Christianity, Rapture Theology, and the American Empire

Hopefully this isn’t news to most of my readers, but the United States is the heart of a global pseudo-empire that uses its military, diplomatic, and economic power primarily to safeguard the economic interests of its ruling class. That said, the use of that power is not solely driven by material concerns of wealth and power. This also should not be a surprise to anyone, but Christianity – specifically a version of evangelical Protestantism, also plays a large role in U.S. foreign policy – particularly in the Middle East.

Any material analysis of the U.S. empire and its foreign and domestic policies will be incomplete without an understanding of the bizarre rapture theology that holds sway with most U.S. conservatives. This set of religious beliefs – not supported by biblical text – is key to understanding things like the antisemitism behind some U.S. support for the aggressive policies of the country Israel, and why there’s so much money from these branches of Christianity going to get Jewish people to move there. It’s a complicated subject that requires a mix of material historical analysis, scriptural analysis, and cultural analysis.

Because this belief is held by so many at the core of the U.S. empire, and because it’s held by so many in the halls of power (it’s why Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem), understanding this set of beliefs is important for those within the military reach of that empire, which would be everyone. This is a belief system that is actively working to bring about the end of the world.

This is a long video, but for good reason. I recommend listening to it while doing your dishes or gaming or something like that, if you don’t want to just sit through it, but this is important stuff to understand, and I’ve yet to see a better breakdown of it than this one from Renegade Cut:

 

Fiction: A boring night is looking up (full story)

The zeppelin’s white skin glowed in the city’s lights as it approached the docking tower. Rivulets of water made it shimmer, drawing Tua’s eyes. She yawned, and squinted to re-focus her gaze on the cargo hold. Her mission brief was sparse on details, but the central question was clear: a handful of freight vessels had been dropping something while on approach for docking, beginning shortly after sunset. A few dock workers had seen whatever it was, and reported it to the Shipping Council, but there were no reports of anything falling from the sky, of damage, or of unexplained waste in the canals.

Something was being delivered by people who were willing to go to fairly extreme lengths to keep their business off of any books. Half the time, when Tua was called in to run an investigation, what she found was depressingly harmless. People operating in secret because they enjoyed the challenge, or starting up a strange new business venture that drew attention from “concerned citizens”.

Those didn’t tend to involve the clandestine use of one of the city’s major shipping routes. Freight zeppelins ran constantly around the country. They didn’t move particularly fast, but there was a never-ending stream of them drifting slowly around the continent. It was effectively a massive, airborne conveyor belt, and because it depended on lighter-than-air craft, weight was carefully monitored.

The zeppelin docked with a loud thunk, and Tua closed her eyes to rest them while the vessel was unloaded above her. Waiting was the worst part of this job.

Normally, smuggling investigations required very little effort. Most items that would get a smuggler in trouble were things that could poison the water or interfere with some of the city’s vital functions. Smuggling might allow someone to avoid paying access or import fees, but those were low enough that avoiding them often cost more, even if you didn’t get caught. That went doubly for smuggling anything by air. Tua had helped a gun-running operation in her teens, but that had gone along the canals. It turned out the guns were for an ill-conceived plan by a group to gain control over the city’s common housing system through a mixture of bribery, intimidation, and murder.

Tua didn’t understand it, but there always seemed to be those who wanted power over other people, and those willing to help them for one reason or another. She shifted carefully on her perch, and adjusted her goggle magnification. The next zeppelin was just visible on its approach.

I was one of those willing to help, she reminded herself. Her current gig as an investigator had started as community service after she was caught along with everyone else involved in the attempted takeover. She hadn’t known what goods she was moving, but neither had she asked. It had gotten her better food and housing, and more than enough money to access some of the more interesting clubs around town. It had also been more fun than she had had before or since.

A bell rang above her as the zeppelin finished offloading its cargo, and glided away into the rainy dusk. The next one approached, and Tua watched, her goggles recording everything in case she blinked at the wrong moment.

She didn’t.

An object dropped from the hold, nearly invisible, and vanished between a couple buildings.

“Mark this section of the recording, and send it to Kenneth for analysis.”

Tua basked in the brief adrenaline spike for a moment as the zeppelin  docked, then clambered rapidly down the outside of the tower. Two stories down from her perch, she slipped through an access hatch and closed it carefully behind her. The suit that covered her head to toe would prevent her from showing up on any heat-sensitive equipment, but the more time she spent out on the side of a building, the better the chances someone would notice her.

If the people behind this operation knew they were being investigated, they’d disappear entirely.

There was a soft beep in her ear.

“Go ahead.”

“From what I can tell, you’re looking three rows north, one row west.” Kenneth’s voice was high, and a little nasal. “Based on your footage, there’s no way that hits the water without enough of a splash to draw attention, which means it’s being caught on the way down.”

“Any ideas how they’re doing it?” Tua’s mask prevented her voice from carrying more than a millimeter beyond her lips.

“Nothing you haven’t already thought of. There’s no permanent structure that would allow for it, so they’re putting out a net or something, without anyone noticing, catching the cargo, and pulling it in.

“And there’ve been no reports that might be related?”

“Not that I can find, no. The reports are all from dock workers, and altogether it seems like a considerable amount of something has been coming in at a pretty constant rate for some time now.”

“How much?”

Tua slipped quietly into a stairwell on the south side of the building, and headed down to another access hatch, guided by the display on her goggles.

