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May 20, 2024 42 mins

Margaret Killjoy talks with Gare about how to get and stay plugged into the movement.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Cool Zone Media.

Speaker 2 (00:05):
Hello, and welcome to It Could Happen Here, a podcast
about things falling apart and how we try to put
them back together again. I'm your guest host, Margaret Kiljoy,
and with me this week is one of your regular hosts.
Here higare Hello. This week is one of those putting
things back together episodes. The premise of this episode is simple.

Let's say you're newly radicalized. Maybe you were participant in
the occupations and now the school year is over, or
you got expelled and you're wondering what the next steps are.
This won't be an all in one guide to how
to become an activist, but it's sort of a sketch
of one. It's also not quite a complete Summer twenty
twenty four guide to protests, but there's some of that

in here too. It's a magpie's guide to getting started
in activism. I want to start with my own biases
up front, because it's going to inform everything that I
have to say about all of this. I'm an anarchist.
It's also been decades since I've broke into the movement.
I've been doing this stuff since two thousand and two,
when I dropped out of college to join the ultra

globalization movement. So I have biases towards things like dropping
out of college because it worked for me, and I
have You know, a lot of my experience isn't recent,
at least my direct experience personally, but I've been watching
people come into the movement for a very long time.
I also have biases against authoritarian organizing and electoral organizing,

and biases towards direct action and autonomy as models for
radical social change. I believe this is how you build
a freer and better world by practicing freedom along the way.
But you can adapt this to suit your own interests.
That's not to say I have any interest in guiding
people towards specific paths, specific actions, specific issues and movements.

Exactly the opposite. This is my attempt to kind of
give a big picture view of how one might get
involved right now. I don't know if you knew this gear.
The world's kind of in trouble.

Speaker 3 (02:06):
I have heard this before. I have heard this said, Yeah, do.

Speaker 2 (02:10):
You ever think about how your job is to be
a professional chicken little?

Speaker 4 (02:14):
Yeah? Sometimes I guess so. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (02:16):
I mean, I'm definitely in the dredges trying to find
what horrible things are always happening?

Speaker 2 (02:21):
Certainly, Yeah, I would say even though the world is
always in serious trouble, it's like extra in serious trouble
right now, and we are in desperate need of people
who dedicate their time, whether part of it or all
of it, to trying to stop the terrible things that
are happening and trying to build beautiful things and beautiful alternatives.

So how do you get started? I want you to
think about a couple different things that are separate from
each other. I want you to think about This isn't
necessarily you gere, although you could if you want, sure,
why not?

Speaker 4 (02:52):

Speaker 2 (02:53):
What do you care about? Like what issues are specifically
important to you? It's the first thing to think about.
The second is what do you want to do about it?
And if you have a sense of that, and like
also kind of how far you're willing to go. If
you get a sense of those things before you throw
yourself into the fight, you're going to start off strong.

Those things can change, they will change over time, but
getting a sense of those ahead of time is a
good way to figure out which door you want to
go in, and then also to avoid some of the
dangers that lie on the other side of any given door.
What do you care about? What movements and projects speak
loudest to you? A ton of causes are interconnected, of course,

right the fight for Palestinian liberation is not at its
core a separate project than the fight against policing in
the United States, for example, the rise of a global
police state is everyone's problem, and so is the US
and Zionist imperial project. Causes are interconnected, but you can
rarely start by trying to fix everything. Usually got to

pick somewhere to start working. You don't climb a mountain
by just willing yourself to the top. You climate by
picking a place and then starting to climate. Maybe you're
concerned about the police state or surveillance, or the erosion
of rights, or Palestinian liberation, or fighting for prisoners in
the US to still have access to books, or for
LGBT rights, or for migrants at the border, or for

the protection of the remaining national ecosystems and stopping the
expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure. Maybe you're concerned about something
hyper local, like the destruction of a local park or
the sweeping of homeless encampments. Maybe it's something a bit
broader and more abstract, like you want to get involved
in explaining the need for police abolition, but there's something,

there's something that you want to change. As a place
to start, the second question is what do you want
to do? There's multiple questions embedded in this. There's how
far are you willing to go? We'll talk more of
that later, more immediately, what is your skill set or
what skill sets do you wish you had? Like a
lot of times I'll just be like, oh, hey, what
are you good at? And now'll go do that? But

sometimes like what you're good at that isn't what you
want to be doing. And it's also totally okay to
be like, well what do I want to be good at?
Like what do I want to be trying to focus
on what do you have to offer the revolution or
what do you wish you had to offer? Are you
in med school or have other first aid or medical experience.
Maybe you want to plug in with your local street medics.
Are you studying law? Movement lawyers need paralegal help, and

there are groups that use volunteers to get people out
of jail or through difficult court cases. If graphic design
is your passion. This is me referencing a meme from
a million years ago and totally winning people over. Every
group that exists needs help with their flyers or Instagram
slideshows or whatever the fuck that is certainly the case. Yeah. No,

it's funny too, right, because it's like it's one of
those things where if you do graphic design, you sort
of think like, oh, everyone sort of does this or whatever, right,
and then I've been part of groups where people are like,
no one knows how to do this at all, and
everything is that we make as garbage, you know.

