capitalism IS a conspiracy

capitalism IS a conspiracy.

it works because it’s out in the open, and there are so many ways to be greedy that all of those benefiting from the conspiracy don’t have to coordinate. in fact, it feeds off conflict – intimate, electoral, corporate, and especially the conflicts that proliferate in moments of disaster.

you don’t need to add more once you truly understand how deep that rabbit hole goes.
follow the money. ask yourself who benefits from a confused and suspicious people?

to resist the conspiracy, spend less time consuming the internet, and more time developing relationships with real people with whom you share the tangible (shelter, transportation, masks, medicine, groceries, care, childcare) and the intangible (listening, loving, dreaming, trusting, laughter, grief). follow and respect the workers, the doctors, the scientists, the caretakers, those who call back to us from the front lines with strategies and requests for help and adaptation (as opposed to those who cower behind us and tell us to trust nothing, and not to adapt for collective safety).

capitalists are absolutely looking at how to benefit from the tragedy we are currently in – medical supplies, technology control, security, borders, data access, benefiting from an economy that crashes and has to rebuild.

we have to be looking at how we deepen our relationships to hold each other through this, claim power for our communities, and be accountable with those we most love and want to protect and be with.

two places for good reading on this:

Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein
@movementgeneration web page

please place more suggestions (clear, accessible analysis and thinking) in the comments if you have them.

suggestions so far

Paradise Built in Hell, Rebecca Solnit
Sacred Economics, Charles Eisenstein
Surveillance Capitalism, Shoshana Zuboff
I, Coronavirus –
Arundhati Roy

final letter to Ursula le Guin (sent the day after your departure)

first, a few excerpts from our correspondence, which will be published in the Ursula le Guin Science Fiction and Social Justice Reader this year.

amb: How does imagination help our species survive?
UKL: It is through imagination that we think intelligently about what we’ve done, are doing, and should do.

amb: did you ever spend time with Octavia?

UKL: We met only two or three times…She was an extraordinary person, both formidable and lovable.  I always felt she was larger than life, if you know what I mean.

amb: Thanks for your life’s work!
UKL: You’re very welcome! I have enjoyed it very much.


a relationship with a beloved writer can be a very selfish place. you are alone with them, building an understanding of the world through their eyes and some intimate pairing of imaginations – they paint the worlds but all of it happens inside you. i tried to write something more epic and universal, and i trust that will come. but first i wanted to write a letter to her that was about how she shaped me.

dear Ursula,

great teacher.

great spirit.

i’ve been crying since i got the news of your passing, and also feeling very alive.

i got to live at the same time as you.

and i get the honor of grieving you.

there are thoughts and ideas you wrote down that became beliefs for my whole life, marking posts on the journey of freeing myself.

there are questions you asked that changed the way i could think.

many of us don’t get to experience grandparents who can accept us whole. for me you were one of the adults who stepped into that yawning space, who joined the composite of my dream elder.

you let me know i may be in the wrong universe, but i am not wrong, i am not impossible.

you not only matched and fed my queer unorthodox mind, but pushed me further. on relationships and sex alone you had me consider: what about four-way marriage? what about gender as a responsive switchy sexual state that was otherwise nonexistent? what about instead of a period you just had a monthly sexual overdrive and a special place to go orgy for that time?

i am a lucky one – i got to tell you to your face that you were everything – and you were gracious about it.

i am still creating a project about your work. in researching it i became fascinated by you, your abundant correspondence, your art and poetry connected to the worlds you created, your fierce letters to local editors about tree removals, your loves and flirtations.

i still want to read everything. it feels impossible in the best way.

writers cast themselves out to the world with words, so that now you feel fully dispersed more than gone. you were so generous with your gifts. and you were rare – both prolific and genius. so many genius words!

the worlds you wrote increased my trust that white people could imagine something beyond their own supremacy. and that capitalism could be out imagined, like monarchy.

even when i did not seek you, you were there.

when i learned to meditate, you’d left me a framework.

when i fell in love with the Tao, i could turn to your translation.

when i wanted amazing fiction for all my nibblings, you had a series on flying cats.

when i needed to stand up for something, feeling alone in my dignity, you told me about the ones who walk away from a utopia dependent on someone else’s suffering.

when i lost hope in this world, you offered me a plethora of fully formed universes to learn from. you even gave me multiple options for moving between universes, both distant and parallel.

when some aspect of humanity felt beyond my comprehension or compassion, i found books you had written twenty years before that not only opened my heart, opened the possible in me, but generated desire for that specific difference.

when i wondered if imagination could be necessary for revolution and transformation, you said yes, you said our dreams and visions matter, they are the way we make oppression temporary.

88 years. i wanted more. you are that kind of human.

even as i sit in my grief for you, you guide me, you remind me that you are not absent, but complete.

