The Fall 2016 Abolish Work Book Tour – Wrap Up Post (Part 2)

You can find part one here.


Towards NYC

Where we last left our intrepid slacker (that’s me) I was nearly stranded in Boston after a last minute switch in housing.

Ah, the joys of traveling!

Okay, I’m dramatizing a bit but it wasn’t pleasant.

In this post I’ll try to get through the rest of my trip if possible. If nothing else I’ll try to get to the end of my trip (North Carolina) but we’ll see. Mostly what happened next in Boston was (as I said at the end of my last post) meeting up with my mother and having her buy a copy of my book and from there I headed out to NYC.

The ride to NYC seemed particularly long, mostly because my smartphone battery was really low and the electrical outlets on the Mega Bus didn’t seem to work. So I spent a lot of the bus ride figuring out how to give a charge to my phone (using my laptop at one point)while maximizing my ability to use it and check the internet once in a while.

At this point in my trip I was wearing a bright blue skirt and some leggings so I was somewhat notable to a lot of the cis folks around me. But I was really trying to push my comfort level(s) by dressing pretty openly feminine in big cities like Boston and NYC so I’d feel more comfortable once I was in back home.

This had mixed results but it went mostly fine. Most of the issues were internal and had to do with my own sense of anxiety rather than what people actually said or did. For the record, no one actually said or did anything to me while I was dressed as feminine as I was. Most people gave me looks or seemed momentarily weirded out by me…but that’s normal.

In fact, I humorously noted to myself a few times (in an effort to calm my anxieties) that people already give me unusual stares when I am in public. Mostly because I am clumsy or acting odd (stimming to music is one example) or (in this case) dressing unconventionally. I reasoned that my dressing feminine was merely increasing the odds of someone being weirded out by me.

Unfortunately, I had at least one (relatively minor) incident where someone who was walking past me in the streets of NYC said rhetorically, “Well aren’t you a cute girl?” and I got some sort of smirk on my face for a second…

…Before the person then put their finger to their throat like a knife.

Yeah, it wasn’t pleasant.

Thankfully they kept walking and I did too.

Bluestockings Books, Cafe & Activist Center – October 10th, NYC

It's a-me!

It’s a-me!

Bluestockings is a social space that’s accommodating a lot of things as its name implies. Still, it was a nice space and I had a lovely time looking around the store…even if I was still anxious about my appearance despite being in an ostensibly safe space for that sort of thing. That’s the shitty thing about anxiety and gender dysphoria, neither of these things have to make much contextual sense, they’re just going to be there and all you can do is try to calm yourself down and realize that these things don’t control your brain and either way you don’t have to let them.

Anyways, mental health aside, the space was very well organized and staffed. The staff let me charge my electrical items (laptop and phone) right behind their counter, for extra sense of security. They were very nice…though I can’t pretend to not be a little miffed by fact that I had to give them a percentage of the money I made from the book.

I mean, I get it. They’re a radical space and they need money just like I do and I don’t fault them for that, but it also helps me out to have as much money as I can so I can diminish travel and food costs. So it’s a bit of a toss up in terms of aggravation for me, but in the end I politely demurred to their policy because I appreciate them letting me use their space for free…can’t really argue with that price tag, huh?

The event itself turned out to be wonderful beyond my dreams.

It started off somewhat slow with around 5 people around 7 PM. I started at 7:05 and by then there were maybe a few people and then a few minutes later there were a few more people and then…

By 7:15 I had over 20 people in attendance.

I was absolutely stunned. The event went really well and everyone in the audience was receptive to my ideas. At this point I was doing a more structured talk (I’ll post it in a few days!) that outlined some of the main concepts within anti-work philosophy. Some of the concepts included defining work (naturally), play, automation and anarchism.

I didn’t get through all of my definitions because I (appropriately) had slacked off on doing some of the definitions. So my list of 7 concepts only had 3-4 concepts actually completed. So I improvised the rest on my own terms but they all seemed to go well and if I could remember what I said, I probably ended up using a few ideas later on.

The Q&A was great with one person telling me my talk was inspirational and then asking a super interesting question about whether time in the military was work or not. It was interesting partly because I had never considered it but also because (ostensibly) the people in the military are doing what they want to do.

But I said that even if it could be considered a form of play or non-work that not all forms of play are necessarily good things but also that the “voluntariness” of joining the military (of all things) is likely a lot more complicated than some folks think it is. I mentioned the fact that many folks join it for the economic benefits and being able to support themselves or help pay off their student debts that they’ve accrued, etc.

