A Manual for Struggles in the End Times

I

The first thing I can
Say about a Manual for
Struggles in the End Times
Is that the last thing
Anyone really needs now is
Another privileged white settler
Explaining what they should
And shouldn’t do in their
Struggles for justice peace well
Being and quite simply—existence.

So let me instead begin
At the end as it were
And say a little about
Why the struggles so many
Are now engaged in are
Struggles in the end times
And I don’t mean this in
An eschatological or millennialist sense
I mean it in an Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change sense—

Or even better—a climate
Justice sense because if the
Planet’s climate continues to erode
As reports currently project there
Will be no place left
For justice to be found
Forged or defended from assault—
Climate change is a social
Justice issue because justice means
A liveable life for all

And an uninhabitable planet means
No liveable life for anyone.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Or maybe behind the times.
Because the reality is of
Course that climate change is
Here and happening now and
We cannot stop many of
Its effects—they are already
Locked in and the planet

Will continue to warm and
Oceans will rise and acidify
And the pollutants we have
Spilt into the air and
Oceans and the land will
Continue to bring all living
Beings increasing levels of suffering
But my point isn’t that
We need to act now
To stop climate change

Although we do need to
Act now to slow mitigate
And alter the current course—
My point is that justice
Comes through the struggle for
Justice and the struggle is
The point now maybe more
Than ever because of this:
The changes to the planet’s
Climate capitalism and colonialism

Have set in motion will
Take many generations to reach
Their full and terrible extent.
In the meantime we need
To learn at last how to
Collectively and justly weather
The coming storm together.
So what we struggle for now
Is in part a struggle

For the means by which
We will navigate the losses
And reduced conditions created
By the capitalist and colonial era.
The other alternative—more of
The same—more competition more
Inequality more exclusion more
Resource extraction more dispossession
More of the species and human
Populations of this planet sacrificed

Until at long last the chickens
Come home to roost and even
The affluent west can no longer
Avoid the consequences of a
Depleted and compromised planetary system
Looks like the only other
Alternative on the table now.
So the struggles now are
Struggles in the end times
In this no alternative sense.

Our lives will increasingly come
To be defined by struggles
Struggles for basic resources
Struggles for clean water for
Food security refuge and autonomy
And dignity—so what world
Within crisis and struggle will
We create now? How will we
Dwell within crises and struggle
Fashioning new forms of justice there?

 

II

Hmm … just wait a second
Just wait aren’t many people
Already struggling in just
This end-times sense I
Have been describing here?
Haven’t the genocidal waves of
Colonization and the centuries of
Slavery capitalism set in motion
(And which in turn really
Helped set capitalism in motion)

Left shipwrecked and ravaged
Communities all over this planet
With social and cultural end
Times to endure and which
They have endured for centuries
Now struggling continually against
The end of almost everything
They had previously known? OK
I think the time to face
Our end times and learn

How to continue to struggle
In and through them is
Here and I think the
Time to learn at last
How to properly live in
This world is here despite
How much damage we have
Already done—or maybe exactly
Because of how much damage we
Have already done—we need

To grieve—but also to
Continue and we need to
Seek a sort of restorative
Justice in our relationship with
The biosphere which I think
Amounts to saying we need
To “become Indigenous” and that
The struggle in the end
Times will take the form of
A kind of indigeneity where

In this case to be
Indigenous might mean just this:
Continuing inhabitance based in
Cultural practices geared towards
A sustainable and interdependent
Relationship to the natural environment.
But what about this “we”
I seem to be deploying here—
Who is we and who
Gets to say and claim it?

I think of what my
Friend the poet Cecily Nicholson
Has written—we who do
This all the time to
We eroded are legible
Which maybe means there is
Always a “we” performing erasure
And a “we” who resists
And struggles to remain “legible”
Despite all they have sustained

And that sometimes those two
“We”s might find their way
To new forms of solidarity
And as we all of us
Learn to struggle in the
End times we might need
To find a way to tell
Two stories at once: the
Story of our differences and
The story of our similarities

The story of the damages
We have differently endured and
The story of the damages
We are all coming to have
To learn to endure or
What the poet Fred Moten
Calls the coalition of the
Fucked up—he writes from
The black undercommons:
The coalition emerges out of

Your recognition that it’s fucked up
For you, in the same way
That we’ve already recognized that
It’s fucked up for us. I don’t need
Your help. I just need you
To recognize that this shit
Is killing you, too—by which
I take him to mean
That the struggle in the
End times comes when you

Realize it’s fucked up for
You and not just those
Unfortunate folks on the other
Side of history and it
May be that climate change
Is the moment when the
World capitalism and colonialism
Built finally becomes fucked up
For white people too now
How fucked up is that?

 

III

The complications of pronouns aside
I think that the struggles
In the end times will
Have to come out of
Every corner of the land
And every pore of every
Body—the struggle will be
At a blockade on unceded
Territory and the struggle will
Be in a university classroom

The struggle will cross your
Border and the struggle will
Find new homes in new
Lands the struggle will happen
In the downtown east side
And the struggle will happen
In Surrey the struggle will
Wear a niqab and the
Struggle will be called a
Barbaric cultural practice though

It will in fact be a
Struggle against barbaric cultural
Practices such as the maintenance
Of inequality exploitation the
Expansion of fossil fuel extraction
Policed borders criminalized dissent
And one of the oldest forms
Of barbarism of all: the
Violent destruction dispossession and
Displacement of peoples this planet over.

The struggle will not be
Quiet or always polite and
The struggle will come from
The grass roots but also
Sometimes the struggle will involve
NGOs political parties and other
Institutions that despite having a
Structural relation to the state
Can also harbour the struggle
Because in the end times

Where we all now must
Carve out a home the
Struggle cannot be picky the
Struggle cannot be about purity
The struggle must lift its
Dirty scorched and moulting wings
Above the fires scattered across
The territories of our better selves
And soar on the air we
Make and breathe together in struggle.

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