Speaker 3 (05:58):
Yeah, although there is actually a care full needle to
thread in this vein, because if you've had enough experience,
you can kind of figure out what type of action
it's gonna be based on how well designed and the flyer.

Speaker 2 (06:13):
Is, yeah, and which way. If it's kind of corporate
well designed, it's like gonna tie into electoral politics and
be born. But if it's hip and well designed, it's
a riot.

Speaker 4 (06:24):

Speaker 3 (06:24):
Sometimes there's sometimes there's some like very like well designed
flyers that are not like very electoral, but they're like, okay,
this will be a marge, will be some speeches. We'll
kind of walk around a little bit because it's like
a very well polataild flyer versus when you have like
a white background of big block attacks, maybe one poorly
cropped picture, you're like, okay, this is obviously a riot flyer.

Speaker 2 (06:48):
Yeah, okay, okay.

Speaker 3 (06:49):
It takes a degree of subtlety to get the instinctal
difference when you're looking at a collection of flyers that
are going out.

Speaker 2 (06:57):

Speaker 4 (06:58):

Speaker 2 (06:58):
This is interesting to me because in like about fifteen
years ago, the people throwing the best riots were like
a bunch of graphic designers, and so it was the
specific h yeah, okay, okay, well you know, and actually,
as a good graphic designer knows the language that they

are speaking with and is what they're communicating, So that
might be what you want to do is get involved
in making the flyers. If you spend all day on Twitter.
A lot of activist groups can't find someone to run
their social media, or they have people who run it
very badly. Sometimes being an extrovert is a superpower. Building
strong movements means building strong communities, and every meeting and

party needs someone willing to introduce themselves to the new
people and help them figure out where to go. The
best activist meetings I've ever been to have like someone
who's there to sit next to new people and explain
what's going on. Also, if you can plan a party,
you can plan a benefit show to money for bail funds.
There's kind of this like like whenever I talk about this, like, oh,

everyone has their place and people are like, why don't
I'm a fucking bookkeeper, and I'm like, oh my god,
we need you, or like, you know, all kinds of
different skill sets that people like don't think apply actually
do project manager. Yeah, we're we're not all instinctively good
at that, you know. And so the quickest way to
sum this part of it up is you think about

what's wrong, and you think about what you're good at,
and then you get together with other people and apply
what you're good at to stopping what's wrong. That is
the like one sentence version of how to start getting
involved in making the world better. But the last part
of it that I want the like question of it
beforehand is risk analysis. It is very easy to get

swept up in the moment and go beyond your comfort
zone in terms of risk in a lot of different environments.
The more you have sorted out ahead of time about
what kinds of actions you're comfortable with strategically, morally, and personally.
The easier it is to stick to your decisions when
things get hard. For example, you might tell yourself, I

will risk arrest, but I will not get arrested on
purpose because I have a massage license I don't want
to lose, or I have kids at home, or I'm undocumented,
or I don't like the idea of jail. Whatever your
reason is, there's plenty of reasons to make that decision.
You might be willing to risk arrest, like be in
a hectic riot, but you're not willing to lock your
neck to a bulldozer. So when you go to the

planning meeting for the lock your neck to a bulldozer
action and you're trying to figure out who wants to
lock their neck to the bulldozer, you've already made up
your mind and you're less likely to kind of pressure
yourself into volunteering.

Speaker 4 (09:40):
Or feel pressured by others.

Speaker 2 (09:42):
Yeah, I'm imagining the positive version. Well, okay, because it's
very rarely someone's like, hey, gear been a while since
you locked your neck to anything, and it's usually more
like man, it just sure would be good if someone
was bold and noble enough to just step up right
now now and then yeah yeah, yeah. I mean I've

organized some of my friends arrests before, and it's it's
not always that's not always the strategy that people want
to be doing. Anyway, I'm just using this as an example,
like a kind of Earth First style thing. If you
know what your risk models are, you can make better decisions.
Maybe you're fine with a spirited march, but as soon
as windows start getting broken, you're like, you know, I

want to leave. That's going to not be my scene.
You know, I'm not mad that the people did it,
but it's not what I am willing to get arrested
in response to. It's also important to know your risk levels,
which kind of course shift because there are predators in
the ranks of direct action activists. I don't know if
you knew this, gre there's a shadowy, unaccountable group that

tries to get people to break laws. They're called the FEDS.
They're called the FBI. They have a history going back
decades and then trapping people by coming up with bomb
plots or ars and plots or whatever. And we're not
going to go into this in depth in this episode,
but if you want to do more research, people should
look up They should read about cointel pro it's an acronym,
or read about the case of Eric McDavid, or read

about how the FBI set up Muslim Americans in the
wake of nine to eleven. But another thing you should
go into all this knowing is that that doesn't mean
that everyone who wants to do those kinds of actions
is working with the Feds.

