Filed under: Anarchist Movement, Radio/Podcast
A look back at 2020 from the Rebel Steps podcast, part of the Channel Zero Anarchist Podcast Network.
As we round out this historically challenging year, it feels important to take a moment to reflect. In this episode, you’ll be hearing from a bunch of our comrades, many who have appeared on previous episodes and some who are podcasters in the Channel Zero Network.
Learn more about the contributors to this episode!
- David Campbell
- JR is the host of subMedia’s Circle-A podcast
- Pearson is the host of Coffee with Comrades
- Karl works with A-radio Berlin
- Breht is the host of Rev Left Radio, Red Menace and Guerrilla History
- Grey is from CyPurr and Pop Gym
- Matt is from MACC and the Emergency Committee for Rojava
- Clara is one of the hosts of the Exworker Podcast
Check out the poem “Imagine the Angels of Bread” by Martín Espada
Welcome to Rebel Steps, I’m your host, Liz.
As we round out this historically challenging year, it feels important to take a moment to reflect. In this episode, you’ll be hearing from a bunch of our comrades, many who have appeared on previous episodes and some who are podcasters in the Channel Zero Network. Before I pass it over to them, I’d like to share a few of my own New Year’s thoughts.
This year I’m grateful that we have not given up. I’ve been encouraged by the outpouring of Mutual Aid that has happened, by the huge protests that pushed Abolition into the spotlight, and by the new tenant organizations that have sprung up all over. Looking forward, I hope the new year will bring a continuation of the burst of energy seen this year.
As a podcast, we’ve grown a lot and we’ve learned a lot. Not only did we release our second season, but we also put out 4 rent strike episodes, an episode on abolition, and a street action episode (and don’t worry part 2 of street action is coming soon). We also learned we can put together an episode in just 48 hours if needed which is how we created the first rent strike episode. I’m really honored that so many of you have listened to our podcast and shared it with others. I’m looking forward to continuing to share audio adventures with you in the new year.
On a personal note, I, too, have had a bizarre year. I was furloughed for months. I went on a rent strike and my co-strikers and I won multiple months’ rent from our landlord. I attended huge marches that were lined with onlookers banging pans in appreciation, handing out water bottles and hand sanitizers, and just generally cheering us on. I rode my bike in bike caravans across many of New York City’s bridges. I’m coming out of it a little exhausted, but also with a new understanding of what I’m capable of, and what our movements are capable of. I feel like I’ve caught a glimpse of what a truly large-scale popular movement can accomplish. I’m looking forward to applying myself to the struggles to come, as an older, wiser version of myself in the new year. I’m ready to continue making the podcast, do some eviction defense, make more masks, attend more actions.
Lastly, I want to leave you with a poem by Martín Espada entitled Imagine the Angels of Bread. Then, stay tuned for words from our friends.
This is the year that squatters evict landlords,
gazing like admirals from the rail
of the roofdeck
or levitating hands in praise
of steam in the shower;
this is the year
that shawled refugees deport judges,
who stare at the floor
and their swollen feet
as files are stamped
with their destination;
this is the year that police revolvers,
stove-hot, blister the fingers
of raging cops,
and nightsticks splinter
in their palms;
this is the year that darkskinned men
lynched a century ago return to sip coffee quietly
with the apologizing descendants
of their executioners.
This is the year that those
who swim the border’s undertow and shiver in boxcars
are greeted with trumpets and drums
at the first railroad crossing
on the other side;
this is the year that the hands
pulling tomatoes from the vine
uproot the deed to the earth that sprouts the vine,
the hands canning tomatoes
are named in the will
that owns the bedlam of the cannery;
this is the year that the eyes
stinging from the poison that purifies toilets
awaken at last to the sight
of a rooster-loud hillside,
pilgrimage of immigrant birth;
this is the year that cockroaches
become extinct, that no doctor
finds a roach embedded
in the ear of an infant;
this is the year that the food stamps
of adolescent mothers
are auctioned like gold doubloons,
and no coin is given to buy machetes
for the next bouquet of severed heads
in coffee plantation country.
If the abolition of slave-manacles
began as a vision of hands without manacles,
then this is the year;
if the shutdown of extermination camps
began as imagination of a land
without barbed wire or the crematorium,
then this is the year;
if every rebellion begins with the idea
that conquerors on horseback
are not many-legged gods, that they too drown
if plunged in the river,
then this is the year.
So may every humiliated mouth,
teeth like desecrated headstones,
fill with the angels of bread.
