Thrift stores — and nights in my Corolla — led me to the power of books

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Photo: bantersnaps/Unsplash

When I was 19, I threw a mug of hot coffee at a framed wall tapestry my dad purchased when he was in Italy. The cost in damages was a few thousand for the tapestry, a couple of bucks for the mug and brew, and my ability to continue living there.

The mug exploded, the glass of the frame shattered, and the near-boiling roast spewed out over the elegant threads depicting some fanciful 18th-century scene no one in the heavy air of that living room would ever care about. My dad, ever theatrical, called the cops. They came and cuffed me, and we (the cops and I, my dad had found elsewhere to go) had a pleasant chat about the immediate future. …


The best way to ‘honor’ veterans is to critique U.S. imperialism

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Photo by Diego González on Unsplash

On this Veterans Day, you’ll see a lot of people posting pictures of themselves or their family members in uniform. You’ll see American flags and shows of patriotism, festive shopping deals and today-only discounts at a bunch of restaurant chains. You won’t see a lot of nuanced conversations about veterans themselves, a group of more than 17 million human beings. No deep dives into the complexity and moral failings obscured from mainstream conversation by vague cultural directives like, “Support the Troops!”

Examine that phrase. How might one do that? Who exactly are these people — what do they want, what ills do they suffer, what ills do others suffer because of them? …


Updated October 2020

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Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

Welcome to The Anticapital. We are a brand new publication with the goal of amplifying the voices of the working class. Our aim is to create a space to tell our stories — ones that capture the beauty of our diversity, our struggles, and our solidarity.

We welcome the writing of those typically behind classist barriers to publication. It’s not accolades or degrees or follower counts we care about, only the strength of your writing, the insights of your work, the meaning you convey.

We want visiting our publication to feel like self-care for the alienated working class individual. Your work is more likely to be published here if it is unique, makes a strong point, and is bursting at the seams with solidarity. …


How to love the versions of ourselves we don’t show to others

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Left: The source image for my author bios, taken ages ago. Right: Actual me. Photos provided by author.

As a guy, I don’t talk about beauty and self-love enough. Merely doing so is already a radical act against toxic masculinity. The more that I dig into these ideas, the more I discover my behaviors show troubling signs of colonization.

Take a look at the images above. The pic on the left is the one I use for my author bio on most websites where I’m presenting my professional self, including here on Medium. In a futuristic sense, it’s the way some people imagine me, given that’s all they see. Even on Facebook I take a new profile pic every bajillion years and my last two don’t even show my face — masks are great for mitigating pandemics and helping people with low self-esteem. …


Social focus on individuals to just ‘cope better’ takes attention away from necessary collective action

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Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius famously wrote in his Meditations that “you have power over your mind — not outside events.” Viktor Frankl’s Stoic focus on the ability to always “choose one’s attitude” helped him survive the Holocaust. It’s no wonder Stoicism has seen a resurgence in recent years; there’s no shortage of stressful things that seem outside our control.

Civil unrest continues as racial injustice protestors clash with police and the federal government. Income inequality in the U.S. continues to worsen. A global pandemic forced mortality to the forefront of our minds. Climate change is no longer a distant and looming threat, as wildfires turned millions of acres into ash across the western United States. …


There’s plenty of precedent for asymmetrical journeys

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Countless science fiction and fantasy writers dream of winning the Nebula or the Hugo Award. Ted Chiang has won each four times. He’s also won four Locus Awards and took home the BSFA’s Best Short Fiction trophy for his story, “Exhalation.” He penned the piece later adapted as Denis Villeneuve’s brilliant 2016 film Arrival.

The man knows how to write compelling fiction.

But what is most striking about Chiang’s monumental success and undeniable skill with storytelling isn’t just his sales stats and accolades, impressive as they are. It’s that his formal education in fiction writing is limited to a six-week writers’ workshop he attended back in 1989. It’s that he holds a degree in computer science and spent the bulk of his adult life doing technical writing for software programs. It’s that his response to the new pressure after winning his first slew of major awards — including the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer — was to spend years away from the craft entirely, burying himself in his day job. …


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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

A few tips for the fellas

If there’s a silver lining to this wild year, it’s that we’ve been afforded an incredible opportunity to zoom out and (re)examine life: our government, our jobs and healthcare, our hobbies and habits, our long-term goals. Our romantic relationships.

Maybe you’re already in one. Maybe you’re on the lookout. It’s certainly not an easy time to be single and searching. Perhaps the virus has you working from home or experiencing the Zoom-version of college. Bars are no longer the hot-spots they used to be (and they’re now hot-spots in a very different, less appealing context). Meeting someone organically and sparking a connection the old-fashioned way might not be an option for the foreseeable future. And so you find yourself reinstalling a dating app or two. Or three. Okay, four. …


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art courtesy Natalie Kirk via Pixabay

How the Massachusetts Senator Went From Progressive Firebrand to Establishment Sellout in a Single Primary Season

Flashback: it’s the week before Super Tuesday. Fourteen states and the Democrats Abroad prepare to determine more than a third of the delegate allocation for the Democratic presidential nominee. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign is on the heels of disappointing 3rd and 4th place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively. She then came in 4th place in Nevada, where Bernie Sanders quadrupled her vote total. Warren has, to this point, trailed South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in every single contest — and with Super Tuesday around the corner, Pete has already dropped out. With no mathematical path to the nomination, the right thing to do to empower a progressive movement based on the ideology she claimed to exemplify was obvious: drop out and endorse the senator from Vermont. …


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Photo by Korney Violin on Unsplash

Navigating 2020

How anti-capitalist navel-gazing undermines progress

Far too much is made of the anti-capitalist left and how we posture or strategize regarding our pressure on establishment forces.

And not nearly enough discourse is aimed at Dem casuals despite their hand in bringing us to this point — their resistance to analyzing class conflict, their susceptibility to weaponized identity politics, their utter lack of imagination regarding what function government has in the promotion of its people’s well-being.

And less still is aimed at so-called conservatives whose political and historical ignorance is so far divorced from reality that they truly are the perfection of working class exploitation: they suffer many of the same ills as us, yet have been convinced to the point of violent rage that we, in our attempts to liberate the working class, are their enemies. …


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Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Navigating 2020

America at the 2020 midpoint: a nation ready to detonate

As we wake up to a lesser world — one missing the voice, laughter, and humanity of Michael Jamal Brooks — an opportunity emerges to step back and take in the full weight of this incendiary moment in history.

The world has scarcely had a chance to catch its breath this year — a literal dilemma for far too many. Gasps rang in the New Year as fears over World War 3 took hold when a U.S. drone strike killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. Wildfires ravaged Australia in a blanket of smoke and ash. The novel coronavirus rapidly spread throughout the world, drastically altering life for billions. In the United States, COVID-19 and capitalism have proven a brutal one-two punch for the working class. All this while crowds of non-violent protestors for racial justice choke on volleys of tear gas fired by enforcers of the police state. The crowds are there, in part, as a response to the murder of George Floyd, an event that involved a police officer driving his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes. Signage at these Black Lives Matter protests commonly feature the final words of Mr. …

About

Michael Guevarra

semi-autonomous word machine and editor of The Anticapital. Bylines @ LEVEL | Curious | P.S. I Love You | The Writing Cooperative

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