Disclaimer: I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing, but I’m willing to be vulnerable & share what I’m learning, what I’m struggling with, and how I move towards abolishing all systems of oppression & domination. Today, I'm examining anti-capitalist business models.
Well...we did it. We finished our 2021 taxes, and in the end we are the poorest we have ever been. Like ever. This is poorer than when I was unemployed during the 2008 recession & had to work unpaid for six months on a contract with the City because they decided to delay our funding. It's poorer than when I was working as a barista or working in youth development. And I am the most content I have ever been.
This is not a post about the glorification of poverty. Poverty and economic precarity do not enrich someone's life, nor do they make someone tough & resilient. Rather, poverty & economic precarity are things one must learn how to navigate so as to not end up even poorer & more economically precarious, which can happen with a single misstep. And often, our own emotions about our own poverty keep us from addressing things that need addressing, often around money.
For me, tax season is one of the most stress-inducing times of years outside of the holidays. It is a reminder that the money I have worked for goes to fuel the things that keep me & my comrades oppressed. I am paying for my own oppression, and it makes me want to vomit. And I can never seem to get the nagging self critic out of my head that tells me I am unsuccessful because of how little I make, how little I have always made, which tells you something about how poor I am currently.
This year was different. I walked into tax season unafraid of looking at my money because I have spent the last year critically examining my core values. I have carefully picked them apart & examined how they how up. This introspective process has helped me internalize the truth that value and values have little to do with one another.
Additionally, I have intentionally built up a community of comrades around me, including my husband, that are sharing business tips, accountant referrals, and brainstorming solutions to vexing ethical conundrums. Having the support of comrades makes facing that which seems so daunting & scary so much less so. In fact, comrades have brought joy to dealing with my money & my precarity.
My shift in perspective made me realize that my taxes are not an expression of my values nor do they signify my value. They are an administrative task that at this moment I need to do to still survive in this spot that I'm in. Our taxes are what qualify us for health coverage in San Francisco, and they let us know which affordable housing we can apply to. Yes, its not a guarantee that we'll get housing or that we'll have healthcare outside San Francisco, but when I did have more John & I couldn't afford his medications. Now, we can. Taxes are functional.
Trying to navigate this world with a value of anti-capitalism creates lots of ethical conundrums. Taxes are one of those conundrums. It pains me to know that my labor is fueling United States aggression & violence across the globe & especially along our southern border. My money is paying for drones to bomb civilians. My labor fuels climate crisis.
I also recognize that getting lost in my rage & grief & becoming inert, unable to take care of the functional pieces of living in this life, is also not helpful & fuels capitalism. I have privileges & capacities at this moment thanks to deep & dear comrades, so I need to use those privileges & capacities to survive & make life a bit easier for those around me. I can make that change. I can be that change.
That change for me is letting go of the pain of poverty & economic precarity so that I can finally look at money & value for the things they are: an ability to not just survive but also to thrive for myself & my comrades.
I cannot be an anti-capitalist if I cannot face my own economics & class. In fact, the first step in becoming an anti-capitalist is being clear about your value outside of capitalism.
And today, I have not question of my value.