in order to not starve. But, this was bad timing, of course, because the Russia invading Ukraine, I mean, Russia stopping imperialism by invading another country.

Brooke 1:11:56
Shut up, you Tankie.

Margaret 1:11:58
Yeah, and so this is the second year in a row and the fact that extreme weather events, whatever we all know is climate change, but like, extreme weather events back to back are another major indicator of something. And it’s they’re expecting really bad heat waves this year.

Casandra 1:12:18
How long has it been since we weren’t actively having an extreme weather event somewhere? You know?

Margaret 1:12:23
I don’t fucking know. And then the only other headline I got is that a Nazi couple in Baltimore was arrested for plotting to attack power stations. They didn’t get very far along in their plans I think before they got caught by the Feds.

Casandra 1:12:40
Nazis really hate electricity.

Brooke 1:12:42

Casandra 1:12:45
I know that’s not the…

Margaret 1:12:47

Brooke 1:12:48
Just like….

Brooke 1:12:51

Casandra 1:12:56
Like, do they have…

Margaret 1:12:57
I turned 40, I’m allowed to now.

Brooke 1:13:00
That’s a real mom joke.

Casandra 1:13:01
Do they have their own like generators? Is that way they like, “Fuck the power station.”

Brooke 1:13:05

Casandra 1:13:06
I mean, I assume it’s an accelerationist thing but like, they probably need electricity too.

Margaret 1:13:12
Yeah, overall the vague idea is that they think that general…I don’t know about this couple. But the general idea behind Nazis attacking power stations is to cause enough instability to cause societal collapse, which they believe will trigger a race war because white people will all band together and kill all the nonwhite people, which no they’re not. I think people will band together and kill the Nazis when there’s no longer laws about murdering Nazis. Yeah, people get together with people that they….I mean okay like you you can see times like in New Orleans, some hate groups went around and shot black people in the wake of Katrina but….

Casandra 1:14:02
But then didn’t respond to that by being like, “Fuck you, hate group.”

Margaret 1:14:07
Yeah yeah a bunch of people with of all races with guns then shot at the people and scared them off. That is what will happen in the like weird…like even the fucking general center Right and even like the non Nazi Right…I don’t know maybe I’m being too optimistic, but like I don’t think they’re gonna get very far with this attack power stations to bring about the race war..I think it’s about as nonsensical as fucking Charles Manson and it’s like fucking helter skelter race war bullshit.

Casandra 1:14:38
I’m gonna bring it up, fuck it. I like how The Last of Us in the bill episode portrays this like, who I immediately thought was going to be this like Right wing asshole, you know, individualists like altering his ways. And whatever, Margaret and I have talked about this, how like, it could have been…it could have been cooler he could have like brought in a whole bunch of community and stuff but maybe he just brought in the people he had access to because he realized his way of doing things was not sustainable.

Margaret 1:15:21
We should have talked about this episode. Is prepper representation and culture had a really positive really positive if you watch The Last of Us if you haven’t watched The Last of Us Episode Three, could kind of stand alone as a mini movie if you skip the first like 5-10 minutes, and really positive representation of a classic prepper. And it is a classic prepper, a guy has a fucking Gadsden flag on his wall and lives in a bunker and like rules, and I fucking am so here for it. It’s not the way I would have prepped and it’s not the way I would have handled it because I would have built community, but I don’t know I mean, I would have built community and then still had my separate house where I hide from everyone

Casandra 1:16:09
To your previous point though, like even people who are maybe, let’s say he was a libertarian that’s what I think when I see Gadsen flag, people who maybe were more on the individualist spectrum when shit actually hits the fan, they tend to still act communally.

Margaret 1:16:26
Yeah. And that’s probably a good note to end on. Take care of each other. We can do this. All these Nazis bound to lose. I don’t know, Ukraine held on for a year and then like, even like, okay, like the trans shit, right? It’s like, they’re all like fucking coming really hard for us right now because we’re no longer closeted to the same degree, because we are like, actually, in so many ways better off than we were 10-15 years ago, So many more people have access to care. So many more people have access to like communities that respect their gender. We’ve made huge strides and it has scared the shit out of them. And that’s why they’re lashing out and it sucks. I don’t like being lashed out at. But yeah, how’s that for rousing that?

Casandra 1:17:18
That’s good.

Margaret 1:17:20
People roused? Not arroused. Regular roused.

Casandra 1:17:27
Who’s doing the outro?

Brooke 1:17:28
Me, which I was just trying to do with my song, but…

Casandra 1:17:31
Oh, good, good. Sorry.

Brooke 1:17:44
Thanks so much for listening to our speedy installment of This Month in the Apocalypse. We come at you as members of the Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness publishing collective, which produces two, soon to be three, other podcasts, create zines and publishes books. You can check out the great stuff on our website, We’re also on some social media platforms somewhere where you can connect with us. And we are able to do all of these rad things because we are supported by an incredible variety of people on Patreon, which you can find at Our lovely patreon supporters at the $20 a month level get a special shout out at the end of every podcast because you are so very near and dear to us. We thank you. Jans, Hoss the dog, Mikayla, Chris, Sam, Kirk, Eleanor, Jenipher, Staro, Cat J and Chelsea. Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Paige, SJ, Shawn Hunter, Theo, Boise Mutual Aid, Milica, Paparouna and Aly. Thanks so much for listening.

Find out more at

S1E59 – Carla on Adult Supremacy

Episode Summary

Brooke and Carla talk about parenting as radicals and youth autonomy, but more importantly, they talk about adult supremacy, the history of it, the ways it influences all of our lives and strategies for confronting it as parents and non parents. They breakdown childism, and talk about how the most important thing you can do is listen to the youth and how community is once again the answer to many societal woes.

Guest Info

Carla Joy Bergman (She/they) is a writer, producer, podcaster, schemer and causer of trouble. Their book Trust Kids! is out from AK Press and can be ordered here. You can find Grounded Futures at or @GroundedFutures on Twitter and Instagram. You can find Listening House Media here. She also cohosts the Grounded Futures podcast with their son Uilliam.

Host Info

Brooke can be found at Strangers helping up keep our finances intact and on Twitter and Mastodon @ogemakweBrooke

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at


Carla on Adult Supremacy

Brooke 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m Brooke Jackson, your host for this episode. Today we have the honor of talking with author Carla Bergman. We’re going to discuss parenting here in the end times. But first, we’d like to honor our membership and the Channel Zero network of anarchist podcasts by playing a little jingle from one of the other podcasts on the network. Jingle jingle, jingle, jingle, jingle jingle here. And we’re back. Carla, thank you for joining us today to talk about parenting. Would you please introduce yourself? Let us know what you do, your pronouns, share where you’re from if you’re comfortable disclosing that.

Carla 01:58
Great. Hi, Brooke. Thanks for having me here. I love this podcast. It’s a real honor. Yeah, I’m Carla Joy Bergman. I use she/her, they/them pronouns. I’m calling in from Musqueam. Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh lands, also known as Vancouver and the Pacific Northwest, across the border in Canada. Yeah, I, well, I do a lot of things. I’m a bit of a autonomous scholar, writer, producer, a podcaster or schemer, causer of trouble. I don’t know, that’s always hard to put yourself on there. Like what do you do? Yeah, I’m a mom, friend. I’m a white settler with Irish and Welsh ancestry. Yeah.

Brooke 03:03
Yeah, well, we’re really glad that you are here and taking the time to talk about this topic with us today. I know that you just released a book back in November called “Trust Kids”, which looks like you can get from AK Press. And they have print ebook and audiobook available. There’s probably other sources to get it as well. So I’d love to talk about your book a little bit. And then you know, if that leads into some broader conversations about parenting in general, and especially, you know, parenting here in the end times and how we support each other as leftists, you know, I think that would be great to talk about too. But let’s, let’s start with your book. I’m curious why you wanted to write the book, like what inspired you to write it?

Carla 03:50
It’s like, intergenerational? It’s a project that comes across many, many timelines. Yeah, so it’s called “Trust Kids Confronting Adult Supremacy” and while stories on youth autonomy and confronting adult supremacy, oh, boy, it’s really hard to pinpoint a moment. It’s so it’s so cool to have the privilege to reflect back in your past and you get to evoke where you are today on the past.

Brooke 04:20
Yeah, feel free to talk about all of the things that inspired you in the process.

Carla 04:24
Thanks. Yeah, I mean, I’ve always had a problem with hierarchy and with authority, which goes way back to when I was a little kid. I was definitely the kid who stood up to teachers who bullied kids and other parents or other adults who bullied kids, including my own, and obviously, it was meant with not always a lot of kindness, and often a lot of violence. So it’s something that’s always been kind of in me to be aware of adult supremacy. But really, it wasn’t until I had my own child, that I had to really put the practice of youth autonomy and thinking through adult supremacy in the everyday and every night.

Brooke 05:11
I’m curious if you feel comfortable sharing the age of your child or children?

Carla 05:16
Yeah. So my oldest is 28. And my youngest is 18, the oldest is Zach, and the youngest is Uilliam, and Uilliam and I do a podcast, that’s part of the Channels Zero network as well called Grounded Futures. And yeah, and Zach. Both of them wrote for the book, Uilliam did it their own chapter, their own section, and then Zach and I co wrote a piece together. Yeah, so..

Brooke 05:43
Man, that’s great.

Carla 05:45
Yeah. So, you know, Zack, and I got….and my partner, we got involved in alternative education and youth liberation kind of worlds. We were like, really fortunate because we were working class family and, and I got diagnosed with lupus, like there was all these things that were making it like, well, how am I going to not send my kid to regular school. But I was fortunate to live in a city where there’s a dem… that was…it was like, almost 48 years, it ran…ademocratic preschool that was publicly funded. So that meant it was free to attend, as well as a free school, and there was parent participatory, and it was, you know, it went through all different kinds of renditions, and tried all different kinds of models, and but really, at the center was and at the center was this idea of youth liberation and children, self directed sort of education styles, I, you know, through that, at the core of all my work is this notion of solidarity, like how to think about this conversation of youth autonomy and undoing adult supremacy, amidst and alongside all the other horrors of, of empire, whether it be ableism, racism, classism, and whatnot. And I really noticed that a lot of kids, you know, they don’t a lot of families can opt out of school, and they can’t actually do this. So, I really wanted to move the conversation away from ‘school or not school,’ because it just marginalizes the, the work and because it becomes siloed. And really, adult supremacy is in it’s always in the room. It’s, it’s it is like at the core, it’s at the center of all other oppressions. You know, we just keep replicating this horrible system by raising kids with internalized adults supremacy. And so yeah.

Brooke 07:41
That part of the subtitle really stuck out to me, the adult supremacy part, which, you know, sorry to interrupt you, please keep going. But I definitely want to dive more into adult supremacy discussion. But…

Carla 07:54
I mean, I think that this conversation, so I’m just gonna really get really to the heart of it. So about 12=13 years ago, I was co director of a youth run arts and activism space in Vancouver that was at the center was youth autonomy and radical politics and this intersectional praxis of working alongside other struggles and being in solidarity with them. And I was really noticing from other radicals that you know, youth liberation, youth autonomy, children’s rights, all that stuff was almost always left off of the the oppression chart or pie. And so I would bring it up, and it would be like an afterthought. And they’d be like, oh, yeah, right, of course. And slowly, you know, we’ve seen that grow. However, what I noticed was I faced a lot of vitriol from a lot of radicals that I was privileged, that I was privileging kids and like that, all this stuff, and I was like, “Wait a minute, like, you know who’s privileged is like the middle class family who moves across town to the rich neighborhood to put their kid in the better school like,” no, no, no, like that’s nuanced this a little bit like. So I came up with the phrase “Solidarity begins at home,” which was really the orientation of this book to begin with. And if you follow it on AK Press, they often post about it calling it, “Solidarity Begins at Home,” because I was really noticing that anti authority, anti authority folks particularly were like, “Except for with my children, I’m an authority.” Or, you know, “Oh, Carla and her weirdness being friends with our kids,” or whatever, like it just was just marginalizing the conversation, when really the issue is adult supremacy and, and, you know, I’m just a curious person. So I’m like, “Why doesn’t that resonate?” Like it’s something we’ve all experienced at different degrees. Absolutely. This is a really uneven white supremacist, colonial, racist, ableist world. But we’ve all experiencedi it. It’s actually a place where we could connect and have a more generative conversation. And yet it just keeps getting marginalized. And so I just really had to think about how to center it more. And so, on the one hand, I’m saying “Solidarity Begins at Home.” But I’m also decentering parenting in the conversation, because I think like this is just so much bigger and beyond like, parenting. It’s everywhere that a young person encounters an adult, the adult supremacy world, and it’s everywhere, like Malika Radway, who wrote for the book, like, and she does, “Raising Rebels” podcasts with our kids. Like they said, you know, “Adult supremacy is in every single room you’re in,” you can’t…it’s just like whiteness, you can’t, right? So yeah, so I didn’t feel ready to write it. I always had a kind of what’s the word like, I guess it’s about consent, like, I really needed it to have my kids full consent to talk about our life. And to talk about this in a way that I wanted to, especially that framing of ‘solidarity begins at home.’ So that’s, that’s the reason why I held off until I had their, you know, really, they’re full consent. And, you know, different people, different adults, different parents, different radical parents write about their kids in different ways. This isn’t a judgment, this was just my own ethos with my kids, right? So that’s why it took 12 years. I just actually found a new Google Doc from 2012. That said, new book “Solidarity begins at home. “Listen, Adults,” or something I was going to call it.

Brooke 11:41
Yeah, it sounds like you not only have their consent, but kind of their enthusiastic consent. And they both, you know, wrote for it and participated in that which, you know, what a joy to be able to do that with them.

Carla 11:54
Yeah. And my son, the oldest one did the audio book, which is really special

Brooke 11:59
Oh, wow, that’s really cool. I, my daughter is 11. And we’re firmly in that tween phase right now where there’s both the child and the budding teenager that, that show up in her and it’s a interesting age, for sure. And I just have the one. But I want to rewind slightly back to adult supremacy, to get us on the same page here. And we, you know, what does that phrase mean to you? How do you define that? How do you see that in the world?

Carla 12:35
Right? I mean, it’s really, it’s always evolving and changing, the more I like, learn, and like, explore and research and talk to people who are real nerds and researchers. Two of the folks who wrote for the book, Toby Rollo and Stacy Patton, really do a deep, deep look at the history, the roots of adult supremacy. And so it’s, it’s hard for me not to start there, because it’s like, my mind is just kind of blown. You know, it really goes back to early colonization in the….in Europe. You know, we hear this from indigenous folks on, you know, on the lands we’re both on that, you know, this is not how people do kinship. This is not like the…kind of like patriarchal, heteronormative hierarchical family. It’s not, you know, and that, that that’s not how it is. And so, way, like it goes way back, this kind of I don’t even, I can’t even pinpoint it, but it definitely predates capitalism, although like it, you know, it got more entrenched during capitalism to have the house set up the way that the patriarchal family, the way it was set up, like kids had to be subjugated from their parents and the patriarchal parent was being subjugated by, you know, the whole system of capitalism, right, yeah. But it actually predates all that in it. And it goes back to early colonization. And it was by design. It was to sow seeds of control, distrust, and this idea that, I think Toby calls it protocitizenship, that children aren’t fully human. They don’t have any rights. You know, there’s 13 states that still have paddles that can, people can still paddle in schools in the US, I don’t know if you know, that and spent, you know, like, you, you will you get fined and go to jail if you beat your dog, but you won’t if you beat your kid, as long as they can’t see any bruises. You know, so this is like, it’s ongoing, this idea that childhood is just a phase, you know, this kind of just creation of this thing that’s like less than, was by design. And it’s become, you know, it got more entrenched through psychology, the whole, you know, we don’t even need to go into that. But even eugenics, like early eugenics was practiced on children…kind of way where children who were street involved and didn’t have parents or were, you know, out of care kind of kids. They were sterilized first. Stacy Patton is a doing a book right now on the history of lynching children in the south. she had to actually go to Europe to get to the root of it. And it was practiced first on children there. So…

Brooke 15:31
Emotionally, I don’t think I could handle that kind of research.

Carla 15:34
Yeah, me neither. I just want to get…this is what I said, like, I didn’t have all this information like a couple of years ago. And so this isn’t where I would have started the conversation. However, I used to say like that this is a Western…Euro Western colonial way of being in the world, and like the hatred of children, they have childhood and, and the violence against children is a construct within colonization. I did know that, but I didn’t realize how severe it was. And so alongside the other horrific systems within colonization, I like to call it Empire because it’s like a hydra, all of it, capitalism, ableism, ageism. We’re still we’re fighting all those battles still in use. The problem with adult supremacy is that it just keeps reenscribing itself because, yes, yeah, yes, you can see how it just, it’s not that’s why I’m not really I’m not a proponent of youth liberation as such. And why I talk about autonomy instead is because it’s it needs to be intersectional, it needs to be intergenerational, it needs to be…we have to undo adult supremacy, we can’t just focus on doing youth liberation siloed over here, because they grow into adults, and then they become adults supremacists. Right. And like, do you know what I mean? it’s kind of like…it is one of…it has mobility, in terms of getting out of being the oppressed to becoming the oppressor. Not unlike class…

Brooke 17:13
So if I’m understanding it, then adult supremacy….

Carla 17:20
I could give you a definition.

Brooke 17:24
Well, let’s see if, well let’s see if I picked it up from that. It’s the idea that adults are all and always supreme to children, who are just going through a phase and to some degree, it’s acceptable to enforce that adult supremacy through violence? That’s kind of from all those things.

Brooke 17:54
Yeah. And so, if I get it correctly, parental supremacy is like within the bigger circle of adult supremacy, right? Like…

Carla 17:54
Yeah, and psychological violence, physical…like all kinds of…it is a violent act. It’s a colonizing of the mind and soul and body. And yeah, like, you know, the whole, the whole idea is to prepare your kid for adulthood, which is just ridiculous. Like, they are a full human already, that things need to be discovered. And they, you know, like, all of us, guidance is important. mentorships are important skill sharing is important. Presence is important. Love is important, and ultimately care, right? Yeah, but they….and they are fully human already. They are no less, no more, you know, some maybe, you know, whatever, it’s, you know, it’s relational. But, the idea adult supremacy is children are under developed, they’re not fully human, they need to prepare for ultimate adulthood. And that is the supreme holding of what it means to be fully human, is to be an adult.

Carla 18:46
Yeah, I mean, I’ve always liked Bell Hooks’ thing she called, she called it the patriarchal family, like, it didn’t matter what gender you were, or how you configurated your family, where if there’s adults, taking care of children it was a patriarchal family. And I really liked that phrasing, because I think that’s a way to maybe push back against some of the what happens with some of the feminists ideas around parenting that, you know, like a woman, you know, like, I’m talking more like, I’m probably aging myself, but I’m doing more like this second, third wave of feminism where it was, you know more about their rights than it was their children’s because they were so oppressed under the patriarch of the family or whatever. And yes, and you know, Bell Hooks came along and was like, you’re a patriarch too within that adult supremacy. Yeah, yeah.

Brooke 20:02
So, um, we talked about the, you know, physical psychological abuse factor of that adult supremacy. I’m curious what other ways you would point out that it manifests itself in society…families and, you know, adults in general, and maybe there’s some, you know, insidious ways that we don’t even think of, you know, that wouldn’t immediately come to mind that you could teach us about here.

Carla 20:28
I mean, it’s everywhere. You know, I, I’m not on the socials at all. I left fully back in the spring, but when I was, I was constantly asking my fellow podcasters, and journalists and thinkers and opinionerrs, to please stop calling the most vile human beings on this earth childish, and children and toddlers. It’s right there. You know, that is where it’s at. Can you… and people would be like, “What do you mean?” And I would be like “Change ‘child’ to any other group. Woman…” and then their eyes, they’re like, “Oh, my God, I’d be canceled. If I called Trump a whiny woman,” or whatever. Put any group in there. Right. I don’t really want to go down that road. But, you see what I mean. So that’s a one that I have to…We just actually, Grounded Futures, just re-released it because it’s not stopping. Right? Because so, that’s a really, really huge way. It’s all those biases, right, those social biases. So, like I mentioned earlier, I was the co director of a youth run arts and activism space, that was free to use, it had a lot of anarchist kind of ethos running around it. It was co founded. It was founded by six youth and Matt Hearn, back in 2001. And my son was on the collective and we did a whole lot of cool stuff. But it was incredible how many adult organizers would email me and ask if they could come in and give a workshop on how to run a space. Or how to run a collective. I’d be like, I think you all could come down and learn something from this youth collective, but that’s pretty like a bias, right? Like, I was like, this is the most functional club I’ve ever worked with, like I’ve, you know, been in a lot of collectives like, I don’t think age has anything to do with it. It’s about like some other things going on around power. You know, like, I…Yeah, so there’s this idea that they were…it was flaky, and that they didn’t know what they were doing. And so that was just another bias, an ageist….it’s, it’s just terrible. Yeah, I watched it just go down all the time. Another storieas an anecdote…I’m sure you have many….My kid when they were really, my youngest, when they were really little, and we’d go grocery shopping. And they were really good at picking out avocados and fruit. And one of the people working in the store, like slapped their hand and said, “No, you’re not allowed to touch fruit.” I was like, first of all, don’t ever touch my kid. Second of all, they’re better at it than me. You know, like I just, you know, like, it’s that kind of that kind of like, they just….the person couldn’t even…it was just so reflexive. Like, they couldn’t even imagine that this five year old knew what they were doing. Stuff like that. It’s just constant. It’s just everywhere. And I’m sure you you can, you know….and I do it myself. And I want to say, because I know I when I talk about this, it can come off like I have it figured out. I confront my adult supremacy and particularly my power every single day in my relationship with my youngest, like, every single day it comes up in subtle and overt ways because of maybe I’m tired or and the more we get, the more we uncover it, the more we see. The more we get into the like, the nuance of power, like the nuance of like persuasion that you know, like that I hold, the more I’m like, “Dang it!” Yeah, yeah.

Brooke 24:19
There’s another example I just thought of, too, that I think often crops up around this time of year with people visiting family so often. The hugging example. You know, not making your kid go hug somebody because he’s “Oh, you know, hug me.” Even if it’s you, the parent, like “Hug me goodbye.” You know, don’t make don’t make your kids have that physical interaction with another human being.

Carla 24:46
Thanks for bringing that up. It’s like it’s so true. Like kids live…like especially little kids…live a extremely nonconsensual life. From bedtime, to food, to like touch right, and every thing in between. And parents, you know, there’s a lot of nuance in that conversation around parents and parenting, and but it’s real. All right. And, you know, people are always trying to do workshops on teaching consent, and I’m always like, just gonna fail if you’re not living with your kids.

Brooke 25:18

Carla 25:19
It’s just gonna fail. Like it’s so embodied, like, children just live such a nonconsensual life in lots and lots of ways because of this, because of adult supremacy. So yeah, thanks for bringing up…getting right to the right to the point. And, you know, it’s interesting because thinking of parenting like my…sorry, my, my youngest is Uilliam, but we often call him Liam, that I do the podcast with, so he does a lot of the social media for Grounded Futures. And he often feels a bit gaslit by like, kind of the algorithm that comes through that one around like radical parenting and anarchists and stuff around, like on so called holidays on how cool it’s going with their kids in that and because then they go on theirs where it’s very much mostly trans and LGBTQ+ youth, ranging from 16 to like 25. And all his friends and all his mutual’s are in trauma on that day because of nonconsensual hugs, from having to mask, from having from being misgendered, from not being believed that they’re trans or I can even be, are non binary, or whatever, the whole gamut, right? And, and I hadn’t even really thought about, like how algorithms work. And I was like, well, that’s really hard. And he’s saying, “I’m not saying that those radical things aren’t happening that I’m seeing on Grounded Futures. It’s just like, you can get in your bubble and think everything’s better. And then you go to this other thing, and you’re like, “Ah, the youth are actually not doing well, right now. Overall.” Yeah.

Brooke 27:02
Yeah, I’ve often been told as a parent that I have raised a very rude child, because, and I’m not going to try and pretend that I’ve been some sort of perfect, you know, no supremacy, children autonomy kind of thing. I’m human. I’m not, I’m still working on it. But, that was something that I noticed and chose to do differently early on in her life about not making her hug people or touch people kissing people goodbye. And even, you know, not necessarily forcing her to say goodbye to somebody. You know, I did a lot of giving her the option, you know, “We’re going to leave now, would you like to say goodbye to Grandma?” or what have you. And so as she’s gotten older, you know, some of those things that I didn’t force her to do, she kind of didn’t learn, and now she’s old enough to where she understands politeness. You know, and I can suggest, you know, it’s more polite in this situation, to say goodbye to this person, you know, and she can still choose then how she wants to do it. She can understand the social dynamic of why she’s making that choice.

Carla 28:11
That’s beautiful.

Brooke 28:12
You get accused of being a bad parent, or a rude parent or, or whatever it is, because you don’t force your kids do these social things.

Carla 28:20
I can’t believe how many adults came through the Thistle that would say, “Oh, the Thistle youth are rude. And I was like, “You really have a hard time with like sharing your power, hey?” Like, I just would call it what I saw. Like, actually, what I saw was like, you actually want to come in and have kids, like, passively listen to you. And be polite, so called, you know, nice. But, they’re like, they’re not buying what you’re selling. And they’re like, “I don’t want to do this.” And you’re thinking they’re rude and entitled. I was like, This is what youth autonomy looks like. This is what sharing power looks like. This is what getting out of young people’s way looks like. Yeah, I have a really similar thing with my kids. And I, my youngest, like really cared about relationships to the point where like, we’ve been unpacking this, where it was all overt, but they they took the social niceties on really young, but they had it all figured out. They’re like, “At so and so’s house, I have to like say ‘please,’ and ‘thank you.’ At so and so’s house, I get to eat whatever I want, but I’m not allowed to swear. And I just listen because I want to have these friendships.” I was like, wow, that’s really cool. And also please don’t mask. [emotions]

Brooke 29:33
Isn’t that so challenging?

Carla 29:35
Yeah, it’s a hard one.

Brooke 29:37
Yeah, and mine lives in two households that are you know, very extreme opposites.

Carla 29:42

Brooke 29:42
So, the things she’s allowed to say and do in this household are much more, you know, open and she’s got a lot more autonomy and authority to do things and then she has to, you know, in that house, in order to fit in and not you know, not make waves, she feels like she has to you know, dial it back and behave in certain ways. And that’s hard to see.

Carla 30:05
It’s also practice for life. I mean, you know, until we deal with this, I mean, you know? It’s a hard one.

Brooke 30:12
Yeah. Yeah. At Least for the world that we currently live in.

Carla 30:15
Yeah. Yeah.

Brooke 30:17
But yeah, while we’re talking about like the liberation of children, I am curious if you would like vision with me, what would relationships look like between parents and children, or society and children if we were treating them in ways that were autonomous, and, you know, honoring them as the human beings that they are?

Carla 30:38
Oh, I’d be dreaming. And here’s why. Because everything would slow the F down, like so much, like, first and foremost, because there’d have to be a lot more or listening, a lot of questions. And that…I used to, I used to call it the friendship bar, how I trained myself, like, supported myself in my learning and making mistakes with my youngest was like, and I think, John Holt, this a John Holt quote, like never, you know, “Never say to a young person, what you wouldn’t say to the person you hold in highest regard.” It’s a really good bar, it really, it really is. I can’t…you know, it seems, you know, a lot of people throw quotes and people go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” but I can’t express it enough how much it has helped a lot of other fellow co conspirators who want to undo adult supremacy when I share this with them, and they’re like, “Right!” You know, and I think we can do this with some of our closest friends too. Or some of our, you know, maybe if we have some hard times with a partner, like we can be a little bit more snarky with them than we would with somebody we hold in high regard. So like, I mean, I think it’s just a good practice across the board to like, figure out what is the most generative, you know, responsible, trusting way to come into relationship with anybody? And yeah, and one of the things we really strive for in our house is this notion of solidarity. My oldest said this on a talk about the book the other night, I hadn’t really…it was really nice to hear the feedback, but he’s like, you know, “it was always really transparent, that this was the goal at our house, that we were in solidarity with each other.” And this is why I use the term solidarity because and, you know, this changes based on their age because they can, you know, they’re littler bodies, they have littler nervous systems and stuff, right? But like, it’s not…I’m not a child centered home, either. I think that’s when we can get into some weird reinscribing individualism. We’re very much a relationship centered home no matter what the configuration is, even when we’ve had roommates and whatnot. And like, it’s like, just everything’s transparent and slows down. Like, you know, like, food, all the conversations, bedtime, sleeping, care. I had, I had a chronic illness for the big chunk of my children’s lives, that’s pretty much healed, but that that involved a lot of solidarity and a lot of care going in all directions, right. Like I I used to joke that I parented from bed. Ha ha ha But it was true, right? So yeah, I would like to hear some of your dreams, but like, I just right away, there’d be a lot of listening, a lot of curiosity, a lot of play, a lot of tantrums. But we’d got to have them too. You know?

Brooke 33:28
Yeah. Yeah, the thing that stands out to me the most, there is the thing about slowing down, because that is definitely such a huge difference I notice, you know, between the way I would sometimes do things, and my friends with children of the same age, or what I see, you know, now when I’m looking around at different parents and what they’re doing that, yeah,you have to engage more with the child. It’s not….there’s the the jacket debate, right, That you have with little kids, because they never want to put on a frickin jacket. And you have some parents that are like, “Well, they need this jacket, and I’m just going to shove their little bodies into it.” And, you know, they have the debate once and they’re like, “I’m not gonna fight with a three year old about this jacket.” And then they just force it onto their kid every time. Whereas, I mean, you can sit down and talk about that more, you know, “I think you should put on the jacket because this” or you know, “Let’s step outside and feel the cold outside and see if you change your mind,” and, and then ultimately, also having to honor what they land on, you know? The kid says, “No, I’m not gonna put on a jacket.” That’s, you know, it’s a slower process and then at the end, letting go of that final bit of, you know, authority or autonomy. Like maybe you still take the jacket to school with them, you know, they have to carry it perhaps, but you don’t force them to put it on, but it is slower. So your life has to allow for time for that. And you know, of course under capitalism, the the empires you say that we are in, it makes it so hard to do that and then especially if you have multiple children that are maybe all small at the same time, you know, you’ve got three of them arguing with you about maybe three different things all at once. It’s tough.

Carla 35:11
Yeah. I mean, and this is why like “Trust Kids”, I just want to go on the record isn’t a parenting handbook at all. Like if…the essays are stories on youth autonomy, people…youths have written for it. Adults have written about their experience growing up in youth liberation environment, to more theoretical pieces, but and then a lot about confronting adult supremacy. So, it’s a book for adults, for sure, and about us doing this work together. But it’s not a parenting handbook, because at the core for me, Liam always says this on the podcast, like he’s like, you know, “People often ask my mom for advice. And she’s always like, “I can’t give you advice, because I don’t know your child, and they don’t know what they need. Like, if you asked them? Like, it’s just like, you know, that’s my advice. Ask your kid.”” I love the coat example. Because it’s so you know, like, you’re late, you have to pick up your, you know, you have to do the thing, you got to do all the things. And my kids are like the opposite. My oldest, always over dresses, and I used to always have to carry his coat halfway, and then the other ones the other way. So, I just, you know, it’s back to like, I think what my Zack said the other night on that call, or that show, the episode, or whatever we did, the public, the book launch at Firestorm was that it was always just really transparent. Like, he never felt like, confused, but what was happening, so I was just always really real, I’d be like, “Dude, you always are hot within 10 minutes, like, can you not wear like 50 coats, oh my God, and because I don’t…physically can’t carry it, like, I don’t have enough strength. So we need to like figure,” but that took time, like that kind of negotiating conversation and being in solidarity with my physical body and not being able to carry the coat in 10 minutes in the walk. And him like wanting to like pile on the three sweaters and the coat. He’s still like that. You know, like, it was like, yeah…

Brooke 37:04
Yeah, as you just pointed out, there are times when, like, you’re running late, so you don’t necessarily have the time to take to do that. And then, you know, you need to know for yourself as a parent, you know, what, what you want to do in that situation. How you want to handle that. Do you want to be later and take the time to do it? You know, if you want to honor your principles to never shove this child into the jacket, you know, it’s it’s again, it’s not it’s not easy. It takes some practice and some forethought.

Carla 37:33
Or let them go without a jacket, you know, let them experience it.

Brooke 37:36
Right. That’s what I did.

Carla 37:39
Yeah, exactly.

Brooke 37:40
She got cold sometimes.

Carla 37:41
I mean, yeah. And even me as a kid like, my you know, so called autonomy was also known as that word ‘neglect,’ you know, so like, no one around ever, so I was like, I often in the winter would have like no socks on and I’d be running around and like a tank top and..because I early years and northern Alberta, and then down here in the Pacific Northwest, I had like thought it was like balmy, warm you know, and so when my youngest was like, “I don’t like wearing like, big coats, and like, as a kid, he would run into the ocean at five in December. And I was like, right, I was like that, you know, also, it’s back to that, believing that when they tell you, you know. That’s what trust really is, is believing people’s experience and perspective. And when they say “I don’t…I get hot, I get really hot.” And you’re like looking at the temperature like, I feel like you’re gonna get cold, but you just gotta let go.

Brooke 38:39
Yeah, that’s a really difficult component. I’m curious, you know, how you would respond to somebody who, you know, maybe wants to point out that, well, you know, kids, they aren’t good at looking that far ahead, right? Because their prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed. They are going to be good at seeing that they are going to need this jacket down the line or, you know, whatever the the thing is, that they, you know, maybe haven’t developed the capacity to comprehend. And that would mean maybe their argument for why you ‘have to’ have to in air quotes force them into the jacket.

Carla 39:13
I mean, again, just Yeah, I mean, again, just being I mean, it’s, I like this, I like this example, because it’s not life and death. But, you know, like, you know, the compromises is that I need you to like, throw an extra coat in your backpack, or I’m going to carry one. Well, I you know, this is what care looks like. I’m going you know, we’re going to be together so I’m going to throw an extra coat in the in the car. You don’t have to wear it, or whatever. Like I just think just being real like. Back to what I said earlier about, like, how would I…How would I talk to my partner about this? Who was, who’s being ridiculous, in my opinion, and like, it’d be like, “What are you doing? Like it’s like snowing and super cold and you are wearing just like a hoodie,” um, Yeah, we would just have a real conversation about maybe some…infuse it with some humor. But yeah, when they’re really, really little like, I mean, you know, I definitely when you have like two kids, like, I would have to pick up my oldest from wherever he was, you know, at 11 years old across town and then the youngest at 2 doesn’t want to like, leave where…they didn’t like transitions, so didn’t want to leave the park and whatever. It’s like this….Yeah, there’s a there’s a, there’s a lot of tears. And it’s just like, what I got good at was realizing that, oh, he needs like, really clear messaging, like 10 minutes before, eight minutes before, five minutes before, and then they stopped like the the tears he…like he just…I had to like, cipher, it decipher it, you know, it could be like, “Oh, okay. Right.” Because, you know, he was just so in the moment, so present, which is also what I think the world would be like if we had less adult supremacy, or none. Would be, we’d all be way more present with each other. And maybe wouldn’t worry so much about wearing an extra coat because life wouldn’t be so serious.

Brooke 39:15
Yeah, that makes sense. Another thing I was curious about is, you know, we’re in the end times now, sort of, you know, we’re seeing the the collapse of capitalism, a rerise of fascism, you know, societal crumbles, there’s kind of a lot going on. And, do you feel like, I mean, this topic of adult supremacy is, is probably always important. But is it more important now that we’re in these, you know, sort of end times? Does it? Do we need that even more as society collapses? Or? I’m just curious what you… you see them saying?

Carla 42:05
Yeah, no, no, I think like, I think I would pivot just a little slight pivot. Because what I’m…I mean the book, people who have read the book, really do notice that the book has an intergenerational scope throughout it, is that yeah, we need like, we need to recover, reimagine, and grow what it means to be in family and kinship together, like we need larger family, like, we wouldn’t be…even like the story about the coat and that would be so much more manageable if we lived in a more multi generational, larger community, right, in the way we’re meant to live, so and that is connected to adult supremacy because the nuclear family, it’s all connected around, like controlling, subjugating majority of the population so that people could profit more, right, that or have more land whether, you know, predates really does predate capitalism. So, yes, I think that, you know, to quote Donna Haraway, “Making kin is the single most important thing we need to be doing right now.” But we need to think about that cross species, across bloodline, beyond bloodlines, and way beyond borders. And for it’s like it, we need it for our survival, and ultimately, to thrive more. I thrive way more when there’s way more other humans around all ages sharing the load of whatever it is, like nerding out together, doing a puzzle playing, cooking, cleaning, doing work, making income, you know, sharing, sharing the load sharing the joys, I think it’s really connected to the end times that it’s more urgent than ever, but it’s a reclaiming, you know, it’s a recovery. It’s not a…we don’t have to imagine it, we know how to do it. You know, it’s connected to mutual aid and webs of care and all that good stuff. But it’s, you know, like, I live in a city so I don’t have to prep prep, you know, I don’t have…I don’t live off in the boonies, you know, I don’t have to worry about having a generator and stuff and I think like it was, you know, I’d like to think of myself more like mycelium like if a disaster strikes, I’m going to be like mycelium, I’m just gonna go and offer support and care and there’s going to be plenty and people are going to show up because we know that in disasters, right? But if we had more, just more multi generational, multi species kin and families, that would even be better. I don’t know If that answered your question, but, yes, you know, I want I want to abolish adults supremacy. From day one, I think it’s always been a terrible thing. It’s definitely had times when it was worse for some kids more than others still is worse for some kids more than others. But yes, it’s connected to webs…

Brooke 42:13
Yeah, how that ties into what we need with the collapse of society here, the collectivism in the broader webs of kinship are unimportant. And eliminating muddled supremacy is going to be happy to be part of that. I really liked the way you frame that there that it’s, we’re not building this new thing, we’re going back to, you know, what we used to do. And really, I think, fundamentally, how we’re wired as well, you know, the research indicates we are very wired for community and kinship and connection and all of that. So it’s getting back to our truer selves to be to be together in those ways. And then that does lead me into kind of the last broad topic that I wanted to consider with you, which is, you know, you and I are both parents, so we can talk about our experiences and what we need and so forth. But for people who aren’t parents, don’t have kids of their own that want to support their friends who are parents and, you know, help, you know, revolutionize parenting here in this adult supremacy and build the kinship, what, you know, what kind of things would you say to them? That would be? What can they do to help? What can they do to to learn more? And to help build that as the non parent?

Carla 46:31
Yeah, I think if you feel…well, first of all, do your own work on undoing your adult supremacy and like really go deep into like, all the places like you’re probably really…every adult out there has dealt with it. And so you will probably have some internalized adult supremacy and some trauma and hurt around it and different degrees varying degrees. So first and foremost, like, just look at it, look at it. Notice how you show up for young people if if you are in young people’s lives. And you know, listen more, just listen more, listen way, way more to young people. I think like, you know, when parents write about this topic, there’s this like paradox of centering ourselves. It’s like, you know, but this is, this is one of the reasons why I didn’t want to do the book for a long time. But I was up for it. I was up for it, because it’s important. And I intentionally invited in a lot of lot of people who aren’t parents to write for the book, because I think it’s really crucial. We cannot do this alone as the parents, like we just can’t, like we need everybody, we need everybody on this, to undo this like massive, massive like bias. It is still one of the largest ones that’s ignored. I am really rare. We are really rare. I’m not talking about radical parenting. I’m talking about people who notice adult supremacy, and like point it out. Like, it’s a small, isolating community. I often feel really alone, I feel really gaslit. I have a crew of people we talk, live globally think, unfortunately. But it’s just how it is. Like I’m talking about this nuance of like noticing adult supremacy. I have a lot of people who do radical parenting. I know a lot of people who are into revolutionary mothering. I know a lot of people who are into like school abolition and radical education and pedagogy stuff and use liberation, but not all of them connect to this larger systemic piece.

Brooke 48:27
Yeah, it’s kind of a Venn diagram that some of those overlap into it, but they’re not fully…

Carla 48:33
Yeah. And so, I just ask more people to really tune into it. Notice it. Call it out when you see it. It’s all the frickin time. Like, you know, the other you know, disability justice activists and organizers and their allies have done a such a great job of changing the use of those words in media to describe the horrors and the vile people. But, there’s two that still really are used constantly and one is saneism. Like so calling someone like Trump insane is just an insult to anybody who has madness.

Brooke 49:16

Carla 49:17
And because like, I don’t know about you, but the mad folks in my life are nothing like Trump. And the like, yeah, some pathos going on for sure. But, like, you know. And then the other one is, you know, the childish toddler and just call it you know, just call up ask people to stop, to not do it. And comedians are the worst and you know, the other one is, I guess, you know, I mean, it’s still okay for comedians to make…to not be so great about body politics, especially fat politics, like fat body stuff shaming, like that one still can pass a little bit, but it’s it’s also getting more people are you know, due to organizers and activists and those of us who push back against that, but the children one is the big one. Sanism and childism and are the two. So, if you’re a fellow adult out there, a person who is not a young person and you’re on the socials and you have a platform, join, join, join, join us in inviting folks to stop doing that. Because, you know, my kid, like, he was like, four…I don’t know what it was, like 15 or something when Trump was first on the presidency stuff, and he was noticing it all the time. He’s like those…every adult who calls him a child in front of their kids, their kids must like internalize some hatred. Like they must look at Trump. Look at their parent. Look at Trump. Look at the parent and go “Wow, my parents claim this really awful evil person that they clearly hate a child. They must hate me too.” Yeah, I was like, Thank you for saying that. Like, my, my brain went, “Right?” Like that is like, oh, like I cried. It was so hard to hear that, like, you know, he was 14 at the time. And he that’s what he saw, or 12 or something. And I was like, “Right. You’re right.” Yeah. I don’t think it’s intentional. I don’t think the parent doing that is thinking they’re doing that.

Brooke 51:25
Oh, of course. Of course. Yeah. If someone were to replace it with a word like immature, do you think that still has the same connotation and problem?

