The Death of Revolutionary Thought: What the Game of Thrones Finale Revealed About Ourselves

By Rocio Mercedes Alvarez (May 29, 2019)


Over a week has passed. The series is wrapped up and millions of Game of Thrones fans worldwide have either had their hearts broken or their decades-long theories confirmed. To say the final season was controversial is an understatement, especially if you followed the countless super-fans on a variety of social media platforms (Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, and Westeros specific forums)—shout out to all the amazing Youtubers who got us “through the loooong night” that was the year and a half break between seasons 7 and 8.


If you followed these super-fans and “casual fans” throughout season 8, or read anything online about season 8, you’d note that much of the controversy was aimed at two specific individuals: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the show runners and creators of the hit HBO series (or “D&D”, as they are “affectionately” called by the fandom).


The fandom wasn’t necessarily angered by the “major beats” of the plot—which A Song of Ice and Fire creator George R.R. Martin confirmed[1] would most likely be analogous in the book series from which the show is adapted—but rather with the pacing of the story. Many felt the story was too rushed to make certain events believable (e.g. that Jon Snow and Daenerys had a meaningful love affair beyond a one “boat” stand and a magic dragon ride) or to evoke the right emotion when needed (e.g. the death of Daenerys at the hands of her “lover” Jon Snow). Given that it was revealed[2] that HBO would have thrown all the money in the world at Game of Thrones to avoid its hasty conclusion, and that D&D declined the offer, the criticism certainly seems warranted: it was their direction and their version of the story that made it to screen in these final three seasons. But I’m not here to add to that critique. What is far more fascinating is when the microscope is turned onto the fandom itself, and what it reveals about our own global society, its power structures, how they work and how we, its flesh and blood inhabitants, react to them.




Martin has often stated in various interviews that his series should not be read as an allegory to real world issues or crises, despite wonderful commentary and theories to the contrary (e.g. that the threat of the White Walkers can be viewed as our current threat of Climate Change or that the series offers an underlying anti-war sentiment, etc.). But does Martin get to choose how we—the viewers, the readers, the audience—interpret his work? This question could take us down a rabbit hole of debates within philosophy of art and aesthetic theory on whether the interpretation of art ought to consider the author/artist’s intentions for the work (intentionalism) or the work itself, independent of the author/artist’s intentions (anti-intentionalism). To be sure, it is an interesting question and debate, of which I would recommend anyone interested in it to investigate, but I’m not here to contribute to that either. If you must know, my stance lies somewhere in the middle.


Knowing what I know about Martin’s background, one would be hard pressed to separate his own political sentiments from the work. For those of you who don’t know, Martin certainly could be described as anti-war, being a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, and he has stated that he could empathize with an exiled princess, growing up in obscurity and relative poverty where once his family had been influential and wealthy. But there are elements of his work (and by extension what we saw in the show), intentional or not, that ought to make us all who have enjoyed and continue to enjoy his work pause: an important depiction on the strategies of political change.


Around the mid-point of season 8, fans became increasingly more disgruntled with the direction of the story (episode 3 “The Long Night” and episode 4 “The Last of the Starks”). A lot of it had to do with the still-opaque conclusion of the White Walker storyline, and then the “beginning” of “Daenerys’ turn” towards the “dark-side”. Admittedly, that fourth episode hurt. Our favorite characters had just come together to defeat the Night King, his generals of White Walkers, and the Army of the Dead only to slide back into their old, toxic habits—I’m looking at you Jaime and Sansa! Up to that point most of us believed that these wonderfully rich characters had carved a new life for themselves and shedde the past attitudes and motivations that often got them in trouble, for the common good. We were wrong.


