Illyria Street Commune — Chapter 2

By Fredy Perlman (2011)

Revolt Library Anarchism Illyria Street Commune Chapter 2

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(1934 - 1985)
Fredy Perlman (August 20, 1934 – July 26, 1985) was an American author, publisher, professor, and activist. His most popular work, the book Against His-Story, Against Leviathan!, details the rise of state domination with a retelling of history through the Hobbesian metaphor of the Leviathan. Though Perlman detested ideology and claimed that the only "-ist" he would respond to was "cellist," his work as an author and publisher has been influential on modern anarchist thought. (From :


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Chapter 2

TAPED NARRATOR: For almost a year we failed to break down the isolation. We remained strangers, tenants in an apartment house, miles apart at our jobs during the day, walled off from each other at night, polite and suspicious, unwilling to share, afraid to touch each other. One experimented in the privacy of his room, another smoked in the privacy of his, the third continued to tend her garden. The house was big — but dead. And then something happened; it started to come alive.

VOICE OF PHILIP (from right): If you break that vase one more time I’ll break your ass! Play with your own things. (Upstairs door slams)

(OLYMPIA and TONI enter from right)

TONI: How can you expect me to move in here when you haven’t even told them about me?

OLYMPIA: I thought it would go more smoothly if you helped create an atmosphere.

TONI: What kind of atmosphere? If they’re all as uptight as you say —

OLYMPIA: They’re not all uptight. Shh — someone’s coming.

(PHILIP enters from right)

PHILIP: I guess I’m early — (turns to leave)

OLYMPIA: You’re not early, Philip. Everyone else is late. I wanted us to try to — I don’t know how to say it — Do you realize that you and I have hardly spoken to each other since the day I moved in? I thought we could — I wanted to introduce all of you to my friend Toni.

PHILIP: Good evening. Pleased to meet you. (Sits down)

TONI: Olympia has been telling me all kinds of things about you.

PHILIP: Oh? Who told Olympia? (silence) What’s supposed to happen next?

TONI: (rolling a joint): That’s the kind of thing she told me —

OLYMPIA: Philip, Toni’s son Leon is almost the same age as Alec.

PHILIP: Congratulations.

OLYMPIA: I know it’s none of my business, but Alec spends every evening locked up in your room —

PHILIP: I never lock it —

OLYMPIA: I didn’t mean literally. What I’m getting at is that you and Alec don’t exactly seem to get along. Don’t you think he might enjoy playing with someone closer to his own age? —

PHILIP: You’d have to ask Alec.

TONI: (passing joint to Olympia): Olympia told me you take Alec to a nursery every morning and you don’t even care what they teach him there.

PHILIP: What am I supposed to do? Take the kid to work?

OLYMPIA: What if you didn’t have to take Alec to the nursery. What if he had a playmate right here, and someone to help? —

PHILIP: Is she going to organize a nursery at this house?

(DONNA enters from right)

DONNA: Who’s organizing what?

OLYMPIA: Oh, Donna. No one’s organizing anything. I was trying to introduce Philip to Toni. She happens to have a son and — well, I wanted to introduce her to you too.

TONI: Pleased to meet you, Donna. (Shakes Donna’s hand, and then passes her the joint)

DONNA: No thanks, I don’t smoke — Gosh! Is this marijuana? I’ve heard so much about it but I’ve never tried it. What do I do?

TONI: Is this for real?

DONNA: Honest.

OLYMPIA: Inhale it deeply and hold it in. That’s it.

DONNA: I don’t feel anything.

TONI: You will.

PHILIP: Isn’t that dangerous?

TONI: For your health or your police record?

PHILIP: I understood it was bad for your health. And what if the police did happen to look in just now?

DONNA: Philip, we’d ask them to stop peeping.

OLYMPIA: The reason I wanted you to meet Toni is that she’s just been evicted from her apartment, and I thought, since two of the upstairs bedrooms are empty —

DONNA: Did Philip object to that?

PHILIP: She was telling me not to take Alec to the nursery.

TONI: It’s not the nursery. It’s the discipline and the brainwashing and the stifling of the child’s imagination —

PHILIP: So you’re against our entire educational system?

TONI: You’ve got it.

PHILIP: But what can you do about that?

TONI: I can keep my child out of it.

DONNA: What does this have to do with Toni’s moving in?

TONI: You mean you don’t object?

