Surely, when this despotic and desolate night is at last bled dry, a red dawn will greet us to allay our battle aches and breathe the air back into our children’s lungs so that they may laugh again.
But still that night is long, itself windswept of human solidarity — how will we know our comrades as we stagger through the abyss?
Under the shudders of freedom torn apart by its supercilious apathy for those who needed it but were spurned and now have few means to wrest it from the gears of its own machine, we must divest from the notion of diversity as merely a political statement. It is a tool for liberation. Our movement is strongest when we are inclusive, and we are safest when we aren’t all out there doing the same damn secret handshake.
All codes seem abstruse and inelegant at first glance — you couldn’t have known from the start that searching for a square dancing partner in San Francisco would evolve into a complex nonverbal sexual lexicon. Using french fries for clandestine epicurean communique with other closet Marxists tastes good, supports your local burger chains, and gives you a revolutionary task that is slightly more tangible than “talk incessantly about all the Nazis you’re going to kill when you’ve never actually held a gun.”
The worker must have bread, but she must also have french fries, too.
Ascetism has a place in resistance — to resist the weapons of artificial scarcity, we must limit our capacity to compete within our communities for commodities. That said: you understand that destroying all the finery we confiscate from our oppressors could serve only to further alienate workers from the benefits of their labor. Nothing’s too good for the working class!
Life after the revolution probably won’t involve workers tending to their work in redistributed couture, sipping champagne from communal taps, with everyone retiring for a bit in the afternoon to jerk off and take a nap nestled in the silk sheets of their state-issued canopy bed — but there’s no reason they couldn’t or shouldn’t. You don’t mind paying extra for guacamole because you know it’s not the fault of the avocado, or the worker, and soon, you won’t have to pay extra for anything again.
At a point, education is anathema to class aspiration. The worker always knows when their denigration is the spectacle — a desire to rise above your station leaves you open to be made an asshole in ways you don’t even possess the language to quantify. You know how to pronounce “aioli” and you know it sounds classier than getting mayo on your burger, but if you called that flavored mayonnaise “aioli” to a purist, or someone from whose culture aioli actually comes from, the glint of glib pity in their eyes would haunt the awkward silence of every industry happy hour.
Likewise: understandable that you may want to embrace the teachings and policies of famous Marxists as a way to shore up your bonafides within your local socialist canvassing cadre — but this doesn’t carry socialist thought into the modern age. It just serves to redefine human rights as flexible depending whether the person purging you has the right analysis of economics. Maybe leftists aren’t inherently weak-willed and self-involved in sectarian struggle of purity, but the men we revere were.
Purge your idols. Just call it “chipotle apricot mayo”.
Since I published my last article on this very specific praxis, I have been asked by many “What does it mean if I don’t dip my french fries in anything?”
To this I reply “Well, are you a Marxist?”
And the answer is typically no — which I assume to be a reflection of American aversions to the baggage that comes with outright identify as a non-capitalist. Not that everyone I know is secretly a communist, but that even those whose ideals line up perfectly with socialism still want, for many practical reasons, for those desires to fit within a neoliberal orthodoxy. It sucks. I imagine that kind of denial is distressing in its own way.
What is not distressing, however, is making use of the drippings from a scrumptious roast or turkey or mushroom to dip your french fries in. If guacamole is re-purposing the factory to make fancy coats for all the workers, gravy is dismantling the factory so that its parts are housed in various people’s houses, so that people can make the coats themselves and distribute them among the community. It’s a more DIY automated luxury communism.
There is a line in Gladiator, where Senator Gracchus says “I don’t pretend to be a man of the people. But I do try to be a man for the people.”
I think about this in the context of my activism a lot — not because I see myself as some temporarily embarrassed Patrician looking down at the plebes in my attempts to liberate them, but because I try to be mindful of pluralities. The oppressed are not a monolith, and our insistence as socialists to quantify oppression as a neat hierarchy with clearly defined parameters has deprived us of immeasurable political strength.
I grew up in a part of America where dipping slices of pizza into ranch was normal, but I didn’t know about dipping pickles into ranch until I was an adult. And someone who likes it with chicken tenders may not be accustomed to the practice of putting it on pretzels, etc.
Ranch dressing is really just buttermilk and seasoning; it’s often made with yogurt our sour cream, and it’s hard to imagine the people who dry heave at ranch dressing performing similar histrionics to someone eating a little cup of yogurt. Or even bleu cheese dressing.
The disgust towards ranch can be chalked up, I think, to its perceived ubiquity as a bland slop for the unwashed masses, an illusion brought on by a multitude of cultural norms colliding and coalescing.
Not everyone puts ranch on everything, but a lot of people put ranch on something. To that end, we may not be “of the people” but we can be, in our acceptance of other people’s habits and not feigning a heart attack at the sight of a dietary custom beyond our norm, be “for the people”.
Is that a metaphor for diversity of tactics? It could be. It also couldn’t be.
5. Au Jus
This rejects all french fry orthodoxy — it’s not creamy, sweet, or even a sauce. And it doesn’t bring out the texture or flavor of your fry, it makes it soggy! It defies even the central conceit of the french fry.
Our struggle is comprised of such wanton contradiction. Antifa represents a solidarity between Marxists and anarchists, forces at times in direct opposition to each other, again united in the defeat of fascism. Over the course of this resistance, people on all sides will try to undermine that unity in various ways, with hot takes and misinformation.
But we must hold tight. We have to hold space for one another and support each other in whatever ways we can, not despite our disparate ideologies but in spite of them.
When the people are faced with starvation, soggy beef-saturated fries must have their place at the table.
Author: Jetta Rae
Founder of Fry Havoc. Can be found on twitter at @jetta_rae