It is also around this time that more criticism was hitting the internet, ranging from how D&D were trash for not giving viewers sufficient insight into the White Walkers and their motivations to intersectional critiques about Daenerys as a female leader with tinges of entitlement, white privilege and white savior troupes. What many fans have enjoyed about the series is its realism at the heart of its more fantastical elements. Why should we expect to get any kind of resolution from death? Death comes, often with no reason or explanation, no matter how many times we try to convince ourselves that “everything happens for a reason”—reminding me of Jaqen H’ghar’s poignant line to Arya in the House of Black and White: “Does death only come for the wicked?” No. And why would we critique the patriarchal attitudes toward Dany as “The Mad Queen” within the context of the story, which tells us over and over again that the majority of Westerosi society is patriarchal. Did we forget Cersei’s storyline? Critics seemed to also forget that whatever entitlement Dany had as the sole surviving member of House Targaryen ended with the annihilation of her house approximately fifteen years before the start of the current story. The power she gained throughout the story was from her own efforts, beginning with the birth of her dragons. As for the racial critiques, we ought to remember that Dany’s family are foreigners to Westeros as well. The Valyrian people are eastern, and according to some super-fans[3] perhaps descendants of the even further east and older societies of Yi-Ti and the Great Empire of the Dawn. Dany shouldn’t be seen as an outsider to the inhabitants of Essos. She is one of them—perhaps an albino—but she is the blood of Old Valyria. Furthermore, when has anyone’s flexing of white privilege or white savior troupe ever asked the people “Do you want to be free?” She demonstrated her power in “culturally relevant” ways. The Unsullied, the former slaves of Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen, and the Dothraki chose, in their freedom, to support her agenda of “breaking the wheel” in the societies they found themselves in. Not particularly keen on nor convinced by these shallow commentaries, I began to embrace the dystopian future ahead.




Taking a cue from Derrick Bell’s concept of racial realism and the permanence of racism, I began to look differently at the events unfolding in Westeros.


On Bell’s view there is a permanence to the institution of racism in the United States that no amount of legislative, legal, or social reform will do away with. As I understand Bell, the sooner we understand that fact (i.e., the permanence of racism), the sooner we can develop better strategies for living in a society that maintains and perpetuates racism on a permanent basis. Am I saying that Westeros has a problem with racism like the U.S.? Absolutely not, though they certainly have their fair share of xenophobia (just ask Gilly, Tormund, Wun Wun, Daenerys, Missandei, Grey Worm or Qhono). What I’m saying is that Westeros, and perhaps the entire Ice and Fire world has a permanence of oppressive oligarchical rule, whether seen through the noble houses of Westeros, or the nobility of enslavers in Slaver’s Bay. Sure there are the Nine Free Cities in Essos, but their oligarchies resemble our own with powerful capitalist merchants, financial and religious institutions. Still, for the most part, Westeros and Essos have a permanence of oligarchical rule. By the end of the fourth episode I was convinced that Martin and/or D&D had read some of Bell’s work as the story looked like it was leading to the return of a permanent state of oligarchy. Then episode 5 “The Bells” happened (perhaps aptly titled?). Daenerys torched King’s Landing, along with most of its occupants, and for that week, between “The Bells” and the season/series finale, “The Iron Throne,” I thought, “She’s going to do it! She’s going to break the motherfucking wheel!”


See, Daenerys was the only true revolutionary leader of the series. Cersei told us as much back in season 7, episode 3 “The Queen’s Justice”. In her pursuit of a successful alliance between herself and the Iron Bank, Cersei said, “From what I gather, she [Daenerys] considers herself more of a revolutionary than a monarch. In your experience how do bankers usually fair with revolutionaries? The Lannisters owe the Iron Bank quite a lot of money, but Lannisters always pay their debts. Do former slaves, or Dothrakis, or dragons?” Daenerys’ revolutionary tactics in Essos were palatable to viewers and readers because they targeted oligarchs that we didn’t have much sympathy for. No one’s going to shed a tear for sadistic “noble” enslavers or a group of Khals and their blood riders who just threatened to rape her to death. Most fans only started to question Daenerys’ tactics when she turned, or threatened to turn, them on the oligarchs that we had sympathy for, and the people who keep them in power. (Much can be said about this subjective characteristic, but I’ll set that aside for the moment.)


For many fans, Daenerys’ targeting of innocent people in King’s Landing was unforgivable, both for her character and D&D. They speculated that Dany would have to die for her crime and complained that D&D had not provided enough character development that could sufficiently convince us that Daenerys—The Breaker of Chains and all that—could be capable of mass murder. I beg to differ. In a short scene between Daenerys and Tyrion just before her destruction of King’s Landing, Daenerys herself explains why the people are not innocent, effectively maintaining character continuity.


