S1E112 – Dean Spade on Mutual Aid as Preparedness pt. II

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Margaret and Dean continue to talk about the ways that mutual aid helps communities prepare for disasters that are already here and disasters that have yet to come. They talk about what things like hope and success can look like even as the world crumbles around us.

Guest Info

Dean Spade is an American lawyer, writer, trans activist, and associate professor of law at Seattle University School of Law. You can find Dean’s work at Deanspade.net, and you can read the article that Margaret and Dean talk about, "Climate Disaster is Here–And the State Will Never Save Us" on inthesetimes.com. You can also find Dean on Twitter @deanspade or on IG @spade.dean.

Host Info

Margaret (she/they) 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 www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: Dean Spade on Mutual Aid as Preparedness pt. II

**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 is part two of a conversation with Dean Spade. So I should probably listen to part one, but I’m not your boss. This podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts, and here’s a jingle from another show on the network.

**Margaret ** 00:42
Okay, I have a kind of final-ish question, I think. And it can be "ish" on the final part. But at the beginning of this, you said that your politics have been moving towards anti-statism, or, you know, possibly anarchism, or whatever. And I’m wondering if you want to talk about that. In some ways, I feel like you’ve implied a lot of maybe what has drawn you more towards those politics, but I’m really curious about the kind of route you took–not like where you’ve landed, and what labels you want to throw on things–but what has led you towards those politics?

