How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Agorism

Image of Pride parade.

Image by Quino.

“Suppose you had the revolution you are talking and dreaming about. Suppose your side had won, and you had the kind of society you wanted. How would you live, you personally, in that society? Start living that way now! Whatever you would do then, do it now. When you run up against obstacles, people, or things that won’t let you live that way, then begin to think about how to get over or around or under that obstacle, or how to push it out of the way, and your politics will be concrete and practical.”

-Paul Goodman

“If you don’t like what you’re doing, you can always pick up your needle and move to another groove.”

-Timothy Leary

2023 was a pretty cruel year to be a Queer revolutionary. While one half of America’s two-party junta excitedly stoked the flames of transgender genocide with a slurry of unabashedly fascist laws that exploited the full weight of the breeder pig state to police Queer bodies back into the shadows of the closet, the other half effectively colonized Pride Month and turned a celebration of revolutionary insurrection into a corporate coronation welcoming LGBTQ people like terrified sheep into the bloodthirsty jaws of capitalist assimilation.

And somehow, I can’t seem to convince my people that these two campaigns are not a coincidence but a conspiracy. Just like my Irish ancestors before them, my beloved tribe of sexual mavericks and gender outlaws are being offered two choices by the same double headed serpent in the garden of Babylon. You can either embrace the prison industrial complex that Pappa Biden built before losing his marbles or you can be mowed over by it. Assimilate or be destroyed.

Both of these heinous choices end in the erasure of Queer culture as anything but a tacky knickknack on the warden’s bookshelf. But try as I might, I can’t seem to convince other Queer people that they have become the latest pawns in a very old con job known as the melting pot. I have screamed this hideous truth until I’m blue in the face from the rooftops of the Stonewall Inn, waving a flaming rainbow flag and dressed like Carry in a prom gown bathed in swine’s blood, and I still haven’t been able to illicit much more than a shrug from the passing parades.

It’s in hybrid moments like this that my chemically imbalanced passion converts over to depression, and I begin to lose hope. What is the use of scribbling these cantankerous diatribes if nobody fucking listens? What is the point of belonging to anything when people only let you down? Why not just draw the curtains, crank Elliot Smith songs at eleven and cuddle up with that large hunting knife that I keep conveniently close to my bed while watching the parade go by with pinpoint eyes full of smoldering anger. It’s in moments of dark despair like this when I have to unplug my computer, grab my car keys and drive out into the holler to escape from myself.

About forty miles from the middle of nowhere, in the junk strewn heart of central Pennsylvanian tetanus country, just passed the outlaw biker bar and the half-charred scarecrow in the melting latex Donald Trump mask, there is a poorly paved winding country road off a poorly paved winding country road that leads to a little shack that used to be a barn in a past life. You’ll know it when you see it because it’s the only hovel in fifty miles standing beneath a battered rainbow flag and it’s covered from head to toe in anarchist graffiti like a Charles Bronson era New York City subway car. This is my sanctuary. A feisty little love shack that my found family affectionately refers to as Misfit Manor.

It is the fulltime home of two and a half trannies, nine ducks, four cats, an old German shepherd and a recovering crystal meth addict. I met Archie and Em during group therapy, and we congealed into something of a perverse family unit during the post-apocalyptic panic of the pandemic. Their story reads a bit like the lyrics of a John Mellencamp song hijacked by Lou Reed on a moonshine bender. Just a couple of farm raised furies who became high school sweethearts, switched genders and had a kid who defies both of them. You know, the American dream, little pink strap-ons for you and me… and all the redneck chicks go doo do doo do doo do doo do do doo…

In addition to Kiddo, their eleven-year-old non-binary smart-ass who self-identifies as a threat, calls me Auntie Anarchy and is clearly more mature than the rest of us sown together, Archie and Em have also adopted Revo, a thirty-something bisexual troubadour, Iraq War vet, recovering everything addict and unrepentant nihilist who lives in the attic, breathes cannabis and pays his rent in folk songs and prison tats. His nom de guerre is short for Repeat Violent Offender, a charming little moniker he picked up while doing a dime in one of Pennsylvania’s finest maximum-security gulags.