Tyrion: The people who live there, they’re not your enemies. They’re innocents, like the one’s you liberated in Meereen.


Daenerys: In Meereen the slaves turned on the masters and liberated the city themselves the moment I arrived.


Tyrion: They’re afraid. Anyone who resists Cersei will see his family butchered. You can’t expect them to be heroes. They’re hostages.


Daenerys: They are. In a tyrant’s grip. Whose fault is that? Mine?


Tyrion: What does it matter whose fault it is? Thousands of children will die if the city burns!


Daenerys: Your sister knows how to use her enemies weaknesses against them. That’s what she thinks our mercy is: weakness.


Tyrion: I beg you, my Queen—


Daenerys: But she’s wrong. Mercy is our strength. Our mercy towards future generations who will never again be held hostage by a tyrant.


In other words, the “innocent” people of King’s Landing were her enemies, and she explicitly states here, and in the finale, that her calculated actions and future actions would be for the betterment of future generations. As Dany said, she would do whatever was necessary to ensure future generations didn’t have to live under tyrants. Given Tyrion’s horrendous strategy to date that arguably led to the loss of two of her dragon-children, nearly all of her true allies, as well as the growing betrayal and second-guessing of her remaining supposed allies, few options were left to make her agenda a reality.


Tyrion’s appeal to her by attempting to equate the liberation of King’s Landing with Meereen was quickly shot down, and it should be obvious to us too, that those two situations are vastly different. The people of King’s Landing did nothing to liberate themselves from Cersei’s power and cruelty. Cersei didn’t lift a finger to stop the murder of Robert’s bastards, let the people starve, empowered the Faith Militant, blew up the Sept of Balor and they did nothing. Fast forward to Dany’s arrival in Westeros, the people either knew or should have known that she would have their backs in a rebellion against Cersei, and again they did nothing—actually they continued to support Cersei and look to her for protection. Tyrion says they were scared, and therefore can’t be expected to be “hereos”—sure, tell that to the slaves of Yunkai and Meereen! Varys, on numerous occasions has said that “men decide where power resides” so how could we fault Dany for viewing the people of King’s Landing as enemies? The people of King’s Landing are not innocent. The people of King’s Landing are complacent. Have they been manipulated into this complacency? Possibly. But that doesn’t absolve them from the complacency.



Still the majority of fans viewed Daenerys’ actions as morally wrong, unforgivable, irrational, and “dark” because, I suspect, they cling to a particular conception of innocence. In many ways this situation is reminiscent of America’s inability to reckon with its historical and present day racism and exploitation. When we think about contemporary arguments against reparations for slavery or indigenous genocide, the go to response is “I had nothing to do with that…I am innocent”. But many of these “innocents” fail to observe the historical and contemporary impact of those policies and how they have, and continue to unfairly benefit from them in a structural sense. Like the population of King’s Landing, the vast majority of Americans not only don’t give a damn about “the games the high lords play,” but they are truly apathetic towards radical revolution and an overthrow of those systems and institutions that envelop them with the warm blanket of complacency, settling for the illusion of “gradual change”. For Dany, and anyone who is anti-racist, anti-war, anti-capitalism, and against the oligarchies and complacency that keeps those oligarchs and the institutions that maintain and perpetuate such systems, there is no innocence when it comes to explicit or implicit support of rotten systems and institutions… you are the enemy.


Now at this point you may be thinking, “But the children! What about the children?? Surely they’re innocent in all of this.” Are they? Consider for a moment that since the Civil Rights Movement it has been argued, by many a conservative, liberal and those in between, that our society is post-racial. Let’s not just flat out laugh at this preposterous statement, but take it as a serious position. How then do we explain the continuation of racism in our current society, young and old? Furthermore, let’s not pretend that the American empire has not and does not continue to systematically murder, enslave (or comply with or abet the murder and enslavement of) other people’s children and innocents. How disgusting are we as a culture to be morally offended at the actions in a fictional drama yet have nothing to say in the real world, about real systems, real institutions and real people? Like King’s Landing, the American empire is crumbling all around us yet we continue to bury our heads in the sand, clinging to the absurd notion that if we just keep our heads down and proclaim our innocence, we’ll be safe.


