An Accidental Manifesto

My thoughts are always the most restless when I wake up. I don’t really no why. Maybe because it’s before I take my ADHD meds. It’s both a blessing and a curse because it tends to make me anxious but it’s also when I get my best ideas.

I was having such a morning the other day when I suddenly felt the urge to write down my own political beliefs. Not as a statement anyone else was going to read but rather to clarify them to myself. I grabbed a pen and some paper and wrote down this:

Nothing is mine. There are the things I use and the things I do not use, but nothing in this world exists solely for me. Only I am entirely my own.

As I am entirely my own, so do every other person belong solely to themselves. I shall not bend them to my will through force or exploitation any more than I would strike my own flesh. I expect in return that they will respect me in the same way.

If you see me in bounds then will you help me, my friend? Whenever it will be in my power to do so I will help free you from your own chains. I will not turn a blind eye whenever I see oppression – this great enemy of freedom.

As I wish to be free, so I wish every human to be free. How could I truly enjoy the sweet taste of liberty when I see it denied to my siblings?

And so I say: let us all be free. Let us tear down the walls between us and burn the bounds around each of us. Let liberty be for each of us and for us all.

When I feel I had written everything I needed to write, I added the title “A Individualist-Solidarist Manifesto” on top of the page. I realised then that I had ended up writing a statement of my own political beliefs and values.

The term “Individualist-Solidarist” to me means someone who believes in personal freedom but that it can only truly exist in a world where people help each other out and help protect each other’s freedom. I used to think the problem with a lot of individualistic ideologies was that they took it too far. Now I’ve come to the conclusion that they don’t take it far enough.

For example: Ayn Rand was a big proponent of individual rights. But her philosophy of Objectivism when applied to political policies leads to nothing less than Corporate tyranny and individual freedom for only a very small percentage of the population. If she had been serious about individual liberty she would have wanted it for everyone. She would have wanted all things that keep people from being their own to be abolished, not just the oppressive structures that come from the state.

Individualist-Solidarism, I believe, is the core principle of Libertarian Socialism and it’s what has drawn me to this particular ideology.

But how exactly do we create a world where everyone gets to be their own person? Well, that’s an issue you can’t really answer in one post. Not that I claim to have all these answers. But I sure will continue to bring up these questions and look for ways to help liberate both myself and others.

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A new ID and a brighter future

I haven’t posted a life update in a while so here comes one.

The first big thing that’s happened is that I’m now officially legally male. Along with the change from a F to a M on my IDs and passport, I’ve also been given a new social security number because of this silly Swedish law that says men and women must have different kinds of SSNs. It makes the process of changing legal gender a bit more complicated than it needs to be. A new SSN means a completely different legal identity and that creates trouble for a lot of trans people. Just to name one example: you can be denied a bank loan if you haven’t lived in the country under the same identity for more than three years.

The second big think that’s happened is that I’m soon going to start a course to become a certified accounting clerk. I’ve actually worked as one in the past but as I’m mostly self-taught and don’t have an official education I’ve had a hard time finding work in the field. After this course I will hopefully one day be able to leave the janitor job I currently have and which I probably shouldn’t even be doing since I have such bad joint problems.

My long-term goal is to be self-employed in my own accounting bureau or to start a cooperative one. Either way, I think it’s important for workers to own their own means of production. That’s the socialist in me, I can’t help it.

Which brings me to the third big change: my political activism. I’ve had a strong interest in politics for a long time but have only been politically active since becoming a libertarian socialist. After being a hardcore individualist (and really kind of a douche) for years, I’ve now realised how isolated I was all this time. Ironically, going outside of myself to help others has help me find myself in a way solely pursuing my own individual freedom never could. I have made many connections and doors have opened for me which I never dreamed possible. Solidarity among workers really is a great liberator.

Between political rallies and planning my future career, I still find time to write. The last part of my fantasy trilogy is about 70% done. I’ve also recently decided to make all my books free. Bringing money into it kind of ruined a lot of the fun and put a certain pressure on me to write something people would be willing to buy rather than simply write from my heart. It feels like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders and right now I don’t much care if I ever make another cent from writing.

I have been slacking a bit when it comes to reading but I’m still working on reading a book from every country in the world. At the moment I’m reading a fascinating novel from South Korea and will be posting a review in the coming week.

My Political Evolution

Ever since taking an interest in politics, I have been concerned about one issue in particular: freedom. Having grown up in a conservative and highly repressive religious environment where Church elders decided everything from what you were allowed to wear and what movies you could watch to who you were allowed to marry, I had never known what it was like to be my own individual. From a young age I have to been conditioned to ignore all personal wishes and dreams and to submit entirely to my religious leaders’ wills. Now that I was free, I promised myself that I would never let anyone rule over me like that again.

Because of my experiences, I had an almost visceral reaction to words like “group” or “collective”. Even the term “solidarity” made me cringe because of how I had heard it being used growing up. To name one example, the notion of “solidarity among God’s people” was used as an argument to justify covering up sexual abuse of minors within the church.

The idea, which I would hear from time to time from leftist friends, that certain types of collectivism could be liberating to the individual sounded to me like the dumbest thing I had ever heard. I’ve since changed my mind on that issue. But more on that later.

The political ideologies which I was first drawn to were strongly individualistic. Right-wing Libertarianism, Objectivism and even anarcho-capitalism all captured my interest because they focused primarily on self-determination, something I had been denied most of my life. I became a die-hard individualist who believed that the best thing one could do was to focus on one’s own goals and not worry about trying to make the world a better place. I also wholeheartedly embraced capitalism, which for all its destructive aspects I couldn’t imagine could ever possibly be worse than a system where the group was placed above the individual.

