June 28, 2020

An excerpt from the work-in-progress Amateur Kittens Dreaming Solar Energy


That day’s session began with Silvering recalling an anecdote she thought might be relevant, though she still wasn’t entirely sure how. Years ago she used to regularly go to a café where a lot of scientists, activists and artists also went. She went there because people were always talking, always some conversation she could join. She had recently been fired from her job so it was a period in her life in which she had a great deal of free time. She was in the middle of one such café conversation concerning various evil things some corporation had been doing to decimate the lived environment and then cover it up when, out of the blue, landing almost as a non sequitur, she heard herself saying: “There must be a way to defeat capitalism. To really finish it off once and for all.” And it felt so out of place, this statement, that everyone stopped talking and stared at her, waiting for her to continue. But she didn’t continue and instead a woman on the far side of the room – strange as it sounds this woman was wearing an eyepatch over her left eye – someone who dropped by from time to time but rarely spoke, jumped in unexpectedly, saying “of course there’s a way. But people aren’t dedicated enough and also they’re afraid that they wouldn’t actually manage to replace it with something better.”

– All right. How would you go about it?

– You form a small cell, a cadre, from whom you must require absolute secrecy. You all need to know each other as well as possible in order to prevent turncoats and infiltrators. And you make a plan, a long-term plan, you have to play the long game. Those in your group each infiltrate a key sector: business, government, media, law, healthcare, etc. And they bring back what they’ve learned to the group. Each member of the cell forms another cell within their chosen sector. Keep in mind this might take many years, thirty, forty, fifty years, something along those lines. What is difficult is to keep members loyal, keep them from joining others instead or simply falling away, but loyalty can be cultivated if you make this the underlying priority. You’re trying to form as many nodes of potential counter-power as possible so when the opportunity arises you can flip the system. The question then becomes flip it to what? That’s the main question to be researched by the original cell, what exactly do you want to create. Also, this plan would probably at some moment involve eliminating a large enough number of the most powerful capitalists. There might be some way to do so other than killing them but I haven’t yet found it.

Even now Silvering remembered the way she felt listening to that little speech. It was such a simplistic reduction but almost no one else she knew spoke in such terms. There was something so enticing about it all, that there was some clear way if only you had the strategy and nerve. She didn’t know if it was true but neither did she know it wasn’t. She also so clearly remembered her response:

– If it’s all so straightforward why aren’t you doing it yourself?

– I actually play for the other team. I just drop in here from time to time to listen in, see if there’s any ideas we can use. Usually not so much, but I always find it interesting. However, now that my covers blown, now that I’ve effectively blown my own cover, I assume I’m no longer welcome. So you most likely won’t be seeing me again. Or at least it might be a while. Because people have such short memories I might try again in a few years. See if I get away with it.

Silvering also so clearly remembered the confidence with which that pirate woman, that “player for the other team,” stood up, walked straight through the café and out the door. She left as if she owned the place. And everything she said about flipping capitalism had also been a footnote in Silvering’s mind over the ensuing years. When she finished recounting, Silvering returned her focus to the circle, asking them what they thought. She hadn’t fully articulated her thoughts before she began, but now it seemed clear she was wondering if these sessions, if all of us here around the circle, might form such a cadre, and what it might mean for us to do so.


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