This is the first public statement by a member of Red Spark currently facing felony charges for the events on May 1st in Seattle.
I know it is winter where you are and I know how miserable Seattle winter can be—how it seems every year that it will never end. I’ll be back there with you soon. But for now all I want to say is simply: take heart. May 1st happened on the cusp of summer, at the apex of a year of the most beautiful cycle of revolt and insurrection in half a century. We are a part of that. We always have been.
But even at the height of it, when those warm winds first reached us from North Africa and we dared to long for the hottest of seasons—even then we knew the rain was coming. Because it always comes.
For those in my generation (the poorest since the Great Depression) this is simply the most recent form of something abysmally familiar. We grew up in the age of torture, the age of Bush and Obama, of indefinite detention and mass incarceration. The only constants in our lives have been war, prison and debt. A massive police-state apparatus originally constructed in wars on “drugs” or “terror” to target communities of color, immigrants and muslims is now being slowly retooled to suppress explicitly political dissent.
But I also know that some of you are old enough to remember this from long before. Grand juries convened to investigate and indict individuals for their political sympathies. The nationwide raids conducted against the Black Panthers. Today the rain is just starting and it must appear hardly as heavy as it fell then.
Seattle is a city still filled with the veterans of these old struggles, so many since bought off or silenced, but maybe hoping now and again. I know you are there. Maybe you are thirty-something, your early years spent in the anti-globalization movement tasting teargas and pepper spray on the same streets that I have. Now maybe you are settled down, employed in some non-profit where you imagine you can at least do some small good. But you still see what’s happening. You see neoliberalism uprooting entire nations, you see the unending militarization, the perpetuated state of exception in which democracy is whittled away until it is nothing but an executive branch and an arsenal.
Or maybe you are a grandmother who once demonstrated against the Vietnam war only to see the same thing happen in Iraq. Maybe you marched again in some of the biggest protests this country has ever seen—and then watched as those massive peaceful demonstrations did absolutely nothing. And now you have had to sit by for a decade as our military has murdered the very people you tried to save.
Or maybe, finally, you are an old Panther still living in the CD, watching the neighborhood being torn down and bleached and still in shock yourself at how much your family’s old house is worth. Maybe you’re a little surprised, too, at how interested the kids today seem when you sit down every now and then to tell your stories about streetfights with the police, assassination attempts, barricading the panther headquarters against a federal raid.
All of you must see this rain with a familiar bitterness. Today’s problems are in so many ways the same as those of your youth and in so many ways more dire. This is no time for silence. However you may feel about the scare-words used by the media, I know you do not believe the lies spoken against us. I know you have no sympathy for the large banks in whose name we are attacked. Inaction is complicity. Please, remember.
And to the rest of us—to those in my own generation—I remind you simply that winter ends. The rain will stop and who knows where the sun might first appear again?
People have asked me if I am afraid of what the forces of capital can do to us. But how can I be? What can they take from us that hasn’t already been taken? We own only debt and love.
There is no future under capitalism, as the environment collapses and the last gains of the workers’ struggle are dismantled and fed to the bottomless pit of profit. Our debt is too much to add to, and our love just grows every time they try to crush it.
So no. There is nothing to fear. Nothing they can do to us is worse than what capitalism will do on its own in war, apartheid and deepening crisis. Like Mohammed Bouazizi, we are already dead. And, like him, our love spreads.