“We won’t know till you get a better reading. Try to get a recording of the cargo being dropped, and we should be able to figure out how much each package weighs.”

“On my way.”

She heard someone the stairwell one floor below her as she reached her destination. She slipped through her door and closed it silently behind her. She followed her directions through a floor of offices to a utility corridor, and slipped out the access hatch at the end of it.

It let her out onto the roof of a causeway that ran through, and between buildings. Glancing up, she saw another zeppelin coming in to dock, its bulk peeking out around the sides of the building. Two thirds of the way across the causeway bridge, hopped over the side, hooking her grapple on a strut as she fell past it, and swinging up to cling to the underside of the bridge. A catwalk ran under the causeway, put there for inspection and maintenance of the machinery for the moving walkways that carried people around the city. She set off north at a jog, keeping her footfalls light. The hum of motors and gears above her would drown out most noises, but Tua liked to be careful when she was trying to avoid notice. Three rows north of the docking tower, she stopped in the middle of a canal and looked west.

“Kenneth.”

“Wait there for the next drop, then reposition.”

“It’s always ‘waiting.’”

“Really? I had no idea.” Tua could hear Kenneth’s eyes rolling. He worked out of his apartment, and complained bitterly any time he was forced to actually go out and do any investigating.

Tua complained any time she was forced to sit and wait, and most of her work involved waiting. When she told someone what she did for work, they thought it sounded thrilling and glamorous. When she told them it mostly involved waiting around, they generally assumed it was to hide thrilling secrets.

She heard the soft sound of something moving against metal and glanced to the side. A cat had found her, and decided to join her.

“Well” she murmured, “I suppose a catwalk is more your domain than mine.”

Kenneth’s breath puffed against his microphone as he chuckled into it.

“Found another cat, did you?”

“They find me, Ken.”

“Just don’t get distracted.”

“Do I ever?” The cat sniffed delicately at her gloved hand, and then rubbed its face against her fingertips.

“Yes. Often. That’s part of why you record everything in front of your face when we’re working.”

“Then it’s not likely to cause any problems, is it?” Her new companion flopped on its gray-striped side, its paws pressed against her thigh, and blinked up at her, tail tapping gently on the metal grate of the catwalk’s floor.

“That depends.” Kenneth’s tone was dry. “Do you expect the cat to be catching the cargo? If not, you may need to actually look in the correct direction for me to have anything to analyze.”

“Analyze my butt.” She turned her head to glare down the canal, scratching at the cat’s ear with a knuckle.

“Ugh. No thanks.”

Tua grinned. The few times she’d asked about Kenneth’s social life, he’d described himself as being in a blissful relationship with his work. Nearly everything about his life seemed boring to her, but the more she worked with him, the more she realized that he hadn’t been kidding. His life truly was blissful. He got along with everyone, had a few close friendships, and absolutely no interest in romance.

When she got to know him well enough to see the shape of his life, she had said his lifestyle would drive her to jump off buildings just for something to do. He responded that she did that anyway, so clearly her own lifestyle was also too boring, and at least he was content with what he had.

He wasn’t wrong.

Uncovering secrets was an intensely satisfying job – more so than just keeping them for other people – but she did find that her craving for adventure seemed to build exponentially every time she had to just sit and wait somewhere. If something fun didn’t happen soon, she’d have to enter herself into a ring fight just to alleviate the boredom.

The cat hooked a paw into the grate and pulled itself so its head rested on her thigh. She glanced down at it and tickled her fingers on its exposed belly. It immediately grabbed her hand with its mouth and front paws, and rabbit-kicked her wrist. The tough material of her suit protected against thorns and cat claws alike, but he was keeping his weapons sheathed, and his bite was playfully gentle.

She cooed at him, forgetting that the sound wouldn’t escape her suit.

“Tua…”

“Yeah, yeah.”

She turned her head and watched the long, glittering ribbon of the canal. The only disturbance on the water’s surface came from the dripping buildings, and the dripping sky. Movement caught her eye directly under her perch, but it was just the headlight of a small submersible drone, cruising along just above the bottom of the canal. As always, she wanted to know who was piloting it, and why, but that wasn’t the secret she was hunting tonight.

The cat let go of her hand, and sat up, staring at her. She gave it a shrug; she didn’t carry anything a cat could eat when she was working.

Her companion noticed the disturbance just as she did. A little less than one row west, something had appeared on the surface of the water.

“Kenneth, are you seeing this?”

“Yep.”

It was a black circle against the lights reflected in the water, maybe about four feet across. Tua whispered a command and her goggles began cycling through polarization and wavelength filters.

“It looks like there’s some sort of tube or something leading from the surface down to a gap near the base of that building.”

“Yeah. Can’t tell for sure, but-”

An object dropped into the middle of the object with a soft flap, and Tua’s goggles showed it sliding down the tube like a large fish moving down a snake’s body in a time-lapse video. Before it reached the bottom of the tube, it had already retracted below the surface, until the whole apparatus pulled back down to disappear where the canal met the building.

“What the hell was that?” Kenneth sounded almost disturbed.

“What we’re looking for, and it’s something new!”

“Tua…”

“I’m going to find a new perch. It looks like the vines on the side of the building will let me sit right over that spot without sticking out at all.”

“Be careful,” said Kenneth.

“That’s your job, Ken, not mine.”

“Tua!”

“Stop whining, Ken. Mark that spot for me so I can make sure I’m positioned right?”

