Friday, October 23, 2009

There is no free way out of this mess (I can't drive 55).

Our comrades over at O'odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective have posted a really good analysis of the recent resistance to the proposed Loop 202 freeway extension on or near tribal land. PCWC was there, along with other locals and concerned and affected folks. Head over to their website to read what has been going on and to check out some pictures.

I think the most interesting part of the action is the call out to other affected and oppositional communities, including the white folks in Ahwatukee, who will now face an interesting conundrum: will they organize in solidarity with native folks or will they assert their reactionary white privilege? The dare that OSABC puts to them is exactly the kind of thing that we at PCWC think more anarchists ought to be doing. Their fanatical, yet open-handed, call out has the potential to polarize, and in so doing, to force white folks to choose a side on the issue.

At the same time, OSABC has put a clear demand out there: no to the freeway, anywhere. This serves to bookend the call for solidarity and in no uncertain terms offers a way out for all opposing it that doesn't involve shifting it onto other people's neighborhoods and land. If we stop it entirely, then no one gets fucked over.

In the end, if white folks in particular hope to protect themselves from the noise and other environmental and health problems that will arise from the new road (not to mention the dislocations that would follow in its wake), they would do well to seek allies where they can, and to join those who have already staked out a position. They can look to others who, perhaps until now, they saw as facing different conditions or struggles, and now begin to see common ground. If this happens, then the cross class alliance of white supremacy will have been, at least temporarily, undermined, and this advances the class war.

Focusing on the freeway also has the potential to highlight the general misery of suburban living under capitalism. After all, what does a further extension of the freeway really mean? More suburbs? More time in cars? A commute to an empty job? A lifeline to the decaying exoburbs? Families held together by nothing more than little Jimmy's baseball schedule? Or Janie's dance lessons?

In a real way, the expansion of the freeway system is a symptom of the miserableness of life in late capitalism and stopping it would necessarily send a message that we reject a life where everything is disconnected. Where no one lives where they work. Where our work is a factory for the reproduction of and commodification of boredom and ritualized humiliation. Where among life's most distinctive features are depression, isolation and cheap facsimile. Where social mobility is dead but freeway mobility lives, securing our yawning shuffling from home to work or the grocery store and back again. Where gloom and heartache are every day's weather report.

The age of oil is coming to an end. While it reigned, it facilitated capitalism's insatiable desire to remake and isolate us. To tear apart our families and affinities, leaving us naked to its predations, and in the process spewing us across continents to land into cookie cutter tan stucco houses. Meanwhile our grandparents die in institutions far away and our high school friends do whatever they do (not that we would know), since we couldn't possibly keep in touch with them in any meaningful way from here. Our social networks record our social collapse. Our friends lists are populated by work "mates" and bosses. So many of us have nothing real.

The car is a noose and the freeway is the scaffold. Together, we can smash this miserable road we're on and make good our escape. Not one more mile.

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