Carla 51:35
Yeah, I have a list. I have, I can share I we we put it up. I was telling you, we put it up. I used to….I have it’s called “Trying to find a way to describe a billionaire, a politician, a fascist: Here’s a list of words to use instead of calling them a child toddler or childish.” And because we really worked on not using sanist language as well. So, careless, mean, rash, hot headed, imput. I have a speech impediment. So sometimes I can’t say words. Manipulative. I have speech apraxia. Manipulative, entitled, jerk, foolish, impulsive, irresponsible, imprudent, ill advised, greedy, violent, liar, asshole, shitbag, racist, fascist, reckless, ridiculous. And there’s so many more. You know, like, Just say what you mean? What do you know, I had friends go, “But you know, I don’t know what to say.” I’m like, “Well, what are you trying to get at?” “Like, oh, I’m trying to say that they’re like a jerk.” I’m like, “Just call them a jerk.”

Brooke 52:36
Yeah, that’s a good one. Shitbag is a pretty good one.

Carla 52:39
Yeah, it’s my favorite. Yeah, it’s like, it’s a good one. Let’s try that.

Brooke 52:45
You know, there’s an activist here in town where I live that is very conscious of ableist language, and including, like mental health things. So like the word ‘sane’ or ‘insane,’ for instance, but also, some of the ones that go along with that, like ‘crazy,’ I think maybe ‘foolish’ might be in there. And I was in a, I think, a Facebook group with them. And if someone would use one of those words, they would, they had kind of a little template that they would say is, you know, you know, “Here’s this word that you chose to use. Here’s a little bit of like, where it comes from, or like, what, you know, the, the sort of negative history of it. And then here’s a list of like, antonyms that are not, you know, ableist or sexist, or, you know, body shaming, or et cetera, et cetera, that you could use instead of that word.” Yeah.

Carla 53:32
Did they also point out childism?

Brooke 53:36
Yeah, and I don’t I don’t remember that one. But this, what you were just saying that, like, I hadn’t thought about childish as being one of those words. I don’t think I use it a lot in general. But, you know, I’m gonna add that to my vocabulary.

Carla 53:50
Yeah, like so or they’re like, “the sniffling little baby?” Like they do that a lot, right? Like, comedians and sort of YouTubers and stuff that are talking about, you know, the ruling class. So they, you know…

Brooke 54:06
You can call them whiny without having to say, ‘whiny baby,’ you can just like so they’re like whiny.

Carla 54:10
They’re punching up and punching down at the exact same time with that, you know, definitely go after those who are horrible, fascist and racist, you know, but stop calling them ‘children’ and ‘toddlers’ and yeah, yeah.

Brooke 54:29
No, I really like that, you know. The fellow that, you know, did all the work. Does all the work to point out the ableist language, you know, definitely had got me thinking in the last couple of years about other words that you know, maybe tie back to something like that and so I’m glad that you shared you know, this additional language that then I can work on and be aware of and improve.

Carla 54:53
Yeah, it’s, it’s always we’re always working on it and learning and you know, like I the ableist language off, you know, I remember, it really came into the fore around 2009–2010. Like it really, you know, in radical communities like we were really aware of first, the more physical ableist the stuff and then it moved into body mind, but I still saw the sanism stuff like, you know, it still was okay to call someone like Trump insane. Like, maybe not ‘crazy,’ but you could call him insane. So I’ve been also being loud about that one as well.

Brooke 55:31
Interesting. Yeah, yeah. And that’s kind of where my question came from about, you know, well could I just call them immature instead? I figured that was going to be a ‘no,’ but I’m really glad you have that list to share. And I might see, maybe, could email that list and I can see if we can get that posted up.

Carla 55:46
Sure and it’s at on Grounded Futures. We’re on both Twitter and Instagram, just at Grounded Futures. It’s a platform, multi art platform created by youth and women and gender nonconforming folks.

Brooke 56:03
Cool. Well, while you’re plugging things, are there other things that you want to plug, obviously your book, you got to replug that for us.

Carla 56:11
Yeah, you can get “Trust Kids” over at AK Press or wherever you buy books. There’s an audio book and a Kindle or whatever it is. And I also have a project called Listening House Media, where we do we do mostly audiobooks, but we also publish political pamphlets called Lowercase. You can check that out I’m doing the audio book for my other book called “Joyful Militancy” right now, which is really exciting. I just want to put that out there. Because I know people wanted it to be an audio book, since it came out five years ago. And so that’s really exciting.

Brooke 56:49
Is that also available from AK?

Carla 56:51
Yeah, it won’t probably be out until like, January or February. But yeah, and then is where you can find a lot of my other works. Yeah.

Brooke 57:02
Great, well, Carla, I really appreciate you being on the pod today and talking with us about parenting and ending adult supremacy. To our listeners, thanks so much for listening. If you enjoy our podcast, please give it a like, drop a comment or a review. Subscribe to us if you haven’t already. These things make the algorithms that rule our world offer our show to more people. This podcast is produced by the anarchist publishing collective Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. You can connect with us on Twitter @TangledWild and also on Instagram. If you check out our website you’ll discover we have a new book available for preorder. It’s called “Escape from Incel Island” written by the one and only Margaret Killjoy. If you preorder it nowj, you get a color poster with your copy when they ship in February. The work of Strangers is made entirely possible by our Patreon supporters. Honestly, we couldn’t do any of it without your help. So if you want to become a supporter, check out Yes, it’s a long one that’s There are cool benefits at various support tiers. For instance, if you support the collective at $10 a month, one of your benefits is getting 40% off of everything on our website, including if you want to preorder Margaret’s new book, and we’d like to give a specific shout out to some of our most supportive Patreon supporters, including Hoss dog, Michaiah, Chris, Sam, Kirk, Eleanor, Jenipher, Staro, Kat J., Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Paige, SJ, Shawn, Hunter, Theo, Boise Mutual Aid, Melissia, Paparouna, and Aly, thanks so much for listening

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S1E58 – This Month in the Apocalypse: Jan 2023

Episode Summary

Brooke, Casandra, and Margaret talk about some laws that the ATF just imposed and how you might soon be a felon, some bizarre tax proposals that have been in the works for the last quarter of a century, and check in our old friend, the Colorado River in This Month in the Apocalypse.

Host Info

Margaret can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy. Casandra is just great and can be found at Strangers doing awesome layouts, and Brooke can be found on Twitter or Mastodon @ogemakweBrooke.

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at

Next Episode

Hopefully will come out Friday, Feb. 24th


This Month in the Apocalypse: Jan. 2023

Margaret 00:14
Hello and welcome to Live like the world is dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m one of your today’s hosts, Margaret killjoy, and with me are also Brooke and Casandra. How are you too?

Brooke 00:25

Casandra 00:26

Margaret 00:28
Joining me in the background, hopefully that we can’t hear, is my dog, Rintrah, scratching at the carpet. So, this is one of the This Month in the Apocalypse episodes, as you probably noticed based on the title of it, which was This Month in the Apocalypse, and it is for January 2020– whatever year it is now. Three? Are we at three. It’s 2020; It’s part three. And this show is a proud member of the Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the podcast brought up about

Jingle 01:03
what’s up y’all I’m Pearson host of coffee with comrades. Coffee with comrades is rooted in militant joy. Our hope is to cultivate a warm and inviting atmosphere like walking into your favorite coffee shop to sit down with some of your close friends and share a heart to heart conversation. New episodes premiere every Tuesday, so be sure to smash that subscribe button wherever you get your podcast so that you never miss an episode. We are proud to be a part of the Channel Zero network.

Margaret 01:56
And this show is a proud member of the Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, sort of network, publisher thing. Here’s a jingle for another show on this network or publisher. Boop boop boop boop, boop.

Casandra 02:13
Since I don’t have this yet, are you just gonna make one up right now?

Margaret 02:19
You know, I think we might have jingles, but I’ll make one up anyway. Do you like nerd shit? Are you a fucking loser? Do you spend more of your time thinking about the way that character classes in Dungeons and Dragons relate to the current meta of whatever game system you play? Do you know more about what I’m talking about than me right now? Then, you might like an Anarcho Geek Power Hour, which is a new show from Strangers in the Tangled Wilderness where we talk about nerd shit. The first episode is up already and there might be more, I don’t know how, I’m not the one making them. First episodes is talking about all about that show Andor and there’s gonna be a bunch of other shows that talk about other shows. If you’re a fucking nerd and know what the word THACO means.

Casandra 03:11
Wait, I’m a nerd and I don’t know what that means.

Margaret 03:13
I know it’s a second edition Dungeon & Dragons thing. It’s actually an are you an older millennial or Gen Xer, I think is the actual gatekeeping I just did there by accident. Really just ruining everything. It means “To hit armor class zero.” What I

Casandra 03:28
I started playing with third edition.

Brooke 03:33
I have another new podcast idea to pitch to y’all. But we don’t have to do it during This Month.

Margaret 03:38
Okay, well, now this is an actual jingle. This…it actually exists. Okay. And that’s the end of the jingle ba bop, bop, bop bop.

Margaret 03:53
And we’re back. Thanks, to the regular show called Live Like the World is Dying. I do too many podcasts. I’m gonna fuck this up at some point. Welcome to Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff. Today, the cool person we’re talking about is at the end of the world.

Brooke 04:14
This is what I get for declining to do the intro, isn’t it? This is my reward?

Margaret 04:19
Yeah. Brooke was like, “I’m tired.” And I was like, I’m not. I’m wired on fake energy. Which, isn’t even caffeine. I don’t even drink caffeine. So what we’re going to talk about today is we’re talking about a bunch of different stuff. The main topic that I have to talk about today. Have y’all ever heard of this agency that thinks is in charge of us? It’s called the government.

Brooke 04:44
Vaguely vaguely familar with it. Yeah.

Margaret 04:47
I think different geographical locations have different gangs that have gotten together and declared themselves in charge. And they all use the word government once they get bigger than the word gang. The United States federal government, which is the name of the largest gang operating in the territory of central North America has a has a subgroup and they are committed to, you’d think that they’d be really cool, because their name is Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. So, it sounds like fun, right? I mean, actually, these things don’t go well together and the middle one mostly just murders you. Actually, all three of them are…Okay, I see why there’s a regulating body that people set up. But the ATF are notorious for being kind of…I don’t know a government body that comes after you, if you like, do things that they decide that they don’t like. And they like to be very mercurial about that. And on January 13th, they announced a new rule that will turn millions of Americans into felons in 120 days, so. Rintrah is really concerned about everyone’s gun rights. So, I have a very complicated relationship with guns. I, you know, as people know, I use them sometimes, and I carry them and have ever since I got doxxed, by the far right. And I believe that community defense is very important. I’m also however, very critical of a lot of things about guns. So, I just want to like preface. Before I talk about guns for a whole fucking chunk of this episode, I want to say that I believe very strongly that if your firearm is not on you, at any given moment, it needs to be locked up. And this is something that used to be more abstract for me and is not abstract anymore. And and I’m going to be on about this for a long ass time. That is the safe way, if you are carrying a firearm, you’re probably doing so because you want you or your community to be safer and or better fed. And if you don’t lock your guns up, when you’re not holding on to them, you are not making your community safer, you’re making your community less safe. And that is the kind of balance that everyone needs to have at all times if they choose to carry firearms, and if it fucking matters. So, that has nothing to do with the ATF. Because….

Casandra 07:25
I was preparing myself for it to be a rule about keeping guns locked up.

Margaret 07:28
No, it has nothing to do with guns locked up. So y’all ever heard of the NFA? Or tax stamps? This is like, gun law bullshit?

Brooke 07:41
Well, nope.

Margaret 07:42
The National Firearms Act was passed in….And I’ll cut to the chase, and then I’ll go back and tell you the history. So there’s this thing, where you can take a firearm, an AR style firearm is the most common gun by a substantial margin in the United States, as far as I understand at least rifle, and you can, if you have a shorter barrel on it, there’s two different classifications, there’s a short barreled rifle, which is illegal without specific and ATF approval, which I’ll get to why that’s actually bullshit shortly. And second, or you can have it be a pistol. And instead of putting a stock on it, you can put something called a pistol brace, which is originally designed so that people who have like, less mobility or missing a limb or things like that can successfully use this style of firearm. And these are fairly new objects, you have something called AR pistols, and they’re very common. They’re very popular. The ATF estimates that three to 7 million pistol braces have sold in the past 10 years since pistol braces came on the market in 2013. And when they first came on the market, it’s okay, it’s some loophole bullshit. Mostly, I mean, you can use it as is intended. Well, you could use it as is marketed, which is for being able to fire with one hand in a more stabilized way. Or you can use it as people tend to use it, which is to be able to shoulder a pistol, and so fire more accurately with something that is classified legally differently.

Brooke 09:19
Makes sense.

Margaret 09:20
Yeah. But before they like went ahead and like marketed this thing, they went and checked in 2013. They were like, “Hey, is this chill, ATF? Can we make this thing and sell it?” And the ATF was like, “Yeah,” and then they went back and forth a couple times. By 2017, not only could you sell it, but it was also legal for people to shoulder a pistol in this way. And that that would not make you a felon by shooting this gun that you own legally.

Casandra 09:48
What are the concerns like why? Why wouldn’t it be a good idea or legal?

Margaret 09:54
There’s literally…there’s fundamentally none, but we’ll get…Okay. So I’ll get to the where short barreled rifles come from as a classification. Okay, so and then on January 13, the ATF ruled that this is not true that this is not a pistol. If you have a pistol brace on an AR pistol, it is now a short barreled rifle. And this is on some level a reasonable thing, right? Because they are short barreled rifles, that’s what they are. You, you shoulder them, you shoot them. Whatever, I don’t, someone’s gonna get really mad at me about this. But, we were all like, wink, wink, nudge nudge, I never fucking came anywhere near one of these things, because I was like this is gonna get…this is gonna go badly. So I never got one, right? Because it was perfectly legal. But now everyone has 120 days to either register the item with the government, destroy it, or turn it into the ATF, or put a longer barrel on the gun. And the thing that’s really messy about this, is that they told people that this was fine. This was good. And everyone tried to cross their t’s and dot their i’s, which isn’t what you’re supposed to do. But that’s what they tried to do. And and now basically, they like, you have to turn them in or you’re in a lot of trouble. It’s a 10 year. If you break the NFA it’s a ten year felony. It’s a 10 year felony. And if you’re a felon, you can never use firearms, again legally in the United States. Which if you’re the kind of person to collect firearms is a fairly major impact, besides of course, the 10 years that you might lose off your life.

Casandra 11:28
Wait, so sorry. I’m not familiar with any of this. So short barreled rifles are disallowed?

Margaret 11:36

Casandra 11:36
And they reclassified this other thing as a short barrelled rifle?

Margaret 11:41
Yeah. And it’s just this incredibly popular thing. And it’s mostly….

Casandra 11:47
I didn’t catch that short barraled rifles were disallowed, and was like it’s just a classification, what matters?

Brooke 11:51
Yeah, no, it’s confusing.

Margaret 11:55
So, the reason that short barreled rifles are disallowed is leftover nonsense. In 1934, the federal government was like, we want people to not really have guns in the US anymore, if at all possible. There’s an amendment in the Constitution that prevents that from happening. So they were like, alright, well, we’ll make it really hard. So, they passed this thing were called the the NFA, the National Firearms Act, where you have, you have to pay a $200 tax, you have to get buy a tax stamp. it’s just a thing that says I paid $200, which was about $4,000 at the time. Equivalently. They didn’t actually write into the law that this would escalate with inflation. So it’s still $200 if you want an NFA iteam. And they specifically they were like, we want all the stuff that’s used for crime by evil gangsters. So, they wanted to get rid of machine guns, which is honestly,reasonable. They wanted to get rid of pistols. And like all handguns, were going to be illegal. And then they were like, well, if we make our handguns illegal, then people are just going to chop chop down their their little rifle or shotgun, and they’re going to suddenly have a pistol, right? So, we’ll make short barreled rifles and short barreled shotguns also illegal, or things that you have to register with the government and pay a hefty tax stamp for. Then some people were like, but we have this thing called the Second Amendment. You can’t outlaw these guns. So pistols got knocked off of it, but they didn’t knock off short barreled rifles.

Casandra 13:33

Margaret 13:34
Because they didn’t bother.

Casandra 13:37

Margaret 13:38
So a short barreled rifle is a like contraband item unless you go and you register it and you jump through all these hoops. The other thing is you have to fill out all this paperwork, and then wait like sometimes years in order to get this and the other thing they made illegal at this time was suppressors and suppressors, I will go to my grave believing should never have been. They are an element of gun safety. The ability to suppress the sound of a firearm makes it safer for everyone. It is a better object. It does not make the gun more dangerous. It also doesn’t make it quiet. Everyone’s like oh yeah, you can like run around James Bond style. It’s just like not true if you shoot a suppressed gun. I mean, there’s like a few tiny exceptions where if you like really work with subsonic, ammo and .22 And all this shit you can like, make it quiet. But like a suppressed gun just sounds like a gun. It’s loud. It goes bang, you can hear from a long ways off. It just doesn’t permanently destroy your hearing and give you tinnitus as much. Most of them you still have to wear ear protection for. It’s just a fucking…anyway, whatever. That’s not what we’re talking about today. So, yeah, so that’s why they made it….short barreled rifles illegal or much harder to come by. And it makes no sense. It never made any sense. Go ahead.

Casandra 14:57
What is it? I know it doesn’t make sense. Like it sounds I was like, someone who does paperwork was like let’s reclassify this thing. But like, what is their justification? Like, why are they saying it makes sense?

Margaret 15:10
Why are they reclassifying AR pistol to a short barreled rifle? Or why do they defend that short barreled rifles are illegal?

Casandra 15:17
I think I understand the former. Maybe the latter.

Margaret 15:21
So at the time, it literally was just it’s closer to a pistol. That was the justification, they wanted to get rid of pistols, so that therefore they got rid of short barrel rifles. The argument being concealability.

Casandra 15:36
But at this point in history, there isn’t really a justification?

Margaret 15:39
There’s no justification. It’s you can have a full length rifle and you can have a small handgun and you can’t have in between. It is. Well, that’s. So that’s what I think that…there are a lot of cases to be made against guns and gun ownership. And I am like not trying to eventually become some like a gun nut talking head. But like, this is something that people whose primary concern or like one of their concerns is as firearms and firearm law. This is something that I think they wish people understood. The law is incredibly Kafka esque, and nonsensical, and labyrinth and like, just bizarre. And so whenever they’re like, “Oh, we’re gonna pass this new gun control law,” everyone’s sitting there being like, “Oh, God, it’s going to be some other weird, crazy loophole, where if you don’t do all of the following things, you’re a felon.” And what they’ve done now is they’ve gone back and made everyone felons in reverse. And I think it’s fucked up.

Casandra 16:43
That’s wild that that’s possible to retroactively make that many people felons.

Brooke 16:50
It just it sounds like these these ATF peoples aren’t very good at the F part of their ATF.

Margaret 17:03
Like they’re drinking and smoking, but they forgot to go shoot guns?

Brooke 17:07
Yeah, like, I don’t know about the A and the T shit that they do. But they sound like they’re really fucking up the F part.

Margaret 17:12
I mean, like, and this is like, the ATF is like all of the gun people’s like boogeyman, right? Like, because they like, they keep track of people for potentially breaking specific laws, like, right, for example, like straw sales are illegal, I can’t go to the store and buy a gun with the intention of turning around and selling it. Even though, in many states, and I think this is reasonable, that’s fine. It’s a way to skirt the law. In most, in many states, you can privately sell a firearm from one person to another. But if you go to a store in order to buy a gun in order to turn around and sell it, at this point, you’re an arms dealer, and you like should have and so the people buying it from you should have to go through background checks and shit like that, right? At least from a legal point of view. So what the ATF sometimes does is they keep track of anyone who buys a whole bunch of guns at once, or a whole bunch of guns over some period of time. And they just like show up on that at your house and be like, “Hey, Where’s all your guns? We wanna see them. And we want to prove you didn’t sell any of them.” Even though, if you buy a bunch of guns, for your own sake, and then turn around and sell some of them because you don’t want them anymore, that is usually legal. And so there’s kind of some like thought police stuff that has to go in because they have to prove intent and all this like weird shit. So the ATF is this like boogeyman that everyone’s like weird about anyway. And then the other new thing that I’m a little bit less confident about, I’ve seen some stuff about this, that also has people up in arms is that with these NFA items, previously, NFA items being the short barreled rifle or a fully automatic weapon, right? It is legal as a as a citizen to own fully automatic weapons in certain contexts, right, if you fill out certain paperwork, you know, use them in certain environments, things like that. It’s usually basically rich people have them because you have to buy ones that are from like before a ban and they so they there’s like only a certain number of them that are available in the civilian market. So they just become more more expensive, which is always what the NFA was, of course was a tax on…so it was like poor people can have guns. Rich people get to have guns. And so there was this thing that the ATF…no go ahead.

Casandra 19:26
I just think about how the justification originally was like, “We don’t want mobsters to have access to these things,” when when they were probably the only ones who could afford them at that point.

Margaret 19:35
That’s so true. Fuck.

Casandra 19:38
We only want monsters to have these things.

Margaret 19:41
Yeah. Yeah, if your shotgun cost $5,000….Yeah, only a certain class of people would have shotguns. No, that’s such a good point. Okay, so one of the other things the NFA says that you can use…if I own…I do not On any NFA items, but if a hypothetical person were to own a short barreled rifle, if they are supervising, other people can shoot it. Because they’re there. They’re present, whatever. It’s my short barreled rifle. And so you have this whole market of people who are like, “Yo, you want to go shoot a machine gun, like come to my range, you get to shoot a machine gun,” which like sounds like fun. And these are very controlled environments, and it’s perfectly fucking…Well, it’s the safest shooting guns ever is. And now the NFA has like quietly changed in it’s frequently asked questions of sorry, the ATF has changed on its frequently asked questions on its website, to just say, “No, only the only the person who has registered the item can be in possession of it. Can can use it.” And so…

Casandra 20:47

Margaret 20:48
Yeah. So like, if I have a suppressed rifle, which I don’t, but I want one, I want to I want to go through the tax stamp paperwork in order to get one. Not only would it be illegal for me to let someone else use it, it would be illegal for me to store it in a way in which anyone else can access it. Like if I live somewhere and my husband has access to my gun safe, then that would be now a crime. This is more hypothetical. The other thing is very specific. And they released a fucking 300 page document about how they’re going to turn everyone into felons. And everyone has 120 days.

Casandra 21:26
They put so much thought into it.

Margaret 21:27
Oh, yeah, they’ve been working on this for 10 years. And like fairly literally. This other thing is like a weird….And so the reason I want to talk about this is because like, this is a thing that is mostly being talked about in gun spaces, and is therefore mostly being talked about in center, right of center spaces. I don’t want to just say right wing spaces, I think there’s a lot of center and center right groups that are not like aggressively racist or something like that and are just like rural people who are into guns or whatever. And so people were really upset about it. And sometimes when we see certain types of people get really upset, we’re like, “Haha, fuck you.” But like, I think it is a completely legitimate thing for people to be upset about. I think this is fucked up. I think this is overreach. I think that this is like…the the sort of hope that people have is that at the very least, they’ll just get rid of short barreled rifles off of the NFA list because it’s nonsense. They shouldn’t be there…in as much as….in as much as there’s going to be a society I can imagine that society being like “There’s a level of weapon we don’t really want around here,” right? Like I’m not like nukes for everyone kind of girl. And if I’m not a nukes for everyone kind of girl. Am I a machine guns for one kind of girl? I’m kind of not? I kind of just don’t care. You know, like people would come at me, whatever. Like maybe it’s hypocritical ofmyself, of me as an anarchist. I don’t fucking know. Whatever but like, but I don’t know. Whatever. That’s my fucking weird gun rant. I’ve watched like so many like YouTube people rant about it. What’s up?

Casandra 23:02
That was a pristine conclusion.

Margaret 23:07
It’s so funny, because I’m like more anti gun this month than I am most months

Brooke 23:14
Is it that you’re anti gun? Or is it that you’re anti ATF?

Margaret 23:17
Yeah, I’m definitely anti ATF. Unless you’re listening ATF, in which case I fucking love you. Don’t come over, though. God that sounds sketchy than I meant it. I just….whatever. Anyway, that’s the main thing I had that I had to talk about about January. This not the most important thing happening, but it is a big thing but you have some other stuff that you want to talk about, right?

Brooke 23:42
I do and I like don’t even know where to go to there from here. Oh, man. Well, I guess we can talk about….

Margaret 23:50
Well, speaking of tax stamps and tax….

Brooke 23:54
Yeah, well done. I was gonna go for like, ridiculous government nonsense.

Margaret 23:59
Oh, that’s actually better and more accurate.

Casandra 24:01
That’s taxes.

Brooke 24:02
Yeah, there you go. Yeah. So there’s this act has been proposed in Congress called the Fair Tax Act. And it’s ridiculous and far fetched and is not going to go anywhere. But it has come up like three different times in my own life in the last week from from different people asking me about it and asking me what’s up with it and I even had to kind of walked my mom through what was going on with this too, cuz she was talking about it. Hi, mom, if you’re listening.

Margaret 24:39
Hi, mom. Hi, Brooke’s mom.

Brooke 24:44
Nice. So this tax act is a Republican act. And the succinct version of it is that they want to abolish the IRS in its entirety and institute a 30% national Sales Tax.

Margaret 25:01
See, I was with them for the start of that sentence.

Brooke 25:04
First half is great. Stop there. We’re good. Yeah, so that would get rid of income tax, and payroll tax, estate tax, gift tax. I mean, the whole stupid, ridiculous tax system that we have would go away.

Casandra 25:16
I thought it was in addition to state taxes?

Brooke 25:20

Casandra 25:21
Oh, interesting.

Brooke 25:21
Well, I guess, I guess I don’t know if they can regulate state income taxes and all of that.

Margaret 25:26
Not without a war.

Brooke 25:28
Yeah. So.

Margaret 25:30

Brooke 25:33
Anyway, and if so…so it’s a 30% national sales tax on all goods and services purchased, which, interestingly, some of the Republicant’s have tried to call it a 23% Tax. Because, they’re playing with the way the math is presented. Alright, quick math lesson.

Margaret 25:54
Oh, is it the which direction? Okay, yeah. Give us the math lesson.

Casandra 25:57
Numbers. Numbers are arbitrary. Is that the lesson?

Brooke 26:02
You can use math to lie. That’s the lesson.

Margaret 26:05

Brooke 26:06
Yeah. Yeah. So if you have to buy something that’s $100. Let’s say just for a nice round number, and there’s a 30% tax on it, you’re gonna pay $130 for that item. And most of us look at that and go, that’s a 30% tax.

Margaret 26:22

Casandra 26:22
Cause it is.

Brooke 26:24
Right. But…

Margaret 26:26
If you reversed it.

Brooke 26:27
Yeah, exactly.

Casandra 26:29

Brooke 26:29
$30 is 23% of $130.

Margaret 26:35
Heh, heh heh.

Brooke 26:39
So if you just pretend that the item costs $130 Then you can claim that you’re only charging a 23% tax.

Margaret 26:46
Because 23% of that is tax

Brooke 26:50
Of that $130.

Casandra 26:53
I want to know how I missed the like stereotypical autistic person thing of understanding math.

Brooke 27:03
Yeah, the thing that that was that some people were like, “Well, it’s only 23%,” but they’re just lying with…they’re just using math to lie.

Casandra 27:13
23%? Was that only?

Margaret 27:15
I know exactly. Like, that’s a lot of my money.

Casandra 27:19
Still doesn’t make sense. I mean, there’s been

Brooke 27:21
130% I guess.

Margaret 27:23
I mean, as a freelancer I pay some fuck off high percentage of my income in taxes. I don’t even remember.

Casandra 27:29
As an Oregonian, I don’t pay sales tax.

Brooke 27:32
Yeah, so any sale’s tax is like “Fuck you you, world.”

Margaret 27:40
This is the real tyranny. So why do right wing people want this? Like, is it because it helps the rich because they’re not paying a state tax or whatever and it’s like…

Casandra 27:49
And why is it repeatedly brought up?

Brooke 27:51
Yeah, so it’s…it would be a flat rate tax on like a current system, which is it’s called a progressive tax system. And please don’t confuse progressive with like the liberal sense of the word progressive, but progressive as in like graduated taxes we have now. Poor people pay less, richer people pay more. You pay tax as you progress in income.

Casandra 28:13
So, this is a fuck poor people?

Brooke 28:20
Well, the flat rate tax would be simpler than the progressive system. And allegedly, under the current proposal, low income individuals could apply once a month for a rebate on some of the tax that they spent.

Margaret 28:34
Oh yeah, with all of that free time that poor people have.

Brooke 28:37
Yeah, exactly.

Casandra 28:38
What if I mean, if it were actually to pass, how much do you want to bet that the rebate would just be on like yachts?

Brooke 28:48
Yeah, yeah. Under the system, everyone ends up paying more in tax except for the wealthiest 5% of Americans who actually end up paying less in taxes overall. But yeah, as you just alluded to Casandra, this is like not the first time this idea has come up. In fact, it has been introduced in Congress every single year since 1999.

Casandra 29:12

Brooke 29:14

Casandra 29:14
Why? Why.

Margaret 29:15
Is it just some guy?

Casandra 29:19
No, why are people making such a big deal out of it this time?

Brooke 29:22
Yeah, solid question.

Casandra 29:24
Because it’s so Oh, sorry. Go ahead.

Brooke 29:28
Hypotheses are welcome. It has no more chance of passing right now than it has the last 24 times it has been introduced. But there’s a larger contingent of right wing extremists who are behind it like 30ish people this year.

Margaret 29:43
Uuuuhm, 23…..

Brooke 29:52
Okay, so it’s, you know, there’s enough support for it that it is garnering more attention. It’s not just one or two people throwing it out there. And it anytime there’s been kind of this larger contingent of more extreme right wing people in Congress it has gotten attention in the news media. So, like when the Tea Party folks came into Congress, it got proposed that year as it has every single year, and it made the news a little bit more than because they were more supportive than usual.

Casandra 30:26
So is it just like Margaret said, is it just some guy is it? Is it the far right just like fucking with our understanding of normalcy, like the Overton window?

Brooke 30:38
Yeah, probably. That’s part of it. I mean, it made news in ’99, when it was first introduced. And I couldn’t tell you exactly how many times it made any kind of major news between then and now, except for when the Tea Party folks came into power.

Casandra 30:54
Do youever look back and think like, we used to just have a Tea Party, you know?

Brooke 30:59
Yes, do. Yeah, okay. So I couldn’t…go ahead.

Margaret 31:06
I, it’s so hard, because it’s like, there is a part of me, like, I hate how complicated our tax system is, right? So I could understand this appealing if you don’t think it through, right? Because then you’re like, well, it’s just based on how much you actually spend, and not what you make at work or whatever, you know. Because like, I fucking hate turning around and giving some percent of my tax that I can never keep track of, to the government. Basically, just every April, I’m like, there goes all my money. And now every quarter there goes all my money. And like, so I get the appeal of it. And it’s so frustrating, because I feel like they’re tapping into something that’s like real, which is people’s frustration with the tax system in this country, like you explained to other….I am under the impression I have seen on the internet, that people from other countries are like, What the fuck is wrong with you? What do you mean the government just like? Because it’s like, you go to a restaurant and you order food. And then they’re like,”Alright, pay me now.” And you’re like, “How much is the food?” And they’re like, “Yeah, I mean, you can figure that out. And if you get it wrong, you go to prison.” That sucks. I’m never going to that restaurant again. Like, if the government and I know the government can can give me a bill with a number because sometimes I underpay and they send me a bill with a number. And sometimes I overpay and they send me money back. They know the number. Just fucking tell it to me and I will pay I will. I would begrudge taxes so much less if it wasn’t just this weird dance of fucking death with the goddamn government. Anyway.

Brooke 32:42
You’re totally fair. I have spent countless hours getting tax stuff done. Now, I spent 10 hours yesterday doing tax stuff for various things. That’s just what I’m going to do for the next few months is spend a whole lot of time with taxes.

Margaret 32:58
Can we call it the Illuminati tax because the number 23? Or is that bad because anything related….anyway…conspiracies.

Brooke 33:06
We can call the buddy tax. Because the fella whose turn it was to introduce it this year is Earl Leroy Carter, whose nickname is Buddy from Georgia.

Casandra 33:17
Leroy. Leroy is such a good name.

Margaret 33:21
But, Buddy is the name of someone who’s too old to be in government.

Brooke 33:25
Right! Like I had to look at a picture of the dude and he’s exactly what you think he looks like.

Margaret 33:30
If your nickname is Dick, you are too old to be in the government. If your nickname is Buddy, you’re too old to be in government. Maybe. Okay, wait, wait I want to say older people deserve representation too. The entire government should not be run by people who are all of one generation that is much older. That’s how I’m going to walk back from ageism. Yeah, totally anger issues Yeah.

Brooke 34:03
Oh, I just it was Buddy’s turn to draw the short straw I guess because he hasn’t….It hasn’t been him every year. it’s been different folks in different years. He’s only been in the US Congress for five or six years or something like that. So, I don’t know if they just start off the governmenting season with a you know, drawing straws or…

Casandra 34:30
It’s some sort of hazing ritual. To be part of the crew you have to like propose this ridiculous thing and everyone will hate you for it.

Margaret 34:43
Like I don’t even want this. It’s just literally their hazing.

Brooke 34:50
Alright, whose turn is it to bring out the old Unfair Tax Act law and abolish the IRS this year.

Margaret 34:58
Which is funny because it’s like I mean, I just went on this rant about how we should abolish the ATF.

Brooke 35:06
Anyway, yeah,

Margaret 35:08
I get so frustrated by the…..

Casandra 35:11
Like you’re almost there. You almost reached to the point..

Margaret 35:15
Yeah, and they go on down this wild side path where they’re like and and then they wander off into the fucking….

Brooke 35:24
The other part of it is that 30% probably is not quite enough of a tax to replace the income that they currently get from the tax system. So, it would probably actually have to be higher than that to work.

Casandra 35:39
It’s just while to be thinking about…whatever…how the fuck much we all pay in taxes and what happens with that money and what doesn’t happen with money. And who doesn’t pay taxes.

Margaret 35:51
All of you listening who are anti gun, but pay taxes I have. I have bad news for you. You buy so many more guns than any like than anyone who lives in any other country. Because half of your money is just guns.

Brooke 36:07
Fucking US military. Hey, speaking of government brutality. The second topic I have, is that there’s some news that’s gonna drop tonight. The night of the stay that we are sitting here recording this episode. It hasn’t been released yet.

Margaret 36:26
So it’d be like last week or the week before for you all?

Brooke 36:28
Yeah, exactly. And it has the potential to spark some George Floyd esque levels of protests. It’s the body cam video footage from early January of the traffic stop and the brutal arrest of Tyre Nichols, a 29 year old Tennessee man who died as a result of the brutality he experienced that day. The descriptions of the videos that have come out from those who have seen it in advance have likened it to the 1991 video of Rodney King being beaten by the Los Angeles Police and Tyre’s mother, excuse me, who hasn’t seen and is not going to watch the video said that her son was beaten to a pulp by the arresting officers, of whom they were five. He was pepper sprayed, struck by a stun gun, restrained, kicked and more. And the family’s attorney described the beating by saying the Tyre was used as a human pinata. So, some caution in watching those videos. Of course, if you’re listening to this, it’s the week after the they’ve been released. So either they have sparked intense rounds of protests, or they’ve quietly flamed out and gone down as just another act of extreme police brutality.

Casandra 37:43
I was reading this morning that they were like closing parts of Memphis.

Margaret 37:47
Yeah, they brought in the National Guard, right?

Brooke 37:50
Yeah, the governor declared a state of emergency in preparation for the protest that will follow the release of the videos. Yeah. Yeah.

Casandra 38:02
I hate that it takes the release of a video, you know?

Brooke 38:07
Yeah, yeah. The five arresting officers have all been fired, and they’re facing a barrage of charges, including second degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression, which I didn’t know official oppression was the thing that you could get charged with. But I think we can just go ahead and slap that on a whole bunch of government stuff while we’re while we’re using that one.

Margaret 38:31
Yeah, that’s what I say about them usually. It’s like the inverse. There’s a New York City law Criminal anarchy. Anyway, there you go.

Casandra 38:44
I’ve already seen some like right wing commentary. Just people pointing out the fact that like, this is different. This isn’t race based because the officers were also black. Yeah. Because systemic oppression apparently means nothing.

Brooke 39:03
Yeah, and I’ve, you know, given in no position to speak to the race relations in this matter, and any of that, but you know, certainly is yet another example of police brutality and the indiscriminant violence that they visit upon us,

Margaret 39:21
And still part of racist policing. I think that it is still fair to say that it’s part of racist policing in this country, I feel like that’s been laid out. This isn’t like my idea. This coming from Black liberation movements for a long time that black police are capable of enacting racist violence or being part of a racist, racistly violence system. But of course, they’ll use that to distract and they’ll use the fact that they threw the cops under the bus, which I like wonder whether they would have thrown the cops under the bus if the cops were white.

Casandra 39:54

Margaret 39:54
Yeah. And, you know, and either way they threw the cops under the bus because of trying to minimize…It’s not because they don’t feel good about this stuff happening because the police do. But because they like, want people to not riot. And sometimes, they’ll, you know, that’s how afraid they are. I feel like you can you can see how afraid the system is based on how it handles the cops who enact violence. It’s almost they’re afraid this time. Which is good. They should be.

Brooke 40:32
Yeah, it sounds like it’s going to be some real ugly video, and I am planning to watch it. But, a trigger warning on myself.

Margaret 40:43

Brooke 40:46
Well, I’ve got one more topic. It’s kind of following up on on an old friend of ours, the Colorado River.

Margaret 40:53
Oh, yeah.

Brooke 40:53
Just because it was in the news a bit recently.

Margaret 40:56
How he doing? He doing good?

Brooke 40:58
Yeah, everything’s great with with Old Colorado. He’s feeding the seven states and, you know, everything’s fine. So that’s my update.

Margaret 41:11
Great.Tell me the bad news.

Brooke 41:13
Yeah. So, Lake Mead, which we’ve talked about, in at least a couple of episodes, it provides water to, and electricity to Arizona, Nevada, and just a little old area called Southern California. And currently, right now, it’s at its lowest point that it has been since 1935. And it has been at its lowest point since 1935, for about two years now. And it keeps getting lower, which is the decline of the lake is consistent with the overall decline of the water levels in the whole river, which is a significant source of water, also for Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. And the reason that it’s extra in the news at the moment is that these seven states that all depend on the Colorado River, have collectively worked together for, I guess, more than 100 years to kind of manage the water and it’s resources and decide how to allocate it. And the federal government has tasked them a couple of times in the last year, to come up with a plan for reducing their water usage and for, you know, kind of this emergency scenario, because it’s getting so very low. And for the second time, in the last year, the states have failed to come up with a plan together despite their, you know, century of working together. So the Interior Department of the federal government is probably going to have to step in and impose water usage cuts on the states in order to prevent…well, I mean, it’s still gonna be pretty devastating, but in order to, you know, mitigate, who’s getting how much of the devastation.

Margaret 42:52
Well I bet that will go smoothly.

Brooke 42:54
Yeah, they’re not already having, you know, legal challenges and, you know, threatens of sue, and lots of lawyers and private organizations and stuff involved.

Margaret 43:05
And if there’s one thing I mean, what’s that saying? Thirsty people don’t fight over water.

Casandra 43:12
Exactly how it goes.

Brooke 43:16
It’ll be fine.

Margaret 43:17

Casandra 43:17
Meanwhile, in other parts of California there’s like massive flooding. And they’re already predicting a produce shortages for the rest of the year. Yeah.

Brooke 43:27
Yeah, great. Need. So too much water in the north, too little water in the South? Crops? Fucked.

Margaret 43:37

Brooke 43:38
Excellent. Yeah. Now the thing that people like to to raise the the alarm about, especially with Lake Mead is that it feeds the Hoover Dam. And if the water level gets too low in the lake, you’re not gonna be able to power the dam. But it’s not actually really looking like it’s, that’s going to happen soon. They’re still probably a few years before it would get that low. And this is based on like me pulling all of the data and looking at the worst case scenarios of the water levels. And that’s, you know, I’m not a climatologist. So I can’t tell you about other things that might happen. But just in terms of the trends of the decline in the water. Now, of course, that means I’ll have two years to ignore it, and then still freak out and panic and fuck everything up at the last minute.

Margaret 44:29
No, no, they’ll like, get it together. That’s why we have governments that are really good at doing stuff in a timely fashion and addressing the big the big issues.

Casandra 44:40
Governments make everything more efficient.

Margaret 44:42
Yeah. Yeah. Without it it’d be total anarchy,

Brooke 44:47
Lies, damn lies from governments. All right, what’s happening in the world, Margaret? What’s happening outside our little bubble?

Margaret 44:58
It’s about California. My first one. Alright, so California….

Casandra 45:04
None of us live in California, for the record.

Margaret 45:09
So okay, what is it? There’s a bill, Assembly Bill 92 in California. I have no idea whether this is likely to pass. This the thing. I think that I actually fall into this too. Whenever we see like, “Oh, there’s this new bill, and it’s fucked up.” Everyone’s like, “Oh, fuck, they’re gonna,” you know, there’d be a bill that’s like, “Murder every seventh child,” and people be like, “Oh, fuck,” you know, and like, and then usually those bills don’t pass. And so we feel a little bit like wolf cry’ey when we’re like….like all the anti trans bills that are happening right now. Right? Like Virginia actually just shut one down. And I wish, I should have. I should focus more on some of the positive news for these things. Virginia, just shut one down. Like it didn’t even go to vote. People were like, “Nah, we’re good.” And but, I don’t even think it was a statewide one. I don’t know, whatever. It’s like, these things do get defeated all the time. But people propose all this wild shit, like, the 23 people tax. Well, I know. But if you start with the 30 people who propose it, and then you say, we’ll pass the tax, if we get to execute seven of you. …You know, I’d be willing to like give it a shot for a little while.

Brooke 46:18
A shot.

Margaret 46:21
Which, they’d be in trouble if they lived in California if this bill passes, because California is trying to pass a bill, or some people in California trying to pass a bill banning civilian possession of armor.

Casandra 46:34
Body armor?

Margaret 46:35
And I think that…

Casandra 46:36
Which i’m just like, wow. Why? I always wonder how….like, they must have to have some sort of justification for proposing bills like this. And I just like, what is it?