Speaker 3 (11:25):
Yeah, and you shouldn't go around accusing everyone you don't
like of possibly being a secret and federal agent.

Speaker 2 (11:31):
Because you know who likes accusing people of being federal agents.

Speaker 4 (11:35):

Speaker 2 (11:35):
And also our sponsors they don't, they don't. They're all great.
They might, they might, I don't know. I can't really
speak to them, but here they are, they can speak
to you, and we're back. That is a thing that

is absolutely worth anyone who's getting involved in activism, especially
direct action activism, including above grounds some of this obedient
style action. It is really worth understanding the ways in
which federal oppression works, and how federal oppression works often
by the fear of federal oppression and getting people to
spread paranoia and so as a general rule, The way

that I've always heard it talked about is that it's
like you never want to be like, hey, I think
that guy's a fed. Instead you're like, hey, guy, that
kind of behavior is disruptive and leads towards bad things,
you know, Like yeah.

Speaker 3 (12:37):
And I think I even have some hesitation to just
be like you should just just go google co intel
pro and learn all about it, because I feel like
that can also lead to someone kind of falling down
like some conspiracy brained rabbit holes, and like, I've gotten
the best information by just talking to older people who've
been in the movement for a while, and like just

like if someone had like over ten years of experience
and they're like, you can learn a lot about what
has happened before through just like actual, like in person conversations.
And I have found that to be much more useful
than just like going down like a Google rabbit hole,
because that can just kind of lead to I think
slightly even slightly more like paranoid thinking or just it
just becomes like less applicable than like, hey, you have

like a friend of a friend who's like done this
for a while, and you just ask, hey, like what
if what do you know about this sort of thing?
Now you're right, what are your experiences of kind of
of facing like repression in the past. The true chances
are some of them will probably know people who've either
turned out to be like informants, has started informing or

were we're bad actors from the from the get go,
like it's it does, it does happen. And there's even
been case it's not even just like stuff from ten
fifteen years ago. There's a lot of that stuff post
twenty twenty. Some really some stuff in in Chicago, some
stuff in Colorado Springs have gotten decent news coverage. I
think you can also you can look to articles specifically
of the Colorado Springs infiltration that the FBI was running

around twenty twenty. I think that's a really useful case
study for a more recent version as opposed to like
the green scare stuff from at this point like twenty
years ago.

Speaker 2 (14:13):
No, No, it's true, and there's a good there's actually
a good podcast series where I liked it called Alphabet Boys.
The first season is about that case. No, that's a
good point that you that random internet search is not
the way to get this kind of information. This information,
like you'll Honestly, it's kind of funny. I would trust
a random zine in a radical bookstore far more than

I would trust a Google search result. Agreed, which is
not true for everything like healthcare. Well, you're gonna get
shit answers no matter what if you do that. Yes, yes,
the internet is gonna tell you of cancer and the
zine's gonna tell you that t tre oil will fix it.

Speaker 4 (14:51):
Yes, there we go.

Speaker 2 (14:52):
Yeah, yeah, no, that is actually a very good point,
and it is the kind of thing that yeah, the
longer you're involved, the more you're just like, oh yeah, yeh,
the you know my ex who's a snitch that sucks?

Speaker 4 (15:05):
Yeah, you know.

Speaker 2 (15:07):
Anyway, now you have what you care about, what your
skills are in your risk analysis, it's time to get started.
How there's two basic ways, and they're not really a dichotomy.
But you can plug into something that exists and you
can start something of your own, and both are valid
and both have advantages and disadvantages. There are structures and

movements that are already in place that are desperate for
your help. There's a catch. Many, not all, but many
of the more reasonable groups are challenging to break into.
Very few groups have a truly open door policy, and
those that do honestly sometimes or suspect. Yeah, some of

those people are just trying to use you. They're trying
to suck you into a political political cult, or use
your energy and burn you out for some vaguely progressive
politician or activist cause. Oh. Either way, you're going to
need to exercise some common sense and do some reading
and research about what you're getting into. The best publicly
accessible groups and movements are the ones that are organized

from the bottom up, because the participants themselves have a
say in what's happening. There is less ability to be
sucked into a cult and used. That's not to say
it's impossible, and there are such things as decentralized cults
that don't do any you know.