**Dean ** 01:56
I just talked with somebody yesterday who I know from the anti-Zionist Jewish world who was talking about the. . . about how he feels like people haven’t thought. . . that he hasn’t thought a lot about anti-State or anarchist politics, and he was like, "Why do you think some people haven’t and some people haven’t?" and I was like, "Oh, I think people just come to our politics. Like, we just kind of stumble into them." It’s like, if somebody stumbled into a punk scene in 1999, they probably found anarchism sooner than me. I stumbled into all this queer, anti-police stuff, and we were doing a lot of identity-based work, and people weren’t talking about political tendencies in the same way–in part also, because it had been really divisive, at certain points, in our movements where people had gotten so obsessed with their ideology that they’d been able to work together and got really insular. So there was a lot of, I think, push away for some people from that. I think, also, we have lived in times for the last, at least 100 years, that are so deeply reactive anti-anarchist, in particular, because of the history of anarchism in the US and elsewhere. There’s a really great piece by William C. Anderson that came out a while–like not that long ago–after the Atlanta indictment about how policing in the United States itself developed through policing anarchism, that I highly recommend. But anyway, I think a lot of us also just haven’t gotten. . . Like, it’s like you were told, "Anarchists are just people who want chaos and who are dirty white people," or whatever. There’s a lot of things that erase the contributions of anti-colonial anarchists and anarchists who aren’t white in all these things. Anyway, Or, anti-State tendencies that aren’t anarchism in the European sense. But for me, I think what happened is that I’ve been in movements that have been benefiting from a range of genealogies, including women of color feminism–specifically Black feminism–and other political knowledges and methods that have been anti-institutional, in really great ways have had critiques of the borders and the cops and the military have also had a focus on practices of collectivity and horizontality with us, you know, inside our movements, which are very. . . You know, that really parallel with a lot of anarchist methodologies like "Let’s not have a boss in this group," you know? And so all of those things really dovetail with anarchism, but I wasn’t ever studying anarchism itself. Some people who were in groups I was in maybe identified as anarchists, but it didn’t seem like an essential thing for me to study for a number of years. And I didn’t think a lot about whether or not that was my position, because also I just had the same caricatures in my mind that other people did. And I also was like, "Do anarchists think that people shouldn’t get welfare?" I don’t know. I had some of my own, you know. As somebody who grew up on welfare, I had some questions about that, that I didn’t have resolutions to. And then over time, especially doing abolitionist work, it just was so clear to me more and more not only that everything I was already doing dovetailed with anarchism: my interest in mutual aid, my interest in horizontal tactics inside our groups, and building group culture where we learned how to share with each other, and not boss each other around, and all that stuff. But also, the ways in which, I think, abolitionist frameworks are just. . . like, they’re so deeply anti-State. It’s like, ‘Yeah, don’t build a better cop. Don’t build a better jail. Don’t build a better prison. Don’t build a better social services framework that’s actually still a cop," or you know. And, that you can’t have a country without cops, borders, and military. That’s what a country is made of, you know? You can’t have a Capitalist economy without a boot on everybody’s neck making us participate in it. So I just came to realize like, I’m not only–I always knew I was against the United States settler colonial slavery project–but I was like, "Oh, my God, I’m against countries. I’m against that." And then I did start actually reading about this stuff and I was like, "Oh, my God, they’re a recent invention. They don’t need to be able to organize themselves. That’s not how people have always organized themselves." And I also started to see how it actually makes a difference in our tactics about what we’re going to do today, if we know this about ourselves, right? Like how we’re going to get basically co-opted by projects of "Oh, let’s let’s do a let’s do a million local elections and try to take over a city council ‘thing.’" A lot of that work steals the oxygen out of local movements really intensely. And I’m not gonna say it should never ever be done, but I just feel like so much of it actually has a lack of a conversation about what can happen in those spaces behind it and then is incredibly resource intensive and doesn’t lead to the things I think people hope it will lead to, like, "Oh, we’re gonna have an abolitionist prosecutor and abolitionist city council person or mayor and it’s gonna change everything," right? And then not seeing that happen. I think we’ve seen that it’s played out. Or the, you know, I think this is even sharpened for me with the period of the "Defund [the police]" work–which I care a lot about, trying to defund the police–and seeing the fights inside city councils and how deeply impenetrable–like even when you supposedly, in 2020, get the whole city council saying we want to defund the police and there’s so much effort on that side–it’s like our cities are run by real estate developers, chambers of commerce, and police departments. And the entire apparatus of the city councils–which is in some ways more accessible than any other level of government, of course–is still unmovable. Like you can’t. . . you can be right all day long. You can do every kind of research. You can show you can turn up with all the people every single time. And as soon as they can turn around and reestablish their nonstop march to constantly increase the police budget, that’s what they’ll do. And that is what they have done since 2020 after all this amazing work by so many people. So I think I’m just continually evaluating "Wow, where are there still parts of my own approach to politics that are assuming we can convince governments of things?"–even while I want to get rid of those kinds of governments–and why do I ever think they will voluntarily put down their weapons? And why do I think about getting any different people inside there, inside that machine? I don’t believe that about the military. I’m not like, "Well, maybe if Margaret Killjoy was the general, it would all be fine." I know, that’s not true. So why do I, and where have I still. . . And I, you know, I forgive myself and all of us. We’re all just trying shit our whole lives. And there’s so many things I’ve been involved in that I think were not that generative, but you know, we couldn’t have known that. Or, where there was a backlash so that the thing that was generative for a while stopped or, you know, was turned on us in a way that undermined our hopes. But I think that for me it’s just an ongoing deepening with different anti-State frameworks, an ongoing deepening of reading history, and understanding why different revolutionary projects that then took on State forms became authoritarian, trying to understand what this kind of insight–which is very hard, because it’s about letting go of a lot of hope and a lot of tactics that people are putting a lot of effort into–like, what it directs us to do to most immediately support people’s well being, and take down the apparatuses that are hurting us that are, honestly, just like continuing to grow. Like they’re all. . . Like the level of surveillance we are under right now compared to five years ago. Like, the capacity for political repression that the State has right now compared to five years ago. I don’t know if you saw this, but like– maybe it was this week–Georgia is going to outlaw bail funds, is going to criminalize bail funds. Tennessee’s trying to do the same thing. Like, tiny things we have in our movements to try to support people facing repression, even those they are directly going after. So, yeah, it’s really hard to face these conditions. And also, I see a lot of people working really hard on the ground blaming themselves for the effects of the conditions like "Oh, why can’t we? Why can’t we do a better job stopping these homeless sweeps in our city?" It’s like it’s not because you’re not doing a really good job trying to. There are a lot of really bad conditions. And I think that it goes back to this humility, like, "Okay, wow, things are so dire. What if I let myself know this so that I could talk with my friends about what’s possible–given how things actually are–and let go of some of the fantasies?" I think I talked to you briefly before we started the podcast but I recently rewatched those two videos that Naomi Klein and Molly Crabapple–both of whom I really, really respect–made a few years back. They’re both videos about what the world could be like after the Green New Deal and after many wonderful uprisings. And they feel so, so misleading to me, watching them right now. Like they imagine a world in which people just protest a lot. And then everyone has things that are better. And also, we still have countries and jobs. It very weirdly doesn’t get rid of Capitalism or the nation state. But it’s like, there’s a kind of like. . . I think that it’s very dangerous, those fantasies, that we can do certain kinds of tactics and our opponents will just turn over. And I think those are inside a lot of people’s–a lot of very wise people’s–messages. And I just increasingly, when I encounter them, feel much more concerned about what they teach us and how they mislead us.

