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May 29, 2019 71 mins

One way or another, the United States as we know it is going to end. How can we make sure what comes next is better than what came before?

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Most days, the war fields distant, like a bad dream
from your early childhood. You remember it in gasps and flashes,
moments of horror and pain and laughter and confusion that
leap unbidden into your consciousness. Sometimes you have nightmares. Sometimes
you can smell the bodies of your neighbors buried under rubble,
mingled with the acrid reek of gunpowder. But for the

(00:26):
most part, the war hides in the back of your
mind as you try to get on with your life.
After the war ended, he wound up migrating from Canada
to the Pacific Northwest. The old United States had balkanized
into a mishmash of functional, semi functional, and failed nations,
and of those, the Northwest seemed to be your best option.
It's weathered the end of the United States and the

(00:47):
brutality of climate change better than most places, thanks mainly
to the low population density, and of course the water.
Fresh Water is in short supply these days, not just
in America but across much of the world. Global agricultural
output never quite recovered from the loss of the United States,
and famines are common. You guess They've always been common,

(01:08):
but not in places like Virginia and Florida, not until
now you read yesterday that and much of the Old South,
lack of clean water and adequate food has dropped the
average life expectancy to under fifty years. You should feel
bad about that, you know, but you don't. The dominionists
wound up in charge of most of those states, and

(01:29):
to you it feels like karmic justice that they've been
the once hardest hit by the shifting climate. That's not
to say that you and your new neighbors haven't suffered.
The wild fire season is now a full six months,
sometimes eight most days. The fires are the first thing
you check on when you wake up. Where you live,
it's not uncommon to have to evacuate two or three
times a year. So far, your apartment building hasn't burned down,

(01:51):
though so far there's coffee now. At least your supply
is ration and the stuff you can usually afford is
cut with chicory and other herbs. But after the years without,
you aren't about to complain about some adulterments. You say,
we're two full cups every morning before you lock up
your flat and head for the bus stop to go
to work. None of the pre war industries have really

(02:11):
recovered either. So one of the few job fields that
has actually expanded is border control. The sheer frequency of
tornadoes and mud slides has rendered huge chunks of the
South and Midwest almost uninhabitable for much of the year.
Flooding has done the same for many coastal cities. If
the USA had survived, a strong federal government might have
been able to mitigate some of that damage. But now

(02:33):
much of North America is effectively a failed state. There's
no FEMA, no c d C, no one looking out
for people in many, many, many parts of the old
United States, and so the more stable chunks of the
US have become magnets for refugees. Your job, more days
than not, is to tell these people that they are
not welcome. Your first customers today are a family from Alabama.

(02:57):
They hand you their passports, ragged things printed on cheap paper,
and I'm blazoned with the all too familiar logo of
the Fiery Cross. You take the documents and thumb through them.
It's mostly for show. You already know you're not going
to let them in. You look up at the family.
The father and mother both look to be in their
mid forties, although you know they're a decade younger than that.
They're both skinny, with lined, worn looking faces and an unhealthy,

(03:20):
malnourished yellow tinge to their skin. Their son looks to
be a little better fed, although you can tell he's
still far too small for a boy of fourteen. You
would have guessed ten. The woman cradles a baby girl
in her arms. One look at its too thin hand
and rasping little fingers is the first thing that ignites
your sympathy just a little bit. You've seen babies that

(03:41):
small before, and you know they don't tend to live.
For a few long moments, your conscience nudges you to
show mercy and let them in. Both adults look at
you with pleading eyes, and for just a second, you're
back on the war, scraping your fingers bloody, trying to
pull concrete and plaster off the buried bodies of your friends.
You look down at the weathered fiery cross on their

(04:03):
passports and remember the first time you saw that logo
and blazoned on the hood of a stolen humvy. The
old anger rises again, boiling up from somewhere deep in
your diaphragm. You take one more hard look at the
dying infant, and then into the eyes of the man
and woman who used to be your fellow citizens, you
tell them no. Up on my wall, next to my

(04:27):
writing chair is a print of a painting called The
Fall of Nineveh. The painting is from eighty nine, but
the battle it depicts occurred in six hundred and twelve
b c. Nineveh was then the capital of the Assyrian Empire,
which was the greatest power on earth at the time.
It was torn apart when an alliance of Meads and
Babylonians rebelled against the empire and destroyed it in an

(04:48):
orgy of apocalyptic violence. The painting captures the horror of
the moment quite well. A wall of flames consumes the horizon,
burning through whole districts of the world's mightiest city. In
the four A ground, civilians wail and rend their garments
as they huddle around the last of their nation's wealth,
gold and silver baubles that have now lost all meaning
and all power in war's fiery crucible. It's a beautiful

(05:12):
work of art, but aesthetics alone are not why it
sits in my home. Nineveh is Mosle. Mosle is, of course,
one of those cities that's lived long enough to accrue
a handful of different names. The Fall of Nineveh depicts
the very first time that ancient city was torched by
the fires of war. In two thousand seventeen, I watched
Nineveh fall again. The soldiers who conquered it were a

(05:34):
mix of Kurdish Peshmerga, the descendants of the Meads, and
Iraqi soldiers, most of whom were from the area around Baghdad,
which is, of course Babylon. Two wars years apart, boiled
down to a conflict between the same groups of people.
It's enough to make you feel a sense of the
hopeless inevitability and the cyclical nature of history. The people

(05:57):
I met in Mosele had no illusions that they were
living at the end of history. They didn't even believe
they'd seen nine of A fall for the last time
in their lives. There was a widespread, dogged acceptance that
the next war was a right around the corner. Here
in the United States, our nation's youth and wealth has
insulated us from this same sense of historical inevitability. We

(06:17):
tend to view the American Civil War as a singular act,
one shocking moment in history. That will never be repeated.
But on a grand historic scale, it wouldn't be at
all weird for a region as large as North America
to see a civil war every century or two. In fact,
it would be weirder for this continent to find itself
forever at peace over the weeks that it could happen

(06:39):
here is run. I've received quite a lot of feedback
from my listeners. As with everything else in this country,
I've noticed a distinct difference in the responses from my
coastal northern Midwestern listeners and my listeners in the South.
I think the old Confederate States are the only part
of this country that has a similar attitude towards the
inevitability of historic cycles that I saw over in Iraq.

(06:59):
It's I've as if you know where to look, what
else is the South will rise again, but an expression
of faith in the idea that the old conflicts and
hatreds that toward this nation apart will do so once again.
So is a second American Civil War inevitable? Maybe? But
I for one, I'm going to move forward with my
life as if it is not. I can't let myself

(07:21):
believe that because the Second American Civil war would mean
the end of life on Earth as we know it.
The United States exports more food than any other country
on the planet. We produce almost as much food calorically
as India or China, but we do so much more efficiently,
which is why cheap American food stuff has become the
backbone of much of the world's diet. Canada and Mexico

(07:42):
are number one and number two recipients of American food exports, respectively.
It's hard to comprehend the scale of disaster a second
American civil war would bring to the rest of the world,
but it's worth noting that the two nations would be
forced to take in the most American refugees are also
the two nations most reliant on the food would stop
flowing during any serious civil conflict. There are other reasons

(08:05):
for the rest of the world to fear a second
American civil war. For one thing, the world is running
out of fresh water. The US Agency for International Development
currently predicts that by twenty twenty five, one third of
all human beings will face severe and chronic water shortages.
The Middle East, North Africa, and Sub Saharan Africa are
all currently the hardest hit, but the world demand for