Speaker 4 (16:24):
Many such cases.

Speaker 2 (16:24):
Yeah, but I know it's easy and convenient to join
a group that'll just tell you what to do. It's
very nice to imagine that there's benevolent people who will
just do the hard part of making decisions and you
can just show up and clock in and listen to
what they have to say and make the world a
better place. This is rarely, if ever the case, I
can't point to examples of it being the case. Movements

that maintain everyone's autonomy. Instead, I think are what are interesting,
and they often do it by not being a group
at all, just a movement. The uprisings of twenty twenty,
I think are a a brilliant example of this. There's
not the group that organized no, And.

Speaker 3 (17:05):
There's a lot of smaller, smaller groups, whether that be
some like informal organizations, formal organizations, or just like groups
of friends that it was. It's made up of a
whole bunch of these smaller groups. And I think a lot,
a lot of times the best case scenario in many
cases is if you have like a friend or too,
because you shouldn't really showed things alone. I would say,

but if you have a friend or two, go with
the friender too, just like just go to things. And
if you go to enough things and people see you,
you can chat with people, you can start learning more
about kind of what the different mechanisms in each different city,
and each each even't seen how how they operate. It's
it's kind of silly just to be like no, you
just like have to like show up. But like that

is kind of a lot of how it works. You'll
maybe hear about a Instagram account that posts flyers for
semi weekly like picnics organized by some of these same people,
and then you can go to events like that and
learn to like soci And it really just does require
a degree of just showing up. And you shouldn't go
by yourself. You should if you you should ideally have

a friend or too that you that is that they
would be okay going with you. But then you'll you'll
find people to connect with and you'll kind of maybe
find a different group of people that you want to
start hanging out with more. I think in general that's
kind of how the best case scenario works, as opposed
to like joining like a big above ground organization which
is just going to use your body as a tool
to get arrested as or just treat you as disposable

or in other cases just be actually kind of like abuse.

Speaker 2 (18:30):
Of I agree with that, and that's some of that
we're going to get into also. But yeah, no, and
I will say overall, absolutely it is better to do
those things with friends. I didn't I started going to
things alone. That has something to do with my temperament,
and that has something to do with my social standing
when I was in college and decided to get involved

in the movement. But overall, that is the best practice.
But if you're listening to this and you're like, I
don't have friends I can go do this stuff with,
there are more risks involved, and you're also kind of stuck.
You're gonna go to a lot of things where no
one will talk to you, yeah, you know, and you
can't necessarily expect that people talk to you immediately or like,

and you're gonna have to be a little bit more
self motivated.

Speaker 3 (19:17):
Yeah, and if you're going to a zine fair, you
can chow some people at like the tables. When you're
looking for a zine, it's like it's, yeah, now everyone's
gonna want to get into a deep personal conversation with
a stranger they met at at an event like this,
because it also has like security risks. But yeah, I mean,
it's it's going to require a little bit of uncomfortable
social interactions, which for yeah, for someone like you or

me who did go to a lot of these things
just by ourselves.

Speaker 4 (19:43):
You know, it just it just kind of.

Speaker 2 (19:44):
Takes more time, No, totally, And I think actually zine
fairs and things like that, and anarchist book fairs and
all that are like really good examples of places that
are publicly facing that are designed for people to interact
with each other. And also, like one of the main
pieces of advice that we have is be brave, right,
and we talk about that in terms of like street actions.

But like, yeah, okay, also social anxiety exactly exactly because
how much of so social anxiety will become like an
inhibiting factor, similar to like the state. Not saying those
things are equal, but they can both like inhibit you
from doing things, and it's both you can you can
kind of approach it via similar means of trying to
like overcome this thing that is limiting your autonomy. Yeah, no, totally.

So to go back to, if you're joining an existing group,
some groups maintain everyone's autonomy by being structured horizontally. Some
groups that exist as a structure will do it by
being structured horizontally. If you found yourself for go ahead,
claim to be structured horizontally as well. No, it's true,
but like like if you join a local Earth first chapter,

you're going to find there's absolutely informal hierarchies that exist
within these things, and they're like worth being aware of.
But the decision about who's to lock their neck to
the bulldozer is going to involve everyone who might lock
their neck to the bulldozer.

Speaker 3 (21:05):
Yeah, it's not the same as like the DSA or
the PSL like it's it's going to be a very
a very different, uh organizational structure.

