A lot of us have been turned onto leftism alone, or by another single isolated person, by the Internet, or who knows what else, but we remain not plugged into any group. If it has simply not occurred to you to find some group, then get on it. For the rest of us who would but face obstacles, the following:
As radicals we cannot be stupid and insist on some principle that “they need us in the suburbs/country” or some shit like that. They don’t. That’s where you’ll be ignored and wonder where you can even have a meeting space. Where you are needed is where there is enough population density for a street protest to actually even physically happen, and be seen by people.
I think the population density issue can’t be overstated. The suburbs were designed in the 1950s to make people feel isolated (read Suburban Warriors by Lisa McGirr or Clifford Clark’s part of this book). Unlike Europe, where towns and architecture developed organically around community, American suburbs are designed for individual consumption. Even if the suburbs had equal population overall, there is less connectivity between people in the suburbs than in the city. People on average know fewer people, people run into fewer people, there are fewer places to meet, there are fewer people who go out of their houses after work.
The higher concentration of people creates a greater resonance of activity. The initial organizers who can get a larger movement going are able to find each other in the city, whereas in the suburbs the larger movement might never happen because the first handful could never coalesce. The higher density can also lead to greater openness and quirkiness. People feel like they can do odd things and be whoever they want in a city in ways they wouldn’t feel comfortable elsewhere.
The revolutionary process of building up a resistance from band of malcontents to victorious majority is not an abstract, invisible thing. You have to be a real, concrete individual actually helping it along in person.
If you are in a small school away from the urban centers, consider transferring.
Here is a list of the top population centers of the USA.
PREPARE TO MOVE
For Starcraft fans, think of your time in suburgatory/exile as Kerrigan’s Chrysalis. You’re not hibernating, you’re evolving. And one of the things you are evolving toward is being able to put your main piece on the chessboard (yourself) somewhere where it can actually have an effect (usually the city).
This means all sorts of economic preparation which us idealist artsy leftist types often neglect. Well, get started.
Did you pick some humanities major? Yeah well so did I, do something else and get over it. Go back to school if you have to, or do some professional training program. Tech is hot as I write this.
Are you a millennial twenty-something who’s stuck outside of the city because the economy sucks and you’ve fallen back on your parents? Yeah well so am I, so do what you have to do to fly the coop.
Do you have no resources, no support system, and are you bound to be shit-poor no matter what? Fine, I’m sorry to hear that. Might as well move to the city anyway then, and be shit-poor somewhere you can have some fun and make a difference.
DON’T GIVE UP ON YOUR IDENTITY – USE IT AS MOTIVATION TO MOVE
Part of the political struggle is your own personal struggle, to even be able to participate in the first place.
IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY, READ LIKE CRAZY
Simple as that. Once you hit a place where you can be part of things, you can be already knowledgeable. Knowledgeable people (like you!) can be a basis for a group – people keep coming back to meetings because you teach them something new every time.
IF YOU’VE ALREADY READ LIKE CRAZY, TAKE A BREAK
After a while it becomes depressing to continually read about the history, details, and recommended strategies of a movement you can’t be part of. You get sad, because you would really be useful to some coalition, you’re just brimming with useful things to say, except it doesn’t exist, or it exists somewhere very far away from you.
(A Rule of Internet Politics: the less personally involved you are, the further away you are physically, the more you seem like an intruder whacko for commenting on it. So don’t bother.)
So this whole section of your brain is dedicated to political news and movement strategy to discuss with fellow politicos, except you don’t have any.
The truth is, a horrible thing can happen to leftists, which has definitely happened to me. You stop feeling the original passions that got you into leftism in the first place, because they’re drowned beneath a sea of words. You get so good at keeping up with the news and the latest fads (whether of the broad left or your specific organization) that you forget to feel yourself.
You should be free and you are not. Slow down for a bit and regain the anger that used to give you.
SERIOUSLY, FOCUS ON YOUR CAREER FOR ONCE
Did you ever notice that being an activist can be expensive? It really shouldn’t be, and I scoff at organizations when they make it so only professionals can afford to be in it when they’re supposed to be champions of the low-income proletariat. But still, it would be nice to be able to take a flight once in a while to make a conference or something.
You know what else is expensive? Everything. It’s nice to be able to afford heating and air conditioning. Leftists are not superheroes running around with some mysterious source of funding. Leftists are also not disembodied spirits. They are humans, which means they are animals. We evolved in Africa where it was a bit warmer so most of the time we need clothes. We need all sorts of crap to sustain the meat machine body which in turn sustains our brain-meat which allows us to argue over the precise nature of the transition from feudalism to capitalism (me, no, I’m not jaded).
You also may find some skill set that you actually find interesting or fun which can help you repattern your brain to relate to normal people after your long phase of leftist rewiring.
There is no practical reason on the surface that revolutionists need to be in shape. Most of the time we just spread our subversive filth and do not fight police or FBI agents in any physical way – we fight socially.
However, the sad truth is that people listen more to good-looking people. They statistically rank them as more competent. “But no!” you say, “We shouldn’t encourage this mentality, we should fight against it!” You’re probably right, but let’s not overestimate the extent to which our little leftist circle can change people’s minds about their basic mental operations. For now, I’d rather be heeded than ignored because I look sloppy. Just ask yourself this: when you’re in a coalition meeting, who can you stand to look at? Be that person, because that’s who you can stand to listen to.
Also running or lifting weights is very therapeutic. There is a sith-meditative quality to it – it’s nothing but you and physical force, seeing if you can push hard enough to complete the motion, seeing if it is within the bounds of your body. Such seething intent is not necessary for leftists, perhaps – so they say. I think passion is the basis of all things.