Illyria Street Commune — Chapter 3

By Fredy Perlman (2011)

Revolt Library Anarchism Illyria Street Commune Chapter 3

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2011

People

(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 : Wikipedia.org.)

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Chapter 3

TAPED NARRATOR — Five isolated particles started to come out of their shells, to shed their tentacles, to form a community bristling with life. And as soon as five of us stepped out of our prisons, other lonely, isolated individuals were drawn to us like bees to flowers.

(During the narration, ALEC and LEON have installed themselves on the floor near the picture window)

ALEC: It’s my turn.

LEON: No, it’s mine.

ALEC: All right, it’s yours.

LEON (Shakes and throws dice): My armies invade Ran!

ALEC: That’s Iran. (throws): My armies invade Syria!

(TONI enters from right)

TONI: What are you two doing?

LEON (throws): Mine advance to the Tigers.

ALEC: We’re playing a game my father gave me.

TONI: Can I just see one of those?

LEON: But we’re playing!

(Alec hands Toni a sample)

TONI: Jesus, a soldier! (Runs to archway and shouts) Ben, come here a second. Look at what Philip is teaching the children.

VOICE OF BEN: I can’t leave this omelet!

TONI: What’s this game called?

ALEC: World Conquest.

TONI (shouting from archway): It’s a game called World Conquest!

VOICE OF BEN: I can’t hear you!

(TONI exits right)

ALEC: It’s my turn.

LEON: No, it’s mine!

ALEC: Oh, all right.

(TONI and BEN enter from right)

LEON: My armies invade everything up to the sea!

BEN: That’s incredible.

ALEC: My armies defeat yours! You’ve got to retreat.

TONI: It’s worse than television. Here they’re actually involved in it.

BEN: Have you talked to Philip about it?

TONI: Ben, I’ve tried. Last month he had them playing a thing called Nuclear Holocaust. I could have strangled him. I burst into his room and asked how anyone could be stupid enough to buy children a game like that. You know what he told me? “The kid’s eventually going to face the world that’s out there, not the world that’s in your head.”

BEN: He sure hasn’t learned anything.

TONI: As if the world that’s out there were unrelated to the games parents buy their children!

BEN: I’ll call Olympia. (exits right)

TONI: I’ll be right there.

VOICE OF BEN: Olympia! Breakfast!

TONI: Are you two coming?

LEON: We’re right in the middle.

ALEC: We’ll be right there. My armies advance to the Indus.

(Doorbell rings)

OLYMPIA (running from right to left): I’ll get it!

(Mattie, DAN and LISA at the doorway)

MATTIE: Hi. We’re neighbors and we saw your sign —

OLYMPIA: Come on; we mean what the sign says.

(BEN at archway)

MATTIE: We’ve got our little girl with us —

TONI: That’s great! She can play war games with our two little boys.

DAN: War games? What kind of place is this?

TONI: We’re all anti-war except the kids — almost.

DAN: Ha! Don’t trust anyone under ten!

BEN: I was just fixing breakfast, could you join us?

MATTIE: We’re early risers; we’ve already eaten.

BEN: How about just coffee, then?

DAN: Sure. I’ve always got room for more coffee.

TONI: Come on, I’ll help you set three more places.

(TONI and BEN exit right)

LEON: What does the sign say?

ALEC: Illyria Street Commune, Everyone Welcome. My turn.

OLYMPIA: I don’t know how to tell you what kind of place —

DAN: What I meant was —

OLYMPIA: Of course. You meant the war games. That would have thrown me for a loop too. That’s Philip’s thing. Not even. They’re his idea of being a good father by giving his son presents.

MATTIE: How many of you are there?

OLYMPIA: Seven, counting the boys. Philip and Donna are out on jobs, the boys are Alec and Leon, and you just met Ben and Toni. Ben suggested the word commune, but none of us knows enough about communes to be sure it fits. Actually each of us is into his own thing most of the time, we eat together when we can, and we take turns doing the chores — not that all of them are unpleasant. But I’d like to see us expand into other things and involve more people in the community.

DAN: What community? Do you relate to a larger group, a political organization?