In discussing this piece with my mom she rightfully questioned, “Well, what makes Dany’s actions different from regime change?” I think this can be addressed by recognizing different forms of regime change. Cersei effected regime change in King’s Landing, but it was selfishly motivated to increase her own power and authority at little cost to herself. You can argue, “But she lost Jaime and their three incest-born children.” True, though it is often theorized, more so in the books than the series, that Cersei’s seemingly unconditional love for Jaime and her children are actually rooted in her own narcissism and the proximity to power that she gains from them—and let’s not forget, Jaime went back to her! On the other hand, Daenerys’ desire for regime change was mostly rooted in her own experiences of exile, abuse, and enslavement and not wanting to see others treated similarly. Yes, she had a sense of entitlement, mainly through the education of her abusive brother, but also because she believed it was her destiny to use her power in the liberation of oppressed peoples. She was their Queen not by right of inheritance, but because as Missandei stated, “She’s the Queen we chose”. In this context, her slaughter of King’s Landing was a mercy—a mercy to those unwilling to liberate themselves, and a mercy to future generations. Daenerys was a revolutionary, and just like our real world revolutionaries, she was shamefully portrayed (for us and the characters) as a Hitler-esque fascist, assassinated, and her movement neutralized by the FBI and CIA of Westeros, the noble houses.



Within the past few days popular philosopher, Slavoj Zizek writing for The Independent,[4] and Matthew Yglesias writing for Vox,[5] have offered similar points of critique—Zizek on Dany’s role as a revolutionary and our aversion to such agents of change and Yglesias on the supposed innocence of King’s Landing. Zizek and Yglesias are certainly on the right track, but for whatever reason, do not take us far enough in what these critiques can reveal about ourselves, our own global society, its power structures, how they work and how we react to them.


Fan reaction to Daenerys’ final story arc reveals that many of us fail to see the nuance in strategies for real change. In fact, what is revealed is that our society is so entrenched in neoliberal ideology that we cheer for revolutionary change when it comes at no cost to ourselves and what or whom we hold dear, but as soon as revolutionary change gets too close we recoil, drudging out all the moral and social scientific arguments we’ve been taught by our neoliberal institutions. The kind of exceptionalism arguments that tout Just War Theory principles when aggression is leveled at those we’ve defined as “innocent”, but fly by the wayside when directed at those whom we feel less connected with. The kind of arguments that claim certain timeframes and goal posts need to be met so that we can have gradual change. The kind of arguments that suggest there is a right way and a wrong way to approach social change. What the final season of Game of Thrones has revealed is the death of revolutionary thought and the complacency of a decaying empire stubbornly and oppressively trying to retain its power. And, if there was ever a time where the world needed truly revolutionary thought it is now.








When the Klan was Tax Supported in Ohio

By Teka Lark (May 28, 2019)

People say that in Dayton, Ohio that only 9 members of the Ku Klux Klan showed up and that it was a win for US, the community.  But that was no win. According to the Time Magazine article, “9 People Showed Up for a KKK Rally in Dayton, Ohio. They Were Drowned Out by 600 Protestors” by Tara Law, it was stated that 350 police officers showed up.

I would interpret that as 359 people showed up to assert the rights of the Ku Klux Klan and white nationalism. I know it is redundant to say the Ku Klux Klan is white nationalism, but as a country, we are losing historical and institutional memory.  So I’m going to restate that as redundant as it may be for people born before 1980.

The far-right isn’t a fringe group. It is the foundation of this country. It is the 2nd Amendment which exists, so that white nationalism can protect itself against the presence of Africans and Indigenous people. It exists in the prison industrial complex, which overwhelmingly jails the poor of all races and Black and Indigenous people across socioeconomic lines.

It exists in the economics, where white households median net worth is $141,000 and the median net worth for Black, Indigenous, and Latinx households is under $15,000; where the probability of a loan denial is 36.9% higher for black-owned firm in comparison to a white, male owned business counterparts according to the American Economic Association; where all minority groups small businesses faced racial discrimination based upon data from the 1998 and 2003 Survey of Small Business Finances according to the American Economic Association.

