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Speculative Solidarity | PART I | Breaking up with Capitalism / Relanguaging for (r)Evolution

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Hey there! It's me, Elæ – I'm going to caption this myself, so it's going to be spelled right – otherwise it most definitely would not be! um – just want to tell you that this is like the fourth time I'm making this video today because I'm really trying to make sure that it has captions for the different types of people in this potential audience So: here I am, in my house, which I am so grateful to have, um, here in Brooklyn in New York City, today's gregorian calendar date is Friday the 13th in the year we call 2020

that we call a "year" Um, and: I am thinking about the ways in which the tools that I am lucky to have available to me are leading me to think about the current situation (oh, here's Ruby) that other people may not be using or employing right now as so much panic fills our collective body um, and I was just thinking about this as an opportunity to communicate with my community and with other people and potentially to provide a sort of service even from my house, as long as we have the gift of the platforms that are currently available to us If you are at home today, I say hello to you, I reach across the ether; if you are at work today, I give gratitude whether you are there because of precariousness that doesn't allow you to take off of work or whether you are there because you are in a critical service position in hospitals or in other jobs that are so sorely needed right now Thank you so much you are all doing us such a great service right now in not being able to think about your own needs today first So (I'm sorry I'm now, like, petting my cat while I'm talking to you) – my cat is over here

that's Ruby So, the first thing that I wanted to say is, sort of a quick introduction to the idea of a sort of a "speculative solidarity": and so, when I think about "speculative" thinking, to me that is the type of thinking that allows us to utilize the tools and language available to us but in ways that are not yet employed So, it means that we are utilizing the current to go into the future and consider potentials that we could shift into or that we might imagine shifting into whether it was done agentively or not

So, a speculative solidarity in a time like this means that I'm thinking about ways that we can think collectively and independently in this moment about forms of solidarity, community formation, networking, kinship, mutual aid, support, and how we might transform this moment into one wherein we are able to rebuild and shift into something different, during and after this crisis I see it as potentially a great gift that only something of this scale would really allow at this time Today's "episode" (since I'm going to try to make a bunch of these) is called "Breaking up with Capitalism" and "Relanguaging for (r)Evolution" So the first part, Breaking up with Capitalism, has to do with not only "Capitalism," but it uses the idea of a "breakup" or idea of a "relationship" as something that we are all in with the systems at play in our world And just as you might do, if you were in a relationship with a partner or a family member or a friend or a boss — hopefully you have the power to do that — that you found to be abusive, or that you found someone else was in that kind of abusive relationship, we might say to ourselves "hey," you know, "I have to get myself out of this," #boundaries, #selfcare, and many of us unfortunately are not able to do that, even in relationships, for a variety of reasons having to do with trauma; and that's a whole other conversation

But, in terms of the systems of financial the ways finances and power and the body often work together in tandem in our world — which we could frame as being specifically something that has to do with Capitalism, which is the mode through which money and labor happens in this particular system — if we think about that, we can think about being in what is essentially an abusive relationship, a relationship that gaslights, a relationship that attempts to control not only your understanding of yourself, but of your world, etc

as being the only one that holds its logic, as opposed to presenting its logic to you as one of a choice of many Right, so, the way that this becomes so institutionally pervasive is through media, through school, through any form in which you get your *language* So, language becomes the channel by which the body begins to be inscribed by the logic of this system That may not make a lot of sense! but hopefully I'm going to break it down for you in a way that works So, when newspapers, or the media, or things that fly around on social media, videos, etc

movies, stories, etc use language that comes from a capitalist understanding and we hear it again and again and we're not really offered alternatives we start to think that those things just ARE the "world," instead of understanding that those things come from a source, and that they aren't FIXED And yet, we have heard them so often and they're so much the logic that pervades every different way that we learn and think and act and operate — and the ways that other people do that and mirror back to us — that it's hard for us to kind of recognize that this is something that's actually been *created,* right? Monetary systems have also been created, etc The way that they work, land ownership, the idea that one person has more than another, and is able to have access to something and someone else isn't, this is a system that we did actually PRODUCE And so, I wanted to sort of start us out with this idea of, like, what it would mean to "break up" from capitalism–and of course, like, in operation, that's very difficult for so many of us who are precarious: meaning, that we don't have enough resources to free ourselves from the cycle of labor or the cycle of finances that we find ourselves in, cycles of debt, etc

