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 CBMilstein.wordpress.com on on Mastodon @CBMilstein. Their new book, “Try Anarchism for Life” can be purchased from our publisher at TangledWilderness.org

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


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 WordPress.com

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
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