The narrative of the far-right rights has a stranglehold on the vast majority of our school’s curriculum and states that this country was discovered by Christopher Columbus instead of stolen from Indigenous people by murdering them and moving them to locations in the coldest and most barren parts of the United States, where nothing grows.

The far-right says we’re a country that is a nation of (European Immigrants) with an asterisk on Chinese immigrants who provided the huge amount of labor needed to build the majority of the Central Pacific’s difficult railroad tracks through the Sierra Nevada mountain. The existence of this railroad created prosperity and opportunity for many white people in the US, opportunities denied to Asian, Indigenous, African, and Latinx people until after the 1960s.

The far-right also minimizes the impact of the enslavement of African people who prior to the inception of this stolen country until 1865 were legally classified as property.

The far-right is the police department who has at every point in US history taken the side of white nationalism, until it was not economically fruitful to do so.

359 people showed up in Dayton to support white nationalism and 350 of them were backed by our tax dollars and our government.


Keeping the Faith: Compassion, Understanding, and the Future of the Left

By Arun Gupta (May 21, 2019)

I am hearing a lot of despair lately, so I would like to share this story with you.

In the early 1990s, when I was international news editor at The Guardian Newsweekly, we hired a bookkeeper named Frances. Being a political newspaper run by the staff, our interviews were a mix of questions about competency and politics, as well as determining whether the person could really live on an annual salary of $13,000 in New York City. Frances was an old commie. She had joined the Communist Party USA during the World War Two era when it was a mass movement with hundreds of thousands of committed cadre and its influence was felt throughout society, particularly in theater, Hollywood, publishing, and all the arts.

When we asked Frances about her politics, about the crisis in the Left, about the failures of actually existing socialism, she gave the same response. Shaking a veiny fist in the air, Frances declared, “Socialism will win!” We chuckled, and we hired her. We desperately needed a bookkeeper, and she was willing to work for peanuts.

Frances would punctuate her sentences with “hoo-hahs!” picked up in New York’s tenements as a kid during the Great Depression. Frances said the boys used to fancy her back in the day, so she had a method to weed out the pretenders from the contenders. She would take them to a Communist Party meeting to see if they were worthy of her interest, but usually decided if she liked them by the time they finished walking over to the CP hall. At The Guardian, she kept a large mason jar of digestible fiber on her desk that looked like wood chips that she would prescribe for every ill real or imagined. “Really cleans you out!”, she would bellow in a raspy Brooklyn accent. Frances was bony, had enormous pendulous breasts, and would regularly dress and undress at her desk oblivious to coworkers in our open office.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, following the disastrous Communist Party coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, the entire cover of The Guardian was a photograph of a sewage drain with the Kremlin in the background. When Frances saw that she muttered all day, “Socialism down the drain. Hoo-hah!” To Frances, the idea that socialism was kaput made about as much sense as saying the sun wasn’t going to rise tomorrow.

That’s not what we were saying. We were saying the Soviet system was over. The Guardian, along with nearly all the American Left, had broken with the Soviet Union decades earlier. We saw the Soviet Union as a bastardization of what socialism can and should be, though we admired Gorbachev for bringing an end to the Cold War and trying to reform a failing system.

We supported Third World revolutions, the well-known ones, Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua, South Africa, and Palestine, and obscure ones from Western Sahara to East Timor. But as much as we opposed Soviet-style socialism and capitalism in equal measure, we didn’t realize how the collapse of the USSR would remove the last bulwark against American-led capitalism. The end of the Soviet Union quickly led nearly all the revolutionary post-colonial states to collapse or make deals with the devil to cling to power.

Frances never gave up the faith. She also didn’t work out as a bookkeeper. She was hiding the books from our business manager because they were a mess. Attempts to work out the conflict didn’t go anywhere. But one day, as two of us who were part of the elected leadership tried to mediate the conflict, she piped up, “Well, if you want me to resign, I’ll resign!” We were dumbfounded because we were used to threats and pleas and crying from incompetent staff. When you pay barely a thousand bucks a month, you don’t get the cream of the crop.