“true journey is return.”


from the new yorker’s piece “the fantastic Ursula le Guin”

now we can

I remember one time I was talking about how capitalism was failing and classmate-friend-teacher-organizer Mia Herndon said “capitalism is working exactly as it is meant to. in competition and constant growth, those who don’t compete, or who compete less viciously, suffer, serve and struggle.”

now it feels to some people like America is failing, like the people who said “make America great again” are confused. but this is the trajectory of nation states, of borders and white supremacy. deepening our anti-capitalist and post-nationalist analyses will help make this moment an opportunity.

also, saying “I told you so” in any way is tacky and diminishes the speaker, because saying is not enough if we don’t effectively organize to make our visions palpable and our strategies collective. so we knew “make America great again”, when uttered by white supremacists, was not harkening the racism of the 1980s, or even 1950s, but the era of chattel slavery that preceded and seeded our current prison system. we may have done our very best, but we did not organize effectively enough to have the power to stop this moment.

but now we can. this moment is our ledge, or choice point. we are as free as we choose to be. (baldwin)

now we can put a moratorium on shading and attacking other factions of movement on the internet (or in meetings, or with funders) and either choose to collaborate or ignore other efforts while still counting them as part of our own resistance momentum.

now we can look at each person, regardless of background or experience, as a potential comrade (butler) and figure out how we must transform ourselves to transform the dynamic (boggs) in the name of liberation. i have been practicing this in cabs – i’ve had three transformative conversations with drivers in the last three days – people just need one suggestion, one encouragement to question everything.

now we must look within ourselves and ask what actions we are willing to take, what interventions we are capable of, if we can will ourselves into honest conversations, if we believe in our visions enough to step towards them, if we are brave enough to assert the future we require and to shape it.

the other option is to survive for a while, pointing at the very sharp thing aimed at our hearts and getting closer by the minute.

adapt! dodge, weave, learn from the L, slip out of your ego, hold each other, scream the truth and keep moving towards life. everything is going fine in this realization of someone else’s imagination. but we dream another world, and we make it come true.

holiday tidbits (radical musings on Xmas)

Uncle Jody, on the phone, to my 5 year old nibbling Siobhan: So, have you been naughty, or nice?

Siobhan: Honestly, a little bit of both.

Word. Welcome to the club, nibbling.

Mairead, eating a chocolate covered strawberry from a gift box: It’s not really that good.

Discarding the strawberry after sucking the chocolate off: I need another one.

Weeping, to no avail: I need it right now!!

Sugar does this to me too, kid.

Finn committed to waking up early to do reconnaissance of the gift spread, picking up the traditional work of the eldest child (me). I feel proud.

I’m not sure if he followed through because I stayed up last night watching A Very Murray Christmas Special (pretty cool) and then Jurassic World while drinking naughty eggnog and wondering what it is (but not wondering enough to look at ingredients because…drank).

Also, Finn said his destiny is to “create a dinosaur park where nature controls nature”.

I grew up as a hardcore magic Santa enthusiast. A few years ago I asked my family not to give me gifts, because…anticapitalism. I totally meant it when I asked, I really did. In my mind.

They still tease me for the forlorn look on my face that morning.

I still look in the mirror each Christmas Eve and sing, ‘Hello. It’s me. I was wondering if you’re ready to live life without the greed.’

I want less and less each year, I’m growing. But this year I needed a red rice cooker, so.

When I was a kid, like 6, one of my parents’ friends dressed up as Santa and came over to surprise us. My commitment to Santa was so deep that even though I recognized this man, I just created a narrative in which I just happened to be friends with Santa, and thus I had to help him maintain his cover the other 364 days of the year.

I miss my dog Sugarfoot at Christmas, even though I’ve spent more time without her than with her now. Her enthusiasm for her gifts was so pure. The last time I saw her was a Christmas, on an island in the south Pacific where she will always be.

Full moon!

I love a well conceived gift. Giving or receiving. I separate that out from monetary consideration, giving gifts of various value with the same glee, receiving my nibblings’ works of art as works of immense value, etc.

I love the convergence of family, even as it exhausts me. It’s true our time left on this earth together is limited, and this time of relative health and presence is precious. Showing up in my wholeness doesn’t mean not getting short with my parents or jumping into business that isn’t mine…it means apologizing faster, getting to gratitude and compassion with more ease, trusting love to hold us. Really, we’re all so tired and so in need of familial attention.

I love anticipation. I love surprises. I love shared joy. I love the kind of magic children can perpertuate and inspire.

I hate competition, commercialism, consumerism, capitalism, and candy overload.

I love living my values in real time. Some years that has meant participating in the holidays with resistance, or sarcasm, letting everyone know I’m better than Christmas.

But I’m not, not yet anyway.

I love the way my family does this holiday – with a sprinkle of the sacred, a touch of tradition, mostly focused on the way we give to each other, weaving a system of caring for each other.

In terms of what being a radical home for the holidays looks like to me this year…I am convinced that authentic relationship, deep transparent love between two or more people that makes each person feel more free, is central to the path to liberation. This is the main practice ground of my family each year. My active question is: can I show up, offer appreciation, care, generosity, spaciousness, wonder and kindness to these people I love? Also, can I relinquish my righteousness, control and judgment?

Mariah Carey’s Christmas album is still some of her best work.

To get through Christmas, I think of my late grandfather’s Jesus, who came from poverty and displacement, whose parents sought asylum at closed doors, who rolled with the meek, washed the feet of sex workers and went on long meditation retreats.

Then I color him in with my historically accurate crayon set, the Boyega chocolate shade.

I speak to him like a time traveling comrade, saying ‘look at #blackxmas!’, saying we haven’t given up on ourselves as a species.

It helps me, feels like idealogical aikido. Christmas is just an energy moving in the world.

I have more thoughts but it’s absolutely time to go play. Love y’all.