(08:26):
water doubles every twenty one years, and the United States
currently has the third largest freshwater reserves on the planet.
It's hard to say precisely what impact a civil war
would have on the global water crisis, but it would
not make it better. Perhaps the most important global side
effect of a second American civil war would be how
that war will contribute to climate change. The US military

(08:49):
is currently the number one consumer of petroleum worldwide. It
is suspected to be the number one contributor to climate
change via emissions worldwide as well, although this is hard
to say for sure, as in every climate change treaty
we've ever signed, military emissions have been exempted from reporting requirements.
We know from the d D that the U. S.
Army emitted more than seventy million metric tons of CO

(09:11):
two per year in two thousand fourteen, just counting our
domestic forces and not including our overseas bases, fleets, and forces.
We know that the first four years of the Iraq
War put a hundred and forty one million metric tons
of carbon into the atmosphere. This means that more carbon
was emitted per year by the U. S Military and
Iraq than emitted by a hundred and thirty nine other

(09:32):
nations combined during those years. One fairly small war equaled
a hundred and thirty nine countries worth of carbon emissions
for four years. We also know that the military produces
five times as many environmental toxins as the five largest U.
S Chemical companies combined. And all this is in a
time of domestic peace. If war consumes the homeland, we

(09:53):
can expect to see military emissions leap. Accordingly, tens of
thousands of hum vs and a PCs and tanks currently
setting parked somewhere in the Arizona Desert will take to
the highways and byways of this land, admitting carbon every
second of every day. Artillery shells, bombs, and bullets will
also have their way with the climate. In two thousand eighteen,
California suffered its most devastating wildfires in recent memory. More

(10:16):
than eight thousand separate fires burnt nearly two million acres,
the largest amount of burnt acreage ever recorded in a
fire season. I keep mentioning that all these terrible things
happen in a time of peace, but that is really
worth repeating, because every natural disaster caused by climate change
gets worse when people are shooting at each other all
around the country. Over in Kurdistan northern Iraq, they face

(10:40):
wildfires too. The journalism collective Belling Cat has monitored these
fires and noted in two thousand eighteen that quote shelling
with light weapons and artillery resulted in the outbreak of
forest and wildfires at the parched border lands near the
north and eastern borders of Iraq. People battling these fires
were hindered by land mines or other unexploded ordinance remnants
from the Iran Iraq War. The result hundreds of thousands

(11:02):
of hectares of burned lands, destroyed ecosystems and agricultural lands,
air pollution, and local communities suffering from smoke and loss
of land. Now we know that climate change tends to
make wildfires bigger, deadlier, and more destructive. We also know
that large wildfires like the ones California experienced in two
thousand and eighteen contribute massively to climate change on their own. Currently,

(11:23):
wildfires are estimated to emit roughly eight billion tons of
CO two per year out of the thirty two billion
tons of c O two emitted worldwide, So more war
means more wildfires means more climate change means more wildfires.
And all these lurking horrors don't even take into account
the possibility that a second American civil war might involve

(11:44):
the use of nuclear weapons. The United States currently holds
about sixty eight hundred of these dooms data vices. Even
I can't easily imagine the government deploying them in the
event of a vicious civil war, but I can imagine
the government losing a few. In two thousand fourteen, dozens
of US New Clear Missile Officers, the custodians of the
deadliest arsenal ever assembled in human history, were caught up

(12:05):
in a massive scandal that involved basically all of them
cheating on regular competency exams they were forced to take,
and also dealing and doing shiploads of drugs, sometimes while
on duty watching our nukes. So, yeah, the possibility of
some nihilistic terror group getting their hands on a Nucer
three during a period of cataclysmic violence, it isn't exactly ridiculous.

(12:25):
I think I've made my point. The world can ill
afford a second American Civil war. But here's the issue.
The world can't afford things to go on the way
they've been in the United States either. We are the wealthiest,
most influential, most powerful nation on the planet, and for
the bulk of my lifetime at least, we've sort of
punted on taking any sort of concerted action to fix
the biggest issues of our time. Earlier this year, the

(12:47):
UN released a report noting that at current rates of degradation,
the world's top soil will be completely gone within sixty years.
This news could not be more apocalyptic in a way,
it's even more dire than reports of global warming. Human
beings can build air conditioning and dikes and levees, we
cannot survive period without top soil, and yet this story

(13:09):
has received almost no play in the international media. Earlier
this year, when Marina Helena Smeato of the Food and
Agricultural Organization announced that one third of the planet's top
soil has already been degraded, the response from the American
public was a big, fat fist on the snooze button.
If action isn't taken right now, the disappearance of our
top soil could be yet another problem that our political

(13:29):
class ignores for decades until it gets so dire that
people have to care. On a related note, Fox News
just published an article warning that climate change could cause
sea levels to rise by seven feet within the next
eighty years, rendering most coastal cities uninhabitable. The United States
of America cannot be allowed to die in violence, but
it's just as clear that it cannot be allowed to

(13:50):
live on either in the form that we currently know.
All of these problems are decades long in action on
climate change, the rise of Charlatan's and grifters who have
exploited and has ascerbated our divisions and son hate throughout
this nation. The increasing inequality in our economic system, and
the corruption and graft at the highest levels of political power.
All of those problems are the result of a political

(14:11):
status quo wherein roughly half of us vote once every
four years, and that's about all we do. If you're
the kind of person who actually volunteers every four years,
it spends a few hours handing up pamphlets through registering
new voters, you qualify as among the most politically engaged
of your countrymen. If you volunteer during the mid terms, two,
you're basically the democratic equivalent of a damned sasquatch. Chances

(14:33):
are if you know anyone that consistently politically active in
your life, you probably view them with a little bit
of awe. The United States of America, the one where
barely half the country bothers to vote for the president,
and someone who puts in twenty hours of volunteer time
every two years, is a superstar. That America has to
die killing. It is the only way we can save ourselves.

(14:53):
No one person we can vote for will fix the
problems we face. The solution to stopping the second American
Civil War starts at the bottom, with everyone who prefers
sanity and decency to bloodshed and murder. Now, as the
previous episodes of this podcast have run, dozens and dozens
of you have reached out to me asking for advice
on what you can do to stop a new civil war.

(15:14):
I laid out some of my thoughts and know how
to save America episode. But here's the thing. I'm just
one guy, and I'm not a particularly bright guy at that.
I dropped out of college so I could do dangerous
drugs in a shack for two years. I've drunkenly vomited
on roughly half of my friends. I am no expert
on saving the world, and now that I think of it,
I guess nobody in the world is. But for this episode,

(15:36):
I decided to look outside of myself and ask some
people I respect who all had insights that I thought
might provide you all with some inspiration on how we
can turn this ship around. First off, we're going to
hear from Molly Conjure. Up until two thousand seventeen, she
was just a normal, not particularly politically involved citizen of Charlottesville, Virginia.
Then Unite the Right happened. Nazis marched through her hometown

(15:58):
carrying torches, one of them murder at a young woman,
and Molly decided she had to do something. You know,
up until that point, I've been just a regular person,
busy with my job, didn't really have much of a life.
It wasn't really very political. And suddenly I lost my
job and I had all this free time, and then
a terrorist attack happened in my neighborhood, and I just

(16:19):
didn't understand how this could have happened to us. I
didn't understand how this had been allowed to happen. H
So I started going to meetings. I went to my
first child spell City Council meeting, in August, and that
was not your average city council meeting, even by our