**Margaret ** 11:00
I just think that we have to always look clear-headedly at what our actual threats are, at what’s actually happening, and then make our decisions based on how to actually address that, rather than being like, "I want to become just like this person I read about in history, so I’m going to do whatever they did." And this could be true of, "I want to be a principled pacifist and get arrested just like Gandhi," or whatever, right? You know, it could also be, "I want to be just like the following anarchist in the 1880s who decided it was time to start shooting people," you know? We just need to actually look at what’s happening and make our decisions based on that. And it’s hard, because what we’re facing is different from what anyone else has ever faced in history. Not necessarily worse–although the overall ecosystem is worse than anything minus whenever all the. . . you know, before humans evolved, and various other mass die offs that have happened or whatever. But it’s different and it’s bad. And we just need to look at it and then come up with solutions. Or even some of this is, "How do we solve this problem?" And some of it is like, "How do we live with this?" Not accept it but accept that it’s going to have consequences on us and that fighting it isn’t going to be easy and we might not win. But what are the best tools by which we can fight it, and/or what are the best tools that we can use to live meaningful lives in the process? You know, so that when we inevitably die, at 103 or 33, we can be proud of who we were. You know, and obviously, there’s theological or metaphysical considerations into exactly what that process looks like that’ll be different for different people. But, you know, I think that that’s what to do.

**Dean ** 13:06
It’s also about not trying to feel better. I think there’s just something so intense about how people are like, you know, "If you talk about collapse, it makes me feel bad." And there’s an assumption that that will demobilize me. And it’s like, actually, Capitalism is like, either feel bad or feel good, you know? And that’s not how life is. Life is like, fuck. . . For example, you have a terrible loss and you live with grief. And you also still enjoy this beautiful meal. And you’re still grieving. And you’re in pain. And being willing. . . or–I see a lot of my students–they’re like, "Oh, my God, the things I’m learning in your class, I’m so worried about these terrible things in the world that I didn’t know we’re going on. This is so awful." And they want to instantly know what to do to feel better. And I’m like, I can’t make. . . I don’t want you to do things feel better. I want you to do things to try to be part of something and you’ll never know if they worked or not. Because that’s the nature of it. You don’t know what our opposition’s next countermove is or whether we’ll regret some parts of it, but it’s the trying stuff, it’s the listening to feedback about what didn’t go well or how it hurts somebody else. The goal is connection and belonging with each other and experimentation. And, you know, it doesn’t always feel good to receive negative feedback, but often it’s like incredibly growthful. It’s like feeling good can’t be the goal. Feeling, Yes. And sometimes feeling good. And pursuing pleasure, absolutely. But not like, "I want to have a pat" happiness where I don’t have to worry or be concerned or be critical. Like of course nobody who sees themselves as radical should be wanting that, but I still think that craving–when it comes to conversations about collapse–where it’s like I want the one thing that will make me feel better. Or, people feel that about Gaza. Like, "Oh my God, I just found about about this horrible genocide that’s happening. I’ve not known about this before. I want to be able to go to one action and feel I did something and to then be better and post it on Instagram. And it’s like, A) love them for waking up to what’s happening in Gaza. I love, love any moment where people become more interested in the wellbeing of all people and stopping violence, and we have to be willing to take in how overwhelming this is, how unmovable the war machine feels, and still take action against it, but not because we’re guaranteed that what we did today works, or something. You know what I mean? Like that feels–that simplicity–really cheats us of the really complex position we’re actually in, that if we can let ourselves be in it, might allow discernment towards better action, hopefully, you know?

**Margaret ** 15:30
No, and I like how you tie that to the way that capitalism makes us think that happiness is the goal. Like, I like happiness. But my goal in life is not specifically to lead a happy life; it’s to have a meaningful life and to have as complete of a life as–I mean, every life is complete. And, you know, when you look at. . . Anyone who’s ever known a child who’s died has had to come to terms with the fact that every life is complete, you know, is a thing that I’ve been dealing with because of some stuff. And, you know. . . Yeah, the idea that you’re just supposed to be happy is some fucking McDonald’s shit. You know? And don’t get me wrong, seek happiness. Do it. It’s great. You know? But yeah, sometimes you just need to accept. . . Like, I want to live a beautiful life and I think that is a different thing, you know? And maybe because I’m like a goth, or whatever, I find a lot of different things beautiful than some other people. But. . . No, I. . . I like that. And it does. It helps get people beyond the like, "Oh, good, I can sleep at night because I went to one protest," you know? And instead, like learning to sit with the discomfort of all these things happening and understanding where we do and don’t have agency and. . . Imean, don’t get me wrong, people should be going to these protests. You know, if nothing else that are good ways to find the other people who care.