Speaker 2 (21:14):
Yeah, exactly. And so you know, you want to be
part of the decision making about locking your neck to
a bulldozer because it's your neck on the line. That's
my best joke in the whole script. I'm sorry, we'll
just move past it quickly. Thanks. Plugging into an existing

project is often the good first step. What I did
personally I started showing up to the meetings of this
radical media project, Indie Media. I had film skills, and
soon enough I found myself in the film collective. I
spent a year or two bouncing around from demonstration to demonstration,
coordinating with all the radical videographers to collect everyone's footage
and edit together news of its about what had happened.

While we collectively fostered a culture of like respectful riot videography.

Speaker 4 (22:06):
I did not realize we had that similar background.

Speaker 2 (22:09):
Oh yeah, no, that it's interesting because I don't I
don't do that stuff anymore. But that was like my
thing for a long time.

Speaker 3 (22:17):
Me either, actually, But no, I did not realize we
had we had that. Uh we had that Overlapp.

Speaker 2 (22:22):
Yeah, no, and it was it was great and it
was fun and we you know, we taught how to
not film people's faces. We coordinated runners where in order
to get footage out before the cops could get it.
We'd make sure everyone, you know, someone, every videographer had
someone next to them, like ready to run out of
the situation.

Speaker 4 (22:41):
Take this SD card and run yep, exactly.

Speaker 2 (22:45):
And I started off by joining an existing group that
was doing this, but within a few months I was
doing it independently and coordinating with different groups that came
together at all these different summit protests because I was
a known entity to people. You know, it was fun.
I dropped out of school where I've been studying film
and photography, and even before I would have graduated, a

film I had edited sold out a movie theater in Portland.
We didn't have YouTube, so we organized in person.

Speaker 3 (23:11):
Kate, that makes sense, Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2 (23:16):
When when we shut the city down on like March
twentieth or whatever, twenty two thousand and three, for to
try and stop the Iraq war. I like didn't sleep
and just edited everyone's film footage together and made a
like thirty minute documentary about the day of protest and
sold out a movie theater and I was like, damn,

this was way better for my career than going to
fuck it, staying at school. I mean, like, my name
isn't on it, but that like didn't matter to me. Sure,
And then everyone the local news media got really mad
because I didn't include the stuff that could have been
used in people's court cases, like the time that people
attacked cops on the bridge, because I was like, nope,
that's too recent. We don't know what's happening there anyway.

And get into certain types of groups is kind of
like applying for a shitty job. A job that'll take
you without reference is going to treat you like shit.
But jobs that are worth having require you to somehow
have already been doing the job before you got hired,
And once people know who you are, it's easier to
find folks who work with And I think gear suggestions
is like the main way you go about that is
you don't necessarily show up to organize. You just show

up to participate. You show up to talks, you show
up to radical bookstores and public events and zine fairs
and protests and whatever interests you you know, And I
would say that if you're going to actions and you're new,
remember to be both brave and cautious. If you tend
towards recklessness and being swept into things, maybe make sure
you take less of a frontline's role until you get

your legs underneath you. But it really is okay to
be brave. I think we're asked by the times we
live in to be brave, and sometimes we're going to
have to step outside of our comfort zone. We should
just always look to make sure it's us encouraging us
to step outside of our comfort zone instead of political
actors whatever political ideology they call themselves.

Speaker 3 (25:01):
And also if you can another another collective that people
you know, these are like usually like medic collectives will
maybe maybe we'll have like a radical media collective and
another another one will be a jail support collective is
very common a lot of cities, and not even if
you don't want to take part in that, if you
can at least get in touch with them to fill
out a jail support form before going to things that

will also be useful in case you do end up
getting arrested, so people can actually find you in the
system and help you get out of get out. Just
another another quick tip, I suppose.

Speaker 2 (25:31):
Yeah, And if you want more quick tips, I've got
some for you right now and we're back. Don't do
anything that you just got told by voices that aren't
me or there.

Speaker 4 (25:52):
They were trying to sihap you. It is. It is
the yeah.

Speaker 2 (25:55):
Yeah. Another way that you might get involved in something
is you Some groups are semi open where you can
contact them and express interest and they might do some
basic screening to make sure you're not like a Nazi
infiltrator or whatever. I'm in the process right now of
doing that with clinic escorting. It's like funny because i
haven't had to like prove myself to any group in
a long time, right because I'm like I've been around forever.