(16:40):
rather rocko as standards here since then, you know, people
were screaming and people were being dragged from chambers by cops,
and it was it was dramatic. People people were traumatized.
And I don't really know what I expected to get
from that meeting, or from many of the meetings I
went to after that. I just I thought it would

(17:02):
help me understand. M Sorry, I edit a lot of this.
You're doing a lot of thinking about. Yeah, it helped you.
You wanted to understand what the hell was going on
that allowed this to happen, and so it's it sounds
like that's what you're saying, and it sounds like the
only way you could think of to really do that

(17:24):
was to just kind of stick your head inside the
local government and be like, what the what what's happening here? Right?
And you know, eventually the meetings calmed down. We're a
fairly civically engaged community, but you know, those first few
meetings were a lot of people like myself, we've never
been to a meeting before, and they just wanted to
know what the funk happened? Um. But you know, eventually

(17:46):
they calm down. Eventually they became more mundane and about
the business of governing a city again. And it became
clear to me that the violence of that summer was
a symptom of a disease that we've had for a
long time. It was a very visible, ugly flare up
of what is a chronic illness. Um, that there was
white supremacy just deeply baked into the way the government works.

(18:10):
You know, we think of that Nazi violence as when
we think of that violences as the Nazis who marched
in the streets, but really that was just a a
flare up. It was it was a cold sore caused
by the virus that reproduces in in these meetings day
in and day out. Um. You know, it became less
about spectacle and it was more about the process of
government and the decisions that get made in city council

(18:32):
are based on decisions meet and other meetings and boards
and commissions and work sessions. And I still didn't have
a job then, I didn't really know what I was doing.
I was kind of a drift and I had a
lot of time to kill. So I went to another
meeting and another meeting, and I realized that a lot
of the governing happening in our city was going on
in meetings that were open in name only. Know there's

(18:53):
no one, there's there's no one at these meetings. A
lot of this is happening in the dark. Uh. And
you know, it strikes me that you're talking about sort
of the disease of white supremacy. That like another disease
that's at play here is the fact that because of
how little engagement the average person has in their local government,

(19:14):
Like that's that's another illness in and of itself, Like
the fact that there are these meetings where a lot
of decisions that affect the day to day life of
people enough that like some of them lead to this
deadly rally um that they they're not even really happening
because like you know that nobody's going to show up,
So it's just whatever handful of people are actually going

(19:35):
to put themselves out there kind of make the decisions
and conversations with each other, and most people don't know
anything about it. Like that's a disease to um. And
it's a disease that's not just in Charlotte'esville. That's every
town in this country as far as you know, I'm aware,
it's everywhere. And you know, the news is supposed to
be just passionate, right, you know, it's it's just facts hub,
but there's you know, there's no shortage of sterile, detached

(19:57):
coverage of the sort of the day in, day out
mondanities of running a city. And you know, absolutely no
offense intended towards the real reporters I've gotten to know
sharing a beat with them. A lot of the coverage
of this kind of stuff that exists just doesn't connect
with people. You know. I found that people want something
more than that, you know, totally by accident. I discovered

(20:18):
there's a real desire for news with what I guess
you could call an audience surrogate. And that's what you've
been doing, is you've been showing up at these meetings
and working as an audience surrogate to give people sort
of to help everyone else stick their heads into your
local governments that these things aren't happening behind closed doors, right.
And it started by accident. I think the first city
council meeting that I live tweet, I was not a

(20:40):
Twitter user. I didn't you know sort of a you know,
I'll be thirty this year, but I'm sort of a
grandma when it comes to be things like don't It
was not extremely online until two years ago. You know,
I started tweeting from this meeting because you know, people
were being arrested and people were screaming and standing on
tables and standing on chairs and there's chaos. But it's
sort of came more than that, I think, um, you know,

(21:03):
as they kept going in, as it calmed down, I
kept keeping meeting minutes. And that's that's really what I
do now for for a living, I guess, is just
keep meeting minutes. A lot of people have been taken
by surprise by the sudden and vicious surge of incredibly
restrictive anti abortion laws across much of the South. A
law that would prescribe the death penalty to women who
get abortions is even being discussed in Texas right now.

(21:24):
The stuff that's actually been past is shocking, but it
shouldn't be if you've paid attention to the religious right
for the last twenty years. Everything happening right now is
what they've been working towards methodically, and they've accomplished their goals,
in large part by spending thousands of cumulative hours calling representatives,
putting up flyers, spreading pamphlets, registering voters, and forcing their

(21:45):
elected leaders to listen to them. The same strategy that
will stop these people from establishing a theocracy is also
the same strategy that will lead us towards taking these
sae necessary actions to reduce climate change. It's the same
strategy that can lead to a active action against the
spread of white supremacist terror. The solutions to all of
these problems start with all of us getting involved. Right now,

(22:08):
Let's see, Uh, I do just want to underscore showing up.
I just that's that that is the most important message here.
You know, a good friend of myne video graduate student
union organizer at the University of Michigan, describes for work
as just being a dumb bitch who cares a lot.
And I laughed at that at first, but she's right.
You don't. You don't have to be an expert. You
don't have to read all the books, you don't need
to know where you're going, you don't need to be

(22:28):
a leader. You just have to care about the people
around you. Jump in, show up, and start helping you know,
I didn't go to journalism school. I don't know what
I'm doing. I think a lot of people are hesitant
to get more involved until there's a clearer spot for them,
until there's a path forward. But there's no assigned seats here.
You just show up, Just show up. If you want
to follow Molly online, you can find her on Twitter

(22:50):
at socialist dog Mom. You can also find her on
Patreon under the same name socialist dog Mom. Molly is
good people, and she's a good example of achievable activism.
You don't have to make local government a full time
job like she did, but you can do something, even
if that's just showing up. And if everyone does something,
we can fix some ship. We don't. Speaking of fixing

(23:20):
some ship, I've talked an awful lot in this series
about Nazis, white supremacists, and the less extreme but more
numerous militias and right wing street gangs that enable and
support those literal Nazis. Something has to be done about
all of them. And while many of the outright fascists
probably can't be talked down, there are organizations who specialize
in de radicalizing these people. I mentioned Light upon Light

(23:41):
and Life After Hate and How to Save America episodes.
The work of those groups is worth supporting, but there
are an awful lot of people who haven't yet made
the full jump to fascism. Folks who may be enthralled
with militias of various stripes or fashy groups like Patriot
Prayer and the Proud Boys, but haven't fallen fully off
the cliff and bought an s S uniform. These people
actually make up the bulk of the far right street

(24:03):
movement that's been involved in so much of the political
violence we've seen over the last three years. Joey Gibson,
founder of Portland's Patriot Prayer, is probably the patron saint
of this sort of extremist I open this series by
discussing my deep worry about how one of these rallies
might very easily provide the spark that ignites the Second
American Civil War. If that is the case, then one
way to make that war less likely is to try

(24:24):
to reach and de radicalize some of these men. Many
of them probably can't be reached, but you only really
need to reach a few of them to reduce their
numbers enough that the rest are too scared to take
to the streets. Every unhinged militiaman and proud boy who
gets brought back to sanity lowers our national temperature by
just a little bit. I wanted to provide some advice
on how to do that, so I talked to my

(24:45):
friend Marie L. Eaton. She's a Portland based activist and
she's been present for some of the very ugly stuff
that's gone down in the streets of that city. I
think her story provides a blueprint other people can use
to try and reach the other side. I do want
to know that I am mainly talking about my fellow
white folks here. When it comes to white supremacists and
white supremacist adjacent folks, the burden does fall more heavily

