TODAY, the railroad blockade preventing the shipment of fracking materials in downtown Olympia, WA is entering its 11th day. The front wall of the barricade is reinforced, and adorned by more and more splashes of decoration. Gradually, more and more of the surrounding area is brought into use and enjoyment by the aspiring commune. In our spacious “backyard,” a femmes auxiliary tent and a quiet zone have been set up. More beds and medical materials arrive. The back staircase now has a sturdy looking meet-and-greet platform to bolster the spirits and effectiveness of our sentinels. Surrounding buildings look like a teenage graffiti artist’s dream, and a ton of hay bales from who-knows-where have appeared out front, strung with rope lights to create a charming enclosure for our second kitchen, for use as a sports rink and show space, and for our pups and little ones to play within.
commune against civilization
IT SEEMS a minor furor has followed the appearance of the first issue of Commune Against Civ. The liberals, activists, and union enthusiasts who would prefer a blockade with unified “messaging” broadcast to “the public” seem eager to speak for the entire affair, with a definite tendency wanting to present a discrete list of demands to be met by the City of Olympia as a condition for the cessation of hostilities and the resumption of rail traffic. Among the sought after reforms that we hear about time and again are “democratic control” of the Port of Olympia and a “just transition” for port and rail workers to “good, green jobs” and even for the economy of Thurston County as a whole to transition (a la Bookchin) to a “cooperative, fair and sustainable economy.” Furthermore, we are seeing the ceremonious re-appearance of non-violent direct action and civil disobedience as guiding principles for a centralized movement that wishes to put its best face forward for consumption by a fickle population, or perhaps a potential constituency.
It’s been one year since the Olympia railroad blockade of 2016 found itself growing for 7 rainy days and nights, prompted by solidarity actions with Standing Rock and eventually culminating in a fierce street fight with the police, while the baleful sound of the train whistle announced the resumption of business as usual. One year after this rupture, one revolution around the sun later, an assortment of the brave and the heartbroken, the tender and the enraged, are at it again. The hot, communal mess splayed across the train tracks has been resurrected, appearing again like a recurrent dream. Immediately, it feels like it never left us. Immediately we know that it never did.