If you want anarchy, let it snow. Wrap a bandana around your face and wear two layers of socks. Cut the finger tips off your gloves. It’s not war, but it’s similar. It’s snow.
Where I live in Virginia, people aren’t prepared for the snow. We don’t have any shovels or trucks. Everyone just takes to the street. The whole neighborhood tramping as one, cigarette smoke lingering like warm breath on glass, the carless city muffled further by the snow.
We walked in the street because where else would we go?
Henry Ford invented the idea that the road belongs to cars, but the human heart knows the road predates the combustible engine. The road belongs to people, however they choose to use it.
And we chose to walk on it. Maybe a dozen of us or so. The few people brave and lonely enough to face the elements for a beer and some company. It was late and dark out there, but no one was afraid of each other. Who would rob someone when they’re walking on ice? It doesn’t seem right. We said hi to each other instead, grinning childishly at our shared disobedience.
Here is no law when the apocalypse comes, and the apocalypse comes at us every day, in every anomaly that jolts us enough to think consciously about our actions. Slovenian Marxist, Slavoj Zizek, says the reason we Americans are obsess over zombies and contagion because, deep down, we yearn for the end of our world.
It’s not morbid, it’s just that’s the only way we can fathom the abolition of capitalist indifference. When the law ceases to exist, so do our anxieties and the walls we build up between family and stranger.
When I was in high school, every time it’d snow I’d get in the car with my friends and we’d go out looking for someone to help. We’d duct tape a black cross on windows, grab a fifth and some shovels, and look for someone who needed a hand.
We’d dig them out of a snow bank or patch of ice, five boys in black pea coats, and no one really asked us why. A few would ask, are you all just out here looking for people to help? We’d say yes and left it at that.
It’s not weird, it’s snow. And I loved it. In an age where the state didn’t allow me much, I took any respite I could get. No one is going to bust a bunch of high schoolers using a tow chain without a license, and no cop was going to arrest a gang of people jaywalking a mile to the bar.
“We anarchists do not want to emancipate the people; we want the people to emancipate themselves.” That’s what Errico Malatesta, the Italian anarchist, noted in 1897. And it’s still true today. Revolution isn’t about the oppressor, it’s about the oppressed.
Even though I don’t have a car, I still look forward to snow. I look forward to walking in the street. I look forward to the flooding we get. I look forward to the gun shots that take my neighbors onto the street, ready to fight or rescue someone.
These beautiful yet fleeting moments where the world shuts down should be welcomed by every man who wants their faith back in the world. It’s not enough for a man to be strong. He needs a chance to exhibit that strength.And he’s not going to find it in his job or his habits.
Sure, he could go to war, but who wants to do that? Wage war against indifference. Fill a flask with brandy and share it with a stranger. Lend someone your gloves. Don’t get mad when your car won’t start, take to the streets and let it snow instead.
Photo: Flickr/Matt Yeager