Besides the faggot Waltons on acid, Misfit Manor has also become a second home for a roving circus of other lovable losers too Queer to qualify as full-blooded hillbillies. Apart from me, the poet laureate and yammering minister of propaganda for this motley crew, there is also my best friend Lily, a wispy, pixiesque, transgender hacker who I’ve formed something of a plutonic mommy-domme/little girl relationship with over the years. Then there’s Brendan, a permanently stoned bisexual masochist who never seems to run out of lethally medicated gummies, and a Queer Civil War reenacting gun-nut named Bruce who is attempting to teach the rest of us how to shoot straight.

On a clear night with a full moon, it’s something just next door to paradise. A cozy little hole in the mountainside with a roaring campfire out back, haunted by the friendly ghosts of long-lost drunken uncles and the howls of lonesome coyotes. Archie earned this square acre of paradise fair and square, inheriting it from his hardscrabble grandparents as a reward for being the hardest working black sheep in show business but he and Em have selflessly opened its doors to all the local Queer freaks that the Pride parade left behind and it’s the only place outside of my basement that I have ever felt safe enough in to call home. But it’s also so much more than that. For a few weird kids without a penny to our name, it’s a future.

It is a place where we are all learning to grow our own produce and raise our own livestock. It is a place where we are learning to bear arms, not just to feed ourselves but to defend ourselves from the roaming pick-up trucks full of fag-bashers that still buzz the Manor and attempt to run us off the road at every turn. It is a place that we are preparing to take off the grid with rooftop solar and it is a place where we are trying to cut the umbilical noose from Walmart by bartering goods and services with the local breeders who still remember that we’re all just country folk with our backs to the Appalachians and our fingers held out firmly to the metropolitan elites who sneer at us for our peasant ways.

It is a place where I have found hope. Don’t get me wrong, we are far from the survivalist preppers that we all need to become to survive the coming collapse of the Kali Yuga. We’re always broke, and we probably spend more time getting stoned and playing Dungeons and Dragons than we do with the Mosin-Nagant. But this is what a real revolution looks like in 2023. This is how the adventure begins. Not with dead bankers swinging from the lampposts but with a tight-knit tribal community building their own little pirate utopia right here and now that doesn’t need Joe Biden’s filthy hand-outs to survive the bigots he shares cocktails with when the cameras aren’t rolling.

It’s about two little words that mean something far bigger than bombs. The first one is Agorism, a theory of revolutionary resistance that rejects party politics in favor of starving the toxic conglomeration of big government and big business by creating a counter-economy of subsistence level gray market institutions that rely on things like bartering and mutual aid while offering the system nothing to tax or profit from. To put it in simple terms, this monster cannot thrive if we simply refuse feed it anymore.

The second word is Panarchy, which I believe should be the ultimate goal of Agorism. Panarchy is the creation of not one, but thousands of stateless little pirate utopias devoted to everything and anything from Maoism to Objectivism so long as they all remain completely voluntary in nature. You chose your own damn nation, not the other way around, and you choose when you’ve had enough of it and want to take off and start a new one down the street. Once again, to put it in the simplest of terms, keep your monsters small enough to drown in the crick.

The dream isn’t a climactic final gun battle with those fag-bashers in the white pick-up truck. It’s to show them that they don’t have to like our utopia to coexist with it. Quite the contrary, they themselves will need a diverse collection of allied weirdos like us if they ever want to escape Brandon’s boot like we do. We don’t have to be enemies or friends. All we have to do is abandon the state as a bludgeon to wield against each other for the sin of choosing to live our lives differently. That game is a trap that only guarantees that we all get bloody and stupid while the state gets strong on a steady diet of our battered brain matter. Panarchy is for everybody, even faggots and assholes.

I wish I could get the entire Queer community to see the sun set on this place. I wish Misfit Manor could become the new Stonewall. But if there is one thing that my new family has taught me it’s that you can’t force change on the people you love without strangling them in the process. It’s far better to simply start your own little revolution in the backyard and leave a space for them by the fire in case they come around.

See y’all at the holler, dearest motherfuckers. Come by and see us sometime and feel free to come as you are because we’re all misfits by light of the flames.

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.