Episode Five – Urban vs Rural
Of course we should leave!
I, like most of you, had a plan in my twenties. I was going to do a thing to make a gob of money. Figured it’d take about five years of serious work and then I was going to leave this rat race behind. I was going to move to the country, with all my best buddies, lovers, and relations, and do something like cooperation or consensus or whatever in the fuck the land told me to do. I’d be free, with my community, and I’d just wile away the years writing, reading, puttering about in the garden, and not being productive, in the capitalist sense of the word, for the rest of my life.
And I had a big advantage over my less serious, less commited cohort. My father, and his group of high school friends showed me the way. They bought 40 acres together, they build structures on it, and were serious about living a different form of life. I spent a lot of my childhood there with a bow and arrow strapped across by back, fishing, and hiking. Nights around the campfire making goddamn smores and hot dogs and sleeping in teepees, structures, and even under the stars. But it was also not the dream at all. It was a weekend retreat for working class hippies who swung from trees and got wasted as a way to heal from working shit jobs and being exhausted from never ending shit. The two hour drive was, for most of these people, a way to get into a headspace that could imagine a better world because the other five days a week it was not possible. And as the years ticked along these little escapes became less frequent until they no longer occured at all.
And when I go to the country now, I mostly see working land. It is no more restful than the jobs I work in the city, it just pays less. And as it turned out I didn’t save the money I thought I would, the friends and lovers didn’t stick around and the community isn’t even referred to in jokes any more. Of course we should leave the city, except for all the reasons we stay, we become specialists, there are too many of us to imagine being without, and the terrible routines become what we are accostomed to. We can no longer imagine a different horrorshow.
This week we talk about the dream (for many many anarchists) of moving “back to land” and how it has worked out for those who have done it. Wouldn’t getting away from all the shit be great? What is that shit? Are there more fun anarchist activities happening there rather than here? Or is it in fact the opposite? Are the libraries, cafes, and protests worth the high rent and commuting? Is getting work even possible in the country any more? We talk about the dream, the reality and what happens when the things fall apart!