DONNA: Me? I think it’s great. Here, let me give you keys. First of all we could each pay less rent — let’s see —

OLYMPIA: Wait a second, Donna. I’ve been thinking about something. Let me just lay it out to see what people think —

(BEN enters from left)

BEN: Sorry I’m late. We had a meeting. Hey, is my nose hallucinating?

OLYMPIA: Oh hi, Ben. Look, people, it seems to me that someone is getting exploited around here, and that someone is Donna. She doesn’t want to play the role of landlady so she charges us ridiculously low rent and now she’s proposing to lower it even more. Yet she’s the one who faces all the hassles and does all the work around the house while the rest of us just stretch out in our rooms taking it all for granted.

BEN: Right on —

OLYMPIA: Now what if, for instance, we continued paying forty a month, even though there were five of us, only instead of giving it to Donna we deposited it in a common purse, a sort of house kitty.

PHILIP: I don’t see —

OLYMPIA: Wait, I’m not done yet. Out of that kitty we could pay all the bills and make repairs and then decide what to do with what’s left over —

PHILIP: Who would decide that?

OLYMPIA: We would, by meeting like we’re doing now. The other side of the arrangement is that we’d all share the work of cleaning, mowing the lawn, maintaining the garden, repairing —

PHILIP: That doesn’t sound efficient to me.

OLYMPIA: You’d rather have cheap rent and no work?

PHILIP: All those things get done more efficiently if one person makes all the decisions, especially if that person happens to own the house.

DONNA: Well I think the idea is great! That’s exactly how Becky — oops, that’s just — great! As for the ownership papers, I’ll have them transferred to the people living in the house. That way, Philip, you’ll just do work on the part you own. I should have done this four years ago!

BEN: This is far out. I’ve been underestimating the revolutionary potential of marijuana.

TONI: Don’t be cynical.

BEN: I’m not. This morning I was living with the straightest people in the city; I come back at night and they’ve all turned to heads organizing a commune.

DONNA: A commune?

PHILIP: Is that a good thing?

OLYMPIA: Won’t you try even a drag on this, Philip?

PHILIP: What about all the health propaganda?

TONI: Don’t they also say, “Try it and see?”

BEN: How was I being cynical?

TONI: You know perfectly well, or you ought to, that it’s the people and not the pot that gets things going.

BEN: Then why have we been playing the landlord-tenant apartment house in the big city routine since I’ve been here? And how do you know what I know?

TONI: Olympia told me you worked on that underground rag, and if you want my opinion of those male-chauvinist counter-culture oriented —

BEN: You must be thinking about another paper which is called —

TONI: See what I mean? You’re telling me what I’m thinking.

DONNA: I feel odd.

BEN: It’ll get worse.

TONI: Better!

DONNA: Philip? Are you willing to give it a try?

PHILIP: I guess so. Until something better comes along.

DONNA: Gosh, Philip, are you going to go on grieving for the rest of your life?

OLYMPIA: Honestly, Philip, are you actually content to work at your experiments behind the closed door of your room, without ever sharing your project with anyone, without interacting with the people in your own house?

PHILIP: I guess I’m willing to try it and see.

TONI: That’s the spirit!

PHILIP: Am I supposed to be feeling something now?

TONI: Yes. Good.

PHILIP: I’d better go now. It’s Alec’s bedtime.

(PHILIP exits right)

BEN: You know, it’s funny. I’ve been writing articles about self-organized activity since the riots. But when it actually starts happening in my own house I suddenly find myself empty, like I don’t have anything to share. I don’t even know how to boil an egg.

DONNA: I’m starting to float.

OLYMPIA: I’ll tell you what, Ben. Why don’t you not go to your greasy spoon for breakfast tomorrow morning. How can you afford to eat all your meals out on welfare anyway?

DONNA: Good night, everybody.

TONI: Good night, Donna. Thanks. You’re a gem.

(DONNA exits right)

OLYMPIA: Meet me in the kitchen at 9 and I’ll show you how to boil your egg.

(OLYMPIA exits right)

BEN: Do you have far to go?

TONI: I take a bus.

BEN: Mind if I walk you to the station?

TONI: Not if you don’t mind hearing what else I think of that pseudo-revolutionary thing you call a paper, neither vertical nor horizontal, too big to fit in a purse but too small to wrap around packages —

BEN: Are those your keys on the table?

TONI: Thanks. Another thing I’ve wondered about is where do you guys get your pot? I have this friend who could get it for us dirt cheap; his name is Grover —

(TONI & BEN exit left).

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Chapter 2 — Publication.

An icon of a news paper.
October 11, 2021; 5:31:37 PM (America/Los_Angeles)
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