“Fine.”

She stood carefully, and did a couple squats to warm up her legs again. The cat stood with her, but disappeared back the way it had come as she headed to the row of buildings. Her pulse drummed a little faster as she slipped from the catwalk into the building, and trotted down a narrow utility corridor. Her goggles had identified the building as a farm, which suited her fine. Farms always had a nice collection of walkways to allow people to do as much work as possible without risking contamination of the clean-room environment that kept the crops pest-free. After about 100 meters, she turned to a fire escape, and looked up, checking air traffic.

Her goggles outlined the long line of zeppelins for her, each about a kilometer apart. None of the sensors built into her suit were picking up surveillance beyond the standard stuff that wouldn’t care about her. She took a moment to pick a route, and began bouldering along the side of the building, moving from ledge to vine until she was over the bright orange spot Kenneth had put on her display to mark the drop point.

She hooked a couple straps to the vines around her so she could hold her position comfortably.

“In place. Time for more waiting.”

“Stop,” said Kenneth, “I can’t bear the excitement in your voice.”

“Hey now! We’re about to uncover a new secret! This is about as exciting as this job gets!”

“Maybe. From what we’ve seen so far, the next step is to call in a dive team. You and I might never even know what they find.”

“Hmph!” He was probably right. She hated not knowing.

“Stop whining. Look up so we can see the next one drop.”

She obeyed, pointing her face at the featureless, dripping sky

“At least the last spot had a cat.”

“Maybe this one will have a spider you can pet.”

“You’re so funny, Ken!”

“Nobody appreciate my genius.”

If any spiders were trying to befriend her, she couldn’t feel them through the suit. Every time she thought watching canals or buildings was boring, she could just remember watching the sky, and she’d feel better by comparison. The only changes in the sky were the transition from underlit yellow clouds at night, to overlit gray clouds during the day. Sometimes, a particularly dramatic sunset or sunrise would add a green or pink tint to things.

A zeppelin passed overhead without incident.

“How many more drops do we need to see?” The next zeppelin was a good five to ten minutes out.

“Probably one looking up, and one looking down,” said Kenneth. “Maybe two? Depends on how it’s dropped and on what we can gather from the landing spot.”

“Ugh. I’m gonna be stuck on this wall all night.”

“If it helps, it seems like about every third vessel on this route is smuggling cargo, so the next one should have some entertainment for you.”

“It had better…”

The next one looked different as soon as it came into view.

“Ken, are you see-”

“Yes, Tua. I’m seeing everything you’re seeing.”

There was a bulge on the underside of the zeppelin’s gondola. It was the same color, but looking carefully, even in this dim light, Tua could see that it was divided into three sections. The outer two were much larger than the central one, and Tua guessed they held a lifting gas. As it drew almost directly overhead, the outer sections suddenly deflated and retracted, and the whole thing dropped away, leaving the underside of the vessel completely unmarked. She kept her face turned upward as the object dropped past her, and flapped into its target, in case there was any activity on the zeppelin itself that she’d missed.

“They might not even…” Tua trailed off.

“Yeah, I think you’re right. That’s why nothing odd was showing up on the  weight readings. The two sacks on the sides kept it neutrally bouyant on the underside of the gondola, and it probably had a releasable suction cup to keep it attached enough to move along with it.”

“That’s a really clever system.” Tua was impressed. “They wouldn’t even need to have anyone on the inside or whatever. If they’re a little careful, they could be attaching these things at any point along the route and nobody would notice.”

“I’ve been marking the ones that are carrying the extra cargo, so we’ll be able to track when the last time someone had a recording of the undersides. We should at least be able to figure out where they’re coming from.”

The zeppelin out of sight, Tua turned her gaze downward. With the help of her goggles, she could even see the hole at the base of the building.

“You know, I could probably just dive down and have a look at that hole…”

“And then drown at the bottom of the canal? Doesn’t seem worth the sacrifice to me, but it’s your life, I suppose.”

“Sun, Moon, and Stars, how boring can you get?”

“Hey now…”

“Sorry, it’s just-” She took a deep breath. “Our differences aside, this suit doesn’t just keep me off I.R. scanners, it also feeds me breathable air. It’ll do that under water, too.”

“Even without tanks?”

“Iffy. I’d need to move slow to keep oxygen requirements low.”

“Sounds like you’d get bored halfway to the bottom,” said Kenneth.

“Very funny. It wouldn’t be boring, it would be a challenge, and then we might actually get some answers.”

“Better to get people who won’t suffocate if they get out of breath.”

“Maybe…”

Kenneth sighed. “Look, just watch for the next one so we can at least get some idea of what kind of weight these things are.”

“Watching…”

The gently rippling water below her was hypnotic. Time always passed more quickly when she was staring at the shimmer of lights and colors that made up the canal’s surface at night. After a little while, Kenneth spoke up again.

“Should be something on the next zeppelin, in about five minutes. I’m pretty sure they’re using hydrogen, and from the size of the gas bags, the cargo and container probably add up to around 70 to 75 kilograms.”

“Huh. That’s about what I weigh.” Tua couldn’t see any movement below her yet.

“You think they’re smuggling people?”

“With a drop like that? Not unless they don’t care if they’re intact on arrival.”

“I dunno…” Kenneth paused.

“What?”

“I had some numbers running after we got that first recording. It looks like the water pressure on the outside of the tube might provide enough of a gradual slowdown that it wouldn’t do any damage.”

