Cancellation, Abolition and Healing

From The Final Straw

This week on The Final Straw, we feature a conversation between our occasional host, Scott, and adrienne maree brown. For the hour, Scott and adrienne speak about “We Will Not Cancel Us and Other Dreams of Transformative Justice”, her latest booklet available through AK Press, as well as sci-fi, abolition, harm, accountability and healing.

adrienne maree brown is the writer-in-residence at the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute, and author of Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds and the co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements and How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office. She is the cohost of the How to Survive the End of the World and Octavia’s Parables podcasts. adrienne is rooted in Detroit. More of their work can be found at

If you like Scott’s interview style, check out their interviews with Kristian Williams on Oscar Wilde and Eli Meyerhoff on higher education and recuperation. Also, to hear an interview with Walidah Imarisha, who co-authored “Octavia’s Brood” with adrienne.

Transcription and Support

So much heartfelt thanks to the folks continuing to send us donations or pick up our merch. We’re almost at our goal of sustainability, but still not quite there, but the one-time donations have definitely cushioned that need. If you’ve got extra dough, check out our Donate/Merch page.

As an update on the transcription side of things, we’re still rolling forward, comrades have gotten each episode so far this year out and we’ve imported the text into our blog posts and imported links into our podcast after the fact about a week after the audio release! Also kind soul has done the immense work of making zines and downloadable pdf’s of almost all of our already transcribed interviews up until last week! Those posts are updated and linked up to the text and you can find more by checking out the zine category on our site.

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Featured track:

Truth Seekin’ by Clutchy Hopkins from The Story Teller

There are 24 Comments

“maybe not anarchist”

I agree, but please show me an example in recent years in the United States where anarchists have held each other “accountable” and not turned it into a witch-hunt followed by a purge.

why would you ever hear about it if it went well and people were mostly satisfied with results?

Because that's usually how people spread successes? Like, "Hey, here's what worked for persons (A) and (B), let's learn from them!"

We do that with tactics, don't we? We don't give away names, obviously.

yeah fair but i've usually seen what could be called "good accountability" be too contextual to turn in to a formula

It doesn't hurt to share. And if we do have a Massive Problem(!) with it's formulaic mass spread if implemented through policy reforms (ie, this becoming the new prisons) then the more stories we can share of "successes" the less likely it is to remain formulaic. And the more we DIY, the less we actually rely on the State in those rare cases when shit gets too real and Bob Black has to call the cops.

When anarchist spaces get so pure and full of themselves, in come the purges. We're 20 somethings, we don't have skills or stories of this exact thing happening before, and the older anarchists either won't talk to us, or they aren't there. If you have a problem with Transformative Justice (besides, eww, the word "justice") then what are ways that anarchists in NA in the past 30 years have successfully held people "accountable" (eww, that word) and let them stay in "the fold"?

yeah, ideally anarchists should never get together to form enclaves of goodness and just focus on being destructive to the status quo while remaining as far a part so as to not be infiltrated nor have to tolerate each other and cramp each other's style. leave accountability to the government, they'll be busy trying to catch the baker's dozen of saboteurs. let grass-root reformists do their thing, don't get so involved. it's as nonsensical as an anarchist bickering about the differences in policies between candidates in the democrat party's primaries. let liberals engage in implementing paper-back cultural innovations.

This is an answer, just not one I'm interested in, Rambo. Thanks though, I'm glad you're fighting the good fight (even if you probably don't see it that way).

Bob Black didn't "rely on the State" when he called the cops. He was using an equal and opposite binary force to maintain equilibrium with one of its own crazed drugged capitalist citizens.

Yes. That is what happened. Also what happened was, I made a joke. I apologize.

Or do you think anarchists never get into a place where they feel like the courts are their only option? Because they do.

There's also the choice of dealing with it yourself very harshly, like killing someone in self-defence and therefore not going to court, being free to do that, or letting the State deal with it humanely, arresting the nutter, giving him bail, getting rehab and probably out in the streets the next 48 hrs.
Maybe Bob was being kind letting the guy off with cop intervention? Bob had a lot of anarch admirers who would have pulped Hogshire any day.
Its called the art of war, use the least destructive way to win ground and avoid injury to either side, and what better way to do it than to use a neutral agent to do the dirty work.

