I often feel isolated from community, too radical or political or strange for others. It doesn’t help that I live in rural Ontario, where people are typically cis, white, straight, and conservative. One benefit from being connected to others through social media is that I know that there are in truth other folks out there like me: non-binary, unschooling, subsistence living, anarchists. While these people might not be my neighbours, it helps me to know that I’m not alone in my ideas.
I’ve also found that while these areas might be new to me, these ideas and approaches to living have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years, documented through books, images, magazines, journals, and more. I feel a huge sense of relief in knowing that there’s a bigger movement that has been ebbing and flowing for the last 200 years, not to mention the indigenous communities that have known how to live with the Earth since time immemorial and black folks that have been calling out racial injustice since they were first enslaved. Our generation is not the only one that has recognized these broken systems of education, social justice, and economics. “Wokeness” may be a new term, but people have really been awake all along. We settlers just haven’t been listening.
Because of this work that has come before our generation, there are frameworks that have been developed, research that has been done, statistics and science and policy that has been tested and there is SO MUCH to learn from. As a budding anarchist, I can tell you with certainty that there is enough theory that I could study for the next 10 years. While I don’t have direct ancestors or community that will teach me the skills and knowledge that I need, I can lean on revolutionaries from the past to help me learn what I need to know to survive late stage capitalism.
While I recognize that those who I am connected to by proximity in my community may not share the same ideals or practices, this doesn’t mean that they can’t be part of my community, using the traditional sense of the term. If I’m trying to live a subsistence lifestyle, I need that physical community to meet my needs. We can’t carry the load as individuals. BUT that doesn’t mean that all the members of my community have to be perfectly aligned. Heck, we don’t even have to be friends in order to support each other. I often get confused when we talk about community in these two different groups: online community that shares the same beliefs about how the world works and local community that helps me meet my everyday needs. In the past, I’ve tried to merge the two and end up disappointed because there’s not a lot of gender queer, anti-racist, anti-capitalist anarchists in the local village. It helps me to differentiate these two concepts of community so that I can still engage in both and not feel like I’m totally isolated by differences, but can also learn to draw on similarities. This also doesn’t mean that I need to tolerate bigotry or racism from people in my day to day life as those are the people who really DO make me feel alone. But I know that’s not true: that there are so many others out there like me that feel this need for change.