“Clever system all around.”

“If I’m right, the weight of the cargo would pull it down even without the momentum of that drop.”

“Reeally…”

“The inside of the tube would probably need to be oiled or something, but- wait. Tua I don’t like the tone of your voice.”

“Don’t be silly. How far down do you think it goes?”

There was a moment of silence, and Tua saw movement below her. The tube was slowly rising up below her, pushed by several long, thin rods attached to the hoop that formed the “target”.

“Probably down to the old subway tunnels, maybe below.”

“So maybe a minute or two in the tube?”

“And then someone at the bottom to receive it and clear the way for the next one.”

“Underwater?” The tube had almost reached the surface.

“No,” said Kenneth. “From what I can tell, I’m willing to bet there’s an aerated structure down there. This whole system seems designed to protect whatever they’re smuggling from water.”

“Even though they’re dropping it into a canal?”

The tube reached the surface, and stopped just above it. Looking down, Tua could see it had a flat black cover. The edge of the circle twisted around, and the cover opened like an iris, revealing a sort of gullet, glistening with the oil Kenneth had predicted, and held closed by the water around it.

“Yeah,” Kenneth sounded excited. Tua’s heart was pounding now. “See that? The cargo just slides in, and has an easy trip down. It’s like they’re bypassing the city entirely.”

“Who’s ‘they’?”

“No idea.”

“Don’t you want to know?”

“Sure, but- Tua you’ve got that tone in your voice again.”

“What tone?” Tua carefully unhooked her anchors, and glanced up. The zeppelin was almost there.

“Like that time you got so bored you used your grapple to take a joyride on the underside of a delivery drone.”

“Oh yeah, that was fun!” She stared at the landing spot. It pulled back in about twenty seconds after the cargo hit, and the cover took about five seconds to open.

“How much did you have to pay to cover damage and wasted fuel?”

“That was a legit company. I don’t think these people have the resources to enforce any fines.”

“I bet they have the resources to make you sorry you interfered…”

“Maybe.” Tua pulled out her collapsible baton, and clenched it in her right fist.

“Tua don’t-”

“I’m gonna.”

“You’ll get covered in oil.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time.”

“Gross,” said Kenneth. “You could die.”

“At least it wouldn’t be of boredom. I wanna know what’s at the other end of that tube.”

“But-”

“They might notice a dive team, but they won’t be expecting this.”

“Because it’s so reckless that nobody would-”

The smugglers’ cargo flashed past and flapped into the tube. Tua hopped after it.

Flap.


This story was posted for patrons several weeks ago. If you want access to stories as I write them, or just want to support the work I’m doing, share this post, and sign up at patreon.com/oceanoxia for as little as $1 per month (just 25 cents per week!) to help me make ends meet! Thanks for reading, and take care of yourself and those around you.

Morbid Monday: The U.S. fascist movement is still going, and Democratic Party leadership isn’t doing anything to stop it

In my opinion, the best shot the Democratic Party had at reversing the country’s slide into fascism was to nominate and elect Bernie Sanders as president. I suppose you could argue that that means they never had a “best chance”, but here we are. The second best chance is for the Democratic leadership to do everything in their power to both improve the material conditions of the American people, and to crack down on those who attempted to overturn the 2020 election.

The problem is, while I think this advice is good, I don’t think it’s enough. Even if they were to come down hard on everyone involved, if the general public doesn’t see their lives improving under Biden, they will ask – as some are already – why it was so important to remove Trump and the GOP. Throughout my life, when the Dems have had power, they have also had a tendency to act as though they lost the election anyway, and spend all their time trying to meet Republicans in the middle. If Pelosi, Biden, and Schumer believe in anything beyond their devotion to capitalism, it’s a nebulous conception of “The Process”. They don’t actually have material goals in mind that they want to fight for. It seems their goal is to be the “team” that always plays by the rules, even if the other team doesn’t even pretend to try. The GOP actually pushes the boundaries of what they can get away with to achieve their material goals, and guess what? It works. Everyone knew that Trump’s promised Muslim ban was unconstitutional, and they tried it anyway. When it got shot down, they adjusted the content and their legal argument and tried again, until the Supreme Court decided it could stand. There was no punishment for trying and failing, just as there is never punishment for those in power.

The Democratic leadership does not believe healthcare is a right. They do not believe housing is a right. They do not believe food or water are rights. They do not believe education is a right.

If they did, then they would be trying to ensure those rights existed in reality.  They would be pushing the boundaries of what’s known to be possible, because their goal would be to get those material results, not to “play the game” better or something.

They can’t even be bothered to look like they’re fighting for the rest of us, and it’s going to help the Republicans in the midterms, and in 2024. This is not a foregone conclusion. They could actually fight to deal with climate change and to make life better for people, but they don’t want to.

And so the threat of a fascist United States continues to loom, and those sworn to defend American democracy are either working on the side of fascism, or are in denial.

If you’re not involved in any form of community networking or organizing, that should change. Talk to friends and neighbors. Talk to family. If you need to start online, start online. Go through the suggestions and resources here, and if you can’t find anything to do, then think and talk about what’s preventing you. Comment about it if you like.

Our best shot at blocking a far-right movement is with left-wing policies that directly address the problems that are blamed on the groups the fascists try to blame for everything, and unapologetically work to build up the collective power of the working class. All we have is us.