Margaret 46:47
So, there’s justification for proposing this is that several other mass shooters have worn body armor in the past couple of mass shootings. This, to me is like, the crystal clear distillation of like, doing law wrong, you know, is like being like, well, you can’t protect yourself from bullets beecause some people who want to kill people might protect themselves from bullets.

Casandra 47:14
But if we pass a law about it, those people who want to kill people will definitely follow the law.

Margaret 47:18
Yeah. That’s the best thing about law is that the only people who follow it are criminals, and everyone else is free. Actually, what’s really funny is in a weird way, because of selective enforcement, as it’s like, you know, it’s like, if you’re breaking some other laws it’s the only time you get in trouble for certain laws. But, yeah, so they’re trying to pass a bill outlawing body armor, and I think it is fucked up. That’s….

Casandra 47:44
That’s wild. Most of the mass shooters are men. We could just outlaw them.

Margaret 47:50
You know, I see no counter argument that can be made.

Brooke 47:57
Let’s put them in cages. Breeding stock only.

Margaret 48:04
The 1960s called they want their science fiction back. But they can’t have it because it’s funny. So, there’s that. There’s a diabetes med that’s in shortage called ozempic. And it’s in shortage because a version of it got popular for weight loss. The same drug is used is produced by the same manufacturer at a higher dosage called wegovy. I don’t know, the dumbest names in the world are the names of prescription drugs.

Casandra 48:37
Yeah. That’s someone’s job

Margaret 48:40
I know, I’m so jealous of whoever’s job that is. Like, I write fantasy characters for a living, I could do that job. No, that’s not true. Because like, fantasy authors always go for like, Alright, we’re gonna take a normal name like John and we’re gonna, like spell it weird. Or add an ‘e’ in the middle or something. And like, this isn’t called like, ‘insaloon.’ You know, it’s not just ‘insulin’ with a different pronunciation. It’s fucking orginal. Ozempic? Wegovy? it doesn’t even look like it’s some other language. It just looks like…you look at that, and you’re like, that’s a prescription drug.

Casandra 49:19
That means we need to hire a sci fi author to do the job.

Margaret 49:23
Yeah, okay. All right. Well, since I’m out of that job. People at the World Economic Forum in Davos are predicting major cyber attacks in 2023 and or 2024, DDoS attacks, denial of service attacks, like where they flood an IP to shut it down. Those increased 79% last year.

Brooke 49:44

Margaret 49:45
And something like 49% of like major economic things that do all the manufacturing etc. are like vulnerable or like, particularly not hardened to cyber attacks. You know, we had the thing couple years ago where like, you couldn’t get couldn’t get gas in part of the Mid Atlantic because of a cyber attack.

Brooke 50:03
Oh, yeah.

Margaret 50:04
So anyway, so there’s that to look forward to. In the most depressing news that no one ever wants to admit or think about, Germany’s Minister of Health says that all signs point towards COVID putting people at risk for incurable immune deficiencies. The studies are not final. But there’s just more and more mounting evidence coming in from all different corners about how we should be taking COVID Seriously. And again, not to put that impetus on like, as much the individuals, but like, wouldn’t it be cool if some of our tax money paid for i dunno, HVAC systems for schools?

Brooke 50:43

Margaret 50:44
Wouldn’t that be just like…Oh, yes. And the other thing that happened, I didn’t write this in my notes. But one of the main things that I saw this fucking month is at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the windows were open, there was HEPA filters in every room, everyone tested at the door. The people in the audience wore masks, because the world leaders know that it’s fucking real.

Casandra 51:03

Brooke 51:05
But, but, but didn’t we just decided it ended it here in the US? Didn’t we just declare that?

Margaret 51:10
Oh, no, we extended it till April.

Brooke 51:13

Margaret 51:13
It’s over in April. Yeah.

Brooke 51:16
Except not the SNAP benefits.

Margaret 51:18
No, the SNAP benefits. That is the next thing I had on my list. That’s very good. The SNAP benefits, which I still in my head to call food stamps, but maybe you’re not supposed to. But in case you’re don’t know what SNAP means the extended benefits that people got during the COVID pandemic are going to expire in March. So, February is the last month of the extended benefits. Sorry, sucks to be poor. Hope you don’t die of the…this is me and my government voice not me and my voice….Hope you don’t just…well, actually, we do want you to just go back to work and die for the economy. Speaking of people willing to die for the economy, Bolsonaro’s right wing idiots stormed the Capitol after he lost an election. I don’t have nearly as much as Brazil. I don’t have nearly as much information about that as I wish I did prepared because…I…because this is the speed round. Speed Round. There should be like a little sound effect. Too too, zoo zoo. On the other hand, I like other people when they storm government institutions, and left wing people in Peru are doing are like also uprising. And I think that’s good. Because I hate that we let….the when people are like “The insurrectionists and the seditioutionists,” and I’m like “Hey, now. That’s some of my best friends.” What else? Oh, and Pakistan has been having massive, after their fucking floods that we talked about last year, they’ve been having massive blackouts. There was like to 220 million people without power for a while. And it’s basically old fucked up infrastructure that is fucking them up. And that…either of you have Lightning Rounds?

Brooke 53:05
No, I don’t pay attention to the news. I’m doing taxes.

Margaret 53:10
Oh, yeah. Okay, well, that’s the end of our lightning round.

Brooke 53:15
Pew pew peeew.

Margaret 53:23
And that is This Month in the Apocalypse. And if there’s something we missed, there isn’t. And if you think something happened that was bad, it didn’t happen. Or we would have covered it.I see no flaw in that logic and I think you all are gonna have to learn to understand that that’s just the way it is. So, but if you want to hear us tell you everything that’s happening and….whatever, if you want to support this podcast, you should do so by supporting us on Patreon. Our Patreon is…. not Live like the world is dying…shit. We are Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. That’s right Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness because this is published by Strangers in Tangled Wilderness. And if you support us on Patreon, we’ll mail you a zine every month if you support is a certain level. Otherwise, you’ll get like discounts on all our stuff including my new book that’s probably out by the time y’all hear this called Escape from Incel Island, which is about people doing what it says on the cover. I tend to be fairly literal with some of my naming conventions, with amazing cover art by Jonas Goonface. And you can go get that from or wherever you buy books. I mean, eventually you can get from wherever you buy books. Right now you can…well I don’t know book distribution’s weird? So you should support us at Patreon: and also in particular, we would like to thank some of our patrons we would like to thank Aly and Paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, Theo, Hunter, Sean, SJ, Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Cat J, Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Micaiah, Hoss the dog, and Hans, maybe Jan’s, I usually write the pronunciation ahead of time. And I’m very sorry and it’s especially embarrassing because you’re new to the list and I really appreciate you in particular, Hans Vergennes for supporting us. And that’s it. I’m gonna….done and I hope you all are doing great. Bye bye

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S1E57 – Nadia on Harm Reduction

Episode Summary

Margaret and Nadia talk about harm reduction, what it is, how it relates to community preparedness, strategies for including harm reduction in your preparedness routines, and a little bit of history and legality as relates to different kinds of drug use.

Guest Info

Nadia works with Next Distro and can be found at

Host Info

Margaret can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at


LLWD: Nadia on Harm Reduction

Margaret 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host today, Margaret killjoy. And today, I am really excited about this episode, I think you’ll all get a lot out of it. I guess I say that every time but I wouldn’t record these episodes, if I didn’t think you would get a lot out of them. Today, we are talking about harm reduction. And we were talking about preparedness that includes drug users. Because, if you think you don’t know any drug users, you just don’t know anyone who is willing to tell you that they’re a drug user. And we will talk about that and a lot more. But first, this podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network.

Margaret 01:01
Okay, we’re back. And if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns. And then kind of a little bit about your background about the kind of stuff that we’re gonna be talking about today.

Nadia 01:52
Yeah, sure, hey, Margaret. My name is Nadia, I use they or she pronouns. And I am a harm reductionist, a drug user. And I have both worked at in-person syringe service programs, and currently work for an online meal based program, where we ship safer drinking supplies to folks all over the country.

Margaret 02:16
That’s cool. So we talked about having you on, because we wanted to talk about preparedness that includes the drug users in your community, whether the person listening to this as drug user, or whether they care about drug users in their community. And I know it’s a big open question, but I kind of wanted to ask you that. How prepare that?

Nadia 02:45
Well, you know, I think that when we talk about prepping, disaster prepping and harm reduction, they’re really similar, because it’s really boils down to a risk assessment and thinking critically, right? The world isn’t black and white, it’s not really an easy question to answer, for example, should I evacuate or not in a disaster? Similarly, how do I protect myself as a drug user, in a world that isn’t concerned about my health or safety? And you know, for people who historically lack access to resources, and healthcare, I think talking about how to prepare or what readiness looks like, is especially important.

Margaret 03:28
So, I guess I kind of want to start with some of the practical questions. It’s like, what are the things that one should do that are different from what one would otherwise do? Like I’m like thinking about like, even for my own sake, right. Like, I’m like, like people say, like, carry Narcan, for example, like, how does one access that? What is the shelf life on that? Is that a thing that if community like mutual aid groups or individuals who have like large stashes of things or whatever? Is it like worth having a bunch of. Is it depend on community access? Is it better to just like, specifically coordinate with existing harm reduction and like needle exchange groups in your area? Like, it seems to me that like, like, one of the prepper mindset things is like, “Oh, there’s a thing I need, I should go out and get a bunch of it”. Right? And my instinct here is that maybe that rather than run out and get a bunch of say, Narcan, it would be more about like, be aware of how people can access that and which groups do distribute that and then maybe have like enough for me to carry around? I don’t know. Yeah, like, I guess let’s start with Narcan. What’s What’s the Narcan?

Nadia 04:40
Sure. Um, so for folks that are listening that don’t know, Narcan or naloxone is a medication that will reverse an opioid overdose. And you know, it, it should be kept in a relatively temperature stable area, but there’s there’s been a lot of studies on it. And they have shown that it maintains its efficacy, much past expiration dates and the kind of temperature parameters. So you don’t want to keep it somewhere freezing or super hot, but it is more resilient than you think. And having some naloxone is better than having none. And you mentioned, you know, going out and sort of stocking up. And I think that this is a broader conversation about prepping too, the difference between being ready and hoarding, right, yeah, and sometimes that line definitely gets blurry. Do you really need 100 pounds of rice? Are you going to go through it before it gets bad? Do you have a proper place to store it? I mean, you can talk about naloxone in the same way. And you know, just like you can keep Narcan in your bag. If you’re going to a show going to a bar, you can also keep some in your gobag, if you have one, to evacuate, for example.

Margaret 06:06
What’s the….you know, I usually present myself as sort of the the person who pretends like she doesn’t know what she’s asking in these episodes, but I actually don’t know as much about this as I would like. Alot of my friends are way more knowledgeable about this stuff. Like what is the difference between Narcan and naloxone? And how would I go about getting some to carry around with me?

Nadia 06:29
Sure. So Narcan is really just a brand name, that’s the the nasal spray. Naloxone is the actual medication. You can pick it up from certain service programs in your area. If you don’t have a needle exchange in your area, you can go just Google Next Distro. We mail Naloxone to folks, so just check the website, see if you live in a state or an area where we do that. But we do try to encourage people to sort of seek out resources where they live. But yeah, there’s there’s a lot of different organizations, everything from sort of anarchist collectives, running needle exchanges to health departments that are, you know, offering trainings and providing Narcan.

Margaret 07:19
What’s the legality of it?

Nadia 07:21
So, as far as you know, carrying it with you, there is what is called a standing order. It’s basically a sort of blanket prescription. You can go to the pharmacy, purchase Naloxone, it can be prohibitively expensive, especially if you don’t have insurance, which is why I kind of mentioned, you know, needle exchanges and health departments first. But I think, you know, as far as having it on your person, it’s not going to be a situation where it’s illegal. However, we know that cops like to fuck with people. So if you do happen to have Naloxone, and you have syringes on you, I’m not going to say you’ll be fine. However, the law is on your side in that regard. And another piece of that, too, is different states have different Good Samaritan laws. So if you are with someone that is experiencing an overdose, in many states, not all, you can call 911, without the fear or threat of potentially being arrested for small possession, or things like that. They are very narrow in a lot of places. But that’s something that you’re going to want to look into for your state.

Margaret 08:37
So it’s like, this makes sense, like so probably, if I have some drugs on me and my friend has some drugs on me and my friend overdoses. There’s a fear of involving the medical establishment because there’s a fear of me or the person who’s overdosing getting arrested for what we have on them. Is that what you’re saying that this law protects? Like, yeah, in some states protects people about?

Nadia 09:00
So you know, there’s, there’s a lot of stigma, right? And you know, just the the illegality piece. And at the end of the day there, there is an overdose crisis in the United States, in many places. And so these laws are designed to sort of take some of that fear away. And if you are responding to someone who’s experiencing an overdose, you don’t have to tell 911 when you call that this person is on drugs or that they are overdosing. You can just merely describe the symptoms and what is happening to them. For example, this person is not breathing, they’re turning blue. I can’t hear a heartbeat, whatever it might be. And you know, if you do have to leave and you have given them Naloxone, you can just leave the vials or or the package next to the person that way when EMS does arrive, they do know “Okay, this person has been given Narcan, “and they can kind of go from there,

Margaret 09:59
Right. Okay, so like if you have reasons that you don’t want to interact with emergency personnel and need to leave the scene, okay.

Nadia 10:07
Yeah, and you have options. And that’s kind of the whole thing about harm reduction, right? It’s a pragmatic approach to drug use and a realistic one. And so, you know, that’s why there, there are no hard and fast rules of do this, or don’t do this, but, you know, sort of a continuum of human behavior. And, you know, acknowledging the risks at any point of it.

Margaret 10:30
I want to come back to that in a little bit, because I want to have this whole conversation about what harm reduction…like why the work that y’all do is so like, philosophically important, to like disaster preparedness, and probably life in general. But first, I want to, I want to keep talking about some of this stuff, like with, like, you’re talking about the, you know, there’s an overdose crisis in the United States, I feel like everyone, on some level knows that. And one of the things that’s so interesting to me, I would think I was thinking about before we did this episode is that it’s like, you know, this is all about like, disaster preparedness, right? The whole show. And it feels like a lot of communities and certainly including drug communities. I don’t know the way phrase that…..

Nadia 11:18
You can say, “people who use drugs.”

Margaret 11:20
Okay. But so there is a disaster happening right now. Like, there is a crisis. Like there’s a reason we call it crisis, you know, it’s like a really fucking bad thing. And I’m wondering if, without necessarily going into it, like, too great, but I’m curious, like, what is happening? Like, what is what’s happening right now? Why is everyone OD’ing? ,

Nadia 11:44
Well, you know, there’s a lot of different facets to the overdose crisis and a lot of different solutions. Some of them sort of more triage, you know, we were just talking about Naloxone, and, and it’s a great medication, it saves lives. But ultimately, what we really need is a safe supply of drugs. If people are aware and knowledgeable of what they’re taking, how potent it is, if there are any adulterants in it, you know, that’s where we would like to go. Obviously, drugs are illegal. Most drugs are illegal in most places in the United States. And, you know, there there has been pushes for access to safe supply in places like Canada in, you know, I believe Oregon has, has I think, legalized some drugs, right? You can purchase I think mushrooms now. Don’t quote me on that. I’m not actually familiar with Oregon law.

Margaret 12:46
Anyone listening this, you can go out and buy mushrooms legally. And if the police stop you, you can say “it”s okay. It’s not a crime.” Don’t do that. Okay. Anyway. Yeah.

Nadia 12:57
I mean, you know, philosophically, it’s not a crime. It’s not a crime to do drugs. And, you know, the, the idea that some of these drugs are illegal, and some of them aren’t, really, is sort of goes back to like this puritanical history of our country. You know, why is alcohol legal when we know that drunk driving rates are through the roof, and you know, it can cause incredible damage to your body over time. But then, you know, smoking marijuana is, is still illegal in a lot of places. where I live, for sure, especially in the south. So, you know, I think that there’s there’s that moral component

Margaret 13:38
So we should bring back prohibition?

Nadia 13:40
Yeah, exactly. And so I think, you know, as far as having access to drugs that are safe, drugs, that that you know, what you’re getting, you know, I think that we don’t want to short….when I say ‘we,’ I mean people who use drugs, I mean, people in the harm reduction community. We don’t want to shortchange ourselves. I don’t want to say, “Oh, well, the overdose crisis would be so much better if everyone had not Narcan.” Yes, that’s true. But that’s a temporary fix,

Margaret 14:11
Right. It’s…no, that’s such a good point. Because I feel like that’s like the…I know I owe came out the gate with like that as the first thing that was on my mind. And I, and I’m, like, kind of embarrassed about that because it’s such the like, it’s the band aid we always keep getting presented. And it’s like a real good band aid. It’s more like the tourniquet we keep getting presented. But, it does seem like yeah, what you’re talking about decriminalization, it’s almost like when you make things illegal, it doesn’t make the problem go away.

Nadia 14:40
Yeah, and you know, I think about it in terms of living under capitalism for so long our entire lives, right. And you get to a point where it’s hard to think about solutions outside of the current system. We’re so focused on kind of again, that that triage, right, how do we make things better within this oppressive state that we live in? But really, ultimately, the goal should be moving past that and moving beyond it, right?

Margaret 15:11
Yeah. Yeah. So to go back with preparedness, I know that you do a little bit of preparedness yourself. We talked before we started recording about, you know, canned vegetables and things like that. How does it impact your preparedness, both that you are a drug user, and also that you, like, care about and take drug users into consideration in your preparedness?

Nadia 15:40
Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of it is planning, right? I’m gonna use the example of of evacuating, I lived in the Gulf South for a very long time. Hurricanes were a yearly occurrence. And so I had to think about it a lot. But, you know, just in terms of what your risk is, and making a decision based on that, for example, if you are evacuating, do you bring drugs with you and sort of chance getting pulled over? Or do you try and score in a new place? And you have to decide what the bigger risk is for you. For example, if I’m driving with five of my friends in an unregistered van with acab stickers all over it, I might not want to be riding dirty, I might not want to have drugs on me. Versus, you know, if I am going somewhere completely unfamiliar to me, I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to score when I get there. It might be worth the risk, right? And so thinking of those things in advance is really important. And the longer you wait in an emergency situation, the longer it’s going to take you to get out of that cone of impact, right? If you wait to the last minute, there’s going to be you know, traffic on the road, it’s harder to to get out, it’s harder to find a hotel room, for example. So really, that thinking of it in advance, you know, I think can save you a lot of critical time when you need to act.

Margaret 17:10
Yeah. Yeah, like, I don’t envy a lot of my friends who live in the Gulf South, are like, “What do I need?” And I’m like, I don’t know, a house in the mountains somewhere. And then I’m like, No, that doesn’t. That doesn’t help. You know, I can’t just tell people that.

Nadia 17:26
Well, and I mean, you know, we’re talking about preparedness, we’re talking about disaster prep. And, you know, a lot of places that haven’t had to deal with disasters, like hurricanes or flooding, or wildfires are seeing more and more of that now. And there’s a greater impact on bipoc, queer and trans folks, disabled people, you know, marginalized groups whose access to resources is already more limited. And, you know, I think we really need to look towards communities that have been repeatedly harmed, especially by structural and environmental racism, I think they’re best informed as to how to survive and how to support each other. And I don’t want to say just in the Gulf south, but I’m talking about Flint, Michigan, I’m talking about, you know, Jackson, Mississippi, there’s a lot of places where, you know, people are painfully aware that no one is coming to save you. It could be weeks or months for FEMA to arrive. In many places, local governments rely on mutual aid networks and charity groups to provide support. And so that kind of vacuum speaks to the importance of building dual power. Because it leaves the field open, I think for kind of any group that wants to become entrenched or inevitability, to sort of step up, right, whether that’s a homophobic church group, right wing militias, especially in rural or remote areas, because, people remember who took care of them. You know, that’s one of the reasons why the Black Panthers were such a threat with free breakfast programs and community care, is why Food Not Bombs is illegal in some places. There’s just there’s a lot of power in community sufficiency.

Margaret 19:23
Yeah. I mean, and so you, you mentioned that there’s like lessons that you draw from these specific places, especially bipoc. communities that are under like constant threat. What are some of the lessons that you feel like you draw from that? I mean, besides the one that you just pointed out, maybe that’s the answer to the question, what you point out that like, building mutual aid networks and stuff like that, but….

Nadia 19:45
Yeah, absolutely, figuring out who is in your support network. Also in a disaster or crisis situation, how will you communicate with that network is really important. You know, do folks know where you’re staying and vice versa? Yeah. Also, you know, we’re talking right now and 2022, almost 2023, the COVID pandemic isn’t over. So figuring out how you can shelter places safely, you know, do you have masks on hand? That sort of thing. And then going back to prepping for people who use drugs, stocking up on drugs, you know, you might be thinking, “Oh, well, after the fact, I can just XYZ,” whatever your plan is, but what if your dealer evacuated? You know? And, you know, the, as far as staying with other people, how do they feel about drug use? Does everyone know where the naloxone is and how to use it, you know, disasters are stressful, you might be dealing with extreme temperatures, hunkering down with people and their different temperaments, and, you know, for most of us to, stress impacts drug use, and it’s important to keep that in mind. If you’re, you know, for example, trying to cut back or regulate your use. I think all of these things, you know, are useful for people who use drugs, but ultimately, I think they’re all skills or at least, you know, aspects of preparing that are beneficial for anyone.

Margaret 21:14
Yeah. Well, so interesting, because it you know, normally we think of like, okay, if you can get more of a medication that you need ahead of time, right? That’s great. And, you know, there’s this limitation, it’s actually very similar limitation, the limitation is legality. In this case of like, you know, it’s, it’s sometimes very hard for people who even have a prescription to get more than, you know, a month’s worth of supply or whatever, at a time of any given prescription. And it’s, it’s something that people run up against a lot. And then obviously, with, I don’t know, whether the way to phrase it as street drugs or not, or like drugs that are not being bought through the pharmaceutical networks or whatever, you know, there’s an accessibility that is hit and miss. And then there’s also an increased danger of stockpiling, because it seems like the the level of risk that you’re carrying for getting busted changes a lot based on how much of any given drug you have on you.

Nadia 22:11
Yeah, definitely. And I do want to kind of speak to one of the pieces you talked about, as far as having medications, you know, if you’re on prescription medications, you know, you can check in with your provider, see, if you can get a larger refill than normal say, you know, instead of 30 days, can you get a 60 day supply, especially for people who use drugs, who might be on, you know, medication assisted treatment, they might be taking methadone, naltrexone, and, you know, these are highly effective in terms of either regulating your use, or perhaps, you know, not using it all. But they can be difficult to access. And in some places, it’s harder to pick up the prescription for Vivitrol or suboxone because of stigma, because pharmacists, you know, have this idea of, of drug users, or they just might not know the the regulations and laws in their area. And you might not know them either, because you’re new. So, I think that checking in, like I said, with providers ahead of time, if that’s possible, and you know, doing what you can in terms of stocking up, but this, that whole plan needs the assistance of people in the medical field. And even they have, you know, that kind of stigma, unfortunately,

Margaret 23:33
Yeah, yeah. To self insert this, I got refused a COVID shot because I was wearing a harm reduction shirt once.

Nadia 23:41
Wait, why what was the excuse that they gave you?

Margaret 23:45
I went in, I was like this dirty punk wearing a Steady Collective shirt, which is the harm reduction group in Asheville, North Carolina. And I, it’s funny, I feel like it’s like Stolen Valor that I wear this shirt. Because people like when I wore in Asheville people were like, I love what you do. And “I’m like, thanks. What I do is I designed the logo.” And the reason I wear the shirt is because I designed the logo for it. So I’m very proud of…and it’s just crossed hypodermic needles. And

Nadia 24:13
It’s a cool logo.

Margaret 24:14
Thanks. Thanks. And I was in like, rural fucking right wing California. And I wanted a COVID booster. And so I went into the pharmacy. I found out ahead of time that this particular pharmacy did walk ins. And I walked in, and the the pharmacist at the counter was talking to a doctor who was in line in front of me. And they were both just complaining about drug users. And they were just both sitting there being like, “Oh, these damned, you know, junkies,” or whatever. I don’t remember how they phrased it, but it wasn’t polite. And then like the person finally leaves and I walk up and I’m like, Yall take walk ins? and she’s like, “No.” And I’m like, “Can I make an appointment? And she’s like, “Not for today.”

Nadia 24:59
That is wild. I mean, also you have a lot of people in the medical community that don’t really believe that COVID is a thing or that vaccines are effective. I mean, you can have an anti Vaxxer pharmacist, which is, yeah, I mean,

Margaret 25:16
And, like, this is such a, like, I face stigma once….I so it’s like, it’s really easy for me to imagine after that, that like, of course, people face stigma coming in and picking up their fucking medications, if they’re like, the kinds of medications that are, like methadone and stuff like that. That’s fucked up. I don’t know, that sucks.

Nadia 25:40
Yeah, and I mean, you know, we’re talking about COVID. And I think harm reduction is a huge piece of you know, how we can kind of move through the world right now. People are continuing to die and be disabled by COVID. And, you know, we were talking a little bit before, before we started about, you know, kind of the beginning of COVID. And I was really optimistic at first kind of seeing mutual aid networks spring up and more people coming to the realization that the government will kill us for the sake of the economy. But you know, now I think even in radical spaces, that sort of care and community level protection has given way to the more mainstream sentiment or desire to return to normalcy. And that’s just something that isn’t possible. And it’s not desirable to many, many people for whom normalcy was oppressive and a danger. Yeah, you know, I think that, especially as anarchists or folks that consider themselves radical, preppers, as well, we know that we keep us safe, right? That’s kind of the tagline. But, that should also apply to immunocompromised people as well, and disabled folks. And, you know, now, I think it’s a really great time to take stock of your existing protocols, and safety measures and sort of ask if those things that you’re doing or not doing are still in line with what our current risk is. And right now, going into winter, you know, nationally, over 10% of tests are coming back positive. And we know that we’re severely under testing, and we know that COVID reinfections, wear down your immunity. That increases your risk for long COVID or kind of lingering COVID symptoms, and, you know, makes people more susceptible to things like the flu, RSV, or Strep A, all three of which we’re seeing a surge of in this winter.

Margaret 27:43
Yay. Yeah. I think about it, like the fact that…I don’t know how to put this. Like, I wear a mask for the same reason I carry a gun. And it…and not that I want everyone to carry guns, that is a very personal decision based on the legality and the threat models that you’re facing. Bu,t I carry a gun, so that it is harder for someone to murder me and it is harder for someone to murder the people I care about who are near me, right? I wear a mask, so that I am less likely to die, and other people around me are less likely to die. This seems like such a, like the idea that there’s people who are like preppers or prepper adjacent, who are anti mask, and then anti vaccine is just so nonsensical to me. And I mean, I do think that like protocols do like, they do need to shift, we do need to realize it as we realize that this is endemic, and you know, we can’t…like we probably can’t just say no more live music in the course of human history. Right?

Nadia 28:58
I would hope not.

Margaret 29:00
But I especially like, when I walk into the grocery store, there is literally no cost to me to wear a mask. There is just, there’s only positive effects of me wearing a mask minus social stigma.

Nadia 29:17
You know, I think that we need, if we’re going to survive, care, kindness, and a lot of grace. Which requires us to acknowledge that there’s a huge cognitive dissonance people are dealing with right now. We’re three years into a global pandemic that’s killed six and a half million people around the world, the rise of fascism, I mean, there’s a lot and people’s responses are going to vary wildly. Kind of the metaphor I like to use is, it sort of feels like a house fire. And we’ve all just gone through this traumatic experience, and we’ve run out of the house in the middle of the night, and everyone is sort of behaving in a trauma informed way, some people are trying to run back into the house, some people are claiming that there was never a fire. And, you know, it’s, it’s trying to take care of each other, and hold ourselves accountable to being, you know, I think responsible for our communities, but while also acknowledging, you know, this is a weird fucking time. You know, I think too, this kind of goes back a little bit to our Naloxone conversation. You know, when we talk about masks, when we talk about boosters, these are sort of individual steps we can take, right? But ultimately, that’s, that’s only a piece of it, right? We need a societal shift. We need proper air filtration in schools, we need access to rapid testing, we need the working class to have the money and ability to take time off of work when they’re sick. I mean, all of these things are sort of interconnected to this larger struggle. And one way that capitalism and our sort of overlords here and Imperial core, are able to shift blame is by you know, kind of making everything this individual choice and individual responsibility when it’s not at all.

Margaret 31:33
No, that’s such a good point. And there’s it, it shows that there’s even like, some of those things are small scale community, things can be done as well, like, it would be a shame for a small scale community to have to suddenly like come up with the resources to provide rapid testing to everyone constantly or whatever, right. But like, I don’t know, like, helping your local venues get real good air filtration systems, you know, or like, expanding outside infrastructure in climates that allow it, and like, there are the steps that we can take that are sort of medium. They’re not….And I think that’s actually where anarchists and radicals actually do best is not at the individual level. And frankly, if I if I’m being honest, not necessarily at the systemic level, but like this sort of in between level, this community based this community size level of like, how do we? Yeah, I mean, we can’t….the punks or the anarchists, or whatever is can’t pass a mask mandate, but like, we can create, like, cultures where, when there’s no reason not to, we wear masks, and we work on our air filtration. And this is really just me thinking about COVID instead of the whole point of this conversation was drug use stuff, but…

Nadia 32:54
Well I mean, they’re, I think they’re interrelated. You know, if you are putting on a punk show, is it accessible, right? Does that mean, you know, for folks in wheelchairs, folks with, you know, mobility aids, as well as immunocompromised people, and ensuring that you know, this is a place that they have access to? Or if it’s not, saying that. I at least want you to say, “Hey, this is a dangerous place for you. And, making it accessible is not our priority or isn’t possible in this situation. Therefore, you can make your own decision about whether or not you want to attend.”

Margaret 33:36
I’ve been in like, an now I can’t remember if it was France or Montreal, somewhere where people spoke French. I’ve been in places where like any anarchist event will put on the fliers the accessibility or lack of accessibility for wheelchair access. And that’s such an interesting, good point, right? Because if you have to flag on it, “This is not wheelchair accessible.” It means you have to think about it when you do it, right. And like, Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t…I don’t know one way or the other about what I’m about to say, which doesn’t mean like you can’t put on an event if you can’t find it, accessible space, but you should have to own it, and you should have to be working on making the space more accessible. Is that, uh??? I’m really talking about my ass here. I haven’t I haven’t been part of these conversations. But.

Nadia 34:21
I mean, as someone who is struggling with long COVID still a year in, you know, I am also new to the disability conversation. And I definitely feel grateful for the folks who have been activists and have been organizing around these issues for you know, forever, honestly. And it really was shocking to me, even though I’m fairly realistic about how our society treats folks they deem unworthy or undesirable, but it was really shocking the level to which you become invisible. All. And you know, I think, to sort of shoehorn a little segue back to our orginal conversation, people who use drugs also live in that sort of liminal space, right? There’s so much that is invisible about drug use. But also, this kind of caricature of drug users is sort of trotted out anytime people want to talk about society’s ills, right? When people are talking about folks without homes, inevitably drug use comes up as if people aren’t sitting in their houses doing drugs. They just have walls and you can’t see them.

Margaret 35:38
Yeah, well, and then one of the things that I really appreciate about this conversation with you is that you’re talking about the implication, or the the inference that I’m picking up on, is that basically saying, It’s okay, if people use drugs, that is their choice, it seems to be like, like a lot of the conversation that I’ve feel like I’m exposed to is this, like, we should have pity for these poor drug users, and everyone is trying to stop using drugs. Whereas, it seems like you’re trying to present an alternate case where people can choose whether or not they want to engage with drugs in different ways?

Nadia 36:17
Yeah, I mean, you know, harm reduction is the sort of set of principles or tenants that allows for autonomy and allows for people to make informed decisions about what they do. You know, abstinence doesn’t necessarily work or isn’t feasible for everyone. And so, you know, giving people the space and acknowledging that there’s always going to be some risk in the things that we do, you know, helps us kind of approach it with clear eyes. But the I think the moral question around using drugs really does us a disservice. Doing drugs is fun, and cool. And that is, I think, an important message to have out there because, you know, so often, we’re just inundated with all of the terrible things that can happen to you. And again, this is normal human behavior. This is normal behavior in other other species, you’ve got monkeys eating, you know, fruit that’s gone, gone bad and getting drunk, you’ve got bears eating psychedelic honey. We do this because it’s enjoyable. And to deny it that, I think, sort of leaves us on our back foot in terms of “Okay, well, how do we do this safely?”

Margaret 37:41
Yeah, presenting as this is a bad thing that someone shouldn’t have done and now we have to deal with the bad parts, as compared to being like, every animal on the planet wants to do this, we should figure out ways that people can have freedom to do it as safely as they want or to not do it, if they don’t want.

Nadia 38:07
Right, and you know, both are fine. It’s also cool to not do drugs. I do want to put that out there. But as a drug user, you know, this touches on our conversation about safe supply, right? When you’re buying and you don’t know the quality or if there’s cross contamination, obviously, a lot of folks are very concerned about things like fentanyl right now. There’s also you know, other sort of fillers or things people can use. Xylazine is something that is sort of making the rounds right now that can have potential, like negative health impacts. So yeah, I think this, this goes back to sort of those bigger picture solutions as opposed to the band aids.

Margaret 38:55
Okay. And then, how useful is it? You know, like, as you pointed out earlier, right….Again, before, we had a long pre conversation. We knew each other back in the day for, now, people can know that about us, I guess. You know, pointing out because like, I mostly don’t do drugs, but I do drink sometimes, right, and that is a drug and alcohol is absolutely a drug. It’s a very dangerous drug. And it’s one that I engage with very rarely, but I do engage with, and it does seem like a fairly useful comparison for talking about other drugs. Like cause there’s this drug that is socially acceptable while also being massively destructive, right? And it seems like that actually maps fairly well to most of the other drugs that are like, problems for people. I don’t know is that too simplistic?

Nadia 39:51
No, I don’t think so. You know, and that’s also not to say that people don’t struggle with their drug use that people you You know, might be really unhappy with their relationship to drugs. And, you know, the more openly we can talk about it and the more access to different options people have, that sort of allows them to, you know, find the most comfortable place for them. Right, there is this, you know, kind of individual piece to it, even though we’re talking a lot about sort of community care,

Margaret 40:24
Right. No, that’s what I mean, that, in some ways, is part of why alcohol feels like such a good comparison. It’s not even a comparison, it’s literally a drug. It’s a drug that is somehow held into a different class than the others, is that I think we all know people who….for whom alcohol is a problem. And we all know people for whom alcohol is not a problem. And then we all know, people who completely abstain from alcohol, who are in one of those two camps, if they weren’t abstaining, you know? Hmm. I don’t know, I’m having this like, epiphany, that should have been obvious a long time ago, I think about this.

Nadia 41:02
Well, and, you know, thinking in terms of alcohol, and using that as an example of how constrained we are in terms of our choices, you know, if if you are someone that struggles with drinking, really the the options that are given to you are abstinence, right? 12 steps, complete sobriety, and the message that that is the only way that you will be able to, you know, become a functioning member of society. And the fact is that that’s simply not true.You know, abstinence really doesn’t work for many, many people. You know, I think most of us can remember the “Just Say No,” campaigns of the 90s, or maybe the 80s, depending on how old you are. And we know those didn’t work. It don’t work for children, it doesn’t work for adults. And, you know, I think I don’t want to get too far down the rabbit hole. But I think it would be important for folks to sort of think about, “Well, why is alcohol illegal? And all these other drugs aren’t?”And I think it all goes back to capitalism. It goes back to money. It goes back to social control.

Margaret 42:22
Yeah. Well, ironically, one of the reasons that alcohol is legal, is that a bunch of people fought the KKK to the death to make alcohol legal. I only learned as kind of more recently when I did a bunch of….one of my other podcasts is a history podcast. And I didn’t realize that the second incarnation of the KKK was like, one of their main things is that they were the foot soldiers of prohibition. They were like the Proud Boys of the prohibition era. And it was this whole thing where it was like Protestants versus everyone else, including reasonable Protestants. It was white Protestants against Irish Catholics, Italians, all of the people who were, you know, bootlegging, and all of that other stuff. And there were these like massive violent street fights. And I mean, mostly, it was massive violence, street fights about fuck you, you’re the KKK, we want to…you can’t run our town. But, what they wanted to do was run the town on a prohibition model. And there’s this like, really interesting tie between white supremacy and prohibition. And it? I don’t know, I mean, like, I know, I know how to immediately draw the same thing between the outline of weed and anti blackness. And I’m suspecting that if I dug very hard, I would find similar things with like, drugs, period. I don’t know. I just got really excited about people beating up the KKK and that’s why we’re allowed to drink.

Nadia 43:59
Yeah, that’s always a win, both of those things.

Margaret 44:06
But, what anyway, sorry, I got lost in rabbit hole thinking about that. Okay, so you’ve brought up this topic a couple times: harm reduction. And I suspect most people have at least an idea of what harm reduction is, but I’m wondering if you could kind of introduce it because, one, it feels very relevant to this specific conversation. But it also feels very relevant to conversations around disaster preparedness in general, because it seems to be implying that there is no perfect and that in some ways perfect is the enemy of good. And that we should just like, figure out what can go wrong and do the best we can rather than expect to succeed in everything. Maybe that’s a misunderstanding.

Nadia 44:51
That’s, that is I think, a really core piece of it, you know, and I don’t want to belie the the history behind harm reduction too, you know, this was a movement that was created in platformed by people who use drugs, by sex workers, especially during the HIV AIDS crisis. And again, you know, from groups of marginalized people that realize that they are the only ones looking out for each other. And you know, that many behaviors carry some form of risk. And so talking about that honestly, and figuring out how to mitigate that risk is far more helpful than shaming people and that is connected, you know, directly to the criminalization of HIV and AIDS too, you know, there’s the sort of moralizing, right, when folks become sick. There’s this idea, I think, that is rooted in very, like old school, Brimstone Christianity, that, you know, it’s some form of punishment. And I think that the way our society looks at people who use drugs, and the potential risks are viewed as appropriate punishment for the behavior, which is wrong and fucked up.

Margaret 46:06
Yeah. Okay, so. So what is harm reduction?

Nadia 46:12
So, you know, I think that if we’re specifically talking about drug use, that can be, you know, practical tips, anything from making sure that you’re using sterile supplies, making sure that you have syringes, and you don’t have to share them, to prevent the transmission of diseases, you know, that can be, you know, figuring out different routes of administration. So for example, if you’re someone that likes to snort a lot of drugs, maybe you want to give your nostrils a break, and, you know, smoke or boof. There are a lot of things that you can kind of adjust, right? You don’t even have to necessarily be adhering to this strict set of rules as far as your drug use, but really being sort of flexible based on your own needs.

Margaret 47:09
Okay. And then, what are some of the ways that harm reduction either applies to other things besides drug use, or like has been successfully applied, or like some of the ways that like harm reduction, as jargon, has been, like, kind of co-opted by other things?

Nadia 47:32
Yeah, I mean, I feel like especially after 2016, the the idea that voting is harm reduction really picked up speed. And I personally disagree.

Margaret 47:47

Nadia 47:48
For the most part, because harm reduction is something that you know, you can use for yourself, for your drug use, and so when we say voting is harm reduction, my question is, “Whose harm is being lessened?” You know, we currently have a Democratic president, and there’s still concentration camps on our southern border, you still have Democratic mayors and city council’s introducing regressive anti homelessness laws, throwing more money at more cops. And so I just think the notion that we can affect the kind of change necessary to liberate us by voting is….it’s short sighted. And I think it can be an excuse for people to not have to invest so much in their allyship. Yeah, I think at its very base, most like literal definition, voting potentially reduces harm, but most of that is going to be in the immediate or short term.

Margaret 48:50
Well, so that’s really interesting to me, right? Because I think that I had a kind of misunderstanding of harm reduction in some ways, because from my point of view, I mean…voting as harm reduction just seemed to be the rephrasing of vote for the lesser evil. Because in my mind, voting for the lesser evil is acknowledging an evil, right, it is acknowledging like Like, like, Biden is an evil, the Democratic Party is an evil, that does evil things in the world. And so for me, there’s a there’s a sensibility to the argument of thinking that voting is how we make systemic change is terrible. And I actually thought that the kind of concept of, but they always lose their meaning, right, in the 80s. and 90s It was vote for the lesser evil and people were like, yeah, that’s how we make things better. It’s like, no, it’s clearly not how to make things better. It’s how you make things evil. You’re just controlling the amount of evil. And then with harm reduction argument, the reason I bought it at first was because it was like, “Oh, yes, because it’s, it’s saying there is going to be harm, but we want to do less of it.” But, with what you’re talking about, about how drug use or sex as two of the spaces that we talk about harm reduction a lot, right? Like those things can rule, right? Like sex and drugs, there’s a reason that people talk about them positively. They’re very dangerous activities sometimes, right. And people should go into them as clear headed as…well, maybe not clear headed depending on their preferences, but you know, people should should be aware of the risks, but then go and have all the sex and drugs and rock and roll or whatever that they want, as compared to… and so this is where the metaphor to the political system seems to fall apart to me is because like, well, the existing political system that we have is just doing bad. And it’s really about what tiny little bits of mitigation or picking, something’s going to kill. It’s the trolley problem, right? You’re still killing people. And that’s not fun and cool. That’s not sex, drugs and rock and roll. I don’t know. That’s what I got.