(25:05):
on us, in large part because it's more dangerous for
people of color to even attempt that work. So, without
further ado, here's Mariel I was at. I believe it
was the biggest and one of the early rallies that
happened where Joey Gibson and his crew and a bunch
of three percenters and oath keepers and other groups came

(25:28):
together and people from the left showed up in very
large numbers, and we were kind of separated. It was
a little bit before Portland police started cracking down and
trying to create barriers between the groups. So we just
had a street blocking us, and I was spending a
bit of time, a fair bit of time, um, just

(25:50):
yelling across the street at how cute their outfits were.
And I was just saying, oh, that's all, that's so cute,
all your adorable, kind of belittling them on purpose because
that felt like something that was cathartic and would maybe
be effective. After a while, though, I realized I wanted

(26:10):
to go across the street and see what was going on.
I of course saw Confederate flags. I saw some people
who had Swastika tattoos or patches on their jackets, and
then just a lot of people kind of looked a
little bit like comic con. A lot of people dressing
up in an outfits. I'm sure anyone who has been

(26:31):
to these rallies or seen pictures have seen some of
the people that come out. Yeah, a lot of people
LARPing as you know, soldiers or whatever exactly. Yeah, but
not just you know, the people who look like they're
in military garb, but real just interesting comic con style
like that, dressed up like a Spartan warrior. Yeah, and

(26:54):
you saw the photo of me confronting him. And so
I went across the street and first just walked around
and I was body checked by multiple very large men
and yelled at and I had my Fearless Survivor shirt on,
and I had some people tell me that my I

(27:16):
deserved my rape and a lot of other really wonderful things.
And after a while, I I, you know, I had
a few people come up to me and start talking
to me, because apparently the day before there was a
video of me that was put on four chan, and
so some people were like, I saw you on four Chan,
and some were taunting me, but some started trying to

(27:37):
bring up conversation points, and a lot of them were
conspiracy theories, white genocide style conversations that ones that you
don't even quite know where to begin. And then I
went looped around and got into an argument with some
three percenters and oath keepers, and before you know it,

(27:58):
there were quiet i'd say fifteen mostly men. I think
only one or two people who identified as women around me,
and they all were kind of bringing up various points,
and clearly most of them were wanting to belittle me
in some way, but some of them seem to really

(28:19):
want to have conversations. And I realized with all the
noise and everything, you couldn't even begin to have a
helpful conversation with anyone. And so at some point when
I got a few people who I thought I could
really sit down and try to have a conversation with,
to try to show them because they seemed to have
a lot of misconceptions at my viewpoints and the viewpoints

(28:41):
of the left in general, I said, hey, does anyone
want to get together to have coffee and have a conversation,
And a few of them were interested, and one in
particular Um ended up emailing me and saying, Hey, you know,
I really I think that was interesting that you wanted
to do that. You weren't just wanting to shut down views.

(29:02):
You were actually trying to answer people, and you were,
of course unable to do that in that kind of environment.
I would love to get to get together for coffee
with you and talk about this. And so we got
together and he seemed really nervous. And this is a
man that was probably six three to six five and

(29:26):
large as well. Um, just a large man compared to me.
I'm a five ft five woman, um, and he seemed
a lot more nervous than I was. I of course
let people know where I was going and what I
was doing, just in case. But I intentionally left my
knife at home, which I usually keep with me, h,

(29:48):
especially since I bust around and around late late at night.
I like to keep a knife on me. Left it
at home. And I don't know exactly what drove me
to do that. It's it's like I wanted to go
in with the intention that I didn't need to be
armed in this situation, and so I arrived. He says, Oh,

(30:10):
I was afraid that you were going to show up
with your anarchist buddies, and you know, you seem so
much nicer than I had thought you were going to be.
You know, I came armed and everything, and I was like, well,
I intentionally didn't come armed. And he was so taken
aback by that, and he said, but you're a petite woman,
like why would you do that? And I just explained

(30:32):
to him, I want to have a conversation. I didn't
want two come with any assumption that I needed to
be afraid of you. I wanted to just come with
open hands and have a good conversation with you. And
we sat there for about four hours and just had
this really long conversation covered a lot of topics. I

(30:52):
didn't start with politics with him. I asked him who
he was and what he cared about and where he
was from, and then you know, he learned a little
bit more about me, and then we got into politics.
And what I realized really quickly into talking with him,
and it is probably something that I came with an
exception about, is that he didn't really he didn't really

(31:17):
explore a lot of the topics as deeply as I had,
and when I brought them up, there was a lot
that he wasn't aware of. And the news sources that
he got were a lot of the ones that are
riddled with uh, misinformation, whether intentional or unintentional. And what

(31:39):
sort of stuff specifically was he bringing up Alex Jones
Daily Stormer, a lot of the ones that Fox News,
a lot of the ones that just have a reputation
for not being very reliable and even intentionally misleading. And
he had even stated as well that he he wasn't

(32:02):
even sure if he liked Trump. He just felt like
from the information he was getting that he needed to
vote for Trump in order to keep the rule of
the land in order. And you know, I a lot
of what he was saying. I could understand where he
got to that conclusion. And when I brought up some
of the news sources that I looked at, ones that

(32:25):
he wasn't even aware of, like Al Jazeera, he was like, oh,
is that the terrorist organization one? And so there's just
there was Yeah. I mean, he he was somebody who
any I believe, And he had said, if Trump does
some of the horrible things people think that he's going

(32:46):
to do, I will stop supporting him and I will
fight against him actively. And I asked him, like, what
would that take, and he didn't have a really clear
concrete answer. And I actually, when you asked me to
retell this story, I decided to reach out to him again.
And so we'll see, you know, if he wants to
get together again, and I can see if he's now

(33:08):
changed any of his views and where that's gone. Um. Yeah,
So did you feel like you made progress sort of
at least in kind of bridging a gap and understanding
by the end of the conversation, Yeah, I think I
made him think, and I think that it reinstilled a

(33:31):
sense that I had that a lot of the problems
we're seeing have to do with misinformation that somebody who
supports like he was talking about the three percenters, how
he was not yet a three per center but was

(33:51):
thinking of becoming one. And when I talked to him
a little bit about the background of groups like that
and some of the the racist pieces that people bring
up a lot, he almost seemed surprised, and he said, no,
we really just care about patriotism, We care about defending
our country. And I think he was genuine. I think

(34:14):
some of the other things perhaps he hadn't encountered yet
directly and didn't believe them, or he he was just
searching for community, and I think that's what I see
a lot with, especially young white men who joined these groups,
as they're looking for community in the wrong places. So yeah,

(34:37):
I think that that's why, as I mentioned, groups like
Rural Organizing Project really ah inspire me because they they
realized that information and education are the things that we
need most to fight these extremist groups. By the way,

(34:58):
Mary l also has a message for anyone listening who
might be on the opposite side of the political spectrum
for her and want to talk. So if anyone wants
to have a conversation with me over coffee and you're
in the Portland area, you can find me on Instagram
at Ellie beaten It E L L I E beaten It. Now.
The far right extremists are only a part of the

(35:20):
equation of political violence in our society. The other integers
are left wing activists, generally referred to as Antifa by
the media and of course the police. I'm aware of
how Antifa is presented by the far right media, but
I've actually spent a lot of time around these people
and seeing them in the streets of a few cities.
The important thing to remember about Antifa is that they
don't tend to rally on their own. ANTIPA is not