Mutual aid, 6th edition

Updated on the 1st of August, 2021

With the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, joblessness is increasing, and people are in need of help. This is particularly a problem in the US, but many others in other countries are also struggling, and it’s likely the number of people needing help will be increasing as the crisis continues. This isn’t going to be over any time soon, and the economic impacts are going to last even after vaccines have been widely distributed.

To that end, I’ve put together a list of different resources for people who are struggling to make ends meet. This is a mix of both ways to seek help, and ways to give help to those in need. I will update and re-post this at least once a week while the pandemic and associated economic fallout continue. This is currently mostly focused on the U.S., with some UK resources, but I want to expand it to cover anyone needing help anywhere if possible. There’s a lot here, and it’s currently not particularly organized, because I don’t currently have a system for doing so. I also haven’t included much about things like PPE crafting or distribution – this is mostly focused on aid relating to  food, housing, and other things that currently require money.

Because of the duration of the pandemic, and the lack of help from the US government, many of these may be running out of resources, so please help if you can! Supporting each other in times of need is how humanity has gotten this far, and for those who have more than they need, now’s the time to give back to the society that made that wealth possible. If you want to start a mutual aid network in your area, here’s a guide on how to do that.

I think it’s worth mentioning that if you’re doing OK, and you want to help, contributing to mutual aid efforts is one way to do that. Actually contributing your time and labor, in whatever capacity you’re able, is also likely to be valuable. Many of the initial projects to help people survive the combination of a pandemic and the cruelty of a capitalist system were short-term efforts to deal with what most expected to be a short-term problem. The pandemic continues, and in case you missed it, climate change isn’t going to give us any breathing room. Mutual aid can’t solve all our problems, but it can help people survive, and it can be a tool for networking and organizing. That’s something YOU will need going forward, dear reader, unless you want to be entirely at the mercy of the billionaires and their endless greed.

If anyone has corrections or resources I’ve missed, please include them in the comments and I’ll add them in to the next round. 

Twitter thread on resources for people facing eviction – share it around, and add to it if you have anything to add. 

  • From Bigdoorbrigade.com, who have done a great job pulling this stuff together. Look at this stuff, but check them out too, because they’ve got more on how to help, how to organize, and so on:

https://www.mutualaidhub.org/ – a map of mutual aid projects and requests around the United States. FYI, McAffee flagged this site as somehow worrisome. I’m not sure why.

https://mutualaiddisasterrelief.org/ – Mutual Aid Disaster Relief – solidarity, not charity. This is an opportunity to help, and by doing so you increase the odds that you’ll have help when the next climate disaster hits your region

It’s Going Down  is a digital community center for anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements. They have a list of mutual aid efforts focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic across the United States as well as some in Canada.

This is a US-based google doc with a huge amount of resources linked, from guides, to counter-propaganda, to existing aid efforts. Tactics and info are relevant across the board, most of the linked aid efforts are centered in the US.

Coronavirus resource list “This kit is a collectivized document that will be updated as more mutual aid projects and resources appear online. Recognizing that not everyone will have access to great internet to access some of these, I encourage you to apply these offline as well as online.”

COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK – Mutual aid resources in the United Kingdom

For those interested, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now did an interview with Dean Spade, who created Big Door Brigade.

The Human Network Initiative is a collaboration between Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. They have put together this collation of local and state resources

The Asian American Resource Workshop has created a wider ranging sheet of resources and mutual aid groups. It includes a lot of information on how to combat prejudice and xenophobia in this unprecedented situation

The folks behind the news site Boston.org have set up the Boston Helps network

A neighborhood group has been organized for Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, with similar groups in many Boston neighborhoods

Just outside of the city, communities like Cambridge have also seen mutual aid groups being set up

Wildcats want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has supported us so far! With your solidarity, we have raised just enough to take care of the basic needs of all 80 graduate student workers who were recently fired for grade withholding. Thanks to you, we have been able to rest assured that our rent, food, and other needs will be covered. Your donations also fed thousands of strikers and our allies on our month-long picket line and covered medical and legal expenses of those who were violently arrested by University of California police. This fund continues to be the foundation for our ongoing fight for a cost of living adjustment (COLA).

MAP staff are already doing all we can to support local medical services who are serving Palestinian communities living under occupation and as refugees. We have already provided emergency hygiene supplies to 1,200 vulnerable Palestinians living in Gaza. We anticipate further need for an emergency medical response in the weeks and months ahead. Please help us be there for Palestinians during this crisis with a donation today.

Your donation can help pay for:

  • Hygiene Kits
  • Antiseptics
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Medicines and medical supplies

The chancellor’s announcement now helps millions of hospitality workers, but sadly still so many are not protected by this as they don’t have contracts, were paid off pay roll or dismissed by employers before the announcement. We decided to take action to help those that are still hurting. We have the technology, contacts & understanding to make a difference quickly.

We have created ‘The Hospitality Workers Emergency Fund’ to allow the kind hearted, altruistic & caring UK public to donate to an emergency fund to help the most vulnerable & in need in our sector during this time. Our mission was always to champion hourly paid tipped workers, we never imagined in this way…

  • This journalist furlough fund is trying to help journalists who’ve seen their pay stopped for one reason or another. You can donate here, or follow a link to request aid

Here are just a few other places to donate that I’ve seen floating around. There are likely more local efforts where you live.
Nationwide: UNITE HERE’s fund for impacted workers

I’ll keep updating this as I find new stuff, and as always, let me know if you come across things I’ve missed, and please consider donating to my patreon, as I’m barely making ends meet myself!