Nadia 51:01
Yeah. And, you know, I think that you really laid it out very well there. You know, yes, I can reduce the harm to myself if I am using drugs or having sex, but I can’t get these politicians that I voted in to reduce the harm that they are causing. Because, you know, if you’re voting for one of the two dominant political parties in the United States, I think you’re just asking yourself, if you want to get to fascism, the short way or the long way, because I think, you know, voting in Democrats does make a material difference when it comes to some social services, and some environmental protections. But ultimately, both of these parties work at the behest of the ruling class. And capitalism requires ceaseless consumption and growth. And neither of those are sustainable. And they require the subjugation of working class people. So I think, you know, if, you know, it’s, it’s a question of capacity, if you and the people in your community that you organize with have the time and resources to engage in electoral politics, while simultaneously building dual power, and fighting encroaching fascism, like, go with God. There’s space for a lot of tactics, and you gotta find where your skill set is and where your comfort lies. And I do just want to say this one last piece, too, when we talk about voting as harm reduction in the United States, that often I think tends to overlook the international implications of maintaining the current political system here,

Margaret 52:36
Right, which is, that’s where it becomes even more of the same as like, yeah, it’s never…the solutions don’t lie in the ballot box, and like, Oh, whatever. I’m just like, speaking cliches or whatever. But it’s like, even if we can make things like slightly better, like, because like, literally, if someone was like, “Well, do you want fascism tomorrow? Do you want fascism in five years,” I’d be like, “Five years, please, that gives me a little bit more time to try to fight it.” But of course, the problem, obviously, we’re way off topic, but the problem is, of course, then people think that like, oh, that’s the solution. The solution is engaging with this political system that has no fucking reason for existing besides driving us closer to Ecocide and fascism.

Nadia 53:21
Right. That’s, that’s the band aid. That’s the triage. You know, there are so many different things that I think harm reduction principles can be applied to whether that’s sex work, you know, mental health issues, eating disorders, tobacco use, I think there’s a really natural evolution of the harm reduction philosophy to extend it to other health risk behaviors and to a broader audience in that way. I just, I think that, again, using harm reduction to sort of Pantious Pilate wash your hands of a lot of things and just say,”I voted and that’s enough,” is it’s not going to work. It’s not.

Margaret 54:00
Okay. No, and now I’m thinking, I’m like, Oh, shit, is my like, I just carry around naloxone. Is that my, like, wash my hands of addressing the larger systemic things and like, well, it doesn’t affect me, it clearly affects me because it affects people I care about and it like, I don’t know, is the takeaways. Okay, wait, I’m gonna try and some of the takeaways I’ve gotten from you, is that carry Naloxone, but it’s a band aid. And it is a useful one, but the larger systemic problems have to do with criminalization and they have to do with access to safe supply. And so working on the kind of pressure involved to fight for that is good having mutual aid networks….Oh, okay. One of the questions that kind of had actually is, in your experience existing mutual aid networks, how well do they get along with existing harm reduction networks? Does it tend to be the same players and everyone’s excited, or do you run across some mutual aid networks do they kind of like to step up their game about actually care about, you know, drug users? Or like, How’s that look right now,

Nadia 55:09
In my personal experience, and I can’t really speak to, you know, places I haven’t lived or, you know, different communities that I’m not a part of. But there is a great deal of overlap. You know, a lot of folks that are working in harm reduction, people who use drugs and sex workers are sort of use to you know, fending for ourselves, we’re used to creating these these networks of care that exist outside of the current system. And, you know, that’s not to say that, when disaster strikes, it can sort of hit some folks harder than others. If the needle exchange in your town closes down, because there was a disaster. You know, there, there might be some time before they opened back up. And that’s not going to stop people from using drugs. It will just create a situation where people have to use drugs more dangerously. And so, you know, yes, I think that there’s a lot of overlap. But also, it shouldn’t be this sort of jerry rigged, you know, last line of defense, the folks that have just experienced a disaster now having to turn around and all care for each other. Because again, no one is coming to save you.

Margaret 56:28
Yeah. Yay. That’s

Nadia 56:32
that’s the real point of it. Yes.

Margaret 56:35
But I mean it’s really liberating. I think that like, I’m not super into political nihilism, personally, a lot of my friends are and I don’t mean to slight it. But, the thing that reminds me of what like my like nihilist friends get out of like hopelessness, not hopeless, whatever, out of nihilism is comparable to the like, I find something joyous and liberating about the realization that no one’s coming to save us. Because it’s this like concept, one of my favorite cliches from like, when I was a baby anarchist was just like, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Because it’s less about, no one is coming to save us, we’re doomed. And it’s more about like, it is up to us to build the power and capacity necessary to bring about the changes that we need to see in this world. And there’s a lot of us, and there’s a lot more of us all the time, and the problems we’re facing, seem to be getting bigger and bigger, depending on the position you’re coming from, right, the problems facing me have gotten bigger and bigger as all the anti trans stuff comes through, or whatever, you know, but there’s also more of us. Even to just continue the trans thing as a metaphor. It’s like, the reason there’s all this anti trans shit is that we all came out of the fucking closet. Like, there’s a ton of us. And like, there always were a ton of us, but we were all fucking scared. And like, and what they want to do is make us afraid and get back in the closet. And so I get a lot out of, ‘no one is coming to save us.’ Because of the flip side being. We’re going to save us.

Nadia 58:16
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s really liberatory. That’s something that I love about anarchism, too, you know, yes, that means that, you know, the system isn’t here for us, because it’s never been here for us. But ultimately, we have to take responsibility for our lives, for our communities, and for the future that we want, as opposed to sort of being handed these these goals and expectations, the rules that were supposed to have, the lives were supposed to lead. And you know, it can be scary to not have that safety net, but I think through, you know, both political discourse, but also just, you know, having lived a life, you quickly become aware that that safety net never actually existed in the first place.

Margaret 59:05
Yeah. Well, are there any last words on preparedness that you want to, you want to shout out? Everyone should fill their basement with needles? I don’t know.

Nadia 59:22
Well, I mean, don’t do that. Or if you do that, make sure that they are, you know, safely kept somwhere that only you have access to, or the folks that need them. You know, I know I’ve kind of hammered this home a lot. But, it really, when I say ‘it,’ I mean harm reduction. And I think what we’re trying to do for ourselves really comes down to community and it comes down to having these bigger goals and not taking, ‘no,’ for an answer or taking, you know, half measures for an answer. The overdose crisis is very real. And there are pharmaceutical companies and families that have directly caused a lot of pain and death, and they should be held accountable. And that is slowly happening over time. But, I just want to keep clear, you know, who are the folks in our community who are doing the work? And who are maybe the people that are sort of preventing us from living our best lives?

Margaret 1:00:34
Yeah. All right. Well, is there anything you want to shout out here at the end of like, what people…I don’t know it was anything you want to draw attention to any projects? Any of your work?

You know, support your local needle exchange, support your local sex workers. You know, if there is a call to fight back against fascists, or show up at your local library, because people are doing some fuck shit against trans people, you should be there. That’s my shout out. Yeah.

Margaret 1:01:05
That’s a good shout out. Well, thanks for being on…it’s funny as like, every now and then I do these episodes where I’m like, it like challenges my own like weird….I don’t want to say puritanical upbringing, I didn’t have a puritanical upbringing. I was around a lot of people, you know, all my friends did a lot of drugs when I was in….whatever. And it’s just like, interesting to every now and I’d have these episodes like, it’s like the first couple times I did firearms episodes. I was like, It’s not that I was like, Oh, I’m being so edgy. It was just being like, Oh, right. Information is dangerous because I and then I’m like, that’s true about everything. I don’t know where I’m going with this. Basically, thanks for coming on to talk about something that I feel like doesn’t get talked about because people are afraid to acknowledge it, because we all walk around with this, like, ‘drugs are bad,’ and then we just secretly all do drugs. And so it’s just better to just actually be like, drugs are complicated.

Nadia 1:02:03
Yeah, and people are complicated.

Margaret 1:02:05
What? Not me. I’m a paladin. I adhere to my moral code. That doesn’t sound great. Okay. Yep. All right. Well, thank you for coming on this episode.

Nadia 1:02:15
Thanks for having me.

Margaret 1:02:17
All right. Bye.

Margaret 1:02:25
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, please tell people about it by whatever means that you prefer to tell people about things, like skywriting, please sky write Live Like the World is Dying above a beach. Ooh, get one of those banners that goes behind the like little plane that flies by the beach and usually advertises auto insurance. And instead it should just say, “Live Like the World is Dying.” Don’t tell people it’s a podcast. Just tell people to live like the world is dying and become a cool, no future punk or a only a future if we imagine it….Okay, I’m off track. So, yeah, you can tell people about it. You can also support us. This podcast is published by pa…not by Patreon, it’s supported by Patreon. It’s published by Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, which is a publishing collective that I’m part of along with a bunch of other people. We put out books we recently put out Cindy, Barukh’s Milstein’s “Try Anarchism for Life” and soon possibly, actually, I don’t know when this episode is gonna be released. February 1st, 2023, we are releasing my book, “Escape from Incel Island.” If you’re listening to this before February 1st, 2023, you can pre order it at If you’re listening to it after February 1st, 2023, you can buy it wherever books are sold, or go to the library, or steal a copy from Barnes and Noble. I don’t care. And but, don’t steal it from an info shop. That’s just, it’s just mean. Why would you do that? Get a library to carry it and then get it, or steal it from a big corporate place. Whatever. You can support us on patreon at and your donations, go to pay the transcriptionist and pay the audio editor to keep all of this stuff happening. And in particular, I want to thank Aly, and Paparouna, and Milica, and Boise Mutual Aid, Theo, Hunter, Shawn, SJ, Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana Chelsea, Kat J, Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Michaiah, Chris, and Hoss the dog. I really appreciate all of you and I really appreciate that there’s enough of you that I read your names fast and maybe that’s like really rude. But, I just like I don’t know, I’m kind of like humbled by the support that Strangers gets and I hope that you who are listening well I only hope you support us if you can afford it. If you can’t afford it, just continue to get our shit for free. And that’s the whole point of supporting, is it helps other people get our shit for free. Anyway I’ll talk to you all soon be as well as you can

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S1E56 – This Year in the Apocalypse 2022

Episode Summary

Brooke and Margaret recap the passed year of horrifying events, from climate collapse, to inflation economics, to developments with Covid, mass shooting, why the police continue to suck, culture wars, bodily autonomy, why capitalism ruins everything, as well as a glimpse of what could be coming this next year both hopeful and dreadful in This Year in the Apocalypse.

Host Info

Margaret can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy. Brooke is just great and can be found at Strangers helping up keep our finances intact and on Twitter or Mastodon @ogemakweBrooke

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at

Next Episode

Hopefully will come out Friday, Jan. 31st.


This Year in the Apocalypse 2022

Brooke 00:15
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m Brooke Jackson, your co-host for this episode, along with the indomitable Margaret killjoy.

Margaret 00:27

Brooke 00:28
We have something extra special for you. Hi, Margaret. You might be familiar with the monthly segment we started in 2022: This Month in the Apocalypse, and today we will take that into a sub segment: This Year in the Apocalypse. But, first we have to shout out to another member of the Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts, but playing a little jingle from one of our comrades, Boo doo doo doo, doo doo.

Brooke 01:18
And we’re back. So, before I tell people about this extra special episode, I want to officially say “Hello,” to my co host, Margaret. Hi, Margaret.

Margaret 01:36
Hello, how are you?

Brooke 01:38
I’m doing okay. How are you doing?

Margaret 01:42
I’m doing terrible, and I’m not going to talk about it.

Brooke 01:45
Okay, that’s fair. That sounds like me most of the time. Okay, well, speaking of terrible, how did the last year treat you now that we’ve flipped the calendar? Is there anything you would like to say to the year 2022?

Margaret 01:59
You know, it’s fine. It’s just the year 2020 part three. As far as the other parts of the year 2020, it’s been…it was chiller, then parts one and two. Not from a climate point of view, but from a fascism point of view.

Brooke 02:21
Oh, okay. That’s a good point. Well, I feel like 2022 as with most years….Sorry. What, Margaret?

Margaret 02:30
Everything’s fine. Nothing bad happened. That’s the end of the episode.

Brooke 02:33

Margaret 02:34
Everything’s good.

Brooke 02:35
Okay, cool. Well, this has been a fun recording. Yeah. Well, as with most years, in the last decade, I say, “Fuck you to 2022,” and would like to burn it all down. So, we have that going for us.

Margaret 02:51
Alright, fuck you, 2022. I do that when I leave a state.

Brooke 02:58
You say, “Fuck you,” to the State behind you?

Margaret 02:59
Yeah, yeah.

Brooke 03:01
Even even Oregon, even when you came to visit us out here?

Margaret 03:05
Why would I? Why would Oregon be any different?

Brooke 03:08
Because some of the people you love are in Oregon.

Margaret 03:16
Whatever, fuck you too….I mean, many of the people I love were also in the year 2022.

Brooke 03:21
Okay, all right. You got me.

Margaret 03:24

Brooke 03:24
One point: Margaret , zero points: Brooke.

Margaret 03:26
Yep, that’s what I was saying.

Brooke 03:27
Yeah. So. So, I was thinking about how we do this extra fun, special episode of This Year in the Apocalypse. And being typical Brooke, I was like, let’s come up with a very orderly fashion in which to do this. I shall take all of the months and pick one thing per month, and we shall be organized. And spoiler alert for the audience. Margaret and I came up with separate lists. We haven’t seen each other’s lists. We don’t know what each other shittiest things are.

Margaret 03:53
Wait, I didn’t pick the shittiest things. I just picked stuff.

Brooke 03:56
Oh, damn, I pick the shitty stuff.

Margaret 04:00
Okay, well, I tried to go with a little bit of, there’s not a lot of hope in here. There’s a little bit of hope in here.

Brooke 04:08
It’s funny, because when I was thinking about this, I was like, oh, Margaret should do the happy stuff, because Margaret does Cool People. And I can be the the Roberts Evans, everything’s bastards side of the simulation.

Margaret 04:20
Okay, well, it’s a good thing we’re figuring this out right now, on air.

Brooke 04:23

Margaret 04:24
Okay. So, we’ll start with your month by month and then I’ll interject?

Margaret 04:28
That’s fine.

Brooke 04:28
Super fun. Yeah. And like a disclaimer on the month by month is that not all months were created equal. So, it’s like, whatever the shittiest thing in one month, maybe, you know, way shittier than next month. That’s annoying to like, try and compare them in that way. It was a silly way for me to do it, but.. here we are.

Brooke 04:30
All right. flashing back 12 months to January, 2022: America hit a million COVID cases with Omicron surging, so Good job America. COVID ongoing and bad.

Margaret 05:04
We’re number one.

Brooke 05:06
Yeah. The other the other real shitty, horrible thing in January was inflation, which technically was pretty crappy in 2021, as well. But we started feeling it more in January like that’s when it started hitting and then was kind of ongoing throughout this year as businesses responded to the inflation, had to start raising prices and stuff. Well, had to…some had to, some chose to because they could get away with it.

Margaret 05:34
Should I? I wrote down all the inflation numbers for the end of the year.

Brooke 05:39
Yeah, baby.

Margaret 05:41
The OECD, which stands for something something something, it’s a group of 38 countries that sit around and talk about how great they are, or whatever economic something, something. You think I would have written it down. They do. They calculate inflation for their member countries, based on the Consumer Price index. It averaged. This is as of October, the report in December, talks about it as of October, it averaged about 10.7% overall inflation across these 38 countries in the last year. Food averaged at…I wrote down 6.1%. But, I actually think it was slightly higher than that. I think I typo-ed that.

Brooke 06:22
In the US was closer to 8%.

Margaret 06:26
Yeah, and then, okay. More developed nations saw this all a little bit lower the G7, which is the Group of Seven, it’s the seven countries who have the elite cool kids club, and try and tell everyone what to do. Their overall inflation was 7.8%, as compared to the 10.7%. Inflation in the US actually tapered off most than most other countries, probably because we fuck everyone else over, but I couldn’t specifically tell you. Inflation is a bit of a black box that even the people who know what inflation is don’t really understand. And, energy inflation in general was the most brutal. Italy saw 70% energy inflation in the last year. It was 58%. In the UK, it was 17% in the US. So energy, inflation is actually outpacing even food inflation. And most of the food inflation, as we’ve talked about, at different times on this is caused by rising costs of fertilizer and like diesel and things like that. Yeah, that’s what I got about inflation. There was a lot of it. It’s technically tapering off a little bit in the United States. Just this moment.

Brooke 07:41
Yeah, I was actually listening to a economics report about that yesterday about how it’s tapering off a little bit. The extra shitty thing that happened in February, which added to the drastically increasing fuel prices and food prices, was that fucking Russia invaded Ukraine,and started bombing shit there.

Margaret 08:04

Brooke 08:06
And that that might win as…if we’re taking a poll here of all of the worst things that happened in the last year, I kind of feel like that, you know, that’s got to be one of the top three.

Margaret 08:16
It’s, it’s up there. Yeah. Even in terms of its effects on the rest of the world, even like, if you’re like, on a, well, what do I care about what two European countries are doing? Because, but it affects the shit out of the global south. Ukraine in particular, and also Russia providing a very large percentage of the grain and wheat that goes to, especially Africa. So, yeah, a lot of the energy inflation in the rest of Europe is also a direct result of Russian imperialism.

Brooke 08:47
Yeah, it’s pretty…it’s fucked up a lot of stuff. There was another shitty thing that happened before that happened in February, which is what the Olympics began. And you know, Boo the Olympics. Yeah. So then we then we moved into March and there was this thing called COVID. And then there was this bad inflation happening and then this war over in Ukraine, but then we also, in Florida decided to pass a bill, the nicknamed ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.

Margaret 09:18
Yeah. I can’t believe that was less than a year ago. That was like eight culture wars ago.

Brooke 09:26
I know, because I got some of the other ones coming up here. And it was like, oh, fuck, that’s still a thing. And then moving into April, so, there was like this war going on, and inflation was bad, and people were dying of this pandemic that we were living in, and then also, the Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard trial began. And that might not seem like one of the shittiest things, but for like anyone who’s been a survivor of domestic violence, and the way that trial it seemed like you know, every social media platform like you were getting like ads for it. Right? I know, other people talked about this, like everyone was seeing all these ads for news reports on it. It was like way at the top of the list. And, you know, again, domestic abuse survivor, like, I don’t, I don’t need to be reminded about, you know, this awful ongoing domestic abuse trial.

Margaret 10:19
Yeah, yeah, that was, um, I like try to avoid everything that has to do with celebrities, but realizing how much that that like, ties into, I don’t know, how we all talk about all of this shit. I have nothing really clever to say besides like, oh, my God, it’s so fucked up. And I don’t trust mainstream discourse around any of it. Yeah,

Brooke 10:39
For sure. We also saw because of climate issues, Lake Mead was dropping to dangerously low levels, starting all the way in April. And I feel like we could have done this whole episode on climate catastrophes that happened in the last year, like This Year in the Apocalypse could have just been climate change. It was a lot.

Margaret 11:00
Yes, well, fortunately that will start overriding everything else over the next couple of years. So, you know….One or the other just to Lake thing on my note, Lake Powell, which provides power to 4.5 million people could reach minimum power pool status by July [2023]. So that’s a that’s an upcoming thing to look forward to.

Brooke 11:29
Yay, for the year ahead. Yeah, I don’t even know what the status of Lake Mead is right now. I’m sure it’s not doing great. And we’ll probably start hearing about it again in the spring as it’s at dangerously low levels, find more bodies and boats and whatever else.

Margaret 11:46
And they’re both. Both are on the Colorado River. Yeah, they’re both on the Colorado River.

Brooke 11:51
Yeah. And if you’re not familiar with why Lake Mead matters, John Oliver actually did a really good piece on it on his show that talks about the water rights and stuff. I think it was John Oliver. Maybe it was John Stewart.

Margaret 12:07
And if you want to read a terrible…a very good, although misogynist dystopia about what’s coming in terms of water rights, there’s a book called “The Water Knife” by Paulo [Bacigalupi], whose name last name I don’t know how to pronounce. It’s an Italian name. I think yeah,

Brooke 12:21
I actually have that on my to-read-shelf.

Margaret 12:23
Yeah, it’s, um, that man should not be allowed to write sex worker characters ever again.

Brooke 12:29
Thank you for the notice there on what to expect on that aspect.

Margaret 12:34
But other than that, other than that, it’s very interesting book.

Brooke 12:40
Okay. May brought us a couple of big bad shootings, which is, you know, not again, not to diminish any other school shootings or shootings that happened or the fact that they’re going on, you know, all the time in schools, but they were the ones that like, hit the news, really big. There was the Buffalo, New York supermarket shooting that happened. And then the towards the end of the month was that just God awful Robb Elementary School shooting in Texas, that I don’t know how everyone else experienced it. But I, as a parent, you know, whose child who’s only slightly older than that. It was absolutely horrifying for me and enraging, and I had a lot of feelings about it. And you know, school shootings are always hard to see, but that one in particular…

Margaret 13:29
This is the coward cops one, where they kept parents out who were the parents who were trying to like save kids?

Brooke 13:33
Yeah, for like 72 minutes or something like that, more than that they were outside the door where the guy was actively shooting on children.

Margaret 13:41
This is…the character of American law enforcement was laid bare on that day, is how I feel. I mean, I have many feelings on all of it, but…

Brooke 13:53
And that was in Uvalde, Texas, where they have two separate police systems. There is a police system just for the schools there in addition to the town’s police.

Margaret 14:07
There was that, uh, there was that lawsuit 10,15,20 years ago, something, where a man who was like, I think it was someone who’s like stabbing people on the train, you know, just like, just just doing that thing. And, and a man stopped him, stopped the stabby guy while the cops cowered in behind, like they went into, like the driver’s compartment of the train, and they just hid from the stabby guy. And the the guy stopped the stabby guy sued…I might have the details of this wrong. Sued and was like, the police have a duty to protect people. And it came back, the judge is like, “Actually they don’t, it is literally not the jobs. The police’s job is not to protect you. That is not their job.” And, the sooner we all realize that the safer we’ll be, because the more people will realize that safety is something that we’re going to have to build without the infrastructure that pretends to offer a safety, but absolutely does not. And legally is not required to.

Brooke 14:21
Yeah, I didn’t know all the backstory of that. But, I know that that one went to the Supreme Court. And that became, you know, the national standard, because I remember reading about that part of it that, yeah, they don’t, they don’t have they don’t have a duty to protect.

Margaret 15:27
I think it was the stabby guy on the train. But I, you know, I’m not like a classic thing rememberer, it’s not like my skill set. I didn’t put my points in character creation in memory.

Brooke 15:41
Well important thing there is was the the outcome of that. The other big bad shooting I remember making the news pretty loudly this year was also the Highland Park Parade shooting that actually happened in July. So that was a couple of months later. But yeah, good times. Guns.

Margaret 15:58
Hurray. [sadly]

Brooke 15:59
All right. So, we moved into June. And a couple of things are going on, on the global stage. Flooding began in Pakistan. And that flooding continued for a couple of months. We talked about this on one of our This Month, episodes, and even to right now, there is still flooding. And that flooding that did occur, you know, has displaced 1000s, if not millions of people. And it’s really, really fucked things up and continues to fuck things up in Pakistan.

Margaret 16:25
And I would say that flooding in general, is one of the things that we’re seeing more and more of all over the world. And it’s one of the things that like…I think a lot of people and maybe I’m just projecting, but you know, I grew up thinking of floods as sort of a distant thing. And then actually where I lived, most recently, we all had to leave because of constant flooding as climate changed. And I think that floods need to be something….It’s the opposite of quicksand. When you’re a kid you think about quicksand is like this thing to like, worry about, and then you grow up and realize that like quicksand is like not…don’t worry about quicksand. That’s not part of your threat modeling. And, so I think that flooding is something that whether or not it was on something that you were really worried about, wherever you live, it is something that you should pay attention to. It’s not like, a run out and worry, right. But, it’s a thing to be like more aware of, you know, there was recent…New Years in San Francisco and Oakland, there was really bad flooding. And then again, a couple of days later, might still be going on by the time people listen to this, but I’m not actually sure. And you know, there’s the footage of people running out with like boogie boards or surfboards or whatever into the streets and, and playing in the flood. And, I’m not actually going to sit here on my high horse and tell people to never go into floodwater, you shouldn’t, it is not a thing you should do, but it is a thing that people do. But I think people don’t recognize fast moving currents, how dangerous they are, just how dangerous floods are, no matter how they look. And, if there’s more than a foot of water, don’t drive through it.

Brooke 17:58
Yeah, if you’re not experienced with floods, those are things you wouldn’t know. So I have, you know, you said, that wasn’t a big thing in your childhood, but because of where I live, it you know, I don’t know if this is true of all the Pacific Northwest, but certainly, in my town, flooding is a big concern, we”re right on a river, and when there was bad rainstorms back in 96′, like most of downtown got flooded. I mean, I was I was a kid then. I was I was a youth. And that experience, you know, kind of informed some of my youth, you know, we had a lot of lessons learned about how to manage flooding, what you do and don’t do inflooding. So that’s something that’s been in the forefront of my mind. And yeah, as I see other people dealing with flooding for the first time in the news, it’s like, oh, no, no, you don’t. No. That’s bad. Don’t do that. Don’t go in those waters. But it’s their first time. They wouldn’t know.

Margaret 18:53
Yeah. Unless you were like, directly saving something or someone, especially someone, and then even then you have to know what you’re doing. You know, they’re a bigger deal, even smaller ones are a bigger deal than you realize, I guess is the thing to say about floods. Anyway, so Okay, so where are we at?

Brooke 19:10
We’re still in June, because there was, you know, in addition to the inflation, and the flooding, and the heat waves, and the war going on, and people dying of a pandemic, this little thing happened in the US where the Supreme Court’s overturned a little a little old law called Roe v. Wade.

Margaret 19:29
That was about two different ways of interacting with water? [joking]

Brooke 19:33
Yes, exactly. Ties, ties, right and flooding there. Yeah. It was just a minor…

Margaret 19:39
Yeah, that’s my joke about people losing their capacity to control their own bodies. Just a little light hearted joke. Very appropriate.

Brooke 19:48
As a person with a uterus, I genuinely can’t…i can’t joke about that one. Like, it’s just too close to home.

Margaret 19:54
Yeah, fair enough. I’m sorry.

Brooke 19:57
No, it’s I’m glad that you are, because it is good to laugh about these things that are actually very upsetting. It’s how, it’s part of our, you know, grieving process, how we deal with it as being able to laugh a little bit.

Margaret 20:08
Yeah. Yeah, although and then, you know, okay, so we’ve had this like, fight, you know, America’s polarizing really hard about a lot of very specific issues: people’s ability to control the reproductive systems being a very major, one people’s ability to control their hormonal systems and the way they present being another one, I’m sure I’ll talk about that more. And, you know, the, the weirdly positive thing that happened this week that I started writing notes about, but didn’t finish, is about how there’s now…they’re changing the laws about how the accessibility of abortion pills and so that they’re going to be available in more types of stores for more people in the near future. This will not affect people who are in abortion ban states. So it’s this polarization, it’s becoming easier to access reproductive health and control in some states, and it’s becoming harder and illegal to access it in other states. My other like, positive…It’s not even a positive spin. It’s the glint of light in the darkness is that abortion was illegal for a very long time in the United States, and people did it, and had access to it and not as well, and it is better when it is legal. Absolutely. But underground clinics existed. And people did a lot of work to maintain reproductive health. And now we have access to such better and safer tools for reproductive health, whether you know, it’s access to abortion pills, or just everything about reproductive health has…we know a lot more about it as a society than at least medical and Western, you know, methods of abortion. We know a lot more about than we did a couple decades ago. And then, the other big thing that I keep thinking about…so there was the Jane Collective, right, in the US is I’m just like moving into history mode. Is that annoying?

Brooke 22:06
Go for it.

Margaret 22:07
Teah. It’s my other fucking podcast, all history and so like there’s the Jane Collective in the US. And they were really fucking cool. And they provided all these abortions to people in Chicago, and they actually pioneered a lot of methods of abortion and pushed forward a lot of important shit, right? In the 1920s, in Germany, anarchists ran more than 200 abortion clinics. Basically, if you wanted an abortion in 1920s, Germany, you went to the syndicalists, you went to the anarcho syndicalists. And because they sat there, and they were like, “Oh, a large amount of crime needs to be done on an organized fashion. And what is anarcho syndicalism? But a way to organize crime?” In this case, usually it’s like class war against bosses and illegal strikes and stuff. But, “How do we organize that on a large scale?” And the anarchists were the ones who had the answer answers to, ‘How do you organize crime on a large scale,’ and I want to know more about that information. I haven’t found that much about it in English yet. But, that kind of thing gives me hope. It gives me hope that we can, it’s better when it is legal, I’m not being like, this is great, you know, it’s fucked up, but we can do this. And, you know, on this very podcast, if you listen to one of the Three Thieves, Four Thieves? Some Number of Thieves Vinegar Collective, Margaret, famous remember of details, they they talk about their work, developing reverse engineering or making accessible, different abortion drugs and how to basically like, create them, and get them to where they need to be, regardless of the legality of those things. But, you might have more to say about this, too. I just wanted to go into history mode.

Brooke 23:50
No, I I liked that. And yeah, you did those episodes in a few different ways about it that are super important. I mean, I don’t think I need to rehash why Roe is so important. We we know that, you know, and it’s not just about reproductive rights for people with uteruses, either. It’s about the trends towards you know, bodily autonomy and regulation of bodies. And you know, what that signals as well, it’s an issue for everybody.

Margaret 24:17
Yeah. And remember, like at the very beginning, some people were like, they might be coming for birth control next, and everyone’s like, Nah, they’re not coming for birth control. And now you can see the same, the same right wing people who are like, “We should probably just kill the gay people.” They like say it and city council meetings. They’re also being like, “And birth control on my right, like, fuck that thing?”

Brooke 24:36
Yeah. Frustrating.

Margaret 24:39
Yeah. Get it out of someone’s cold dead hands.

Brooke 24:45
Yeah, this is one of those things where the months don’t necessarily compare. Yeah.

Margaret 24:49
There’s that meme….Go ahead. I’m sorry. No, go.

Brooke 24:52
We…you know there were historic heat waves going on. Continued flooding and droughts. And all kinds of climate nastiness. And then in, in Tariff Island, we saw a whole bunch of British officials resign, and then Boris Johnson resigning, which, you know, fuck the government and all of those kinds of things, and fuck that guy. But, it did also lead into this, what has been kind of a lot of turmoil in the UK as they’ve gone through now a couple of different prime ministers and just like, you know, just the the, the sign of the crumbles of how just overwhelmingly corrupt political leaders are, you know, at this point in so called, you know, democratic and stable democracies, that, you know, they’re falling apart too.

Margaret 25:39
Now, that’s a good point. Um, what year did that lady I didn’t like die? What day? What month? Queen?

Brooke 25:48
I didn’t put down the month because that’s a happy thing that happened, not a shitty thing.

Margaret 25:51
I know. Remember positive things about 2022. And like, stadiums full of like, Irish folks being like, “Lizzie’s in a box. Lizzie’s in a box.” There’s like some positive things.

Brooke 26:08
I might rewatch some of those after this, just for a little pick me up.

Margaret 26:11
Yeah. The people dancing in front of the palace, anyway. Yeah. I don’t like colonialism or monarchy. I don’t know if anyone knew this about me.

Brooke 26:20
Yeah. No, same. I’ve been trying to explain to my kid about why Queen Elizabeth was bad. And she’s having a hard time. Because, you know, children and fantasies and stories and kings and queens, and blah, blah, blah.

Margaret 26:32
Yeah. Which is the fucking problem.

Brooke 26:34
Yeah, a similar kind of thing happened in August in terms of like, you know, unstable, so supposedly stable governments, in that the the FBI had to raid Mar-a-Lago and Trump which, again, fuck Trump and the FBI and the federal government and all of that, but as a sign of, you know, our democracies actually not being very sound, and how just grossly corrupt politicians are and stuff, the only way they could get back a bunch of confidential documents and like, nuclear related stuff was to fucking invade a former president. Yeah. Also in August Yeah. monkeypox started hitting the news, which of course, speaking of culture was, right, that led into a whole bunch of stuff about, you know, a bunch of anti-gay stuff and reminders of what the AIDS epidemic was like, and just a whole bunch of fucking nonsense up in the news because of that.

Margaret 27:32
God, I barely remember that.

Brooke 27:34
Right, I think we did it on an episode, a This Month episode.

Margaret 27:38
I mean, I remember it now. It’s just there’s so much. There’s so much. Yeah. Yeah.

Brooke 27:44
So September brought us protests starting to erupt in Iran. Finally. There was a woman, Masha Amini, who was arrested, you know, they had been doing caravans, were doing these crackdowns and the morality police and stuff. And so that was the start of a bunch of turmoil there that went on for at least three months. It’s finally settled down some last month. But that was going on, and then also towards the end of the month hurricane Ian hit in Florida. So, not to make it all about the climate. But again, historic hurricanes and flooding and stuff.

Margaret 28:19
Yeah. And these things are related to each other. I mean, like, as you have global insecurity caused by climate, it’s going to show all of the cracks in the systems and like, it’s hard, because it’s like, overall, you know, I see the the attempted revolution, the uprising in Iran is an incredibly positive thing and like reminder of the beauty of the human spirit. And also, like, what happened, the end result of that, that, I don’t even want to say, ‘end result,’ though, right? Because like, every social struggle is going to ebb and flow. And, our action is going to cause reaction. And you know, and whenever people have uprisings, they remember power. They also remember fear, right? And the system is hoping that people remember fear. And the people are hoping that they remember power, you know, and, and it seems impossible to predict which uprisings will lead to fear and which ones will lead to power in terms of even when they’re crushed, right? Whether that is the fertile soil for the next rising or whether it you know, has salted the earth to try and keep my metaphor consistent.

Brooke 29:43
Nah, mixed metaphors the best. Okay, yeah, it’s not a bad thing that people were protesting against what was going on there. It’s it’s awful that they had to get to that point that the morality police were so bad that they had to start protesting and ongoing conflict and unrest in the Middle East, never ending.

Margaret 30:06
And I want to know more. I haven’t done enough research on this yet, but another like hopeful thing about, you know, sort of global feminist, radical politics, there’s been a recent movement of men in Afghanistan, who are walking out of exams and walking out of different positions that only men are allowed to hold, you know, in schools and things like that, in protest of the fact that of women’s disinclusion.

Brooke 30:33
Okay, I hadn’t heard anything about that. So that’s, yeah, We’ll have to add that to a This Month, because I want to know more about that too. That sounds really positive.

Margaret 30:40
Yeah. Yeah. And I don’t know whether it’s, you know, happened three times, and it’s caught headlines each time or I don’t know enough about it to talk about it as a movement. But it matters. That kind of stuff matters. And yeah, it’s hopeful.

Brooke 30:57
Well, we moved into October and the fall season, and y’all might remember this little one, some South African asshole named Elon Musk, Mosh, Mosk, whatever that guy’s name is,

Margaret 31:10
He’s named after the rodent, the muskrat.

Brooke 31:13
Okay, that’ll be easy to remember. That guy officially took over at the only social media platform that I don’t mostly hate, which is Twitter. A lot of his fucked-up-ness…Nah, he did some of that the first week, that was still in October. And then definitely more came after that. But, he’s destroying the microblogging site that we all love so much.

Margaret 31:36
Yeah, I will say, my favorite meme that come out of that was basically like, you know what, I’ve decided that I am okay with Elon Musk being in charge of the exodus of all the rich people to Mars. [Laughs]

Brooke 31:50
Yes, winning. Do that quickly.

Margaret 31:53
Yeah. He’ll fuck it up. Like he fucks everything up. You’ve seen Glass Onion?

Brooke 31:58
Yes, I did.

Margaret 32:00
I don’t want to like spoil it for people. But, I’ll just say that movie did a really good job of pointing out that Elon Musk is just a fucking…is not an intelligent person, is not doing genius things. And it was pointed out really well.

Brooke 32:15
Can I point out something embarrassing?

Margaret 32:17
Absolutely, it’s just you and I here.

Brooke 32:21
No one will ever know. I didn’t realize when I watched it that that guy was supposed to be a parody of like Elon Musk specifically. I thought it was just like generic, you know, rich people are terrible. And then it wasn’t till like after I watched it, and everyone else started watching it and commenting that it was Musk and I was like, “Oh, damn, obviously it is.”

Margaret 32:42
Yeah, it’s the like, the car thing and the space thing are the main nods. I mean, it’s at the same time. It could be Bezos it could be any fucking, like tech billionaire asshole. But I think it was, I think it was intentionally Musk.

Brooke 32:56
Yeah, I’ve got to rewatch it with that in mind. I was too busy going, “Oh, it’s that guy. It’s that actor or actress. Someone I know that person. Enjoy the characters. Yeah. That was a thing that happened in December, but we haven’t done November, so November, Powerball made some poor asshole into a billionaire. So I feel bad for that guy. Yeah. So the Powerball, nobody had won it for like three months, and the pot got up to like $2 billion. And a single a single person had the winning ticket when it was finally pulled. Which, if they take the cash payout, which I think most people do, it’s actually only $1 billion. And then, probably the government takes that. So you’re only half a billionaire, probably by the time all is said and done. But still, that’s, you know, what a way to fuck up the rest of your existence by suddenly having that much money.

Margaret 33:51
I’m like, I’d take a shot.

Brooke 33:56
I like to think, you know, I have this list of all these nice things that I would do and people I would support and love, but the evidence bears out that anyone who’s ever won something like that doesn’t make all the great choices.

Margaret 34:09
No, no. Okay. Yeah, I think you need to have a council of people who direct…I think that any anarchist who’s like, possibly going to end up rich, like, whether through inheritance or becoming the next Stephen King or whatever needs to, like, seriously consider how the dealing with that money should be a collective effort and not an individual effort. Anyway.

Brooke 34:35
I agree. Yeah.

Margaret 34:36
I went through this when, at one point, I did not get…I did not become a millionaire. But, at one point, Hollywood was interested in one of my my books, and we had long conversations about it. I had conversations with the Hollywood director around it, about whether or not they would adapt a certain book of mine into a TV show. And it didn’t work out in the end. But, I like sat there and mathed it out and was like, oh, if they make it TV show out of my book, I will become a millionaire. And like, what would that mean? And, and so that’s when I started having these, like, which just totally the same as winning the Powerball and having a billion dollars, and also not just not my weird…I don’t know, whatever. Now everyone knows this.

Brooke 35:16
I don’t think that’s a unique thing. Yeah, so that happened in November. And that sucks. And it didn’t make the news the way it should have. So I just wanted to highlight that horribleness. And then, also that orange clown douchebag potato that lives in Florida, said that he’s going to run for president again. So, we have that to look forward to. But, then the third thing that happened, which isn’t just isolated to November, but the World Cup started, and I have nothing against football, love football, the World Cup as a concept. Fine, but there are so many problems, much like the Olympics, with the way they do it. And what happens around all that.

Margaret 36:00
Yeah, yeah, I love…I love that I should be able to like a lot of things. And then the way that they’re done by our society precludes me from really deeply enjoying them.

Brooke 36:10
Why do you have to take such a nice thing and ruing it.

Margaret 36:13
All things. All things. You could name anything, and we could talk about how capitalism and fucking imperialism ruined it.

Brooke 36:20
Yeah, pretty much. Down with those systems. Alright, so now we’re finally getting into the end. You’ll remember this one, because it was only like a month ago that there were some targeted attacks in North Carolina on power stations. 40,000 people without power for several days, in fact, it wasn’t like a quick fix thing. They really fucked some shit up there. One that I didn’t hear about, but that has some pretty big implications is that the country of Indonesia banned sex outside of marriage, even for foreigners living in their country, and stuff.

Brooke 36:54
Yeah. So, I don’t know if the ramifications for that are. I didn’t dig deeper into like, what is the consequence of you doing that. But you know, Indonesia’s massive. I mean, that populations huge.

Margaret 36:54
I had no idea.

Margaret 37:05
Yeah, Lousiana just banned, as of I think January 1, you’re not allowed to access porn on the internet from Louisiana without showing a government ID to the website. Which, means that now everyone, basically they passed a law saying you have to install a VPN in order to access porn in Louisiana.

Brooke 37:27
That’s madness.

Margaret 37:29
Yeah, and it fucks up sex workers, right? Like any of this stuff, any of this bullshit, it always just fucks sex workers.

Brooke 37:39
Yeah, they become the victims of the law, even though they’re not, they’re not the bad guys here. And in porn, they’re never the bad guys, Pro sex workers. My last horrible thing that happened in December was that China decided to just completely give up on all of its COVID protocols that it spent the whole year continuing to be super restrictive, and have lock downs and all of that. And then all of a sudden, it’s just like, “No, we’re not gonna do any of that anymore.” Oh, just a great way to change policy is just to stop completely all of a sudden. Yeah.

Margaret 38:15
I just think it’s really funny, because it’s like, what? Sometimes people like really talk about how they want like a multipolar world where there’s like, it’s like what people use to defend the USSR, right, is that they’re like, well, at least, there was someone competing with the US or whatever. But, when I think about COVID response, there was always like the US response, which was absolute dogshit. And then there was the Chinese response, which was like, too authoritarian and caused a lot of suffering and all of these things, but, was not a non response. And now, that one has fallen as well. And there’s just like, I mean, there’s more countries than the US and China. I’m reasonably sure. I couldn’t promise. So, hurray, we’re in it. We’re just in it. That’s…this is just COVID world now. It’s COVID’s world. We just live in it.

Brooke 39:13
Yeah, exactly. So I think you had some, like bigger overarching trends of things that happened in 2022.

Margaret 39:21
A lot of the stuff I have is a little bit like what we have to look forward to.

Brooke 39:26
Oh, nice.

Margaret 39:27
Just some like nice, light stuff. The National Farmers Union in the UK says that the UK is on the verge of a food crisis.

Brooke 39:35

Margaret 39:36
Yields of tomatoes and other crops, especially energy intensive ones like cucumbers and pears are at record lows. And there’s already an egg shortage in the UK, and a lot of places where there were stores are rationing sales of eggs, you can only buy so many eggs at any given time. And, it’s not because there’s no chickens. It’s that rising costs of production have convinced more and more farmers…it’s a capitalism thing in this like really brutal way. It’s the markets logic, right? If it costs too much to produce a thing, don’t produce it. But, when the thing you do is produce food, there’s some problems here.

Brooke 40:13
Are there?

Margaret 40:14
And I mean, I’m a vegan. And I got to admit, when I hear things like, they’re cutting back beef production, because it costs too much. I’m like, that’s good. That is good for animals. And that is good for the climate. However, that’s not being replaced with more of other types of foods. So it’s not necessarily good.

Brooke 40:33
And if Casandra were here, and she has very restrictive things on what she can eat, because of her health, she would be jumping in to say, “But protein!” because she needs to be able to have access to that.