Hey Rebel Steps. This is David Campbell, you may know me as Jason if you listened to the episode I was in in the first season. And I just want to say Hey, what’s up? Big thanks to everybody who supported me while I was in. And it’s great to be out. It’s been a weird year. I know a lot of really crazy stuff, most of it shitty, has happened. But there have been a lot of opportunities for things that I really never thought I’d see in my lifetime to come to light. So that’s pretty sweet. In Rikers in,March, when Coronavirus is getting really crazy. I was part of a very short but very, very cool, work slowdown, strike to get PPE and to demand people be released. And that was something that was totally unexpected. And it was really amazing to see these really strong bonds of solidarity form, like instantly, and actually, you know, be kind of successful. There’s a lot of things that have gone on in the past year on the outside, you know, particularly with the Floyd rebellion, that are really encouraging. And I think we may have turned the corner on a lot of issues in kind of a popular conception and a lot of ways, at least I hope so. Personally, I spent a lot of time reading and writing in the past year, and I really like that too. So those are all things I’d like to see continue in the coming year. Personally, I’m gonna try to keep reading and writing as much as possible. And I’d like to see our movement continue to gain momentum and broaden its appeal. And I hope that even if Biden has won and the transition goes as smoothly as possible, we don’t get complacent. I hope we still care for each other. We find each other you know, we keep building a better world and we keep the fash on their heels. Take care everybody!
Hey, this is JR, host of sub media’s New Circle a podcast. However you’re choosing to celebrate or avoid celebrating the holidays this year, here’s hoping you stay healthy and have a ton of good times.
Season’s greetings, Rebel Steps listeners and comrades! My name’s Pearson, host of the podcast Coffee with Comrades, a proud part of the Rev Left Radio Federation and the Channel Zero Network. God, what a year it’s been. From COVID-19 to tenant organizing; from Black Lives Matter uprisings to prison abolition demonstrations, from mutual aid gardening to community-defense, 2020 has been one for the history books. Through it all, I’ve been so fucking inspired by the resiliency, autonomy, and determination of my friends and comrades and floored by the many victories. In an era of isolation and atomization, our communities have pulled together like never before to help one another in the midst of a global pandemic. The struggle for a revolutionary transformation of society continues apace, no matter what the future may hold. Forever yours in joyful love and solidarity, Pearson.
My name is Maura and I’m friend of Rebel Steps and am an anarchist. I’m also a doctoral student in art history and teach art history, too. First though, thank you Rebel Steps for creating this podcast, inviting me in to participate in this special New Year’s episode, and putting such thought and care into the work that you share with people. I really admire it.
Reflections on this year…I’ve experienced a level of stress this year I’d like to never meet again if I can avoid it. But I also found a younger wiser version of myself that offers great advice, like listening to Kate Bush and indulging in really excellent work by people like Fred Moten, Saidiya Hartman, and the folks who gave us the images of the precinct on fire in Minneapolis. I hope people realize how images affect who they become, who they already are, and that defying the state and its institutions requires creativity that isn’t public knowledge yet. I hope people are inspired to nurture that creativity rather than fit it into a box of a specific political agenda, or Instagram story. Hope I can do that, too.
I love the winter season.
Other than the bitterness that the cold brings and how shit weather makes daily tasks more challenging, I love winter. I will complain about it, no doubt. But it is delightful to me. It’s a good time for paradox – everything is so miserable that’s its easy to see what isn’t – all that good stuff that doesn’t get a moment to shine in the other seasons really stands out in the winter.
Hi there. My name is Karl and I’m working with the Anarchist Radio Berlin. We try to do reports on local, national and international struggles in different languages and multiple fronts. You can check our work at aradio-berlin.org. For me personally, it’s a pleasure to see all this beautiful podcasts popping up on Channel Zero Network. And I’m quite impressed by the collaboration and coordination that’s happening there. I just hope and I do think that making radio might still support and push forward the idea of radical change. Does not look too much alike in the visions around me. But that’s what’s about to happen in 2021 maybe, which all you folks a great start into the next year. Hear you soon. A lot of greetings from Berlin. Bye!
Hello, My name is Jack Hogan.
I’m thinking about what to keep from this year.
Even in advance of this pandemic, we’ve been constrained by increasing levels of enclosure: monadic people, pushed to individuate, who encounter blockages and frontiers at every turn.
The Overton window was smashed in March, April and May but the ruling classes are pasting its shards back into the frame.
One thing to keep from the past few months is the refocus on the local, as the political form of the international; in Huey Newton’s terms, the local as the condition for intercommunalism.
There’s arguably been less corporate control of offline social life, with private spaces largely closed. Winter will make outdoor gatherings hard, and require a rethink, to maintain the ability to live a life together for free.
The revolutionary value of imagination, which many have re-engaged during the pandemic, will be needed to maintain the pursuit of a collective capacity to produce, share, care and enjoy, via mutual aid, self-organization, direct action and voluntary association, all practiced amidst a system that privatizes survival. This is what Herbert Marcuse calls “images of a gratification that would destroy the society that suppresses it,” ubiquitous spectres of elicit modes of sociality that make ongoing, other, richer worlds.