There were some other questions about reform and how best to approach anti-work activism. I generally had a cautious pessimism about reforming the state. But I later qualified when someone followed up with having more practical ways to impact marginalized communities (especially people of color) that I certainly (especially as a white person) didn’t have all of the possible knowledge about what would and wouldn’t work for communities.

I reasoned out that there may be situations where reform can be the best short term option but in the long term, direct action from the bottom up is likely our best bet. Tearing at the structures from the top down, i.e. targeting things like the military industrial complex, corporate welfare and police militarization as opposed to social welfare programs was another strategy I recommended. And once again I reiterated my point about democratic schools and their anti-work potential for children by producing more artists and entrepreneurs.

The show got me 3-4 copies sold and me and a bunch of friends decided to go out for celebratory pizza after the talk which ended up being a great little time. I say “little” because I wasn’t able to stay very long as I had to go over to White Plains NY and visit a new friend of mine, we had a nice time.

Wooden Shoe Books – October 12th, Philadelphia PA

Me at Wooden Shoe!

Me at Wooden Shoe!  My shirt says “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups”

Getting into Philly was the opposite of NYC in that it came too fast and I ended up having internet and electricity but managed to keep not indulging in either due to my sleep deprivation (I had woken up around 6:30 AM or so which is unheard of me, I’m a night-owl!). So I tried to make my way to my friend J’s (who took the above photo) house and promptly went the fuck to sleep for a few hours or so.

That was the 11th of October and I spent most of the rest of the day resting, watching shows and generally trying to take it easy. As much as I loved my tour there were definitely days where the traveling itself made me exhausted and I just needed to spend as much “me time” as possible so I could recuperate my energies.

On the 12th of October I was feeling a bit better and headed to my talk with a few of my friends. This time I got around 12-15 people and I actually seemed to stun my audience into silence by the end of it! I didn’t have many questions but people were generally positive about my talk. The talk itself was completely done at this point and I was finally able to five the full presentation that I had wanted to give in NYC.

But apparently it was a little too good for the Philly crowd because I only got a few questions!

I had a few copies of my book sold and it was at this point that I noticed some of my copies had been getting really banged up by being in the luggage bag for so long. Unfortunately there wasn’t much I could do about it but some people graciously took the more beat up copies so if other more stingy people came along, they would be happy.

This was actually a phenomenon that happened a bunch of times throughout the tour and it made me really grateful to my friends and fans(?) that they were able to put up with a little bit of wear and tear. Then again, people had various logics about it: It was just the front cover, the book was still plenty readable, they didn’t mind the aesthetic damage, etc.

Once more, I headed to pizza and various foods with a few friends for celebration.

I soon headed over to New Jersey for a night to spend time with a friend of mine. We hung out for the night and most of the next day before I returned to Philadelphia on the night of the 13th. On the morning of the 14th I headed to DC and had found out the night before that my crash space had suddenly changed (for understandable reasons).

So I quickly shifted plans and strapped myself in for Virginia.

Private Event  – October 16, Arlington, Virginia

Me and all of my sexiness.

Me and all of my sexiness.

And it’s a good thing I did because the weekend was…weird.

It didn’t have anything do with the talk but personal matters came up for a friend and it tinged the rest of the weekend. I’m not mad at them or blaming them but it ended up being a really weird weekend. Still, it had its lovely moments on Friday and Saturday as well as Sunday which involved a corn maze, Civilization V, Portlandia, good music, some great Netflix shows, excellent conversations and a group discussion about ethical non-monogamy.

As for the event itself it went off pretty well with around 10 people in attendance and an interesting mix of libertarians and a few Marxists of varying sorts. I was especially happy to see the Marxists just because it was different from most of the other folks in the crowd and I figured they’d have interesting things to add.

One of the Marxists asked me a question about how a free society could exist if people were dependent on wages. But I explained that I don’t think folks should be dependent on them so much as have the option to work in a wage labor relation if they want to. And that, without the limitations of state-capitalism, people would tend to not do so.

There were some other personal stories towards the beginning about jobs people hated and why. That made for an interesting story in general and I made some good contacts through the event. I got 4-5 copies sold and some people even offered to take really beat up copies as others had done before, which was nice.

After the event I had a lovely chat with the Marxists (they’re fairly close to anarcho-communism from what I can tell) and we talked about various things about ourselves. One question that one of them gave that particularly stuck with me (and this was a little after the Q&A) was about theft and the workplace.

