Joyful Militancy: Building Thriving Resistance in Toxic Times

By Hari Alluri

Revolt Library Anarchism Joyful Militancy

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Poet, Educator, and Teaching Artist

Hari Alluri is the author of The Flayed City (Kaya, 2017), Carving Ashes (CiCAC, 2013) and the chapbook The Promise of Rust (Mouthfeel, 2016). An award-winning poet, educator, and teaching artist, his work appears widely in anthologies, journals and online venues, including Chautauqua, Poetry International and Split This Rock. He is a founding editor at Locked Horn Press, where he has co-edited two anthologies, Gendered & Written: Forums on Poetics and Read America(s): An Anthology. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University and, along with the Federico Moramarco Poetry International Teaching Prize, he has received VONA/Voices and Las Dos Brujas fellowships and a National Film Board of Canada grant. Hari immigrated to Vancouver, Coast Salish territories at age twelve, and writes there again. From Hari Alluri, who immigrated to Vancouver, Coast Salish territories at age twelve, is the author of Carving Ashes (CiCAC,... (From: and

I come for the #StarTrek 🖖 I stay for the #MutualAid... (From:

My PhD project is focused on alternatives to Empire at the intersections of permaculture and anarchism, and the ways these experiments can be deepened and radicalized by decolonization, feminism, anti-racism, and other movements that cultivate radical, autonomous ways of living and relating. I’m interested in what’s going on at the “edges” of all these movements–what new practices and ways of living become possible when they come into contact and inform each other? How do these movements prefigure new and old ways of living that are convivial and support thriving ecosystems and communities? How can place-based movements be radical, joyful, and responsible at the same time? How can permaculturalists and anarchists build networks of resistance and resilience, in ways that challenge colonialism, white supremacy, and patriarchy? What are the potentials of these movements, and what are some common pitfalls? What does it mean for settlers to cr... (From:


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Foreword by Hari Alluri Willing to be Troubled: an essay with a love note to Gil Scott-Heron We’ve all heard so many conflicting words About life, whether wrong or right How you gotta be workin’ hard And it ain’t no easy job To survive. Just keep it alive —Gil Scott-Heron, “Willing” Like the moment when I first heard Gil Scott-Heron, I knew upon first read that I would return to this book. The isolations of capitalism and the despairs of facing Empire’s increasingly blatant yet always insidious machinations, oppressions, and attacks will drive me to seek the reminders that are here: of how to recognize my own moments of rigidity, and of how to recognize—beside, within, and far from me—moments of transformation. Though written by two white folks with deeply different experien... (From :

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Introduction There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt. —Audre Lorde People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints—such people have a corpse in their mouth. —Raoul Vaneigem Do not think that one has to be sad in order to be a militant, even though the thing one is fighting is abominable. —Michel Foucault I This book is an attempt to amplify some quiet conversations that have been happening for a long time, about the connections between resisting and thriving, about how we relate to each other in radical movements today, and about some of the barriers to collective transformation. There is something... (From :

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Chapter 1: Empire, Militancy, and Joy A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window. —Brian Massumi Personally, I want to be nurturing life when I go down in struggle. I want nurturing life to BE my struggle. —Zainab Amadahy Resistance and joy are everywhere Anyone who has been transformed through a struggle can attest to its power to open up more capacities for resistance, creativity, action, and vision. This sense of collective power—the sense that things are different, that we are different, that a more capable “we” is forming that didn’t exist before—is what we mean by joyful transformation. Joyful transformation entails a new conception of militancy, which is already emerging in many movements today. To be militant about joy means being attuned... (From :

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Chapter 2: Friendship, Freedom, Ethics, Affinity To become what we need to each other, and to find power in friendship, is to become dangerous. —anonymous I have a circle of friends and family with whom I am radically vulnerable and trust deeply—we call it coevolution through friendship. —adrienne maree brown The urgency of making kin Empire works in part by constantly attenuating and poisoning relationships. Kinship has been enclosed within the nuclear family, freedom within the individual, and values within morality. Together, these enclosures sap relationships of their intensity and their transformative potential. If relationships are what compose the world and our lives, then the “free individual” of modern, Western capitalism (an implicitly straight, white, able-bodied, cis-gendered, property-owning man) is a sad a... (From :

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Chapter 3: Trust and Responsibility as Common Notions We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. —Ursula K. Le Guin Do not be afraid Do not be cynical Continue to trust yourself and others Continue to dream of collective liberation —scott crow Perhaps it is more important to be in community, vulnerable and real and whole, than to be right, or to be winning. —adrienne maree brown Trust and responsibility as common notions It is clear that capitalism—administered by left- and right-wing governments—is a disaster for people, non-humans, and the earth. However, cynicism and disillusionment do not necessarily lead to r... (From :

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Chapter 4: Stifling Air, Burnout, Political Performance Capitalism, colonialism and heteropatriarchy make us sick. Are our responses healing us? Are our actions generating wellbeing for others? Or are we unintentionally reproducing the kind of relationships that made us sick in the first place? —Zainab Amadahy Puritanism, in whatever expression, is a poisonous germ. On the surface everything may look strong and vigorous; yet the poison works its way persistently, until the entire fabric is doomed. —Emma Goldman Toxic contours There is something that circulates in many radical spaces, movements, and milieus that saps their power from within. It is the pleasure of feeling more radical than others and the worry about not being radical enough; the sad comfort of sorting unfolding events into dead categories; the vigilant apprehension of errors and co... (From :