**Dean ** 17:04
Yeah, meet other people and try stuff. I mean, I want to live in reality. I want to know that. . . I want to. . . If I’ve been working on a strategy for 10 years and it has actually not been helping, it’s been hurting people, I want to know. I don’t want to keep doing it just because my ego is attached to it, or my paycheck. I’ve seen that a lot in the dilemmas with the [uninterpretable] movements, you know, where I want to. . . Yeah, absolutely, I’m like, be promiscuous about the stuff you try. Go to all the protests. Go to anything. Try anything. But it’s that willingness to keep open the possibility that I’m going to get feedback or learn that. . . learn the impacts, or learn my position on the world, or learn how the clothes I’m wearing impact people who made them, or what. . . I just like, I just want to be in reality, and that includes the reality of how unbearably beautiful being alive is, how the entire… how my entire body was structured to receive pleasure from this incredible landscape. That reality too, which is Capitalism also shuts down and tells me to only be entertained by video games and chips, or whatever. You know, I want to live fully in the reality of how beautiful and abundant and gorgeous this life is and how heartbreaking and devastating these systems are, and how little control I have over them. And then, the moments when I do feel a connection, or am of service to something in my community, like how that is–like all of that, you know? But not through the filter of liberalism, that’s just like, "I need to find out that I’m a good person. TM [trademarked]," you know?

**Dean ** 17:04
Okay, so in that vein, to bring it back to kind of some of the preparedness stuff that you’ve been writing more about and engaging with more, I was wondering if you want to talk about, like, what do you what is preparedness looking like for you right now? Or, you know, how is it affecting you as much as you feel like talking about anything personal? Like, how is it affecting the kind of decisions that you’re making about how you want to live or how you prepare?

**Dean ** 18:55
That’s such a good question. I mean, in general, my study of collapse is affecting a lot of things for me. I’m thinking a lot about the ethics of the fact that I travel on planes and how to reduce that or eliminate it. And also I don’t want to get stuck somewhere really far away from my people when things are bad. So I’ve been thinking a lot about shifting and changes around that. I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I want to work a job. What are the other options here? You know what I mean? Just like when will I know that I don’t want to do that? Or whatever. I’ve been writing a book for 10 years that’s kind of like a relationships self-help book for radicals, you know, kind of thing, because I’ve spent so much time in our movements watching people, you know, tear each other in our groups apart with our own unexamined relational patterns that are very, you know, the pattern across the culture. So, I’ve been writing a book about that. And part of me is like, "At this point, I just need to recognize I’m writing this for pleasure. Like, I don’t know that there’s time for this to be of any use to anyone," you know what I mean? That’s an interesting move to shift from thinking the, you know, probably totally ridiculous fantasy any of us have when we write anything, that people will read this and it will help them do something, and be like, "Or not?" Or I’m just really working on a book for 10 years, just for me…because that’s what I did with those 10 years of my life. Okay. Like, that’s an interesting move to let go of outcomes even more than ever. And I don’t think I ever thought that I would have been terribly impacted by even the little hope of that.

**Dean ** 18:55
Yeah, I think just to. . .just to gas you up really quick. I’ve seen your cultural impact for years now, and it’s always been positive. So I appreciate it. But please continue.