We weren’t stupid and immediately accepted her resignation. Frances was a good Communist to the end. She would sacrifice herself no questions asked because the collective struggle was all that mattered.

I’ve been thinking about Francis. We are in a time of profound despair. I know Francis would be keeping the faith. She lived through the long night of McCarthyism. It’s hard these days to understand how devastating that was. I’ve heard many stories from boomers about the lives of parents ruined and destroyed. McCarthyism was a society-wide purge. Thousands lost jobs as educators, professionals, union organizers, journalists, farmers. Many saw marriages crumble, lost homes, were forced into poverty, drank themselves to an early grave, and even committed suicide.

This was a time when the planet also stood on the brink of annihilation from the threat of nuclear war. But rays of light did appear, first with the civil rights movement. Then with the student and antiwar movements, followed by Black liberation, feminism, gay liberation, the environmental movement.

The heady feeling on the Left in the late sixties and early seventies is also hard to imagine these days One editor, who was involved in the leading student organization of the time, Students for a Democratic Society, summed it up as, “We had the bastards on the run.” The militarists, the CEOs, the politicians, the priests were all running scared and didn’t know what to make of this rebellion sweeping across their societies and the world.

Today it feels like the bastards are winning. America is scary: the rise of a strongman in the White House who is carrying out ethnic cleansing of undesirable religious and ethnic groups, encouraging rampant misogyny and violence by his followers, and pouring fracked gasoline on a world already on the funeral pyre.

But over many years of political involvement, I developed my own faith. I’m not sure socialism will win, even though I absolutely believe it’s the only hope for humanity. I know most species will not survive the next century, though fears of a total collapse misunderstand how evolution works. We can’t kill all life on the planet, though we can reduce it to pests and weeds such as jellyfish, rats, cockroaches, and invasive plants.

I know. That’s small comfort. But even after years of reporting on the worst of humanity. I still believe in the innate human capacity to do good. I don’t believe in a sky god. Not that I have an issue with that. As a young activist I got arrested as part of the Central American solidarity movement with radical Catholics like Daniel Berrigan and Elizabeth McAlister. That gave me respect for people of spiritual faith even if it’s not my cup of tea. Of course, blind faith is dangerous. It’s led to some of the worst atrocities in human history.

Nor do I subscribe to the leftist belief that there is a design to history, such as what Francis believed. My faith stems from our nature as social animals. Even in a dog-eat-dog society like America, our lives are based on cooperation and sharing whether at home or work or even shopping or driving. We depend on cooperation in every facet of our lives. We just don’t think of it because we have a media that highlights competition and conflict because that’s how they make money, even though those moments are relatively rare in our lives.

Trump will pass soon from the stage, as horrifying as he is. How else to describe someone who has created concentration camps for children, demonizes an entire religion of more than one billion people, and decades ago paid for full-page ads calling for the lynching of innocent Black children, the Central Park 5? Though I am less sanguine about the quick passing of violent white nationalism Trump has brought into being.

I am seeing despair all around. Every day I log on to Facebook and Twitter, I see friends full of despair about the global turn towards fascism, the assaults on basic freedoms and dignity, and the deepening ecological crisis.

But keep the faith. Keep the faith in the human capacity for compassion and understanding and generosity, and we will get through this together.

Originally posted on Arun’s Patreon page.  Posted by permission of author.


Black Women and Choice in Alabama

By Teka Lark (May 17, 2019)

My mother said when she was pregnant with me the doctor asked her if she wanted an abortion. My mother was married, a housewife, had no other children, and owned a home with my father, but still that was the first question that the doctor asked when she went to the doctor to confirm what she had already knew. She and my father planned it, as they were responsible and that’s what responsible Black people do, so they won’t bring the wrath of racism.

Because if you’re perfect, you’ll never, ever have to experience racism.

This opens up my relationship with birth.

I have always been pro-choice I still am, but as a Black woman my relationship with choice is a different one.

A Black woman in urban America has never had a problem getting an abortion — now birth control, information on safe sex, sex positive information, a job, those were hard to come by, but an abortion, that has always been pretty easy.