The clinic escorting group, it's like, we don't fucking know
who you are. And I'm like, yeah, that's fair, give
me that. Yeah, No, absolutely, I live in a place
is not where abortion is not particularly popular with the
right wing, and so I submitted my name and social
media accounts to the to the abortion clinic escorting place,
and then we'll go to a training at some point
soon for folks living in southern California or willing to

go there. For example, there are groups that do border solidarity,
working with refugees to make sure they're fed in house.
If you listen to this podcast, you've heard James talking
about this, and this is the first episode you've listened to,
in which case, go back and listen to James talking
about border solidarity work. If you want to show up
and distribute food and water, track border patrol activity, build shelters,
do First DAID, all of that, feel like you're part

of something because you are and are like saving people's
lives directly. That's something you can likely get involved with,
but it's not something you just show up at. There
are a few groups doing that work, any of whom
you can reach out to and express interest. There's Border Kindness,
there's Borderlands Relief Collective and Al Ultra Lado, and there's
other groups like this in different areas. But these are

the examples where I asked James being like, Hey, how
do I explain the following concept? In general, you want
to look for groups. If you're looking for groups, to
look for groups that are grassroots and non authoritarian. You
want to watch out for electoral campaigns, and you want
to watch out for nonprofits. This is not to say
that the people doing these things are necessarily bad. There

are local political campaigns that matter, and there are nonprofits
that do good work. Some of the best political work
I ever did was two years out a nonprofit, honestly,
but I was with one of the good ones. And
structurally those systems, even the good ones, are set up
to take advantage of people's energy and then like kind
of profit off of it, right, and to accomplish goals

that are often tangential to or even counter to the
goals that they claim. For example, both politicians and nonprofits
live off of donations. These donations are easy for them
to get when those groups are seen as necessary, so
a nonprofit has a financial interest in not winning. Some
nonprofits manage to maintain their focus and make themselves work

to make themselves obsolete, but frankly those are the minority.
You also want to look out for groups that are
front groups for authoritarian groups attached to communist political parties
you mentioned earlier, like the PSL the Party for Socialism
and Liberation. Generally speaking, these groups will go to protests
and run events primarily as a way to recruit people

into a hierarchical structure. These groups are often trying to
control broader movements that they're involved in. They'll tell people
how they can and can't pro test, and they're trying
to essentially own movements that were built by others. So
those are things to be careful around. You can also
just not worry about any of that stuff and start

something yourself. It is not the easy mode to get
into the movement by starting your own projects. We're gonna
talk about a ffinity groups later. Actually it was just
the thing that you kind of started to bring up,
But it is very rewarding to start your own projects.
It's like freelancing instead of looking for a job. There's
no gatekeepers to cross, and the only person who's trying
to take advantage of you is you. If you want

to never not be working another day in your life,
you can freelance or start your own political project. It'll
be what you think about every hour you're alive in essence,
the idea here is to say, okay, what's wrong and
what are we willing to do about it, and then
get together with your friends and start doing something about it.

This can look like anything.

Speaker 4 (29:58):
You could start.

Speaker 2 (29:58):
A mutual aid group, bookstore, an anti fascist jim to
Trained to defend yourself from fascists. Illegal HRT distribution in
band States, a direct action abortion collective, a zine distributor
that goes to shows and parties with free literature about anarchism.
A podcast about how things fall apart and how to
put them back together again. A click of saboteurs who
attack billboards. A group that draws attention to international movement

prisoners and support them. Like you can do anything, And
that's one of the like things that people. Our society
is designed to tell us that we can't just do
anything we want. There's obviously things that if we do,
we'll get in trouble eventually, but like you know, okay.

Speaker 3 (30:36):
Like like if you make a podcast that's too good,
yeah they will, they will turn on you, like Jesus,
yeah exactly. Or if you go around you know, wanting
to destroy construction equipment, right.

Speaker 2 (30:49):
Not usually legal. I'm not a lawyer, I can't tell
you whether or not any given bulldozer is illegal to destroy.
That is the kind of research you might have to
do on your own. The difference between start something and
enjoining something is often blurry. For example, you can unionize
your workplace. You probably should, but you might want to
do that in the context of an existing union like

the Industrial Workers of the World or whatever union makes the.

Speaker 4 (31:14):
Most so the writer's field of America.

Speaker 2 (31:16):
Yeah exactly.

Speaker 4 (31:17):
If you have a podcast about how the world's falling apart, Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Speaker 2 (31:22):
If you're going to start something above ground, it's worth
looking around and making sure that the need isn't already
being met by someone else already. Sometimes it's better to
figure out how to help an existing bail fund rather
than start another. But also sometimes it is better to
start another, Like it's harder for the police to raide,
for example, which didn't used to be an issue when
you start bail funds, but is now an issue, which

is worth pointing out that like there's no true safety,
you know, like when we talk about risk analysis, like
running a bail fund is entirely legal and is the
kind of thing that often is done by the people
who care about a movement and are like not frontlines people, Yeah.