Hey everybody it is Brett from Revolutionary Left Radio, Red Menace and our newest show Guerrilla History. As you know, I am a Marxist dedicated to political education and playing my humble role in trying to build a better world for all of us. 2020 was a hell of a year. We’re all limping out of it traumatized, defeated, sad, but also hopeful with new comrades, with new consciousness, with new forms of awakening. And that is the precarity and the double sidedness of life. We take our lump. We suffer through horrific events, historical events that haven’t happened for generations, multiple events layered on top of each other. But we come out the other end stronger with deeper connections and even more commitment to radically altering the way that the global, political, and economic system is shaped. My hopes for 2021 is that the left can continue to build up a revolutionary culture, a revolutionary insistence on dual power, taking care of each other through mutual aid and community self defense, rejecting the worship of the self, the cult of the self that is promoted in this hyper-atomized market, not only economy, but as we all know, market society, a worldview and entire system dictated by the comings and goings, the machinations nations of the market. It is an anti-human system, and only through being humane to one another, and self-actualizing the full potential of our humaneness can we hope to combat it on the spiritual front, as well as on the political, economic and social front. Love and solidarity, keep your head up, keep fighting, we have a world to win.
My name is Julian. I’m recording this message from Lenapehoking/Paumanok, in what is currently known as Jackson Heights, Queens. I’d like to say that I know, & it is clear to me that we are in the middle of winter, & the Festival of Lights, Hanuka, & the Solstice are approaching. The nights are getting darker, colder, & more endless, it seems. Things are harder, in all the ways. In spite of this, we must dare to be free, to be so by ourselves & for ourselves in community. And so it shall be, but in these uncertain times of pandemic, neoliberalism, & ascendant fascism, we need to move forward carefully & through care. We shouldn’t harden our hearts, but melt them, to be more open to the impossibility of the Possible. Isn’t that how freedom is? Unlimitable, enthusiastic, uncontrollable, illicit, joyous, intoxicating, rebellious. We need all the help we can get: from our neighborhoods & friends, across oceans & borders & forests, & the stars, & the space between them; all our lineages & pasts, our ancestors & spirits & mysteries, our guides in the struggle, in art, in word, in music, in the dance of life & its spectacle, the unforgettable sweetness, the unity that is in all of us, material & spiritual & infinite solidarity—these are some of the key ingredients to bring about a new world based on our dreams, needs, desires, & actions. May this coming year, & all the years after, be passionate, full of love, care, comradery, & rebellion. Stay firm & take care—
Julian’s message in Spanish
_Buen día. Me llamo Julián. Grabo este mensaje en Lenapehoking/Paumanok, en lo que ahora se conoce como Jackson Heights, Queens. Quiero decir que yo sé, y me queda muy claro que estamos en pleno invierno, que está llegando la Fiesta de las Luminarias, Janucá, y el Solsticio. Las noches están siendo más y más oscuras, frías, sin fin. Y las cosas están pareciendo más y más duras en todos los aspectos. Pero debemos atrevernos a ser libres, por nostores mismes y para nosotres mismes en comunidad. Y así será, pero en estos tiempos inciertos de pandemia, neoliberalismo, y fascismo ascendente, debemos avanzar con cuidado y mediante el cuidado. No debemos endurecer nuestros corazones, pero derretirlos, a ser más abiertes a la imposibilidad de lo posible. ¿No es así la libertad? Ilimitable, efervescente, descontrolada, ilícita, alegre, intoxicante, rebelde. Necesitamos cualquier ayuda disponible: de la vecindad, de nuestras amistades, atravesando océanos y fronteras y selvas, y los astros, y el espacio entre ellos, todos nuestros linajes y pasados, nuestres antepasades y espíritus y misterios, nuestras guías en la lucha, en en el arte, en la palabra, en la música, en la danza de la vida y del espectáculo, la dulzura inolvidable, la unidad que nos permea todes, la solidaridad material y espiritual e infinita–son algunos de los ingredientes claves para un mundo venidero basado en nuestros sueños, necesidades, deseos, acciones. Que este año que viene, y todos los años siguientes, sea ardiente, lleno de amor, cariño, compañerismo, cuidado, y rebeldía. Kenbe fèm, manténgase firmes, y cuídense— _
Hey! My name is Grey (he/they) from NYC and I’m coming at you by way of two groups, first, Pop Gym, which does pretty regular self-defense workshops around NYC, and seconds the Cypurr Collective, which does cybersecurity workshops around NYC. Check us out both groups on FB/Twitter/Insta! 2020 gave me a lot of time to think about my activism, both what I have put energy into in the past, and what I would like to continue working on in the year to come. I was very much inspired by this idea of Joyful Militancy, or, in addition to doing the activist work which is necessary but maybe burns me out over time, focusing on projects and formations (and people) that actually gave me energy, or motivation, or inspiration, instead of just taking it away. It is within the projects that I work with (Pop Gym and Cypurr,) where I find joy, and I know it to be true because I keep coming back to these concepts of self-defense and community defense even when the world and its prospects seems v bleak to me. They keep me going not just as an “activist”, but as a whole person as well.