I know all about abortion, not because I had one, but because I had driven my friends to them. I had a car and my birthday was on January 1, so I ended of being the driver in many rock and roll and unlucky in love adventures.

I drove a friend to get three abortions. Why did she get three? I don’t know. I have always had a it’s none of my business kind of policy. That is why I am a good driver.

In the early 20th Century the US had a eugenics program. Beginning in 1909 and continuing for 70 years approximately 60,000 sterilizations took place.

Black children are five times more likely to be be incarcerated.

Black infants have the highest infant mortality rate.

Post antebellum America has never been a welcoming place for Black babies.

“I’m pregnant” said Pamela Harris, before she was murdered by the state.

Growing up the worst thing you could do was to become an irresponsible Black woman with children.

That was worse than murdering people, stealing, pretty much the only thing worse than a Black mother (married, unmarried, it doesn’t matter, the institutions don’t differentiate between the two) was a Black mother on crack.

I always think about crack when I drive through the middle of the country and see places where people can dispose of their “diabetic” needles, wouldn’t have been nice if the same courtesy had been granted to people who had “diabetes” in South Central, Brooklyn, and Chicago?

Black people have been murdered, hypersegregated, and terrorized in the South since the inception of this country.

The politicians who are now enacting draconian laws to restrict the rights of white women, because they’ve already done everything they can to the rest of us, have always been draconian.

Black people didn’t vote for Governor Ivey of Alabama, we would have never vote for such a foul person.

Black people don’t get the luxury of a wedge issue, even anti-choice Black people will vote pro-choice. We have to look at the bigger issue. We have to look at justice on a larger scale.

I have often talked about the evils of the South, many people have, and to people now, who act as if the evil of the South is something new, I really want to ask where the fuck have you been sister, where the fuck have you been?


Open Letter to the White Male Legislators in Alabama and Georgia

By Sonia Gutierrez (May 15, 2019)

Dear White Guy, You Don’t Own My Body

I had a miscarriage.

At the clinic, the doctor told me I had a blighted ovum and said she was sorry. According to her, I would have to go to the hospital for a procedure—if nature didn’t take its course. Well, I didn’t want that and trusted my body could miscarry on its own. I knew women’s bodies had miscarried for thousands of years, and I trusted their wisdom and the female anatomy’s ability to release its seed.

I called my cousin with a doctor in the family and asked her if I could miscarry on my own. She answered, “Yes.”

I visited my parents to tell them the news. In the backyard, my father standing next to the guava tree looked worried. When I told him about miscarrying on my own, my father said he would prefer that I go to the hospital. While my father talked to me, my mother walked hurriedly to her estafiete plant, took some leaves, and asked me to drink the tea with chocolate when I was ready. My mother’s knowledge didn’t surprise me—she had always been our medicine woman. But I knew women like my mother and myself, who knew their bodies and stood their ground, had been historically persecuted and branded as witches and evil.

Later that late afternoon at home in my garden I took a shovel and a pick and struck the Earth ”La Tierra” with all my might. My partner asked me, “What are you doing?” I answered, “I’m telling my body I am ready.”

Hours later, we had dinner at my sister’s, and I excused myself. When I looked down at the toilet, I saw what looked like a heart-shaped plumb. I shared with my sister the miscarriage had begun and not to worry—I would be fine.

We went home. I miscarried all night. I do recall drinking aspirin in case my miscarriage came with pain. It didn’t. It was a beautiful, heartbreaking process.

Days later, when I returned to the clinic, I was asked, “How did you do it?” or something like “Who did it?”

I answered, “I did.” She was impressed.

Fifteen years after, when states like Alabama and Georgia put the faith of women’s bodies in men’s hands, who do not know what it is like to live in a woman’s body, it worries me that a woman like me who remains rooted in indigenous knowledge after 500 years of colonization is told what her body can and cannot do.

Dear White Guy—ignorant is the man who thinks he can think for a woman and know her body more than she does.