OLYMPIA: It’s funny you ask that. I put up my sign three weeks ago and you’re the first people who’ve responded. I guess people read “Everyone Welcome” and think it refers to everyone who belongs to a certain club! We mean the community, the neighbors, everyone.

DAN: Aren’t you afraid of drunks or cranks dropping in?

MATTIE: Dan! That could just as well be us!

DAN: You’re right. We haven’t even told you about ourselves. I’m Dan.

MATTIE: I’m Mattie and she’s Lisa.

OLYMPIA: What did you expect when you saw the sign?

DAN: Just what we found, I guess; a commune. See, I was politically active during the student movement days. I helped typeset the campus paper, the radical one. I dropped out of everything when the sects took over. Now I study history on my own and I work part time, typesetting in a bank, doing for capital what I learned to do in the movement. Coopted. But if someone convinced me that was it, the end, I’d commit suicide.

OLYMPIA: That was beautifully put.

DAN: I’ve thought of getting a standalone, that’s just a glorified typewriter, in our apartment so as to work at home and typeset things that interested me —

OLYMPIA: Isn’t that something that could involve a lot of people?

VOICE OF TONI: Olympia! Your omelet is getting cold!

MATTIE: That’s why we dropped in here —

OLYMPIA: Would you mind joining me in there? (Shouts to right) We’re coming. Our new friends have all kinds of suggestions for projects!

LISA: Can I play with them, mommy?

MATTIE: I guess that’ll be all right. But be sure not to disturb their game.

(OLYMPIA, MATTIE and DAN exit right)

LEON: Where can I put my armies now?

ALEC: You lost!

LEON: I did not either!

LISA: Can I play too?

ALEC: Only two can play this game.

LEON: You want to see our tree house?

LISA: Mommy!

VOICE OF MATTIE: What is it, Lisa?

LISA: Can I go see the tree house?

VOICE OF MATTIE: Just a second, Lisa — Oh, all right. But be sure you don’t fall!

(LEON, ALEC, LISA exit right)

(TONI enters)

TONI (rushing toward game): I’ll burn it! I’ll burn it! (picks up board) Shoot, I can’t do that either. (Shouts to right) Hey you guys! Come back in here and put your stupid game away!

(MATTIE enters, places game in box)

MATTIE: I spend most of my day picking up the things Lisa leaves lying around.

TONI: Well I don’t! And they don’t expect me to.

ALEC (enters from right): Where is it?

TONI: Mattie put it on the table. And Alec, do me a favor. Put that box someplace where you can’t find it again. And tell Philip —

ALEC (running out with box): Yes, Toni. (exits)

MATTIE: Having two of them around must keep you all running all the time.

TONI: (picking up glasses, ashtrays) The kids? They’re so deep into their own thing they don’t even want the rest of us around. Come on, I’ll show you the tree house they built in the garden. Then we can talk while I do the dishes.

MATTIE: They built it? Will Lisa be safe?

TONI: Oh sure. We didn’t even know they were building it, we’re so busy with our own things; I’ve started to study midwifery —

MATTIE: I don’t see how you find the time! Lisa takes up every second I have —

TONI: Say, aren’t you pregnant? What’ll you do with two? —

(OLYMPIA, BEN, DAN enter from right)

OLYMPIA: Is everything you want on this grocery list, Toni? I’ve got to get going. There were several other errands I wanted to run —

TONI: Add dried garbanzos; I’ll make hummus.

MATTIE (exiting with Toni): Could you tell? I only became aware —

(MATTIE, TONI exit right)

OLYMPIA (shouting to right) We think we can get the typesetting project off the ground!

BEN: I’ve got to split.

VOICE OF TONI: That’s great. We can call ourselves the Revolutionary Birth and Type Commune.

BEN (shouts to right): Revolutionary horseshit!

VOICE OF TONI: You’re the one who wades in that.

DAN: Are you opposed to the typesetting commune?

BEN: Man, everything the capitalists did in the nineteenth century is called Revolutionary when we or the Chinese do it.

DAN: What do you call it?