**Dean ** 20:44
I mean, I think about whether I want to live in the country, whether the cities will be the hardest places to be. And I have friends who have moved to rural places and like really cultivated deep relationships with people, even across political differences in the places they’re living. And I’m like, "Huh." And then I think about some really, some really, you know, detailed specific things. Like, if I’m going to live in the country, in the Pacific Northwest where I live, how can I live less near all of the scariest…you know, right-wing neo-Nazis and closer instead to some of the rural people who are a little more like fruits and nuts, you know? So I asked myself that question. I think about what that would look like, you know, off grid? You know, I’m not somebody who can like buy a vacation house or something. So like what kind of off-grid small sort of thing can I do with anybody I know who already has a land project. I think about that. I think about. . .I think I’ve been thinking a lot about–I think maybe I mentioned this to you–of thinking a lot about doing something like go bag parties even in subcultural scenes in my own town. Like doing things to get more people to talk about disaster and collapse, you know? And if they want to think about it as an earthquake go bag, awesome. That’s a danger in Seattle for sure. If they want to think about it like that. You know, like, having people just, I was thinking about, like, how do you make those parties fun? Like, you know, having there be giveaways, having there be like. . . having people bring. . . You know, is it also a clothing exchange? Like, is it a sex toy exchange? Like, I’ve been just imagining different, you know, what would that look like for my queer-er friends versus what will it look like for people on my block, versus what would it look like with my students? Like, just kind of what would be different. . . what would help different people try it and then also think they could put one on, you know? Like, just how to really–especially because I feel like this podcast is very user-friendly in that way, so I’ve been really inspired by some of your episodes to think about what are the ways I could take what I love about mutual aid organizing, how I love meeting people, and I love making an event happen, making it welcoming, having people make new friends, and how can that be oriented towards people thinking about preparedness? And how much–some of the questions I’ve asked myself are–how much would there be any talking and programming at such an event or how much would it just be like, "come and grab this stuff. And here’s some printouts of things you could have in your go bag. And here’s a pile of bags. And there’s a pile of, you know, emergency blankets. And here’s a pile of whatever," right? So I’ve had those kinds of questions about how to do. . . I think that’s what’s next for me is to actually try on some of that organizing with some people that are actually interested in that.

**Margaret ** 23:10
When you do that, can you come back on and talk about how it went? I feel like people will learn from that a lot.

**Dean ** 23:15
Yeah, and I’d love to, if other people have tried it–I’m curious–please reach out to me. Curious to hear their experiences.

**Margaret ** 23:21
Me and one of my friends who does this kind of work too, we put on a day of preparedness. We did a, you know, where you get. . . There were a bunch of different talks by different people who lived in that area who came and they talked about the projects they’re working on. There was someone who was like, "Oh, I’m really into mesh networks." And someone else is like, "Oh, I’m doing things like water collection and rainwater and things like that." And there were multiple. . . There were, I think, a total of maybe about six events at. . . So you could pick between two at any given point, like the way that conferences work, or whatever. And it was, you know, a local food. . . a local food distro did lunch that was free for everyone. But then dinner was a giant potluck. And I’ve actually never seen a giant potluck work so well as the one that I went to. It was cool. And then there was a big talk that was everyone and it was more in the evening. Some people only came for that. And it was, you know, we used me as sort of a keynote-ish person but then it was. . . Immediately from there. It was a facilitated roundtable of the people who live in that town talking about their needs and how to meet them. And I’m now thinking maybe I talked about this before on the show. I have no idea. And then at the very end, we made a long term food bucket. You know, a mylar bag, rice, and beans thing, which is way easier to do if you buy it all in bulk. And then it was kind of fun. And it was. . . My favorite part about it was that theoretically I was organizing it. And I know how to make the bucket. But I don’t know how to necessarily make the 15 people figure out how to make sure that all the food goes evenly to these different buckets or whatever. And people were like, "How do we do that?" and I was like, "Figure it out. I don’t know." And then everyone’s self organized it and it worked perfectly fine. And then like everyone felt more invested, because they were…everyone was in charge and figuring things out together. And it was like a nice little microcosm of those, those nice moments in so many ways. And, you know, and then it was. . . I would say a good third of the people didn’t have any money–and so didn’t pay for their buckets–and a good third of the people were like, "I can easily pay twice as much as what this bucket cost," you know, because those buckets, if you make your own are only like 20 bucks. If you buy them at a prepper store–if you buy them at a reasonable prepper store, they’re 50 bucks–if you buy them from Alex Jones and all that shit, then they’re not very good and they’re way more than that. And so that worked, that model works really well. And we’re hoping to replicate it. And so, but I really like the way that you’re talking about it. I really like the idea of like, yeah, how would it be different? How would the go bag party be different for your block versus your students versus your queer friend group, but I’m fascinated. I want to hear how it goes.

**Dean ** 26:07
Yeah, I love what you said about people having to figure things out. I noticed this a lot when we had that police free zone in Seattle during the 2020 uprising, how many people who showed up who’d never done anything political in their life. they’ve never, ever, ever, and they like to come to it. Like they’re coming to the movement. And they arrived at the field, at Cal Anderson Park, and they wanted something to do, you know? They wanted to do part of an art build, or they. . . Like people don’t want to just sit and watch, you know? And then once you are a part of doing something, you’re helping move a barricade–whatever–then you’re like, it’s like a transformative. Like, "I was there and I was part of it. And I was important to it." It lets you have it be your…it’s your identity, instead of "I went and watched the movement," you know? Whatever it is, I just thought that moment, when you said–"agency" is the word you use earlier–I feel like that you can. . . that can happen anywhere. But part of the way it happens is not like overly babying, you know, everybody. You know, yes, making things accessible and trying to make it really welcoming, but also putting people to work if they’re up for it helping coordinate, you know?

