20 Years of Subversive Activity
My Political Life in Brief
My life in politics began as an angry teenage libertarian around the year 2000. Two decades later I am an active mutualist, working for liberty with a greater understanding of authoritarian structures and how to counter them.
As a small town youth in 1990s New Jersey, I generally absorbed the values of the predominately white and middle class society around me. My mother was a parole officer at a prison outside of town and my father was a public school teacher. But I also typically experienced life as an outsider, so there was a need to rebel in tension with the values surrounding me. Looking back I think being queer and later learning to hide it was a big factor in my early life but this was simply not something I was equipped to deal with at the time. I developed a lifelong interest in the outdoors by the time I was 10 years old. As I grew in my teen years, the woods around my town were a place where I could go to be outside of society’s restrictions, and living a rugged adventurous life seemed cool. Another influence on my life was my interest in history, from explorers to partisans.
From 1998 to 2000 I read survivalist and militia boards online. This stemmed partly from my interest in outdoors life and partly from a desire to read about edgy topics. It was enjoyable to communicate with people who seemed to be coming from a similar perspective and also opposed the way things were.
From 2000 to 2004 I was an angry teenage libertarian. As I got older I could see that the system and the people in charge were not so great and I wanted to do something about it. The things I read combined with my daily life perspective shaped how I saw doing something. The post-9/11 world, with so much fear of outsiders and acceptance of bigotry and state power, was further alienating. I was generally on the libertarian right at this time, but things like the Battle of Seattle and Rage Against the Machine kept me interested in the left. Picking up a copy of Homage to Catalonia at a yard sale around 2002 opened my eyes to a whole political world on the left, though I did not yet enter it. My readings of Henry David Thoreau encouraged me to uphold individual conscience and liberty against authority while appreciating the natural world.
From 2004 to 2007 I was a Libertarian Party activist. It was refreshing to work with a group that rejected the post-9/11 police state and wars, said that government power kept people from living well, and held that policing was often harmful and racist.
My involvement in the Libertarian Party and associated movements did make me less of a hothead, but it also lead me to buy more fully into capitalism, as I was in a space where it was described in the ideals of economic liberty and not in the reality of economic power.
From 2007 to early 2008 I was a disaffected libertarian, kind of a troll, and generally thought of myself as individualist. Graduating from college wasn’t as great as I had expected and I had little direction in life. I had started to view the political movement I had dedicated my time to as ineffective, and it was now going in a more recognizable right-wing direction, especially with Ron Paul taking the spotlight.
From late 2008 to late 2013 I was an individualist anarchist. Answering the call to protest the RNC was a fundamentally important event in my shift from being a disaffected person to being an active participant in the struggle for liberation. I read more authors like Voltairine de Cleyre and Kevin Carson. I did a lot of writing and literature distribution at this time and got involved in actions when I saw an opportunity.
From late 2013 to early 2016 I was generally disaffected and burnt out, though still on the libertarian left. I kept up a few writing projects but mostly kept to myself after a while. A lot of self-examination, but also getting back into studying history and talking with people about liberatory politics helped me get back on the path I wanted to be on.
From early 2016 to now in 2020, my libertarian left politics have developed to a more firmly mutualist position with support for democratic confederalism. I see mutualism as the basis for a free and just society, where economic activity is primarily run by workers and generally operates through monetary exchange, access to basic needs like food and shelter are ensured through local councils, and other necessities such as healthcare and utilities are provided by organizations run for the benefit of members. I oppose the exercise of political, economic, or social authority over other people. I support democratic confederalism as an effective way to gain liberty as far as possible as quickly as possible. This means I probably do not really qualify as an anarchist anymore, though I recognize that anarchist theory and action is very good for the world. I hold to the principles that theory and action must inform each other, and that we cannot successfully impose a model for liberation, but must develop liberation from the conditions we are in. Liberation will not be won in a single event of revolution, but revolutionary events are part of the process of liberation.