BEN: Hasn’t Nixon’s visit to Chou En-lai made everything clear? Their Great Leap is a leap into capitalism, repressive, informer-dominated, right wing capitalism right up Nixon’s alley, and Nixon knows it; the only ones who don’t know it are leftists who —

DAN: Why do you keep bringing up China? I wasn’t ever a Pee Ell-er. I wasn’t advocating that we start building the Party. We were talking about independent activity, organized by the people themselves —

BEN: Shit, man, you two were talking about starting a small business in this house. Business is what the whole fucking system is all about. Independent and self-organized business. You’re mangling words. You don’t step out of the system to do that; you step into it. It organizes it for you from the minute you decide to play that game. You start by getting a loan for the basic equipment —

OLYMPIA: Aren’t you being awfully narrow and selfish, Ben? You’ve got your steady welfare check and that’s the only reason you don’t have to worry about your survival. But we can only get part-time welfare, the rest of the time we’ve got to rummage in the garbage for the leavings. It’s the state that gives you the vantage point from which to look down on us while we’re rummaging.

DAN: What kind of steady welfare are you on, Ben?

BEN: Disability.

DAN: Really? Mattie gets ADC; officially we don’t live together —

OLYMPIA: So does Toni. I myself have been getting food stamps since they expanded the program after the riots. My point is, what’s wrong with Dan wanting to get out of a bank job, and with the rest of us getting involved in something that could put us in closer touch with the community?

BEN: I think everyone should abandon banks. It’s just that I object to calling wage labor revolutionary, even when it’s done at home. I’ll see you tonight. Welcome to the tribe, Dan.

(BEN exits left)

OLYMPIA: He’ll come around. He almost has already.

DAN: What kind of name is Olympia?

OLYMPIA: It’s Greek. It’s actually Olympia’s. But that’s odd, like it’s plural. I think it’s a mountain in southern Greece.

DAN: I thought that was spelled with a u.

OLYMPIA: I was third generation and never learned any Greek. What do you think?

DAN: About the typesetting?

OLYMPIA: Ben criticizes everything we do around here. That’s all he knew how to do until he learned to cook. But as soon as a project gets started, he works harder on it than anyone else. I think you’ll get along with Ben all right. The one that’s impossible is Philip. Whenever you ask him to share something, he thinks you’re a dentist coming at him with pliers. At one meeting some of us suggested we might like to learn pottery making. He molds it right in his room and bakes it in the basement. He stiffened as if he’d just drunk poison. “Of course you know there are patents on these things.”

DAN: How did a person like that ever get involved with a commune?

OLYMPIA: He came with the house. At an earlier meeting we were trying to deal with the transportation problem. Only two of us have cars, the two with jobs, and they sit in lots all day long. Philip would have had to get up half an hour early to pool a ride with Donna, but nothing could move him to do that. As it is, whichever of us is going to need a car has to drive Donna to work and pick her up again. Do you have a car?

DAN: An old one, but we don’t mind sharing it.

(TONI, Mattie, LISA enter from right)

MATTIE: I think that’s fascinating. How long have you been studying?

TONI: You still here, Olympia? I thought you had all those errands.

OLYMPIA: Cripes, I’m always doing this. I guess I’ll be seeing a lot more of you two. I’m positive that loan is going to work out. Donna’s credit is as solid as a rock.

(OLYMPIA exits left)

TONI: It was Olympia who got me to actually start studying it. I only griped about doctors until then. I’ve learned they’re a lot more vicious than I ever imagined. It’s like having the Marine Corps cutting up women. Olympia is into it because she thinks it’ll involve other people. I’m into it because I like kids, at any age, and I can’t stand what’s done to them in hospitals, or to the mothers.

MATTIE: She’s been telling me about midwifery.

DAN: You people sure are into a lot of interesting shit.

(LEON runs in from right)

LEON: When’re you coming back, Lisa?

TONI: She’ll be here a lot, so you and Alec had better start thinking up a lot of games for three — and I don’t mean war games. That Philip. When I waved Nuclear Holocaust in his face he said, “What’s wrong with it? I played monopoly when I was a kid.” So I said, “Don’t you think it shows, Philip?” His face looked like he wished the nuclear holocaust on me.

LISA: Will you show me the witch in the tree next time?

(LISA, Mattie, DAN exit left; TONI, LEON exit right)

From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org

Chronology

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2011
Chapter 3 — Publication.

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October 11, 2021; 5:31:55 PM (America/Los_Angeles)
Added to https://www.RevoltLib.com.

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