Speaker 3 (32:06):
Aren't wanting to do felonies in downtown right Portland or whatever.

Speaker 2 (32:11):
Yeah, the more successful a movement is the broader. The
state repression will reach out to the fringes, not the French.
I mean the bail fund isn't the fringe, but the
less privery. The people who aren't committing the felon felonies. Yeah,
are going to get tagged with felonies anyway, because the
state being repressive is the reason we're fighting it.

Speaker 3 (32:32):
They will still get their houses rated. And it's the
same same thing ad demos. You don't need to be
the one breaking windows for the police to tackle you.
Like at a certain point, it actually doesn't. It seems
to matter very little. I mean if things get to trial,
then things you know will maybe matter a bit more.
But in like how police display the power of the state,

Like out in the open world, it really doesn't matter
if you're holding a sign or you're holding a ham
or when you're getting tackled from behind by a big
man with a gun.

Speaker 2 (33:03):
Yeah, totally, which is why it's like kind of worth
I mean that's like almost like what the answer to
that is like solidarity, and by recognizing that to a
certain degree, if you were at a protest and people
are breaking windows and it's like, okay, well now we're
all in danger together, and if that is a danger
beyond what you particularly feel like exposing yourself to, that

is probably the time to depart. Another pitfall to avoid
if you're starting your own thing. Any group that involves
money will at some point have someone from that group
steal the.

Speaker 3 (33:37):
Money, including bail fuds. Unfortunately, it does happen, and it sucks.

Speaker 2 (33:44):
Yeah. I have lost count of the number of times
someone who was an organizer has stolen all of the
money from this or that thing. And that's because capitalism
puts people in absolutely weird and terrible positions. Right, it's
still not okay for people to steal the bail fund,
and we should stop them. But often the people who

steal the stuff, if they're the organizers, they don't even
necessarily conceptualize what they did as stealing. They're like, oh,
I'm gonna pay that back. I don't think anyone needs
it right now. I just need it for rent.

Speaker 3 (34:17):
In order for the bail fund to continue, I have
to have stable housing so I need to use these
two thousand dollars right now, and.

Speaker 2 (34:22):
Yeah, right without checking with the rest of the group,
and like, you know, like and so if there's money involved,
you should set up some best practices around multiple eyes
on the money at any given point and making sure
that it's accountable to the broader group. One organizing model
that is worth considering is the affinity group. This is

basically you and some of your closest friends that you
feel like doing safe with actions with, whatever the scale
of actions, you get together with your friends.

Speaker 3 (34:51):
Or people you're not even necessarily like social friends with,
but people you feel comfortable working with, because there sometimes
is a distinction. Like you said, sometimes you have a
lot of close friends you don't want int your affinity group,
and sometimes there's people in your affinity group that you
may not really want to hang out with like every
week totally, but they're good to work with. Now, that's
a really good point. It's about trust rather than like

getting along with sometimes you know, yeah, it might function
better if you know, you don't all hate each other, ah,
have some affinity yeah, yes, you know, but perhaps you
have a shared affinity within the group.

Speaker 2 (35:28):
Ideally, Yeah, it is if you're in a riot, whether
by choice or by accident, you are safer and you
can feel more comfortable if you are there with two
or seven of your closest and most trustworthy friends or frenemies.
These are the people who are the most likely to
de arrest you. These are the people who are there
to notice if you are caught and will organize your bail.

These are the people who'll be in direct commun You'll
be in direct communication with during the protest, so you
can coordinate your actions together.

Speaker 3 (35:57):
It's figure out how you want to get into the
area get out of the area.

Speaker 2 (36:01):
Yeah, And so that's like a going alone is sort
of expert mode, and so you should take fewer risks
if you go alone until you are good, you know,
and most people do not prefer and are not better
off going to protest alone. And then the final thing

kind of tying together the existing groups versus whatever else
existing protests movements EBB and flow protests are contagious, especially
when they're rowdy and they show that they take themselves
seriously enough to not just go along with whatever professional
protest managers tell them to do, and take themselves seriously
enough to resist the police and authorities. It's more or

less impossible to know which protests like sparks, will catch
a bigger fire. It is good and useful to cast
sparks and see what catches, or to notice when something
is starting to spread and to help it spread.

Speaker 3 (36:55):
Like what happened a few weeks ago with the campus stuff,
right exactly? What are two places really start popping off?
And you're like, hey, I know some people in college
who are in whatever town I'm in.

Speaker 4 (37:05):
Maybe we can figure something out.