Cersei is Far More Than a Raging Mother

By Theresa Hogue (May 14, 2019)

There are plenty of valid criticisms floating about regarding Game of Thrones’ brutal penultimate episode, many of which focus on the unexpected and frankly wild veering that many beloved characters do from the path the writers had previously put them on. Whether it’s Jaime’s sudden crash from his redemption arc with Brienne to Dany’s maniacal firestorm slaughter of innocents, there was a lot to take in, and a lot to be critical of.

For me, though, the most frustrating moments of the episode came when multiple male characters discussed the motivations of Queen Cersei, including both her brothers. Over and over, you heard male characters linking Cersei’s ambitions directly to her motherhood and current pregnancy, negating any other valid reason for her refusal to cede power.

Does Cersei identify as a wounded mother? Clearly. And have many of her most brutal actions been fueled by either protecting or revenging her children? Absolutely. But Cersei’s underlying drive for power is clearly motivated by being a capable, intelligent woman in a patriarchy that severely limits female ambition. She was less valued by her father than her twin brother, despite being a better strategist. She was strategically married by her father to a far less capable king and had to watch his failures as a leader. “I should wear the armor, and you the gown,” she tells King Robert Baratheon. She has been limited and thwarted by men her entire life.

While it is true that Cersei’s current pregnancy may lend urgency to her situation, she fights not because she’s a mother but because she has finally attained the position she felt she deserved and she damn well won’t relinquish it. It is true that Cersei’s position is not a feminist one, she is not fighting to stay in power to somehow advance the situation of women in Westeros, in fact many of her biggest and most loathed enemies have been other women attempting to grab or maintain power, and she’s ruthlessly cut them down (think Margery Tyrell, her treatment of Sansa, and her current disdain of Dany). However, she does fight against patriarchy for her own sake.

Salon did an analysis of Game of Thrones last year which showed that since 2013 there hasn’t been a single female writer, let alone director, on the show. So perhaps it’s not surprising when a major female character like Cersei is reduced simply to her role as a protective mother, rather than a complicated, dangerous and ruthless leader who has many reasons for protecting the throne she fought so violently for. In her final scene with her brother, the writers reinforce the episode’s emphasis on motherhood when they have her plead to Jaime, “I want our baby to live.” And of course she does, but her impending death is about so much more.

“Power is power,” Cersei says in a much earlier episode. Her whole life has been about shaking off the impediments of male power in order to attain what she knew, all along, she was capable of. That’s what she loses as the walls come down.

The Ultimate Lesson of Game of Thrones: “Hoping Our Rulers to Do the Right Thing is Madness”

By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (May 13, 2019)

We watched Game of Thrones last night, along with 17 million others. If you saw it, you know how devastating and demoralizing it was.

I immediately thought of the US role in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, or the US war on Iraq, or countless others. Lara made the point that the rubble dust and total destruction evoked the mass murder by Assad in Syria. We talked afterwards about how the episode illustrates the perception that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and how people play out the roles assigned by institutional power despite, or because, of who they are before they inherit them. I think that’s important when looking at how those in power kill as banal routine: mass murder is par-for-the-course. It’s built into the fabric of the nation-state. Bush did it, Obama did it, Trump does it, Putin does it, and whoever follows Trump will do it too.

I have’t looked at the chatter today – and feel uninterested in it – but my friend and comrade Kieran Frazier Knutson summed up one of the most important insights to take from last’s night’s genocidal display. It’s this:

“Hoping our rulers will do the right thing is madness.”


Thank the Chicago Anarchists for Creating a Better World for Everyone

By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (May 1, 2019)

If you like the idea of only working an eight-hour day, as opposed to say, twelve, thank an anarchist.

This first of May – May Day – represents the day people around the world, for over a hundred years, celebrate and renew the commitment of anarchist organizers in Chicago in the 1800s to making the lives of poor and working people, many of them immigrants, better.

Those anarchists did this through militant agitation, workplace organizing, and confronting those who try to keep us all down and in line. They got in the faces of capitalists, bosses, cops, and politicians. They were not afraid to organize popular power – working people’s power – for a different world.

Learn about the Chicago anarchists – the Haymarket Martyrs – who were hung by the state for trying to create a better world for everyone. Feel the power of rising together with those around you.

Fight back, resist, dream and create a new world in their honor, and with their inspiration. Happy May Day!