**Margaret ** 27:11
This actually goes full circle to something we were talking about at the beginning. We were talking about how we talk about disasters with people, right? And the note, the words that I wrote down in my notes that I take while I’m interviewing people, is I wrote down "disaster fatigue," because that’s the. . . like the way that I think about it, you know, the. . . The way that I. . . A long time ago, I did forest defense and I would go sit in trees and fight against clearcutting and stuff like that. But I, I actually avoided going to West Virginia and fighting mountaintop removal for a long time, even though I knew it was happening, because it was too much of a problem. A clearcut is something that is a horrible crisis. And you can wrap your head around it even as people kill ancient trees. The Appalachians are like older than air, or something. I don’t even know. They’re old as shit. They are some of the oldest mountains in the world, right? And, the fact that people were clearcutting the mountain, like blowing up the mountain, was just too much. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. And so I just didn’t think about it. And I think that overall, that’s what people do with climate change. There’s big, major things that are happening, that are really big. And I’m not trying to say that other crises that are happening aren’t really big. Climate change is the mother of all crises. You know? It is the most existential threat to all life on Earth that has existed since there was sentient life. And I’m not just including humans in that, you know? And, so people don’t want to think about it. And I think that makes sense. And I think that the people who put in the work to be like, "Hey, come to Mountain Justice Summer Camp, or Spring Break Camp or whatever, and made these spaces where people could show up and learn about what was happening and get engaged. I think that maybe climate change. . . Yeah, it’s the. . . Have people show up and give them something to do or tell them that work needs doing and that they can figure out what to do, you know? But we kind of, as a movement, a little bit too much are like, "I don’t know, just figure it out." Because then the current people who like making. . . There’s actually some people doing amazing work. There’s a lot of people fighting pipelines and there‚Äôs people fighting extraction. And I’m not even like mad at the people who like throw food at paintings or whatever, but it’s not something that invites a lot of people in–from my perspective. I’m not. . . Honestly, I try not to talk shit on tactics. I try to be like…I try to do the "more stuff" model of critique where instead of talking shit on their tactic, I should do a different tactic. And what am I doing? I mean, whenever. I’m running around trying to help people get prepared. I actually think I’m doing a lot. But anyway. I just got excited about what you were saying.

**Dean ** 30:11
Yeah, that thing. I mean, it’s like. . . I think a lot about how the Young Lords said–you know, who are. . . they’re fighting Puerto Rican liberation in the 1970s and modeled themselves after the Black Panthers. And they said in their early texts, you know, that they believed that their own people seeing their people fight in the streets with the cops would radicalize people. So that like having escalated tactics–and this is similar to the Ireland story you told–escalated tactics, confrontational tactics, liberals will tell us we’re going to alienate people. . . What did you say?

**Margaret ** 30:44
Setting fire to trash on the streets. I really like the Young Lords.

**Dean ** 30:47
Yeah, like, escalated tactics don’t alienate people, they bring a lot of people in. And the people who think they’re alienated from them might feel scared of them and stuff, but the cultural shift and change that they produce still brings people along. In the end, they’re like, "Oh, no, no, I’m not racist," or whatever, you know? It’s like it moves everyone. It moves the needle. And so I think we need escalated tactics and we need invitations and inroads. And for a long time, I’ve said I think mutual aid is one of the best on ramps, and historically has been one the best onramps for movements.