However, I think that there is a way to conceptually, intellectually, and ideologically free ourselves — and our bodies, as well — from Capitalism, and that starts to be some of the speculative work that we can start doing Um, and, it starts to help you step back — almost in the way that you try to do in meditation — where you are actually kind of outside the relationship with capitalism or the kind of system that you're in, looking AT it, as opposed to just being IN it, and having it act UPON you as an unwitting body So the first thing that I wanted to kind of — haha I say the "first thing" but I've already been talking for 8 minutes! but that is just where we are — SO Um, I wanted to bring up this idea or sort of framework that Sylvia Federici uses, I think in a very interesting and useful way (this is from Federici's book, CALIBAN AND THE WITCH, I think it's published by Autonomedia but I don't have it with me right now becuase it's in my office, where I teach) but the idea — and this is in a chapter about how the body starts to be controlled — is that the body is capitalism's first MACHINE, before the clock, and before the printing press So, what does she mean by that? What Federici is talking about is that, in the shift in Western Europe from a place where (she's talking specifically about Western Europe, and I don't have the capacity to make this an evaluation in every place, but I can say that a lot of what happened in Western capitalism was then exported, as a short thing)– so, what's happening in Western Europe in the time that Federici is particularly interested in is that there is a move from sort of a commons ownership of land and also sort of a commons intelligence (plant medicine, community ways of he aling, and sharing goods, resources, land, healing, kinship networks, etc) and removing that from a commons holding into a place of vilifying different ways of operating against the modes of, now, top down land-ownership, the production of a labor force, (wherein the body is now laboring for someone else, and in order to provide yourself with resources you need to labor for a certain amount of time or a certain amount of productivity in order to gain the resources that you need in order to survive)

So this move is one that people did not participate in willingly, and so this whole process was one wherein people had to really be coerced and forced (often violently) into what would become a labor body, which we talk about as sort of a "biopolitics," which is sort of the political relationship to the body So we get moved into this biopolitical state wherein the peasantry who have had their own relationship to the land and their own relationship to resources — and to their time and to what they do with their bodies and the way that they interact with their world — there was a lot of resistance (obviously) and so what happens is there was a process of creating all of this literature, all this narrative, around the evil of the body, and the ways in which people who were working with plant medicines were anti the church, and so in this way the church and state make this attack on these old ways of being So when we talk about the body being Capitalism's first machine we talk about it as this process by which we convince ourselves that the body was this laboring body and also that we needed to ignore what was happening in the body in order to be our "best" selves So this continues on through Cartesian thinking, Descartes and other philosophers wherein Western philosophy starts to be a space in which the sort of subjugation of the body and repression of its urges and repression of its needs becomes synonymous with the "better" capacities of the "mind," which was erroneously, as result, divided from the way we understood the body for a really long time And so, when we, in our own lives are participating in capitalism, we're doing so as part of a long history of the subjugation of the body and its needs, and a sort of dialectic, this kind of divorce and binary thinking that's been set up and passed down to us, about how we are weak or not being the best that we can if we aren't, actually, ignoring the needs of the body, in order to participate in the systems of Capitalism, ie, "WORK," ie "PRODUCTION," ie, "EARNING" to earn your keep, etc etc

