I live in the Wingnut Anarchist Collective. It is really awesome. But collective living is not without its struggles. Personally, I have had a hard time with some aspects of it, simply because I am not used to having people who support me around. We have been working on our group dynamics and communication for a long time. I think it is a constantly developing aspect of living communally. I really appreciate the ways that I have been pushed to grow and change by my collectivemates.
I have a tendency to come off as really bossy, and sometimes can be too controlling. A lot of this has to do with the tone of voice I use- I am not intending to be controllling, but my tone of voice imparts to others that I am making a judgement or final call on some decision or another. It is something I am trying to work on, and always trying not to be defensive about. There was another aspect about being ‘controlling’ that I didn’t grasp until this past weekend.
I was recently humbled by my friend Kenny, with the Richmond IWW. We were at a rally against Police Brutality in Richmond, and were talking about making banners. The Wingnut strategy has been to make basic banners ahead of time so when there are last minute events we have a relevant visual already. We were trying to remember what the latest banner we had made was and Daveigh said it was the Wingnut banner. And me being an asshole, I said that WE didn’t make it, I had made the whole thing by myself. Kenny was awesome and called me out, making fun of me trying to be weird and get credit for making that particular banner.
Which made me think about why the hell I felt compelled to get credit for somethimg that silly. I don’t have much more of an answer for that than the socialized urge for developing the individual ego. We are taught to be so individualized (in all the worst ways) that we place too much importance on our personal egos. And what I also realized is that it is also total bullshit to claim any banner or project that comes during my time with the Wingnut Anarchist Collective as MY work. Not in a shitty way at least. I might have literally done all of the work on a specific banner, but guess who was making me dinner while I worked on it, and who was making a flier, and who was working to raise money to contribute to our construction projects- other Wingnuts. There is no way that any of us would be able to get as much done as we do get done by ourselves. It is through communal living that we are able to acheive more.
What is funny is that my main concern in writing this piece on living in a collective is that it will make people think we are a cult. Because apparently people in Richmond already feel like the Wingnut is a cult. Which is really unfortunate, and makes us feel pretty shitty. I understand how living communally is something that is very unfamiliar. I guess it seems weird to live with and work politically with and love the same group of people (not exclusively of course). But we do spend a lot of time together, doing everything from community events to sharing meals to scrubbing floors. However, we have no leaders, we have no dogma, and we have no ulterior motives. We are just people trying to work out living together and working towards specific goals of an anarchist vein. I am pretty sure that there is no brainwashing going on. We aren’t perfect and we do mess up. I don’t remember any of us ever thinking otherwise. What I love is that we ARE willing to work on our imperfections, out of love. Not a cult, geez.
Anyways, that is what I have been thinking about lately. I hope itmakes sense to you- if not feel free to shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org