**Margaret ** 31:16
Absolutely.

**Dean ** 31:17
Most people get involved in movements through trying to immediately help somebody, you know, because that’s what. . . when you’re fired up, that’s what you want, or because they got help through a mutual aid project of some kind and that’s what politicized them. They’re like, "Who are these people who are giving away this thing that I need that I can’t get anywhere else," you know, "Who are not mean to me and who tell me it’s not my fault, and that, actually, the system’s fucked, huh? What are they saying? And they’re right," you know? So that, I believe deeply in the mutual aid onramp. And I also think that moments like riots and stuff can be an onramp when people are like, "I’m joining in. And now I’m burning a cop car," and that feeling that kind of power. And then, "I want to learn more about who these people were, who I met in the streets," or whatever. And for some people, the on ramp is that they first encounter. . . I mean, I have a friend who’s a really incredible anarchist organizer who does really massive mutual aid projects, and is just so brilliant, and told me that they’re. . . they first were like. . . they joined the Bernie campaign. And then we’re really involved in the Bernie Sanders campaign and then we’re like, "Wait, I don’t know if this is really working," you know? But like, everyone comes in somehow, you know? And so part of it too, is that we should be in all those places trying to encourage people to learn more about movement history or horizontal tactics or bold tactics that are. . . I just went to an amazing event at an anarchist space in Seattle called Pipsqueak. The event was surrounding. . . they had collected all these accounts of kind of sabotage and vandalisms and shut-down types of actions related to opposing the genocide in Gaza. So many stories I hadn’t heard, you know? They collected this huge amount. They had this really wonderful hour of like, you could come and read this zine they’d printed out with all this stuff and think it through, and then a really, really well facilitated discussion for an hour and a half. And I was like, that’s like. . . Like, making sure people can find out about the rad stuff that’s happening, that’s not going to be reported in the news. That’s so cool. And also then people got to discuss all their dilemmas about tactics. Like, "Oh, my gosh, I’ve been going to all these kind of more, you know, media spectacle events about Gaza. I thought these things about that. What’s it like to learn about these other things people are doing?" You know, people get to have those juicy conversations about what they think about the tactics they’re using.

**Margaret ** 33:28
I love it. And we talked about twice as long as we thought we were going to and now this is two episodes. So you all listening had to wait an extra week to hear the other half of the conversation. Do you have any kind of last thoughts on preparedness, mutual aid, how your thinking has shifted, all the topics that we’ve been talking about today?

**Dean ** 33:50
Well, the thing that’s spurred us having this conversation was that I wrote that piece for In These Times that was about my experience of reading two sci-fi–cli-fi novels–one is "Ministry of the Future," and one was "The Deluge." And I encourage people to read that piece if you want to hear my thoughts on those books. But one of the things that happened from reading those books and then writing about what I thought was a failure of different aspects of those books was how now–I did think about this because you are an amazing fiction writer–like how part of what happens to me now when I read almost any speculative book, any book, that’s fiction that takes place somewhat in the future, is I am like, it feels instantly conservative because it never includes collapse, right? Because inevitably they’ve got us 50 years ahead and there’s some AI. Or there’s been some disruption from climate stuff. Like, it’s never as bad as it actually is. And that is fascinating to me, you know? And they always have all this intense tech development in such books in ways that I like–I really recommend people actually listen to Kelly Hayes podcast episodes about AI. Really useful for me in trying to understand the hubris of the tech sector, and the way they talk about AI and the way they’re making people afraid of or hopeful about AI, and how off base it is, and kind of what the deal really is. But anyway, I just want to say that I have historically found speculative fiction to be a vital place for trying to help myself think about crisis and collapse and also now I feel so strongly because I–I think I may have mentioned this to you, once–I’ve been very moved by this person Jem Bendell, who’s like this. . . in many ways, he does not share all of our values. And it’s coming from a very different place. But he’s this academic kind of whistleblower about how bad climate stuff really is. And he. . . I find myself often like, I find myself going into my own denial about what’s happening and retreating from what I know and then I listened to the introduction to his book, "Breaking Together," again to remind myself about the stakes of what I’m living through. And I feel like in some ways I used to use–and I still somewhat use speculative fiction in that way–but I’m just increasingly like. . . even most speculative fiction is telling us the wrong message about how long the systems we live under are going to last and how much they’re going to flourish with the technologies that I just don’t think is real.

**Margaret ** 36:12
You know, what’s funny, some of this–a little bit of it–is baked into a problem of writing fiction where if you. . . I’ve actually gotten–not in trouble with–but I’ve had editors take out dates in my writing before, right? Because I’ll write a short story about a sort of collapse-y world or whatever and I’ll be like, "After 2022, when the. . ." because I wrote this in like 2018, or whatever, because I was trying to write on a realistic timeline where I was like, "Oh, the world’s not gonna be the same in 2022." And I feel like I was pretty accurate about that, right? But they have to future proof their magazine, right? And so, you know, you don’t want to make certain types of claims about the next three years because you want your story to be…to have a shelf life of that long. And so some of it is baked in as a problem in publishing and in science fiction writing. And that said, I think most people. . . Did you ever read that book "Desert," the green nihilist book. . .