The whole problem with this, of course, is that there is no "earning your keep," without Capitalism There is no need for currency in order to acquire food without this system in play, right, and so what is so important is that part of it is, how are we LANGUAGING ourselves, right? So how can we use language as a way to start moving out of this ideological trap that we're in with capitalism? How can we use speculative thinking, as well as a selfhacking mechanism, for changing the way that we talk about ourselves, our lives, and other people, so that we can start to really hold on to these fissures and break them and start to see how much this has a hold on us So, as we take time, right now, to consider what it means to care for ourselves and others in a time of great disruption and illness, and when we see the systems of capitalism are so so so so so deeply broken, the institutions are so deeply broken that in New York City we can't close the public schools (or they're saying you can't close the public schools) because we can't feed the homeless children that rely on them, or, where other work is having a slow down and people are being asked to work from home as opposed to just resting, or taking time to care for their families and set up a contingency plan because so essential is the idea that capitalism moves forward so that the ability to care for ourselves is visualized as part of this system wherein money comes "down" because we work, as opposed to there being resources are actually not connected to "work" And so some of the ways that I have been watching this play out in my own community are these: what does it mean to consider yourself to be doing a thing that is not-working? Right? What is that *state*? If you can only consider what is happening when you're "not-working" to be in relationship to "work," then this is kind of a hint that you've gotten sucked in by this ideology, right? Very similar is the idea that if you see a person who is not partnered or coupled as "single" the word "single" (which is in relationship to the not having as a partner) as opposed to just being a person; the personhood doesn't have anything to do with couplehood or with the ways in which we form relationships, and yet the way that we talk about it is about the lack thereof because's its so institutionally normalized Same thing for the body versus the disabled body or the crip body or the mad body, right, when we use the word "normal" to talk about an "able" body with certain characteristics or certain capacities, we create a verbal way of narrating the body that is actually inaccurate

And so, when we use these words around labor, and we say, oh, we're all on "vacation" — we're not "on vacation"– what does it mean to think about this time as a different time, what does it mean to recognize that the systems are not set up to actually allow everyone to stop working and care for themselves To stop "working" and and produce networks of emergency strategies for people who will be without homes, people who will be without food, people who will be without connections, elders who will be without people to get in touch with them — if this isn't slowing down, and if the government is spending its money on bailing out companies and banks instead of giving it to people — money that was "not available" — this should give you the sense that you are in this model, and it does not have to be So, how can we use this moment to kind of go, WOAH, and pull ourselves way back — what does it mean to tell yourself, right now, (this came up in my facebook yesterday)– what does it mean if you're at home and you're supposed to be ("supposed", right, even this word) — someone has *asked you to work,*– and you don't feel like you CAN? What does that mean? Are you getting down on yourself? Are you thinking, "wow, I'm so DISTRACTED!" I'm so "UNFOCUSED"– those were words that I was hearing What if it's not distraction? What if it's not "lack of focus"? what if it is actually the total opposite, which is your body is trying to give you information about where it needs to put ITS focus? That your world is giving you information about where we, collectively, need to put OUR focus? Right? What is the purpose right now, of moving "forward" with our "jobs"? Obviously, there is a certain type of breakdown that happens if everyone just anarchically stops laboring, but the point is not to stop doing things in service of ourselves and each other The purpose is to say that the WAYS that we do that are obviously broken, they've CAUSED this situation, and so to desperately try to fit it into these new modes is not necessarily really what we need right now

So, who's going to stand up and say, "I need to reconsider what it even means to be in my body So many people are about to die" They still want you to focus primarily on "working" for someone else So yeah That's Part I Who knows what I just said? I have to go back and type it all! [Note: if someone has a great way of taking auto-captions, I have done so much research and really am coming up short, so transcribed this manually] I'd like to talk a little bit, maybe tomorrow or the next time I make a video, about a speculative SOMATICS, about how you can be working with your BODY right now to deal with the very well founded anxiety that you're undoubtedly having and I am as well: what you can doing to stay from being isolated, how you can help others in your community that really are at greater risk than you perhaps, or if you are someone at great risk, how you can communicate that? We're up to almost a 20 minute video! But I just wanted to put this out there, hopefully it helps someone, I'm thinking of you, I'm thinking of me, I'm thinking of what all of us need, and I'm hoping for a little bit of revolution! (blows kiss) xx

Source: Youtube

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