I’ve never really touched this issue (for a variety of reasons) but generally I’m mixed on it as an anti-work tactic.

I tend to think that actions that have a great chance of hurting your fellow workers or the consumer are actions that should be minimized and not maximized. I also think, while some corporations have shaky claims to what they produce, generally it’s not a good message to send to people who are trying to revolt. It’s also a high-risk and likely low-reward action that will only be a band-aid on your situation or others.

Overall, I’m not enthusiastic about it. I’m not necessarily going to rat someone else if they do it but if they are going to do it and really think it’s such a good idea, they should probably minimize collateral harm as much as possible.

Anyways, that’s all I have to say about that for right now.

Firestorm Books and Cafe – October 18th, Asheville, North Carolina

I think I'm so cool with my Coheed & Cambria shirt (and I am!).

I think I’m so cool with my Coheed & Cambria shirt (and I am!).

The trip over to North Carolina from DC was somewhat long (8 hours) but as I recall it wasn’t too bad.  There was a nice rest stop in Durham where (again…noticing a theme?) I made some last-minute crash plans because I was under the presumption someone could host me on the 17th when they couldn’t.

But (as usual) I figured it out and ended up having a lovely day with a friend of mine before sleeping over a member of the Firestorm’s before going there the next day.

I wasn’t sure how many folks would show up but it ended up being 16! It was a great time and I sold 3-4 copies as per usual, which was nice. I had some friendly back and forth with this one audience member named Magpie after the event was over about free market anti-capitalism / mutualism / left-libertarianism and anarcho-communism. It went a lot better than I thought it was going to, so that was really nice.

My talk was the usual structured talk so there isn’t much to say there. The questions were mostly centered around clarifying the meaning of work as it pertains to independent and creative activities as well as the compatibility of markets and the anti-work philosophy.

I’ve touched on the latter point throughout my blog but briefly, I want to acknowledge the obvious fact that it’s weird that a left-wing market anarchist (which is what I am, basically) would take up the mantle of anti-work. Given that the anti-work tradition has generally been critical (at best) of markets and wanted it completely eliminated in some cases.

So yeah, that’s weird and I fully admit that.

But I think that’s because those thinkers often confuse markets with capitalism. And I tend to treat those things as separate entities altogether. I think capitalism is a particular type of market place whereby the individuals with the most access to capital get privileged over those who don’t. They tend to own the means of production, get to boss around others, have crucial access to the monopoly on violence (the state) and so on.

If we eliminated things like the state, opened up the ability for folks to compete with each other (including the capitalists, who historically hate free competition) and created a culture of solidarity based around mutual aid and direct action as well as an ethic of reciprocity and equality of authority, I think we’d be in pretty good shape.

I realize I just used a lot of buzz words so to clarify further, I think that markets can actually create more social equality within systems that aren’t controlled by the state or the folks with the most capital. Rather it’s controlled by a given individual in relation to their own context. They are able to access capital much more easily thanks to things like mutual banking, cheap credit, competing institutions, mutual aid, communities based on barter and sharing, etc.

The sort of anarchism I see is probably better known as a form of anarchism without adjectives but I’ve also taken to calling it a form of meta-anarchy. Whereby different forms of anarchy are allowed to compete and cooperate as they please so long as there are no rulers, no unjust violence and it retains a relatively free society.

Again, I know there’s probably much more specific things to say here but I could honestly write way too much about this and get us all sidetracked. I recommend the book Markets Not Capitalism if you want to know about my position here or check out The Center for a Stateless Society for some general hot-takes on what I’m saying.

Conclusion

With that successful talk out of the way, I went over to one of my friends place outside of Asheville and watched Spaceballs while being super tired. I decided to go to DC and then straight to Boston, which is exactly what I did…after missing my first bus in Charlotte and having to wait another 12 hours.

Oops?

Well, I didn’t actually miss it…I apparently never got the confirmation tickets or whatever.

Oops.

Regardless, I visited my mother again, visited a good friend in Brattleboro, came to Nashua to visit my grandmother and finally ended up back home.

Thank god.

It was a lovely trip and I’m so glad I did it. I’m really thankful to all of my Patrons both past and present that have been supporting me and made it happen. I’m thankful to the support of my friends and family (especially my grandmother, my mom and my aunt) and I’m really thankful to Little Black Cart and Aragorn! for taking a chance on me.

Thanks everyone.

See you next time!

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