Margaret 40:45
No, totally. And I’m not trying to, I’m not like specifically pushing for a vegan world. And I recognize that everyone’s bodies are different, and have different needs around a lot of things. But, I do think that data shows fairly clearly that the level of animal agriculture that we do, especially in centralized ways, across the world is a major driver of climate change. And, it is a major driving of a lot of really bad stuff. It’s just a very inefficient way to produce food for a large number of people. This is different at different scales. And I am not, I’m not specifically trying to advocate for…Yeah, I don’t think a vegan world is a good or just idea. I think it is perfectly natural for people to eat animals. However, I think that there’s both needless suffering that can be cut back and as well as like, just specifically from a climate change point of view. So…

Brooke 41:39
I hear you.

Margaret 41:39
That said, UK, dealing with egg shortage. Basically, farmers might stop selling milk because of production…that it cost so much to produce the milk. Not like, I’m sure there’s still farmers who are going to produce milk. But, more and more farmers are stopping. Beet farmers are considering the same. There’s also just literally about 7000 fewer registered food production companies in the UK than three years ago.

Brooke 42:04

Margaret 42:05
Because at least in the UK, fertilizer costs have tripled since 2019. And diesel costs are up at about…both feed and diesel costs are up about 75% from what they were before. Shortages. The infant formula shortage might last until Spring according to one major formula producer. We very narrowly avoided a major disruption as a result of a diesel shortage in the United States recently. Basically, they like brought more diesel plants…I don’t know the word here, refineries? Refineries, like online kind of at the last minute, like because there was going to be like really major disruptions in the way that we move food and other things around the United States because of diesel shortages. Let’s see what else…

Brooke 43:00
Have…I’m super curious here, have food shortages in the UK ever caused problems of any kind? It seems like that’s not a big deal. Like they’re…they can deal with that. Right? That hasn’t killed anyone, right?

Margaret 43:10
Ireland’s not part of the United Kingdom. [laughs] Yeah, yeah. No, it’s okay. I mean, it’s interesting, because like, modern farming has really changed the face of famine. Famine used to be a very common part of…I can actually only speak to this in a very limited context, it’s like something that came up in my history research, like Napoleon, the middle one, or whatever. I can’t remember. Probably the second, maybe the third I’m not sure. The Napoleon who like took over and like 1840…8? Someone is mad at me right now. In France, who modernized Paris and made it like, impossible to build barricades and shit.

Brooke 43:52
We can FaceTime, Robert, real quick and find out.

Margaret 43:55
Yeah, yeah, totally. And, but one of the things that he did, or rather, that happened under his reign as a part of 19th century development, is that famine had been a very major common regular part of French life. And it ceased to be, and famine is something that the modern world, developed parts of the modern world, have been better at minimizing as compared to like, some historical stuff. Obviously, a lot of this just gets pushed out into the developing world. And you know, famine is a very major part of a great number of other countries’ existence. But, I think that people get really used to the idea that famine doesn’t really happen. And it does, and it can again, and it’s similar what you’re talking about, like we have this like, kind of unshakable faith in our democracies. But, they are shakable they, they they shake.

Brooke 43:56
They’ve been shooked.

Margaret 44:48
Yeah, they’re They are not stirred. They’re shaken. Okay. Okay, so other stuff: Pfizer’s currently working on an RSV vaccine. I consider that positive news. My news here is about a month old. It’s been given the like, go ahead for further studies and shit and, and that’s very promising because we’re in the middle of a triple-demic or whatever. But there’s actually been as a weird positive thing. I mean, obviously, we’ve learned that society does not know how to cope with pandemics. But, one thing is we have learned a lot more about a lot of health stuff as a result of this, you know, and the types of new vaccines that people are able to come up with now are very, they’re very promising. And a fun news, as relates to the climate change thing that’s happening, more and more Americans are moving to climate at risk areas. Specifically, people are leaving the Midwest. And they’re moving to the Pacific Northwest and Florida. And these are two of the least climatically stable from a disaster point of view areas in the United States.

Brooke 46:04

Margaret 46:05
Specifically, specifically because of wildfire in the Pacific Northwest, and hurricanes in Florida. Also earthquakes on the West Coast and things like that, but specifically wildfire. And also within those areas, a thing that causes…humans have been encroaching into less developed areas at a greater rate. And this is part of what causes, obviously the fires are getting worse out west as a result of climate change, but it’s also the way in which new communities are developed out west that is causing some of the worst damages from fires. So yeah, everyone’s moving to those places. That’s not a good idea in mass. I’m not telling individuals who live in those places to leave. And there’s actually, you know, the Pacific Northwest has some like stuff going on about fairly stable temperature wise, and for most climate models, but this is part of why disasters are impacting more and more Americans as people are leaving the places to move to places where it’s greater risk. Yeah, there’s this map, just showing where people are leaving and where people are going to. And it’s actually, there are other places that people are going to that would have surprised me like, Georgia, North Carolina, parts of Tennessee, like kind of like Southern Appalachian kind of areas, like more and more people are moving towards, and more and more people are leaving upstate New York, which really surprised me. But, and more people are leaving North Texas and moving to Southeast Texas, or like the general eastern part of Texas is growing very rapidly. Okay, what else have I got? Taiwan has set up a set group called the Doomsday Preppers Association, which is just sick, because it’s called the Doomsday Preppers Association. And it’s like, not a wing nut thing. And they have a wing nut name which rules, I’m all for it. There’s about 10,000 people or so who are organizing together to prepare for natural disasters, and also to prepare for the potential invasion from China. Which, China’s back to threatening to, to do that. And it’s but, it’s like people just like getting together to like, build networks, learn radios, and just like, be preppers, but in a, like, normalized way, and it’s fucking cool. And, I’d love to see it here. Okay. What else? I don’t have too many notes left. Florida, is expected to have major wildfires starting in 2023 according to the National Interagency Fire Center report, as well as Georgia, New Mexico and Texas. I’m willing to bet that New Mexico and Texas in particular, and probably Georgia, that’s probably…those are very big states with very different bio regions within them. And, so I couldn’t point you, if you live in one of those places, you might want to look for the National Interagency Fire Center Report, and read more about it.

Brooke 48:56
Speaking of moving, it’s a great time to get the fuck out of Florida. With like, I could have done almost every month something just atrocious happened in Florida.

Margaret 49:06
Yeah. And one of the things that, you know, we talked a little bit about the culture war stuff. One of the things that’s happened in 2023, overall, is that we’ve started to see more political refugees from within the United States to the United States. We have seen a lot of trans families, or families of trans children, have had to leave states where their providing medical care for their children has become criminal. Obviously also with the end of Roe v. Wade, a lot of people have had to change which state they live in. Although, I don’t like doing this like comparison thing, because it’s just fucked for everyone, but you can you can vacation your way out of pregnancy. You know?

Brooke 49:50
I don’t know that I’ve heard it described that way, but…

Margaret 49:54
But if you want to be a 13 year old on hormone blockers, or whatever that you need in order to stay safe, a lot of people are moving, and a lot of people can’t move. And there’s really complicated questions that we all have to ask ourselves right now about like, stay and go. And like, like stay and fight, versus get the fuck out. And everyone’s gonna have to make those questions differently. Okay, another positive thing a weird, like positive tech thing…

Brooke 50:20
Yay positive.

Margaret 50:22
So like I own, and I recommend it to people who spend a lot of time off grid or out outside the range of cell service. I own like a Garmin satellite communicator, it’s a little tiny device, it looks like a tiny walkie talkie. And it can talk to satellites. And I can like text from anywhere in the world, I can see the sky, whether or not I have cell service. And more importantly than that, I can send an SOS. And these are fairly expensive things, they cost a couple hundred dollars. And then you have to sign up for service. And they make sense for people who are like backpacking a lot or driving in areas where there’s no, you know, service or whatever, right? New new phones, specifically the iPhone 14, I hate to be like, I’m not telling everyone to run out get new phone, but as a trend is very positive, that some new phones have this already built in. So you won’t need to have a separate device. And I think that is a very positive thing from a prepper point of view, to have access to a way to communicate when cell service is not there. Yeah, that is really important. And I have one final thing and it’s very positive.

Brooke 51:29
Okay, I’m ready.

Margaret 51:30
It’s actually a double edged sword. On January 5, I’m cheating. This was in 2023. On January 5, 2023, this current year, like last week, yesterday, as we record this, two assholes in Bakersfield, California tried to set an Immigration Services Center on fire, like it was a center that like, um, I mean, ironically, it helped undocumented folks or like immigrant folks pay income taxes, and like helped people navigate the paperwork of being immigrants, you know, because there’s actually something that people don’t know, all these like, right wing pieces of shit, is that like, undocumented people, like, many of them pay taxes. I don’t know. Whereas a lot of the people who like to talk all kinds of shit about undocumented people, don’t pay taxes. Anyway, whatever. What were you gonna say? Sorry.

Brooke 52:16
Oh, just this, that as an economist, as a group, undocumented people pay more into the system than they as a group take out of the system.

Margaret 52:25
That makes a lot of sense. So, there’s an Immigration Services Center. Two assholes, tried to set it on fire. They set themselves on fire, fled the scene on fire and left their cell phone at the scene. The reason it’s double edged is, because one it sucks that people attack this and they actually did do damage to the center as well, mostly to some equipment used by someone who ran I believe a carwash out of that shared some space or whatever. But yeah, they like poured accelerant everywhere. And then a guy just like, knelt down over the pool of accelerant and like, lit it. And then just like, his, like, his leg was on fire. So, his friend ran over to help and like got caught on fire too. And then, they just both like, ran out of range of, because it’s all caught on camera, you know? And fuck them. And I hope that their fucking wounds are horrible. And by the time you listen to this, they were probably caught because they left their fucking phone there. And fuck them. That’s my light news.

Brooke 53:36
I’ll take it.

Margaret 53:37
Okay, what are you excited for, looking forward? Go ahead. Sorry.

Brooke 53:40
Well, hopefully more fascists are gonna light themselves on fire and other types of right wing assholes. I mean, I would be very happy about that happening in 2023

Margaret 53:48
Yeah. May this be the year of Nazis on fire.

Brooke 53:54
Yes. Agreed. That would be lovely. I don’t know about…I don’t know if I have a lot of global stuff that I thought about being positive. I have. I have like personal stuff, like I am going to be doing…hosting more these podcast episodes. I’ve got one coming up. Maybe this month, we’re releasing it? But I did it all by myself. Yeah, more lined up to come out in the next couple of months and some really cool topics and people that I get to chat with. So I’m stoked about that.

Margaret 54:21
That is also something I’m excited about for 2023 is that this podcast is increasingly regular and it is because of the hard work of me…No, everyone else. Is the hard work of everyone else who works on this show are like really kind of taking the reins more and more and it is no longer, it’s no longer the Margaret Killjoy Show and I’m very grateful and I believe you all will too. And if you’re not grateful yet, you will be, because there’ll be actual other voices, like ways of looking at things and and more of it because, you know, one person can only do so much. So I’m really grateful for that.

Brooke 55:03
I’m excited about this book that’s coming out next month, that…

Margaret 55:06
Oh, yeah?

Brooke 55:07
Some lady I know, wrote it. And, and I got to do some editing work on it. And, it’s hilarious and the cover is gorgeous.

Margaret 55:17
Is it called “Escape from Incel Island”?

Brooke 55:19
Yeah, that one.

Margaret 55:22
Is this my plugs moment?

Brooke 55:24
Did you know If you preorder it right now, you can get a poster of that gorgeous cover that comes comes with the preordered one?

Margaret 55:31
And, did you know that if you preorder it, I get a cut of the royalties when the book is released for all the preorders, which means that I can eat food.

Brooke 55:43
Oh, we like it when you get food.

Margaret 55:44
And I like having food. Yeah. So, if you go to, you can preorder “Escape from Incel Island” and get a poster. And it’s a fun adventure book. You can literally read it in a couple hours. It’s very short. It’s a novella. It’s, to be frank, it’s at the short end of novella. But that makes it good for short attention spans like mine.

Brooke 56:08
Yeah, that’s dope. I’m looking forward to that. And there’ll be some other books coming out from that Strangers Collective one, one that I just started editing, that I don’t know how much we’re talking about it yet or not.

Margaret 56:20
It’s really cool.

Brooke 56:20
So, I won’t give too much away here, but just sucked me right in as I was editing, and it’s cool. I’m so excited to read the rest of it. And then for us to release it.

Margaret 56:29
Yeah. All right. Well, that’s our Year in the Apocalypse, 2022 edition. And I know…wait, you’re doing the closing part.

Brooke 56:40
Yeah, sure.

Margaret 56:41
I’m just the guest.

Brooke 56:43
No, you’re my co host.

Margaret 56:45
Oh, I’m just the co host. Okay.

Brooke 56:47
Yeah. Yeah. So I’m curious what other people think the worst things are that happened in 2022, if it’s something that was on one of our lists, or something else that you know of, and reach out to us like on Twitter at tangledwild or Instagram, or you can reach out to me personally on Mastodon @ogemakwebrooke, if you can find me there. And the Collectiva Social, I think is my whatever, I don’t remember how it works. But I’m yeah, I’m curious what other people would have to say is the worst which thing they want to vote for, if they have their own. So hit us up? Let us know.

Margaret 57:22
Yeah, do it.

Brooke 57:29
So, our listeners, we thank, we appreciate you listening. And if you enjoy this podcast, we would love it if you could give it a like or drop a comment or review or subscribe to us if you haven’t already, because these things make the algorithms that rule our world offer our show to more people. The podcast is produced by the anarchist publishing collective Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. Like I said, you can connect with us on Twitter, Instagram, or me personally on Mastodon, or through our website The work of Strangers is made possible by our Patreon supporters. Honestly, we couldn’t do any of it without your help. If you want to become a supporter, check us out There are cool benefits for different support tiers. For instance, if you support the collective at $10 a month, one of your benefits is a 40% off coupon for everything we sell on our website, which includes the preorders for Margaret’s new book, we’d like to give a specific shout out to some of our most supportive patreon supporters including Hoss dog, Miciaah, Chris, Sam, Kirk, Eleanor, Jenipher, Staro, Cat J., Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Paige, SJ, Shawn, Hunter, Theo, Boise Mutual Aid, Milica, paparouna, and Aly. Thanks so much.

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S1E55 – Cindy Barukh Milstein on Trying Anarchism for Life

Episode Summary

Margaret and Casandra talk with Cindy Milstein about what anarchism actually is, why you should try it, possibly for life, the many horrors of fascism, and once again why community is all too important. They also talk about Milstein’s new book from Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, “Try Anarchism for Life.”

Guest Info

The guest is Cindy Barukh Milstein (they/them). Milstein can be found on Instagram @CindyMilstein on Twitter @CindyMilstein, on WordPress at on on Mastodon @CBMilstein. Their new book, “Try Anarchism for Life” can be purchased from our publisher at

Host Info

Margaret can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy. Casandra can be found doing our layout at Strangers.

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at


Margaret 00:14
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m one of your hosts today. Margaret Killjoy. And also with me is Casandra. How are you doing, Casandra?

Casandra 00:24
Pretty good.

Margaret 00:26
Today’s episode is an episode that a lot of people have been requesting, which is, ‘what is anarchism?’ This thing that we keep talking about on this show. And how should you talk about it with other people? Or I don’t know, whatever. It’s what isn’t anarchism, and with us today as a guest is the author of Cindy Milstein. And I think that you all will hopefully get a lot out of this conversation. But first, this podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network.

Casandra 01:05
Hi, Milstein. If you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns. And just a little bit of background about why you’re talking with us today.

Milstein 02:05
Yeah. Hi, to both of you. My name is Cindy Barukh Milstein and I use ‘they’ and I’m talking to you two, who are both part of Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness publishing collective. And you are about to put out my…your first book, and my somewhere in a bunch of books I’ve done called, “Try Anarchism for Life.” Yeah, so I’m super excited to think it’s actually in the mail to me now the real copy. Very excited to see it.

Casandra 02:45
That’s handy that you authored a book about anarchism, and we want to talk about….anarchism.

Milstein 02:53
Wow, coincidence. Good coincidence.

Margaret 02:57
Wait, are you an anarchist?

Milstein 03:01
Time will tell.

Margaret 03:06
Is that like a ‘we all aspire to this,’ thing?

Milstein 03:08
Yeah, that was gonna be one of my answers to what anarchism is. Or like that, you know, a friend of mine was talking about recently how they’re from Greece, and how people don’t actually, they….I forget the whole anecdote, but anyway, that you can’t say your something until after your life is over, then people can say it about you. So,

Casandra 03:33
Oh, interesting.

Milstein 03:34
You know, because we’re all,we all really are aspiring to be an anarchist. I hope. And, and, yeah, I guess I do use that label. And it’s on the title of some of my books so…

Margaret 03:45
Okay, well, that leads us into the first question, which is a question that I get a lot, that you might get a lot, which a lot of listeners of the show have. Milstein, what is anarchism?

Milstein 03:59
Oh, okay. Joking ahead of time, that if I am Jewish, yes, one Jew, they have two opinions. But if you ask anarchists, we probably have even more, and if you’re Jewish anarchists, thousands. So I guess I was thinking about this, there’s so many ways to describe anarchism, but lately I’ve really been thinking about it as like life, how we make life in common life and care. And do that in collective ways through self determination, self organization, self governance, because most of what we’re facing that is not anarchism are different forms of deaths machines. So yeah, lately I’ve been thinking about what is that? You know, what does that mean to be staunchly in not just an advocate out but like actually, actively engaging in forms of bringing in essentially life? But yeah, I guess the other ways people…or I describe anarchism often is a compass, or sort of horizon made up of a bunch of ethics, which you often highlight on this show through various practices of like mutual aid and solidarity and collective care and all sorts of other nice warm and fuzzy ways we do good in this world or try to create better worlds. But yeah, I guess the nutshell other version, I would say is, to me, anarchism is both the absence and presence, and the absence of all forms of hierarchy and domination or striving to lessen them as much as possible. But, it’s no good unless there’s a presence of something to fill in those absences. Like, I don’t know, anarchism isn’t just like, we hate everything, let’s like, you know, hate capitalism, patriarchy, chaos, whatever. But what is the presence of what we want and that’s actually for me, where anarchism really shines, as a philosophy and practice of freedom, and liberation and liberatory practices of all sorts. So, I really like to think about that part of anarchism. And, and so therefore, the, that means that anarchism as a practice, which to me embodies the whole of your life every second of the day, is constantly juggling tensions, and between, you know, what we don’t like and what we do and what we want to destroy, and what we want to create, or in a way, the core tension in anarchism is how do you create these beautiful societies and worlds based upon kind of balancing out freedom for each of ourselves and freedom, collectively? And, and that’s hard. That isn’t easy. But like, that’s what anarchism is and is not. Like, we just want people to be free and do their own thing, which to me is capitalism or liberalism, or all these other things, like, “Fuck you, I’m gonna do my own thing.” But anarchism is like, “No, you know, I should be able to become who I want to be. But I can only do that if you can do that too. And how we do that together is where it gets fun.” And to me, that’s what enter you know, a lot of what anarchism is about, that presence of all we do. So I don’t know, what do you two think?

Margaret 07:04
I mean, okay, one of the things that you touched on….I actually do I would define anarchism as this like striving for freedom, but I would I define freedom a little bit differently than, well, certainly liberalism or capitalism would. You know, my argument being we’re not free if we like live alone in the woods, I tried it, actually, I still had a society to fall back on. But, you know, freedom is like, not just the individual in a state of nature, or whatever. Freedom is, is something that we create, and build cooperatively with each other, because if freedom is the ability to like, maximize my own agency and act in the ways that I would like to the most or whatever, right? We can create that with each other. And I basically, I make the argument that freedom is a relationship between people rather than a static state for an individual. And so, I do you believe in maximizing freedom, in that I believe in creating relationships of freedom between people. And I really like, and I don’t remember who said it, I think I’m kind of paraphrasing it from Ursula Le Guin, is that anarchism is about the marriage of freedom and responsibility, that basically we need to all be as responsible to each other as possible so that we can maximize all of our, our freedom. And so that’s like, kind of what I set out to do as an anarchist, is create these relationships of freedom. But, I guess I would say like, if I’m talking to someone who is like, “Well, what is anarchism?” I think at its like, core, it’s like, simplest is, you know, yeah, like, as you said, you know, are like people trying to live in a world without oppressive hierarchies, right? You know, traditionally, in the sort of Western philosophical tradition that anarchism is most often reflected through, you have basically the idea of like, it comes out of an anti capitalist movement, it comes out of a movement against capitalism, and they said, “Well, also the state,” you know, they were like, “The state and capitalism are intrinsically linked, we are opposed to all of them, or both of these constructs.” And then people very quickly took it from there to be like, “and also patriarchy, and also white supremacy and also all of these, like systemic institutions of oppression.” And, you know, anarchism is the movement against those things, but has, as you talked about, always been tied into, for most people also a sort of positive vision, the creation of a society without these things as a, as a desired thing to move towards.

Milstein 09:39
Yeah, no, thanks for filling. I was I was thinking when you were speaking, it’s like, so much of anarchism to me is it’s like isn’t a fixed thing. To me. That’s why I like the idea of a horizon, your always kind of walking towards this beautiful thing, but you’re never actually going to quite get there. But you know, like, you’re never…you can see it but you can never fully, but so it’s this process. And yeah, one other thing When you were speaking, I was reminded of as often I talked about anarchism is, like us together, figuring out different forms of social organization and different forms of social relationships that emphasize, you know, freedom and liberation and that it’s impossible without the social, you know, like we we, we are social creatures. We can’t possibly do this alone.

Casandra 10:20
But I thought anarchism was about chaos. You mean anarchists are organized?

Margaret 10:31
Sometimes we spend too much of our time on organization.

Milstein 10:34
Or trying to organize. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, another way, another way. I think that’s why I like tensions, because another tension to me is the tension between sort of, you know, freedom and spontaneity or how do you know, like, in a way, maybe it’s playfully in the, in the, like, the word anarchism and anarchy, you know, you can’t…anarchism is like we can make, we can try to figure out ways to like, create, you know, neighborhood assemblies and info shops, and mutual aid societies and all these other things. And then there’s all this fun, spontaneous, spontaneous chaos and play and joy that happens that we never even thought of, and that we actually balance both those things we’re not you know, just…Yeah, anarchism is like, I also think of anarchism is like being really dynamic and flexible and open, and kind of like, “Oh, that’s a cool new idea. Let’s try that.” Versus like a lot of things like borders: “No, this was the line in the sand.” or state: “No, you have to do that.” You know, that’s really different.

Casandra 11:35
I feel like one of my favorite things about anarchism is that there are different ways to do anarchism. And that seems like counter intuitive still, even to a lot of anarchists. I’m thinking about like, I don’t know, Twitter anarchists: “No, there’s only one way to do this.”

Margaret 11:57
Yeah, the idea that we’re like, gonna find the the one right way is inherently broken. And I really liked the, you know, the quote from the anarchists adjacent, but not anarchistic or not not anarchist Zapatista is that, you know, “A world in which many worlds are possible is the goal.” Yeah, and I like that it’s, it’s not about coming up with easy answers, or providing easy answers to people, which is actually I mean, it certainly limits our recruitment, because we’re, we can’t just be like, “Oh, well, here we have the answer. Anarchism is the answer.” Anarchism, it’s said is like a system by which to come up with answers collectively, amongst people, you know, it’s like a, it’s much easier to tell people what to do than to tell people to become free thinking individuals who work things out with each other, you know?

Milstein 12:51
Yeah, yeah. No, like, maybe the emphasis on like experiments and processes and us together. And the way you use the answers as plural is, you know, most other sort of forms of…yeah, like, politically engaging, first of all, are limited to like, one sphere of your life. But you know, anarchism is like, “How can we make the whole of our, of our lives feel whole,” and, but to do that, there isn’t like, one way to do things. And so you know, actually, when people get…the more, I just find this time and time again, to always is so beautiful, it’s like, the more people you get together, the more incredibly beautiful creative solutions you have, or ideas or experiments. And, you can actually try multiple ones of them at once. And that makes for this kind of beautiful ecosystem, which is maybe another thing we didn’t talk about anarchism, I think it’s very, like, ecological in, not in the sense of necessarily like, you know, environmentalism, or making things, you know, but, like, very holistic, and understands things in ways like complicated ecosystems where it’s okay for difference to coexist in an ecosystem, and actually, that makes us more resilient and stronger, is like some of the most, like, I love walking, you know, and observing the world. And when you walk around and just see some of the most like, you know, sort of ecosystems that are thriving, they’re thriving, because there’s multiple different types of plants and animals and species, and, you know, engagements and interactions and experiments going on. And they all shift and change through that. So, how can we think of that? So? I mean, often when people think about anarchists, and you’re like, “Oh, and what kind of anarchists are you?” and you know, “I’m a feminist, anarchist, or queer anarchist, or Jewish anarchist, or, you know, et cetera, et cetera,” and like that’s like, some sort of problem and anarchism, and I think we’re just actually trying to articulate that freedom and that ecosystem has to bring in the fullness of who we are. And the fullness of who we are isn’t always the same. And it’s that beautiful kind of interplay between what we care about in our own lives and our own, you know, experiences and identities and yeah. So, I’m just kind of rambling, but I don’t know, lately, I’ve just been thinking a lot about the anarchist ecosystem. And that’s actually, you know, I mean, so much of, you know, like white Christian supremacy homogenizes everything from calendars to, you know, time, to how we make decisions, to, you know, capitalism gives you the same, you know, type of, you know, hamburger or coffee no matter where you are in the world if you know if it’s trying to like flatten out everything or actually destroy all sorts of foods so all we think of this certain foods, you know. And most like large scale forms of hierarchy and domination to succeed, they they flattened, I mean, we’re looking at fascism, unfortunately, appearing in a lot of parts of the globe right now. And it’s all about an essence creating this, like, pure identity, that’s homogeneous identity, that should be able to survive while the rest of us should be killed off. And I mean, ultimately, fascism. If it ever fully succeeded in instituting itself would die because there’s no possible way any kind of ecosystem can exist if it has only has one pure sort of being, right?

Margaret 16:13
Yeah, I think about the anarchist comicbook author, Alan Moore, makes this argument that the primary axis of politics in this world is not communism versus capitalism. It’s not left versus right. It’s, it’s fascism versus anarchism as you know, these two opposing concepts and what you’re talking about, but fascism is the making everything the same, in order to be strong. And then anarchism is about like, celebrating difference and creating….diversity as strength, you know, rather than, like, just unity as strength in this sort of fascistic context.

Milstein 16:58
Or, again, life. I mean, fascism, it has to engage in genocide, because there’s no other way to get rid of all those things that aren’t the one pure right, you know, sort of body you’re, and, and, and we’re like, you know, okay, we have to try to, like, bring forward life, and in a sense, and I guess one thing, when you’re speaking, I was also thinking about with anarchism, it’s always hard to sort of explain well what is anarchism is like, sure, some people came up with the, like, a word and applied it to, you know, a specific political philosophy at a specific time period in history. And those people that became anarchist love to travel and they wandered around the world, they, you know, convinced other, you know, through inspiring other people, a lot of people became anarchists. But anarchism is, is, is really this tendency of life unfolding. And when you get to the social realm, it’s of people together, unfolding that life together, to create different forms of social relationships that allow people to live in more cooperative, mutualistic mutually interdependent and co-responsible ways. And all the things, you know, solidaristic, carrying all the many ethics we can throw in, but humans have been doing that, since the beginning of time, and continue to do that. And when we look at, you know, uprisings that have happened recently, whether it’s, you know, in Iran or the George Floyd uprising, or we can name hundreds and hundreds of others, small scale and large scale. During the pandemic, which is still ongoing when, you know, people formed all sorts of projects in small scale and larger scale forms of solidarity and mutual aid to take care of each other. It’s it’s like that’s anarchistic and I particularly don’t really care to turn everybody into an anarchist, or to have everybody even say, “Well, this is about anarchism.” This like, we, I think that’s why Zapatistas are also super influential to me. And they, they also were like, No, we look for all the places in which we can listen to each other and hear the way we’re all engaging. And watch each other and share with each other and borrow from each other and all the ways that we’re engaging in creating that life and not worry about the labels. Worry about, and celebrate those places where people are like, throwing off hierarchy and domination, but not just throwing that off, but making their own lives together and going, “This is what we want our lives to be.” I really think that’s what’s so powerful about these moments. It’s like, you know, the uprisings, you know, the, all the hierarchical structures will say, “Oh, they don’t know what they want. They’re just angry. They’re just ripping things down. They’re just destroying things.” And any of us who’ve been in these moments, or have done a mutual aid project with anyone, or done anything large or small, you know, that’s not…sure we’re like, you know, a window gets broken or, you know, someone takes the food out of a little library and instead puts some…or books out a little library instead of puts you know masks or food during a pandemic. We, but what you realize is people are creating different forms of social relationships that are around love, and care, and beauty, and they’re sharing with each other, and they’re acting in profound forms of solidarity. I listened to this beautiful piece recently that was talking about the George Floyd uprising and how, in the first especially few days is like, it was the most like counter to all this sort of conquer divide around race politics in the United States moment. Because suddenly, people…and all sorts of other things class, gender, age, all these people were acting in this beautiful concert, sharing, and helping each other get away from cops, but also sharing food, and knowledge, and joy, and painting murals. And, you know, when…I really remember Unicorn Riot, which is a great like anarchistic news media project, when they were up close filming the precinct being burned down, they walked in and go, “Oh these people are destroying the third precinct, police station,” and then they walked in with their camera, and you’re inside watching people trash the place, and it being set on fire. And then people’s faces were joyous. And people walked outside and had a party basically. And I was like, watching that live. And going, this is why we revolt, we revolt….Why we just, quote, destroy things, destroy police stations that kill people, you know, status structures that are all these things, we’re not destroying the…our lives, and we’re actually…but that we do it so we can have that joy with each other. I’m rambling now. But I just I feel like that’s the thing that gets so lost, but all of us that are part of these moments know it, and we have to….like anarchism asks you, this is a really, I think, a really powerful thing to trust in yourself and those around you to know we can do this. And, you know, there’s nothing we have except sort of the trust of the things we promise each other in anarchism, because there’s no you know, police force or bureaucracy or anything else. There’s just this profound, deep promise and trust in each other. And we actually know that when we do it, we feel it, it feels different. It feels like life. It feels like love.

Casandra 22:05
We’ve talked about that some in terms of community preparedness, when we’re talking about things like natural disasters. And my understanding is that they’re realizing that when these giant catastrophes happen, whether it’s like a social catastrophe, or natural disaster, or something, people tend to band together, and work together,r and help each other in larger degree. It’s almost like, it’s like a natural way for us to be or something.

Margaret 22:33
With the exception of the elites, right, you get that elite panic thing, if you have…I hate using the word elites, but it’s, no, it’s in the name of the like, the people who have power within a society are the people who don’t band together in times of crisis, and instead try to like violently enforce the status quo. And, disaster studies stuff talks about that. That’s the name they use.

Casandra 22:58
Of course they do.

Milstein 22:59
I feel like what’s so sad is that we have you know, like, I hope that as an anarchist, I really hope we don’t like be like, “Oh, romanticize disaster,” as the places that this happens. You know, disasters are happening to us. We are… we want to create a society where, yeah, those moments show us that. But then we’re like, “Wow, we can do this all the time. We don’t have to just do this in disasters.” Although we’re pretty much in disaster constantly. We’re in disaster always. I don’t know, I don’t also want to romanticize, Oh, I feel so great that we have this horrible, you know…fascism is getting worse. We’re actually helping each other like, you know, provide community self defense in these wonderful ways. You know, it’s like, all that does is point to I mean, you know, the point to the sort of, anarchistic dream of you know, autonomous communities or liberated zones, or all these places, in which we would still have arguments and we would still, you know, have behaviors that would harm us and antisocial behaviors, but they would be, I guess, I guess the other thing I want is you know is whenever you do these experiments that are anarchistic things still happen that don’t feel great, but they happen to such a lesser degree, and we have so many more beautiful ways of dealing with them that aren’t about prisons and police. And…or we try to at least, you know, we aspire to that, again, like going back to the beginning is like, everyone’s like, “You know, you have all these, like, abolitionist ways of dealing with conflict, but yet we’re not good at it.” And I was like, “Well, how would we be, we’ve been raised in this culture for, you know, hundreds of years now, at this point, sadly, of, you know, police and until we’re a few generations, which, again we have the Zapitistas to show us, because I think they’ve been around long enough to begin to be able to show us this is that, you know, their children and their children’s children, I think they’re now probably have grandchildren that have come out of them that have lived in autonomous communities, is each new generation is more able to do it better, you know, which is why in a lot of diasporic and long long time traditions that way, precede, you know, states and capitalism and a whole bunch of things. A lot of times the numbers, like seven is really prominent. And we think of, you know, some indigenous cultures talk about seven generations. Jewish, you know a lot of looking back to seven, like cycles of seven, and that it may take, you know, seven generations to be able to actually forget, like, sort of erase the socialization of how you know, and learn better ways to do this. So we’re not instantly gonna have…I just want to emphasize you know anarchism is not, “Oh, great, everything’s wonderful now,” it’s just about, we’re gonna do things a lot better and more and better and better still, the longer we can hold and sustain these spaces of possibility.

Margaret 23:00
Yeah, I want to ask a question for each of us, which is, how did you become an anarchist? Or how did you realize you’re an anarchist? Or however you choose to define that? I don’t know who wants to go first? It looks like Milstein…

Milstein 25:49
Or one of you two?

Margaret 25:58
Alright, I’ll go first. Can’t see, but Casandra opted out by putting their finger on their nose. My story is very, like pithy, but also true, which was that, you know, when I was like, when I was a teenager, I was not excited about any of the political options that were presented to me. I had this like, brief moment where I was a libertarian, because I took a quiz online, and it said, and it had been made by the Libertarian Party. And it was like, “Well, do you like freedom? You must be a libertarian.” And my, like, communist girlfriend was like, “No corporations would run everything.” And I was like, “Okay, well, that’s true.” But, I don’t want to be a communist, as I understood it, at that time, meaning like, state communist or whatever, right? And still don’t. And, so I just kind of didn’t care about politics. I was like, vaguely social democrat. And then I went to this protest in New York City on February 2, 2002, it’s part of the, you know, gets called the ultra globalization movement, or whatever. And, and the anarchists were like wearing masks despite a mask ban in New York City. And I was like, “That’s cool,” right. And I didn’t know anything about the anarchists, except that they were willing to wear masks, despite being told they weren’t allowed. And that was like “That rules.” So, I went up to this kid wearing a mask. And I was like, “Hey,” and I’m 19, or something…well not ‘or’ something. I was 19. I said,” Hey, what’s this anarchism thing?” And he’s like, “Well, we hate the state, and capitalism.” And I was like, “Well, what are you gonna do about it?” And he’s like, “Well, we’re gonna build up alternative institutions while attacking the ones that are destroying the world.” And I was like, “Well, do you have an extra mask?” And he was like, “Yeah.” And he gave me a black bandana and I tied it around my face. And I became an anarchist. And I’ve not really looked back.

Casandra 27:53
That’s the initiation, is donning a black bandana.

Margaret 27:56
Yeah. And like, you know, that day, I got, like, rounded, I got kettled. And I spent like, I don’t know, five hours or something with like, 10 of us surrounded by like, fucking 20 cops or whatever. And, you know, then it was like, this very powerful moment in my life. And then it, it took me a long time to sort of like, become part of the sort of anarchist scene or milieu or whatever. But from that day forth, it was I called myself an anarchist.

Casandra 28:30
My story is less exciting. I had a really conservative, really religious upbringing, to the extent that I like, went to seminary and stuff. And when I turned 18, it was the first time I could vote. And, the discrepancies I was seeing between how we were told to vote and what we were taught was theologically sound was too much for me. So, I left, and, like the deconstruction of like, those things I was raised with and my concept of authority, the natural progression was just becoming an anarchist. It also helped that Crimethinc was based out of my hometown. So, I like lived and worked at the Crimethinc house for a while and got you know, exposed to all sorts of baby anarchist ideas through that.

Milstein 29:26
Oh, I love you’re an anarchist. I love hearing stories because they’re all different and great. Yeah, yeah. They’re never isn’t a form…Yeah, for a while I was there must be a formula to this. But, there are no which is actually yeah, no, it’s great.

Casandra 29:42
How about you?

Milstein 29:44
Yeah, I feel like there was preconditions that made me like sort of like what you’re talking about, Margaret that made me like, kind of looking for anarchism for most of my life, including like, my parents were like overgrown kids because of their own trauma. And so they made me their parent from the very beginning. And so they really let me like self determined with me and my friends. And we were always creating our own self organized spaces or going off on adventures. But, so were my parents. And so I also had to be…learn a lot of responsibility and how to take care of people, because otherwise no one else would. So in a way, it’s like a traumatic responses, as like, you know, and I think from ancestors, I don’t know. I more and more believe that there’s, like, ancestral, both trauma and joy that has, like, made me understand that like, to sort of be diasporic, to be not…you know, do you make community where you are with those who are with you, and you take care of each other. And this vague notion of like, our goal, or sort of our aim as humans is to, you know, be as good as we can and try to create as good a world as we can, that just, there’s all these preconditions that so I was kind of always looking around going, Oh, maybe this political orientation, or this group or that group? And I was like, nope, nope, nope. And then, you know, and then I met some anarchists in Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, where I was living, and they were like, “Hey, why don’t you read this?” And they kept handing me free articles and books. And then they were like, “Hey, why don’t you come to this self organized cafe where, you know, everyday, things are mostly free, but you can throw in money in a jar, if you want on, there’s events going on.” Or, “Hey, why don’t you come join us in some of the organizing we’re doing.” And I just, I, they were just so generous, they kept just gifting me. And it wasn’t like they were asking me to be them or to change or they weren’t even, you know, they were just like, this kind of like, I guess that’s right, come back to the sort of, like trust and faith in anarchism is like, you don’t have to like sell it to people, you can gift it, you know, and share it and and then they’re like, “Hey, do you want to come here, Murray Bookchin speak at something called the Institute for Social Ecology that was happening then and Murray would, you know, I went to hear him speak and 12 hours later, after his first talk, he because he would just talk during this program. And people came from all over the world, so there were anarchists from all over the world sitting in this room, and it was like, wow, they’re anarchists, and multi generational, all different ages listening, you know, and asking him questions and engaging. And I was like, whoa. And then as he came up to afterward, my friends introduced me and they go, “Hey, this is our friend, Cindy, Murray,” and Murray’s like, you know, “Where do you live?” I go, “Burlington” and he was like, “What’s your last name?” And then he goes, “You need to study with me.”

Margaret 32:25
That’s amazing.

Milstein 32:26
And then he like, really, like, as he did for many, many people, he’s just like, “Come to my house.” And we would like, you know, he lived very, very modestly often in like, a studio, and we just, like, would crowd around this room and just read and, you know, so I just started with him and anarchists in that community doing organizing and reading and studying. And, yeah, and also, I never looked back from there, too. And I think it’s because Murray, you know, maybe because we had affinity, because we’re both like, culturally, really similar. And, but he’s, like, you know, “I want to give you, you know, you have to, like, think and act for yourself,” and I’m so shaped by him in a way, you know, he was like, he was so interested in what we would do to…what we would, how we would replace the state with what. What would we replace capitalism? You know, what would we, you know, and it’s like, and maybe that just, you know, felt like…I felt at home, I guess that’s why we know, for the first time, like, “Oh, this is where I should be,” you know, so. And that it wasn’t, I guess, less than want to say is like that, that group and Murray…yeah. And then I start doing the same thing. There’s a, you know, gigantic, you know, movements going on and, you know, I was in at that time period, then started you know, going to New York, Montreal, all these other places, because I love wandering around and there was all sorts of incredible anarchist organizing, and then big movements started, you know, similar the alt globalization, movement and movements were constantly people were like, hey, read my scene. Hey, do you want this Hey, do you want that? Hey, do you need water? Hey, do you need a mask? And that’s just generosity of spirit like why would you not want that. I just feel like it’s like I just feel like more and more I just into this kind of big social fabric of…which doesn’t mean all anarchists have been nice to me or great to each other. It’s just yeah, it’s just overall it’s like far more generous of spirit and yeah. So.

Margaret 34:17
Well that that…one of the things that you brought up during that you know, going into this like multi generational meeting and seeing that there’s like anarchists from all over the world. I think one of the things you know if the primary target of this particular episode Oh, I guess try and do it with every episode of Live Like the World is Dying is people who are may not know, the things that we’re coming into it knowing right like so someone who’s listening to this might have only barely heard of anarchists, or only seen I guess what I would kind of say is sort of the tip of the anarchist iceberg, like the most commonly seen or known elements of anarchism change over time. I would actually say I wonder right now if it’s not the mutual aid projects,

Casandra 34:57
Oh, I was gonna say that crappy documentary.

Margaret 35:01
Oh god, I wasn’t even trying to think of…we could talk about An-caps [anarcho-capitalists] later, but ya know, like, okay, but of the actual anarchist iceberg…because there’s a very…I hate gatekeeping but there’s a certain….anyway you know, when I was coming up, the tip of the anarchist iceberg was like the black bloc, you know, people wearing all black and matte…I’m literally wearing a black hoodie as I say this, but but I don’t have a bandana over my face. But, that was part of me becoming an anarchist, I guess. But, you know, this, this idea of the people who wear all black and break things, right, is like the tip of the anarchist iceberg. And there’s this like presumption that people have that is incorrect about all of those people being young, able bodied, like cis white men, right? It’s probably changed enough that some people think that it might, there might be some queer folks in there too, right. But this, like, youthful anger movement, is what people know about. And I think that that’s, well, that’s what, you know, the media presents us as, and all of these things, but actually finding out that it’s this like multi generational movement, and this like multi like, like literally multicultural movement, like different people coming from very different, like cultural ideas of how they want to live, and like how they express themselves, you know, within that is actually the kind of more beautiful part of it. I have nothing against the people….I have nothing against the black bloc, but it is like, only some tiny portion of what anarchists do. I don’t know, I don’t know why I’m going on that rant.