Liked many people, I assumed that the notion that there is a fundamental conflict between the individual’s longing for freedom and the well-being of society as a whole was true. But after pondering about it I realized that not only does this not make sense but that the one cannot truly exist without the other. How can an individual be happy if the society around them is turning to shits (unless maybe they’re a sociopath)? Likewise, how can a group thrive if the individuals that make it up are not happy?

I witnessed first-hand an example of the later in the church I grew up in. We were often told that our congregation was made up of “the happiest people in the world” but the broken dreams and repression of individual wills made us miserable. Alcoholism, mental health issues, spousal abuse and suicide was rampant. We lived only for the church, the collective, but the collective felt like a prison.

Getting out of that environment was incredibly liberating and I have been passionate about freedom ever since.

I considered myself an individualistic, pro-capitalist libertarian for a long time because I genuinely believed it was the best system for liberty. But some things made me reconsider my position.

The first was the fact that freedom is far from accessible to all under capitalism. As a working-class person, it became increasingly clear to me. I realised that what I had loved all along about capitalism was that it gave the possibility of liberty. Because under this system you can have an incredible level of freedom – if you can find a way to amass enough capital. Freedom then becomes a prize you have to prove yourself worthy of, it’s the carrot dangling in front of the donkey to urge him to keep running. Most people, the working-class, are never allowed to catch that prize.

If I truly love freedom as much as I claim, I asked myself, why do I support a system that denies it to the majority of the world? But on the other hand, what would even be an alternative? Centralizing everything and letting the state redistribute the resources in a way some self-proclaimed Benevolent Overlords deem just? That has been tried before and it always ends in tyranny. Socialism then was not an option, I concluded.

But that was because I had a fundamental as well as common misunderstanding about politics: that it’s all about centralised socialism/communism vs. decentralised capitalism. Discovering thinkers such as Noam Chomsky and other left-wing anarchists and libertarians opened my eyes to another option: voluntary socialism. That is: people of their own free will joining forces in a decentralised fashion to gain freedom from the shackles of the corporations as well as of the state, both which struggle for ownership of the people.

Voluntary solidarity among workers has already achieved a lot. Without workers’ unions, for example, child labour would still be common. So would 14 hours work days and workers having no paid vacations or even days off. Worker cooperatives are another example of how workers can help liberate each other.

Of course, raising solidarity among the oppressed takes a hell of a lot more time than some violent revolution to overthrow the current system. But if the culture does not change first, can the change brought on by a revolution persist?

Today I believe free, voluntary cooperation between workers is the greatest way we can liberate ourselves. Since becoming involved in workers’ rights activism, I witness every day both big and small ways people help each other out. Whether it’s holding demonstrations, starting co-ops together and just lending emotional support. There is so much we can do without having to ask for permission from the state or private exploiters.

I will be writing more on this in the future but for today I would like to end this post with a slogan we shouted at the syndicalist manifestation I attended yesterday (translated from Swedish):

We free the people and the people are us!

Winter is coming (in September)

2018 is election year in Sweden. A new government won’t be voted in until this fall but it’s already keeping me up at night.

Every poll shows the far-right Sweden Democrats to be either the second most popular or the most popular party. As September steadily approaches, I have to start planning what to do if a party who wants to strip me of my rights comes to power.

Because SD is a party who is known for its bigotry against minorities. Mostly racial (the party has its roots in the white power movement that swept the nation in the 90’s) but they have also shown that they despise LGBT people. High-ranking SD politicians have said vicious things about us and the party has voted against every single reform to improve our rights. Among other things, they were the only party who voted to continue the forced sterilization of trans people.

Being white, the racism of SD is one thing I know will not affect me personally. But I worry about what will happen to people of colour. Racist bigots will likely be emboldened by a SD victory and racist bashings could very well increase after the election. And who knows what racist reforms SD are going to try and pass.

Then there the many rainbow families I know. Will the government try to destroy them by taking children from their same-sex parents? Will same-sex marriage continue to be legal? Will trans people still have the right to change their legal gender? Or is it going to be like SD wants, that a person can only be legally defined by their biological sex?

These are some of the many questions I have and which have been giving me insomnia. I also ask myself what I’m supposed to do if the unthinkable happens and the Sweden Democrats actually win. My first thought was to get out of the country, perhaps immigrate to a more progressive place such as Iceland.

But then I got angry. Like in really fucking pissed. I don’t want to fucking run. This is my country too and I’m not going to leave. If SD, and the people who support them, want people like me out of Sweden, they’re going to have to push me out themselves.

The nice thing about anger is that when you’ve got enough of it, you stop giving a shit about the consequences. Maybe I’ll run out of it soon and get on a plane to Iceland with my tail between my legs. But right now I’m up for a fight. Bullies have tried to break my spirit since I was in freaking kindergarten, they haven’t succeeded yet and I’m not ready to let them win.

I’m not sure exactly where to go from here. I’m planning on connecting with likeminded people in my area and together we could make a game plan to fight SD. Not in a violent way. But somebody’s got to do something and there are many who are prepared to stand up for what’s right. If I don’t stand among them, I’ll never forgive myself.

I’m going to try and catch up on getting enough sleep and I’ll get to it. Definitely going to use my love of writing in this, so heads up, a lot more political posts coming.