Speaker 2 (37:07):
Yeah, and so's if that was your involvement. And you're like, oh,
that's not currently happening where I am anymore. What do
I do next? Things like that will happen again, and
you can also make things like that happen. Most of
the time they will not catch. However, sometimes they do,
and that is like kind of our job in a

lot of ways is to organize things and try things
and see what catches. I'm curious your take. There are
two political conventions happening this year. The Republican National Convention
will happen from July fifteenth to eighteenth, twenty twenty four,
in Milwaukee, and then in August nineteenth to twenty second
in Chicago is the Democratic National Convention. They're basically always

protests at these conventions to me, and I'm a little
bit out of touch with it. There's going to be
more this year, Yeah, that's what I'm thinking there certainly will,
I think, especially at the DNC. I don't have much
to say on this at this point besides read up
on the previous ones that have happened. You can go
all the way back to sixty eight if you want
to read about Chicago and the DNC, but also like

the RNC protests from the Iraq War era, I think
would be verally useful to look at. If you want
to go back to like two thousand and eight and
see how those protests were, I would just recommend reading
up on it. I don't really have much else to
say on those in the moment. They're too far out
totally to forecast.

Speaker 4 (38:30):
Yeah, and I.

Speaker 3 (38:31):
Yeah, that's kind of all I'll say at the moment.
These will become recurring topics on this podcast the next
few months.

Speaker 2 (38:41):
So yeah, And so keep track of what's happening and
get ready to go to what you feel comfortable with,
and don't be afraid to be brave, but don't let
anyone trick you into doing stuff that you're not comfortable with.
But we need you. We're glad you're here.

Speaker 4 (39:00):
Yeah, don't be.

Speaker 3 (39:03):
So down that the school year is over and these
campus protests only had a few weeks to live. I
know there were certainly people who were really hoping that
after we saw you know, what happened during April and May,
that maybe this would you know, trigger things happening off
campus around the summer.

Speaker 4 (39:19):
And maybe they still will.

Speaker 3 (39:20):
And at the very least, we have a lot of
young people listener, possibly included, who like experienced their first
example of like actual state violence like on them, and
that can be a very radicalizing experience. So yeah, don't
don't be so down that maybe your occupation didn't go
as well as you wanted to. Maybe you're protested, and
but I think there's a lot of lessons to learn

from what happened the past month, and they will become applicable,
possibly this summer, possibly two years from now, who knows.
Like it's hard to say, but yeah, it's whenever you
get that first hint of tear gas, you kind of
become a different person, in my opinion, So congratulations to
everyone who that hopefully didn't get arrested, and if you did,
hopefully you have a jail support crew that is helping

you out.

Speaker 2 (40:05):
The other thing that I think that people never really
recover from isn't the right word. The first time you
see the police retreat totally, you recognize that this thing
you have been taught is completely unassailable. The reason they're
building cop cities is they know they are assailable and
they want to be less. So well, listen to this podcast,

and that's the only place you'll ever find anything useful.
That's the fine.

Speaker 4 (40:31):
I mean, I wouldn't I wouldn't say that.

Speaker 3 (40:33):
Yeah, I know, But there are other podcasts that There's
a lot of books, there's a lot of zines, there's
a lot of sketchy noblog sites which may sometimes have
misinformation and sometimes have good information yay. And you could
certainly certainly check out Margaret. I've heard that you you yourself,
had a few other podcasts what I do, well, if

you want to hear a lot of the history around
some of the stuff we talked about, including like the
co Intel pro stuff.

Speaker 2 (40:59):
For example, I run a podcast called Cool People Who
Did Cool Stuff on this very network cool Zone Media.
And you can listen to it every Monday and Wednesday.
I just finished a very long, but I swear entertaining
series of episodes about the Russian Revolution in the Civil War.
I've did an episode about the Burglars for Peace who

exposed co intel pro by robbing an FBI office in
the middle of the night in the early seventies, and
all kinds of other stories, so you can listen to
that or if you want to know more about the
end of the world. I help run a podcast called
Live Like the World Is Dying, comes out every Friday,
and that one is Prepper Butt Community. Yep.

Speaker 4 (41:44):
There, well go.

Speaker 2 (41:45):
And I have a book coming out. It comes out
of September. It's called The Sapling Cage and it's going
to be kickstarted in June, and if you go to
Kickstarter you can sign up for announcements about that. And
it is the best book I've ever written, so you
all should read it.

Speaker 3 (41:56):
Very excited to see that. That does it for us,
that itch could happen here. We will probably see you
out there.

Speaker 4 (42:02):
Good luck.

Speaker 1 (42:08):
It could happen here as a production of cool Zone Media.
For more podcasts from cool Zone Media, visit our website.
Coolzonemedia dot com or check us out on the iHeartRadio app,
Apple podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts, you can
find sources for It could happen here, Updated monthly at
coolzonemedia dot com slash sources. Thanks for listening.

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