(35:42):
hosting these endless marches in Portland. They haven't held a
bunch of their own torchlet marches in Charlottesville. They are
a reactive group. They would characterize what they do as
community self defense. If there aren't Nazis marching in their streets,
most of them will stay at home and chill out.
That leaves us with the police right now least of
violence is a huge factor driving anger and instability in

(36:03):
the United States. The most violent protests we've seen in
living memory in Ferguson in Los Angeles have been driven
by incidents of police brutality. So it would stand to
reason that de radicalizing America's police could do a lot
to stop the gears of war from cranking forward. I'm
not a cop, but I sat down with a former
police officer named Alex who also happens to be a

(36:25):
fan of this show. He worked as a California cop
for fifteen years, and he came to the conclusion that
there were some serious, serious issues in law enforcement that
needed to be fixed. The biggest moment that inspired me
to kind of that changed my worldview was when my
older brother was arrested and booked into my jail actually

(36:47):
that I worked at, and he received a rather resounding
physical beating from law enforcement. Um at the time, he
was mentally ill. He was, I mean, he still is,
but he was mentally psychotic. He was having a psychotic episode,
and that was the incident. It was within my first

(37:09):
year of being hired of him just getting the kind
of dirt stomped out of him. And it never really
it didn't need to happen. Yeah, and it really humanized
everything for me really quickly. People with mental illnesses are
sixteen times more likely to be killed by law enforcement
than the general population. Alex came face to face with

(37:31):
evidence of this horrible reality and it radicalized him and
so he decided to change his department from the inside.
So a lot of people don't really understand what happens
with cops when you first become a cop, and I
think that's that's one of the issues is there needs
to be more transparency about the whole process of becoming
a cop. Um. You know, you go to an academy,

(37:54):
you get a certificate that says that you're you're a
baby cop. Now you're not a cop cop. You're a
baby cop. You have to go get a job first,
and then you have to pass a field training program,
and then you have to stay with that department for
a year, and then you finally get a post certificate
and then you're finally a cop. But what happens is

(38:14):
these guys go to these academies, they get taught the
right way, They get taught the at least in my
personal experience, they were taught the ideal way of dealing
with people, the ideal way of de escalation. This is
how you should be interacting with the public. This is
what you shouldn't be doing. Um and that's all hunky dorry,

(38:35):
it's it's all you know, hypothetical at school. And then
they get out into the real world and they get it.
They get they get a job finally somewhere, and then
they go into f t O and then they get
some guy that's their ft O officer sitting in the
cruiser with them. And one of the first things that
guy's gonna tell you is everything you learn in the

(38:55):
academy throw out the door. It's not gonna do any good.
It's uh, that's not how the real world works, is
what they'll tell you. And this guy holds your career
in his hands. He if he doesn't like you, he
can fail you. And technically that doesn't end your career,
but it doesn't mean you're not working at that department anymore,
and it does make it harder for you to get

(39:17):
hired at another department. So, if your heart is really
set on being a law enforcement officer and you know
the score and people have told you what this program
is like, the FTO program. It's the same ever where
you go. When this guy tells you, you're gonna do
what I tell you. If you want to pass, that's
what you're gonna do. You're gonna become the cop that
this guy wants you to be, and he wants you

(39:40):
to be a cop just like him. And it's this
perpetuation of you know, that idea of well, this is
how we did it back in my day, and my
day we had it hard. In my day, it was rough.
In my day, it was this and instead of looking
forward and being like, I want the next generation to
have better, instead they're like, no, you're gonna have just

(40:02):
what I had, and you're gonna have to go through
all the same crap that I went through, and I'm
gonna make sure that happens to you. What Alex is
saying is that the way this fundamental part of training,
this police apprenticeship program works, allows the biases, bigotry, and
bad behavior of one generation of cops to pass down
to the other forever endeavor. I can speak to a
friend of mine who went out to patrol. He had

(40:26):
been working in the jails with us for years, and
he was a good cop. He knew his stuff, he
knew his penal codes. Uh. He was firm but fair
with with our inmates and you know, enforcing rules, regulations.
And I think he was out on the FTO program
for two weeks when they sent him back to the jails,
and the rumor mill starts running. You know, everyone's like, oh, man,

(40:47):
so you heard so and so failed. What happened? What happened?
What happened? And the only thing we could kind of
glean and the only thing he would tell us because
he didn't want to be want I mean, he didn't
want to be a snitch, right, um is his fdo
didn't like how handed off he was during an arrest.

(41:09):
And when he told his training officer, you know, you
don't we don't have to do these things this way anymore,
he said the training officer. He didn't say anything out loud,
but he gave him this long, thousand miles stare. I
just told him, I don't, I don't think this is
gonna work out for you. And then the very next
day he was done. He was back in the jails.

(41:30):
Changing this FTO program would be a significant alteration of
the way many police departments work. It's the kind of
thing that would have to be approached piecemeal in a
department by department basis via the work of concerned citizens
getting involved in their local communities. But it's also the
sort of thing that individual officers could work to change
from the inside. I know we do have some cops
listening to this show, which honestly surprised me at first

(41:53):
when y'all started reaching out to me. In case you're
still listening, here's Alex's explanation for how he tried to
change things in his department from the inside. So what
I did back in my department that I worked at,
I weaseled my way into becoming the FTO supervisor. And
what I did was I started making as many people

(42:15):
f t O s as I could because what I
found was nobody wanted the job. Um because it did
it had a pay boost on it. They would pay
you like a three increase in pay during the hours
in which you were actually training somebody. Um, But nobody
wanted to do it because there was a ton of paperwork,

(42:36):
just tons and tons of paperwork you had to do
on top of all the other paperwork you do. And cops,
I mean, we're bureaucrats. With guns on our hips. I mean,
our lives are paperwork, it really is. And so what
I did I started making as many people f t
os as I could, um to spread out the responsibility.

(42:56):
Because what I found with a lot of these guys
that were having that that you're going to go through
what I went through attitude and you know back in
my day, attitude was they were they were kind of
just generally burnt out on the job in general. Um.
And so we were taking a guy who was in
like the last ten years of his career and having
him mold the future minds at the department. And in

(43:18):
my my opinion was we take younger guys who have shown,
you know, good skills and leadership and then have a
clean record, and we make these guys as many of
them as we can trainers so that maybe a training
officer would train one to two new hires a year,
whereas a lot of them are training somewhere between ten

(43:38):
and twenty and it's all they do. They don't they're
not even cops anymore. They're not really doing what they
wanted to do with their career. They became glorified examiner
proctors because these guys they don't even teach these new cadets.
They're just evaluating them. And it's like, you know, we're
gonna go to this call rookie and you're gonna do this.

(43:59):
And then when he met says it up, he just
tells him, hey, you screwed that up, don't do it again.
But they don't actually sit down and go, Okay, here's
what you did wrong. Let me help you out, because
like I said, they're they're they're burned out, they're done.
So what I noticed in my department when I started
spreading the responsibility out to everybody was part of the

(44:21):
culture of trainee and rookie or you know, the the
green guy um that started to fade away because so
many people were trainers that they started to rely on
each other for help with training. Because it seemed like
I had created a sense of community and buy in

(44:44):
with the other training officers who were instead of like, oh,
it's you know, it's deputy selling, so it's problem, not
my problem. Now, these guys are like, I've been there.
I remember what it's like to have a busy day.
Maybe I'll go help that guy out, take some load
off him so he can get his paperwork first trainee. Now,
most of what I've talked about up to this point

(45:04):
have been preventative measures, ways to lower the temperature and
potentially help unfunded this country. But in the year of
Our Lord two thousand nineteen, very few of us are optimists.
Even if the Second American Civil War does not happen,
our situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. Now,
a lot of people have asked me some variation of
the question what can I do to prepare for this?

