I'm just back from a week in northern Minnesota, at an IWW event called the Work People's College. Labeling events as life-changing seems a bit trite when they won't especially change one's daily behavior, but this was still a pretty spectacular week for me. If you have ever experienced a very good week at Bible camp, with all the late night conversations and the intensity of being around a terrific, supportive community of like-minded people and out in nature somewhat isolated from the doldrums of life in ordinary time, then you'll have an idea of the setting. An exquisite lake formed the backdrop for our camp, and we swam or canoed near every break. Of course, we weren't discussing theology but political praxis most of the time, and we sang labor songs around the campfire.
I have heard that in Barcelona, before the Spanish Civil War wherein the communists and fascists alike killed the anarchists, people were able to look each other in the eye and live with a sense of great equality, greeting each other as Comrade regardless of profession. And indeed in this space we all introduced ourselves with little aplomb. My fellow workers were the best-read group of people I have ever met (bearing in mind that I went to grad school in English, that is saying quite a bit), all knowledgable in some dimension or another of the situation of working people.
For security reasons, I'm not going to go into specific tales online. I learned a lot about IWW culture and process, all of which would pretty boring to non-Wobblies among my readers, and reduntant to Wobblies. But I have decided on a few ways that my life needs to change as a result of this camp.
First of all, I need to pay less attention to the news. I've been a very well-informed citizen indeed for the past few years (what with my two hours a day of NPR), and resultantly depressed and despairing. During the past week I had very limited news access, and I was happy and productive. The actions of the capitalist state are always going to be against the working people unless we apply massive amounts of pressure. The laws in Kansas are horrible, discriminatory, infuriating, and compel good people to do deeply immoral things. But that is always the status of law imposed by a state for the good of the bosses. Most important liberation must be done by ordinary citizens, anyway, and we can never depend on law or justice in the capitalist legal system to fight discrimination--that must be done on the ground. Laws on the topic are nearly irrelevant. If a community wants to work against the various supremacies that divide us, it will do that work regardless of laws uphold them. If a community remains mired in those supremacies, no law can compel it to embrace our common humanity. So I am going to practice ignoring the abominable legislative attempts to justify oppression, and focus on the work I can do against it.
Secondly, I want to camp more! I proved to myself that I don't have to be inside and recently showered at all times, and that I can set up a tent (although not keep it sitting on the ground and relatively dry--that lesson must come later) and sleep on the ground. There's a certain freedom from possessions and acceptance of nature's commonality in camping and I want to practice those acts more often.