Rethinking society: How can we redesign our lives and infrastructure to survive the rising heat?

From time to time, politicians are accused of taking the “don’t let a good crisis go to waste” approach, and while crises are often exploited by disaster capitalists and demagogues, they can also be exploited by people who want to make the world a better place for everyone. In that vein, I want to take advantage of the current crisis (or the current tiny part of the larger climate crisis), to ask you to imagine a different world.

Summer has arrived in North America with infernal temperatures, and the wildfires seem to be getting worse every year. Between the heat and the smoke, going outside is increasingly dangerous in growing parts of the continent, at least for part of the year. It appears that the bleak reality of climate change is setting in for more people every year now, and I think that makes this a good time to really think about the dangers facing us in a warmer climate, and how our infrastructure, lifestyles, and even clothing may need to change.

These changes have already been underway, at a reactive level. The COVID-19 pandemic may have caused a global increase in mask usage, but the areas affected by the growing wildfire problem have had masks on the list of recommended household safety gear for a while now, because of the problems caused by smoke inhalation. As temperatures rise, many chemical reactions will become more common. Air pollution in general is going to keep getting more dangerous, and wildfires make that problem worse not just by having more smoke in the air, but by burning human structures, waste, vehicles, and so on and releasing those chemicals into the air as well. We’re expected to have more pandemics in the near future, simply because of habitat destruction and climate chaos bringing humans into contact with new animal populations, but we’re also going to want to have masks around because hotter air is more likely to be poisonous.

It’s becoming harder and harder for anyone to believe that life as we’ve known it is ever going to return. We’re gazing into the unknown, and it’s natural for our minds to conjure images – to make spontaneous guesses for what might actually be out in the darkness. It’s the end of the world as we know it, and the shape of what follows has yet to be determined.

Let’s continue thinking about masks, for example. I’ve been wearing one in public spaces for 16 months now, and I generally dislike them. I don’t like the close, muffled feel or the way the masks press against my beard. They’re uncomfortable, but also necessary. I think that as the temperature rises, and the necessity for masks increases, I’m going to want to make a re-usable mask that fits more comfortably, and that’s not going to make me feel like I’m suffocating if I have to wear it during a heat wave. I’ve toyed with the notion of a mask with a rigid skeleton, washable filters, and maybe even a battery powered air pump or fan for circulation. If we’re gonna have to deal with a dystopian hellscape of climate chaos and late-stage capitalism, we might as well get a cool cyberpunk aesthetic to go with it, right? Guess I’d better add some infrared LEDs to mess with surveillance equipment while I’m at it.

Aesthetics aside, with the temperatures we’re starting to see, I honestly think we’re approaching a point where going outside is going to require a full-body cooling suit on some days. Liquid-based thermal suits have been around for a while – they’re most famously used by astronauts for the under-suit worn inside a space suit. The basic principle is that the clothing holds a tube against the skin, through which water or some other fluid is pumped, drawing heat away from the body. According to Wikipedia, garments like this are designed to

…remove body heat from the wearer in environments where evaporative cooling from sweating and convection cooling does not work, or the wearer has a biological problem that hinders self-regulation of body temperature.

For the rest of our lives, a growing portion of humanity is going to live in those conditions for at least part of the year. Hopefully the fact that parts of Canada are approaching those conditions has disabused most people of the notion that anywhere on the planet is going to be guaranteed to avoid those conditions. People are going to need to have reliable shelter from the heat, and are going to need protective gear for going outdoors, especially for things like emergency services. What remains to be seen is how easy it’s going to be to build and maintain such garments as the heat continues to rise.

Even if it turns out we can make temperature-controlled clothing easily and safely, we can’t simply exist in full body suits for our entire lives – we’re going to need places where we can just exist, without protective gear, which means not just air conditioning of one form or another, but also common spaces that can be accessed without going outside, or without spending more than a couple minutes between buildings. I think there are a lot of forms this could take, but probably the most familiar would be dormitories, apartment blocks, and “co-housing” setups like this Norwegian project: 

In Vindmøllebakken, the units are arranged around a central core of communal

Vindmøllebakken Cohousing Project by Helen & Hard Architects interior courtyard

Sindre Ellingsen

spaces, which are equally and jointly owned by residents. The main entrance is through a lofty, light-filled courtyard space with an amphitheater, all built with spruce timber and insulated with hemp, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for residents to sit or to chat.

For those who want to skip this area of socializing, there is a more direct path from the street to residences that is available as well.

Adjacent to the courtyard, we have a communal kitchen and communal open-plan dining area, providing a space for residents to cook and eat together if they so choose. There is also a lounge and guest rooms. Further up, we have open walkways leading to a library, greenhouse, and workshop.

The architects say that: “The sequence of rooms is designed to create visual connections between spaces and people and to provide freedom to how much and when to engage in communal life.”

Another thing that is already the norm in some areas is to have grocery stores build into apartment buildings. The AirB&B we stayed at in Frankfurt on our move across the Atlantic had a full grocery store in the basement. I’m sure the residents of that building aren’t the only ones who shop there, but if they’re ever faced with conditions that require them to stay indoors as much as possible – like a killer heatwave – they’ll be able to get necessities without ever setting foot outside. Add in things like the monstrous floating cities used by the cruise industry, and subway stations built into the lower basements of skyscrapers, and it’s clear that we have all the pieces we need for cities that can function pretty well with a majority of people never needing to expose themselves to lethal outdoor conditions.