(45:27):
And the answer to that question breaks down into two
separate categories, things you can spend money on to prepare
and things you can't. The money stuff is easy. First off,
get a one month stockpile of dried food for you
and your family. Wise Food sells one month one person
buckets for around seventy dollars. Amazon has a pretty wide
variety of survival rations. Survival tabs are about twenty two

(45:49):
dollars for eight days. If you want to eat a
little bit fancier, one month supply MRI e crates are
a hundred and forty dollars or so. Mountain House has
a one month bucket that's eighty six dollars, and in
my opinion there stuff does taste the best. I want
to make it clear that I don't receive money from
any of these companies. I just think buying at least
a month of emergency food is a sane thing for

(46:10):
anyone to do. Even if there's no civil war close
to the people listening to this will be hit by
a natural disaster at some point in their lives. It's
just sensible to have extra food on hand. But if
you want to be extra prepared, expand to a three
month supply. You should also get some water. You can
buy a couple of fifteen gallon containers for pretty cheap,

(46:30):
fill them up and just keep them in the back
of a closet or in your garage just in case.
You should also consider investing in water purification tablets or
a survival straw. If you rely on a medication and
can't afford to do so, try to get a three
month supply of whatever you need. Sometimes telling your doctor
you're going overseas for an extended period of time can
work to allow you to do this. Now, many people

(46:53):
have asked me about whether or not they should buy
a gun, and we'll talk more about that later, but
it's important to note that owning firearms has downsides, keeping
a sensible stockpile of dried food, water, and medication has
zero downsides other than the upfront cost. These are the
kind of things that everybody should do. But stockpiling can
only take you so far. What should you actually do

(47:15):
if order breaks down, the police retreat, and your community
is left to fend for itself. I've never been in
that situation, but Scott crow has. In the How to

(47:37):
Save America episode of this series, I talked a bit
about mutual Aid disaster relief. An organization I advised people
to join and support. That group evolved in of something
called the common Ground Clinic, which arose in New Orleans
in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Common Ground is a
perfect example of the sort of thing you'd want to
build in the wake of a state pull out from
your community. It started as a handful of street medics

(48:01):
providing emergency medical care in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans.
It evolved into a network of clinics and a free
public hospital which provided care to more than sixty people
and took in more than twenty volunteers. Common Ground offered
everything from AIDS testing and psychiatric aid, to roof tarping
and neighborhood computer centers. Common Ground established more than a

(48:22):
hundred neighborhood gardens to help feed people. Their motto, solidarity
not charity, is the same motto mutual aid disaster relief
has today now. Common Ground was not a top down structure.
They didn't ride into impoverished areas and replace FEMA in
the federal government with another system of control. Instead, they
helped members of those communities organized to secure and see

(48:44):
to their own needs. Scott Crowe was one of the
people who helped organize and execute this massive effort. But
when I saw the devastation there, I you know, I
was there like two days after the storm. So what
I saw was actually the inefficiency of capitalism if you
want to use those terms, or governments in general. Um.
But I also saw the inefficiency of not just governments,

(49:06):
but also corporations to do anything about this. The two
dominant things in the structures in our lives, uh and
are that that kind of our permeate every every part
of civil society had they just felt they just totally
collapsed and so there was nothing to do, and so
people were really left to their own devices and what
they wanted to do. And so from that I started

(49:27):
to Germany on these ideas very quickly because it needed
I'm like, well, you know, we started we could do
a first date station because we could get some anarchists
to come here and do a first day station. But
what if a first date station became a clinic? What
if a clinic became a hospital, you know? And then
and then I sort of think, well, why don't we
feed people so we could get food up bombs to
come down, uh, and and and and begin to feed people.

(49:48):
And then what if we began to build cooperative restaurants
or we began to build uh anyway, just larger infrastructure.
I just kept thinking about it over and over again
in these larger ways. And so what we did we
started to call for volunteers and networks that we had
already built um to begin this project which we hadn't
even named yet. And it was three people that kind

(50:09):
of started it. It was myself, uh, this man named
Malik Raheem, who was a former member of the Black
Panther Party in New Orleans had been in shootouts with
the police and stuff. And then this woman named Sharon Johnson,
who who was a resident of Algiers and um and
just decided to take it on. She'd been working at
a bank before that, and so the three of us
began to lay the foundations of not just uh trying

(50:32):
to provide charity or support for people in that way
that everybody does, because everybody could see that there was
a disaster, but we wanted to use it as a
pivoting point to begin to rebuild neighborhoods blocked by blocked
neighborhood by neighborhood, not in our image, but in the
image of what the people wanted for themselves, so every
community wouldn't need the same thing. And so I took

(50:54):
from the Zapatistas to lead by by obeying the idea
and the concept that you know, if you're gonna lead people,
you have to ask them what they want, and then
you just have to direct them and facilitate it. And
so that's what we did. We begin to have conversations
with people while we're building stuff. But remember the thing
that made Common Ground Collective different than any other organization
as well. We were willing to go against the state

(51:16):
and the police and and all the forms of governmental
entities when they were when they were doing things or wrong.
We stopped them from killing people in the streets. You know,
I took up arms against the police. I took up
arms against um, against white militia guys who were actually
killing people in the streets, to stop them from killing
more people. Now, I'm gonna stop Scott right there for

(51:38):
a moment, because he's just moved on to a topic
that I don't think most people know much about. In
the wake of Hurricane Katrina, a lot of news coverage
focused on the supposed chaos, largely blamed on violent gang
members and looters. In our episode on the Upsides of
the Second American Civil War, I dispelled those rumors. National
Guard officers have come out on the record saying gang
members were actually some of the most active volunteers in

(51:59):
their relief. Words, but there was insane vigilante violence in
the aftermath of Katrina. White supremacist militiamen who refused to
evacuate spent days hunting down any black people who had
the temerity to exist near them. You don't have to
take Scott's word for this or mine. Here's several militiamen
and women bragging about what they did after Hurricane Katrina.