Milstein 36:35
I mean, in a way, I think what like when people go, Oh, anarchists, you know, I wear black bloc and I wear a black mask constantly, every day now. Because, the whole time since the pandemics been going on, it’s like how do we be collectively carrying is we wear masks, and which is what the point of the mask were in the first place, which is like a black bloc was a way to take care of each other in moments when the police and the state are trying to target you. And all sorts of social movements around the world have…mask their face to protect each other, in moments of danger from the structures that are trying to kill us and do kill us. So, I think that’s what gets lost is like that it’s just black bloc is one tactic, you know, wearing masks for variety of reasons in a pandemic, is the similar tactic. And the underlying again, that ethic below it is, you know, you just have to push a little bit, but with anarchism it’s about we try generally a lot harder to try to balance like how can we have social relationships structured around taking care of each other when there’s like perfect moments of profound abandonment. And so like a lot of people coming into anarchism right now, a lot of the younger folks that I’ve met lately, and that’s why I think multi generational spaces are important is the caveat is like, it’s not because Oh, the older you get, the more you know, it’s like no, if we’re in multi generational spaces, we all…in all sorts of different directions learn from each other. Because I don’t know what it’s like to be 12 right now. But if I hear a 12 year olds telling me their experience, I’ll better understand the world and better understand how they understand, you know, it’s like we need each other in these multi generational spaces. So, I would like…folks that have been coming into anarchists in the last couple of years, it’s either, you know, been because of the George Floyd…in North American continent at least, the George Floyd uprising, or mutual aid projects and solidarity, you know, disaster relief projects that are kind of structured in anarchistic ways. And, and, yeah, so there’s just a different…like what values do people come in at anarchism at different moments to understand and so, you know, I, I think if people at these moments are there in person versus on, you know, Twitter or social media, which sadly, more and more has become, you know, a default, which is another way, you know, sure people find anarchism, but I still don’t really think that’s anarchism, you know, it’s like a flat version, because you’d have to practice it in ways, in embodied ways face to face makes a big difference. But oftentimes, when people are in their spaces, they realize, wow, there’s lots of anarchists here, and they don’t even like tell me, they’re anarchists, but I can kind of, if you’re, you kind of look around and start asking people, you know, get to know them or start asking then people go, Yeah, I kind of been doing this for a long time. But you know, I can’t run as much now. So like, Yeah, I’m like, I cook food and I bring that or I’m, you know, a legal observer, or, you know, I’m what, you know, I, I can move fast, but I don’t want to run right now. So I medic, or all of these different, all these different roles is like, oftentimes, I kind of like think of anarchism now too, is like, we’re not huge in number oftentimes, but we’re so damned dedicated to being this like infrastructure of self organized, you know, mutual aid and care and solidarity and life making that we’re almost always like, there are all sorts of these pivotal moments to be like, Hey, we don’t have to, you know, control or tell everybody how to do mutual aid, but if people have questions about kind of how to do it, you know, we can kind of like offer some advice, or we can show you how some like, you know, decentralized yet federated structures worked in the past. And often, if you look around there actually is sort of multi generational anarchism, but sadly, sadly, I think, especially in in the US context, you know, I really, really encourage you, you know, this is another caveat, is like anarchism is this profound, profound, difficult duty, and really think of it as a duty. And it’s hard, really hard to stay an anarchist, to continually make the spaces you want, even if it’s difficult, and it gets more and more difficult over time. So, you know, I really committed to making all sorts of different kinds of spaces where we experience what it feels like to be the people we want to be for in a in a space we want and that doesn’t always end up looking pretty or great sometimes. But often, it’s pretty magical. But part of that commitment is bringing together, you know, different genders, and different cultures, and different skin colors, and different bodies of all sorts, and different ages and being really committed as an anarchist, the older I get to not be like I’ve been there before, it’s really boring. I don’t want to go to that thing. I don’t want to be around young people, blah, blah. Yeah, sure, you know, but I get so tired of “Oh, no, this thing again.” Can we learn to at least make better mistakes?

Casandra 41:43
Oh, God. I feel that.

Milstein 41:45
Yeah, but I don’t know. I’m also really committed to that like, creating and being in multi generational spaces. And when I’m in those spaces, myself, and others, encouraging us to all listen to each other, and all tell our stories, and all be curious ,and not think we know everything you know, and like that, to me is part of an anarchist practice. Maybe that’s why I say ‘aspiring always,’ you know, is like, how do we create those spaces where…Yeah, where we see the anarchism isn’t the stereotype. We…Yeah, I should go back to like Murray. I was like, when I first met him, he’s like, so so well read, like he never went to barely…I mean, he was like, a radical, and he was like, a baby. He was like, never had a childhood. And so but, you know, we moved from, like, sort of Marxism and to anarchism. And then he was just super, super, super well read. And for the first year, he was like, just, you know, never asked for anything, just would like spend hours and hours teaching, engaging conversation. The first year I go, his ideas are just so big and so expansive, and brings into so much beautiful things from all sorts of different historical movements, and philosophies, and tendencies, and logics that you should think of that, you know, are dangerous, like fascism, and all these other things. But also, I know, there’s things that don’t sit with me, right, but I couldn’t, I didn’t feel like I could feel my brain like stretching these beautiful growth ways. But I couldn’t figure out how to argue with him, like, argue in the sense of like, not angrily, but like wrestle with ideas with him. And even other things I don’t think I agree with him points, but I don’t know how to articulate it yet. And I was like, I have to just let my brain keep expanding and keep, you know, and he kept saying, “I want you to learn to think for yourself.” That’s why I’m like, expose, you know, all these ideas, all these different tendencies. And then at one point, I was like, hey, whoa, and then like, you know, and then you reach this point where we could have these, we became good friends, and I could wrestle together with him with things I agreed with or disagreed with, or, you know, or things we both didn’t know the answer to, which is even more interesting. And, and how do you how do we create spaces as anarchists that allow for I feel like that was such a gift, you know, to allow for that, that growth and to allow for us to see that there’s so many different ways of doing things in the world. And we have to give ourselves the patience, and the time, and the space with each other to do that. And otherwise, it’s just going to remain….I mean, there’s lots of reasons but you know, I don’t want to anarchism just to be you know, 18 year olds who stay anarchists for two years, and then it’s, you know, it has to be grounded and so on. Yeah. Yeah. You know, more reasons to stay an anarchist. Well, that I’m kind of all over the place there.

Milstein 42:33
But that does tie well into the next question that I have, which is, the title of your book is “Try Anarchism for Life,” seems to be addressing that sort of thing. Do you want to talk about your new book?

Milstein 44:41
Um, yeah, I mean, I kind of came out as I used to hate hashtags. I used to hate social media. I still I still do. But anyway, I used to roast hash tags…because I really like how can we boil down our ideas to two words or three words in a hashtag? But anyway, I started using “Try Anarchism for Life” at one point, but I was like, Oh, how do I fill that out? Because I guess for me, it was kind of this playful hashtag, but then I really meant like, anarchism has to be something once you embrace it that you you want to act anarchitically for the whole of your life and I don’t understand how you can’t once you embrace it, because I don’t understand. Although I’ve known plenty of people who have, you know, but how once you’ve eyes widened to see hierarchy, domination, you kind of go What, whoa, wait, I don’t believe that anymore. I just don’t understand that. But ,once you know, once, you’re sort of like, in anarchism and anarchistic, how, how do you do that for the whole of your life, but in service of life? So, that is kind of like puns play on or like word plays, like, try and anarchism for the whole of your life and for the life of all the ancestors that came before you, and the life of those will come after you, but also in service of life. And that it’s trying because we’re never actually going to all have to keep experimenting. So yeah, so I whatever, I kept playing with it and writing little little things about it on my plate to do sort of picture posted on Instagram. And then I don’t know last winter, especially this time period has been incredibly bleak and traumatizing and horrific, horrifying, depressing. And, I’m not making light of it, it’s just been a hellish, hellish, a lot of hellish time periods in history, but there are some that are particularly, yeah, horrific. And this is one of them. Fascism. Ecocide. You know, collapse of all sorts of any kinds of supports systems. Yeah, it’s a really horrific time. And so yeah, I don’t know, last year, especially last winter, I was like, what if I wrote little prose that really kind of tried to figure out, to kind of answer the thought experiment what are some of the many beautiful dimensions of anarchism? And it came about to talk about this in a little prologue to the book, but it came up on me posting things on Instagram originally, I don’t know when I started doing that with the scriptwriter because I’m for life. But I take a lot of pictures of graffiti and street art and write little stories about some. I have thousands I have not yet written stories about on my camera. But uh, but I started just thinking, why is it that we like, mostly, you see a lot of spray painted Circle A’s, but they’re kind of haphazard? And just what does it say? When someone just the random person looks at a circle, like they might not know what it is. Or they might think oh, those anarchists things, people that break windows or black bloc, you know, like, it’s this, we’re not, again, doing justice to the beauty of the beauty of activism with Circle A’s even though I love to see Circle A’s everywhere. So then I, on Instagram was like, hey, who could? Who? What artists, friends of mine can draw Circle A’s that, like, embody within the drawing the values and the beauty they find in anarchism. And yeah, I was so struck by how hard it was for so many folks would kept sharing things with me. And a lot of them were just things being set on fire, which is great, you know, police cars, fine, you know, but, you know, hey, we can maybe use those cars and buildings later, maybe, you know, the point is to tear down that world. Who cares? You know, what would we put in the place of others. And so, but then people started drawing them. And I started going, Okay, I’ll do a little book of these things, just for fun. And so this book is 24 or 26 of these little stories. They’re all very short and compact. They’re kind of playful, poetic, lots of sort of puns, there’s, they’re kind of poignant in places, but they’re very compact. I was like how can I say a lot in a small space. So I hope you look, there’s a lot of little things in there that if whether you already know about anarchism, or you don’t that kind of gesturing toward a bunch of wider things, but I love that forum, and I used 26 of the different drawings that people started creating all over the place. And since then, a lot of artists have been creating a lot more. So, it feels really exciting to see a lot more beautiful Circle A’s out in the world. And yeah, I want to inspire people to, you know, I really think part of, you know, we as anarchists were like, Oh, this is this cool club, and we know how great it is, well, you know, we’re just going to do Circle A’s, you know, scrawl Circle A’s, but we’re not going to….. I don’t know, I’ve been accused of being a friendly, welcoming anarchist. And I think that’s a good thing. So, this book is, is also like, I also want people to act more anarchistically, and I don’t want it for I want it because seriously this world, if we don’t do that we are it really is a choice between anarchism, fascism or ecocide. And so I hope this book contributes in a small way to encourage all of you who read it or even think about any of the circle’s in it, to think about how you can portray the beauty of anarchism more and more through your life, through your practices, through modeling it, through the projects, you do, the art you do, so that other people can find it and embrace it, because sometimes it’s really damn hard to find anarchism and it shouldn’t be, or to find that beauty and it shouldn’t be, you know, and in this moment, we need it and I don’t know I was really struck last winter, which was, you know, absurdly bleek, I started writing these prose and was, you know, like, feeling so crappy before I was doing it. And then the more I just was like, I’m just gonna get obsessed in writing these, that’s all I’m going to do right now, because the world’s going to hell, just I could focus on this for the next couple months. And I was like, it was like, this good medicine from my brain. Like, the more I just was, like, just focus on what’s beautiful in anarchism, and try to write about some little practices, and not pie in the sky. Some of them are playful and fanciful, but most of them are things we really do. Also, the more I did it more as like, whoa, wow, I start my brain started remembering that it’s not just all fascism and ecocide, and tragedy and depression, despair or death. I like remembered that, that tension that, you know, there is always trauma and joy, there is sorrow and joy there is we’re never wholly in collapse or, you know, we’re never wholly in disaster. We have. Yeah, so I don’t know, I think, even on that level, for us to really stretch our brains to think about and practice that beauty, you know, I don’t know, I’ve, I’ve done different, like, hospice care and other forms of care around death and grief. And, you know, people think, Oh, this is hard to deal with death. And I don’t know something about like, being really open to these moments, when people are experiencing most sort of profound transitions in life, you know, going from this life to whatever after you believe happens. It’s a pretty profound, intimate moment that only happens once in your life for each of us. And to accompany someone through that….Wow. It’s, I think the sort of, you know, if we’re able to do those things well, to take care of each other well, to really intimate moments of grief and or dying, and death is, is we find out all the people that are like, “Oh my god, I should have been living my life, I should have been telling people I love them, I should have been telling people I don’t love them,” you know, like people become genuine and like actually, strive, oftentimes people become, not everybody, but a lot of people like it calls into question your mortality an you try to be suddenly like recommit to life, which a lot of people I’ve heard, say, during the pandemic, too, this is just telling me what’s important in life, you know, we show the world is in hospice right now, you know, and we don’t know if there’s going to be a future in the next 10 years, or what humans if humans as a species will survive this time period. And, but we do know, we can treat each other as good as possible and alleviate as much suffering as we can, and make every moment until that last moment, as beautiful as it can be, which is what hospice is, in the best of scenario’s goal is, is to alleviate unnecessary suffering, and to accentuate as much beauty and collected care as you can. And so I don’t know, I’m not it, I hope this book says, please, you know, all of us can’t give up. Too many of us have lost friends to them killing themselves or taking too many substances intentionally or unintentionally, or depression, or, you know, all sorts of other reasons. And, you know, that’s, that’s there, that’s real, right? And I want more of us to be here, you know, and so how can we be there to help alleviate as much suffering as we can and accentuate forms of collective care, even if we only think we have another six months or 10 years, or whatever it is we have, and not give up? Don’t give up? Because that’s, we might, you know, I don’t know, to me as an anarchist, that’s always like, I don’t know how they always stay an anarchist. Because, you know, that’s like a question we could talk about. But part of it is just this belief is like, I don’t know what else I’m like, This is what I want to my last breath is to try really hard to be encircled by solidarity and care and love. And, you know, in ways that we do it non hierarchically, you know, in ways that we do together. That’s all one sort of can ask for, but one also can try to do. Long winded version of, “Why you’re doing this,” but the last thing I want to say or not, the last thing cause I can say many things, cause I’m so grateful to all the 26 people who do this incredible beautiful Circle A’s and the many other people sent me one that I didn’t include because I was like, I can only write so many pieces. And, but, and they’ve all been really generous with the Circle A’s and they’re all in the same thought about if people use them for all sorts of things. And again, anarchists we’re like cool, take it and turn it into a t shirt, or stencil, or spray paint it, or make a poster. And same with my words. I really love that we give those things to each other. But, I also really want to thank you two, and your whole collective of Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. You’ve also just really embodied like anarchistic values and how like we collaborate, and you treated me and the whole process. It’s been like, you know, learning together, experimenting together. It’s been like a really beautiful experience. So, for me books aren’t this like thing, this commodity which unfortunately we have to charge for because capitalism, you know, someday and hopefully we won’t have to that’s the irony, you know? Like, you know, not irony, just the sorrow, right? You know, we can’t do the things we love as anarchists completely in ways we would want to. But we can do them as much as we can in the ways we want to. And so everything about this book, for me books are I do them as labors of love. The funds are going back to you all to support your publishing project. But I, I for me, it’s the process of them that’s anarchistic, like how do we? How do we think through doing them? Why are we doing them? Who are we doing them with? And for? And how do we treat each other while we’re doing them? And once it’s out in the world, how do others use it? And how do we engage with it? Right? I put books out in the world not to be a commodity and sit on someone’s shelf or whatever. I do it because I want people to, to think and engage and transform the world. So, it’s part of my way of inspiring and intervening in that, trying to push proof prefigurative politics, which is always my underlying agenda. Come on, we can do this.

Margaret 55:55
Well, I like it that you picked 26, because in my mind, it’s an alphabet book. It’s just you know, a, a, a, a, a, a,a ,a…..

Casandra 56:05
There’s an alef in there.

Milstein 56:07
Oh, I never even thought of that. There’s an alef, an alef is the first letter in many different Jewish alphabets and probably other alphabets, too. And so there’s a Circle Alef in there. So you have to get the book and read the story.

Casandra 56:24
Yeah. And my my plug for it is that I think it was a perfect first book for our collective to tack and I’m just so grateful that you came to us and that this all worked out. And but what…is it really…today’s release day? I just realized we’re recording this on release day. Is that true? That’s true.

Margaret 56:42
And people might not be listening for a couple months? We don’t know yet.

Casandra 56:46
Yeah. But now they know, we’re recording this on November 15th. I really appreciate that it’s like an intro to anarchism in practice. I think that theory can be really intimidating for people. But, I just find your work immensely approachable. And, I think that’s something that’ll be really beneficial to people.

Milstein 57:11
Yeah, I hope so. I also hope, I feel like I’ve sent it out to a lot of different folks to read it, like, well, some who are longtime anarchists, and I don’t know, I also they’re like, Oh, I also really hope that it lends like, you know, love and solidarity. People have been anarchists for a long time. Or it just reminds them why they’re anarchists or think through different things, you know? Yeah, it’s, I hope it’s accessible for folks that don’t know about anarchism, which I think it is, and also just like a gift to people who already are, because we also have to keep each other anarchists for life. Because, you can’t do that alone. You have to keep reminding each other. Yeah, yeah. We’re not just you know, So well, but anyway, you know, I’m really, really grateful to Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness collective.. So if folks listening to this have not checked out their website, and their growing list of projects,they don’t just do books, they do all sorts of wacky things.

Casandra 58:00
Like podcasts, like this podcast. Fancy that.

Milstein 58:06
Baked goods, I don’t know. Oh, one stop shop.

Margaret 58:13
Well, is there is there any last word on on “What is anarchism?” or anything like that, that anyone wants to touch on?

Casandra 58:23
I mean, I feel like we could talk about it forever. But I also feel good about what we’ve talked about today.

Margaret 58:29
Yeah, fair enough.

Milstein 58:31
Yeah, yeah. How about you, Margaret, what do you think anything else you want to?

Margaret 58:35
I’m willing to give it a shot, I’ll try some anarchism.

Casandra 58:40
Will you try it for life?

Margaret 58:42
So far, so good. I’ve been an anarchist more than half my life. And nothing’s really shaken that, which is funny, because I go through these intentional kind of crises of faith with anarchism every now and then, where I’m like, Wait, really, and I kind of try and like break down the whole thing and like, come to a new conclusion. And the conclusion I keep coming to, I do this every couple of years, usually, because someone in the anarchist scene annoys me so much that I’m like, how am I in the same movement as that person? And then I like go through and I’m like, oh, because I hate the state and capitalism, and like, white supremacy, and you know, all that stuff. And so then I like, come back to it again. But, so yeah, I’m willing, at this point. I’m pretty sure I’m willing to try it for life. I mean, who knows? I’m not, you know, maybe…

Casandra 59:27
That’s very anarchistic of you to interrogate your anarchism.

Margaret 59:31
Thank thanks.

Milstein 59:32
Yeah. Which, we actually feel like we need to. I feel like that’s a profound anarchist value, like, I don’t know, I feel like one reason I’ve stayed an anarchists for a long time is often because of that, like one of those personal…I really felt them or like going through sort of like I hate all anarchists, but I’m still an anarchist. I don’t like…okay. I have to figure out how to keep going in those moments. And…but I don’t know like, I think that’s the real value of some of the my favorite like projects and collectives, like, oh, we have to, every six months, stop and actually reevaluate if this project makes sense anymore if we, you know, and then end it well, when it doesn’t, that was some of my favorite things. Yeah, like, continually reevaluate and reassess. But yeah, I don’t know, how do you stay? I’d love to hear how do you think you stay a anarchists for life? Like, as long as you have so far, because I think that’s really, it is a challenge when society, everything in the world…it’s like right now wearing an N95 or KN95 mask, which I hope most people are doing, or everyone is doing, you know, you walk into spaces, and you can literally be the only one for days on end in public places. And you know, it’s a good exercise in building up one’s…. Yeah. How do you do things when the whole of society reflects back to you that you shouldn’t be doing that? And you’re like, “No, I know. This is right. I know this is the ethical thing to do. I know it’s the kind of practice I want.”

Margaret 1:00:57
Go ahead, Casandra.

Casandra 1:00:59
I was just ascentinthat is difficult. I was thinking about my child, actually, my kid who’s eight and the only one wearing a mask. Which is not related to anarchism, but it’s hard to be different.

Milstein 1:01:12
Yeah. How do we do…but how? Yeah, so how does, as anarchist, does one you know, to sign up sort of anarchists for life is to sign up for a lot of like, grief and a lot of not seeing the world reflected that you want to see, and knowing that there’s a far better world, you know, that dissonance…I always been like, you know, I get depressed a lot. And then I’m like, Why do I get depressed? It’s because of that gap between the world that I want to see and the world that I live in. I know where that depression got strong. It’s not a mystery, you know? So. Yeah. So, how do you…I was just curious, like, either you how you stay the older and older you get this? How do you stay an anarchist?

Casandra 1:01:45
Community, I think. Not being anarcho individualists.

Margaret 1:01:51
I, it’s funny, because some of my answer is like, kind of, like, I’m used to being the weird one in the room, like, you know, like, like, if I walk into a grocery store, the weird thing about me isn’t that I’m wearing a mask. The weird thing about me is that I’m a trans girl, and I exist, you know, and so I’m like, the mask is like, Yeah, whatever. And then, like, in some ways, the anarchism or like, you know, the way that that’s like, sort of visually expressed for me, because I still sort of well I dress sub culturally, but that really kind of predates my anarchism, actually, I was just always a goth kid. But like, I’m sort of used to being the weird one in the room. And I’m kind of used to having the ideas that are like, a little bit more out there. But, honestly, in a lot of ways, I actually feel easier and more comfortable about being an anarchist now than I did when I was younger. One, because it’s, it’s reflexive for me, right? Like, it’s, you know, people always say, you’re gonna get, you know, you’re gonna calm down as you get older. Right? And in some ways, I have calmed down. But, but I’ve settled into the, the ideological positions that I hold, and they feel more and more concrete to me, like, the idea that capitalism could possibly make sense or that authoritarianism could possibly make sense just completely disagree with everything that I learn and everything that I experience. So, I don’t know. And then also, there’s just, frankly, more of us than there were 10 years ago. And, the thing that I have more interest in and excitement about is the breaking out of it from subculture. I say this as someone who’s sub culturally, I’m involved in music subcultures, and I’m also sort of sub culturally anarchist in terms of that has been like my primary, like friend groups and things like that over the past, like maybe 20 years. But, more and more anarchism is a more mainstream position. And that is what gives me hope, way more than anything that happens kind of within subcultures. The fact that increasingly, because we’ve been saying, like, “Hey, here’s the stuff that’s wrong,” and people been like, “I don’t know about that.” And then all this stuff happens. And people are like, “Oh, I think this is what’s wrong.” And we have to be over here. We, we can’t be like political hipsters about it. We can’t be like, well, “I liked it before it was cool.” But, people are more and more aware of that. And I’m, I’m very excited about that.

Milstein 1:04:08
Yeah, I think that’s really true. That’s great. Yeah. I mean, before the pandemic, I spent, like, not as much time as I wanted to, I wanted to spend more time but who knows if I ever will. But in, in Greece, or I spent a lot of time in Montreal, and those places, there’s like, large multi generational incredibly multi generational, you know, like kids to 90 year olds, actively engaged in anarchism, you know, and it’s, it is like a public thing, like people….It isn’t something like people are scared to say oftentimes or that, you know, it just feels like it’s a, you know, anarchism is part of the, yeah, the ecosystem, you know, and the antagonisms are at least clear, but the social integrity between the fascists and police or things like that, but I don’t know what space is. I always feel it feels so different. Like it’s maybe that’s what one thing that keeps me is like, like wow, this is possible to sustain this and to build to build this and to grow it and to see it widen out beyond anarchist milieus, to be something that you know people like, consider in in, you know, engaging in in their life whether they become anarchists or not, you know, they’ll engage in solidaristic practices, even if they don’t become an anarchist, because they’re like, “Oh, the anarchists are doing this really well.” Yeah, I was just thinking, like some of the things in we were talking about like that, instead of my grumpy like, oh, it’s really hard to stay an anarchist. Because it also is, it is so hard to stay an anarchist longer. It just feels, dispiriting in a lot of ways, but I don’t know, I just also feel like, it’s beautiful. Because you just, the world becomes more and more….I like less and less binary and more and more nuance, and open and beautiful. And, like I was thinking about, like, things, you know, I just more and more things come into my like, framework, and anarchism just seems to become so much more like, you know, I don’t think it’s become more…it has become more feminist and queer and trans, it needs to become more like still, but I, that’s because a lot of us can put a lot of hard work into making it. So it’s been a ton more aware of like, you know, race, and colonialism, and spirituality, and a whole bunch of other things because a lot of us have said, Hey, these are parts that anarchism needs to sustain itself for a long time. And it feels really beautiful to have more brought into anarchism to make it possible to bring the whole of ourselves into anarchism and not have to choose between, you know, being a queer and an anarchist, or being, you know, having some sort of spirituality and being an anarchist. Even if I don’t believe in God. Yeah, but, but I also think..I was just thinking when you’re talking, it’s like, funny, it’s not funny. Maybe that’s the wrong word. In this odd way, it feels like the longer I’m an anarchist, the more kind of…I mean, it feels kind of intense, because, you know, years ago, I’m like, wait, fascism is coming. And you kind of feel like you’re screaming it, nobody’s listening, you know, and then, but I don’t know, it also feels grounding, to not be surprised by what’s happening in the world, and to be able to be calm about and say, Hey, no, we kind of, you know, we’ve been thinking about this for a while. Hey, we already have.

Casandra 1:07:02
We’ve already accounted for that.

Milstein 1:07:04
Yeah, I think it’s really calming and grounding to not, not like there’s many other emotions that we might have. But, we’re not necessarily surprised that everything is falling apart. You know, we’re like, “Hey, we already knew that. We’ve already been like, engaging in all sorts of like imaginative, creative, solidaristic, mutually responsible projects and practices.” And yeah, I don’t know, that keeps me going as an anarchist in this weird way that’s kind of grounding. So yeah, I don’t really appreciate…I just hope folks listening too, like, really try to think of all the different practices that can keep you there for, you know, the whole of your lives in whatever ways that is, because, yeah, I just, I don’t know, I, I can’t, none of us can fix things. But we can be there to support each other through things. And I really want to give a shout out to the last couple, few years during the pandemic, growing giant, bigger and bigger circles of queer, trans and Jewish anarchist circles that I feel really grateful to be part of, and those circles have like, long, long time, you know, and people who are diasporic, I’m gonna widen that circle. So people who are diasporic, have long, long, long practices of how you get through moments of fascism, or, you know, aloneness, or loss, or life transitions, or, you know, which anarchism by itself doesn’t necessarily have and needs to to more. And so, I don’t know, I just feel like the more we bring, we expand the ecosystem of anarchism and bring in more the whole of ourselves. We’ll have all these different kinds of things we can draw on to help us get through things, you know, yeah. Yeah, that’s an actually yeah, so anyway, just want to my pitch is like, No, like, we all need to be there for each other. So to end on, like, Casandra’s thing is like, community, community, community, community community.

Casandra 1:08:53
Yeah, for sure.

Margaret 1:08:55
Right, well, that does seem like a good note to end on. Thank you so much for coming. And if people wanted to check out your work on social media, what are your social media handles?

Milstein 1:09:06
Oh, I love using Instagram, although, yeah, sure. I don’t like the ownership. And I just started to experiment with Mastodon. We’ll see. And I’m pretty easy to find in other ways. So, and I love when people get in touch.

Casandra 1:09:21
I think use or you see CBMilstein, is that right?

Milstein 1:09:26
Yeah, I think I’m CBMilstein. Yeah. And I’m also have a blog that I sometimes use, I think, at CBMilstein at

Casandra 1:09:36
And you can find “Try Anarchism for Life” through AK press and on the Strangers site.

Margaret 1:09:43

Margaret 1:09:52
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, you can support it by telling people about it. Tell people about it in person ideally, but also mess with the algorithms that run the world by rating and reviewing and it’s not really messing. It’s really playing into their systems, but it still allows this kind of content to get put in front of more people’s eyes. So, and you can also support this podcast by supporting us directly or rather supporting the publisher, which is Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, which you’ve heard a bit about during this episode. You can support us on Patreon at, we send out a monthly zine we also have another podcast called Strangers in the Tangled Wilderness that includes the content from that monthly zine that is available to all people. And in particular, we would like to thank Hoss the dog, Micaiah, Chris, Sam, Kirk, Eleanor Jenipher, Staro, Kat J, Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Paige, SJ, Shawn, Hunter, Theo, Boise Mutual Aid, Milica, and paparouna. Thank you so much. And thanks, everyone for listening, and I hope you all are doing as well as you can with everything that’s happening.

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S1E54 – Shane Burley on Conspiracy Theories

Episode Summary

Brooke and Casandra talk with Why We Fight author, Shane Burley about conspiracy theories, false consciousness amongst the right, how mythos get built to influence how people think, and how the root of a lot of conspiracy theories is anti-semitism.

Guest Info

Shane Burley can be found on Twitter @Shane_Burley1, on Instagram @ShaneBurley, on Mastodon @Shane_Burley, and on Patreon at

Host Info

Casandra rocks. Brooke can be found at Strangers helping up keep our finances intact and on Twitter @ogemakweBrooke

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at

Next Episode

This Year in the Apocalypse on 12/30/22 and every two weeks there after.


Live Like the World is Dying: Shane Burley on Conspiracy Theories

Brooke 00:18
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcasts for what feels like the end times. I’m Brooke Jackson, one of your hosts today, along with Casandra. Today we have the honor of talking with the author, researcher, and journalist Shane Burley. We’re going to discuss conspiracy theories or whatever rabbit holes that topic takes us into. But first we’d like to celebrate being a member of the Channel Zero network of anarchist podcasts by playing a little jingle for one of the other podcasts on the network. Here it goes.

Brooke 01:29
And we’re back. Shane, thanks for joining us today to talk about conspiracy theories. Would you tell us a little bit about yourself, including sharing your pronouns?

Shane Burley 01:36
Sure. Thanks so much for having me on. My name is Shane Burley, my pronouns are he/him or they/them. I research the far right amongst other things. I’ve written a few books on it, Why We Fight from back in 2021 and Fascism Today from 2017. And most recently edited this big anti fascism anthology called an No Pasaran: Anti Fascist Dispatches From a World in Crisis. And right now I am working on a book with my co-author Ben Lorber for Melville House books, on anti semitism.

Brooke 02:06
Nice, thank you. Yeah, the one you wrote back in 2017 – Casandra has a copy of that book. And when I realized that my beliefs align with anarchism, I was like, I should learn about what this is. And, you know, learn more about fascism, too. And I was like, Casandra, do you have a good, like, primer book on this for me? And she just went to the bookshelf and pulled that one out. It was yours! Handed it over.

Shane Burley 02:33
Oh, awesome. That’s what I was hoping for, when we wrote it because there wasn’t a lot that was good and straightforward at the time, at least from our side.

Casandra 02:40
Spreading the good news about anti-fascism.

Brooke 02:46
That was, it was a good piece for, for getting started and learning there. So thank you for writing that. And for your continued work.

Shane Burley 02:53
Yeah, thanks so much for saying that, it’s really kind.

Brooke 02:56
So we wanted to talk today about conspiracy theories, and I’m just gonna start with a real basic question just to make sure we’re all kind of on the same page as we’re having this conversation, of what is a conspiracy theory?

Shane Burley 03:08
And conspiracy theory is a theory about a conspiracy that is not true. More appropriately, it’s one that could not be true. So I think it’s distinguishing from actual conspiracies because there are conspiracies in the world. So, you know, a good comparison about this would be the killing of JFK. There’s conspiracy theories that range from three people did it to 10,000 people did it. But no matter what one person had to engage in some kind of collaboration, so some kind of conspiracy is possible, which is separate from conspiracy theory. So I think we separate it from like the various kind of quote unquote “conspiracies” that lots of organizations and governments engage in just in day to day work, versus ones that basically come up against the basic laws of physics and how we understand the world to work, and specifically divert our understanding of how complex issues work by sort-of putting an element of fantasy into them.

Brooke 04:03
So that kind of answers one of the questions that I’ve been pondering, maybe we can talk about it more? Casandra has been wondering about, you know, why conspiracy theories have become so mainstream. And my sort of corollary thought was, it seems like they’re so appealing to people, you know? Those two things are kind of tied together – the mainstreaming and the fact that they seem to really appeal to people for some reason.

Casandra 04:28
Not even just mainstream, as in the rest of society mainstream, but mainstream on the Left.

Shane Burley 04:37
I was interviewing a friend, Brendan O’Connor, who wrote a book, Blood Red Lines, about anti-immigrant kind of nativism and border politics. And he made a comment that I thought a lot about which was that he’s kind of unsure about where the line between conspiracy theories and quote unquote, “false consciousness” lies. What’s the difference between conspiracy theory, and what’s the differencce between misunderstanding sources of oppression and how systems work, which is a common thing?

Shane Burley 05:06
I think one of the realities about a conspiracy theory is that it is an attempt to liberate oneself; it is actually an attempt to do that. It’s an attempt to explain people in power and explain your own disempowerment. And so in situations in which lots of instability or feelings of loss of status – whatever they are, real and imagined – when those things start to sort of percolate, conspiracy theories are the easier answer. They don’t require a ton of political education they don’t depend on a lot of shared reality, even. And our society depends really heavily both on false consciousness and conspiracy theories. Depending on how you put those lines.

Shane Burley 05:48
Take the entire Republican Party: [it] has built a mythos on working class people, specifically, not elites, right? That’s the language used. And their policy is entirely based around basically inculcating the rich and the people who own capital. So how do you explain both of those things? It has to be institutionalized false consciousness, which in itself engages a certain amount of conspiracy theories. How can you understand empowering the rich and empowering the working class at the same time? Those things don’t comiserate. Except millions and of millions of people assume that they can. And so I think there’s an institutionalization of that kind of thinking. Conspirarcy theories, the wild ones, actually aren’t that far afield from that, you know? Because if you think about the way that things – just basic [things], like taxes and social services – versus the kind of benefits of the rich, it seems pretty obvious that when those who own capital are enriched that that money comes from us. I mean, it doesn’t require a master’s thesis to explain that. So you have to get millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of people to basically avoid thinking about that, or to believe it’s untrue. And so that, I think, is foundational to the way that we think about conspiracy theories because we all – not all of us, hopefully – but huge portions of us engage in some level of conspiracy thinking,

Casandra 07:03
You can tell me if you think this is accurate: it seems like conspiracy theories often try to blame individuals, rather than looking at systems for instance, it sort of frustrates me when people are like, you know, eat the rich. Which yeah, eat the rich. But like, “If Jeff Bezos would just, you know, redistribute his wealth, everything would be fine.” But it wouldn’t be because capitalism would still exist, and there would just be someone else super rich. You know what I mean?

Shane Burley 07:32
Yeah, I think the kind of classic line on this is that conspiracy theories – and particularly anti semitic conspiracy theories, just as like the archetype for it – are one of the most effective defenders of capital because what it does is divert your attention away from a system and places it on supposedly corrupt individuals. And there’s a couple of reasons I think this is really attractive to people. I think one is that it actually plays on bigotries really well, and validates them in a certain sense. So there’s certain stories that people tell right? So one is that they’re aggrieved and legitimately so. I would say that most members of the working class are having a problem, right? They’re being exploited at work. They’re not being paid, obviously, what they’re worth; paying bills is hard. It’s miserable. It’s very upsetting, the things that we go through, even people who are reasonably affluent but not ruling class, it’s actually quite difficult. And so that’s a legitimate grievance. And I think that grievance has a lot of anger built up with it. And that anger inside people’s bodies and minds is often indistinguishable from bigotry. I think it’s actually those things intermix a lot. So it’s the impulse that if someone is actually legitimately your oppresser in a dynamic, you know, your boss, there’s an impulse to actually want to say something bigger to them.

Shane Burley 08:45
There’s a lot of research about people being pushed, and saying things and doing things they never thought they would in the direction of bigotry, simply as a way of harming those they think are harming them. And so what a lot of these conspiracy theories do – and populists conspiracy theories in general – is allow you to sort of indulge in that a bit. So it’s not uncommon to focus on the effeminacy of the ruling class. So you’ll see this a lot: “Jeff Bezos, look at his soft hands. He can never do the hard work like us.” There’s a certain kind of ‘let’s make them look effeminate. Let’s make them look queer, code them as queer.’

Casandra 09:18
Also, the lizard thing, like talking about how they look like lizards

Shane Burley 09:24
Very much about their appearance. I mean, if you look at… early 20th century socialist literature, the inordinate focus on making the capitalist class look fat, just absolutely rotund, as if they’re consuming things that, you know, they’re eating so much that you can’t eat. You become small and they become big. So I think that allows, it gives us a twofer, right? That says, okay, yeah, they’re the capitalist class, they’re oppressing in that way. And also that discomfort you feel of fat people, those are now one and the same, and one actually mobilizes the other, like one becomes a weapon for the other. So I think that’s an easy way to focus on that personalization.

Shane Burley 10:01
And the other thing is, if getting rid of Jeff Bezos doesn’t solve the problem, what the fuck would solve the problem? That’s really scary. I think this idea that there are certainly targets in terms of the kind of super rich and stuff. But it’s not, that’s not enough. Like, what does it mean to go after a system of capital? What does that even mean? I think that’s a really confusing prospect. And it’s one that is really emotionally unsatisfying, when it gets right down to it.

Casandra 10:30
Yeah, cuz we haven’t. We haven’t imagined alternatives. Or, you know, the average person hasn’t imagined alternatives to that.

Shane Burley 10:37
Or how will you even get there? Like, what’s the pathway to alternative? I think the idea of getting rid of Jeff Bezos, whether or not it’s realistic, at least you kind of understand the physicality of what that would be. But what does it mean to communize the entire economy? I mean, what does it mean to actually look at your life and say, “How can I fix these really deeply laid traumas and undo them, and replace it?” That is just such a mammoth task that it’s, I think, it’s hard to build up a consciousness that’s really easy, has a quick fix mentality that’s easy to communicate to another person. It’s a lot easier to say, you know – I’ve worked for unions, I’ve been a union organizer – to say like, “It’s that boss, look what he’s doing, look at what the car is driving, he couldn’t do your job.” Those things are easy. And they are true in most of those cases, but they’re not the end of the story. And so I think we end up with that really foreshortened perspective because the other stuff is just so big.

Casandra 11:32
Yeah. And I wonder if… when we explore the big stuff we also have to look at the ways that we participated, which is difficult. Yeah.

Shane Burley 11:42
Yeah. I mean… capital’s really complicated now. And the way we, our lives, are intertwined in it is really difficult. Huge portions of the economy are made up of people that would have previously been considered petty bourgeois: freelancers, contract workers, you know. Is an Uber driver a business owner? I mean, there’s these things that don’t really make sense in the traditional kind of Marxist sense, are the ways we talk about activism and capitalism and wealth. And so it ends up being really complicated. And then when you add the dimensions of being, you know, white folks or in the Global North, that’s sort of hyper exploited, under other countries, it’s like, well, how does that relationship work? You know, does it? Do I see, am I doing that? Do I benefit from it? What does it mean to benefit from it? You know, I think that actually adds those layers of complexity to it. I think that’s why this is the new story. I mean, that’s why conspiracy theories are the story that we tell – it’s a really important story. And like you said, it’s not just the Right, it’s the Left, too.

Brooke 12:44
So why do you think that they have become so much more mainstream? Because they’ve always had that quality of being simpler explanation or an easy thing to point to, but now we’re seeing them becoming more common. And as Casandra said, you know, more common on the Left as well. Like, what’s the rise about? Why is that happening?

Shane Burley 13:07
I think that it comes partially from the destabilization of kind of Western economies. The the center has collapsed out, so you’re not having as much as moderate politics in general. The radical version of right wing politics is conspiratorial, it’s necessarily conspiratorial, so the more radical it gets, the more conspiratorial it’s gonna get. That’s really, really important for how it builds up sort of an enthusiastic base of supporters, is built on conspiracy theories.

Shane Burley 13:36
Again, the Left and the Right will build their energy on similar impulses, right? The impulse to liberate oneself. Well, if we’re talking about, quote, unquote, “white working class” – which is a kind of an artificial category – but if we’re going to talk about that in the kind of MAGA/Trump sense, they are people, like all people, who have diminishing 401ks and have, you know, rent they can’t afford and stuff. Even though they’re not disproportionately poor or anything, it’s a general feeling of decline, right? So there is decline generally happening. And so that radicalization is going to be in the direction of conspiracy theories because if you were straightforward about right wing politics, no working class person would ever accept such a thing. I say, “So you’re going to keep taxing me and then and then give tax breaks to rich people?” Which makes no sense when you think about it. “You’re going to bust my union, I won’t have as good of a pension?” You have to have conspiracy theories, and bigotries underlying that. So those simply just radicalized more. And they give a narrative, a mythology, to the real emotional turmoil people are living with. Stop the Steal makes a lot of sense if you feel like everyone’s stealing everything from you. Like, you’re always being stolen from, of course they can steal this election; “This election told me they were gonna fix problems and they stole it from me, just like they stole my pension, just like they stole my home in foreclosure.” So I think those things are transpiring.

Shane Burley 14:50
I think on the Left there is an increase in conspiracy theories because of the decline in political education and us talking things out. There’s not a really good sense about systems. And there’s also just a rapidly increasing sort of social network of sharing information that shortens it a lot. So instead of sort of talking about complex issues, it’s a lot easier to package them in bite-sized bits. And those things become a lot more viral.

Shane Burley 15:13
People also really enjoy thinking that they are participating in secret knowledge of some kind. Like they’ve been smart. They’re ahead of the curve, they’re ahead of the official information. I mean, Google search, you know, “Epstein didn’t kill himself,” and see all the people that have decided that they know something that the rest – everyone else – doesn’t know… There’s an effort to step past uncertainty, and confusion and complexity, and just kind of claim knowledge. And so that’s, I think, an important part of how those discourses happen, and then they just happen so rapidly. Now, they just they progress so quickly.

Casandra 15:46
Yeah. I know deep down that conspiracy theories on the Right are ultimately more dangerous. But I get so much more frustrated when I see it on the Left because I feel like we should know better. You know, I was thinking about the, like, to the Right, Jews are dirty communists, and to the Left Jews are dirty capitalists. And one makes me more angry than the other.