My hope for 2020 is that we all find something that gives us a bit of Joyful Militancy, whether it is something as big as a new project, or just finding some folks in our lives who support us in the everyday, maybe physically, maybe emotionally, maybe spiritually. This in itself may not make things perfect for us for all times going forward, but it can do a lot to give us a little bit of hope, which in these and every other uncertain times, can be the most important thing we can share with one another, and have for ourselves when things feel tougher than normal.
As we say in pop gym, non denominations seasons hellos to all, and we hope you and your communities stay as safe as possible in the coming year. Always feel free to reach out to us and see us as a resource to your work, and we’ll see y’all in 2021
Happy New Year from Matthew Whitley and the Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council and Emergency Committee for Rojava in NYC. My resolution this year is a simple one, to remember to celebrate our successes even as we continue to struggle. Over the last year we’ve dealt heavy blows to the organized far-right, de-platforming them in the streets and online. We’ve seen Trump ushered from power and watched the capitalist consensus continue to crumble. The George Floyd rebellion has put racialized policing and carceral capitalism under siege. “Defund the police” and “abolition now” are now household slogans. The coronavirus has been a tragic demonstration of inequality, but it has also bred Mutual Aid networks, rent strikes, eviction defense networks and tenants unions across the United States. The pandemic has interconnected our struggles on a profound level. Self-management, direct democracy, and economies of cooperation and solidarity are entering the practice of daily life like never before. Internationally, movements like Zapatismo in Chiapas and Democratic Confederalism in North and East Syria continue to thrive, despite constant attacks. Every day they persist with our solidarity is a victory. Another blow to the logic that “there is no alternative.” In this new year, I will celebrate a generation that once again believes in liberation and I will honor all of those who have taken enormous risks – who have struggled – to transform our world.
Greetings rebel stepsters. This is Clara from the ex worker podcast. 2020 was the weirdest and most intense year in my lifetime to be an anarchist. We’ve been blamed for riots, violence, disorder, and practically everything else. Entire cities have been labeled “anarchist jurisdictions.” Crimethinc has been called out in congressional testimony, banned by Facebook, and slammed in the New York Times. Why do they perceive us as such a threat? In part, because the things we’ve been saying all along, that American democracy is a sham, the policing can’t be reformed, that mutual aid works where the state fails, that direct action is what really makes change. These basic anarchist principles are becoming obvious to more and more people. Our collective political imagination contracted and expanded in three huge cycles this year. When COVID hit this spring, we feared that fascism was here and protest was dead. Then the explosive wave of anti-racist uprisings over the summer changed everything. Within weeks, rioting and direct action had spread unstoppably abolishing the police became a serious national discussion, and practically anything seemed possible. And then this fall, before we could blink, it was like a massive sphincter of possibility had just clenched shut once again, with the obsession of the election. It’s been totally disorienting. But if there’s one lesson we can take from it, it’s that things are unpredictable, and the future is unwritten. So here’s my New Year’s wish for all of you: Be anarchists. Don’t believe the lie that the only way to avoid fascism is to defend American democracy. Don’t forget that regardless of government policies or vaccines, what saved our lives thus far is the care solidarity and mutual aid we’ve extended to one another. Don’t let the MAGA world define themselves as the only opposition. Don’t forget that Biden called for all anarchists to be prosecuted. Don’t forget all the people his boss, Obama killed with drones or deported through ICE. Whoever’s in power, it’s up to us to resist with all the force we can muster until the day when there are no Democrats or Republicans, no cops or prisons, no evictions are landlords, and no Facebook either. Don’t disavow who you are and what you believe. Let your black flag fly, call bullshit on the ruling order and take care of each other. Huge thanks and shout outs to all of our radical nurse and healthcare worker comrades. And to all of you on the frontlines of mutual aid, eviction defense, prisoner support, antifascism and organizing to abolish the police. We’ll see you in the streets. Just remember to mask up. With love and rage, the exworker
You’ve been listening to Rebel Steps. I’m your host Liz. See you in 2021!
This episode was written, edited, and produced by Amy and myself. Music for this episode was kindly gifted to us Sephy and also includes a song that I created. Special thanks to all our contributors. Check out the show notes at rebelsteps.com for a list of the podcasts who shared messages.
If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider supporting us on Patreon or sharing this episode with your friends or via social media. This podcast is part of the Channel Zero Network, an anarchist podcast network run by radical media makers.