With sadness tinged with hope…
There’s a quote at the top of our blog that merits some consideration today, on this all-too-quiet morning after a jury in Orange County acquitted two Fullerton pigs, Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli, in the premeditated and brutal murder of Kelly Thomas. In case you have somehow missed it, it’s in the top right corner. See:
It’s a particularly poignant and immediately resonant line from an old Léo Ferré song, “Les Anarchistes”, that we at OLAASM hope everyone adds to their favorite playlist. Right now. Do it. It reads:
Et s’il faut commencer par les coups d’ pied au culFaudrait pas oublier qu’ ça descend dans la rue
Yes. It’s French. Francophobes, fuck right off. For fellow monoglots, here’s a translation I appreciate:
if we must begin by a kick in the ass, one must not forget that it descends into the streets.
What does that mean? Well, to us, it means no matter how often we meet (or for how long), read theory, discuss our ideas, study history, process our fucking feelings, blog, tweet or listen to Tom Morello tell us about how the revolution is all about getting on a stage and playing a mean guitar solo while selling some really great “merch” – what matters is that we go into the streets in times of crisis. It isn’t a fucking question. We go.
I’ve been doing a lot of crying for the past 24 hours. Okay, okay – if you follow our Twitter stream – I’ve been doing a lot of crying for the past few months. And while it’s true that I cried when the verdict came down, that I cried when I revisited each unbearably heart-wrenching 31 cries for “daddy” that Kelly Thomas made while pleading for his life, I’ve been crying mostly about my own comrades. Particularly their stasis. And self-righteousness.
I’m terribly, terribly isolated watching them sink into familiarity and comfort. I’m disappointed in myself for not confronting them with the timidity and shame of their own wholesale retreat – their flight to comfort. I feel like I’ve made a big mistake believing their oft-professed resolve. There should be joy – but I don’t trust theirs. I weep for them and for what is more and more appearing like my own bad judgment. I weep that they seem incredibly adept at justifying their own erroneous ideas, rationalizing their weaknesses as strenghts and especially – at their own escapism.
I weep. A lot. In fact, I’m crying right now.
One of my comrades recently confessed she felt ashamed of herself for crying in front of a fellow militant. It struck me. Hard. Once again, Léo Ferré sings beautifully of this:
Ils ont le coeur devant Et leurs rêves au mitan
“They have their heart in front of them,” basically – as I understand it. And that is right. And necessary. And good. And that is the kind of comrade I want around me. We can think and talk and analyze it all day – but if we don’t feel it; if we don’t suffer each loss – who are we to savor each victory or believe it even possible? If we don’t still feel it, we are just as dead as every other self-defeating cynic.
Che Guevara, himself not necessarily every anarchist’s best friend, once said:
“The true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”
We agree. And it isn’t a kind of love that shirks obligation. It isn’t a kind of love that flees away from pain. It isn’t a fair-weather friend kind of love. It isn’t a kind of love that circles the proverbial (and colonial) wagons against criticism. It isn’t a kind of love that is ashamed of its pain – or its tears. And it isn’t a kind of love that allows itself to be calcified by cynicism. Cynicism is the polar vortex the state bellows upon the revolutionary heart. No, comrades – it isn’t the kind of love that asks, “Should we go?”
It’s the kind of love that knows we must go. So we go. To the streets. To the occupations. To the marches – the seemingly banal and the potentially-insurrectionary alike. We go. To the barricades. Together. And if we have questions or doubts – we’ll figure it out when we get there. But we have to go.
A las barricadas! Even if they’re only made of palm fronds. Even if they’re sure to fail. We are the people. If we want to really “Arm the Homeless,” those like Kelly Thomas who face this wanton police brutality every day, then we go and arm them with our fucking solidarity – not our fucking songs. Direct Action isn’t a fucking Kennedy Center honor. Direct Action is love.
Don’t ask. We go.