At the same time, the conditions we’ll be trying to avoid are likely to cause problems for both agriculture and freight, all of which brings us back to my long-standing belief that we’re going to need to invest heavily in indoor food production. That can be hydroponics, aeroponics, aquaponics, algae or bacteria farming, insect farming, or even giant, artificially lit underground fields for all I care, but our food crops can’t survive these heat waves and fires any better than anything else can, and the cost of irrigating them is going to start rising exponentially as groundwater continues being depleted and temperatures continue to rise.

It may not be everywhere, and it should not be how we spend all of our time if it can be avoided (I think we need to maintain a broad personal connection between the state of the climate and the general population), but it will be necessary for survival in most parts of the globe at least some of the time. As we look into things like high speed rail networks, I think we might want to consider spending the extra resources to build those underground to protect our transit network from the rising climate chaos. The current above-ground arrangements for mass transit are currently melting, warping, or buckling.

But all of this is just what’s going on in my head, and I think we need as many people thinking about this as possible. How can we adapt ourselves and our society to the way climate change is affecting your region? What would be needed for that change?

What are the obstacles, and how might they be overcome?

What changes could we make at the same time to foster community building and organizing, and to improve everyday life, particularly for those at the bottom? How could we rebuild society to increase everybody’s free time?

We are in uncharted territory in a number of ways. The people in charge know the harm they’re doing, but they’re lying when they say they know what’s best for humanity – they don’t, and they never have. It’s up to us to figure out what needs to be done, and to make that happen.

Anyway, I’m curious what thoughts other people have on how we might change things to survive what looks to be a very tough time.

The image shows a portion of what looks to be a round, multi-story room. On the bottom story, and closer to the foreground, are shelves of plants growing under artificial lighting. The level above has cafe-style chairs and tables overlooking what appears to be a garden with a small tree or a shrub in the middle of it. It looks like both a pleasant bit of greenery, and a small source of food.


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How corporations go about the business of causing death for profit

As I hope you are all aware by now, the United States has a bad habit of pretending that any problem that existed in the past is no longer a problem. White supremacy, misogyny, abuses of power, genocide, colonialism, and the list goes on. All of these things are treated at various times, by various people, as being “in the past”, in the same way that Ancient Greece is in the past. It’s facts we might learn about, but we shouldn’t let it interfere with working on the future!

It’s all bullshit. It always was. The “former” colonies are all still being plundered and oppressed, it’s just that the tools and tactics have changed. Misogyny still exists at a systemic level. White supremacy still holds power at a global level, and causes countless deaths every day. The feudal dynasties whose abuses led their apparent loss of power are mostly still wealthy and powerful. Slavery continues. The same goes for corporate abuses within capitalism. There’s a long and bloody history of both the lethal working conditions imposed by capitalists, and the literal battles fought for workers’ rights. There’s also the horrific record of industrial pollution, and the ways in which it has killed, maimed, or otherwise harmed people all around the world. These things happened in the past, but they are not of the past. They never went away, they just made some cosmetic changes, and spent a lot of money repeatedly telling people that all that is in the past.

The same is true for the crimes of the fossil fuel industry. The fortunes they spent misleading the public and buying politicians are how we got to the point we’re at today, but they’re also why we continue to see a total absence of any real urgency in government. You could barely even call it a conspiracy – it’s almost completely in the open. At the same time, it can be a bit jarring to actually see and hear what actually happens as these people work hard to ensure that more people die, so they can keep getting richer:

These problems will continue to plague us, and continue to drive us closer to extinction for as long as anyone is allowed to hold that kind of power. For the survival of humanity, we need to eliminate the power of the ruling class, and not replace it with new rulers. It won’t be pleasant or easy, but it needs to be done.

Global warming is killing people in Canada and the U.S. as I write this.

Heat exhaustion is a miserable experience. The worst I ever had it was when I was working on the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut. I think it started while I was asleep. I used a hammock instead of a tent, which generally kept me decently cool, but the temperature hadn’t dropped much that night, and was sweating when I woke. My head hurt, and I felt sluggish. I immediately drank some water and had some food/electrolytes. The problem is, when it’s hot and humid enough, your body loses the ability to effectively cool itself. I hiked another few miles, feeling worse by the step, while taking time to take care of myself. I took frequent breaks, I drank lots of water, I tried to cool myself off at the well-named Limestone Spring campsite – I did everything I could. At that point in time I was reasonably healthy. I was backpacking for 10 days out of every 14, I had my Wilderness First Responder certification, and I’d been managing my excessive sweatiness while camping for many years at that point. I knew how to take care of myself, and I did everything I could while still hiking my allotted section of the trail.

I got to Salisbury, CT in a bit of a haze. I knew I wasn’t well, and that I needed to cool off, so I went straight to an ice cream shop, and by the time I made it to the counter, the temperature change of going into the air conditioning hit me with a wave of nausea. I almost collapsed.

If you’ve never had heat exhaustion, it’s a bit like having the flu on the most miserably hot day you’ve ever experienced. Everything feels wrong, and if you’re lucky (assuming you’re alone like I was) you can tell your brain isn’t working right. It’s a horrible feeling, and looking back, it freaks me out a little that I was addled enough to think I should keep hiking.

