I write this as two processes unfold, one personal, the other political. First, I am withdrawing all identification with the Society of Friends (Quakers), a group I have been involved with over much of my life. The sanctimony of the do-gooders who refuse to recognize that their ability to ‘be nice’ is grounded in both threat and actuality of violence at the borders of society is too much for me to digest. Second is the growing Tea Party movement, the people who believe they don’t need the web of society at all, who think they make it on their own and would be fine without governments, without others looking out for them. Neither group is willing to recognize that the mercy of the web is the only thing allowing their beliefs.
...Even when I traveled rough, the web was there for me to return to—a luxury not offered to many. I am thankful for that, and am thankful for the violence (personified by the army and the police) that makes it possible—and for the community within (personified by the government) that makes it actual. The Quakers long ago marginalized themselves by refusing to accept what violence does for them. The Tea Partiers are in the process of doing the same, by refusing to accept how strongly community underpins their lives [Aaron Barlow, "Inside the Net," One Flew East, 2010.04.14].
I want very much to believe that I am my own man, the author of my own success. But so much of who I am and what I can do—who you are and what you can do—depends deeply on who we are and what we do.