Don’t Shut Up: A Case For Rejecting Passivity and Rocking The Boat

Things ain’t looking great right now in our society. Things ain’t looking too pretty on the planet either. Ya know, things haven’t been fantastic for a while if we’re being honest. Our environment is collapsing around us, people are going broke while billionaires rake it in, we’re working too much and earning too little, we still got COVID all up in here and we’re facing State-sanctioned violence against our BIPOC, poor and LGBTQ2S+ neighbours every day (not to mention women considering the horseshit “Heartbeat Bill” in Texas). It’s enough to make one want to shut down and just passively accept our doom and economic servitude. The powers at be are just too entrenched to fight and we’re already past the point of no return in regards to the environment so what’s the friggin point? I feel you, but our depressive acceptance is exactly what the State, corporations and absurdly wealthy want. If we fall into a doomer mentality, they win cause the end of the world or mass suffering doesn’t matter as long as they still have wealth and/or power over us. I personally don’t like the idea of being passive in the face of injustice. Not my style. I also don’t want to let the unapologetic assholes who ruin lives and destroy the Earth go about their days unopposed. Shutting up is just about the worst thing we could do right now and it breaks my heart to see so many folks just accepting our lot or (worse yet) buying what the ghouls in charge are selling. We could have the world, a better world for that matter, if people refused to sit down quietly and took action instead. Let’s talk about rocking the boat today and why we should be tipping the hell out of this sinking ship while we still have the strength to do so.

I think it’s best to start with why people fall into the doomer mentality to begin with. It’s tough to be positive or radical when nothing seems to change (for the better) especially with late-stage capitalism and neoliberalism pulling the strings. Most of us just fall into a spiral of depression and begrudgingly accept this crap. Others wholeheartedly embrace our current state and buy into the false narratives and propaganda put forward by the ruling class in the vain hope of joining the upper echelon of shit-eating bourgeois. It’s my hope that the latter will learn to be class-conscious and rejoin us, but honestly their love for the status quo makes them ultimately undesirable as an accomplice. In general, centrists and liberals don’t contribute much to the fight for social change and, as I already wrote a piece about them last year, I won’t repeat myself here. The former are redeemable because it’s not only possible to get over the hurdles of self-defeat, but at this point it’s imperative for us to snap out of our funk. Ana Dinerstein and Mike Neary offered the idea of the “disutopia” in a seminar series from 1999 that I believe applies to our current states of woe, disorganization and misguided cheerleading in the working class. Disutopia is characterized by active “deconstruction, repentance, denial [and] forgetfulness” in regards to our loss of class-consciousness and freedom and can be seen as “a political celebration of the end of social dreams”. It in the best interest of the ruling class to maintain the disutopian fog and use it to dampen our revolutionary spirit and boy howdy has that strategy paid off. Thankfully, a lot of folks understand that staying silent or accepting the world for what it is hasn’t worked and will never work for the vast majority of our brothers, sisters and non-binary neighbours who simply can’t afford the privilege to “sit back and watch”. Whether you’re a doomer or an aspiring capitalist, you’re simply a victim of the system and owe it to yourself and others to snap out of whatever daze has you transfixed at the moment. Your voice is no good if it’s quiet or being used as a servile mouthpiece for State talking points.

It’s easy for me to write about snapping out of our doomer state, but in reality our class-consciousness and voices are further restricted by the dismissive attitudes of our fellow human beings. I am speaking of the knee jerk “just accept it and shut up” reaction” to any valid criticism of capitalism and State violence whether it’s criticism of billionaires hoarding wealth/properties or anger at yet another police shooting or targeting the imperialist policies of our government. We’re expected to see all of this as something to be treasured and acknowledge the “good” instead of focusing on the very clear and present BAD. Politicians will argue for normalizing this hell like Nancy Pelosi who shut down a genuine question about our disillusionment in 2017 with “we’re capitalist. That’s just the way it is”. Media and pundits will defend inequity and evil acts so long as it benefits them e.g. Fox News arguing how the deaths of working class/elderly folks are justifiable to preserve capitalism. My own mother did this last year when I protested the pipeline going through Wet’suwet’en territory. She begged me to consider the benefits of natural gas and told me to emulate great men like Elon Musk [citation needed] who “talks the talk and walks the walk” for environmentalism instead of wasting my time protesting. That conversation was really something and I hope to never repeat it. These dismissive reactions come about because acceptance is easier than changing the world. The ardent defenders of the State (and the State itself) are hoping we’ll give up out of frustration and simply condemn ourselves to a mediocre but state-sanctioned life thus snuffing the spark of revolution.

So here’s a tip going forward…DON’T SHUT UP. That’s what I tell everyone who’s feeling rundown and cynical about the current state of the world right now. Waiting for a corrupt system and shoddy leadership to do the right thing on their own is a fool’s game. They’ve always needed a threat to motivate them so let’s do ’em a solid and be more aggressive, shall we? The easiest thing you can do today is just work on being more politically minded and encouraging friends and family to stop fence-sitting or voting for their own chains. Be informed and keep social issues in the spotlight even when they fall out of vogue for fair-weather allies like the continuing opioid crisis, our overstuffed prisons/jails, poverty and the exploitation of the poor, LGBTQ2S+ issues after Pride month’s over, Indigenous sovereignty and the ongoing systemic racism at the heart of our political system. Read and recommend as many books, zines, podcasts and news sources (ones not owned by some billionaire or corporation) as you can. If you have the privilege to do so, talk to people and make deep connections with those being ignored or stigmatized. Be the loud one in the room and challenge those accepted narratives that hold us back. I know that sometimes it feels like we’re yelling obvious facts at a brick wall, but staying silent now is an easy option with horrendous consequences. The more people who choose to accept or simply ignore the suffering in their own backyard, the closer we all get to our inevitable collapse. Keep proselytizing even if the majority of folks are plugging their ears because someone will always get curious and start listening. Even if you don’t change the world, you changed them and that’s a pretty good start. To close this piece, remember that a silent activist is an ignored activist. Be loud. Be active. Be the threat.

Thanks as always for reading and I hope to see you again. Solidarity, my friends.


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