Shane Burley 16:14
It’s interesting because we associate the Jew as the communist with the Right, and actually the Right use the “Jew as the capitalist” more. So for example, the second generation Klan would focus on Jewish capitalists. Part of it is that most likely a lot of the people in the Klan base hadn’t met Jewish communists, and people in other countries might have met Jewish communists, you know? But this is one of the things I think is interesting is that there is just a rhetorical crossover that happens here, and actually, when you see – and this does happen, it’s not it’s not nearly the level that the Right or liberals want to make it sound – but there is moments of crossover when people from the Left take on really far-right ideas or can move to the far right, it has happened. And anti-semitic conspiracy theories is one of the primary ways that happens.

Shane Burley 17:04
This sort of anti capitalism – I use the term fetishized anti capitalism, but you know, basically any enemies of capitalism are therefore my friends. And so even these kind of radical traditionalist forms of anti capitalism – these ultra conservative, nationalistic or fascistic forms anti capitalism – sort of start to feel like, well, they’re opposed to the same systems, they must be the same thing. And that happens with with anti semitism. And I think we allow for this in all kinds of ways on the Left.

Shane Burley 17:32
I mean, the amount of times I’ve been at international solidarity rallies where really despotic regimes are being – kind of like with signs and flags – simply because they’re enemies of our enemy, either the US or the West, or Israel or something, or far right groups, are propped up because they supposedly are against the banksters… Their theory about it involves all kinds of like Rothschild conspiracy theories, and you know, they want a certain kind of Christian nationalism. So we overlook those really commonly when they are our enemies, or when they are ourselves. People are very soft on each other’s conspiracy theories.

Shane Burley 18:11
I mean, how many 911 Truth folks have you known in your life, you know? And those are fundamentally anti-semitic conspiracy theories, they depend on them. That’s how they function. And this is true in the environmental movement. This is true, obviously, in feminist circles. It has different targets, different constituencies, but it’s what we see with the kind of growth of turf-ism and that, these use of conspiracy theories to explain. So it’s something that we’re not prepared to sort of deal with. And we don’t, I think, always communicate why it’s a problem. I don’t think there’s a general consensus on the Left that it really is a problem.

Shane Burley 18:51
I’ll go back to the Epstein thing, you know, the Epstein case. It’s really suspicious. People should probably look at that, but I don’t know what happened. And I have no reason to believe it was conspiracy. I just don’t, and the assumption by everyone jumping immediately into it sort of communicates to me that people feel totally fine, and engage in conspiracy theories when they have gaps of information, and everyone’s pretty gentle on this. And that’s not the most serious conspiracy theory. I’m not gonna put my stake in the wall in that. But I think we need to start talking to each other about that.

Shane Burley 19:19
The other thing about this is that it’s a losing strategy. You know, this, it’s one of the worst ways of liberating yourself is to do it in accordance with a conspiracy theory because you will necessarily lose. We will always necessarily lose. There is no conspiracy theory that has ever led someone to an effective social movement to change anything.

Casandra 19:39
Ugh. Yeah. That’s all I have to say. Amen.

Brooke 19:49
Yeah, so you guys started getting into the the ties between conspiracy theories and anti-semitism. And there was a whole bunch that went on in that conversation that was just over my head here, that I did not pick up on.

Casandra 20:02
You can ask for clarifying statements.

Brooke 20:08
I know, but you’re on a roll, I don’t want to interrupt.

Casandra 20:12
We try to make this digestible to someone who’s not familiar with the topic. So you know.

Brooke 20:22
But I am definitely curious to talk more about the ties between conspiracy theories and anti-semitism. I brought that up the other day and Casandra made the point of, I think you said something like, “All conspiracy theories eventually lead back to anti semitism” or something like that? If I’m totally misquoting you, please correct me. It is not a thing I’ve ever heard before. And I wanted to dive into that statement that you made and understand it. So I want to talk more about the links between conspiracy theories and anti semitism.

Shane Burley 21:00
Anti-semitism has always held a conspiratorial element – a conspiratorial core even – before it engaged in what we would know as conspiracy theories today. So anti semitism, historic anti Judaism in Christianity – and when we say anti semitism, we’re specifically talking about the type that was formed in Christianity, we’re not talking about broad xenophobia against Jews. So for example, in the classical Muslim world, Jews were far from equal in Muslim dominated countries, but they [Muslims] didn’t engage in the kind of like vicious, conspiratorial, genocidal anti semitism that you see in Europe. That’s very much a European-Christian invention. But what they essentially did was, in the development of their theological differentiation they had to build on earlier libels around Jews as a sort of conspiratorial cabal of people that engage in really nefarious practices for misanthropic or even demonic reasons. And part of this has to do with the Jews’ resistance to assimilation. Jews of 3000 years ago are not the same as Jews today, but there is a certain amount of, like, “We don’t change according to societies that we’re enbetted in or engaged with.” There’s a certain amount, for example, with Holika Jewish law things do have a certain continuity to them. And that’s sort of threatening to people who want to remake entire populations of people. It’s kind of inherently anti assimilationist. And it’s very easy then to paint them as an outsider, ones who aren’t playing by our rules and not part of our society. Christianity, in an effort to differentiate itself as a breakaway religion from the Jews, and focus really heavily on Jews sort of failing to understand the real spiritual message of their own scriptures, failing to live up to the promise that their religion. Like, “Christians are the new Israel” right? Then eventually develop that into open hostility, and then the suspicion that Jews are engaged in something really nefarious.

Shane Burley 23:00
So the blood libel is an example of this: the idea that Jews are secretly kidnapping and killing Christian children to use their blood in different rituals. “Host desecration” is one; after the Catholic church decided that the the wafer – the host – is literally the body of Christ, they then started accusing Jews of stealing that host and stabbing it because they’re so cruel. They have, you know, accused them of having pacts with the devil, engaging in all kinds of horrific things. And then at the same time: Jews, they weren’t disproportionately moneylenders, but a number of Jews were involved in money lending because of their prohibitions in other industries. And then, of course, Christians used that as a propaganda tool, and basically kind of trumped up the charge. And so that populist anger was starting to intermix with the stories about Jews, and you get incredibly violent hostility.

Shane Burley 23:46
I was talking with my co-author, Ben: I don’t think at this point in history it’s good to luxuriate in all the terrible stories of things that happened to Jews, I think that’s almost, like, pornographic in a sense. But if you read pogroms that are kind of a mix of this theological anti Judaism and the reaction to the monarch, basically, they’re targeting the Jews, instead of targeting the people who actually hold power. There’s this kind of guttural rage, and the kind of cruelty that they’re engaged in is totally off the map, it has no productive function other than just as much kind of creative violence as possible. And that’s kind of a very particular impulse. And this is one, I think, is the flip side of the impulse to liberate yourself: to engage in oppression of others has some of that element to it. And it’s very ephemeral. It’s very kind of gut driven.

Shane Burley 24:37
But those stories about Jews went through a lot of versions. A lot of ideas about Jews – Jews as moneylenders, Jews as people who steal from Christians, inherently dishonest people – those were secularized into what became known as anti semitism, opposition to Semitism. It was a kind of pseudo scientific idea that Jews had a particular ideology almost in their genes, and they were affecting society in particular ways. So the movement against them, the movement against semetic influence, was sort of productive movement to stop them from kind of degenerating society. The idea of how they’re influencing society is that they’re engaged in these cabals, either banking cabals, cabals involved in the media, you know, they’re changing public perception, they’re involved in legal professions, obviously, again, money lending, all forms of like banking and finance, in particular, all these kind of new industries and early capitalist environment. And so these are what we know as the most popular conspiracy theories – about secret societies, about Rothschild bankers, things like that – emerge out of that period. And that’s the beginning of what we know today as a conspiracy theory.

Shane Burley 25:39
A really coherent secular conspiracy theory, you know, it might have some religious overtones, certainly, but it doesn’t argue itself necessarily in purely religious terms. All conspiracies that come later basically have the same format that was developed around this. They all have the same basic structure. And most conspiracy theories have lineages that you can trace back – one came from another one which came from an earlier one, and so on and so forth. They always come back to Jews. And most conspiracy theorists today hold that same anti semitic structure. So Q-Anon is a really great example of this. You know, Q-Anon rarely, quote unquote, “names the Jew.” Names the Jew is something that open white nationalists do, right? They’ll say, “Okay, this is typically the Jews.” But instead, what Q-Anon does, is they’ll use the figures of the cabal, they’ll take all the structures of this earlier anti semitic conspiracy theory, they’ll use verifiably Jewish names, or stereotypes associated with Jews, they’ll take older pieces of those conspiracy theories, theologic pieces, and secularize them. So for example, they believe that a cabal of satanic Democrats with curious R last names are taking children and sacrificing their adrenal glands to extract this substance that they use then in rituals to intoxicate themselves. Right? It’s familiar, uses a lot of sciency sounding words – Adrenochrome, which is not a real thing – but it sounds like…

Casandra 27:01
They were making the forbidden matzah or whatever, right?

Shane Burley 27:04
Exactly. What they’re doing is basically capturing Christian children and using them for their evil Hebraic rituals. But again, they don’t always say – some of them do, increasingly, they do say Jews, but it takes just a tiny scratch on this. 911 Truth is a really good example, you know, where cabals of bankers – or you know, Israel, whatever it is, that’s verifiably not involved – are accused of being involved. And the pattern for how this works has an earlier anti semitic conspiracy theory to it. So these are generally how those kinds of work.

Casandra 27:06
Can you can you really quickly explain what you mean by “ur” something?

Shane Burley 28:40
Ur would mean the kind of universal base form. So the most origin point. So it’s saying that ur conspiracy theory maybe means like the first conspiracy theory, or the kind of conspiracy theory that established the format for it, so you can look back and say, okay, it started here. What’s the thing that these all hold in common? Then I think you’ll see that in the blood libel is that they all hold those basic structural points in common layer.

Shane Burley 28:48
In my book I interviewed David Newark, who wrote Alt America and other books about the far right and conspiracy theories. And he, you know, says that basically, the blood libel is the “ur” conspiracy theory. It’s like the basic source of all conspiracy theories because the idea that small cabal of people are engaged in this really nefarious work of extracting goodness and turning it into something evil. So anytime you have a conspiracy theory, it’s going to have this DNA. Is there any conspiracy theory that engages in a way that’s not anti semitic? I think part of the problem is that we live in a globalized world. So other cultures have had conspiracy thinking in them, but the West has really exported anti semitism as a subtle cultural code.

Shane Burley 28:48
So I mentioned earlier Muslim anti-semitism, obviously, there is anti semitism in Muslim-majority countries and some Muslim communities, but when you look at it, it actually looks much more like exported Christian anti semitism with some Islamic kind of branding, or like some opportunistic use of Muslim sources. It very much looks like a Western export. And I think that’s what we’re seeing now globally on conspiracy theories is that even if there was versions of these – and other cultures had conspiracy theories against diasporic people, you know, there’s conspiracy theories about Chinese immigrants in Malaysia and there’s conspiracy theories about Koreans in Japan, there are those – nowadays, the exporting and universalization of the anti semitic conspiracy theorists, the”ur” conspiracy theory, has affected all peoples sense of how they build those. So you’re gonna find spray paint in Japan, that says, “The Jews did 911” in a place where those people likely had never met a Jew, and maybe no one in their ancestry line has ever met a Jew, right? So this isn’t about Jews. So in that way, we globalized so effectively and exported our own bigotry so much that there is really no place in this conspiracy thinking that doesn’t involve Jews.

Brooke 30:06
You might say the genesis of conspiracy theories? (Laughter.) I learned so much in the last 10 minutes. I feel like when I go back and listen to this episode, I’m gonna play it at three-quarters speed and pause to ponder things. No, seriously, I really did. Thank you for the deep historical context there because a lot of that that was unknown to me, that I went, you know, “What, what?”

Shane Burley 30:36
I also know it’s a lot, too. And I think this is part of the problem is that in any given situation, particularly in situations of anger, how useful is it for me to explain to them what host desecration is, you know? I think it’s actually hard to intervene in these spaces. And it’s especially hard to intervene when there’s really contentious stuff, like Israeli colonization of Palestine and stuff. So it’s actually really hard with this very justified anger. And the targets of those angers are actually are coded as Jews. I think it’s actually really hard to then intervene and say, “Hey, hold up, you’re actually doing a thing. And it has a history and it’s a problem.”

Casandra 31:15
It also makes it difficult to talk about anti semitism in simple terms. I feel like sometimes when people ask me questions about it, that should be simple questions, I’m overwhelmed by the amount of information I’d have to transmit to give them proper context. You know what I mean?

Brooke 31:32
I have literally been that person to Casandra.

Casandra 31:37
I was interviewing him and I was like, we should do an interview about this.

Shane Burley 31:41
We transmute American racial taxonomies on to anti semitism that don’t really fit, you know. The couple of interviewees that I had for the book that made this interesting point, they phrased it in an interesting way. And I think JFRCJ, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, had framed it this way, as well: Only sometimes does anti semitism make Jews poor. It doesn’t make us poor all the time. And in fact sometimes it stabilizes Jewish income. So for example, in areas when Jews would have been a hyper exploited population, they’re allowed to have certain amounts of wealth as a way of defecting anger from peasant classes away from the actual rich people and onto the Jews. So they might not actually interact with a noble person, but they would interact with a Jew, and they might see the Jew having stable money, and there might be nice things in their home, and that would communicate to them: “This is the person that’s exploiting me, rather than the Noble who I’ve never come across.” And there’s a certain kind of positioning of Jews in a lot of those situations.

Shane Burley 32:40
You know, one thing we talk about in the book is this phenomenon of Jews, and the relationship of white Jews to whiteness, is that when white Jews were very openly accepted as white folks in the US, particularly after the Second World War, there was a kind of class jumping that took place. But what happened was that a lot of Jews – particularly what we call a kind of second wave Jews moving here in the 1920s – were very poor, a lot of them socialists, a lot of working in garment factories, union organizers. But basically, in these dense urban areas, they started to leave those urban areas as they were kind of coded as white, became middle class, and in a lot of ways conservatized, right? Israel was formed in 1948. There’s other things that kind of made more conservative. And who moved into those areas? It was a lot of black folks, it’s a lot of Puerto Rican folks, lots of communities of color, where Jews now might be the business owner. They might be the landlord because they kind of class jump. They might own the grocery store that all the folks in the community use, and have maybe jacked up prices, or they work and they’re not being treated really well. And so again, that dynamic is continued of them being sort of the middle agent, you know? The Jewish shop owner does not control capitalism, but they are the person you might see. And so again, you kind of repeat that dynamic.

Shane Burley 33:55
So it’s not always that Jews are going to experience anti semitism in the way that black folks experience anti blackness in the same kind of structural way. And also the US is not foundationally built on anti semitism in the way that it’s built on anti blackness and colonialism. So it works fundamentally differently. There are some cases in which it looks more similar. So for the Orthodox Jews, they are more likely to be, you know, hurt by police, they are more likely to be poor. There’s a recent study that came out that if someone is coded as Jewish in employment, they’re much, much less likely to hire them. There’s usually other things that kind of go along with it… There’s limited data on this, but it’s not with someone who’s coded as a secular Jew, it’s more like if they’re coded as Orthodox, where someone’s different, seems like it might cause you a problem, or it might make you uncomfortable. Or if it feels like they hold Jewish qualities that are associated with unsavory-ness, you know, like large noses or weird ways of speaking. Or maybe they bring weird food into the office, stuff like that. So those things do actually happen, but in general, it works differently.

Shane Burley 35:04
And so there’s a certain kind of structural unsafety for Jews, they’re always kind of worrying about whether the other shoe was going to drop because anytime there’s instability Jews often get targeted in that. But that doesn’t mean in the day to day they usually, you know, can’t find a job, or [get] pulled over at disproportionate rates. So it works differently. It’s hard for people to identify that.

Shane Burley 35:24
This is kind of true in general when we’re talking about oppression outside of really narrow terms, people generally have learned to understand things in a certain way, and dominant hegemonic discourses, and then learning new ways is really, really tough. I think it really, it’s really clear, for example, in the way that the Left just seemed totally unwilling to understand trends and issues for decades, just totally looked like they couldn’t compute how little they understand sex work issues, or body issues, fat issues. It’s an unwillingness to see that oppression is actually different for different folks, either individually or as groups, and to sort of accommodate for that, and to think through how these things are complicated. And so we can’t assume that one thing tracks with another, that you can talk about oppression in one situation and have it be the same for another. So I think that creates that problem you’re talking about. So what are you going to do, you know? Sit down and say, “Look, we need to have a conversation about, you know, second century Egypt, BC, and how Jews are coded as this.” I mean, it’s, it’s a hard proposition.

Casandra 36:32
We have to talk, we have to go back to 1905. Talk about Czarist Russia. (laughter.) Yeah. I’m wondering, so I’m trying to remember exactly how you phrased it. But when there’s, when there’s instability, that’s when people tend to target Jews. And when there’s instability, that’s when conspiracy theories also seem to, like, foment as well as fascism. And I’m wondering if you can talk about how those things are related, especially because you write books about fascism and anti semitism.

Shane Burley 37:07
I mean, fascism is also an attempt to liberate oneself, right? It’s to liberate oneself by inculcating more oppression, like an auto immune response, right? We’re gonna attack the immune system, as if that’s actually what’s harming us. We’re gonna attack, you know, the movement to undo white supremacy because that may be what’s harming us, rather than, obviously, the reverse. So it’s tenfold by two things: One is a sort of a centralized identity, and one is a sort of social stratification. So the idea is that your identity is fixed and must be preserved. And that’s an essential piece, usually racial identity, but sometimes it’s others. And then the other thing is that all of humanity has to be stratified in this hierarchy, you… are white, because you are not black, and that whiteness is above blackness, for example. And this is a way of taking a privileged part of the class and telling them that their oppression is the cause of the progress of other parts of the class. So it’s specifically about splitting the class. So in a way, it’s very clear what it’s doing, it’s disallowing you the ability to organize amongst working people or non-rich people, to change the society that is better for all of you. Right? So it’s very specific in that way.

Shane Burley 37:42
Anti semitism and conspiracy theories are a story about your oppression that never get to the structural roots, that are usually factually untrue, and are able to kind of break potential solidarity. So I think where the immediate hardships of actual organizing are onerous, confusing, and frightening: conspiracy theories actually disallow that. So for example, if I really want to change the world, it’s going to require things of me, right? I’m going to need to figure out how I’m participating in white supremacy so that I can actually collaborate with non white folks. And once we do that, it actually changes the world for all of us, right? This makes it much better for us, like I personally benefit from that. But getting there, it’s a little bit hard sometimes. It’s also confusing, I don’t quite see it, I’ve never seen it before, right? And I’m actually running into this movement. It’s telling me that my whiteness is actually the thing that would make me happy, that whiteness is actually the thing that historically kept me safe, that whiteness is actually what I’m trying to protect. It’s not all this class conflict stuff. That’s the lies that they tell you, you know, those cabals that actually want to take from you, they’re all socialist movements. And I think, so, people are out there and confused.

Shane Burley 38:19
And remember, bigotry, it’s really interesting because it speaks to people almost like their conscience, it’s impulsive. It felt really emotionally… it feels true to people. I can tell you what doesn’t feel true is Marxist jargon… That’s what feels true. A lot of times when someone speaks of it they’re trying, you’re searching for a way to liberate yourself. You’re looking for a revolutionary story about it. And then someone comes in and tells you something that actually tracks with a lot of the impulses you felt historically because being raised in the society we are that teaches people to understand the world in a certain way. So I think those movements come up in that way.

Shane Burley 40:12
You know, fascism is just a particularly modern and revolutionary version of something that happens all the time. It has historically happened for centuries, you know, this kind of impulse to actually, to barrel down into a hierarchy, to basically reestablish tradition and immobile social roles, and to focus on identity at the cost of all others. So, instability simply radicalized this people to change their lot. And that is what’s happening at such a systemic level. Now, because capitalism is imploding, the environment is collapsing, the stasis of the 20th century cannot continue any longer. And so that necessitates radicalism of all types. Which is also why, in a sense, stay anti fascism, because if you want any kind of revolutionary movement that’s positive, you’re gonna have to reckon with the revolutionary movement that’s not positive.

Casandra 40:58
Right? Seems simple enough.

Brooke 41:06
So you’re working in some real toxic material, they’re dealing with fascism with anti semitism with conspiracy theories, and that’s got to, you know, take a toll on you on your mental health and well being. And I’m wondering what you do for yourself to help take care of yourself? And spoiler: this leads into, you know, a deeper question, which is what we always try to get to in Live Like the World is Dying, is talking about how we help others, and then we help our communities with this. But what do you do for yourself?

Shane Burley 41:38
Having Andy Ngo sub tweet you, or whatever.

Shane Burley 41:38
I don’t, I think the reality is that I don’t have a good, solid answer to that question. I don’t, think that I formed health in my life in a very perfect way. But there’s a couple of things I kind of thought about. I mean, I think one is that I think researching the far right is actually sort of empowering to people. I think, you know, if I kind of tried to figure out what it is I’m doing here, like, why am I here, it’s not just for productive work, it’s not just that I want to produce something that will stop it, I think, is productive. I mean, that’s certainly a part of it. But there’s also a certain part of it about looking at something that seems frightening and confusing, and sort of under the illusion that if I keep listening, and I keep reading it, it will somehow make sense to me. And that gives me sort of control over my life in a way. And I feel like I can sort of manage it, even though it actually brings instability into my life, you know, putting my name on an article about it, and you know, get threats from proud boys or white nationalists, that brings instability and –

Shane Burley 41:49
Totally, I mean, that is actually unstable. But there is a sense that looking at stuff, I think, brings a certain stability. You know, in doing this book, I was interviewing a rabbi from Chabad-Lubavitch which is like a Hasidic. He’s kind of particularly like, left leaning. Hot Seat. But, you know, I was talking to him about anti semitism, particularly in Orthodox communities, which often gets discussed as being the more, sort of facing it more frequently because of their visibility, you know, an Orthodox Jew is very visible. And a Herati, or ultra-orthodox view is even more visible than that, you know, black hats, suits, people kind of know what they’re looking at. And he was telling me about, you know, “I don’t really concern myself much with anti semitism.” And I was like, “Well why not?” He’s like, “Well, it’s not very Jewish.” And he was like, “I actually fill my life with Jewish things. And this is particularly not Jewish.” And so, you know, part of me is sort of like, the opposite to this is to engage, is to deny engage with things that aren’t Jewish, is to basically say, “Actually, I am going to be really purposely involved in the antithesis to these.” You know?

Casandra 43:58
There’s also something very Jewish about deconstructing something like down into its tiniest parts.

Shane Burley 44:07
No, yeah, they had all the quotes from from the rabbi about this, which I thought was great… We forget, I think, what we’re doing here all the time, being involved in organizing, being involved in work of any kind is meant to create a joyous life. It’s meant to actually do something, perform something in your life. And I think we get so obsessed with functionality, and we don’t actually live those lives. And the answer to that is actually living those lives. It’s building strong relationships with other people. It’s engauging art and spiritual life, the things that give your life meaning. I think engaging in that as openly and sort of like flagrantly as possible is is what you do there. And it’s interesting because what the far right does is it sort of shows you the vulnerable empathetic parts of yourself, right? Because it it appears in those cracks, it appears in the things that they target. So those in a way are how you come to learn about what’s meaningful about yourself, you know. Jewishness is targeted. That’s exactly what I find meaningful. Those are the things that I bond with other people about. That’s how I find a path forward in my life. And so I think all those sorts of things, engaging as much as possible with that. And I think it’s perhaps on us to think less about what we can produce and give to people, as much as we can be with them. I mean, this happens all the time in organizing spaces. I used to be the worst offender about this, you know? “No, that’s bad organizing. No, that’s just cultural production. No, that’s navel gazing.” No, I think we should engage in cultural production and navel gazing, like, we should make us happy. I think that there needs to be a lot more of that. And any kind of organizing work that people are engaged in, or when any kind of work needs to be in the service of that, and that’s how it should be measured. And not like reproducing the same metrics or bosses do about how productive we should be and what that’s about.

Casandra 46:03
We shouldn’t just reproduce capitalism in our anarchist spaces?

Shane Burley 46:07
I mean, this happens all the time, right? It happens all the time. We are ritually unkind with each other, unloving, unwelcoming. It’s the absolute worst. And I think it’s interesting because we used to talk about, statistically for example, abuse, domestic abuse, and sexual assault are commiserate in activist spaces as they are in the rest of the world. There’s no actual difference. So like, all the people that are doing these workshops on consent, and addressing abuse and stuff, tend to reproduce those dynamics as much as anywhere else. I would say that unkindness and a lack of community is even worse in active spaces; they are not particularly joyous places to be. I find them very hard in a lot of ways to be in those anymore. And I think that’s sort of what we have to do, we have to look really carefully about how we build those relationships in authentic ways. That’s how I think you survived doing hard, kind of trying work, putting yourself in vulnerability. Vulnerable spaces only works if you can live in a comfortable, vulnerable way. So I think when I say I’m not really there yet, I feel like I that’s the direction I would like to go. That’s how I would stay sort of healthy in a way, if that makes sense.

Brooke 47:27
Yeah, so part of our community response to conspiracy theories and conspiracy theory thinking, and fascism and anti semitism, is kindness and compassion for others. And when they show up with their vulnerabilities, accepting those?

Shane Burley 47:44
Absolutely. I mean, there’s this old IWW poster, it says something like, “If you’re not talking to your co workers, somebody else is,” and it has a picture of the Klan.

Brooke 47:57

Shane Burley 47:58
You know, like, if you’re in rural America, we aren’t talking to folks, but someone is talking to them. And they are validating their experiences. And they’re saying, “Yeah, that’s really fucking hard.” They’re not going to someone who’s losing their farm and a foreclosure and saying, like, “Just to be real, have you checked your privilege, and like, you’re not the most marginalized person in this situation.” That’s a hard thing to throw at people, people are actually having a really tough time most of the time. And we have to find a way to connect with them, and also not put up with their bullshit and actually talk to them about conditions of settler colonialism, white supremacy, but we need to actually invest in people. They will not care about us unless we care about them. And conspiracy theories very much are people’s attempt to make sense of their lives. And so participating with them and making that sense, I think, is useful. You know, I’m Anti Fascist first, which means I’m defense first, defense always comes first. We protect communities before we do anything else. I don’t think that’s the same though is addressing cconspiracy theories all over the place, and figuring out how we address them with compassion with people. We care about how we address them institutionally. How we stop them when they need to be stopped, like how do we create barriers and borders, all those things are important. But I think in our communities, in general, a lot of conspiracy theories emerge out of dispossession. And we have to choose whether or not to possess those people basically, do we want to create that? Margaret says this too. I mean, the best way to confront conspiracy theories is to give someone a life that matters. I mean, that’s what we’re actually doing here. So I think focusing on that underlying fertile soil, figuring out how to change that dynamic, give people real tools, give them real relationships and friendship. I think that’s really important.

Casandra 49:42
Do you have any favorite tools or resources? So my preface to this is that I’ve had people ask me this question and the reality is that my favorite resources on anti semitism and conspiracy theories are really dense, and most people will not read them. So I’m wondering if you have any favorite tools or resources that are more digestible?

Shane Burley 50:03
Yeah, I think there’s a few good pamphlets right now that exist that are useful on this. Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, which has been around for decades, it’s this progressive left-leaning Jewish group, has a pamphlet on anti semitism that’s particularly good. April Rosenbloom has a pamphlet called The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere. That’s also really good on this. There’s a pamphlet put out by, I think it was a group called Unity and Struggle, called How to Overthrow the Illuminati. It’s specifically about conspiracy theories and black communities. That’s a really good resource. And there’s a few others. Again, I think what, you know, one thing you’re pointing out is that one of the issues around anti semitism is that the Right has sort of captured the rhetoric on it because they use it to defend Israel. They use accusations of anti semitism to defend Israel. And they over shoot the claims that the Left is anti semitic. So a lot of these groups just simply don’t share a worldview with us enough that their analysis I find particularly compelling. But there are some versions of the Left that have done it, and they tend to be particularly academic. So Critical Theory, and Frankfurt School of Marxism, you know, there’s a lot of that stuff, right. And that’s good, but gobbly gook most of the time. There’s a basically lost, forgotten world of Jewish feminism from the 70s and 80s that is actually quite interesting. But it’s like next to impossible to find. So the anti fascist stuff, because anti fascists are kind of ahead of the curve on the anti semitism question. But I think those pamphlets are particularly good to hand someone, and hopefully Ben and my book will be will be like that. I’m hoping it will be.

Casandra 51:45
Yeah. Yeah. Maybe this is just part of anti semitism, and also conspiracy theorism, because critical thinking is difficult and can’t always be, you know, handed to someone in a tiny package. But it just feels someone has to actually be invested in learning about it. It’s difficult to explain.

Shane Burley 52:13
David Renton, who’s he’s this great author and an attorney in Britain – and he writes a lot about the history of anti fascism – he wrote this book on the Labour Party’s anti semitism, controversy. So people who don’t know: the Labour Party in Britain has been embroiled in this big anti semitism controversy for the past several years. It has been cynically employed by the Tories as a way of attacking the party. And it’s pretty obvious that that’s what’s happening. But it’s also obvious that there has been some instances of anti semitism in the party. It’s not nearly what the Right says of this, but it does happen. And, you know, David’s sort of relitigated this and kind of pointed out that it’s, you know, the party is turned towards populism and everyone’s turned towards populism. A few years ago, populism became kind of the thing that had a weak point, and basically kind of didn’t call out conspiracy theories, so they started making their way in, or kind of crude anti semitic ideas. And it’s like the answer to that is actually if you look at the what works for the Labour Party, it’s actually class war is the answer to that, actually talking to people about class ends up being the antidote to that and having political education. Daniel Randall, another friend of mine, from Britain, had talked about, wrote about this. And I get political education is something that feels really dorky, and not fun to do, and not what people want to do in a lot of spaces, but it was an essential piece of radical movements that aren’t there anymore. So actually talking to people about these things, and getting involved people to read some things. I think, you know, people do this in really overblown ways. Lord knows there’s a million Marxist groups that make you sit in reading groups all day, and no one wants to be a part of that. But like having some progress on stuff and explaining what kind of anti capitalism we actually mean, I think is a useful thing. And it’s one of the better ways intervene on that.

Casandra 54:01
That book, Daniel’s book, what is it? Confronting Anti Semitism on the Left? He’s the one who wrote that, right?

Shane Burley 54:10
Yeah, yeah.

Casandra 54:11
That sounds right? That book was incredible.

Shane Burley 54:14
Yeah. He’s really incredible. Yeah, I think I think, you know, one thing is when it comes to anti semitism, specifically, most people don’t know Jews and don’t know much about Judaism. So I think just letting people know. I mean, the amount of times I’ve heard things repeated that are just bombastically untrue – like, for example, I was a Student for Justice in Palestine, and we had this event and someone asked the speaker where Zionism came from, and he said, “It’s in the Talmud.” Just like bonkers stuff, you know?

Casandra 54:52
Which is a think that, like, a Zionist might say. Ironically.

Shane Burley 54:58
I interviewed Sean Magee when doing my book, and he made a point that a lot of the worst corners of anti Zionism tend to agree with the settlers. And so I think it’s just getting people that kind of understanding. I think if people understand conspiracy theories and why they’re toxic and what the consequences of them are, I think that’s more useful. And then again, getting people in verifiable forms of community that actually meet their needs, I think that actually is more useful. I think when people get involved, for example, in the labor union, that tends to actually decline because they’re like, “Okay, I could actually do this thing, I improve my wages this way, I actually have all this tactile control over my life.” And then when people are in community with others they have these vulnerable, caring relationships, and they don’t… have the same impulse to build the kind of alienating, almost cosmic-level, theories about the world. You know, believing in Q Anon is a really lonely thing, breaks up families or breaks up relationships. So I think all that kind of stuff is really alienating for people.

Shane Burley 56:02
But you know, there’s this thing called the wave, and SEIU – SEIU is a big labor union – and they have this model of what they call a union conversation, they call it the wave. It’s eight steps of how to have a conversation. It’s very dorky. But in the conversation, you do a few things, right? You introduce yourself. You listen to what people are saying, you agitate on their issues, you call questions, you know, you do a number of stages to get someone thinking about their issue, why it upsets them and what they can do about it. But you do two things: One, you always plan that when you talk to them, how can we win on this issue? How can we fix it? Is it possible? And then you inoculate them against what the boss will say. What will the boss say when you try and do that? What do they say to you? How is that bullshit? And we don’t ‘plan the win’ with people. And we certainly don’t inoculate them. People need to see how they can win. They have to know how it’s possible. If someone’s having issues in their lives, they have to see how it can win. And if we don’t have a sense of that, we’re not gonna be able to help with that. And we need to work that out with folks.

Shane Burley 57:08
And also talk to them about, like, people are gonna give you other messages about this. Like, what do you think about that? What would you say back to that? Because I think particularly conspiracy thinking, a lot of people get trapped in not understanding the systems and saying, “Well, fuck, I guess that’s the deal. I guess the Rothschilds do own it, I don’t know.” And so I think planning the win and inoculation are really important in that. And that’s true in general. There’s this assumption that if such a situation gets so bad, that the working class will rise up and overthrow it, but there’s no evidence to suggest that. None. What does statistically show people, or what simply pushes people to taking that kind of action, is seeing that they can win. So small victories in their life or in organizing leads to big victories. You have to show people they can win. The pathway to winning using multiracial, you know, community organizing of whatever it is that base building that’s, I think, the most important piece because that will then totally push away the sort of false answers.

Casandra 58:08
That seems important in terms of motivating people to care as well. You know, like, no, strategically, this is very important in all of our best interests.

Shane Burley 58:18
I had this conversation with a member of the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee, which is an anti-fascist group from the 80s, and I was talking to them – I’ll just withhold their name for the sake of this conversation – but I was asking him like, how do you commute? Because, you know, John Brown was essentially a white organization, it recruited white leftist folks in support of a kind of anti-white supremacy platform in support of black nationalism and some other things. In a lot of ways kind of divisive, a kind of divisive organization, their politics are a little divisive. And asked, like, “Well, how do you communicate to white working class people why eradicating white supremacy is in their interest?” And she said, she kind of paused and said, “I don’t know that it is in their interest.” She’s like, “I don’t communicate with him on that. I communicate with them about what kind of world do you want to live with?” And I told her, I was like, I just disagree with that entirely. I think it is in their interest, and you have to tell them why it’s in their interest. And you have to plan out why it’s in their interest. I do believe it’s in my interest. And when it comes to conspiracy, there’s anti semitism, it’s super clear why it’s in their interest because anti semitism will stop you from winning. It’s just so point blank, right? Like George Soros is not the reason you can’t pay your mortgage, it’s simply not that…

Casandra 59:34
Anti semitism, however.

Brooke 59:36
Is also not the reason, just to be clear. Not the reason.

Shane Burley 59:40
Yeah, that’s really great. So Shane, you’ve mentioned your books, you’ve got one that just came out right? No Pasaran.

Shane Burley 59:40
There are people doing this and they have names and addresses, but… what you’re saying is a false pathway. It’s totally to direct you the wrong way. And we should talk to people about what happens when they don’t just double down on privilege. They don’t just double down on those sorts of things. What happens when they reach across communities and build large committees? They become infinitely more powerful. I mean, it’s just so overwhelming the kind of change that you can have and not just in the long term, in the immediate term. You can see that with a labor movement. You see that with any social movemnet, that’s one serious gain that happened by doing that. It never happened by doubling down on their privilege. So I think talking to people about their interests is essential. And that also shows that you actually give a shit about them because of their interests are your interests, that shows that there’s an actual shared bond there, and you can build something.

Shane Burley 1:00:38
It was a phrase used particularly during the Spanish Civil War, about blocking fascist access to space and movement into communities. So it’s about blocking them, their ability to, to arrive.

Brooke 1:00:51
Nice. Okay, so No Pasaran, that just came out. I’ve got a friend who picked it up at Powell’s when you were there doing a book event or reading recently. He said it’s really good, and is gonna loan me his copy. So I’m excited to get to read that too. I know you’re working on another one – we’ve talked about it here – on anti semitism. Does that one have a name yet? Do you know when it’s coming out?

Shane Burley 1:01:11
Yeah, it’s called Safety Through Solidarity.

Casandra 1:01:15

Brooke 1:01:15

Shane Burley 1:01:16
Yeah. And I think it’ll come out like this time next year. I think that’s what it is. So we’re sort ofstarting to wrap it up now, like in the writing of it.

Brooke 1:01:27
So in the meantime, people can pick up No Pasaran, and then look forward to that. Anything else that you want to plug today, Shane?

Shane Burley 1:01:36
Actually, yes, I will be doing more book events in January and February in New York, Philly, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Spokane, and Corvallis.

Casandra 1:01:49
Those all made sense until you got to Spokane and Corvallis

Shane Burley 1:01:54
So I am I am there for it. I will hang out.

Casandra 1:02:00
I love it. Thanks for being here and answering all of our questions.

Shane Burley 1:02:06
Thanks for having me. I’m happy to be here.

Brooke 1:02:08
Yeah, really appreciate it. I’ve been looking forward to this conversation, you know, ever since we started trying to schedule it. I was really excited to talk to you.

Casandra 1:02:16
Oh, we’re supposed to ask about where people can find you.

Shane Burley 1:02:21
Yes, you can find me on Twitter, the doomed Twitter, at Shane_Burley1. Instagram at Shane Burley. I am on Mastodon, everyone’s excited about Mastodon, at Shane_Burley, I think. I’m still figuring out my Mastodon life. So yeah, you can find me those places. I’m usually on –

Casandra 1:02:43
How about Patreon?

Shane Burley 1:02:45
I am on Patreon. Yeah, Patreon slash Shane Burley, all one word. You can check me out there. I actually do a lot on Patreon. So Iyou can check me out there. I post constantly, I inundate people with things. I also have a newsletter called The Messiah Review, which is sort of like a Jewish review of books, I write about various Jewish things, interview authors, talk about lit and stuff like that. I’m starting a series on Jewish horror books. It’ll be on there.

Brooke 1:03:16
Awesome. Cool. Well, I didn’t know about all those other ways to connect with you. So I’m gonna go check those ones out.

Brooke 1:03:26
And to our listeners, we want to say thanks so much for listening. If you enjoy our podcast, you can please give it a like or drop a comment or review, or subscribe to us if you haven’t already. These things make the algorithms that rule our world offer our show to more people. This podcast is produced by the anarchist publishing collective Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. You can connect with us on Twitter at Tangled Wild and also on Instagram. If you check out our website,, you’ll discover that we have a new book available for pre order, it’s called Escape from Incel Island, written by the one and only Margaret Killjoy. And if you preorder it now you’re going to receive a color poster with your copy when they ship in February.

Brooke 1:04:07
Much like Shane’s work, our work here at Strangers is made possible in part by our Patreon supporters. Actually, honestly, we couldn’t do any of this work without our Patreon support. So if you want to join and be a supporter, you can check out slash strangers in a tangled wilderness. There are some cool benefits at various support tiers. For instance, if you support the collective at $10 a month one of your benefits is 40% off of everything on our website, including preordering Margaret’s new book. We’d also like to give a specific shout out to some of our most supportive Patreon supporters. These include Hoss the dog, Micaiah, Chris, Sam, Kirk, Eleanor, Jennifer, Staro, Cat J, Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Paige, SJ, Shawn, Hunter, Theo, Boise Mutual Aid, Milicia, Paparouna, and Ali. Thanks so much

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S1E53 – Ellie on A Better Gun Culture

Episode Summary

Margaret and Ellie talk about building a better culture around guns, the importance of gun ownership for community and self defense, some basic tenets of firearm safety, ideas around conflict deterrence, some problems with our current gun culture, consent and guns, mental health and guns, and unsurprisingly how community might be a big piece of the answer to maintaining better gun culture.

Guest Info

The Guest is Ellie Picard and she is a hand gun instructor with Arm Trans Women. The group can be found at or on Instgram @ATW.firearms.inst or @Codename_Ellie.

Host Info

Margaret can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at

Next Episode

Hopefully will come out Friday, December, 16th.


Margaret 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret Killjoy. And this week we are going to be talking about what it takes to build a better gun culture, a gun culture that keeps people safe instead of not safe. And, with me to talk about that I’m going to have on an instructor named Ellie Picard. And, I think that you all get a lot out of hearing what she has to say. But first, this podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show in the network.

Margaret 01:36
Okay, if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then kind of your background with the stuff that we’re going to be talking about today?

Ellie 01:46
Yeah, for sure. My name is Ellie Picard, and I use she/her pronouns. Currently living in Charlottesville, Virginia, I’m originally from the District of Columbia. And, I’ve been interested in firearms for most of my life, I’ve only been actively shooting and training with guns for the last three or four years. I became a certified handgun instructor a few months ago, and I work with another trans instructor. Here in Virginia, we have a company called Arm Trans Women. And we offer classes, not just for trans folks, but for literally anyone who signs up. But, we particularly enjoy and emphasize the importance of teaching queer folks, people of color, other marginalized people, because we’re the ones who really need to know how to defend ourselves in our communities and our families, because no one else is going to. And I’m also a doctoral candidate, a researcher in political science, and my research focuses on radical queer militancy. And so studying and paying attention to radical gun culture, or queer gun culture has been a big part of my research life as well as my personal life. So, I’m not just actively, personally involved in these things. It’s something that I dedicate a lot of intellectual, you know, resources to thinking through and dealing with as well.

Margaret 02:07
Yeah, I get really excited when I have on a guest and I didn’t even realize they’re even more qualified than I originally thought.

Ellie 03:09
I’m not qualified, but whatever.

Margaret 03:18
I didn’t know about the the academic work. Well, the main thing that I want to talk to you about, yeah, is this idea of building a better gun culture. But ,before we get into that, do you want to talk a little bit about the the trainings that you do? Like, what does it mean? Are you teaching to a certification? Are you helping people get, you know, concealed carry permits? Or is it more of like a self defense class? Or what kind of work are you doing there?

