Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fear Mongering: Bad. Fresh Food: Good.

I have heard some most unflattering descriptions of anarchists in the news, recently, and feel that I must bring the blog out of retirement both for summer and to defend us. I am not going to dignify the ridiculous entrapment of the anarchists in Cleveland (although I will provide this link if you are curious and want to know more about how the FBI is keeping you safe by instigating violent plots) with any further discussion. But last week on NPR I did hear a statement that ignited my fury, in a discussion about the expected protests against the NATO meeting in Chicago: "Most of the demonstrations are expected to be peaceful, but authorities are preparing for the possibility of violence, as some anarchists have been promoting violent confrontations online."

I am not interested in going into the fascinating anarchist history of propaganda by the deed, the relative morals of breaking windows of corporate buildings, and of the relatively few incidents of violence and/or property destruction in anarchism's past. I am not interested in defending those actions, or impugning those who were attempting something they believed vital to building a more just world. (I am currently reading David Graeber's Ethnography of Direct Action, and have learned that even Emma Goldman struggled with how to discuss these actions in public) What really bothered me was the use of the label anarchist to preemptively justify police violence. There was quite a bit of it at the protests (and if you are interested, go ahead and google NATO protests in Chicago). The presence of anarchists in a crowd does not justify violence by supposed keepers of the peace, and people should be much more afraid of the people with industrial grade weapons and severely loosened constitutional restrictions on how to use them.
But if you are still more afraid of the anarchists...well, probably the most common thing that comes up during anarchist conversations, in my limited experience, is not bomb making or window breaking. It is gardening. Many of us are passionate about food production and preparation, be it for survivalist or self sufficiency reasons or for wresting an important part of existence back from commercial interactions or to root ourselves more firmly in the natural world, or to have better access to fresh tomatoes. Whatever.
I suggest in circumstances like these, where the word anarchist is being used as a scare tactic, you try substituting "freedom loving gardeners" in place of anarchist, and see if it makes any sense. "See, there were freedom loving gardeners in the crowd! We had to fire on them!" "And then he suggested to the freedom loving gardeners that they blow up a bridge, and he would sell them explosives." "And then the freedom loving gardeners threw a pot luck and schemed how to surreptitiously plant lettuce in the park."

Another way we like to put it is, gee whiz, you think anarchy is violent. Try Capitalism!

Not that all anarchists behave impeccably, just like not all policemen behave impeccably, like not all librarians behave impeccably, not all clergymen, etc., etc. Nothing is right or good just because an anarchist does it. But my anger is at using anarchism as a scare tactic. Most of us are freedom loving gardeners.

And on that note...

My garden is in, at last. I dabbled in spring crops this year (carrots, peas, lettuce, spinach, kale). They were not my favorite. The butter crunch lettuce was completely delicious, but the rest I probably will not plant again. The kale was completely eaten by some unidentified caterpillar. The spinach bolted too quickly to be very tasty--I think it was just too warm for it. The carrots simply did not sprout, probably again because of the weather. And the few peas I got were tasty, but the plants got stressed early and never recovered.

But now we are on to summer, and the great fight for tomatoes has begun. I have been out killing the tomato hornworms at least twice a day. My fifteen plants plus two volunteers are thriving, thankfully, and most have little green bulbs that will soon turn into big, juicy, delicious tomatoes. I have a big bed of various kinds of peppers, too.

Thanks to my dear friend Rachel, I also planted several sweet potato plants this year. This is a new experiment for me. I won't know how successful it is for several months.

I have a crop of onions bordering one of my beds. We have some stray cats that love their greens, so they look pretty sloppy, but I still have high hopes that they will taste good! A full contingency of squashes and cucumbers is installed as well. Most of them are still just sproutlings and as cute as can be. This year, I will kill all the squash bugs before they can hurt my precious plants. It will not be like last year where I didn't get a single zucchini or yellow squash. No, no, no, not this time.

But now that I am free for a few months, I should be able to blog much more often. Expect fresh observations and vegetables at least a couple times a week from here on out!