Archives For Anti-Capitalism

DSCN2373

Super Value

The piece I’m writing for The Wild Hunt this week involves lots of Christianity. And maybe some anal-sex, though I was told that anal-sex and anal sex are different.  Apparently, the hyphen makes it an adjective.  According to my fellow Wild Hunt writer, Terence, the proper use of the hyphenated version might be, “Glad I wore my anal-sex boots today!”

So maybe without the hyphen.  My boots are multi-purpose, anyway.

The piece is also about Capitalism and Brighid, though.  And particularly about how Capitalism infects modern religions through the allure of power.

You all know I used to be a Christian, yeah?  Not just a Christian, but a Southern Baptist, and one quite into it.  I was always fucking up to some degree, though–I’d always take certain parts too seriously.  I remember when I suggested wine might be okay because, well, Jesus turned water into it.  And I was told by a pastor, with a straight-face, no–that wasn’t really wine, but grape juice.  They didn’t drink alcohol really.  It was like kool-aid.”

I was also an Atheist for awhile.  In fact, most European-derived Anarchists tend to be, to some degree.  Seeing all the abuse of clergy helped that, but particularly the way the church in Europe and America helped provide the moral and theological justifications for authoritarianism and Capitalist exploitation. Atheism is a justified and quite reasonable response to regimes who use the notion of the Divine as the foundation of oppression against the poor and workers.

I’m always surprised, then, to see Atheism used as a foundation to justify the exploitation of others and the supremacy of the Capitalist system.  Therein’s the crux of most of my issues with Atheism within Paganism; not Atheism-in-itself (as I said, not only do I think Atheism to be quite honorable, I was an Atheist myself, as are still many of my friends), but Atheism which questions only belief in the Other as opposed to questioning the entire fucked-up system we find ourselves living within.

Same, though, with Christianity.  I’ve many Christian friends, and they’re all anti-Capitalist.  They, too, are confused by others within their own religion who use their belief structure to justify Capitalism.

What that leads me to understand, though, is that there’s another axis entirely in all most religions which is not measured but is significant enough that those of us who fall upon one side immediately recognize in each other that belief.

The rest will be in that article.  There’s a funny thing, though, one I recently brought up to my co-writers at The Wild Hunt.  I am not the only gay druid to have ever written about Christianity for The Wild Hunt.  But don’t worry–I’m going nowhere.

A funny matter though–the last significant post said other-gay-druid wrote about gods at all was an almost panicked detailing of his experience with a certain goddess he encountered.

Which reminds me–there’s a really good post by Brennos at Strixian Woods about The Morrigan and proselytization that I’d suggest reading.  It addresses both the matter of the ‘seeming popularity’ of a certain goddess in a way that neither privileges media portrayals nor ignores them.  I think for many of us, the rise of The Morrigan indicates something portentous.  My own reactions with her have thus far been scant and very cautious–she’s not a god I suspect I’ll ever oath myself to, but one it seems I still must offer support to regardless.  Like The Dagda–he didn’t like me one bit, but that didn’t stop me from giving money to homeless people on the streets of Dublin and telling them it was from The Dagda.  He might not like me, and maybe I don’t like him–I don’t know, we didn’t get much a chance to chat–but it is important to me that others notice him, regardless.

And is that not what much of this is about?  A Christian mentioned to me that I’ve helped sharpen his faith in his god, and he’s not the first to have told me this.  But I’m not a Christian and have no truck with their god.  But still, people taking their gods seriously is important regardless of which god that is, especially for those who suspect their god(s) aren’t pleased ’bout how we’re annihilating ourselves by annihilating the earth.

And yesterday, I noted a third review of Your Face is a Forest was posted by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus.  Not only was the review title my favorite ever, but I almost cried reading PSVL’s description of my writing:

But, there is nothing about this style that is “old” in any other sense than that it isn’t preferred by the neophile modern media; the words he uses, the expressions he has, the outlook evinced by all of the writing is not ancient or archaic or outmoded; it is thoroughly modern and post-modern, with roots deep in the places we inhabit now, in modeling a yearned-for responsible and environmentally-accountable way of life and viewpoint that has never existed before, and which didn’t need to exist in previous time periods, when environmental degradation was not at the current pace, when capitalism had not reached the apogee of its excesses, when hospitality was a cardinal rule rather than a commodified quantity and industry, and when telling a good story–no matter how long–was more important than making sure you got where you were going on-time.

E’s review’s called Does This Religion Make My Ass Look Like A Mountain?, and I’m still laughing heartily, a giant’s laugh.

You really want one of these.

You really want one of these.

And finally, have you seen Alley Valkyrie’s new design?  We’re using it for the cover of “A Pagan Anti-Capitalist Primer” which we’re putting together for our presentation at Pantheacon next week.  We’ll also be making the whole thing available online for download, internet reading, and possibly at-cost printing.

And, uh, peanuts?  Do you have peanuts?  Or other corvid food? 🙂

Be well, you awesome people!

db_cyril_mann__british_1911-1980__dark_satanic_mills__19251I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, and in passing on some entries here, but it seems a brilliant act of self-sabotage (more on this in a bit) to formally announce it here.

I’m gonna write a book on Capitalism.

Or, more specifically, I’m starting to write a book that will function as a primer on Capitalism for Pagans.