**Dean ** 37:12
Yeah, I’ve read like half of it.

**Margaret ** 37:15
I haven’t read it in a long time. I remember reading it and being like, "Well, this is naively optimistic." [Laughing]

**Dean ** 37:23
That’s the one where they’re like, "7/8ths of people are gonna die."

**Margaret ** 37:27
Yeah, I can’t even remember exactly.

**Margaret ** 37:28
But yeah, it was like climate change isn’t going to be stopped, and we have to re-address how things work on a fundamental level. And because where I’ve been at. . . I don’ t know. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m with you on. . . like, when I read stuff about the future, where it’s like, "And then it’ll all work." I actually still really like "Ministry for the Future," and maybe actually should have you on just specifically to talk about "Ministry of the Future" at a different point. But it. . . you know, because it’s a complicated. . . It’s a caveated, "I like this book," you know?

**Dean ** 37:28
It’s intense.

**Dean ** 38:02
That’s how I feel about "The Deluge." It’s like, I like "Deluge" even though I think it also has the same problem.

**Margaret ** 38:06
I haven’t read "Deluge" yet.

**Margaret ** 38:08
Oh, there’s no character development in "Ministry."

**Dean ** 38:08
I think it’s really worth reading. I think it’s way better character development than "Ministry." It’s way better.

**Dean ** 38:14
Oh god, yeah. "Ministry" is so dry.

**Margaret ** 38:17
Kim Stanley Robinson does not write people. Kim Stanley Robinson writes ecosystems.

**Dean ** 38:21
Yeah, and "Deluge" really ropes in a lot more of rise in fascism with climate crisis and has characters that are more different class, race, gender than "Ministry" and is just like. . . it’s way more compelling, unfolding, even though in the end it still imagined that states will turn around and like fix things.

**Margaret ** 38:47
Well, I think there’s plenty more we could talk about. And I hope we get to talk about it soon at some point. But in the meantime, how can people find you or your work? Or what would you like people to. . . or if you want to shout out any specific projects that you want to draw attention towards whether they’re yours or other people’s.

**Dean ** 39:07
Mostly everything I do I put on–I mean, I’m kind of bad at it–but I’ll put a lot of things at deanspade.net, which is my website where I collect the things I write and the videos and the many things. So that’s a pretty good source for the backlog.

**Margaret ** 39:23
If people want to read the specific article that we’ve been talking about, if you just. . . it’s called "Climate Disaster is Here and the State Will Never Save Us." But also if you type in–the way I found it just now while we’re…when I was trying to come up with the title–I just typed in "Dean Spade, Kim Stanley Robinson," personally, and it came up, you know. But, okay. Anything else?

**Dean ** 39:47
Thanks for having me.

**Margaret ** 39:48
Thank you.

**Margaret ** 39:54
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, then you should run around screaming that the sky is. . . No, don’t do that. You should make bug out bags for your friends or do whatever you want. You should think about. . . Whatever we already told you what we think. But you can also support this show. And if you want to support the show, you can do so by telling people about it. And you can support the show by supporting us financially on Patreon. Do not feel obliged to do it. This is a free show. However, we’re incredibly grateful because people’s donations are how we manage to pay our transcriptionist, which is very important to us the show is transcribed, and then also our audio engineer. And one day–I keep promising this but we don’t know when this day will come–one day, it’ll pay the hosts or the guests. But for now it doesn’t. And that’s okay because, you know, the world works the way it works. You can support us on Patreon by supporting our publisher, which is Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. And in particular, we would like to thank Ephemeral. Oh, there’s new names on here. That’s really exciting. Ephemeral. Appalachian Liberal Liberation Library. And they wanted to specifically point–I would never make this–but they specifically pointed out it’s Appalachian [App-a-latch-un], not Appalachian [App-a-lay-shun]. That’s in the description of how we’re going to read this. Portland’s Hedron Hackerspace. Boldfield, E, Patoli, Eric, Buck, Julia, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, Anonymous, Funder, Janice & O’dell, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, S. J., Paige, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Mic Aiah, and, as always, the immortal, Hoss the dog. And when you support Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, you’re supporting this show and you’re also supporting a show called The Spectacle. We renamed Anarcho Geek Power Hour to The Spectacle. And you’re also supporting the podcast called Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness and a whole bunch of other projects. So that’s that thing where I do the outro and I hope you all are doing as well as you can, and we’ll talk to you soon.

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