The Struggle for Bottom Unity in an Age of Division

“The most interesting political questions throughout history have been whether or not humans will be ruled or free, whether they will be responsible for their actions as individuals or left irresponsible as members of society, and whether they can live in peace by volitional agreements alone.”

-Karl Hess

“We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity.”

-Fred Hampton

Solidarity is a bitch when everyone who can afford a knife is slitting each other’s throat. That’s the nasty little limerick that keeps playing on repeat in my skull like a mantra as populist grassroots uprisings devolve into bitter proxy wars between roaming tribes of bitter proles, killing each other over which oligarch’s name they have scrawled across their battle flags. Everyone wants to pick sides. Everyone is trolling for convenient scapegoats. I just see poor people killing poor people while two sick rich candidates arrange their corpses into clever platforms to stand on and promote more war from. The splintering of the George Floyd Uprisings into partisan turf warfare doesn’t just rip up my already bleeding heart because I had so much hope for the revolutionary potential now being squandered. It kills me because I have people on both sides of these gorey shenanigans and they should both be on the same damn team. All poor people should be, regardless of race or even politics.

This philosophy, the crazy little idea that what defines the revolutionary struggle for a better world isn’t about who’s on the left or the right but who’s on the top or the bottom, is known as Bottom Unity. It’s an oddly Marxian libertarian philosophy that serves as the cornerstone to my whole belief system. You see, dearest motherfuckers, I am what’s known as a Panarchist, essentially an anarchist against adjectives. Even though I personally subscribe to a kind of Sorel-in-Drag Queer Syndicalism, I believe that the only way this whole anarchism gig works is if every tribe is free to construct their own private utopia, provided that it be completely voluntary and that it minds its own damn business vis a vis a non-aggression pact. In advocating this ideal I’ve become a strange sort of revolutionary ambassador, forming ties with weirdos across the political spectrum. This is how I’ve built an audience, I lovingly call my dearest motherfuckers, which stretches from Antifa to Boogaloo, and this is why the violence of the last several weeks sickens me so deeply.

When those fucking pigs lynched George Floyd at the height of a virulently unconstitutional socioeconomic lockdown, something deep inside the spirit of the American dispossessed snapped like tinder and an explosion of righteous fury swept across every corner of this deeply sick nation. While the conmen of the news class chased fires like chickens with their heads cut off, I saw something they were clearly too willfully blind to see in the blaze. I saw hope. I saw a country tired of being pushed and united in pushing back. I knew full well the odds of it lasting uncorrupted were stacked against me, but for one brilliant flaming moment, the revolutionary potential seemed endless. Then the charade of our fakakta election circus leaked in and tainted blacktop direct democracy with its fraudulent pseudo-representative cousin. And suddenly motherfuckers started shooting each other instead of aiming their righteous fury where it belonged at the police and the filthy fucking oligarchs they protect and serve. In classic bottom unity fashion, I’m not here to pick sides. Not because I’m some kind of genderfuck Gandhi but because you’re all fucking guilty.

The Militia Movement might be guiltier than most. After all they’re the motherfuckers breaking bread with the enemy. Libertarian gun culture has always had its quirks and bad actors but the shit has gotten ridiculous. Somehow an armed agrarian movement against any form of government regulation higher than a city council has been heinously perverted into a mob of bootlicking pigfuckers with the gag reflex of a bukkake porn starlet. Blue Lives Matter? Motherfucker Blue Lives shot unarmed women at Ruby Ridge and burned babies alive at Waco. Wake the fuck up. In post-Clinton Crime Bill America there is less separating your local heroes in the police from the feds than ever. I blame the influence of Trump. That race baiting huckster hijacked right wing populism and made you all dependent pussies bowing to his cheesy cult of personality.

Militia folk need to recall their Sovereign Citizen roots and act a little bit more like Ammon Bundy, the Malheur raider who has come out in support of Black Lives Matter and defunding the police from the standpoint of a good old boy who doesn’t want the government’s jackboot on anyone’s neck. Defending small business is one thing. I’ve got no beef with rooftop Koreans. But a bunch of bougie brats with paintball guns from the burbs cruising in pick-up trucks to someone else’s city to troll shell-shocked protestors is just hillbilly colonialism. Stop kissing the government’s ass and begging city slickers to shoot you for it. This ain’t what Karl Hess fought for. If that motherfucker could build bridges between the Old Right and the New Left by sharing a spliff with the Weather fucking Underground then you should be able to shout ‘Black Lives Matter!’ with a mouth full of chaw and an AR cradled in your arms.

This doesn’t mean BLM gets off easy, though I may have to temper my vitriol a bit to adjust to the fact that I’m a Queer Celt addressing people of color. I don’t think any sane sentient creature can argue with the logic that all lives can’t matter until Black lives matter, but I do feel like many members of the movement along with their pale faced allies have lost site in the heat of the rhetoric of the fact that a lot of other lives are in the crosshairs of our homicidal police state too. Brown lives, red lives, trans lives and yes even some white lives. If you’re a poor person in this country then your life is expendable. The American police system was designed to protect and serve property and property owners. For centuries this meant straight white cis-men and that’s how white supremacy got grandfathered in to our classist system as an institutional menace. You can’t fight a class war without fighting white supremacy, but you also can’t fight white supremacy without fighting a class war. The two have become interchangeable.

So while yes, Black lives matter, you could just as accurately say poor lives matter. BLM matters because Black people have every right to fight for their own but even they could benefit a hell of a lot more from solidarity than patronage. That means building a network of allies that includes some of those rednecks with ARs. The trailer park will always share far more common ground with the projects than Capitol Hill. Fred Hampton realized this and lead the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party to form a strategic armed alliance with William “Preacherman” Fesperman’s Young Patriots Organization, a radical coalition of hillbilly migrant workers from Appalachia who proudly displayed rebel flags on their jean jackets. You think Hampton was down with that George Wallace horseshit? Fuck no. But Fred Hampton, just like Karl Hess and Ammon Bundy, was down with Bottom Unity.

The chaos erupting in the streets has been a long time coming. Empires don’t grow peacefully and they don’t collapse peacefully either. But the only way poor people are gonna ride this out and build a better world on the ashes is to stop slitting throats and start practicing solidarity. It ain’t easy. The system put a lot of time and money into traumatizing poor people of every color and pitting us against each other. But it’s never too late to make things right. Libertarians and leftists need to let bygones be bygones and join forces to the settle the score with the vile forces of the American Empire, once and for all. Lets get together, brothers and sisters, and make some motherfucking history by making these motherfuckers history.

Soundtrack; songs that influenced this post.

* Garbageman by the Cramps

* (un)Knowing by Young Jesus

* We Can Work It Out by the Beatles

* Sometimes Always by The Jesus & Mary Chain and Hope Sandoval

* Life On Mars by David Bowie

* Dog Days Are Over by Florence + The Machine

* Ruff Ryders Anthem by DMX

* All My Friends by LCD Soundsystem

* Instant Karma by John Lennon

* I Against I by Bad Brains

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.