Debunking the Anarchy Trashman Theory
One of the most common responses to the thought of wide spread Anarchy by those who've made it past the anarchy=chaos misconception is that of the lowly trashman. "But who'd take out the trash" if we were all free to do what we wanted, who on earth would choose to be the trashman or the sewer worker, you know.. the shit jobs. I've heard this arguement often and I finally have an answer. .... I would.
I have met many Rainbows over the years volunteering with one disaster or another; some standing up for your rights on a street corner but I had never made it to a Gathering "on time". 2008 saw a valiant attempt to make it to Wyoming but our side trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation left the bus sabotaged and we spent the week of the Gathering waiting for a part we didn't even need. So this year I found a random ride home, on Facebook.
Going in I envisioned prolonged down time and hanging out with people I knew but that's not how it played out. Turns out my friends seem to be the ones that ... do the work.. and we "hung out" mostly in passing as we went about our "work" daze.
Instead of camping with pregathering friends I decided to stick with the 3 random strangers I'd shared a van with for the 5 day journey that we all thought was to be 3. There were no mechanical problems; we just stopped every hour or 2 and the van was too cramped for comfortable napping. It was a bit frustrating for me to take 5 days to drive a distance I've done alone in 2 &1/2 but it was the 1st time I ever road tripped somewhere and did not drive so that was way different and certainly a bonding experience. ;~)
The Gathering was miles from end to end and we were camped dead center on an isolated peninsula, on a virtually unknown "Shitter Trail". Camp Unicorn Shits & Butterfly Farts.
We arrived 3 days before the official start: Seed Camp. Those were fucking miserable days. Cold, wet and that white shit behind our sign... that's several feet of snow bordering our camp site. I had a kids play tent that was too short to stretch out in and too narrow to change clothes in. Those days my back hurt so much I could hardly move. Adrenaline & plentiful medical grade Marijuana compelled me to walk the entire gathering anyway to get my bearings. I felt at home in Kid Village because there were several there who I'd worked with or corresponded with over the years. I felt a little guilty just sitting by the fire and wanting coffee while dozens of people busted ass all around me to make the community funtional when the masses showed up, but's all I could do. Each night I wore 3 layers of my heaviest clothes in my 40 degree bag while my feet and head acted as a tent stretcher. Each night there was at least an hour of internal "please lord let the sun come up before I die of hyperthermia".
On the morning of July 1st, the official start of the Gathering, the Sun finally showed up and everything changed. The snow started melting, naked people roamed the meadow and my back stopped hurting immediatly so after my ritual morning random bowl share with the Vortex Bridge Breakfast Club, I headed to kid village.
I arrived ready to chop, stoke or stir something and quickly realized there were already experienced people doing those things. I asked Felipe what I could do and he showed me the trash pile. Already over 6 giant bags had been generated by Kid Vil, they needed to be moved up to the road where exiting Rainbows could scoop them up and drop them off 100 miles away, sooner they get there, the sooner they get out of the forest. Seemed like a shit job that I really didn't want before coffee, so I sat down for a safety meeting and hot coffee session. I was told to focalize it. Later while walking 2 50+lb trash bags up the hill a couple miles I realized that they meant I should recruit some help. I got tired and had to stop for a break. I found some shade and dropped the bags.
That's when WhatIsRainbow jumped up and slapped my ass ;~)
"hey brother is that trash?"
Yep, Kid Vill trash run"
Hands me a joint. "thank you for doing that, I can take 1 of them for you for the next 100yards .. down to my camp"
... and away we go... People recoginzed and appreciated my contribution. I was never in want for water, food, smoke or an extra set of hands. It was also a good task for me to spend time each day on the perimeter of the gathering, the frontline for routine repressive bullshit, because of course I was ALWAYS armed with my camera in case I was forced to "go to work". This year however the "authorities" really didn't do much near the gathering' there were many stories of getting pulled over and searched by those coming in on the 2nd/3rd but otherwise... clear sailing. One sister commented that "they're giving us enough rope to hang ourselves with this year". I think we made a hammock with that.
I vowed to do a better job the next day and brought my walking stick to tie the bags to. I was able to get 3 easier than the previous day's 2 and did multiple runs. So for the rest of the gathering I spent the mornings haulling trash, mostly for Kid Village but I branched out a couple times when I saw gi-normous piles at other kitchens. I met a lot of people on those long strenuous walks and had a great time doing it.
I had been fed by these kitchens numerous times at protest encampments and disaster relief centers. Days when I really needed someone to feed me; on consectutive 21 hour days of shooting and editing (and living) repression & despair. I was happy to exist in this communtiy without a camera and find a place, a function.
Functioning day to day in a gift based society works when all tasks are rewarded with kindness & respect. This Rainbow community seems to get that at higher levels of population density than the general populous. It IS after all a city, a temporary autonomous zone of .. mostly love.. or at least the facade of Love. 20k people generate births, deaths, marriages, conceptions, theft .. all the normal Babylon drama. Because I tend to move lightly between tribes I've been privy to all sorts of in-fighting bullshit over the years.. To some degree that keeps me moving on. Maybe it shouldn't, dunno. it seems as if people may be quicker to appreciate the simple, laborous task that is redily understood; than something more involved that has a more interpretative result. Wood choppers, shitter diggers and the trashman are kept happy; and you rarely hear anybody talking shit about how the wood was split wrong.
I've often said that even though I am at heart an Anarchist; I know that given Anarchy right now... my species would fuck it up and we'd never get another shot. This is because gift economies require a level of cooperation, empathy and work ethic that has been bred out of us with consumerism and the "progress" of technology. Until our species relearns interdependence and revalues DIY lifestyles we will fail at Anarchy.
So when that status quo lovin" pragmatist tries to check mate you with...
"but who'd take out the traaaaaaassssh?"
Tell them I would if need be and that people would love me for it.
They will of course laugh at your naivety because they need to evolve.