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Chapter 5: Undoing Rigid Radicalism, Activating Joy How does one keep from being fascist, even (especially) when one believes oneself to be a revolutionary militant? How do we rid our speech and our acts, our hearts and our pleasures, of fascism? How do we ferret out the fascism that is ingrained in our behavior? —Michel Foucault Three stories of rigid radicalism We want to share three stories about some of the origins of rigid radicalism, along with the ways it is constantly being undone through people’s capacity for joy and the formulation of common notions. We focus on three overlapping sources: ideology, morality, and paranoid reading. The story of ideology begins in currents of Marxism-Leninism that have animated movements throughout the twentieth century. But the problem is broader than Leninist vanguardism—it is ideology as such, and the ways that ideolo... (From :

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Outro This is a book that does not have an ending. It is a definition that negates itself in the same breath. It is a question, an invitation to discuss. —John Holloway It can be difficult to talk about the ways that radical milieus can be stifling and rigid: how we don’t always treat each other well, how we hurt each other, and how shame, rigidity, and competition can creep into the very movements and spaces that are trying to undo all this. Of course there are tangles of despair, resentment, pleasure, and pain. Of course shitty encounters provoke anxieties and frustrations. Of course people bring their scars and fears. In his interview, Glen Coulthard put his finger on something we have carried with us throughout this process, about the way that sadness and anger often stem from love: I think that for the somber, melancholic militant, I get it. I understand it. (From :

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Appendix 1: Feeling Powers Growing—An Interview with Silvia Federici January 18, 2016 Silvia Federici: My politics resonate with your idea of “joyful militancy.” I’m a strong believer that either your politics is liberating and that gives you joy, or there’s something wrong with them. I’ve gone through phases of “sad politics “ myself and I’ve learned to identify the mistakes that generate it. It has many sources. But one factor is the tendency to exaggerate the importance of what we can do by ourselves, so that we always feel guilty for not accomplishing enough. When I was thinking about this conversation, I was reminded of Nietzsche’s metamorphoses in Thus Spoke Zarathustra and his image of the camel. The camel is the prototype of the militant who burdens herself with huge amounts of work, because she thinks that the destiny of the world... (From :

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Appendix 2: Breaking Down the Walls around Each Other—An Interview with Kelsey Cham C. Kelsey Cham C. is a former collective member of the Purple Thistle who worked with carla as a youth at the Thistle. Nick and carla: One of the things we’re trying to think through with the notion of sad militancy is the way that Empire gets smuggled into radical movements in spaces through mistrust, fear, rigidity, shame, competition, and so on … but we want to think this through without blaming individuals. It’s not about individual feelings or behaviors; it’s about ways of relating that are coming out of this system. Kelsey: Yeah, we’re recreating it. Nick and carla: Yeah, and we’re interested in talking to people that seem to be able to tap into something different, and I think you do that. Kelsey: (laughs) I’m glad you think so. Nick and carla: I gues... (From :

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Appendix 3: Further Reading Though we have used direct quotes and endnotes as a way to acknowledge our intellectual debts and sources throughout the book, we often found ourselves wanting to include more of the currents and perspectives that have shaped this work. With that in mind, we have assembled some articles, zines, books, films, interviews, and stories for those who want to go further with some of the ideas explored in each chapter, providing links to online versions where possible. This list is diverse, and elements of these texts are in tension with each other and our own work, and we think they are all worth approaching in the spirit of critical and affirmative reading. We also recommend checking out work by everyone we interviewed and cited, and we are planning to create a fuller list on our website: Chapter 1: Empire, Militancy, Joy Zainab Amadahy, Wielding the Force: The Science of Social Justi... (From :

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Glossary of Terms Active Joyful passions give us clues about becoming active in the growth of joy, opening the potential for tuning into, stoking, amplifying, modulating, and tending to emergent powers. To become active in joyful transformation is to become capable of participating in the forces that increase one’s capacity to affect and be affected. To become capable of feeling and doing new things always requires an openness and vulnerability, and active participation requires a capacity to sustain this openness to change. The desire for full control or independence remains trapped in passivity, because learning to participate in joy’s unfolding means being partially undone and transformed through an open-ended, uncontrollable process. Affect Affect is at the heart of Spinoza’s philosophy of a “world in the making,” in which things are defined not by what they are bu... (From :

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Bibliography Ahmad, Asam. “A Note on Call-Out Culture.” Briarpatch, March 2, 2015. Ahmed, Sara. The Promise of Happiness. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010. Alston, Ashanti. An Interview with Ashanti Alston. Interview by Team Colors, June 6, 2008. Amadahy, Zainab. “Community, ‘Relationship Framework’ and Implications for Activism.”, July 13, 2010. ———. Interview with Zainab Amadahy. Interview by Nick Montgomery and carla bergman, January 15, 2016. ———. “Protest Culture: How’s It Working for Us?” (From :

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Footnotes Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Berkeley: Crossing Press, 1984), 4. Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (Seattle: Rebel Press, 2001), 26. Michel Foucault, “Preface,” in Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983), xi–xiv. The concept of the “public secret” originated with situationism, and we borrow it from the Institute of Precarious Consciousness, in their suggestion that anxiety is a public secret of contemporary capitalism. See Institute for Precarious Consciousness, “Anxiety, Affective Struggle, and Precarity Consciousness-Raising,” Interface 6/2 , 271–300. Alfredo M. Bonanno, Armed Joy (London: Elepha... (From :


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