Now more than ever, this is the time to question what our relationships would look like if we really lived our values.
This is a time when many people can no longer ignore the alienation they live, from their communities, from each other, and even from themselves.
In the COVID-19 climate, people are increasingly participating in building networks of care and mutual aid. These networks are a circulatory system throughout the body of society, interconnecting us for our individual and collective survival. Survival in the context of a new disease.
But the capitalist and colonial devastations, which empowered this new virus and which are central to its destructiveness, have long been disintegrating our social body and the planet, isolating us in nuclear families and small consumer units, and relegating care-work to the context of violent institutions. So much so in fact that the circulatory system of interconnectedness some people are building these days, for the most part, doesn’t already exist. Even though the need isn’t new. There is no community for people defined outside of it, whether from exclusions related to disability, prisons, legal status, age or anything else. Not everyone gets to be part of the social body— not everyone has access to the blood.
This active community cooperation among people of various political stripes, limited as it may be (and scaffolded by corporate and data-mining digital “social networks”) is sometimes beyond what so many of us have actually been living in our humble humdrum quests of getting from one day to the next. But even this is still only a shadow of a truly radical possibility.
So many of us forget, both under “normal” circumstances and in times of “crisis”, the power we do have to structure our lives the way we want, despite the costs of this resistance. And we forget the costs of doing what we’re supposed to do when amatonormative institutions of monogamy and homonormativity offer us promises of legitimacy. Even when the cost is our collective survival.
We need to share the blood.
We forget that solidarity is ongoing and relational: showing up for each other day by day, and not just in scattered moments of crowded streets. Solidarity is relationship. It begins with caring whether and how we all live and die, but possibilities for relationship are vast. Who is part of this “all”? And what do these relationships look like? Why? What do we want them to be? And how can we make that happen, together?
Times of upheaval and uncertainty always carry the hope of new possibilities. As we struggle through these days, together and alone, I hope we heed the call to reassess and imagine radical potential for collaborative community: are we living our values in how we relate to each other? What would our lives and communities look like if we did?
What would our relationships look like if we lived our anarchistic values in our mundane, daily interactions?
Solidarity is relationship. Relationship is political.
For all the limitations and failings of online communications, the digitisation of certain community spaces has opened possibilities (if only temporary) for connecting with communities in new ways. Possibilities for discovering what other people are doing and how.
Detroit is easily visible from Windsor’s waterfront. But connecting with the beating heart of Detroit’s relationship anarchist community would normally require physically crossing nation states’ violently policed borders. It doesn’t right now.
The RAD UnConference on May 21st-24th 2020 is going online (with some participation from this side of the river). It’s a space to consider the question of anarchist praxis through relationship. Press Release: https://docs.google.com/document/d/11b9gihCsBae8bakh5zPuD8vb33N499qJh_G4….