Ellie 03:44
So, most of what we do is we teach heavily modified versions of the NRA basic pistol course and the NRA concealed carry course, because that’s what most states require people to take in order to get a concealed carry permit. Here in Virginia, folks need to take the basic pistol course. And then they can go and qualify for a license to carry. So, we do that we also are certified to qualify people for Maryland carry permits. And so, that’s mostly what we do is basic pistol classes and CCW classes, we also do some one-on-one instruction that can range from sort of basic to more advanced defensive shooting. And, if anyone listening has sort of taken one of these basic NRA courses, they are full of a lot of stuff that that is oriented toward the NRA’s ideology and projects. So, obviously we have sort of cut out a lot of that stuff. We emphasize why self defense and why gun ownership is potentially so important for marginalized people, and why we are sort of why it’s harder for us to engage with both firearms culture and the sort of infrastructure around learning how to to use and acquire guns, and all of the other ways that sort of traditional and well established firearms training, leave a lot of people out or sort of perpetuate a lot of the issues that exist in society, a lot of this sort of ingrained racism, and sexism, and other sort of things that are that are baked into our…a lot of our sort of firearms, infrastructure and commerce in this country.

Margaret 05:27
Yeah. What are some of the things that you end up kind of taking away from the NRA’s version? Like, what are some of the things that are in the NRA’s training that are a little bit more ideologically focused?

Ellie 05:37
A lot of their basic slide deck that they give instructors is…it’s just, it’s sort of steeped in this Second Amendment worship and basic sort of, you know, reverence for America and for our rights and freedoms of gun ownership, and for the political aspect of gun ownership, as the NRA understands it, which essentially, you know, protecting the rights of people, predominantly white men, because that’s the majority of their membership, to own guns. And, we take a lot of that inflected language out…well, we also take a lot of their you know, they’re also just the NRA materials aren’t very good at teaching what they’re supposed to teach, in some ways. They are very clunky. They haven’t been edited in a long time, they’ve a lot of extraneous material in there, the way that they phrase and talk about the rules of handgun safety is very different from the ways that we often talk about it in other gun communities online, so we sort of adjust that to make it more accessible and more consistent with the what we’re used to seeing and thinking about when it comes to gun safety. And we’ve also actually changed, taken out a lot of the actual, like, practical and technical stuff that’s in the NRA instruction materials, like the stances for handgun shooting that they teach, which are pretty outdated, and in our opinion, not as effective or preferable as, as as other stances and styles. So, we teach our own sort of version of what we call a natural fighting stance, rather than the NRA’s approved, like isosceles stance. So, things like that ranging from, from practical aspects to that sort of political inflection. And, we do, I mean, we certainly replace some of that with our own ideological inflections in our teaching, and emphasize the fact that not just American society, but also gun control laws and gun control efforts are often harmful to marginalized populations, and to folks like us and the people who we’re trying to train and arm. And, you know, the ways that this country has chosen to restrict access to guns, as well as the way that it promotes access to guns and sort of promote the proliferation of guns. These are all things that end up being harmful to minorities and marginalized people. And we sort of try to emphasize that and highlight that. I also make a point of doing things that I don’t…that are not in the NRA trainings, like talking about mental health and the importance of, you know, what do we do with all of these guns that we’re encouraging you to buy and carry, if we’re suicidal, and if we have people in our homes who can’t be sort of trusted or shouldn’t be allowed to, or able to access guns, stuff like that, that that’s often, you know, stigmatized or just ignored in other areas of gun discourse are things that we try to focus on and normalize and bring into the conversation as well.

Margaret 08:42
Okay. Well, I guess to start out, then, why carry? Why is it worth…you know, as you pointed out, we have this like, massive proliferation of guns in our our society, right? What is it…And the answer is sort of self evident in some ways, but I’d love to hear…I’d love to talk about it. Why push for more people being armed? And why push for specifically, trans women to be armed or other marginalized folks?

Ellie 09:09
So first, I mean, if we just look at the distribution of guns in this country, we have more firearms than humans in the United States currently, but they are overwhelmingly concentrated in certain among certain demographics. White men, conservative white men still make up a majority of gun owners. That’s starting to change, but it’s but not, not quickly. We’ve seen surges in the last few years of both people of color, women, queer folks, and liberals, and leftists buying guns at increasing rates, but that doesn’t mean that you know, white conservative men have stopped buying guns, and we’re not going to sort of catch up to them. And so I guess like that’s the first part of my answer is we a lot of the firepower in this country is concentrated, in what in my perspective is sort of dangerous hands, and in order to counteract that it makes sense to arm the folks who are generally disadvantaged by conservative, white male society. And the other thing is that, you know, we see that marginalized communities, queer communities, trans people, black people in this country are overwhelming are the targets of violence more often than white folks, statistically, proportionally, and yet less likely to be able to defend themselves with firearms, less likely to carry and be trained on how to use them. So, there’s that sort of aspect of it, where just sort of one can, I guess, think of that as trying to level the playing field. But, more I think, it’s not just about leveling the playing field, from my perspective, I also kind of have a deterrence mindset here on a larger scale than the personal. By which, I mean that, you know, it’s not just about, you know, broadcasting the fact that I as an individual transfem, I’m able to defend myself and own a gun, but trying to I guess, or I guess, I sort of would like to see the day where, where folks assume that if they see a transfem walking down the street, there’s a fairly good chance that she is armed, and she would, you know, she’ll use her gun to defend herself. If you fuck with her, the more that that kind of idea becomes ingraine, you know, the less…the more chance there is of sort of pre emptive deterrence of violence against marginalized people. That’s, I guess, the hope anyway. So yeah, I would like…

Margaret 11:45
…Like becoming spiky.

Ellie 11:46
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I would like people to be afraid of me. I honestly would. I’m not a very scary person, but I do things to make myself more intimidating in the street, and I do things to make myself less desirable or appealing to normies and cis folks, and you know, arming queers and arming other marginalized people is part of that, sort of broadcasting or contributing to this broader understanding that oh, yeah, you, you can’t actually just fuck with those people. They’re not soft targets, and you’re likely to get hurt if you try.

Margaret 12:19
Yeah. Well, okay. So I mean, the main reason that I carry or when I carry is, yeah, out of like, well, I mean, self defense, and I carry when I’m more concerned about my personal safety. But, you know, I like this idea of like, being spikier, be known to be spiky, right? Like, if you fuck with people, then it might go really badly.

Ellie 12:44

Margaret 12:46
But, the thing that you’re talking about earlier about, okay, kind of the leveling the playing field argument, it is a, it’s a different argument than the primary liberal argument in which, which has some validity from a higher level, but it’s like, counteracting by arming, or counteracting a right wing threat, by arming ourselves rather than trying to disarm the population. And it seems like, if you were a dictator, and wanted everyone to be safe, like when guns are not in the equation, people are generally safer. I believe that statistics sort of bear this out as, as at least as far as I’ve seen. And so in some ways, arguing that, well, they’re armed, so I should be too is, is escalatory, right? It is more likely to put ourselves in a position of conflict. And yet it still, to me feels like the appropriate approach to our current context. It feels like, I mean, one, we can’t disarm them.

Ellie 13:51

Margaret 13:52
The ‘We’ is not in power. And even if it was in power, then you’re just creating the systems by which people can make that kind of decision for other people. And that always goes very badly. Well, actually, not even ‘one,’ that’s just my main point, right, is that like…

Ellie 14:07
I mean, I think, you know, it’s sort of a matter of basic physics, we can’t make all the guns in this country disappear. We can’t unarm the folks that I see is as primarily dangerous to us. That’s not possible. So, and you’re right, in doing so we’re sort of hand more power to people who we also also are likely to do us harm. But so I think, ya know, yeah, well, you could potentially see it as escalatory. But, absent that escalation, you’re not eliminating the potential for conflict. You’re eliminating the potential for us to win the conflict.

Margaret 14:43

Ellie 14:44
I guess like, that’s, you know, the other part of that that I didn’t really mentioned before, is you know, there’s a significant self defense aspect to why I carry it as as an individual, but there’s more of a community defense or collective defense aspect to it, honestly. I…if I’m just out by myself running errands and stuff, I’m nine times out of 10 not going to have a pistol on me, honestly. I have other things, I’m a knife slut, and I’ve got all sorts of other weapons. But, I don’t always carry a gun. When I do almost certainly carry a gun is when I know I’m going to be around other queer people, with other queer people in public and I know that I won’t be prohibited from it. Because that’s, you know, we’re more, we’re often you know, I’m not gonna say we’re more often targeted in groups than individually, that’s not true, but that’s where I really want that deterrent message to be clear as that, you know, is that queers collectively, are likely to be armed, not just me as an individual person. So, it’s being able to and prepared to defend our community, not just to defend my person, and to defend political existence, not just sort of physical existence, that I see as particularly important.

Margaret 16:05
Yeah. Okay, so if…this is this is my logical thinking coming into this, and part of why I wanted to have you on is, if we are choosing to overall arm ourselves, right, and overall, try and create a, a spiky culture or position, a culture in which like, if large scale conflict or even small scale scale conflict happens, we’re capable of winning. If we choose to do that, it seems like there’s a lot of traps that we could fall into, that…because some of the problems of gun culture are not just the problems of right wing gun culture, because I do believe that there is a sort of center gun culture, or an apolitical gun culture in this country as well. It’s not as large maybe, but there are a lot of dangers involved in in gun culture, right. And this is something that I think about a lot as someone who, you know, promotes the idea that certain people should choose to be armed if their mental health and their community situation, you know, makes that make sense. How do we create a culture that doesn’t fall into some of these traps? Or minimizes the risks that…because there, it seems like a risk management rather than risk elimination, right…

Ellie 16:09

Margaret 16:23
…when you’re introducing firearms into a situation, there’s no way to, to make that completely safe. But, it seems like there’s ways that we can stay safer while doing that. And I’m wondering, you kind of hinted at some of those things earlier. And I’m wondering if you want to talk about those things?

Ellie 17:37
Yeah, for sure, and there are a few different sort of, I guess, like scales, we can think about that at. But, one thing that I see that I think is very encouraging to me is is that thus far, if we look at discourse within leftist gun culture, and you know, I can get into this, you know, it’s it is worth sort of figuring out or specifying like, what the ‘we’ is that we’re talking here. But, leftist gun culture is extremely queer, it turns out already. We don’t have to make that happen. It’s just the way it has happened so far. And that sort of queer leftist gun culture idea’s….discourse about safety is really prominent, and I’m not sure exactly why that came to be the case. I think partially it came to be the case in response to or a sort of a, you know, a conscious way of differentiating this culture and these discourses from a lot of the ways that we see guns talked about in right wing gun culture, and maybe even in this sort of the more centrist gun discourse, but very basic stuff, like you know, the the four universal rules of firearm safety are things that if you’re in a leftist gun forum online, or somewhere, you’re gonna see this stuff constantly, like it’s over emphasized, it’s constantly there.

Margaret 19:07
You can…go ahead and emphasize them.

Ellie 19:09
Yeah, absolutely. So first of all, assume that every gun you encounter is loaded, and/or some people prefer to phrase that as, make sure you know the condition of any gun you encounter. And never point a gun at anything or anybody that you’re not willing to destroy. Always know your target, and what’s beyond it. And, when you are shooting or holding a gun, keep your finger off the trigger unless you’re on target and ready to shoot something. So, this is sort of four basic rules that we encounter every day that we’re sort of interacting with radical gun core, gun discourse, or leftist or queer gun discourse. And what I see a lot of also is, you know, in these online spaces or real world spaces, just a lot of critique, whether it’s like sort of humerous and making fun of people or more seriously criticizing folks for dangerous practices for, you know, unsafe gun handling, for unsafe attitudes, for bringing guns into places where they’re just don’t reasonably seem to make sense. These types of things.

Margaret 20:18
Like where?

Ellie 20:19
Well, so I’ve, I’ve noticed a lot, or a fair amount of, of discourse and sort of debate about gun ownership among unhoused people and in, you know, in encampments and places like that, where most folks who are living on the street or living in tents or something aren’t going to be able to have a safe in their tent or with them as they’re moving around the world. They’re not gonna have a lockbox or something heavy like that. So is it responsible to have a gun in a situation like that? Even you know, we know that situations like that put people at more risk for violent crime and for being victimized, but is having a gun something that’s actually feasible and safe in that context? That’s the type of question that I that I see discussed a lot in the spaces that doesn’t, I don’t think come up to the same extent in in other areas of gun culture, sort of the more right leaning gun discourses out there. So yeah, discussions about whether or not it’s actually always a good idea or always safe or reasonable to have guns in certain contexts. Conversations about the logic and the suitability or appropriateness of open carrying and various public contexts, these are things that I think, receive a lot more attention and debate in our area of the gun world than in others. Not that everybody’s always on the same page, or always agrees, but that there’s discourse and debate about these things, I think is telling. And it seems like, no, I mean, I’ve seen queer online celebrities in the sort of online gun world get, you know, criticized or canceled for doing dumb shit with guns on Instagram or whatever, just being unsafe and not sort of upholding what this community has decided its values around gun safety are. That’s that I mean, it is becoming more common in centrist and right wing gun discourse to talk about certain things like mental illness. We see more and more programs, like Hold My Guns at, you know, mainstream, right wing gun shops and stuff where people are able to store their guns for free if they’re in a dangerous situation. So that’s, it’s not entirely absent. But, I think it’s something that we embrace and sort of emphasize more. It’s not just this thing, that’s never…that’s available, but not mentioned, or that sort of, you know, stigmatized, it’s understood that this is part of part of our lives, you know, as queer people tend to be very open about mental health, open about issues of safety and comfort, stuff that we talk about all the time in various contexts. And so adding that, you know, adding this sort of gun safety dimension to that is not difficult or uncomfortable for us as it is for some other folks.

Margaret 23:11
To talk about some of the specific practices, I’m glad if gun stores are starting to do that. Because one of the one of the complicating factors in any kind of…I probably said this on the show before, but in general, I believe a thing that communities should consider adopting, and I’ve been part of communities that adopt this is that if you get broken up with, it doesn’t matter whether or not you personally think your mental health is doing just fine. Right? But at that point, your risk model has changed to self harm is more…is a higher threat than external harm in most situations. So like, I’ve been in parts of communities where it’s like, it’s not a question. So you’re no longer analyzing, “Oh, how am I feeling today? Should I give up my guns today,” but instead of just like no, if you get dumped, or you go through a bad breakup, or you know, a bunch of other different types of things, like, you know, one of your friends will come, and since the transfer of firearms is very complicated, legally, usually take the bolt out of any kind of rifle or take the, the barrel out of any kind of handgun, and just hold on to them until, you know, a little bit of time has passed and you can start having conversations. And I’ve been really proud to be part of communities that do that. And I don’t know I….that’s one that I like, I’m wondering, I’m curious if there’s examples of things that you’ve been around or things that you’ve seen have worked that are very, like concrete?

Ellie 24:36
Yeah, I mean, that’s a that’s such a good example. I mean, I you know, I’m a firearms instructor and make a big deal about the importance of being armed. But, you know, I went through a thing a couple of months ago, and I gave a friend of mine the keys to my gun safe for several weeks. So, I think that it’s great to have norms and to have that as sort of like an accepted thing that we do. Other sort of concrete stuff, I think, like, as I was kind of hinting at earlier, one concrete practice that I see in leftist and queer gun communities is the willingness to just shame people with a pretty low bar for shaming for any sort of perceived unsafe practices. And beyond that, you know, we…I’ve been part of conversations about, you know, whether it’s appropriate or acceptable to, you know, have a have an occasion where we’re drinking and shooting guns, because drinking is fun and shooting guns is fun, so we can do these things together. And that’s something that that has been sort of an idea that’s been shut down pretty quickly. Obviously, this is not a universally agreed upon concept that you shouldn’t shoot while you’re drunk. But, it’s something that that I see a lot of people talk about and agree with.

Margaret 25:53
I think you shouldn’t shoot while drunk. I’m just gonna go on the record here.

Ellie 25:57
I’m gonna endorese that as well. In my professional capacity, I highly endorse that position. Also, you know, I see folks who do, you know, instructional content online, stuff like that, really emphasizing pretty mundane safety concerns around stuff like dry fire practice, you know, we make a big deal out of rules, like if you’re going to do dry fire practice, which everyone should be doing every day, by the way, you have all live ammunition in a completely different room of your house. You just have no proximity between ammunition and firearms when you’re not trying to have loaded guns for a particular reason. So, there’s that sort of thing. And it’s, I guess, like, what I mean by that is, if we, if we look at all of this sort of online gun content that’s created by leftists and queer leftists, I rarely see the importance of dry fire practice mentioned without also in the same breath, mentioning, make sure there’s no live ammo here. So things like that there’s sort of constant emphasizing of safety at every different sort of stage or aspect of gun ownership is definitely a thing.

Margaret 27:10
Okay, well, beyond gun safety, right? Gun Safety is like kind of one element of it. But, I think that some of the negative feedback I’ve heard, and honestly, some that I share about the gun culture that we’re building, or things that we could be doing better, one of them for me is that I…I see, and I’m curious, your thought about this, like, a balance between people starting to go kind of macho, and then people kind of trying to rein that in. And I don’t necessarily mean macho, and I like masculine way, it’s a very complicated word. But, you know, this idea of like, Hmm…I think that sometimes people get excited around the concepts of conflict, and they get excited by having the means to deadly force on their person. And personally, and I, you know, say this, as someone who’s, you know, roughly 40, or whatever, it’s easier for me to say, in some ways, I think that that is a terrible, a grave mistake. I think that carrying is this very serious and weighty thing that changes the way that you interact with space, it changes the way you interact with people, both strangers, and your friends. And, it should be felt as a burden in the same way that any, like heavy responsibility should be felt as a burden. If I am carrying I have accepted the responsibility of staying sober. I’ve accepted the responsibility of defending other people. I’ve also accepted the responsibility of like not being able to talk shit, which is like really frustrating. This is kind of a tangent, but like, one of the…one of the most annoying things for me about carrying is that you just gotta let shit go.

Ellie 28:56

Margaret 28:57
And, and sometimes that’s not how you want to be. But I worry about an excitement around guns, turning into an excitement around conflict, rather than being a prepared for conflict. And I’m curious, your thoughts on that. This is me sticking a question mark at the end of my own statement.

Ellie 29:17
Yeah, I mean, I think that the way you’ve just sort of talked about the the weightiness of carrying and carrying a gun as a responsibility, I really see those same ideas very prominent in the discourse. Basically, like I would say that most people I talked to explicitly about, you know, gun…about carrying guns and about self and community defense have said similar things to me. And I’ve also I’ve heard from a number of, of, of radical gun owners, you know, not just that sentiment that you’ve expressed, but also this, and I don’t know how, you know, valid and true it is, but this idea that well, the other folks, you know, focus on the right conservative gun owners, they don’t have this mindset of responsibility and of avoiding conflict. In fact, you’ll often you’ll often sort of see or perceive this, this eagerness for conflict. You can go into right wing forums and hear people talking about how excited they are to, to have an opportunity to be a good guy with a gun, to use that gun. That’s an idea that a lot of folks on the left have expressed to me and these conversations like, and I, I have never sort of tried to do a quantitative study of whether or not that that’s the case. But, I certainly see, even if there’s not this eagerness for armed conflict among the people we envision as our opponents or as, or as our threats, there is this ingrained and very vocal idea in queer and leftist gun culture that eagerness for conflict is wrong, that, you know, we’re not carrying because we want to find an opportunity to use these things. We’re carrying with the steadfast hope that we never will, and that, and the sort of commitment to minimizing occasions for having to use these tools of force. And I think, you know, I see a lot of folks, you know, talking about all of the other things that one has to know how to do if one’s going to carry a gun. And this is something that I talk about when I’m teaching as well, you know, if you’re going to carry a gun, you had better also be carrying something less lethal, you would also better be confident in your skills to at least try to de-escalate a situation, and to try to escape a situation. You know, the way the way that I sort of think about it, and that I I see a lot of other people talk about it is, you know, the first best option, if you’re in a threatening situation is to leave it. And if, or only when you cannot escape that situation, you should be prepared to fight. And if you’re going to be prepared to fight, you need to be prepared to win. And that’s particularly important when other people are involved when talking about a sort of community defense situation, rather than than an individual personal defense situation. It’s not about courting violence, but it’s about you know, understanding that when you are at that last recourse, that you have that recourse and you’re prepared to use it. But I do see that this idea emphasized pretty frequently and pretty prominently in the discourse that you know, that we have this responsibility to know how to avoid, to know how to minimize or de-escalate conflict, and that we cannot ever sort of go around looking for it.

Margaret 32:48

Ellie 32:49
Whether or not that really ends up being the case in practice is a little bit harder to say, I mean, you know, we’re seeing a lot more leftists and queers bringing arms to public demos and protests and stuff like that. That’s not a bad thing. Because a lot of the time that people who are threatening these public events and demos or whatever, are doing so with arms. And I think, as I said earlier, like armed deterrence is crucial for our community. So, I’m not opposed to people making a show of arms in public. But we have to make sure and, you know, I can’t sort of say without a lot more data, that when we’re doing that, we’re not doing it provocatively. And there’s sort of, you know, I, I have seen, I’ve seen in some contexts, some discourse around defending…for instance, there, in certain parts of the country, there have been a lot of attacks or threats against drag queen story hours, or other sort of queer events in various places and armed defensive operations to protect those events. When we’re doing that, are the people who are showing up to defend or who are talking online about those defensive actions, are they talking shit? Are they, you know, flaunting this ability to use armed force? Are they sort of going out and and thumping their chestat the adversary or the imagined adversary? If they are, that’s highly problematic, and I’m not gonna say it doesn’t happen. I think sometimes it does. I do think that, that our discourses tend to stress the responsibility and the necessity of avoiding that, but I don’t know that it actually happens less frequently than with other, you know, with folks on the right. I hoped that it does, but…

Margaret 34:48
Yeah, I mean, I think that’s why I was wanted to frame it at the beginning. It’s like talking about minimizing the problems that are going to be involved when you introduce guns, because I think it’s on some level impossible to introduce firearms into a situation and not have people feel….Some people feel some level of excitement around that, right? And, and I don’t think that’s inherently wrong, I think it’s just something that we need to be like really cognizant of. And I do wonder, you know, this idea that the right wing, you know, is chomping at the bit…champing at the bit, whatever, you know, in order to cause violence or whatever, I suspect that it’s at a higher rate. But I also suspect, the sort of center right, or the more like, just excited about guns and just excited about comu….well, they probably wouldn’t phrase it community defense, but just excited about like, the concept of being a, you know, protective person or self defense or whatever. You know, when I personally interact in a gun space with someone who probably isn’t ideologically aligned with me, they take that weight very seriously. But, as compared to…I don’t, I probably don’t interact with the far right, you know, on purpose ever and so it’s hard to know, but I think that another thing that I worry about, especially in a situation, it’s basically it’s like, everything is a lot more serious when there’s a fucking gun on the table.

Ellie 36:16
For sure.

Margaret 36:17
You know, I worry about anything that we do to dehumanize our enemies, while still recognizing that they’re…I mean, they’re enemies, there’s increasing section of the US population that would like to see me dead, that believes I am a like crime against the Bible or something for existing, you know. And I seek to be prepared for those people coming to power, those people individually trying to harm me or my community. But I worry about…a lot of rhetoric that I think the left used before everything was armed, probably can’t really keep going now that everyone is armed around this kind of like, oh, well, fuck all of these people who are outside my own ideological framework or whatever. I think we have to be like way more specific about who…I’m trying to be really careful about my words here, because I can kind of see both sides of the same of the thing that I’m saying here. But I think we have to be really careful about who we declare an enemy. You know?

Ellie 37:21
I think that’s fair. Yeah. I mean, that that makes a lot of sensee. Absolutely. I and it is definitely, there are definitely tendencies on the left to adopt a kind of, you know, if you’re, if you’re not with us, you’re against us mindset towards society at large and toward, you know, the political realm, especially. You know, we often as leftists, and as as queer people, you know, talk shit about liberals and talk shit about centrists. I mean, this idea that literally everybody out there wants to hurt us, and is part of the problem. Yeah, it does. That can certainly translate into sort of a not just a factionalization, or a hardening of social identities, but to a dehumanization, I think. I think it’s absolutely right to call out that risk. One thing that that sort of made me think of, though, it’s kind of a separate, it’s a distinct issue, but I think it’s relevant in some ways is whether or not we dehumanize the people who are on quote, unquote, “our side” as well. And I think one really important difference between between radical gun culture, and both centrist and sort of state friendly gun culture and far right gun culture is whether or not armed people are distinguished from everybody else. And I think, you know, one of the most common catchphrases in leftist politics and street organizing and direct action, all sorts of stuff is you know, “We keep us safe.” And that’s a phrase that actually really encapsulates an important concept that it’s not about…carrying a gun for most of us, I think is not about being that good guy with a gun, like yes, you’re equipping yourself to be able to use armed defense, but you are not separating yourself from the people you’re defending. Whereas I think, on the right and and traditional or or sort of mainstream hegemonic gun culture, there is this distinction, it’s, you know, one takes on the role of the protector of the family, of women folk, of whatever, of people who aren’t able to are capable of protecting themselves and sort of separates themselves from the rest of the group from society, whereas I think that, or I see that on the left there’s any sort of distinction between, you know, armed protectors and everybody else is frowned upon, is often countered sharply, rhetorically, and the ideal instead is that we all of us collectively participate in our own defense and in our mutual defense. And if we do so with arms, that doesn’t sort of make us different, it doesn’t put us in a different caste than everyone else who isn’t armed. It’s just sort of, that’s our capacity that we’re able to take on. It’s what we choose. And we all have different roles to play in defending the collective. Some people do that through arms, but they’re not sort of, you know, the assigned defenders. And this comes up a lot in street action contexts where, you know, you have people, you know, throughout 2020, we saw folks doing protest defense and stuff like that. And there was often a lot of debate or argument about, you know, the, the concept of people providing security or people sort of taking on the role of being part of a security team. And that’s been heavily criticized in a lot of quarters. It’s like the idea of, of sort of separating yourself out like that, it just makes you a makes you a leftist cop. It doesn’t make you…it takes you out of the collective. So, that’s a, that’s an aspect that I think is extremely valuable in our gun culture.

Margaret 41:21
And both things are related to the same thing about how guns escalate problems of power and authority, right? And so we have to be more on top of our shit, in terms of avoiding any sort of authoritarianism, avoiding any sort of, yeah, leftist cops or whatever. No, that’s such…I remember, the first time I heard about this sheepdog concept I was doing…I was sitting by the side of the road at a forest defense camp like 20 years ago in the land far, far away. And a cop drives by and I, you know, radio it in, and he’s like, “Hey, you’re on channel four, aren’t you?” And I’m like, “Yeah, whatever.” And I was like, “Hey, I got a question for you.” And he’s like, “What?” I was like, “Why did you decide to become a cop? It’s like, the most hated job in the world. Like, why would you do that?” Which I do not advocate this as a way to interact with police. But it was what I chose to do. And, and he was like, “Well, that’s not the way I see it.” And I was like, “Well, how do you see it?” And he’s like, “There’s three kinds of people in this world. There’s, there’s wolves, and there’s sheep.” And I was like, “Okay, that’s, that’s two kinds of people.” And he was like, “And then there’s me, I’m a sheepdog.” And I thought about it for a minute. And I was like, “Are you calling me a wolf?” And then he like kind of couldn’t justify that because I was literally just some fucking hippie punk by the side of the road and trying to stop some logging. And so he like rolled up his window and drove away. And, and it was the first time I heard of this concept that’s very common in police circles. And, I don’t know if it’s common in right wing militia circles, but it’s common in a lot of like right wing gun culture, at least center right gun culture, this idea that the world is sheep and wolves, and you are the Sheepdog, the other dangerous creature, you know, the good guy with the gun. And it’s always rubbed me the wrong way. And you articulated it better than that. I just want to tell the story about yelling at a cop, which no one should do.

Ellie 43:12
Yeah, I think that’s exactly right. Yeah, that’s sort of, you know, I see a lot more calling out of that kind of mindset than I see a repetition of that kind of mindset in leftist gun culture.

Margaret 43:25
Yeah. No, this is actually very exciting, because I am not deeply involved in…well I live alone on a mountain. And so hearing you talk about the way that these things are developing and stuff feels very optimistic to me, not in a like blind optimism, like just like, literally, like, it seems like these are the conversations that are happening and that need to keep happening. I’m wondering if there are other, you know, weaknesses that we need to shore up or like things that you think that we should be doing better? Or things that you’re really proud of that we do? I mean, I guess you’ve talked about some of the things that we should be proud of, that we take these things into consideration, but…

Ellie 44:07
Yeah, and maybe I’ll start with another one of those sort of, ‘Yay for us angles,’ which is the you know, gun ownership and, and the capacity or skill for armed defense in queer and leftist gun culture is…has been strongly or been pretty decisively detached from any version of masculinity that exists in our world. And what we see a lot of is sort of celebrations of or acknowledgement of this link between both queerness broadly and queer femininity and guns. There’s been a lot of sort of, I see a lot of reclaiming of, of sexuality, of links between sexuality or sexual expression and gun ownership, but done in ways that are extremely positive and empowering and self determined rather than sort of ex….rather than based on an external male gaze, but based on the sort of like, “No, I am a sexy queer femme, and I’m gonna pose naked with my rifle, because I fucking feel like it.” There’s a lot of that, you know, very conscious and overt queering, and regendering and resexualizing of guns and of competence, you know, of gun skill that goes on in this discourse in these communities, which I think is really cool and really healthy. Things that that we’re…that we’re not great at, or that we need to be careful of. I think that you know, that sort of sheepdog concept that we were just talking about, it’s what…that’s an ever present threat, and it’s something that’s going to wax and wane based on context. When we had, you know, in 2020, when we had shit going on in the street all the time, and so many more people getting armed and so many people, both participating in street protests and direct actions, and people engaged in defense of those actions, the more of that we saw, the more slippage there was in this sort of, you know, dedication to a pure and unadulterated, you know, collectivity and non differentiation of protectors and protected. So, that’s always going to be a significant pitfall when things get hotter, and when things get more active, and, and arms are needed more prominently and more frequently. It’s something that’s always…it’s a battle that always has to be fought both sort of in one’s own psyche and in the community. That one’s not going to go away. I also sort of…I wonder about the, I mean, I think I’ve sort of talked about regendering and I think that that’s happening in a way that that makes a lot of sense. And that is very positive as I’ve said, but there are also pockets of leftist gun world where armed defense is mostly being done by white cis men, or even, God forbid straight men. And there does seem to be this sort of, not necessarily a conscious or deliberate division of labor. But, you know, in this society, boys grew up playing with guns, and men are still more likely to own guns and be comfortable around guns than women are. And I think it may be the case, it may, it may be the case, in fact, that the reverse is true among trans people for that obvious reason of socialization. But either way, those gender divisions still do exist. And it has to be a conscious and deliberate process of undoing them, otherwise, they’re going to just stay there. So assuming that you know, that queers are going to automatically queer gun culture is overly simplistic. We won’t. We have to really want to, and we have to be always trying to complicate, and queerl and question gun ownership and everything about owning and using guns, and not just assume that we’re going to do it better than they do, because we’re better people, because we’re more evolved people, because we’re, you know, leftists and we don’t want to hurt people. So there is that, for sure. I think also, you know, I mean, I guess the sort of biggest pitfalls are the ones we’ve already talked about that one, and then also the problem of whether or not people are going to be seeking out or, or might be more likely to get into conflict. Other than that, I mean, one thing that is always going to be an issue with guns is access, and particularly access in terms of affordability, monetary access, like, it’s still the case that, that guns cost a lot of money, and certain of us are going to be more able to buy them than others and certain of us are gonna going to be, you know, more likely to prioritize that in our budgets than other people. And I think that working a lot more, to bring access to guns and to defensive skills in line with our leftist sensibilities and values is really important. It’s not enough to just, you know, want everybody on the left to get armed. What are we doing to make sure that people who can’t afford a gun still get one and know how to and are trained and using it, people who can’t afford to take classes are able to do that. We have to be taking really deliberate and conscious steps and building a sort of infrastructure in order for that to happen.

Margaret 49:55

Ellie 49:55
And we still don’t see anything, you know, like large scale efforts to manufacture and distribute guns among queers and leftists, which is totally feasible, it’s something that can be done, but we’re not doing it. And it’s still, you know, it’s still cost a lot of money to do something like take my basic pistol class, and we can sort of put aside free seats or have sliding scales for stuff like that. But if we’re not actively doing that, then we’re not making things more accessible for everybody, we’re still sort of following the same lines of access and division and distinction that already exist. So that, you know, yeah, so that’s a big one to me.

Margaret 50:32
Well it’s interesting, because one of the things you brought up earlier about how, in some ways within a queer gun culture, trans femmes probably have, like, it’s possible that we are the more armed, contingent or whatever. And, you know, and I think that, you know, the point you brought up about, like, growing up playing with guns and things like that, and just like, the socialization we receive, based on, you know, the sex we’ve been assigned to birth or whatever, seems to play a big part in it. And it also, I think it does position us in this, in this way to be good at bringing these skills into femme spaces. And maybe that’s like a little bit too, I don’t know, it’s the kind of conversation it’s like, sometimes hard to have, because I think people have a lot of, for very good reason, very intense feelings about, you know, what it means to be trans feminine, what socialization looks like, all of these different things. But I have found that not universally, whatever, I’ll just my…Twitter brain is on. So I keep thinking about everything I’m saying, and how could possibly be considered wrong. But I have had experiences where I often learn better from women, and other women I know often learn better from women. And so I’ve been able to use that in positive ways, as a woman teaching other women, or as someone who isn’t a cis man teaching other people who aren’t cis men. And I think that is something that, you know, we can really break down and a lot of my friends who are, you know, cis men or, you know, straight cis men or whatever, you know, are wondering how to put their skills that they’ve carefully cultivated to use and training and stuff like that. And I think that that is very useful and very important. But I personally would say, and you might have, you’ve probably done more thinking about this, teaching trainers, you know, teaching other people who can then go out and be trainers, rather than necessarily being the end…the person who teaches all of the students is a good way to then actually distribute power and break down a lot of siloing of information. I don’t know.

Ellie 52:48
Yeah, no, I mean, I think that’s, that’s a really good point. And just generally speaking, anytime we can take whatever privilege we find and distribute it, and thus undo it, it’s always a positive thing. But I think you’re right. I mean, I definitely, throughout my life always avoided whenever possible male teachers and male instructors or male authority figures at all in preference for female ones. And that still remains the case. And I think that that is, that’s pretty common, for sure. So it’s, it is important, we need to be conscious of that. And I think, you know, making sure that men with particular skills don’t just sort of automatically appoint themselves as the the teachers of these skills is a great point. Yeah.

Margaret 53:37
So I’ve one final question. And it’s like many of my questions today, not incredibly well formed. But we talked earlier about self harm, and how communities need to, you know, stay aware of everyone’s kind of risk model and things like that as relates to self harm. But, there’s also intimate partner violence. And one of the things, one of the push backs I’ve gotten from, you know, a queer anarchist friend of mine, who I had a conversation with this about recently, is sort of part of the mourning of the army of the left is even while accepting on some level, the necessity of it based on what’s happening in the world and what’s, you know, the increased likelihood and increased presence of the need not just for self defense, but community defense. Is that…Well, basically that it statistically, historically makes a lot of people less safe, in terms of intimate partner partner violence, and specifically like…I should have looked up the studies before I started recording, but I’ve, you know, I’ve read some articles about some studies that talk about how a cis woman who lives with a man with a gun is just less safe on a like statistical level. And it opens up a lot of questions. And one of the questions for me, is how does a community decide, you know, decide who has guns at any given moment? You know, how does…How do we minimize the danger of not just self harm, but of like, you know, people getting mad about some bullshit?

Ellie 55:30
Yeah. That is such a tough question. I think that…

Margaret 55:36
Yeah, I saved the easy one for the end.

Ellie 55:40
I mean, and I guess, you know, I’ll admit, first of all that, you know, this is not an area that I particularly specialize in is sort of thinking about domestic partner violence and intimate violence, but it’s something that matters a great deal, obviously. I think that clearly having guns in the house, as you say, is, is going to make people less safe who were in abusive relationships or violent relationships. But I do think, you know, again, it’s not gonna be blind optimism at all, but we do think a lot more in queer communities and in leftist communities about all of the ways that people need to be able to access safety and able to escape dangerous situations, and, and also the ways that, you know, danger and and sort of harm and in the domestic environment hide from public view and from the community. We think about these things more than other…that doesn’t immunize us to these dangers, obviously. And I don’t know how to really ensure that we’re…I don’t know how to minimize this threat effectively, other than to probably I think, normalize and really spread the idea that what’s going on in each other’s relationships, and homes, and families, actually is the business of the community. And I think that that’s, you know, that opposes a lot of thinking that, you know, exists in mainstream society, and especially in like, sort of nuclear family based society, where in the house and the household is sovereign and sacred. I think that leftists in particular, and queers in particular, because we have different understandings of what society is supposed to be. And we, particularly queers, have different understandings of what family is supposed to be and can be, there’s a better…we have an opportunity to sort of establish norms of maybe one way to think about is domestic transparency, you know, it’s not just my business how I treat my spouse, or my partner, or my kids, it is, in fact the business of my comrades in my community, the business of, you know, my buddy on the community defense team, my, you know, my friends and sort of comrades at the mutual aid project or whatever. It’s all of our business whether or not I’m in an abusive situation, whether or not I am an abuser, whether or not you know, somebody in my life is dangerous to me, or is at risk. I guess making these things our business and normalizing some level of that transparency in that in the household and sort of making more porous, those boundaries of domesticity and of intimate relationships may be part of the solution here, or part of the way that we mitigate that danger more effectively than society has done thus far.

Margaret 59:03
No, that, that makes a lot of sense, it does feel like almost every time there’s a problem, the answer is community. You know, and it keeps coming. It’s a recurring theme on the show, and not even necessarily on purpose, you know, just as you think through various types of problems. I do think that there’s something that I wish…well, I’m opinionated about, which doesn’t make me right, but I’ve seen some discourse around and I’ve not been totally pleased by what I’ve seen, personally, which is that like, around consent and guns, around the idea that like, like…if I’m going to have someone over to my house, I want them to know the situation of the guns in the house and I want them to have a say in that, you know? There’s like a would…is it okay if someone brings a gun on a date discourse, right, that I’ve I’ve seen a bit of, and like, you know, there’s sort of a, “It’s nobody’s business if I’m carrying,” and I don’t believe that. I believe that it would be a perfectly reasonable position to be like, I’m going on a date with someone and I don’t know them very well.I don’t want them to have a gun on them. I think that that is a, a reasonable thing that someone could want or a thing that might be worth clearing with people, you know, if that is like, a thing you do regularly, for a lot of reasons. And, you know, a lot of people need guns to be unavailable in certain ways for a lot of different reasons.

Ellie 1:00:41

Margaret 1:00:41
I don’t know. That’s really more of a…I keep doing this statement instead of question thing in this conversation.

Ellie 1:00:46
No, I’m super glad that you brought that up. I think that’s really important. And I’ve sort of…since I started carrying, I have myself, made that a practice, essentially, I don’t carry a gun on a first date. And thus far, it’s been my practice to make it a second date conversation. “Hey, I sometimes carry a pistol.”

Ellie 1:01:10
“Does that make you uncomfortable?” And if it does, like, that’s okay. I don’t always…I don’t have to carry it when we’re together. And so far, the people I’ve done that with have told me “No, I’m feeling much more comfortable knowing that you’re caring. I like that. And I think that’s good.” So I think that is a conversation that really, it’s definitely no harder or no more awkward to have than all of the other things we have to be talking about on first and second dates, like, you know, or, our STI status and all of that sort of stuff. And, and yeah, being conscious of that. And, you know, for instance, are you going to see a friend who who has kids living with them? Are you going on a date with somebody who has a family? Like…Are there people involved in the situation who do not have the opportunity to consent to me being armed? And if so, I…It’s probably best that I’m not until I can, you know, change that dynamic. I think that that’s a great way to think about it is connecting it to that consent conversation. Absolutely.

Margaret 1:01:10

Margaret 1:02:11
Yeah. Yeah. Well, maybe that’s a good note to end on. Unless you have additional things that you really feel like we should have covered or….

Ellie 1:02:21
No, I think I thought of something really brilliant a little while ago, and then it went away. So I think I’m happy there. Thank you.

Margaret 1:02:29
Yeah, well, okay, if people are interested in knowing more about you, or your classes, or any of the stuff that you do, is that something that you want people to know about?

Ellie 1:02:39
Yeah, for sure. We, my co instructor and I, have a an active Instagram presence that people can check out that’s a somewhat clunky username but if you’re on Instagram, it’s “ATW” as in arm trans women, “dot firearms dot INST” (ATW.Firearms.Inst). And It’s not a good handle, but it’s the one we have my own handle on Instagram is “Codename_Ellie” and people can very easily connect to my all of my gun work through that personal account as well. In addition to some other cool stuff that I do, so yeah.

Margaret 1:03:15
Cool. All right. Well, thank you so much for coming on.

Ellie 1:03:19
Thank you, Margaret.

Margaret 1:03:19
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please tell people about it. Tell people about it in person, and you’ve heard me if you’ve ever listened this podcast, you’ve heard me make this Schpeel many times before, but tell the internet, tell your friends. Word of mouth is the main way that people know about this podcast. And so really appreciate any word of mouth that you feel like doing. You can also support this podcast more directly by supporting it financially, by supporting our publisher, which is Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness, which is a super cool collective of anarchist publishing that does podcasts, and zines, and books, and stuff, including our latest book, which is called “Try Anarchism for Life” by Cindy Milstein that is really worth checking out and that’s at “” But if you want to support the podcast, you end up supporting the people who, at the moment I don’t take any money from hosting this, I’m not opposed to it, but you know, we don’t make enough just yet because more importantly, the transcriptionist and the audioeditor and the producer, some of which overlap, other people who work on this podcast get paid for their work and I think that that’s like a really fucking important thing. Because it’s a lot of work. And so if you want to support us go to ““. And in particular, I would like to thank paparouna, Milica, Boise mutual aid, Theo, Hunter, Shawn, S.J., Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Cat J, Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Miciaiah, and Hoss the Dog, your contributions make this possible. And yeah, everyone else well, and including the people I just mentioned, I hope you’re doing well. And yeah, I don’t know and I hope everything is good and happy and good in the world, even when it’s not.

Ellie 1:03:19
Thank you, Margaret.

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