(52:20):
It was great. It was great. It was like pheasant
season in South Dakota. If it moves shot, that's out
a pheasant. We're not in South Dakota. What's wrong with
this picture? Who walked the street with it side on? Yeah?
You had no choice. It was that bad, she said,
said just put him on a silad because they knew

(52:41):
what they were doing wrong. You know, I said, just
put him to the side. That's all we could do.
I am no longer a Yankee. Yeah, I earned my
understands the N word now, I learned my wing. These
interviews were shot during a barbecue and everyone involved was drinking.
You can hear how they briefly attempt to blame their
victims by painting them as looters. I think their comments

(53:01):
about learning the meaning of the inward put the lie
to that. There is an extraordinary amount of video evidence
and interviews that attest to the exterminationist crimes of white
supremacist militias during this period. I'd like to quote next
from a book called A Paradise Built in a Hell. Quote.
The vigilantes had gotten the keys of some of their

(53:21):
neighbors who'd evacuated, set up barricades, even felling trees to
slow people's movement through the area, accumulated an arsenal and
gone on patrol. Unfortunately, there were also between the rest
of New Orleans Parish and the Faery terminal from which
people were being evacuated. A lot of people had good reason,
as well as every right, to walk through those streets.
At one point, they even demanded a black man leave

(53:41):
the neighborhood, even though he lived a few blocks from
where his neighbors threatened him. Suddenly, in that mixed neighborhood,
blacks were intruders. The vigilantes were convinced that their picturesque
neighborhood on the other side of the river would be
overrun by looters, but they did not report the loss
of even a garden hose or flower pot from a
single front yard. There's a good article in the Nation
about this, called Katrina's Hidden Race War. It notes that

(54:05):
right wing news website Cox News called these murderers the
ultimate neighborhood watch, and while police claims about gang snipers
shooting at them have been largely debunked, substantial evidence exists
to back up Scott's claims of police brutality against black residents.
I recommend the pro public article Body of Evidence if
you want to read more about that. What struck me

(54:26):
as I researched all of this was the similarity between
what these white militias did in Katrina and what neo
Nazi organizer Lewis Beam planned back in the nineteen eighties
when he attempted to organize an underground Neo Nazi army
for the race war he believed was imminent. I quoted
Beam in an earlier episode, and I'd like to quote
him again here. Quote We'll set up our own state

(54:48):
here and announce that all non whites have twenty four
hours to leave. Lots of them won't believe it or
won't believe us when they say we'll get rid of them,
so we'll have to exterminate a lot of them the
first time around. This brings me to the subject of
armed self defense and whether or not you should consider
purchasing a firearm. I can't make that decision for any
of you. I can't answer that question for any of you,

(55:10):
and I'm not an n R. A loving evangelist of
firearms is magical talismans against danger. Having a gun does
not guarantee anything, but it does provide you with options
that people without firearms do not have. And because Scott
and his fellow activists at Common Ground had guns with
them in the wake of Katrina, they had the option
of defending their community against rampaging racist militiamen. So, again

(55:32):
taking a page from anarchists books and also from the
zapatistas um, what we did was we wanted to create
an area within a few square blocks that was that
was under our control, mostly not and I say our
control that means community control, not the not the people
in Common Ground, but the people in the neighborhood. And
so that gave us safety to be able to build

(55:55):
the clinic, to build the food distribution in the and
the hygiene distribution, to begin to build the programs, to
begin to do the health, to do the the free
schools and things like that. But the the armed defense
was in a major component at the beginning because the
police were out of control and they turned a blind
eye to white militias and algiers and in the um

(56:16):
in the French Quarter who were killing black men, largely
unarmed black men, and and um. And the thing is
it wasn't a lot of them. It didn't take a lot,
but what they did was they shot at a lot
of them. And so two white guys from Texas, myself
and another guy, we joined with three guys in the neighborhood.
This is in the early days, this is when we
first came to do the search and rescue, and that

(56:38):
was one of the things that people needed. We said,
they said, we need people to stop, we need to
we need we need to form community community patrols to
stop these white militia guys from killing people because they
were driving around like the clan in the backup trucks,
drunk with totally armed shooting people. I mean, it looked
like something out of Somalia or something, except it was
totally white dudes, you know, and they weren't sensitive and

(57:02):
they were just they were just drunk rednecks is what
they were. And so uh, you know, and I'm gonna
redneck myself, so I could see myself and them, but
that's you know that we had to stop them. So
we ended up in an arms standoff with them that
really literally lasted for minutes, but it changed the shape
of power and that that block of neighborhoods just us
doing that because they stopped patrolling as often as they did.

(57:25):
Now the police still turned a blind eye to it.
But the police were also killing people. And when I
say the police, I'm not talking about just random police.
I'm talking about New Orleans Police Department. We're actually randomly
killing people. And many of the officers were indicted later
for many atrocities of crimes, and then they walked away
with many other ones. And so the arms self defense

(57:46):
component was only a piece to hold a space while
we began to create this other stuff. And again taking
a page out of the Zapatista playbook, what they did
was they rose up in n with arms, and then
they said, we will put our arms away when we
have enough safety and security from those around us in
civil society who are paying attention to what's going on.
And so we use the same thing, the arms we

(58:09):
you know, because the way I want to build liberatory
community arm self defense is not that we perpetuate the
problems of power of those with guns have more power
than the rest of the people and communities, and so
we the whole idea was to take up arms and
put them away when we didn't need them anymore, because
there's enough people on the ground doing the things, and
we could use other forms. We could use media to

(58:31):
talk to people, we could use community control, um, you know,
within the community to actually stop people from being killed,
just physical protection. And so that's what we did. And
so within the first few weeks we put the guns
away and then continue to build all of these programs
and and and and after disasters. One of the things
I've recognized is that you know, disasters take many forms, right,

(58:53):
It's ecological, it's political, it's economic, and war. These are
all forms of dis maasters that have very similar things
where everything that you think you know about the world
disappears immediately and people begin to die. And as as
climate change causes human induced climate change is causing more

(59:14):
and more calamities and disasters. I think that what we
need to do is build more autonomy, more communities that
are autonomous but networked. So while firearms are important tools
to have in the event of a civil collapse, focusing
on building an arsenal is probably a mistake. Having a
gun can be part of a survival plan, but guns
alone will not keep you safe when you get right

(59:36):
down to it. The only thing that really provides long
term security and a disaster is a community. That's what
Scott Crowe in the Common Ground Clinic proved in Katrina.
Training with a rifle has its place, but you'll gain
more benefit from volunteering with street metic collectives and organizations
like Mutual Aid disaster relief, because that will help you
build connections with local networks of people you can rely

(59:57):
on and cooperate with in the event the state falls apart.
This is not just your hunky dory um scenario where
we're just like, oh, everything's okay, and we can do
this and we can have time. We had to build
all this from scratch, with no money, no infrastructure except
for the larger networks that anarchists had built around the
country over the over the preceding fifteen or twenty years

(01:00:18):
and and the and the rise of the alternative globalization movement.
We had created these networks of like street medics, anarchist
street medics who had been showing up at all these
protests around the country and providing support for protesters or
or food not bombs, chapters that have been around for
thirty years but had also been had formed these networks.
We were able to call these networks in and so
these people were willing to risk folonious arrest to feed people,

(01:00:44):
to risk felonious arrest or to be killed, to just
provide basic medicare medical care to people. And so with
that is like we just started to build. And as
more people came, they brought ideas of building more and
more projects and more and more programs, and so, uh,
you know, we started with three people and and you
know and self defense and community arm defense, and then

(01:01:06):
from that we began to build this incredibly beautiful train
wreck called the Common Ground Collective. The state is fragile.
It never looks that way when times are good, but
disasters like Katrina are a peak behind the curtain. They
revealed that behind the armored riot cops and tanks and
flags is a naked old magician relying on smoke and mirrors.
The state is as brittle as the power lines infrastructure

(01:01:27):
that the things that we rely on, the electricity grid,
the food grid that delivery deliveries, the fuel grids, they
all go down really fast. It doesn't take very long
for them to just takes a few key places for
them to go down. So if it floods somewhere like
on the coastline, all the oil production in Texas stops.