What war? What are you talking about "killing someone"?

That's not really at all what I'm talking about. Jesus, huff, okay.

Forget about Bob, not important.

I'm talking about disputes with people you are/were friends with and are going through a hard time. You don't kill your friends. I mean you could if you wanted, but then someone strikes you down or you have to deal with their loved ones. Also that makes you hot headed AF. Cool down there, take a step back. What do you really need from the person?

Are you at war with everyone? Like everyone, everyone? Fuck that's exhausting. How do you even have friends anymore. How is anyone that pure in your narrowed, suspicious eyes?

Okay, so cops aren't great if they just let people back out again? Or did I miss something, because I seriously hope so. WTF?

I seriously don't understand the art of war reference. What is it in relation to? Police? An elder coming in to help in disputes? Who is the "neutral agent" in your scenario?

Also I should be clear here because I got a little carried away with language. I'm not in my 20s, I just meant "we" are mostly* in our 20s. I shouldn't have used words like "we" and "us", I'm just now realizing that. Sorry.

I think its funny that you comment about being in your 20s and older anarchists not sharing thoughts on a thing in response to two anarchists past their 20s talking about the thing and recording it for other people. One of them even wrote a book about it.

You can email them too if you want. I don't know if you kids have emails.

Well, the tone of the comment was supposed to read differently. It was written as a response to someone telling me something like, why would successful examples be shared if they worked. Yes, of course there are people talking about it and writing books and doing skillshares. I listened to it, too.

I suppose my whole comment was framed in the original "maybe not anarchist" thing. So it's like, if this isn't anarchist, then what are anarchist conflict resolution practices that aren't banishment?

maybe not anarchist, but does everything anarchists do together have to be anarchisty?

no, but that stuff is not considered anarchist news, which i guess is source of hesitation to post and hence the tag.

I am so glad you brought this one thing up. Because it's the only one. I would love to be wrong. Is it hidden in the classics and I never really saw it? Is it in the bread book? I knew I should've read that.

So a zine? Where does this take place? Who's used this zine in the middle of a community split? Did it actually help? Would it be helpful to get better at it, or just the one zine? The one zine is probably not enough (imo).

The first sentence says DIY transformative justice. It's a little funny that I'm like "If Transformative Justice isn't anarchy, then what is it?" and this is what you send.

So my takeaway (and please call me on it, I'm waiting for a decent answer) is that anarchists propose transformative justice for a model, we just don't like to use the words? And we don't want to learn how to do it better? We're fine with a couple zines (that basically describe TJ anyway) and not bringing this into anarchist praxis? because it's "maybe not anarchist"

Oh, great. Then most of these comments could probably be deleted. Something still feel off though, because the way I've felt about it is that many anarchists see it as lefty shit that they wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. And when they do try it, neither party is willing to give it a go, or people duck out on the "abuser" because, group dynamics/popularity or more exciting shit happening on the streets.

Because if this is a praxis, then why all the Excommunication? Is it because we're not . . . actually taking it seriously because it sounds, what, goofy? Maoist?

Like I get that this sounds icky to some people, but It's certainly important to not talk shit about people who are in our "communities" doing work like this (if there even are these people in your circles). And while I know that labeling something as "maybe not anarchist" is fair (antifa= "maybe not anarchist"), but I'm not responding to that, as much as I'm thinking about conversations with people in my own life around their hesitancy to explore TJ, because of kneejerk reactions about scale (it can only work on small scale) and the words "justice" and "abolition" (I have a similar critique of the words, too, I bet).

Having seen the shitty purgings of cool(ish) people, I'm a little sore when people are dismissing perfectly fine strategies that might save a lot of people heartache down the line. It's certainly not as cool as developing lightning fast theories to policing (I'm in the middle of that book) but it's worthwhile to share and to develop TJ theory/practice in our circles.

I prefer the framework of Blasé Justice. Whenever there's fault or a grievance in our community, there's nothing that little BJ won't fix. You can even say that things have a way of fixing themselves.

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