My early political education was 80’s punk and hardcore, which means I hated Reagan and identified as an anarchist. That’s the position I pretty much held through a dozen+ years of alcohol and drug abuse, untreated dysthemia and I dunno how many rounds of major depression. After I got straight, I tried to be a slightly-less-irresponsible citizen so I showed up to vote fairly regularly, always for the Democrat, but still tended toward anarchism.
The first incarnation of BDSR featured a gaggle of local self-proclaimed anarchists. They were mostly college kids with rich parents who were getting their kicks playing revolutionary, which meant wearing kitschy clothes, yammering about “actions” and “affinity groups” and drinking micro-brews. They were pretty annoying, but I was trying to get a band off the ground and I needed warm bodies. The anarchists were all hep about being in a band, but not so into taking on any kind of responsibility or showing up when they said they would. They sure as shit weren’t into making music that didn’t sound exactly like the music the other cool kids were into, so when they really realized that we were not going to somehow magically sound like Rage Against The Machine, they all wandered off.
Unfortunately, I got kinda caught up in some of their dumb shit and actually participated in a poorly thought out action which got several people arrested, including myself. I’m not going into it because the targets of the action issued some death-threats and the whole thing turned into a shit-storm. A show was organized to raise money for the defense, then cancelled due to threats directed at the venue. I had to deal with cops because I was charged and because I was threatened…..it was a mess. I don’t wanna stir the shit up. I ended up getting a different lawyer than the other activists, a lawyer who I knew personally. I actually knew quite a number of individuals in the local legal system personally, which may or may not have had anything to do with the fact that the felony charges were null-processed for everybody involved. That means the charges were made to just go away. Nobody was acquitted or convicted, the charges weren’t dropped. It was like it never happened.
I distanced myself from the campus anarchists after that. I’m still cordial when I see ‘em – I am a Southerner after all – but I don’t hang out. Most of ‘em drifted out of town. I assume they went to work for their parents’ corporations. I still identified as an anarchist.
The wee grrrl was born a year or so after all that. Becoming a parent changes everything. I started looking around at the things that I needed and/or wanted for my daughter and it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t going to be able to get her immunized at some anarchist commune/squat. Our little family unit was depending on WIC that first year. The grrrl’s Mommy applied for food stamps – I refused to apply, but didn’t try to stop her from doing so. Anarchists don’t build playgrounds or help you install child-safety-seats in your car correctly. I started to appreciate all the things the government was providing for us. Of course, half of the government would like to take all those appreciable services away, kick out all the brown people and continue to deny equal rights to LGBTQXP’s. I’ve encountered some delusional dopers who actually believe that the Republicans, or at least their are closer than the Democrats to Anarchism, but decriminalization of purp isn’t the only issue that matters. If we’re going to have government – and there’s no viable alternative at this juncture – a liberal one is the most compassionate option.
I voted for Obama. I always vote for the Democrat, but I liked Obama’s end-the-war policy, his no-more-spying-on-citizens policy and his health-care-for-all policy. Turns out, after getting elected, he reversed himself on two of those, but he is a politician so whaddaya expect? I voted for him the second time too. I’ll be perfectly honest here: I was hoping he’d tax the top 1% into the bowels of Hell and use the money to give free dental work and biopsies to me and all my dirt-poor friends. No shit. Does that mean I believe in class war? Damn right. Kill the rich. At this writing, the GOP’s in Congress have dug in like ticks and are holding the country hostage to avoid funding Obamacare. That’s how determined they are to maintain the USA’s position as the only developed Western nation that doesn’t ensure health care for all citizens. Fucking pigs. I wasn’t a Socialist a few years back, but I’ve been called one so many fucking times that I just adopted it. Gimme Northern European-style social-democracy anyday.
On the national level, that is. On the personal level, I’m every bit as opposed to any authority as I ever was. I have deeply-felt spiritual beliefs, obviously, and I adhere to a moral code, but my beliefs and morality are the results of my own experiences and convictions. They don’t come from any church or guru. I do what I believe to be right because it is right. The only punishment I will ever suffer for my sins is the knowledge that I failed to live up to my own standards. My primary deity will never judge or condemn me. My helper spirits will never chastise or abandon me.
I believe in God’s will. It’s the same thing as dharma or Tao. It is the natural order of things. Water will seek the lowest level. Plants and animals will bear offspring of their own kind. Stars will explode, hurling their various atoms into the vastness of space where they will clump together and form planets capable of supporting life. A person with a genetic predisposition for addiction will never be able to enjoy a chilled spirits glass of straight bourbon without succumbing to the phenomenon of craving and going on a bender that might result in death. Butterflies fly all crazy. That’s God’s will. It is what it is. And God’s will is gonna get done, so it makes the most sense to be in accord with God’s will. Fighting gravity is stupid. Embracing gravity, seeking to understand gravity, seeking to understand forces related to gravity like air currents, aerodynamics and such, means you figure out how birds fly and you can build an airplane. Airplanes don’t fight gravity. I don’t fight the desire to enjoy a chilled spirits glass of straight bourbon. I do the things that I do to grow spiritually and I don’t have that desire. You can describe it anyway you like, but I love and appreciate the language of spirituality, so I attribute my complete lack of desire for bourbon – pot, acid, beer, crank, vodka, opiate painkillers, tequila, benzos &c – to the actions of my primary deity and my spirit helpers. That works for me.
Of course, the unseen forces that support me do more than just keep me off the shit. I have developed resources over the years that I wouldn’t’ve thought possible. I have had experiences in my quest for spiritual growth that I can’t articulate and don’t fully comprehend. I have met divinity. I have become Enlightened. I have been to the yonder shore.
I’m trying to figure out how to explain shamanarchy. It’s a thing that has recently been found floating on the surface of my consciousness, an ideology that combines the tenets of The Big Drum In The Sky Religion with political action. This kinda thing happens. Some nuance of what this thing is about drifts into the corner of my mind’s eye and I have to roll it around for a while to get a grasp on what it is.
Shamanarchy, which autocorrect wants to change to “sham anarchy”, certainly has to do with rejecting any authority, with acting out of one’s own moral center on all social levels. A shamanarchist seeks the greatest good for those of his/her community, whether that community be the village or the nation. The ballot box is a tool, as are the monkey wrench and the rifle. Shamanarchy must needs mean being willing to throw oneself onto a grenade or into the cosmic water at the drop of a medicine hat.
The shamanarchist must have invisible means of support as well as human and animal community. Plants, too, if their language can be grasped – I haven’t yet learnt it meself. No one can make any positive difference acting alone. We are social creatures and must have society, of the human and non-human kinds. A shamanarchist forms alliances with other entities to work for the greatest good, defers to the judgment of those allies who are more knowledgeable, but does not blindly serve anyone. A shamanarchist must be a shaman, visionary, seeker. One can concentrate on any of the paths, but a shamanarchist must recognize that all lead to truth and have some knowledge of the various ways.
No shamanarchist may engage in oppression. I don’t see any way a shamanarchist could live above the poverty line, though there is no reason a shamanarchist shouldn’t charge a small fee for performing rituals, cures or exorcisms. The laborer is worthy of his hire, after all, and money represents energy – the person or group that hires a shaman gives her/him money as a way of demonstrating their faith in the shaman’s ability and of supporting his/her work on their behalf. Passionate and compassionate participation in the political system makes sense, as does passionate and compassionate action outside it. Don’t get caught.
The Earth is where we live. No amount of social justice matters if the Earth is uninhabitable. A shamanarchist must be an environmentalist.
As this thing comes together, I’ll flesh it out.
Brown Hat the Espresso Shaman
The pun is always intended.