(01:01:48):
And when oil production stops in Texas and it's the
refineries and stuff the extra processing, then that means it
stops for the whole country, the whole United States, like quickly.
So this is, this happened at Harvey, this happened in Katrina.
Of this happened, and I just keeps happening over and
over but hasn't had a complete stop yet. But it's common.
And so I don't even live and I don't live
in fear about things. But so just recognizing that I watched,

(01:02:11):
I watched what happened at Katrina as an isolated thing
like in the in the region that happened like in
three or four states, like like most hurricanes do. But
what I watched was that the stores that had their
delivery warehouses are all predicated on this very minimal thing
where they just barely keep them stopped and so they
can run out really fast food, water, like you know,

(01:02:33):
like all the things that would be in a warehouse
for Walmart, not you know, pitching them, but anywhere. And
so it's concentric circles, so like it's New Orleans and
say it's Mississippi and Alabama, like isolated storms right that
have happened. But then then all of a sudden, the
infrastructure spreads to the northern and western parts of those
states where there's like in concentric rings where there's no

(01:02:54):
supplies available, and then within two more weeks there's nothing
available within the states nearby, within that you know, and
then it keeps going until at Katrina, people didn't start
to bring supplies in from until it was like four
states away. There was nothing. There was nothing to get
like you could even in Texas. You couldn't bring water
to people in Katrina unless you were far like you

(01:03:17):
were getting a nel passo. This was only in the
first few weeks. So I watched like watching that, watching
the grids go down really quickly, really changed the way
I think about stuff. But I am not somebody who
wants to sit in fear and worry about how we're
going to do this, because I can tell you all
the fear mongers, like that asshole Alex Jones, the fucking

(01:03:38):
dumbfucker that he is. Um, those guys they make their
they make their money on fear. But fear only goes
so far. Preppers and militiamen and their ilk like to
present an aura of power and preparedness, but many of
them are ultimately quite fragile. To A network of human
beings working together to protect one another are stronger than
any bunker. They're stronger than any state. Those bonds are

(01:04:00):
not just what will save us if the state collapses,
they're the only thing that can carry us through to
a better future. We've all seen in the months and
years since two thousand and sixteen the fragility of the
world order most of us grew up taking for granted.
As the climate worsens, as disasters grow more frequent, as
fascism surges forward, we find ourselves in a position we're
just patching holes in the dike. Isn't enough. We need

(01:04:22):
to build new, more resilient systems if the things we
love about our culture, our society, our species are going
to survive. I know the task of building a new
world is a scary thing to consider in its own way.
It's as frightening as the thought of collapse. When I
was young, I read a book by Stephen Pressfield called
The Gates of Fire. It's a fictional retelling of the

(01:04:43):
Battle of Thermoboli, and a much more historically accurate depiction
of events than the one scene. In Frank Miller's Three hundred,
there's a running question in the book, asked by several
of the characters, what is the opposite of fear? What
is the thing that binds people together in the most
desperate and hopeless of situations. By the end of the book,
one of the characters, Dianikis, finally answers that question. The

(01:05:06):
opposite of fear, he says, is love. I hope this
series has had an impact on all of you. I
hope it inspires you to read Cities under Siege and
Scott Crowe's own book about Katrina, Black Flags and Windmills.
I hope it convinces you to study democratic confederalism and
what's happening in Rojava. I hope that many of you
will start volunteering on farms, studying emergency medicine, and volunteering

(01:05:27):
with groups like Mutual Aid, disaster Relief and Food Not Bombs.
More than anything, I hope it convinces you that the
only antidote to the hatred and suspicion tearing apart our
society is solidarity, and at the core of solidarity is love.
At the end of the first episode of this series,
I talked about Jeremy Christian, the fascist extremist who stabbed

(01:05:48):
two people to death on a Portland max Light rail
train in two thousand seventeen. I talked to fair amount
about Christian in that episode, his support for the right
wing street gang patriot prayer, his belief that his murders
were justified by the perceived liberalism of his victims. To me,
Jeremy Christian is a human microcosm of everything pushing this
country to madness. It is important to talk about him,

(01:06:10):
but it might be more important to talk about the
men he killed. On that terrible summer day in Portland,
Christian had focused on two young women, one of whom
was black and the other of whom wore a hijab.
He started screaming in their faces about how all Muslims
needed to be exterminated. When several men on the train
decided to intervene, the two men who would die defending
those young women could not have appeared more different from

(01:06:32):
each other, at least on paper. Tallis and murder Nam
Kaim Mesh was a twenty three year old social justice
advocate from Ashland, Oregon. He was passionate about environmental issues
and wrote eloquently about Islam and an effort to counter
the prejudices many Americans have towards the faith. Rickie John
Best was a fifty three year old army veteran, a
father of four, a devout Catholic, and a registered Republican.

(01:06:55):
Based on the conventional political wisdom of our increasingly polarized times,
Tallison and Ricky should have been yelling at each other.
But when two young, vulnerable members of their community needed defending,
both Ricky and Tallison stood up and put their bodies
in harm's way to protect strangers. The emotion that propelled
them forward in those last moments was love. As he
bled out on the floor of that train, Tallison told

(01:07:18):
the woman attempting to render first aid to him, tell
everyone on this train, I love them. Having love in
your heart, like having a gun in your hand, does
not guarantee anything. It does not mean victory. But I
also know that we can't turn this ship around without it.
And that's it. That's all I got. It's up to
you all now to go out and unfunck this country.

(01:07:40):
So good luck, godspeed. One last time, I'm going to
turn to four fists to play us out I never
been to war. Knock, neither of you so doing pretty good.
I never killed a man. I would start this. I'll

(01:08:01):
just make leave. I think I'm George Patton Herbert Hoover,
speaking Shakespeare to the stones, hope that they will be
moved by woods, turn riffles into reservoirs. I think I'm fuck.
He's to think guy's hasting over. But I chrome on nowadays.
Never I sleep without. I used to worship popular Spanish
Civil War fishing off the keys. Three sense the guards.

(01:08:22):
Me and that ship don't work for me. I'm a Superkowsky.
Heaven help us. Isaac Rock's right, turning over every single
stone in search of suns of light. Kind of nice
quiet life. Yeah, far from the guns bore. Run my
fingers through the grass and listen to you so seland
in the curtains, records on your skin. And this my empress,

(01:08:44):
this my super this myself on shackleton. Yeah, lengths protests me.
All my bits got dead love like air spring. They
are frontier, they are endless, in there in everything. This Sunday,
So I got y r. I'm ready. I'm pacing our way.

(01:09:19):
Wait wait, wait, no, I ain't. I'm scared and I'm
quick to escape. And he went that away maybe flattered
and scattering or flattened and shattering or collecting dad and
he's an unbaffling group free where the freezer take me?
Hell yam and ballooma no string because but nobody wanted
to be stuck. Stuff under was so out of sinking.

(01:09:39):
Just remember to breathe, Just remember the breathe. Just remember
how feast to be reached. Like anything you do that
ship easy if it comes easy, just to get easy
to do what it needs me. There ain't no freezes
earn with your keeping like they do not need me,
because they don't. If you're sleeping, caught in the romance
and drama, woe with me stopped from catching, they open
it and they won't be credits. Let's stop happening every Sunday,

(01:10:02):
sound design your I'm learning never be since that's okay,
Like his weapon self shall best place. There's not a

(01:10:24):
hair a hair, but just each day left is a
death in themselves, and I can't chase. I'm hurting the
leg of a letter, the soul strength that's the front
of me. Now I'm made up the buber myself, you see,
and at you're racing best. Back when I lost to
I ain't it. I ain't ain't it I. I ain't

(01:10:52):
it I I ain't I I I. I hated my,
I hated I. I hated I. I b

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