Heat stroke, the next stage before death, is worse. 

I got lucky. I was young, healthy, and accustomed to the activity I was undertaking. If I was in the same circumstances now, there’s a very real chance I wouldn’t have made it to that ice cream shop.

Death by heat is miserable. I don’t know any other way to put it, just from the tiny taste I got of the early stages.

As I write this, there’s a heat wave in large parts of the United States and Canada. It’s breaking temperature records and it is, without question, killing people right now.

Temperature extremes affect us differently depending on what we’re used to, up to a point. A normal day in Arizona can be a lethal heat wave in Canada. Yesterday Lytton, BC got up to 46.6°C/116°F. On top of the formerly unheard-of temperatures (I regret to say this won’t be the last time this happens), virtually nobody in Canada has air conditioning. They’ve never needed it before. **Correction: Plenty of people in Canada do have air conditioning. It’s not as universal as it is in the parts of the US that get that more often, but it is around. That’s a thing I’m glad to have been wrong about. Sorry for the mistake!**

People died yesterday because of global warming.

They died because a few decades ago, a handful of multimillionaires learned that the source of their wealth was rapidly destabilizing the entire planet’s climate, and they responded the way capitalists always do – they spent some of their fortune to mislead people, to protect their income.

I want to be clear here – the folks who made that call at the top of every fossil fuel corporation are people who do not need more money. They could never have another cent come their way beyond the interest on their existing fortunes, and they would be able to live in luxury for the rest of their lives, as would their children and grandchildren. That’s true today, and it was true back then. These were not people faced with even the relative “poverty” of a middle-class lifestyle.

But it wasn’t enough. They decided that the people who died yesterday, and the people who are dying right now, and those who will die tomorrow, and every day for the rest of our lives and beyond, were worth less than turning obscene wealth into unimaginable wealth.

They committed murder for profit, and they knew they were doing it. That is no different from those who profit from endless war, and so spend money to ensure that the war never ends. It is, in my opinion, worse than the crimes of any paid assassin. In the end, it will result in more death than any terrorist attack in history.

This is not hyperbole.

This is the reality of climate change – it’s people being killed by the ruling class in the name of greed.

This is also why that ruling class cannot be allowed to keep their power. It’s why humanity cannot have a ruling class. We can’t survive that any longer. The millionaires oozing around the halls of power are no different than any rulers of any other society – they make decisions based on what they think benefits themselves, no matter the cost to everyone else.

Continuing to value private property and wealth over human life will drive humanity to extinction.

Here are some useful tips on surviving heat waves. As I say in my direct action post, education is important, and that includes knowing things for basic survival. One tip I’ll add for now, is that if you don’t have air conditioning, see if you can gain access to a store, mall, or some other public space that does have it. While it’s useful to acclimatize yourself to heat, when you’re getting to extreme temperatures, cooling down periodically makes a big difference – it allows your body to rest and recover. Take care of yourselves, and take care of each other.


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India Walton: “This is organizing”

India Walton just won the Democratic Party primary for the mayoral race in Buffalo, NY. She’s a socialist, and has centered the working class in her campaign thus far. It’s also likely that, given the voting record of her city, Walton will win her election in November, though obviously nothing is guaranteed.

The line from the speech that I quoted in this post’s title is one I want to dwell on for a moment.

“This is organizing.”

Organizing is key to any of the changes we want. Any progress towards justice, equality, or even a future for humanity goes against the systems that gave our ruling class their power. Not only will they pour their billions into opposing candidates like Walton during elections, they will also do everything they can to corrupt, co-opt, and disempower such politicians once in office. Organizing is our best tool for fighting back against that – specifically organizing that’s focused on the results we want, not on any particular individual.

Organization that outlasts electoral campaigns is how we can hold leaders of all sorts accountable. It’s how the working class (which includes the “middle class”, by the way) can keep their power ready to use. Organization is the most important maintenance of any system with a pretense at democracy. It’s equivalent to ensuring the brakes work on your car – they’re no good if you don’t think about function and maintenance until you’re in a crisis and need to stop fast.

There will never be a time when we will be safe from people seeking to accumulate power over others. Organization is our best tool to prevent that, or to take that power away. It’s not just about knocking on doors to get votes, it’s about knocking on doors during a power outage to make sure those in your community are OK. It’s about making sure nobody in your community is going to starve if they go on strike. It’s about working together to ensure our would-be rulers cannot achieve their ends by threatening our lives through starvation, exposure, lack of medicine, or any other means. It’s how we defend ourselves, and how we replace leaders when the need arises.

It’s also our best bet at surviving climate change.

The more work we do to organize now, the more likely we are to be prepared for the future, no matter what it throws at us. Collective action is humanity’s greatest strength, and always has been. It’s how we can achieve things that are laughably impossible for any one person alone.

It’s also how the concentrated power of the ruling class can be dismantled – because the left, at its best, is all about using humanity’s greatest strengths for the benefit of all humanity.

Video: Eel takes Gould’s assessment to heart, and make forays into snakehood

When Stephen J. Gould said that there is no such thing as a fish, he was referring to the fact that “fish”, is a paraphyletic category – any family tree that includes all fish must be deliberately altered to remove other vertebrates that we don’t think of as “fish”. Apparently Mediterranean moray eels have found one answer to to the eternal eel question, “What if swimming, but above where the water stops?”