By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Exile in Happy Valley
People often ask me why I continue to insist on identifying with the far-left considering my growing rash of beefs with the movement and my increasingly contrarian tendencies, and its not a bad question. I find myself asking it from time to time. I rarely make it 36 hours without threatening to castrate a Bernie Bro. But as sick as I’ve become with partisan turf wars and the antiquated left-right paradigm, I still can’t see myself identifying with anywhere but the far-left. Some of it, I admit, has to do with a degree of tribal familiarity. I can’t just drop the Mau Mau chic and go mall walking with Patty Hearst.
No matter how far into libertarianism or post-left anarchism I drift, I’ll always wake up screaming “Death to the fascist insect who preys on the proletariat!” from time to time. Red is the only color that doesn’t run on me and the last scene of Che will always make me cry. The strange reality is that my core values remain consistently leftist in nature. My goals are largely identical to those of Noam Chomsky or Angela Davis.
My methods, and to some extent how I interpret the ends of those means have just evolved in ways the left, even the far-left, often finds distasteful or even downright alien. To me, gun control is a radical right wing position because it disproportionally shackles the will of the working class, and taxation gives way too much power to a single class of managers to be worth the admittedly tempting Robin Hood kick.
Needless to say, my creative interpretations of Marxian and Kropotkinite ideals creates a great deal of friction between me and the dogmatic intellectual theorists of the far-left elite. The only thing worse than a capitalist pig is a reactionary heretic, and on no current event do I feel more like a Titoist traitor than on COVID-19 and my outspoken opposition to the mandatory lockdowns being pushed to treat it. It’s a subject that the whole left-right spectrum has dismally fucked up the discourse on. Both sides of the fence see it in stark binary tones with little room for creative interpretation. The right just wants to walk it off like a goddamn Charly horse and treat it with the miracle cure of free market capitalism. The left, on the other hand, wants to shut society as we know it down for the next decade, Pol Pot style, and treats anyone suggesting otherwise like a nursing home strangler.
I am a recovering agoraphobic. After spending the last six years painfully rebuilding my life from the mess that left me a shut-in for the better half of my twenties, Covid crashed in and dismantled nearly all of my progress in less than six weeks. It has been nothing short of emotionally devastating for me and the toll it has taken on my mental health cannot be overestimated. But I also suffer from Chronic Lyme Disease and my borderline elderly parents who I live with are both recent cancer survivors. I have very little choice but to self-isolate, especially when you consider that I share a county with a college town which has given my bucolic hillbilly surroundings the Covid levels of a Cambodian fish market. But I chose to quarantine myself, which is a privilege many people in my community can’t afford. One of my biggest problems with the lockdowns is that they are effectively super-spreaders for poverty, which also happens to be the number one cause of fatality in this Dickensian plague.
It’s very easy for Hollywood celebrities and Washington swamp monsters to preach the virtues of staying home forever when you consider that their palatial mansions are roughly the size of your average trailer park and they have the bank accounts to sustain their sedentary existence indefinitely. Across this country, lockdowns have created a growing new depression that hasn’t even begun to peak. Small business’ are going belly up left and right while the Stock Market rallies and corporate juggernauts get fat stimulus checks so they can remain superficially too big to fail. What’s left of main street is being gutted like a carp.