There are multiple reasons for such a project, and various sentiments which have made me suspect this sort of thing is not just desired, but probably desperately needed.  For instance, in several of my A Sense of Place posts, I’ve noted that I’ve needed to describe the specific functioning of Capitalism in comments because of a general mistake which occurs when anyone attempts to speak of Capitalism’s effects: that is, many people do not seem to understand Capitalism at all.

This is both quite common and highly excusable, as one of the more insidious aspects of Capitalism is to re-inscribe itself into the functioning of other systems so that “Capitalism” has come to many to mean technological advance, human rights, social progress, and even the very human (and ancient) act of economic exchange itself.  Worse, it’s quite difficult to think of Capitalism as something not always-already there, particularly because of the omnipresence of the Progress Narrative and Capitalism’s functional ability to de-historicize itself so that it seems somehow universal and inevitable.

One of the more common definitions of Paganism includes the notion that it is an “earth-based” or “nature-derived” spirituality.  Though this definition is sometimes problematic, it fits many of the traditions within Paganism quite well, particularly the one to which I’m most aligned: Druidry.  And as such, any arrangement of human activity which damages the earth should be critiqued by Paganism (I’d actually say “opposed”), and this leads to one of the reasons why I’d be writing it specifically from a Pagan perspective.  Paganism, whether or not it intends to be, functions as a political critique of society in the same way many indigenous religions do.  And that critique is largely anti-Capitalist, even when unstated or acknowledged.

As such, we’ve got more in common with Queer- and Liberation- theologians, First Nations resistance movements, Anarchists, Socialists, and many other “leftist” movements than we’re always aware of, even if any particular person within Paganism might identify instead with pro-Capitalist economic stances (I’ve noted that a visible minority of ADF-aligned Druids, CR folks and Heathens identify as Libertarians, or
“Anarcho-Capitalists,” at least on-line).

Part of my intention will be not just to present a primer to the function (and damage) of Capitalism, then, but to draw out the threads of anti-Capitalist critique within Pagan-aligned traditions, both current and historical.  And I’m hoping to do so along the same lines of my critiques of Capitalism and Disenchantment for A Sense of Place.  Beyond helping Pagans understand Capitalism, I’m hoping it will help allies in leftist traditions (political or religious) understand what Paganism offers the world.

The Brilliant Art of Self-Sabotage

The book isn’t finished.  Actually, I’m just starting it today.  So, why announce this now?

I proclaim things well ahead of their actual completion quite often.  I declared my intention to go on Pilgrimage to Bretagne months before purchasing a ticket to do so.  My declaration that I’d be moving back to the Northwest was likewise done before any arrangements were made (and got picked up by The Wild Hunt).  Similar to the way many traditions go about enacting magic or public rituals by stating intentions, I’ve found the best way to accomplish something is to tell other people I’ll be doing it, because the one thing I dislike more than my own procrastination is failing to keep my word.

That is, this is self-sabotage of the most helpful sort.

Also, well.  It’s a book. Writing is a bit isolating, and writing something long that won’t get immediate feedback is quite alienating.  This is the problem I run into when attempting to edit my fiction manuscripts (which will be finished in a few months): writing requires becoming a bit of a hermit from the world, and I’m incorrigibly addicted to people and the dance of ideas between them.   Blogs are great for this, as one gets quick feedback on how words are received and understood.  But blogs are also impermanent, less useful for ideas and discussions which requires many many words rather than a few thousand.

So, writing this will mean a bit more isolation than what I’d prefer (which is one of the reasons I decided to move to Eugene–there are people there, and sidewalks rather than highways between them), and probably fewer posts here, and likely fewer related to whichever new controversy internet Pagandom comes up with each week.

And I’ll also need some help.  While I’ve spent most of my life studying critical theory, Marxism, and radical movements, I haven’t spent as much time studying the various traditions within Paganism.  My knowledge of Heathenism, for instance, is frustratingly limited, as is my understanding of Kemetic traditions or Feri.  I’m better at the history of modern Paganism (which I extend back much further than those who count Wicca as the defining moment of these movements) and European political thought than I am knowing how particular traditions relate to industrialization.  I’m greatly inspired by some of the work people like Starhawk, T. Thorn Coyle, and other anarcho-leaning folks have done (including Christopher Scott Thompson, whose discussion of Brighid and how she relates to social justice really excites me), and I’m sure there’s more out there that I haven’t encountered.

So.  I’m hoping others reading this might be willing to share their knowledge with me regarding these matters.   For those who lean anti-capitalist, stories and myths of the gods and goddesses who have inspired you to do so would be incredibly helpful, as would accounts of others who’ve worked with land spirits on the matter.  And I’m not fully committed to the book being only my writing (that might bore the hell out of some folks, I realize)–if others are willing to contribute, I’d love to hear from you, either in the comments or by email (aulnaissance [at] gmail). Collections of short essays or even a fully-committed collaborator would be welcomed.

And finally, depending on how the rest of my life goes, I may find myself soliciting funding for this project.  I’m wretchedly horrible at asking for money (you should see my pathetic attempts to negotiate wages with bosses…), so doing so would be a strange thing for me, and something I’d really need to consider for a long time before doing.  I’m also not at the stage where that’s quite even a question yet.  Those with experience doing such things and would be willing to advise me on such matters would find themselves quite welcomed.